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Flotsam and Jetsam

Economists Susan Woodward of UCLA and Robert Hall of MIT aren’t buying the idea of a second WPA project for a second Great Depression. They explain that “timing may be a problem . . . Complicated projects take time to ramp up to high spending and employment levels. . . . All of these proposals for stimulating state and local spending suffer from a common problem—they will end up generating employment for highly specialized businesses and workers, rather than stimulating economic activity more broadly. A large-scale infrastructure program will drive up the profits of the limited number of firms.” Good to know.

Amity Shlaes looks at mega-infrastructure building projects in Japan and finds they didn’t do much to bolster employment or growth there. What’s the lesson? “It is wrong to assume that construction will guarantee a two-fer for the economy — shining structures and redemptive growth. The private sector is often better than politicians at guessing what the market needs. And infrastructure projects demand so much political energy that there’s too little energy left over for everything else. Congress might want to remember all this as it debates infrastructure funding in the coming months. An edifice complex seems more likely to petrify a country than to move it forward.”

Michael Steele gets a big name endorsement(Bill Bennett) for the RNC Chair. Ken Blackwell gets his own (Steve Forbes). Do these matter? You’d have to ask the 168 people who vote.

No UAW “haricut,” no bailout? Sounds good to me.

Mickey Kaus sums up: “If the taxpayers are going to foot the bill, then the goal has to be a successful industry in the long run–not a Congressional fix designed to protect the UAW from what it would face in a normal bankruptcy. That means rewritten contracts. If the UAW members didn’t want that, they shouldn’t have let their firms go broke–that is, they should have made the concessions they’re making now, and more, years ago, when it would have made the difference.”

It is easy to see why the Democrats want the bailout — to save the UAW and run a “green company” — but why does President Bush? It must be “legacy” time.

RNC Chair Mike Duncan, running to keep his spot, joins the pile-on in questioning President-elect’s response to the Gov. Blagojevich scandal.

He’s not alone: “John Cornyn, the incoming Senate Republican campaign chairman, wants Democrats and labor union officials to detail any contact they’ve had with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who’s facing federal corruption charges. ”

While everyone was focused on Tuesday’s bombshell out of Illinois, Charlie Rangel got more bad news : “The ethics panel issued a statement Tuesday saying it had voted to expand an already far-ranging probe into the New York Democrat to examine whether he protected an oil drilling company from a big tax bill when the head of that company pledged a $1 million donation to a college center named after the congressman. The move means the Rangel inquiry will likely stretch well past early January, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had previously said she expected the matter to be resolved.”

Remember when The Page was filled with references to “Land of Lincolner”? No more. Obama is from Hawaii, don’t you know?


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