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Posted at 6:52 AM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Wonkbook: The best story you'll read on earmarks

By Ezra Klein

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If you want to see why holding the line on deficit reduction is going to be so difficult, read Jennifer Steinhauer's report on how members of Congress and the communities they represent are reacting to a world without earmarks. The earmark moratorium, it turns out, isn't confined to projects that sound funny when Sen. John McCain tweets about them. "Also shelved are a project to help consolidate information about warrants in Brazos County, Tex., and staffing for two new shelters for abused women and children in Salt Lake City. A rural Wisconsin county will not be able to upgrade its communication system, and a road in Kentucky will not be widened next year."

Those aren't the sort of projects the public has in mind when they hear the word "earmark." But those are the sort of projects that actually make up most of the earmarks. And as Steinhauer goes on to note, the spending freeze is going to make it much harder for politicians to get that money for their community by other means. That'll mean "scores of lawmakers are going to find themselves explaining to the people back home why their bridges will not be finished, their rape-victim programs canceled before they started, their federal requirements ignored." You can't help but wonder whether some of the new legislators who are certain this stuff is all waste and none of this spending will be missed might walk out with a different impression.

I'm not a fan of earmarks for various reasons related to their effect on Washington's lobbying culture. But they have a worse rap than they deserve. So does a lot of government spending. Which doesn't mean the grim reality of the budget deficit is any different, or the need to get our finances in order is somehow lifted. It just means it's going to get a lot harder once we start actually talking about the programs that need to be cut along the way. Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn said, “I could give you $350 billion worth of cuts tomorrow that nobody would miss." Perhaps he's right. But I doubt it. For comparison's sake, we appropriated a mere $16 billion in earmarks in 2010, and I think Congress -- and particularly the new members -- are going to find that more people will miss that spending than they'd thought.

Top Stories

Obama urged members of the Chamber of Commerce to start hiring, reports Brady Dennis: "President Obama on Monday pledged to make government an ally of companies as they emerge from the bleak downturn of recent years, even as he challenged executives to do their part to help resurrect the economy...His administration will 'help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate,' Obama said, vowing new investment in infrastructure and education and a focus on removing 'barriers that make it harder for you to compete - from the tax code to the regulatory system.' But even as he vowed to push hard on initiatives ranging from trade deals to corporate tax reform, Obama challenged business leaders to ramp up their hiring, bring jobs back from overseas and quit sitting on such large stockpiles of cash."

Read the speech: http://bit.ly/fBqcel

The new earmark ban has put many local projects on hold, reports Jennifer Steinhauer: "Gone for now are the likes of the taxpayer-financed teapot museum, or studies on the mating habits of crabs. But also shelved are a project to help consolidate information about warrants in Brazos County, Tex., and staffing for two new shelters for abused women and children in Salt Lake City. A rural Wisconsin county will not be able to upgrade its communication system, and a road in Kentucky will not be widened next year. Across the country, local governments, nonprofit groups and scores of farmers, to name but a few, are waking up to the fact that when Congress stamped out earmarks last week, it was talking about their projects, too."

House energy chair Fred Upton opposes a clean energy standard, reports Ben Geman: "House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) on Monday criticized the notion of a federal 'clean energy standard' for electric utilities, comments that highlight the political hurdles facing a central piece of the White House energy agenda. In a wide-ranging interview with E2, Upton noted that more than two-dozen states have renewable electricity standards tailored to their 'state dynamics,' and that it would be difficult to overlay a federal mandate...President Obama’s State of the Union speech last month called for a “clean” standard in which the nation would obtain 80 percent of its power from low-carbon sources -- including renewables and nuclear power -- by 2035."

Real talk: No Fred Upton, no energy bill.

The vacancy levels for the federal judiciary are reaching a crisis point, report Jerry Markon and Shailagh Murray: "Federal judges have been retiring at a rate of one per week this year, driving up vacancies that have nearly doubled since President Obama took office. The departures are increasing workloads dramatically and delaying trials in some of the nation's federal courts. The crisis is most acute along the southwestern border, where immigration and drug cases have overwhelmed court officials. Arizona recently declared a judicial emergency, extending the deadline to put defendants on trial. The three judges in Tucson, the site of last month's shooting rampage, are handling about 1,200 criminal cases apiece... Experts blame Republican delaying tactics, slow White House nominations and a dysfunctional Senate confirmation system."

