1.) Democrats attempt to ratchet up health care trash-talking — In a nod to the always-feisty and extra-spicy Rep. Anthony Weiner, Obama accused Republicans late last week of kowtowing to insurers in the health care debate, reports the Daily Caller’s Jon Ward. While the move ain’t exactly fresh–defining Republicans as pro-insurance and Democrats as pro-malpractice something or other is a trope as old as Joe Biden’s hair plugs–it does show that a Democrat in danger of losing control of Washington is a slightly more interesting one. Now if only the liberal apparatus could find the sweet spot between the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein accusing Joe Lieberman of killing hundreds of thousands of people by not voting for a massive, untested, and likely ineffectual system, and Obama whining that Republicans are opposed to nationalizing everything, then maybe we’d have a real debate on our hands.
2.) Pelosi looking for any reason–any reason at all!–to ditch Rangel — NY Rep. Charlie Rangel–chairman of the Ways and Means committee, Congressional Black Caucus founder, milker of the political system–is one ethics committee hearing away from losing the support of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who probably can’t afford to be seen with the likes of Rangel during campaign season. “The fact is, is that what Mr. Rangel has been admonished for is not good,” Pelosi said Sunday on ‘This Week,’ as if to suggest that some hard and fast rules are less breakable than others. The New York Daily News called Pelosi’s defense of Rangel “tepid at best,” and the Hill theorized that Pelosi’s distancing language is a sign that Democrats are willing to sacrifice Rangel on the Tea Party/GOP altar, in order to reward representatives who aren’t blatantly violating House ethics rules. Up next: the ethics committee itself, which investigated Republican Rep. Todd Tiahrt for nine months without any obvious reason.
3.) Jobs market will suck for another decade, says economist — While it seems the recession is pretty much over and hints of spring are floating in the air, Americans who are living in their parents’ basements (or in Thomas Friedman’s attic) can expect to stay there until around 2020 or so, according to Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute. Things are that bad, and the whole world might as well stop updating resumes for a while and perhaps take up knitting and/or standing in line for unemployment benefits.
4.) Charlie Crist so despised that he is now losing straw polls in his home county — Barring a scandal of epic proportions–as in, more epic than a GOP-funded spending spree–Marco Rubio is likely to be the Florida Republican candidate for senate in November, as the once-beloved Charlie Crist is now trailing the Cuban Wonder by 18 percentage points and losing straw polls like it’s his part-time job. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Crist also has lost about two dozen consecutive county straw polls among registered Republicans, including Pinellas County, where the governor grew up.” Crist’s most forward effort to date to counter Rubio’s stimulus criticisms was a snooty remark about Rubio’s expensive haircut, which fell flat, as people in Florida take their hair very seriously. For the first time in several years, it seems the most pervasive scent hovering over Crist’s campaign isn’t tanning oil, but desperation. (In other Senate news: Blanche Lincoln has a challenger!
5.) Green fuels require killing mother earth, study finds — A study conducted by the British Department of Transport found that increasing the use of biofuel “will result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations,” reports the Times of London. “[E]ach litre of biofuel should reduce emissions by at least 35 per cent compared with burning a litre of fossil fuel,” goes the party line in Britain, “yet the study shows that palm oil increases emissions by 31 per cent because of the carbon released when forest and grassland is turned into plantations.” Instead of opening up an energy market and allowing inventors to go at it, supporters of biofuel–an industry that receives £3 billion in kickbacks across the EU every year–hope to dismiss the findings by “issuing revised standards that would give palm plantations the same status as natural forests.” Convinced of the righteousness of biofuel, or perhaps the goodness of greed, “Officials appear to have accepted arguments put forward by the palm oil industry that palms are just another type of tree.”
6.) AIG makes big sale, begrudgingly hands money over to federal gov. — “British insurer Prudential PLC said Monday it will buy the Asian unit of American International Group Inc. in a deal worth $35.5 billion that will allow AIG to pay back some of the money it owes U.S. taxpayers,” the AP reports. The sale comes on the tail end of a bad stretch for AIG, which lost $8.87 billion in the fourth quarter. Now 80-percent owned by the U.S. government, AIG will put most of the money from the Prudential deal towards its massive debt: “As of Dec. 31, AIG’s outstanding assistance from the U.S. government totaled $129.26 billion, up 5.7 percent from the end of the third quarter due to accrued interest.”