Monday morning’s 9 interesting things

1) Comedians in the GOP – If the economy is clearly on the rebound by the Fall — still a big if — Republican arguments for the presidency will start to get really comical. This morning Gov. McDonnell (R) of Virginia — a major rising star — said the improving economy is due to Republican governors, not President Obama.

2) Poll: Romney narrowly trails Santorum in Minnesota caucuses – Minnesota has 40 delegates at stake in its non-binding caucuses, which will select delegates to the Republican convention to choose the party’s candidate to face Democratic President Barack Obama in November. Minnesota is among three heartland states voting on Tuesday, along with Missouri and Colorado. PPP said Tuesday has the potential to be a big day for Santorum, who has had a lead in Missouri and is running second in Colorado.

3) Newt Gingrich said Sunday that an “age of austerity” is the wrong solution for the economy and would “punish” the American people. He said he prefers “pro-growth” policies instead. The comments appear to pour cold water on the modern Republican belief that austerity and growth go hand in hand. – Newt Gingrich, on “Meet the Press”

4) 2012 Chrysler Bowl Commercial – It’s Half Time America

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5) Avoiding Congress’s fiscal bombs – the total debt load in the U.S. —which combines both public and private debts — has fallen by 16 percent, leaving the U.S. further along the painful deleveraging process than any other major economy. [...] That doesn’t mean the public sector’s deficits should, or can, be ignored. As the McKinsey study says, history suggests that recovering from a financial crisis requires a two-stage deleveraging process: First, the private sector sheds debt while the public sector adds debt and drives growth, and then the private sector drives growth while the public sector sheds debt. But as the IMF notes, American policy, right now, has this backward: “The risk of too rapid short-term adjustment stands in marked contrast to the continued lack of progress in clarifying a medium-term consolidation strategy.”

6) How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’ – They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different. Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn’t find oil, but that didn’t stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls “an enviable standard of living.”

7) How Rich Donors Could Get Billions from Taxpayers – Mitt Romney has apparently succeeded in setting up a $100 million trust fund for his sons, tax-free. As President George W. Bush put it in rejecting calls to raise taxes on the wealthy duiring his 2004 reelection campaign: “The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway.” If the Republican presidential candidates and their fabulously wealthy SuperPAC donors get their way in cutting income taxes, eliminating the capital gains taxes and ending the estate tax, Bush’s really rich won’t have to work very hard to dodge Uncle Sam. If the Kochs and the Waltons succeed in getting the best government money can buy, the rest us will have to pay for it.

8) Morning CheckUp Study finds Tennessee will see savings from reform: “Health care reform will reduce the number of uninsured Tennesseans by more than half and cut uncompensated care and bad debt by $2.3 billion, but the newly insured could put a strain on the state’s health care system.” [The Commercial AppealHealth care employment to skyrocket through 2020: “Job growth in the healthcare sector will outpace other sectors through 2020 predicts new statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS’ employment projections find that total employment is expected to grow by 14.3 percent through 2020, resulting in 20.5 million jobs. Healthcare and social assistance should see the most gain with 5.6 million jobs.” [Healthcare Finance News]

9) Weekly Standard Rolls Out The Iraq Argument For Iran – Did you enjoy the Iraq War? Well, the Weekly Standard wants to do it again, with a new article arguing that sure, Obama got Bin Laden killed and has arrested or killed 20 of the most wanted Al Qaeda terrorists, but never mind because Iran is part of the Axis of Evil. No, seriously. [...] The Obama administration is dealing with Iran as the rogue state it is, working with the international community to try and get them in line. The Standard is arguing here for a return to the Bush era where the U.S. government used the magical terrorism wand to short circuit any and all discussion in order to do stupid things like invading sovereign nations based on cooked-up intelligence…

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