Mash-up interlude: The Hood Internet's "Ignition (Keep It Remixing Louder)".

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

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Still to come: The FDIC is proposing delays to bank executive bonuses; GOP governors want more flexibility on implementing health care reform; a bipartisan Senate duo is trying again on immigration reform; the House GOP is fighting a lawsuit against energy companies; and the new Captain America trailer.

Economy

The FDIC wants to delay bank executive bonuses, reports Marcy Gordon: "Federal regulators have proposed making top executives at large financial firms wait at least three years to be paid half of their annual bonuses, a move designed to cut down on risky financial transactions. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. voted Monday to advance the rule, which builds on more general requirements in last year's financial regulatory law to curtail risk-taking. The rule targets firms with $50 billion or more in assets, seeking to tie bonuses with financial performance over a longer time period...The bonus requirement would apply to major financial institutions, such as Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co."

Wall Street wants a bigger budget for the SEC: http://nyti.ms/h1mnvM

A study suggests that home prices would be lower without public support, reports Nick Timiraos: "Mortgage rates could be one percentage point higher and house prices 10% lower if the U.S. mortgage market were fully privatized, according to a paper to be released Tuesday by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. The calculations help build Mr. Zandi's case for replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with new entities constituting a public-private hybrid system for financing home loans. The proposal is the latest in a growing list of white papers by economists and academics looking to influence the debate over how to reinvent the nation's mortgage market. The Obama administration is set to issue its own recommendations as soon as this week."

Business doesn't need Congress' help in fighting regulation, writes Timothy Noah: "Granted, not all problems that arise from regulation are foreseeable during the rulemaking process. But when they aren't, business has little trouble making its complaint heard in Washington. The amount of money spent last year on lobbying--just on lobbying, not on campaign contributions--was $3.47 billion, which is more than double the $1.56 billion spent 10 years earlier. Some of that money was spent by labor unions and public-interest groups, but the overwhelming majority of it was spent by businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone spent $132 million last year on lobbying."

Comic geek interlude: The first trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger.

Health Care

GOP governors are pushing for "flexibility" on health care reform, reports Sarah Kliff: "Republican governors want HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make specific changes to the new health exchanges, and have threatened to pull back on running their own exchanges if their demands are not met. 'Many of us believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be repealed by Congress if the courts do not strike it down first,' 21 of the 29 GOP governors wrote in a Monday morning letter. 'But, with no assurance of either outcome, we face the decision of whether to participate in the bill by operating state exchanges.'...The Republican governors’ letter came on the heels of Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, pushing for the same modifications."

Moderate Democrats are starting to look for ways to reform the individual mandate, reports Manu Raju: "Nelson, who faces a tough road to win a third term next year, asked the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office to outline alternatives to the mandate, potentially by bringing large numbers of people into insurance coverage through open and closed enrollment periods. He may offer legislation once the congressional scorekeepers report back to him...Nelson fired back at GOP critics who said he’s trying to distance himself from the law. 'What’s their plan? Is their plan, 'hope you don’t get sick'?”

If the Supreme Court's conservatives are consistent, they will uphold health care reform, writes Laurence Tribe: "Given the clear case for the law’s constitutionality, it’s distressing that many assume its fate will be decided by a partisan, closely divided Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia, whom some count as a certain vote against the law, upheld in 2005 Congress’s power to punish those growing marijuana for their own medical use; a ban on homegrown marijuana, he reasoned, might be deemed 'necessary and proper' to effectively enforce broader federal regulation of nationwide drug markets. To imagine Justice Scalia would abandon that fundamental understanding of the Constitution’s necessary and proper clause because he was appointed by a Republican president is to insult both his intellect and his integrity."

The administration is considering tweaking health care reform's long-term care provision, the CLASS act: http://on.wsj.com/eky6ZC

The danger for health-care reform is that Republicans will stand in the way of further reforms, writes Ezra Klein: Like any major piece of legislation, parts of it will work much better than we expect, and parts of it will disappoint us. Perhaps the experiment with paying hospitals a flat fee to treat a patient's diabetes will prove a smashing success, leading to lower costs and higher-quality care. And perhaps the provision allowing individuals to publicly rate their insurers will prove a disaster, with companies paying the computer-savvy to rig the ratings. In that world, the answer would be obvious: Expand the good and repeal the bad. Indeed, we should expect to do this over and over again. We'll constantly need to double down on what works, remove what doesn't, and add new ideas and refinements into the mix. Policymakers are never omniscient, but they are, at their best, persistent. And that's how we'll move from the inefficient and expensive health-care system we have to the efficient and affordable system we want: one tweak at a time.

