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Wednesday, May 25, 2005


DIFFERENT ECONOMIC MODELS: NUMBER OF AMERICAN MILLIONAIRES HITS RECORD WHILE GERMANY IS SPUTTERING 

The ranks of Americans worth $1 million grew 21% in 2004; the $5 million club grew even faster. -- "Germany suffers from its highest unemployment since the end of World War II , 12 percent nationally"

It is a tale of 2 economies. The rest of the world has snickered while the American dollar has been weak compared to notes like the Euro. The beating that America's economy took after 9/11 exacted a devastating but not lethal toll. Europe is enthralled in a messy marriage of many countries, economic sytems and expectations. Ralph Peters of the New York Post points out what is ailing Germany (and Europe as a whole). The socialist legacies are providing the biggest obstacle for the European Union to satisfy its thinly veiled aspirations to rival America's status as a "hyper power." Unfortunately, for Europe the longer it embraces socialist policies and favors secular breakdowns of the family unit the harder it will be for the continent to maintain the relatively high standards of living it thought it had achieved.

UNITED STATES

CNN: Record number of millionaires - May. 25, 2005:

The number of millionaires in America reached record highs in 2004, hitting 7.5 million, according to a new survey. That represented a gain of 21 percent, the largest jump in the number of U.S. millionaires since 1998, according to the survey by the Spectrem Group, a Chicago-based research firm.

Spectrem counted Americans with net assets of $1 million or more, excluding primary residences but including second homes and other real estate holdings. There were 6 million millionaires in 2001, when the bursting of the tech-stock bubble pruned more than a million Americans from this status.

Much of the increased wealth can be traced to stock market gains, according to the report.

GERMANY'S POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC DOLDRUMS

New York Post Online Edition: VOTING FOR DENIAL By RALPH PETERS

A national pension system in deep crisis. Collapsing social benefits. And punitive taxation. There's more: Unsustainable worker protections. Crippling taxes on industry for each worker employed. Massive outsourcing abroad as a consequence. A higher-education system in ruins. Talent flight. Political demagoguery. A dwindling birth-rate. A restive Islamic immigrant community. Hate crimes.

Germany can no longer compete globally. And it isn't just the strong euro. Mercedes automobiles — the nation's flagship brand — have dismal reliability ratings these days. Most German forays into high-tech limp behind the United States and even India.

In the end, it's capitalism that's more humane, providing a bigger pie for all. Socialism subdivides ever-shrinking slices. But Germans like the pie they've been eating and they don't want to go on a diet. Instead of tightening their belts and rolling up their sleeves, they want protection from the marketplace, from that horrible "American economic model" that expects people to work.

Nor is Germany alone. Social-welfare systems are in crisis from Italy and France to Scandinavia. Government giveaways have to be paid for, and the math isn't difficult. If fewer people work fewer hours in economies that stifle innovation, you can't maintain a middle-class-for-all.

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THE GREAT COMPROMISE OF 2005? ANALYSIS OF THE SENATE FILIBUSTER AGREEMENT 



The Senate has seemingly been invigorated by peace, accord and goodwill according to 14 "moderate" Senators who struck a deal concerning President Bush's nominees for the federal appellate courts. However, for a deal that was supposed to restore harmony to the world's greatest deliberative body there are many unhappy interested parties from both sides of the political aisle. Liberals are furious that President Bush was able to garner up-and-down votes for Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. Conservatives are equally mad that the agreement means that the nominations of William Myers and Henry Saad will be scuttled. What does this mean for the President's Supreme Court picks, the Senate leadership and various White House aspirations for 2008?

JOHN MCCAIN

Senator McCain has once again raised the ire of conservatives from his own party. Talk radio hosts, led by Rush Limbaugh and pressure group leaders like James Dobson have taken Sen. McCain to task for "selling out" President Bush's nominees and spiking the so-called "constitutional (or nuclear) option." McCain has never been trusted by conservatives and is a media darling. Pressure groups might threaten to withhold support for McCain in 2008 but they do not yet have a captivating and obvious conservative choice similar to a certain Texas governor they coalesced around in 1999-2000. It is clear that McCain does not worry about vitriol from the right and wanted to see if he could get something done with Democrats.

