667 Days until Election Day
January 11, 2009
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"The attorney general nominee, Mr. Holder, has got serious questions to respond to with regard to his role in the . . . pardons at the end of the Clinton administration and some other matters."
– Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican Leader
SUNDAY MORNING TALK SHOWS…below are the morning show listings.
LET IT SNOW…what a great snow day in Michigan…beautiful snow, stunning evening, and a long night shoveling snow…a once in a winter moment…great stuff!
4th DISTRICT ROUNDUP…as always, a great event. Thanks to Carolyn Curtain for all of her work, she will not be running for re-election. Welcome to Joan Jackson, Michigan’s endless ball of energy who will be taking over as the new District Chair. Thanks to all of you for the warm welcome and generous gift.
FOR THE LATEST NEWS, COMMENTARY & INFORMATION:
Check…out…our…online Articles of Interest………News…you…can…use………
THE REST OF THE STORY:
THE SUNDAY SHOWS, from Matt Mackowiak:
NBC ‘Meet the Press’: Author and comedian Bill Cosby, Author and Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty (D), Obama economic adviser and former Rep. David Bonior (D-MI), panel with WSJ’s Paul Gigot, NY Times’s John Harwood, Vanity Fair’s Bethany McLean, and Moody’s Economy.com’s Mark Zandi.
ABC ‘This Week’: President-elect Barack Obama, roundtable with NY Times’s Tom Friedman, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, WSJ’s Peggy Noonan, and ABC’s George Will.
CBS ‘Face the Nation’: Senate appointee Roland Burris (D-IL), House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
‘Fox News Sunday’: President George W. Bush and former President George H.W. Bush, panel with the Fox News All Stars with Fox’s Charles Krauthammer, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, NPR’s Mara Liasson, and NPR’s Juan Williams (host is Brit Hume).
CNN ‘Late Edition’: Pre-taped interviews with Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), strategy panel with CNN’s James Carville, Tara Wall & David Gergen, political panel with CNN’s Gloria Borger and Candy Crowley (Wolf Blitzer’s last show).
TODAY’S TOP STORIES
The following stories and more are available at my Articles of Interest online.
Gov hopes to balance books without midyear drop in school aid after ballooning deficit is forecast.
LANSING — Another round of state budget cuts is likely coming in February, following a tax revenue forecast that indicates Michigan’s current budget is out of whack by $917 million this year and a whopping $1.6 billion next year.
It’s unknown what might end up on the chopping block, but aides to Gov. Jennifer Granholm said they hope to balance the books this year without slashing aid to public schools in the middle of the school year.
Michigan must have a balanced budget. Unlike the federal government, the state has a constitutional prohibition against deficit spending.
January 11, 2009
The economic alarm sirens were really wailing Friday with news that the nation’s unemployment rate hit 7.2% in December, the highest level since January 1993. Michigan is at 9.6% and, in case you were wondering, was at 7.2% in January 1993 so at least back then we were more in line with the nation than leading the charge to the unemployment office.
Perhaps the most telling numbers in Friday’s Labor Department report: The percentage of the U.S. population with a job is 61%, lowest since early 1987; the average work-week has shrunk to 33.5 hours; if you count as unemployed those people who have stopped looking for lack of prospects and those who have taken part-time jobs while looking for fulltime work, the jobless rate jumps to 13.5%. And, 524,000 more jobs were eliminated in December, bringing the total for 2008 to 2.6 million, the most since 1945 when the nation was moving from war-time production back to a peacetime economy.
At least then, people knew jobs were coming back as the nation shifted priorities from weapons to machinery and consumer goods. Can’t say that now. In this economy, it’s hard to see how anyone whose job has been axed can figure on going back to the same kind of work but for a different employer. That’s just not today’s reality.
Big Three automakers plan to make a splash by highlighting hybrid and electric vehicles at the Detroit auto show press previews that start today. Congress is propelling this development, scolding the domestic automakers for not making enough of these vehicles during the auto loan hearings. But forcing General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to focus on hybrids won’t drive the automakers back to profitability.
That’s because hybrid sales are stalling. The recession and $1.90-a-gallon gas helped drive down the sales of hybrids by 43 percent compared with a 35 percent decline for all vehicles. When economic times are tough and consumers have less money, they aren’t as willing to buy hybrids that can be as much as $2,000 to $7,000 more expensive than their gasoline counterparts. And the expiration of federal tax credits for some hybrids has played a role.
Sales of the gasoline versions of many vehicles suffered much less than their gasoline-electric hybrid counterparts. Even the industry-leading Prius hybrid saw sales decline 45 percent. As a result, Toyota indefinitely postponed building a Mississippi assembly plant for the Prius.
BY KATHLEEN GRAY
Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson celebrated his 70th birthday with 300 people Saturday night and told the crowd he was trying to determine whether he had enough support to run for governor in 2010.