"That assumes, however, that both parties' top priority is to get from the system we have to the system that the Affordable Care Act suggests we want: a system with lower costs and near-universal care. But is it? Increasingly, it seems not."

Domestic Policy

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer are trying again on immigration reform, reports Carrie Budoff Brown: "Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have rekindled their alliance on immigration reform, taking some early steps to test the political will for addressing the contentious issue this year. Their call list hasn’t focused so much on House and Senate members who’ve been reliable pro-immigration votes in the past. Instead, they’re looking to a strange-bedfellows mix of conservative and liberal constituencies that can provide a 'safety net' of support, as Graham put it, once the issue heats up...For all the groups getting a call from the pair, it is the presence of Graham himself who elevates the odds -- however bleak -- that the Senate could move on a comprehensive, bipartisan overhaul bill."

The National Labor Relations Board has declared it illegal to fire an employee for complaining about work on Facebook: http://politi.co/i5bQB8

The FAA reauthorization bill is full of pet projects, reports Shira Toeplitz: "Earmarks might be on the outs in Washington, but the first bill on the Senate floor since Democrats reluctantly embraced an earmark ban is still chock-full of expensive aviation pet projects that lawmakers are eager to defend for their voters back home. Tucked inside a current draft of a bill to fund Federal Aviation Administration programs are legislative line items that would direct money to state-specific projects and programs, including $12 million to subsidize flights to 44 rural communities in Alaska, a land transfer for a new airport in Nevada and new airspace testing sites likely in Oregon...Critics call these backdoor earmarks, while defenders say they’re not violating the rules of the ban and are doing an important part of a senator’s job."

Democrats reached a deal on three judges' confirmation: http://huff.to/fkUBfP

Adding college graduates will not solve our economic inequality problem, writes Lawrence Mishel: "The college premium has barely budged in 10 years. Yet income inequality among households has soared since 2001, and the wage gap between high- and middle-wage workers has grown strongly as well. Something that's not growing--the college premium--cannot explain growing inequality. Having more college graduates will leave untouched the income inequality driven by the outsized income growth (from salaries and capital gains) claimed by the upper 1 percent and the upper 0.1 percent. Wage gaps are primarily driven by increased inequalities among workers with similar educations (among college graduates, for example) rather than by differences across education groups."

Adorable animals finding common ground interlude: A French bull dog licking a cat.

Energy

The House GOP is fighting a court case against utility companies, reports Robin Bravender: "Two top House Republicans and the Senate’s leading global warming skeptic asked the Supreme Court Monday to throw out a lawsuit seeking to force electric utilities to slash greenhouse gas emissions. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), his energy lieutenant Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) submitted an amicus brief Monday in the high-profile American Electric Power v. Connecticut case. The lawmakers urged the judges to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed states and environmental groups to move ahead with a public 'nuisance' lawsuit seeking to force the utilities to cut their greenhouse gas emissions."

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson will testify before the Republican House tomorrow: http://politi.co/hYE0dZ

The administration is insisting its goal of one million electric cars operating within four years is realistic, reports Peter Whoriskey: "President Obama's goal of 1 million electric cars on the road within the next four years is achievable, according to an administration report to be released Tuesday, contradicting a finding last week from an industry panel. The administration report finds that automakers are prepared to produce 1.2 million plug-in electric vehicles by 2015. By contrast, a panel of industry leaders said that automakers' production plans are 'currently insufficient' to meet the president's goal. The opposing reports both attempted to tally electric-car production efforts, but differed over how many plug-in cars General Motors will manufacture and other matters."

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews and Michelle Williams. Photo credit: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post Photo.

By Ezra Klein  | February 8, 2011; 6:52 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
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Comments

Both Cap and Thor look pretty good. It looks like Thor is at least taking some cues from J.M. Stracynski's recent relaunch of the title, which is a good thing.

