The Republican Party has one last chance to save itself. This is the real meaning of this week's historic moment when former House Speaker and present Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi transferred the gavel to newly elected Speaker of the House John A. Boehner.
Under the recent extension of George W. Bush-era tax cuts, whether continuation of already-low income taxes will amount to a "stimulus" is debatable - most people were already expecting it to pass. But the legislation includes a cut in 2011 Social Security payroll tax rates from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent on wage earnings up to the taxable limit. This is an unambiguous stimulus because it is new, unexpected and financed out of an increase in the nation's debt.
It's probably safe to assume that Australian Internet activist Julian Assange wasn't thinking specifically about Iran when his brainchild, the information clearinghouse WikiLeaks, released its latest round of classified U.S. government cables. Still, the data dump, encompassing more than a quarter-million internal memos issued by the State Department and U.S. embassies overseas, successfully demolishes a number of sacred cows relating to American policy toward the Islamic republic and its burgeoning nuclear effort.
The dueling economic arguments by Democrats and Republicans will dominate the airwaves between now and Nov. 2 in an election that will turn on which message is believed.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer has left open the possibility of a holding a vote on extending middle-class tax cuts before the Nov. 2 midterm elections, although he suggested a vote during the post-election "lame duck" session is more likely.
If pumping money into people's pockets stimulates the economy, vacuuming money from their pockets should depress the economy. Given how sad today's economy is, depressing it even further may make it leap out a window.