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The Roundup for February 18, 2011

Kicking off a touch early today. I’ll be away most of the day tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

• Instead of threatening to drop out of Medicaid, now Texas just wants a waiver to alter it, after seeing HHS hand out waivers like candy to states to lower their benefit packages. While HHS facilitates that, states and Republicans in Congress prepare to go to war on Medicaid.

• Of course a government shutdown is likely. Where have you been?

• Reports claim 40,000 at the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin today. Tomorrow, a Koch Brothers-led counter-protest is expected. Koch has lots of ties to Wisconsin. Monday’s a state furlough day, so the crowds could get even bigger.

• Meanwhile, Joe Klein has gone back to being Joke Line. You cannot look at the totality of this situation and in any way reasonably think that stripping collective bargaining rights under the guise of a budget bill that wouldn’t be necessary but for corporate tax breaks is in any way defensible.

• This bipartisan legislation to get out of Afghanistan has the same three Republican co-sponsors – Ron Paul, Walter Jones and John Duncan – as have been on prior withdrawal bills. I don’t think it signals a whole lot of movement.

• Chris Christie is so good at his job that he has so far created an astronomical negative-30,700 jobs in New Jersey since being elected. But he talks TOUGH.

• Genuinely good news: “The Obama administration rescinded most of a federal regulation Friday designed to protect health workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on personal or religious grounds.” They really got rid of the whole thing that Bush added at the end of his Presidency.

• Treasury may not actually allow a mass repatriation of untaxed corporate money currently being hidden overseas. This notion of a second tax amnesty when they’re talking about a broader corporate tax reform is silly.

“Get your grubby hands off Social Security” sounds like a slogan.

• At least one right-wing governor, Snowbilly Snooki’s pal up in Alaska, won’t implement the federal health care law in the wake of the lower court judicial ruling finding it unconstitutional.

• We’re very close to getting gay marriage in Maryland – looks like they’re one vote in the state Senate away from passage.

• I’ve written about the problems of BofA’s foreclosure operations in Utah before, but Bloomberg has an update. The state Attorney General says they’re violating the law.

• Banks are trying furiously to get the Federal Reserve to change its position on debit card swipe fees. This is one of the bigger efforts to basically change the spirit of Dodd-Frank during the implementation stage.

Huge Medicare fraud crackdown. Maybe now Florida Governor Rick Scott won’t hold the record for the largest fine in history.

• Why even pass these laws if the states just refuse to follow them? This one concerns the mental health regulation on gun purchases put in place after the Virginia Tech shooting.

• Greenwald on our justice system versus global justice. Can’t wait for his new book.

• More astroforging, this time from the subprime for-profit college industry.

• Collective bargaining for public employees fits into a familiar red v. blue pattern.

• These residency challenges always generate a lot of passion among the electorate, but aren’t usually the cause of someone losing office.

• This same federal judge, the go-to for the oil and gas industry, released another anti-Obama Administration ruling asking them to hurry up on drilling permits.

• Another legal challenge to the move of the Barnes Museum. I saw The Art of the Steal, a documentary which explains this whole issue very well. A good portrait of how corruption works.

• The latest in my Silvio Berlusconi obsession. This is a common Berlusconi tactic – when he’s cornered by the law, he always works to change the law to extricate himself.

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David Dayen

David Dayen