WINDFALL AT THE POST. For fogies like me who read the newsprint version of newspapers, today�s Washington Post -- more particularly, the ads in today�s Washington Post -- was a revelation. In the paper�s A Section, three separate full-page ads appeared from right-wing groups threatened by the advance of Democratic legislation through the new Congress. On page A5, the so-called Center for Union Facts re-ran its ad equating American labor leaders with Kim Jong Il and Fidel Castro, obviously fearing that the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it possible for workers to join unions without fear of management retaliation, will pass the House and command a (not necessarily filibuster-proof) majority in the Senate.

On page A15, Phrma, the drug company lobby, ran an ad against the legislation, already passed by the House, that would end the prohibition on the government�s negotiating prices with drug companies under Medicare Part D. (The very existence of the ad completely undercuts Phrma�s own arguments that the legislation wouldn�t really reduce drug prices. If that�s so, why is it spending money trying to kill it?) Lastly, just when you thought you�ve almost made it to the sometime-safe-haven of the op-ed page, there appears, on A20, an ad from the Employment Policies Institute against raising the minimum wage. That�s three full-page ads -- as many pages as Macy�s purchased (pages A7-9) announcing either its post-Christmas or pre-Ground Hog�s Day sale.

Plainly, the Democratic Congress is already having a measurably positive effect on Post revenues. It is producing legislation that is prompting business lobbies to drop a small fortune on our hometown paper in particular (those ads are nowhere to be seen in today�s New York Times).

What the Post will do with this sudden windfall raises an interesting consideration. Among all its writers, only its op-ed columnists were free to recommend a particular course of action to voters last November, and among all its op-ed columnists, only a relative handful actually opined that a Democratic Congress would, considering the alternative, be the better option for civilization as we know it. The overwhelming question of the moment, then, is whether those columnists will share in the Post�s new bounty. The world awaits with baited breath.

--Harold Meyerson

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