- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE GRAND OLD HEARTY

Aw. Valentine's Day is a-comin.’ The Republican National Committee is there. Chairman Reince Priebus wants all Americans to send out a nice card, particularly to “those Democrats who need to know how you feel about the wrong direction their party is dragging our country,” he says. The committee has 18 free electronic cards, ready with the push of a button, featuring such Democratic luminaries as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, with sly, clever greetings.

Valentine's Day is a big [expletive] deal” says the card featuring Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “You can’t censure this card,” says the one for Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York. There are more. Many more. See and send them here: www. gopvalentine.com.

LUB-DUB, LUB-DUB

While the nation perhaps ponders what assorted politicos plan to give their sweethearts on Valentine's Day, read this and weep. Want to “score points” with spouse or significant other when Cupid arrives on a tide of doilies and sentiment? Plan on spending $2,602. So says erudite financial adviser Ric Edelman, who has confabulated (and trademarked) the “Edelman Valentine’s Day Index”, which appears to measure either feminine greed or masculine guilt. Here is how he figures it, brand names and everything:

Valentine's Day card from Hallmark ($4), one pound box of Godiva chocolates ($50), a dozen roses from FTD Florist ($75), gold heart locket and chain from Zale’s Jewelers ($199), spa day at Elizabeth Arden Red Door ($475), silk nightie from Victoria’s Secret ($89), dinner for two at Ruth’s Chris Steak House ($300), one-night stay at a typical Ritz-Carlton ($429), three-night escape to Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas ($981).

While everyone does the math to make sure Mr. Edelman’s calculations are correct, may we suggest that “fidelity” might be the most successful Valentine's Day gift in these times of romantic peril. But the ever prudent Mr. Edelman — who will soon host “The Truth About Money” on PBS — has an even better idea.

“Considering that hefty price tag, it might be best just to tell your beloved, ‘I love you’ and put the cash into his or her IRA. Saving for your true love’s future proves that your love is eternal,” Mr. Edelman tells Inside the Beltway.

RED INK

Oh, woe is us. Behold, the epic tales from the Treasury Department’s newly released monthly report: The U.S. budget deficit in January was $49.8 billion, the second-largest deficit on record for the month. The deficit for the fiscal year to date: $419 billion. Prediction for the budget deficit in fiscal 2011: $1.48 trillion — 9.8 percent of the U.S. economy.

Moving right along, President Obama shares his budget plans for fiscal 2012 before Congress on Monday. Brace for impact. The big reveal, however, comes under the keen interest of House Speaker John A. Boehner.

“We’re broke. We’re borrowing 41 cents for every dollar that we spend. And this spending binge is hurting job creation by eroding confidence, draining funds from private investment and spreading uncertainty among employers both big and small,” the Ohio Republican observes.

“Without fiscal stability, we cannot have economic stability. Next week we’ll bring to the floor a continuing resolution that contains the largest discretionary spending cut in the history of our country,” the speaker says. “This resolution will be marked not for what it continues, but for what it ends — and that’s Washington’s spending binge.”

UH-OH

“The Loudest Voice in the Room: An Inside Account of the Rise of Fox News.”

Explanation: Title of a new book to be published by Random House and written by New York magazine contributing editor Gabriel Sherman, based on a cover story he wrote for the magazine in October called “Chasing Fox: The loud, cartoonish blood sport that’s engorged MSNBC, exhausted CNN — and is making our body politic delirious.”

Translation: “Prototypical member of liberal media elite writing Roger Ailes book,” as per Hamilton Nolan, of Gawker.com

WELL LA-DI-DAH

The much-ballyhooed “CPAC Straw Poll” is now “The Washington Times/CPAC Straw Poll”. Indeed, this paper has sponsored it.

The 11,000 attendees at the annual conservative shindig will vote on the poll — considered one of the first serious looks at Republican 2012 presidential contenders — through Friday. Results will be released at 5 p.m. Saturday and talked about all day Sunday.

It’s a whopper, though. Fifteen candidates are listed on the survey — all the regulars, plus newcomers Jon Huntsman Jr., Herman Cain, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and former New Mexico Gov. Gary E. Johnson.

The survey also plumbs the conservative take on prominent issues, from illegal immigration to gun rights; opinions of the Republican field of contenders and a foray into “core beliefs and ideology.” Respondents are to name the most important thing to them: smaller government, traditional life-affirming values or a secure nation.

See all the big doings as they happen here: http://video.cpac.org

POLL DU JOUR

• 76 percent of Americans are interested in the ongoing uprising in Egypt.

• 23 percent are not interested in the situation.

• 58 percent are “wary of efforts to spread democracy in the region.”

• 63 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats agree.

• 32 percent say the U.S. “should always support democracy in the Middle East, regardless of risk.”

Source: A Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,112 adults conducted Feb. 4 to 7.

Tipline always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com. Follow the column at twitter.com/harperbulletin