1.) Wisconsin Dems, teachers, can get back to work now — Public school teachers and Democratic Party fundraisers in Madison shouted ugly things last night at the top of their lungs, but they couldn’t stop the simple procedural move that allowed Wisconsin Republicans to pass a bill that “stripped” public sector unions of some of their “rights.” The Senate “requires a quorum to take up any measure that spends money,” reports the AP. With 14 Wisconsin Democrats hiding in Illinois, quorum was impossible. So Republicans simply removed the spending portion from the bill. The response from Democrats in Illinois was sort of incoherent. “Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people,” said Wisconsin Senate minority leader Mark Miller. “Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.”
2.) RIP HAMP – “The House Financial Services Committee voted to abolish President Barack Obama’s signature anti-foreclosure program, saying it failed to deliver the promised help to homeowners,” reports Bloomberg News. “The panel voted yesterday along party lines, 32-23, to repeal the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, which pays lenders to rewrite loan terms to lower borrowers’ payments.” Some congressmen, like Rep. Barney “What foreclosure crisis?” Frank, have said that HAMP and its cousin programs are good for America, probably because they good for getting poor people to vote Democrat. Meanwhile, more objective parties have slammed the program. The GAO assembled a running list of problems with HAMP, and just this week, “House Democrats sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden saying that HAMP abandons distressed homeowners to ‘abusive’ mortgage servicers.” And those are the people who actually make their way into the program: So far, only 600,000 homeowners out of a projected 3 to 4 million have received loan modifications through the program. This is probably why Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina called HAMP an “epic failure.”
3.) SEC-banned banker and short-seller worked with Department of Education to cripple for-profit colleges – “Before a jury found Manuel Asensio had illegally defamed a company whose demise he would profit from, and before securities regulators barred him from employment in the banking industry for the rest of his life, he used to take down companies with savage reports under the banner of his investment bank, Asensio & Company. Then, as an ‘activist’ short seller, he would compile damning research on a business, take a market bet its stock would go down, publish his report, and profit when it did go down,” writes The Daily Caller’s Jonathan Strong. Considering the caliber of his resume, would it surprise you to learn Asensio has lobbied Arne Duncan’s office with data that only the Education Department’s Inspector General’s office possessed? Data that not even the subject of the IG’s investigation possessed? Data that not even Sen. Tom Harkin could get his hands on? In light of allegations that Education Department officials were “tipping hedge funds” with inside information about the department’s clandestine battle against for-profit colleges, it shouldn’t.
4.) D.C. Teachers union attempts to sabotage Michelle Rhee’s replacement – The army of underperforming teachers who helped oust D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and ran D.C. Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee out of town wants to do the same to Rhee’s replacement. “The Washington Teachers Union, whose members backed Vince Gray’s mayoral campaign, is not happy with Kaya Henderson for several reasons,” reports the Washington Times. “Chief among them is the fact that no national search was conducted.” But also: “Union leaders have been barking about marks Ms. Henderson has left on school reform, such as the teacher-evaluation tool called Impact,” which the current leader of the D.C. teachers union calls “fundamentally biased against teachers.” This is sort of like saying that scales are fundamentally biased against things that have mass, or that stopwatches are fundamentally biased against people trying to get somewhere at a certain time.
5.) Is Obama a union buster? – Public Sector Inc.’s Josh Barro raps Pres. Obama across the knuckles for his hypocritical stance on unions for government employees. By Obama’s standards, “if the Wisconsin law is an assault, federal employee unions have already been pummeled,” Barro writes. Federal employees “are forbidden to collectively bargain for wages or benefits; instead, raises are determined annually through legislation.” Meanwhile, Wisconsinites–even under Gov. Scott Walker’s bill–”could bargain for cost of living adjustments up to CPI, or more if approved in a referendum.” Seeing as Obama “wants Congress to aggressively use powers it has only because federal workers don’t bargain wages, he should probably give some thought to the idea that states–which spend a much larger percentage of their budgets on employee compensation and can’t run budget deficits–are even less able to afford collective bargaining.”
6.) Democrats defect over budget cuts – “Senate Democrats suffered a wave of defections Wednesday as their proposal to cut just over $6 billion from federal spending this year went down to defeat,” reports The Hill. “The Democratic bill attracted two fewer votes than the rival GOP measure that would cut spending by another $57 billion this year. The 11 defections will give Republican leaders ammunition in subsequent talks, as they were able to keep their caucus more unified.” In the words of Boehner spox Michael Steel, “The bill supported by Sen. Reid … proved less popular than the ‘draconian’ House Republican proposal in the Democrat-controlled Senate.”