GOREWATCH. So far as all the speculation that Gore has released his fundraisers and is definitively out goes, color me unimpressed. To be clear, I don't think Gore will run -- I'd put the odds at 60:40 against. But the decision has nothing to do with his funders. As Rich Lowrynotes, Gore doesn't, in any case, have a serious network of longtime moneymen waiting for reactivation. Whatever cash-shoveling infrastructure he built in 2000 has long since atrophied, and much of it is probably solidly in Hillary's camp.
THAT EXPLAINS IT. If you're ever confused about the GOP's puzzling determination to eliminate the broadly supportable estate tax, this report showing that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their cabinet will personally gain between $90 and $340 million dollars from the tax's repeal clarifies things considerably.
HOORAY FOR PRE-K. The vote on California's Proposition 82 -- the Rob Reiner-spearheaded initiative providing universal access to preschool for all Californians, paid for by an income tax hike on wealthy residents -- is coming up in a week. The odds are still in its favor for passage, though not overwhelmingly so.
SPEAKER PELOSI.The New York TimesassessesNancy Pelosi today. Much ink (including a direct quote from Barney Frank) is devoted to how bad she is on television. This is true; she's bad on television. It's her deficiency as a "spokesperson for the party" that seems partly to explain the rather odd pincer dynamic that's emerged under her leadership, wherein various observers, activists, and members both to her left and to her right have expressed dissatisfaction with her. The hostility from the right -- from Steny Hoyer's allies, a.k.a.
MAY ACTUALLY DO A HECKUVA JOB. With Treasury Secretary John Snowfinally on his way out, Bush has named Goldman-Sachs CEO Henry Paulson to be Snow�s replacement. Paulson is -- believe it or not -- a serious, competent guy who comes, like Robert Rubin before him, from Wall Street. Better yet, he retains a reputation of his own, has long ties to the private sector, and has plenty of money in the bank. In other words, the administration needs him, he doesn't need them, and both sides know it. Paulson should enjoy an easy confirmation, and Chuck Schumer has already offered his support. Guess the Bush administration didn't feel like picking a fight...
ORIGINAL ZIN. Newly appointed White House domestic policy chieftain Karl Zinsmeister admits to The Washington Post today that he altered his quotes in the online reprint of an article, without ever informing the reporter of the story that he contested the original quotes or readers that he'd altered them. Zinsmeister tells the Post he didn't take the matter up with the reporter at the time because he didn't want to get him in trouble.
THE (IN)CORRUPTIBILITY OF HARRY REID. On Harry Reid and the case of the comp boxing tickets, this is about as fully a non-story as you can imagine. The lay of the land went something like this: Reid was offering legislation to increase federal regulation of boxing. The Nevada Athletic Agency, concerned the new body would usurp their authority, gave him ringside seats to three matches, where officials from the NAA presumably pressured him on the bill. Reid watched, listened, and then voted for his legislation -- exactly what the NAA had been hoping to head off.
I have always considered the consumer confidence index to be one of the least valuable releases of economic data. Consumer spending is hugely important for the state of the economy, but the index provides very little information about the direction of spending. The index includes two components, a current situation component, which does track current spending reasonably well (and therefore has little predictive value about the future), and an expectations component which is highly volatile and has very little predictive value.
It took 43 days, but the Washington Post did finally correct an April 17th news story that had Mexico's economy growing at a 17.5 percent annual rate in the period since the passage of NAFTA. This is longer than one would hope, and it required much more prodding from my colleagues at CEPR than should have been necessary, but it is still good to see that the paper felt a responsibility to correct such a blatant mistake.