The Roundup for January 3, 2011
Kind of a boring day. The week won’t rev up until the new Congress convenes and the state inaugural festivities complete.
• Michael Steele had a debate with the other candidates vying for RNC Chair in a vote next week. Steele didn’t see the problem with his leadership. So I guess he’ll be blindsided by the reality that he’s going to lose.
• House Democrats should use the amendment capabilities that Republicans used to great effect, particularly the motion to recommit. They may start with that right away, on the health care repeal bill, which is expected to get a vote next Wednesday, January 12.
• It’s a familiar story: the US funds some reconstruction or infrastructure project, and before long it goes to pot. It’s as true in Iraq as it is in Afghanistan. Whether the money is misspent or the locals just can’t properly maintain the project once they get control of it, the result is the same.
• The UAW will seek to organize plants owned by foreign car companies, which is the right move and a major initiative to get a key industry back under the kind of union-led prosperity it saw in the heyday of the labor movement. It won’t be easy, but the time has come to shift from protecting benefits to organizing more workers to increase leverage.
• The Mortgage Bankers Association wants no part of successful foreclosure mediation programs that might require actual loan modifications to keep people in their homes.
• Alan Grayson criticizes Democrats for giving their base little to cheer about, on his way out the door of Congress.
• Commercial real estate doom has been predicted for years, but eventually the refinancing will just not be able to take place, and the rich businessmen who own CRE will cut their losses. Related to this, another dog that could bark is the wave of option ARM recasts scheduled for 2011.
• On deficit reduction, people are very strongly in the tax the rich camp.
• One employment measure we don’t hear enough about is the underemployment rate, currently sitting at aroun 1 in 6. Small businesses and even corporate players are simply using a lot more part-time workers these days.
• Is Pakistan’s government about to collapse?
• The latest Wikileaks release shows that the US, mainly under Bush, devised a hit list for countries that didn’t want to comply with allowing genetically modified crops. Marcy has more.
• Two US troops died in Iraq yesterday; US forces remain in harm’s way at least to some extent. There have been twelve US casualties since August.
• Talks between African leaders and embattled Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo continued today, but Gbagbo’s biggest problem could be a financial crisis, as his government’s accounts get frozen.
• Ezra looks at income inequality. Understanding how productivity and median income got delinked, I’d argue, has a lot to do with the selling of industrial policy, starting in the late 1970s.
• No bail set for the woman indicted on insider trading charges as part of an unfolding federal investigation.
• I’d be happy to see if canceling those high-speed rail projects came back to bite incoming Republican governors.
• Some deepwater drilling will resume without “detailed environmental reviews, the Interior Department said today.
• Jerry Brown’s budget play is a high-risk, high-return gambit.
• Say goodbye to public hospitals in Florida, with Rick Scott about to be sworn in as Governor.
• Among the more colorful chiefs of staff for incoming House Republicans is this dentist from Wasilla, Alaska, hired to run fellow dentist Mark Gosar’s (R-AZ) office.
• Strange story about a former Republican Pentagon official found dead in a Delaware landfill.
• Judy Miller criticizes someone else for not verifying their sources?
• Who among us doesn’t talk to schoolkids about abortion?