Morning Bits

Is it really impossible to cut $85 billion in a $3.8 trillion budget? The White House isn’t  credible on this.

Aldo the German shepherd wins at the Supreme Court-Nicolas Tucat/AFP

Impressed with Aldo, the Supreme Court “ruled unanimously that a Florida police officer’s use of a drug-sniffing dog to search a truck during a routine traffic stop was appropriate, even though the drugs found were not what the pooch was trained to detect. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the unanimous opinion for the court – and for Aldo, a retired drug-detection dog. ‘The record in this case amply supported the trial court’s determination that Aldo’s alert gave (Canine Officer William) Wheetley probable cause to search the truck,’ she said.” Unanimously! Good boy, Aldo.

Imperative to cut off Iran’s access to euros. “The United States has blocked Iran from easily accessing greenbacks as a means to slow down the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. But those financial sanctions only go so far. With Iranian nuclear physics still outpacing Western economic pressure, Washington is looking to prevent the mullahs from accessing their second favorite currency: the euro. The key to the U.S. strategy is Target2, or the Trans-European Automated Real-Time Gross Settlement Express Transfer system. As the European Central Bank’s proprietary electronic interbank payment system, it’s the euro-zone equivalent of the U.S. Fedwire.” Read the whole thing.

Important to consider. Economist John B. Taylor recommends “keeping the sequester but add the sensible proviso that the president and the Congress should allow all affected agencies the flexibility ‘to adjust their budgets within the overall sequester totals.’ That blunts the criticism that the sequestration is itself too blunt an instrument.”

Imagine what his 2016 campaign will be like. “Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans don’t need semi-automatic weapons to protect their homes because a couple of blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders.” Unless, of course, your intruders don’t scare easily.

Improbable that the media will ever fuss about something more important than the president’s golf game. “Gasoline prices have set an all-time high of $3.75 for the month of February, but as opposed to the Bush years there’s an uncommon (uncommon for any time other than the last four years, that is) media reluctance to assign blame to anyone within a mile radius of the White House. When gas prices broke $3.00 in 2007 the media, fueled in part by daily Democratic press briefings regarding Bush/Cheney/Big Oil rapaciousness, were in full cry. Now gas prices, like so many other phenomena, have, at best, a tenuous relationship to who’s in the White House.”

Immense damage to  be wrought from a rise in the minimum wage. We know that “ if the employer cannot receive from an unskilled employee work worth what he is required to be paid, the employer will not hire him. No one, after all, willingly trades a ten-dollar bill for a five. Very few minimum-wage workers are heads of household. Most are teenagers just entering the jobs market or earning extra money after school. And teenage unemployment right now is horrendous, 23.4 percent. To raise the minimum wage by 24 percent is to guarantee that that rate will rise.”

 

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