The Hill -- GOP to focus on policy, not Pelosi

Writer Molly Hooper gets the scoop on the battle inside the Republican Party – To plan or not to plan.

House Speaker John Boehner is pushing a new set a policy points for the GOP – a second contract. But others on his side are adamant that Republicans should let Democrats hang themselves and not get in the way by talking about policy.

Boehner, though, is going to push ahead with a contract. Keep your eyes on Boehner’s new chief of staff, Barry Jackson, one of the architects of the Contract with America who returned to the House presumably to reboot the GOP agenda.

What’s helping Boehner’s case is that, as Hooper points out, attacking Nancy Pelosi has not proven to be a winner for the GOP so far. Obama, maybe, but the “Pelosi rubber stamp” line has not resonated so far.

“Democrats this week seized on comments by NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas), who on Sunday told NBC ‘Meet the Press’ host David Gregory that ‘[Republicans] need to get back to the exact same agenda.’

Though Sessions has since denied that he was referring to the Bush policies, it highlighted the lack of a clear Republican policy roadmap.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said such a document will be released, but not until September, which is the month House Republicans unveiled their initial Contract With America 16 years ago.

‘After an extensive listening session has gone on for months, and will continue through August, Republicans will come together and draw from those ideas and others from around the country to develop our governing agenda,’ Boehner said.”


Wall Street Journal -- 153 'VIP' Loans to Fannie Cited

Writer John Emshwiller provides a handy reminder of what isn’t part of the Dodd-Frank financial bill President Obama will sign today: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The public-private mortgage buyers were the underwriters of the housing bubble – as I like to say, the permissive parent who threw the keg party for their teenagers – and have already soaked taxpayers to the tune of $150 billion for unwise loans. The “government subsidized entities” are on the hook for $5.4 trillion and the taxpayer commitment is unlimited.

But there is no plan to spin down the taxpayer commitment or to set new rules for the disastrously mismanaged firms -- perhaps because so many of those who did the mismanaging are friends, associates and employees of the president and the primary authors of the bill.

Emshwiller outlines the latest revelation from the crusading Rep. Darrell Issa that shows how business is done at the firms/agencies.

“Countrywide Financial Corp.'s controversial "VIP" mortgage program made 153 loans to employees of Fannie Mae, the giant federally backed financial institution that helped fuel Countrywide's growth, according to a letter released Tuesday by Rep. Darrell Issa.

Another 20 such VIP loans, which often provided mortgages on terms more favorable than those available to the general public, went to employees of Freddie Mac, another big government-backed buyer of mortgage loans, the Issa letter said.

While it has been reported that VIP loans went to some top Fannie Mae officials, the latest information indicates that the activity was more widespread.

In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Issa, of California, said the new information provides further evidence that Countrywide Financial was improperly trying to "curry favor and get an edge" by passing out financial favors. He says the dealings between Countrywide and Fannie Mae in particular contributed to the downfall of those firms and to the broader problems in the mortgage industry.”


Wall Street Journal -- U.S. Forces Step Up Pakistan Presence

Now that the Senate has cleared the way for $34 billion in deficit funding for two-year unemployment benefits, the next big spending issue is the money to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan – likely another $37 billion.

Democrats are losing ground on the effort to attach unrelated social spending to the legislation, but are still fighting for school subsidies, etc. Expect that drama to start unfolding soon.

Writer Julian Barnes, though, gives us insight into the other part of the congressional conflict over Afghanistan – mounting concerns about the war strategy.

Barnes reports that U.S. troops are expanding their presence across the border into Pakistan even as American deaths soar and the Taliban finds new footholds in Afghanistan. While many believe that the heart of the Islamist threat lies inside Pakistan, not Afghanistan, new evidence that American troops are deploying inside the volatile nation of 170 million will add to anxiety on the Hill.

“The U.S. troops are allowed to defend themselves and return fire if attacked. But the official emphasized the joint missions aren't supposed to be combat operations, and the Americans often participate in civilian garb.

Pakistan has told the U.S. that troops need to keep a low profile. ‘Going out in the open, that has negative optics, that is something we have to work out,’ said a Pakistani official. ‘This whole exercise could be counterproductive if people see U.S. boots on the ground.’”


Politico -- David Axelrod won't commit Obama to Meek campaign

Writer Jonathan Allen highlights the White House reticence about jumping in the Florida Senate race.

Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist is turning left faster than a NASCAR racer and making overtures to Senate Democrats that he might like to join their caucus if he can pull off a win in the three-way race with Republican Marco Rubio and a Democrat to be named later.

The former Democratic frontrunner, Rep. Kendrick Meek, is under siege by billionaire real estate speculator Jeff Greene. Meek’s numbers have stalled in the middle teens in a three-way race and the White House has been unwilling to get caught up in another losing primary battle.

The best hope for Rubio is a robust Democratic campaign that prevents Crist from raiding the Democratic base. Neither Greene nor Meek look like winners, but Greene looks more likely to flame out.

Allen explains that Obama’s Rove, David Axelrod, evaded when asked whether the president would help Meek. That’s music to Crist’s ears. But he shouldn’t celebrate too much.

There’s lots of time until the Aug. 24 primary and Meeks is going to get a boost from Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and others. Obama is the real prize for Meek, who needs a big turnout by black voters. And Meeks is also amplifying his cries for help to his fellow Democrats in Congress

“Meek, who visited with Senate Democrats for their weekly Tuesday lunch, said he's gotten tremendous support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"I can't ask for any more out of Bob Menendez," Meek said of the New Jersey Democrat who runs the party's Senate campaign arm.

He also got another boost Tuesday when Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) contradicted Crist's assertion — made in the same Journal story — that he and Reid have spoken in recent weeks.”


Daily Caller -- Liberal journalists suggest government shut down Fox News

Tucker Carlson’s crew is tantalizing readers and terrifying liberal journalists by dribbling out details from the conversations of the now infamous JournoList that ended the Washington Post career of David Weigel. The Daily Caller has an unknown stash of conversations amont the lefty journos and is trickling out details. So far it hasn’t been anything surprising – nobody goes to The Nation or Mother Jones for Fair and Balanced news. And the fact that liberals collude online to push or squelch some stories is just a high-tech version of the cliques that have always driven the media world.

But today, writer Jonathan Strong lays out something a little more surprising.

Strong offers his shock value by talking about an NPR explaining how she would laugh with glee if she could watch Rush Limbaugh die in front of her. Nice.

More substantive, though, is the revelation of broad journalistic cheering for the White House to use its powers to shut down Fox News – not just squeeze access, but literally shut down the network through regulatory powers.

The rationale for this censorship was that America was teetering on the brink of a fascist uprising (seriously) and the government needed to use extraordinary measures.

“In the summer of 2009, agitated citizens from across the country flocked to town hall meetings to berate lawmakers who had declared support for President Obama’s health care bill. For most people, the protests seemed like an exercise in participatory democracy, rowdy as some of them became.

On Journolist, the question was whether the protestors were garden-variety fascists or actual Nazis.

‘You know, at the risk of violating Godwin’s law, is anyone starting to see parallels here between the teabaggers and their tactics and the rise of the Brownshirts?’ asked Bloomberg’s Ryan Donmoyer. ‘Esp. Now that it’s getting violent? Reminds me of the Beer Hall fracases of the 1920s.’”