The DC Morning: 2/22/2010

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) Anticipating health care showdown, Republicans studying, slapping one another in the face — Congressional Republicans training for Thursday’s health care summit swallowed an extra raw egg and ran additional wind sprints upon learning Sunday night that Pres. Obama plans to further empower health care regulators. The Daily Caller’s Jon Ward reports that Obama plans to “include in a health care proposal new authority for the secretary of health and human services to veto insurance rate hikes that it deems excessive, and will create a federal panel that would set guidelines for health insurers to follow in determining their rates.” On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went on the TV and asked a very interesting question: “If they are going to lay out the plan they want four days in advance, what are we discussing?” Answer: Open your mouth and close your eyes, and you will get a big surprise!

2.) IRS insists on ruining twice-over the lives of exonerated prisoners — John Michael Harvey served 12 years of a 40-year sentence for sexual assault before his accuser “recanted and evidence surfaced that showed he did not match the description of her attacker.” For his troubles, the State of Texas awarded Harvey $600,000 and told him to forget about taxes. The IRS said the same thing–then changed its mind and is now demanding 1/3 of Harvey’s cash. According to a tax law professor at the University of Texas, a 1996 law passed by Congress stipulates, “If an exoneree can prove physical pain as a result of wrongful incarceration – such as being beaten while in prison, as opposed to just serving time – he may not have to pay taxes, or may have to pay only on a portion of the award. But if there is no evidence of physical suffering, the award is taxable.”

3.) Rubio’s skeleton decides to get lost — Ray Sansom, the Florida House speaker and Marco Rubio protege currently under investigation for funneling millions of dollars in state funds to his alma mater, resigned Sunday night from the Florida House. The Miami Herald observes that “[t]he prospect of a messy public ethics investigation was something few fellow Republicans wanted to endure, and it had the potential to embarrass current and former lawmakers who would have been called to testify, including U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, a former speaker who had picked Sansom as his budget chief.” Despite resigning in disgrace, Sansom is still Northwest Florida State College’s Most Outstanding Alumnus, and Rubio, fresh off a successful CPAC speech, is still set to be Little Havana’s most heartwarming success story.

4.) For diversity’s sake, Army ignored bat-crap crazy Muslim psychologist — According to the Boston Globe, “Army superiors were warned about the radicalization of Major Nidal Malik Hasan years before he allegedly massacred 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, but did not act in part because they valued the rare diversity of having a Muslim psychiatrist.” Citing previously undisclosed reports, the Globe writes “[t]he report concludes that because the Army had attracted only one Muslim psychiatrist in addition to Hasan since 2001, ‘it is possible some were afraid’ of losing such diversity ‘and thus were willing to overlook Hasan’s deficiencies as an officer.'” This is probably not what critics of a homogeneous fighting force meant when they suggested the Army “get weird.”

5.) Toyota scams the hell out of federal regulators — A previously unreleased internal document from Toyota “cites millions of dollars in other savings by delaying safety regulations, avoiding defect investigations and slowing down other industry requirements,” the AP reports. Rep. Darrell Issa’s office is looking into “whether Toyota was lobbying for less rigid actions from regulators to protect their bottom line.” Uh, duh, y’all!

6.) Soon we will all eat wet cat food and be grateful for it, new study says — “$1 trillion,” begins a depressing new report from the Pew Center, which goes on to say, “That’s the gap at the end of fiscal year 2008 between the $2.35 trillion states had set aside to pay for employees’ retirement benefits and the $3.35 trillion price tag of those promises.” In other words, stock up on the good stuff now, because your vet is lying to you if he says there is no difference between upmarket and store brand.