The DC Morning: 2/1/2010

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) White House pledges “discipline in the spending process”

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said yesterday that the White House would really like “to draw a line in the sand and enforce some discipline in the spending process,” reports The Daily Caller’s Gautham Nagesh. Pfeiffer’s promise of fiscal discipline precedes the budget for 2010 that the White House will release today. Under the new budget, the deficit is expected to increase to $1.6 trillion, but with reduced spending on National Parks, NASA’s Constellation program, and other stuff that no one in Washington genuinely cares about, the deficit will magically shrink to $792 billion in 2015. According to Nagesh, “Budget director Peter Orszag acknowledged that the move would do little to affect the long-term budget deficit, which is driven primarily by the rapidly increasing cost of healthcare. [TWO WORDS?]”

2.) Climate change experts go wild

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has known for months that a report on Himalayan glaciers was inaccurate, the Times of London reports. Pachauri was told by a journalist in November of 2009 that the IPCC’s “assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong,” but “failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists.” A report by the Indian Government that conflicted with IPCC’s report was called “voodoo science,” by Pachauri, who denies that he intentionally avoided correcting his own voodoo report in advance of the Copenhagen Climate Summit. “We are certainly never…ever going to do anything other than what is truthful and what upholds the veracity of science,” added Pachauri, who has been accused of using the false report to apply for large grants. In other climate news, David King, the UK’s former science adviser, “says the theft of climate e-mails from the University of East Anglia in southern England may have been the work of spies.”

3.) Georgia teachers object to pension management payout

News that “top staffers” at the Georgia Teachers Retirement System were paid large bonuses to manage to the state’s $48 billion pension has Georgia teachers frothing at the mouth, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. “When you’re giving somebody a bonus that is five times the annual retirement that some teachers who retired in the ’70s and ’80s receive, it just makes your jaw drop. I’m really shocked,” Tim Callahan, spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, told the AJC. The payouts to top pension managers–ranging from $14,000 to $108,000–were earned over the course of three years, and when combined with the salaries of the entire investment team, cost the state approximately $24 million annually. While the program lost money in the 2008 market crash, it did better than the market average, and a 2008 report says that having an in-house investment team saves the state’s public pensions programs approximately $87 million a year. These facts aside, a retired gifted teacher said that the bonuses were “a slap in the face to retired educators.”

4.) Amtrak to take Floridians for a ride

A $4.4 billion stretch of rail could take Central Floridians from one point of suburban sprawl to several other points of suburban sprawl by as early as 2012, according to the Orlando Sentinel. As of right now, no one has any idea who will ride the trains–Floridians are car people, after all–a point that critics of the proposed train system have raised before. William Shallcross, 54, and a Winter Park developer, says the tickets are too expensive ($29 one-way from Orlando International to Tampa) and “also questions whether either train will be able to get anyone close enough to where they are going to avoid having to also ride a bus or call a cab,” according tot he [TO THE] Sentinel. Proponents of rail are aware of these critiques, and think that by being open, sensitive, and honest, they can attract commuter partners. “If people don’t think you are reliable and don’t think you are safe, they aren’t going to ride you,” said Tri-Rail’s Bonnie Arnold.

5.) Health care still alive, sort of

Democrats, amped up from repeated playings of *Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” insist they’ll pass health care legislation yet, though it might not be as comprehensive as originally promised. “[C]ertain provisions have to be dropped out. The Nebraska deal and other portions of that — even Sen. Nelson has said he doesn’t want that in the bill,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen before remembering his talking points: “But the goal is still to try to get comprehensive health care passed,” Van Hollen said on Fox News Sunday. House Minority Leader John Boehner also acknowledged that health care was still around, and pledged to kill it ASAP.  “We’ve seen all week Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid continuing to scheme and plot trying to find some way to get their big government takeover of health care enacted,” Boehner said.

The DC Morning mistakenly attributed Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” to Bon Jovi. As punishment, the email’s author will be forced to listen to “Slippery When Wet” on repeat until reduced to tears.