Posted by: MosBen | February 8, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"To imagine Justice Scalia would abandon that fundamental understanding of the Constitution’s necessary and proper clause because he was appointed by a Republican president is to insult both his intellect and his integrity."

I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that partisan politics is going on in here.

Posted by: suehall | February 8, 2011 8:30 AM | Report abuse

"So does a lot of government spending. Which doesn't mean the grim reality of the budget deficit is any different, or the need to get our finances in order is somehow lifted"

For the umpteenth time, government deficit is the accounting offset of our trade deficit plus domestic private sector surplus. Reducing the deficit without turning around the trade deficit and/or driving the private sector into indebtedness is impossible. When will you start getting the basic accounting right?

Posted by: pdrub | February 8, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

"For comparison's sake, we appropriated a mere $16 billion in earmarks in 2010, and I think Congress -- and particularly the new members -- are going to find that more people will miss that spending than they'd thought."

Whoa, whoa, whoa....hold up a minute. I thought liberals told us that eliminating earmarks would not reduce spending a penny, but would merely pass the authority for that spending to the executive branch?

If these projects are that critical, then certainly someone can let Obama know and he can make sure they are all still done, right? I mean, if cutting earmarks REALLY doesn't reduce total spending?

Unless, of course, that was yet another liberal lie...and cutting earmarks DOES in fact reduce spending.

Posted by: dbw1 | February 8, 2011 9:22 AM | Report abuse

"And perhaps the provision allowing individuals to publicly rate their insurers will prove a disaster, with companies paying the computer-savvy to rig the ratings"


I love how you come up with this crap Ezra. Is it not possible that there's someone out there that's actually HAPPY with their insurance? That realizes that they have paid in "X" in the form of premiums and taken out "much more than X" in the way of paid claims and is grateful for that? Or are there only people out there that hate their insurance companies so much so that insurers have to pay people to "rig the ratings" as you suggest.

You seriously need an editor to keep somewhat in balance.

insurers certainly do enough wrong so you don't need to go making stuff up (or suggesting they'll do things illegal or unethical).

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 8, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Consider the four projects included as the 'proof' of really important projects that will lose funding with the ban on earmarks:

1) consolidate information about warrants in Brazos County, Tex.

2) staffing for two new shelters for abused women and children in Salt Lake City.

3) A rural Wisconsin county will not be able to upgrade its communication system

4) a road in Kentucky will not be widened next year.

Any defender of earmarks (which can include both Democrats and some Republicans) needs to explain why any of the projects above should be paid for with FEDERAL tax dollars.

Maybe all four of those projects are really important; but if that's the case, then the LOCAL taxpayers who stand to directly benefit should be the ones to pay for them. Why should a taxpayer in Florida have their FEDERAL income taxes go to pay for widening a road in Kentucky?

If you are willing to think it through, the canard of 'worthy projects' being paid for with federal dollars just proves that earmarks became nothing more than the chips to be bargained with when it came to passing legislation (hey, you vote 'yes' on the PPACA and we'll make sure you get that $150 million earmark in the next appropriations budget for a new museum in your district).

Posted by: dbw1 | February 8, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

visionbrkr:
"I love how you come up with this crap Ezra. Is it not possible that there's someone out there that's actually HAPPY with their insurance?"

Before the ACA was ever passed, poll after poll showed the vast majority of Americans were perfectly happy with both their health insurance plans and the quality of health care they received. (80%-90%, depending on which poll you want to look at; link pasted below....newsweek, no less).

But of course the reality of the situation didn't fit the template progressives needed to tell in order to convince people that sweeping overhaul was needed to fix the issues for the 5%-10% who were uninsured or not happy with their situation.

So progressives like Ezra will continue spinning that American health care is horrific in order to keep pumping the message that nothing short of complete government control will ever fix it's shortcomings.

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2009/09/01/poll-finds-large-majority-of-americans-happy-with-their-health-insurance.html

Posted by: dbw1 | February 8, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for eliminating earmarks

Sounds to me it may cause elected reps to have more incentive to vote for the good of the country instead of what's good for their home state.

And that sounds like less money will flow from state to state (rich to poor), and that means increased pressure locally from the voters to make changes appropriate to each state. Rich states may likely have voters pressuring local pols to cut taxes and services, while voters in poor states may force local pols to do something about local problems like poverty, health care, etc.. Or maybe I'm just dreaming.