The reaction of the crowd — cheers and applause — was an indication he might be on his way to a two-year campaign.
"I need to check my levels of support, and in a few months, we’ll decide if I’m in or out," Patterson said.
He can’t control long-term entitlement spending unless he curbs health care, which accounts for a quarter of the federal budget.
Published Jan 10, 2009
Barack Obama talked somberly last week about getting the federal budget under control once the present economic crisis is past. By simple arithmetic, that means he’ll have to confront the rapid growth of health spending, which already accounts for a quarter of the budget. In 2007, that was about $700 billion out of total federal spending of $2.7 trillion. If Obama is serious-and no president yet has been-he could start by reading a fascinating new study from the McKinsey Global Institute, the research arm of the famed consulting company.
Almost everyone agrees that the U.S. health-care system has gone haywire. It provides much splendid care but is so costly that 15 percent of the population lacks health insurance. Equally troubling, runaway spending is crowding out other government programs and, through bloated insurance premiums, squeezing workers’ take-home pay. What McKinsey provides is a plausible estimate of the extent of overspending: almost one third.
This means that, compared with other advanced societies, the United States spends about a third more on health care than high American incomes alone would predict. In 2006, all U.S. health spending totaled about $2.1 trillion. Of that, McKinsey figures that nearly $650 billion exceeded what other rich societies, adjusted for relative incomes, spent.
His economic team wants a more defined mission for the remaining $350 billion.
WASHINGTON — Barack Obama’s economic team is talking with the Bush administration about having Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ask Congress within the next week for access to the $350 billion remaining in the financial bailout fund, officials on both sides said Friday.
A request by Paulson would allow Obama to begin tapping the fund — the last half of a $700 billion rescue package authorized by Congress in October — promptly after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
Paulson has said for a number of weeks that he has been having talks with the Obama team on when a request should be presented to Congress seeking the second $350 billion. He has said that the decision on timing has been left up to the incoming administration.
How much of a good thing?
President-elect Barack Obama’s speech Thursday promoting a massive economic recovery plan was bracketed by two statistics that show the difficult balancing act confronting him.
The day before Obama’s speech, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the federal deficit will grow this year to a shocking $1.2 trillion. That will be the worst budget hole since World War II, calculated as a percentage of the overall economy.
And the day after Obama’s speech, the federal government announced the unemployment rate for December rose to 7.2 percent, the highest in 16 years. About 2.6 million workers lost their jobs in 2008, including more than 100,000 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Ten things the president got right.
by Fred Barnes
The postmortems on the presidency of George W. Bush are all wrong. The liberal line is that Bush dangerously weakened America’s position in the world and rushed to the aid of the rich and powerful as income inequality worsened. That is twaddle. Conservatives–okay, not all of them–have only been a little bit kinder. They give Bush credit for the surge that saved Iraq, but not for much else.
He deserves better. His presidency was far more successful than not. And there’s an aspect of his decision-making that merits special recognition: his courage. Time and time again, Bush did what other presidents, even Ronald Reagan, would not have done and for which he was vilified and abused. That–defiantly doing the right thing–is what distinguished his presidency.
Bush had ten great achievements (and maybe more) in his eight years in the White House, starting with his decision in 2001 to jettison the Kyoto global warming treaty so loved by Al Gore, the environmental lobby, elite opinion, and Europeans. The treaty was a disaster, with India and China exempted and economic decline the certain result. Everyone knew it. But only Bush said so and acted accordingly.
By ALEXANDER BURNS
With only a longshot court appeal standing in the way of Democrat Al Franken’s election to the Senate, Republicans are gritting their teeth and bracing for the arrival of a new senator whose every utterance will sound like nails on a chalkboard to them.
While Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has filed suit to contest the results of a disputed recount process that turned his narrow lead into a 225-vote deficit, his likely defeat stands to turn Franken, the polarizing former "Saturday Night Live" writer, into the senator who launched a thousand direct mail fundraising appeals.
"I don’t know if we’ve ever had an opponent who is so disliked by Republicans as Al Franken," said Minnesota Republican Party Chair Ron Carey, who cautioned that Coleman’s election challenge could still turn the results back his way. "It’s one thing to lose to an honorable opponent, but Al Franken is not considered an honorable opponent by Minnesota Republicans."
January 11, 2009
Those of us who enjoy legal thrillers sometimes get ahead of the plot: We think we know what a court will rule. Witness the conventional wisdom in Illinois and elsewhere that the U.S. Senate is legally obliged to seat Roland Burris as the junior senator from Illinois. Hey, the governor appointed him.
That kind of thinking also had a nation of would-be Judge Judys convinced that the Illinois Supreme Court would tell Secretary of State Jesse White to certify the appointment. On Friday, the court said no way.
Amateur exercises in Judging Without a Long Robe can be perilous. Which raises this question: By what grounds might members of the U.S. Senate now reject the Burris appointment-and prevail in the courts?