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Flotsam and Jetsam

The president’s rhetoric and policies may indeed be having some impact: “Consumer confidence among Americans fell in the first two weeks of February as a deepening recession, accelerating job losses and skepticism about a federal stimulus package dashed post-inauguration optimism. The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment dropped to 56.2 in February, down five points from a month earlier. February’s reading was only slightly above the 55.3 registered in November, which was the lowest since 1980.”

If there were any doubt that the president lost control of the stimulus plan you need look no further than Chirs Dodd’s contribution:  executive pay limits retroactive ones at that — which are so disruptive to Wall Street pay practices that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner pleaded for him to take them out. Dodd “won”; the banks are in an uproar and the president is plainly without much influence.

GM is reconsidering the bankruptcy option that Democrats, liberal pundits and the car companies were declaring “impossible” just a few months ago. You want impossible? Try negotiating with the UAW for concessions. In the meantime, the taxpayers have thrown over $20B down the drain to prop up GM and Chrysler.

It’s not quite right to say there has been “no diminution in the president’s sky-high approval ratings, and no improvement in congressional Republicans’ dismal numbers.” The president’s popularity vs. unpopularity spread  has narrowed considerably since election day and the GOP has pulled even in the generic congressional polls. Okay, it’s not right at all.

Judd Gregg “comes to his ‘census’”? So says the Union Leader: “The White House’s planned political kidnapping of the Census Bureau from Commerce jurisdiction was all the sign that Gregg needed to realize he would have been mere conservative window dressing in a liberal giveaway store.”

The latest from Blago-gate: “Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother solicited U.S. Sen. Roland Burris for up to $10,000 in campaign cash before Blagojevich named Burris to the coveted post — something Burris initially failed to disclose under oath before an Illinois House impeachment panel, records and interviews show.” Hmm. Well if he lied under oath then shouldn’t he be expelled from the Senate? No, silly: he’ll use the Geithner “I forgot!” defense.

Another young GOP star in the making.

Sen. Specter has secret Senate admirers. Really? I doubt it. If they thought Specter was so brave they could have voted for the bill.

Tim Geithner got almost as bad a reception in Europe as he did here. The Italian Finance Minister lectures him: “If the problem is an excess of debt, the cure is not adding more debt, whether that debt is public or private.” And the “Buy American” provision which Obama did not have the nerve to insist be taken out of the stimulus bill? Robert Zoellick, the American head of the World Bank, told the Europeans it is “dangerous.” Isn’t it nice how we are repairing our relations around the world?

John McCain is still firing away at Obama for “generational theft” and his non-bipartisan process in muscling through the stimulus. “No one could view this as having a scintilla of bipartisanship.”

After watching the junk-a-thon stimulus spending bill you wonder how Obama can deliver this with a straight face: “I will submit a proposal for the federal budget that will begin to restore the discipline these challenging times demand. Our debt has doubled over the past eight years, and we’ve inherited a trillion-dollar deficit — which we must add to in the short term in order to jump-start our sick economy. But our long-term economic growth demands that we tame our burgeoning federal deficit; that we invest in the things we need, and dispense with the things we don’t.” Deficits matter or they don’t. Are we going to let Pelosi have everything she wants or not? If you are looking for any logical consistency here, don’t bother.

“Gibbs is good.” Riggght. I think George Stephanopoulos was being polite. (His colleague Jake Tapper, you will recall, consistently has been eating Gibbs alive.)


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