- Fox News commentator Tony Snow is reportedly "leaning toward accepting a job as the new White House press secretary," says the New York Times. When I first heard about this possibility I was a little surprised, but then I realized they might as well just cut out the middleman and pay Snow directly to flack for the Administration since he's done it so well for six years anyway.
- Another Times headline today is "New Criticism Falls on 'Emergency Spending'". Now, since I've been immersed (submerged?) in academia for the past few years when I first reading that I shuddered and thought 'Oh no, do we really have to bring Foucault into the debate over earmarking?' Thankfully that's not what the cheeky Times headliner meant - it really is just "renewed criticism" over what really counts as an "emergency" in a spending bill to cover costs for the Iraq war and hurricane recovery. I've said for a long time that the Administration has been dishonest (and fiscally tricky) by refusing to include war costs in the regular budget and then forcing Congress to pass "emergency" spending bills. Guess what? They're still doing it. And of course, by doing so, members of Congress get to tack on little projects here and there, and pretty soon we're talking about real money.
This bill's tab so far is hovering around the $106 billion mark, thanks to chunks tacked on by senators, like $1.1 billion in fisheries projects, including a $15.1 million "seafood promotion strategy". Great, we're now going to foot the bill for the triumphal return of Charlie the Tuna. The Senate version of the bill is now more than $14 billion over what President Bush requested, and $15 billion more than the House version (which already passed).
There are two issues here: first, what is an emergency (not seafood promotion strategies, I would argue, but also not the war in Iraq, which we've sort of known about for a few years now and ought to be folded into the regular budget process), and second, will the President actually call the Senate's bluff and make them keep to the limits? [Note: If you laughed as you read that sentence don't worry, I laughed as I was writing it too.]
- President Bush's poll numbers continue to win the limbo competition ("how low can they go?") - a new CNN survey puts his approval rating at a new low - 32%. Sixty percent now say they disapprove of the job W's doing. Clearly that mini-shake-up didn't do the trick, and I'm guessing neither will the newest strategy (which is set to be announced later this morning: investigate high gas prices! It's time for something big - what's it gonna be?