1.) DOJ asks Florida judge for permission to continue enacting Obamacare — “For reasons that confound legal experts, the Justice Department has asked Florida Judge Roger Vinson to clarify his ruling, which some feel could lead to an adverse ruling for the federal government and even embolden states to put work on the health law on hold,” reports Cox Media’s Jamie Dupree. In January, Vinson ruled that Congress had run roughshod over the Commerce Clause. What he didn’t say, at least not explicitly, is whether the Feds had to halt the implementation of Obamacare pending an appeal of his ruling. This is why the DOJ apparently felt it necessary to file a brief with Vinson asking whether or not the federal government can continue implementing the Affordable Care Act: “Defendants respectfully request that the Court clarify that its January 31, 2011, declaratory judgment was not expected to have the immediate and self-executing effect of relieving the parties of their rights and obligations under the Affordable Care Act while the declaratory judgment is the subject of appellate review.” AWK-WARD.
2.) No Labels holds conference call for losers — And no, we’re not just being vitriolic: The post-partisan political group No Labels actually held a conference call in which two failed candidates explained how partisan tactics such as, uh, absentee voting and plurality victories not only sunk their campaigns, but are harming America. “Eliot Cutler, an independent who lost Maine’s gubernatorial election to Republican Paul LePage by less than 10,000 votes, and former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who failed in his independent bid for U.S. Senate by more than 20 percentage points, called for more pragmatism in politics” during their phoner with Maine voters, reports the Kennebec Journal. “Voting five weeks before the election I think is actually anti-democratic, and I don’t think it’s a good idea and I don’t think it’s good for our democracy,” said Cutler, who received the most votes closest to election day. “The issue to me is whether voting ought to start as early as that, before people have had really an opportunity to pay attention to the debates, to the discussion among the candidates and get to know them,” Cutler added. Charlie Crist’s contribution to the No Labels discussion was slightly more pointed. “Our new U.S. senator was not elected by a majority, and I wonder about the rightness of that,” said the one-time Florida governor and alleged Snooki Polizzi impersonator, whose eyes have really been opened to what’s wrong and right now that he is chasing ambulances for a living.
3.) Is Washington falling out of love with ethanol? — “The House recently passed a spending bill that includes two provisions that hamstring the ethanol industry for the first time in nearly two decades,” reports Dipka Bhambhani. “One provision, by Oklahoma Republican Rep. John Sullivan, prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from allowing the industry to increase the amount of ethanol per gallon of gasoline from 10 percent, called e10, to 15 percent, e15. Another provision by Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake stops federal funding to install new blender pumps at filling stations.” Even Sen. Chuck Grassley, a longtime cheerleader of price-distorting eco-hokum, has signaled he may vote against increased subsidies in order to cut spending. Meanwhile, the ethanol lobby has concluded that the bills are “purely political and obviously supported by the oil industry.”
4.) Cowboy Ken caves — “Though Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently said he would not bow to political pressure on lifting the de facto drilling moratorium in the gulf, rumors that he would crack under that pressure were confirmed Monday evening when the first deep-water permit since the BP oil spill was issued,” reports The Daily Caller’s Amanda Carey. Getting the moratorium lifted wasn’t easy: Before it could happen, Texas-based Seahawk Drilling had to file for bankruptcy, and Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana had to spend the entire month of February hounding the feds for disobeying a June order to let oil company’s resume business. Oh! And a supposedly all-powerful coalition of oil companies had to invest $1 billion in a containment system that could deal with a Deepwater redux. All that, and Salazar has granted but one new permit! Clearly, Big Oil needs to get more bang for its buck.
5.) Poll finds that poll respondents are susceptible to biased language — “‘Poll Shows Support for Embattled Public Sector Workers’ is the headline over the New York Times’ news article about its own poll,” writes Ira Stoll. “If you actually read the poll, it says that 22% of those surveyed in the poll are either public sector workers or their household members. Back them out of the poll, and one could hang a different headline over it.” Not only that, but the poll language is intended to engender sympathy as much as to gauge it. Of four possible solutions for reining in debt, “decrease benefits of public employees” is less popular than “increase taxes.” But change the former to, “save money by having public employees contribute to their health care and pensions in the same way that private sector workers do,” and the latter to, “increase the income and sales tax you pay,” and the NYT’s headline could just as easily read, “Poll Shows Support for Asking Public Sector Workers to Act Like Adults.”
6.) Senator: Impending GAO report ‘will make us all look like jackasses’ — A GAO report to be released today “touches agencies and programs across the federal government, from the Transportation Security Agency to homeless programs and domestic food assistance, and what emerges is a kind of bureaucratic morass where sometimes enough is not even known about federal programs to provide an accurate evaluation,” reports FOX News. For instance: “An analysis of 18 different programs across three federal agencies that deal with domestic food assistance found that though multiple programs can ensure the needy have access to food, ‘administrative costs increase significantly,’ with GAO estimating a $62.5 billion expense to the government from overlap and duplication. Better coordination of hazardous material assessments between TSA and the Department of Transportation could save the government more than $1 million.”