Thoughtful analysis, straight reporting, maybe an appreciation? Sen. Jim DeMint had no press honeymoon upon announcing his bold career switch from U.S. senator to incoming president of the Heritage Foundation. His decision inspired a swift tidal wave of instant pronouncements in the mainstream news, not to mention snarky suggestions that the South Carolina Republican was selling out. Or worse. There was some respite, though. In contrast, Mr. DeMint's news was greeted by gracious statements from his Republican and conservative peers, who called him courageous, tireless, passionate and principled, among other things. Their words, for the most part, were thoughtful and measured.
That is not the case elsewhere. Among the many news accounts, a brief sampling of judgment calls on the gentleman from the Palmetto State:
"[A] kingmaker for conservative Republicans, often at the expense of his own Republican colleagues — now finds himself with a comfortable and well-paying perch that will provide a platform to continue his efforts to push the Republican Party to the right." (The New York Times)
"He was a cheerful starter of civil wars — a Republican who assembled candidates and money to beat other Republicans. (The Washington Post)
"A think tank presidency is also a great perch from which to pay a smart twentysomething to write a book that's published under your byline and then pushed out to [a] seemingly large audience for conservative political books." (Slate)
"Marriage made in right-wing heaven: Jim DeMint and the Heritage Foundation." (The Huffington Post)
THE HISTORIC CONSERVATIVE
"Conservatives must move from stop to go, from making points to making change."
- (Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation, to The New York Times, Oct. 27, 1989)
THE CLIFF MARKET
If President Obama and congressional Republicans fail to agree on the "fiscal cliff," the stock market will fall. If they agree, the stock market will go up. Simple as that. So says a new Potomac Research Group survey of hedge-fund, pension-fund and money-market managers: If an accord is not reached, 48 percent of the learned respondents said the Dow Jones industrial average would decline by 10 percent; about a third said it would drop by 5 percent, while 11 percent said the decline would be 20 percent.
If the two sides agree, half said the Dow would rise by 5 percent, and 27 percent said it would increase by 10 percent. Another 21 percent said the Dow wouldn't change if an agreement was reached.
As far as nuts and bolts go, almost half the respondents said they were most troubled by the possibility that the tax rate on dividends would rise to ordinary rates from the current 15 percent. One-fourth fretted most over the scheduled increase in the capital gains tax rate. Just 2 percent said they were most concerned about the scheduled increase in the top individual tax rate to 39.6 percent from the current top rate of 35 percent.
"Institutional investors, by and large, are also upbeat about the future of equity markets," the survey said. "Fifty-nine percent of those polled said they are optimistic compared to 29 percent who said they were pessimistic."
The poll of 60 institutional investors was conducted Nov. 27 through Dec. 3.
Do the math, and it comes to more than $500,000 a night. Certain price tags for ultimate true-blue fans of the upcoming presidential inauguration are, well, cosmic. Situated on Pennsylvania Avenue and a block from the White House, the JW Marriott hotel is offering a $2.7 million custom-tailored guest package "brimming with spectacular revelry, pomp and circumstance."
Indeed. Here's what the money buys: a tented party atop the hotel, four nights in two luxury Presidential Suites and two luxury "Running Mate" suites, 300 guest rooms for friends, $800,000 in food and beverages, "nightly keepsake inaugural amenities," and access to the inaugural parade route.
"During the last presidential inauguration, a similar package was created, purchased and enjoyed by a charitable organization who offered the rooms to the underprivileged," the hotel advises.
ONE MORE TRILLION
"There is a hidden $1 trillion net tax hike in the fiscal cliff that no one is talking about. According to the Congressional Budget Office, Obamacare's twenty new or higher taxes amount to a net $1 trillion over the next decade, 2013-2022," Americans for Tax Reform notes in a brief reminder missive.
"These tax increases are already permanent law due to Obamacare. They include the medical device tax, the surtax on investment income, the individual and employer mandate non-compliance penalty tax, the medical itemized deduction 'haircut,' the hike in the Medicare payroll tax rate, and others. These tax increases total exactly $1 trillion over the next ten years."
Uh-oh. The wind may be kicking up between a certain former vice president and President Obama.
"I deeply respect our president and I am grateful for the steps that he has taken, but we cannot have four more years of mentioning this occasionally and saying it's too bad that the Congress can't act. Our democracy has been hacked. And when the large part of polluters and their ideological allies tell the members of Congress to jump, they do say, 'how high?' And we need leadership in the executive branch as well."
(Al Gore, complaining about the lack of concern for climate change at the White House and elsewhere, in a speech before the Regional Plan Association and the New York League of Conservation Voters.)
POLL DU JOUR
• 81 percent of Americans are concerned about "racking up big bills" while Christmas and holiday shopping this year.
• 55 percent will give cheaper gifts; 31 percent are looking at more practical presents.
• 29 percent will agree with friends or family not to spend as much on each other.
• 21 percent will give homemade gifts; 9 percent say they will simply buy fewer gifts
• 5 percent say they will splurge on gifts this year.
• 66 million Americans, or 36 percent of "gift givers," have not begun their shopping yet.
• $483: the median amount they will spend on gifts this season.
Source: A Consumer Reports survey of 1,110 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 1-30 and released Thursday.
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