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Flotsam and Jetsam

Republican Congressman Mark Kirk will run for Senate in Illinois. Democratic favorite and state Attorney general Lisa Madigan will not. A possible GOP pick-up? Not out of the realm of possibility. But Kirk is going to have to explain his cap-and-trade vote to conservatives should he face a primary.

From The Hill: “Public anxiety over the economy, stocks in decline, rising unemployment and a string of expensive Democratic initiatives are all encouraging high-caliber Republicans to compete in 2010. The GOP is enjoying its best candidate recruitment streak in years. The past week has been chock-full of good news for Republicans on the recruiting front and follows troubling developments for Democrats on their side of the ballot.” Remember when the GOP was permanently kaput?

And more news from Illinois: Blago’s top aide pleads guilty and will be explaining, among other things, how Blago was planning to get a plum union job. Or maybe an ambassadorship. (To what possible country?!) Or maybe appoint himself to the Senate.

Maybe we should hold off on hobbling our own economy until the other G-8 countries agree to do the same to theirs. “The world’s major industrial nations and newly emerging powers failed to agree Wednesday on specific cuts in heat-trapping gases by 2050, undercutting an effort to build a global consensus to fight climate change, according to people following the talks. . . The failure to establish specific targets on climate change underscored the difficulty in bridging longstanding divisions between the most developed countries like the United States and developing nations like China and India.”

They did agree on a tentative compromise to keep “temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average levels of more than a century ago, before large-scale industrial pollution occurred.” Environmentalists labeled this as “largely meaningless.”

“The housing bubble that burst in 2007 and led to a financial crisis can be traced back to federal government intervention in the U.S. housing market intended to help provide homeownership opportunities for more Americans. This intervention began with two government-backed corporations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which privatized their profits but socialized their risks, creating powerful incentives for them to act recklessly and exposing taxpayers to tremendous losses.” A CATO report? Heritage? Nope — part of a 26-page report from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The A.P. has figured out the magnitude of Obama’s campaign misrepresentations: “President Barack Obama promised to fix health care and trim the federal budget deficit, all without raising taxes on anyone but the wealthiest Americans. It’s a promise he’s already broken and will likely have to break again. Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have already increased tobacco taxes — which disproportionately hit the poor — to pay for extending health coverage to 4 million children in working low-income families. Now, lawmakers are looking for more revenues to help pay for providing medical insurance to millions more who lack it at a projected cost of $1 trillion over the next decade.”

From the New York Times, no less: “With their allies controlling the White House and Congress, the nation’s labor unions should be making hay. Instead many unions are making war — largely with one another — in the biggest, nastiest surge of labor fratricide in decades. With some union leaders condemning other leaders as dictators and Darth Vaders, business leaders are smiling. Every million spent by unions to bash one another depletes their coffers for battling corporate America and Republican political candidates.”

Allan Meltzer of Carnegie Mellon on the stimulus: “What a surprise! The Obama administration let the Democrats in Congress pick the spending. Much of it was pork, of course. And much of the rest was a temporary consumer tax cut. How many times do we have to repeat temporary tax cuts (or increases) to learn that households save most temporary tax changes ? And where are all the shovel-ready construction programs? Inept or dishonest? Did our government lie to us? Shocking!”


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