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 8, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

@dbw1,

That's all fine and good but change is/was needed and is still needed. That doesn't mean it gives Ezra the right to just make stuff up of suggest a group is going to do something like fudge results before its even started. not for nothing but NCQA has been doing the ratings of insurers for years and has never been questioned so why do we need that anyway other than a reason to have more bureaucracy?

http://www.ncqa.org/tabid/506/Default.aspx

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 8, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

@pdrub:
"For the umpteenth time, government deficit is the accounting offset of our trade deficit plus domestic private sector surplus."

You could define "trade deficit" such that this was the tautological case, but that isn't the definition that is used when people refer to the Trade Deficit. What you are trying to describe is more of a "transfer deficit"; perhaps more particularly a "Currency Transfer Deficit", for which I have seen no evidence that one exists for the US.

Posted by: eggnogfool | February 8, 2011 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Lauren:

"Sounds to me it may cause elected reps to have more incentive to vote for the good of the country instead of what's good for their home state."
+++++++++++++++

I'm afraid it will mean they will vote for the good of their party, not the country...

Posted by: JkR- | February 8, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

@eggnogfool,
"perhaps more particularly a "Currency Transfer Deficit", for which I have seen no evidence that one exists for the US"

What? So, you see no evidence for the foreigners desire to accumulate US dollars? What planet do you live on?

Posted by: pdrub | February 8, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"A study suggests that home prices would be lower without public support, reports Nick Timiraos: "Mortgage rates could be one percentage point higher and house prices 10% lower if the U.S. mortgage market were fully privatized, according to a paper to be released Tuesday by Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics."

Zandi's being conservative. The spread would certainly reach 1.5%, and most likely 2% as I have written about here before.

The administration report, calling for a reduction of Fannie and Freddie control of the new mortgage market from the current 95% to 50% is dead on arrival, just like all the deficit reduction studies. Home prices are still falling in many areas, and taking action on this before November 2012 would be strictly unthinkable!

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 8, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"The administration is insisting its goal of one million electric cars operating within four years is realistic, reports Peter Whoriskey: "President Obama's goal of 1 million electric cars on the road within the next four years is achievable, according to an administration report to be released Tuesday, contradicting a finding last week from an industry panel."

Unless you're inlcuding hybrids like the Volt, Prius etc., this is the wildest fantasy imagineable, even moreso than calling for a doubling of exports.

To date only two totally electric vehicles are sold in the US the Leaf and the Tesla. Total Tesla sales are secret but the number in the US is thought to be about 400-500 so far. The Leaf is barely even sold here yet, and has probably sold less than 75 nationwide.

Holding on to numbers that are figments of imagination is one way to make yourself look exttremely foolish come fall 2102.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 8, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Chinese drought threatens wheat supplies.

Just adding this because SOME people here don't think weather is affecting wheat prices....

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/business/global/09food.html?_r=1&hp

The Food and Agriculture Organization said that 5.16 million hectares, or 12.75 million acres, of China’s 14 million hectares of wheat fields had been affected by the drought, and that 2.57 million people and 2.79 million head of livestock faced shortages of drinking water.

Chinese state news media are describing the drought in increasingly dire terms. “Minimal rainfall or snow this winter has crippled China’s major agricultural regions, leaving many of them parched,” reported Xinhua, the state-run news agency. “Crop production has fallen sharply, as the worst drought in six decades shows no sign of letting up.”

Posted by: lauren2010 | February 8, 2011 12:18 PM | Report abuse

lauren:

I left you a lengthy post yesterday, but you never responded.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 8, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

lauren:

This is the post I was referring to.

You wrote:

"then I think what you are saying is that speculators are the reason for high food prices."'

-well speculators include farmers, food producers, food retailers, and sovreign wealth funds of governments who are highly involved in the import or export of grains. You seem to think that's a bad thing. I call it a market.

For instance a smart farmer in Australia who was expecting a bumper crop this year would have been able to months ago purchase call options on grain futures, reasoning that if his crop came in, it was like the hazard insurance on your house, money wasted in a good cause. However if, as happened, his crop was destroyed, then the options would run up and compensate him for his loss in some way.

Similary McDonald's is constrained from passing on the increased costs of the their raw materials to their consumers. There's only so much you can ask for a double cheesburger. so they go into the commodities market and hedge aginst that rise to offset their declining margins.

