1.) Big business still Obama’s Achilles heel — When John Engler, the former Republican governor of Michigan, was named to the head of the Business Roundtable, “one of the first people to call” him was Valerie Jarrett, a personal advisor to Pres. Obama. Jarrett no doubt wished to communicate that Pres. Obama was game to work with the BRT (“We go play hoop!”), a gesture that the White House hasn’t made toward the professional left in ages now! Engler’s not here to play, however. According to The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward, “much of the group’s work on health care over the next two years will be looking for how Obama’s health care overhaul might ‘threaten’ the ability of employers to continue providing insurance.” Maybe the BRT should do what Waffle House and a number of unions did, which is lobby for exemptions from some of obamacare’s requirements? That leaves the issue of the mandate, and prices popping through the roof when healthy people decline insurance while sick people buy it up. Also: the totally unenforceable nature of it all. Back to the drawing board!
2.) Obama to name new punching bag next month — “Among the first announcements President Barack Obama will make upon returning from his Hawaiian vacation is his choice for top economic adviser, a decision that could signal a new direction for the administration as it struggles to jumpstart the economy and wrestle down unemployment,” reports the AP. The last guy who held the job, former Harvard President Larry Summers, was not able to singlehandedly save the American economy, and quit. The AP plays the name game for Summers’ replacement: “Will he tap the business world with a figure such as Roger Altman, an investment banker and Clinton administration alumnus who might carry too much baggage from his association with Wall Street? Will he turn to academia instead, calling on a scholar such as Yale President Richard Levin? Or will he go with deeply experienced insiders such as deficit hawk Gene Sperling at the Treasury Department or Jason Furman, the council’s deputy director?” Wait–Wall Street ties are baggage? Could’ve fooled us!
3.) New York Times discovers ‘phone-marking’ — Almost three weeks ago, The Daily Caller brought you the inside scoop on “phone-marking,” a major loophole “congressional members can slip their pet projects through. They still will be able to call or write to federal agencies to ask that funds are spent on projects they recommend, and there’s currently no official record of how often representatives and senators do this.” This morning, the New York Times caught up! Their headline: “Earmarks Ban May Loom, but Lawmakers Find Ways to Finance Pet Projects.” Our headline, from Dec. 10: “Without earmarks, Congress can use phone-marks to feed pet projects.” You read it here first, folks!
4.) Pressure builds to bring a Bush back to Washington — Floridians want Jeb Bush to go to Washington, says Public Policy Polling. “With Bush in the equation none of the other options given get any higher than 6%- that’s for perennial candidate Bill McCollum- and once you get past McCollum no one else even tops 3%. Bush’s relatively liberal stance for a Republican on immigration isn’t giving him any trouble at least yet. The desire for him to be the nominee is even stronger with self identified conservatives at 77% than it is with moderates at 65%” The upside: Jeb was a great governor, having handled two disastrous hurricanes with aplomb. The downside: He’ll probably say no, and Florida Republicans want him and him alone.
5.) Census results add insult to injury for Democrats — “Each of the 10 states losing congressional seats as a result of the newly announced 2010 census reapportionment process is politically Democratic, based on a Gallup political identification measure from the first six months of this year,” reports Gallup. “Five of the eight states gaining seats skew Republican.” What does this mean for 2012? “The impact of reapportionment on the presidential election process is…straightforward. Traditionally blue states are losing electoral votes, while traditionally red states are gaining them.” From Nov. 4 to Dec. 28, this has been the worst holiday season for Democrats since, well, this time last year.
6.) New Hampshire cracks down on ‘coarse’ free speech — The same state that allows its residents to legally abstain from wearing a seatbelt now requires them to abstain from using foul language. According to Eugene Volokh, “N.H. Stat. § 644–4 makes it a misdemeanor to, among other things, ‘[m]ake repeated communications at extremely inconvenient hours or in offensively coarse language with a purpose to annoy or alarm another.’” The statute was tested in November when a New Hampshire court upheld the conviction of a minor who had sent a number of coarse messages to a friend’s mother (who was using her daughter’s online account in cognito). According to Volokh, the ruling could easily be applied to the following situations: “Several blog posts using ‘offensively coarse language’ about a local politician, businessman, activist, professor, and so on said with a ‘purpose to annoy’ the subject or his friends; Several blog posts or alternative newspaper articles using ‘offensively coarse language’ about a race, religion, or political movement said with a ‘purpose to annoy’ members of the group.” New Hampshire’s state motto has been changed to “Live politely or die.”