Wall Street Journal -- Confirmed: Hearings Aren't Pleasing Anybody

What a wasted exercise.

Elena Kagan, more politician than jurist, has said less in her confirmation hearings than perhaps anyone ever.

Even as Republicans essentially accused her of faking medical evidence in support of partial-birth abortion while working in the Clinton administration, Kagan wouldn’t even own up to writing the notes, instead allowing that the handwriting looked like her own.

Kagan’s evasiveness has given Republicans reason to vote against her, but Democrats, with a 12-7 edge on the committee, don’t care.

And knowing that they only need one Republican vote in the full Senate (Brown, Snowe, Collins, or Voinovich), the Ds don’t much care whether Kagan answers or not.

She’ll be recommended by Senate Judiciary today and on the court before John Paul Stevens can get his ACLU plaques packed in bubble wrap.

Writers Naftali Bendavid and Jess Bravin explain

“But Democrats were delighted with Ms. Kagan. ‘I think even the other side would have to admit that you have a wonderfully well-ordered mind,’ said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.).Mr. Specter was the least happy among Democrats. In one instance, Ms. Kagan declined to address a matter as it related to her job as solicitor general.

‘I don't want to count my chickens,’ she said. ‘Before I am confirmed, I still am solicitor general.’

‘Ms. Kagan, they're counting your chickens right now,’ Mr. Specter responded.”


New York Times -- Financial Overhaul Wins Final Approval in House

The Senate adjourned until July 12 without voting on the financial regulation package because there weren’t enough votes to pass even the modified measure.

The President is trying to make a villain out of John Boehner for saying that the package is like “killing an ant with a nuclear weapon,” suggesting that Boehner is being insensitive to those who suffered in the market crisis and its aftermath. Or maybe ants. I’m not sure.

Boehner, for his part, told Obama to “quit whining” and focus on job creation.

The White House is trying to gin the controversy up as an example of Republican love for Wall Street.

But Boehner has something there – the huge bill, loaded with unintended consequences, addresses only some causes of Panic of 2008. The lack of Fannie and Freddie reform (taxpayers are on the hook for $145 billion and counting) and the permanency of “too big to fail” both suggest a gap between the size and aims of the legislation.

Freezing up consumer lending and adding gobs of bureaucracy for a bill that doesn’t address the core issues seems to go to Boehner’s point.

Boehner might have said that it would be like killing an ant with a nuclear weapon while a pack of wild baboons is chasing you. But that would have been silly.

The bill is expected to get through the Senate, eventually. Once there is a replacement for Robert Byrd and Scott Brown has taken the week to study the 2,000-page behemoth, the bill will likely get through.

Based on the way writer David Herszenhorn keeps score, he has apparently not considered that anyone would oppose the bill for anything but political reasons:

“Mr. Obama had wanted the bill completed and on his desk by Independence Day. The delayed vote in the Senate represented a small victory for Senate Republicans who were working hard to run down the clock and deny Democrats a chance to notch legislative accomplishments between now and the midterm elections in November.”


Washington Post -- Jobless aid stalls in Senate; home buyers get more time

What do Democrats love more: benefits for the unemployed or Keynesian deficit spending?

Given the chance to keep 23-month unemployment benefits rolling by giving up $17 billion of stimulus spending, Democrats refused and spiked the legislation.

Republicans mostly oppose the idea of two-year benefits on the grounds that it has become substitute welfare and actually harms the job market by allowing people to stay out of work for so long, lose their skills and become essentially unemployable by anyone but the government.

But after getting a lot of scorching form Dems about being callous to the needs of the little man, some GOPers are willing to go along with another extension, but not if it’s all deficit spending. But Dems are so protective of their pork, they will not go for offsetting cuts or even allow any of the stimulus slush to be used.

As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio points out, it's like the refusal of House Democrats to pass war funding without an extra $15 billion in domestic spending for school teachers and college grants.

As for the “extenders” bill in the Senate, it is basically down to the unemployment benefits and an extension of the tax credit that has been propping up U.S. housing markets.

Writer Lori Montgomery helpfully gives us the parameters:

“House leaders were planning to take up the jobless bill Thursday and said they expect it to pass. But its failure in the Senate ensures that more than 2 million people will have their checks cut off before Congress returns to Washington after a week-long break. The Labor Department estimates that more than 1.2 million people already have been affected.

States typically provide unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks. Congress triggered emergency benefits in 2008 and expanded them in last year's stimulus package. On June 2, the federal program was providing more than 5 million people with up to 99 weeks of assistance.”


Washington Post -- CBO tells Obama deficit panel that forecast remains bleak

The national debt is heading back to World War II levels – 62 percent of GDP -- by the end of the year.

The Congressional Budget Office, even making granting optimistic projections about the deficit-cutting power of Obamacare, said that the debt was on its way to 87 percent of GDP by 2020.

Writer Lori Montgomery:

“Although the health-care law, in the CBO's view, didn't help much, the fiscal picture would dim dramatically if Congress moved to short-circuit its cost-control measures while enacting tax policies Obama has proposed to benefit the middle class. Those policies include a permanent reduction in the alternative minimum tax and a plan to extend tax cuts enacted in the Bush administration for families making less than $250,000 a year. The Bush cuts are set to expire this year.”


Wall Street Journal -- Police Reopen Al Gore Case

Oh, Al Gore.

Despite filing a 75-page report after talking to the alleged victim of Gore’s unwanted advances and finding no cause to proceed against the former vice president, Portland, Ore. police are going back to the Gore sex case following intense national (and international) interest.

Byline all-star Stu Woo checks in with a report on the Gore case:

“The Enquirer followed up with more details this week, stating among other things that the masseuse has hotel video footage and DNA evidence that could be used in the investigation.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gore said the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner denies the allegations.

‘Further investigation into this matter will only benefit Mr. Gore,’ said spokeswoman Kalee Kreider.”


--My column about what might have been the kickoff week for Hillary 2012 is here.

--To get Morning Must Reads in your inbox every weekday click here.