Multinational companies do this with currencies to prevent wild swings in their balance sheet which cause destruction to their stock prices. It really isn't any different then you as an individual calculating how much and what kind of the various types of insurance available to you to buy.

Now there are people like me who enter that market in an effort to profit in some way from that change in prices. Even so, for me it's still a hedge. Being self-employed as a homeless guy at a public library computer, I have to speculate on commodity prices because I have no way to increase my income to match inlfation. LOL

"Not ONE event as you initially claimed Krugman said.

BTW, Krugman, also points out that food prices have been high the last TWO years (including 2009, as you say)."

-then in writing quickly I did not convery my thoughts well. I wasn't refrring to one event but the capacity of the market to ABSORB one event or two. That is the dynamic that is changed by the production of biofuels.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 8, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

johnmarshall5446:
"Unless you're inlcuding hybrids like the Volt, Prius etc., this is the wildest fantasy imagineable..."

Take heart, at least Democrats are continuing their legacy of inefficient and wasteful ‘stimulus’ via the EV rebates. Looks like we will spend almost $6 million of our tax dollars per job-created in the auto industry to make these plug-in cars.

According to JD Power, about 20,000 plug-in vehicles are projected to sell this year. The tax credit may boost that number 10%, or an extra 2,000 cars. Do the math, and you will see...if JD Power is correct...that we are set to spend $165 million this year to sell an extra 2,000 cars, which 'creates' (at least in liberal-land) 29 jobs.

I’m sure all the do-gooder liberals are thrilled with spending $165 million to create 29 jobs, and on a program that transfers wealth to the rich, no less, as there probably aren’t very many poor-and-downtrodden buying $40,000 vehicles.

Oh, and as an aside just because I like giving liberals perspective...you know all those greedy health insurance company CEO’s routinely demonized by Ezra and the left? Well, you could pay nearly ALL their salaries (including their lavish perks and bonuses) for a year just with the taxpayer money progressives want to transfer to rich people in order to sell an extra 2,000 'green' cars.

Good deal, no?

Posted by: dbw1 | February 8, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

dbw:

We differ somewhat. I don't mind the EV industry, it's the wild projections that make no sense. For instance the EV is not going to become the majority of cars on the road in our lifetimes. However for someone who lives in the city and has access to an outlet, it may make sense. Similarly putting solar panels on the White House is grandstanding idiocy, but in the Southwest they may make good economic sense.

I don't know why we seem to insist for both sides that we must totally switch to energy and fuel alternatives, or must banish them forever from the planet. The extremists on both sides are making what should be essentially business decisions into litmus tests of faith.

Posted by: johnmarshall5446 | February 8, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"I don't mind the EV industry"

I'm sure dbw1 doesn't mind the EV industry either - just the subsidies going towards it.

If GM can sell a million Volts a year, great. Just don't pick our pockets to give EV customers a discount.

"I don't know why we seem to insist for both sides that we must totally switch to energy and fuel alternatives, or must banish them forever from the planet. The extremists on both sides are making what should be essentially business decisions into litmus tests of faith."

Exactly. Leave it as a business decision. If the technology continues to improve, customers will follow.

Posted by: justin84 | February 8, 2011 10:34 PM | Report abuse

If you are in a home and want to refinance, 2 things are absolutely key. First, you must have meaningful equity in your home. Second, you must have a good credit score. But in this economy if you do not have both of them still you could get a good rate, Search online for "123 Mortgage Refi" they gave me the lowest rate of 3.45% my credit history is not so good.

Posted by: audrahaney | February 9, 2011 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Earmarks have been a great tool for expanding federal government involvement at the state and local level. That is what is wrong with earmarks - federal spending should be limited to federal work. Let the states and local communities pay for their own projects - not the federal taxpayer. This shifts the financial burden to the direct beneficiary.

Posted by: Sailorjazz | February 9, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Your earmarks comments are very naive. Any capable House member or Senator can find out in advance were many of the projects they want are ranked by the Federal agency. So if has an aide to Boehner talks with an Agency, he or she can find out how a project might fare. So without earmarking a project, a member can vote against earmarks and still get their project. It might not work for everyone but it does work for the Speaker.

Posted by: JuanValdezz | February 9, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

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