HILLARY CLINTON

Unlike her lesser-known Democratic colleagues, Hillary has stayed out of the filibuster fray. Clinton is very expedient when it comes to choosing her political battles. Even though liberal interest groups were incensed by the prospect of conservatives (and conservative women at that) were being nominated for federal benches, Clinton never led the charge to take down the nominees. Clearly, her deafening silence has been motivated by a future run for the presidency. Hillary does not her short tenure in the Senate to become a legacy marked by obstruction and stubbornness. Clinton has gone out of her way to show that she's not a polarizing figure but one who yearns to achieve comity in the Senate and be a team player. That is why she voted for the "Filibuster Compromise." See, Senate Roll Call Vote.

DEMOCRATIC SENATORS VOTING YES

Senators of interest who joined Hillary in voting for the filibuster agreement include, Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; Bingaman, N.M.;Conrad, N.D.; Harkin, Iowa; Johnson, S.D.; Landrieu, La.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Reid, Nev.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.

26 Democratic senators voted yes, and the 13 above are all from states that voted to re-elect President Bush. Surely, they remember what happened to Tom Daschle and want to make sure they are not going to be labeled as far-left wing senators who would go to any lengths to interfere with the President's agenda.

DEMOCRATIC SENATORS VOTING NO

17 Democratic senators voted against the agreement and they were outvoted by their fellow party members. Out of those senators only 2 come from states that voted for Bush in 2004. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas were both re-elected in 2004 so they are probably banking on the fact that voters will forget about this so-called "fight" by the time the 2010 election comes around.

REPUBLICAN SENATORS VOTING YES

All 55 Republican senators voted to end debate on Priscilla Owen, therefore ratifying the deal struck by McCain and the other senators. For all the huffing and puffing by hard-line conservatives there were no Republican senators who were so distressed by the deal that they voted against or urged that it fail in order to make way for a more hard-line stance.

PRESIDENT BUSH

While he did not get every judge that he nominated, he surely looked pleased to reiterate his support for Priscilla Owen at Wednesday's photo-op at the White House. The Bush administration must be pleased that it was able to secure votes for its most visible nominees, Owen and Brown. The White House knows that its real fight will come ahead when there are vacancies on the Supreme Court.

PREDICTION

The tempest concerning filibusters for appellate nominees will seem like a tea party when President Bush has to consider who to appoint to the Supreme Court. The smiles generated by this week's "Filibuster Compromise" will be a distant memory. While Democrats will acquiesce on John Bolton they will not lay down for President Bush and Republicans in Congress. The Democrats knocked the Republican agenda off-track by clinging to the filibuster ideal but backed off when they started to look like they were being difficult for partisan reasons.

When the Bush administration settles on a Supreme Court nominee, the Democrats will be ready to use the filibuster once again. Forget about the Democrats promise to only filibuster in the future when there are "extraordinary circumstances." For Democrats, any Republican nominee to the Supreme Court is an extraordinary circumstance. The Democrats will raise the scepter of the filibuster knowing full well that Republicans will appear to be over-reaching if they ram a Supreme Court nominee through the Senate via a "nuclear option."

Update: Others weighing in, GOP Bloggers, Blogs for Bush, Captains Quarters, Outside the Beltway, PowerLine, PoliPundit, BitsBlog, Secure Liberty, Speed of Thought, Buzz Blog, Hedgehog Report, Sundries Shack, Jokers, Lime Shurbert, Generation Why, ,

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ORDERS FOR DURABLE GOODS REVERSE 3-MONTH DECLINE: NYTIMES 

Orders for factory-made durable goods like aircraft and computer equipment rose 1.9 percent in April after three straight months of declines, the government reported today, suggesting an upturn in business spending and a modest recovery in the manufacturing sector.

The Commerce Department also revised its reading for March to a decline of 1.6 percent, much less severe than the initially reported drop of 2.3 percent.

"After last month's report, there was some concern that the factory sector might have been on the verge of a sharp slowdown," said Andrew Tilton, United States economist at Goldman Sachs. "This is a report that suggests that the ultimate slowdown may not be too severe."

Economists polled by Bloomberg News had expected a recovery of 1.3 percent.

"Not only did you get the rebound that you expected, but we actually were rebounding from a much smaller hole," Mr. Tilton said.

Orders for durable goods, which are made to last at least three years, rose $3.7 billion in April to $200.3 billion. Besides reversing three months of declines, that was the biggest improvement since November, when orders grew 2 percent.
Orders for Durable Goods Reverse 3-Month Decline - New York Times

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BREAKING NEWS Car bomb explodes in Madrid, Spanish media reports. Details soon. CNN.com International 

CNN.com International: "BREAKING NEWSCar bomb explodes in Madrid, Spanish media reports. Details soon."

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