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The Big Announcement That Almost Nobody Heard

'A Very Strong Position'

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If the House of Representatives were a playground, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) might be most likely to be beaten up.

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Sherman, who led the House revolt against the bailout bill this week, has become spectacularly unpopular with both the Republican and Democratic leadership, not to mention with K Street.

Lobbyists and House aides were gossiping this week that House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) angrily told the more diminutive Sherman in front of his colleagues at a Democratic caucus meeting last week to "shut up and sit down."

It didn't really happen that way, both men tell us. Frank's spokesman, Steven Adamske, emphatically said that Frank never told Sherman to either shut up or sit down. "Not at all," he said.

Sherman wouldn't agree with the "not at all" part.

"I do remember him having a very strong position. I don't remember him saying those exact words," Sherman said.

So what did Frank say, exactly? "My view is Paulson has not demonstrated that he has any greater integrity or concern for working families than the administration in which he serves," Sherman said yesterday. "When I said something similar to that at caucus, Barney was very, very angry."

"I see Paulson as part of the Bush administration," Sherman continued. "Barney sees him as someone he wants to give more power to than I would entrust to Mother Teresa."

Economics Lecturer Run Amok

This should do a lot to shore up voters' confidence in the government's ability to rescue the financial system: A new analysis shows that more than 8 in 10 members of Congress have no background in economics or business.

The findings were released yesterday by a group called the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy. Managing Director James Bowers says: "It's interesting that those who are responsible for solving the biggest economic crisis in generations don't have the educational background to know the difference between commercial paper and copy-machine paper."

Ouch.

Then again, consider the source. The Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy is a project of the Employment Policies Institute, a front group created by none other than lobbyist Rick Berman.

Berman became famous in Washington fighting increases in the minimum wage for his restaurant industry clients, and battling health activists -- or "do-gooders run amok," as he once referred to them in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview.

A spokesman for Berman's Employment Policies Institute tells us Berman is not lobbying on the economic bill. He's more focused on defeating the "employee free choice act," which would make it easier for workers to form unions. But that's not stopping Berman from taking a shot at members of Congress for their shortage of economic credentials.

As Bowers says, financial literacy is inadequate across America. "But after watching the events of this week, a crash course on Capitol Hill might not be a bad place to start."


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