The Friday Faxline (Issue 483, November 17, 2006)
New House leaders elected on both sides of the aisle
Democrats and Republicans in the House met this week to elect their leaders for the 110th Congress set to convene next January. As expected, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was unanimously elected Speaker by the Democrat caucus. However, Pelosi's pick for Majority Leader, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), was soundly defeated by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). On the other side of the aisle, Republicans elected Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) to be Minority Leader, and Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) as the Minority Whip. Boehner and Blunt, both members of the current Republican leadership, held off challenges by conservative Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and John Shadegg (R-AZ), respectively, who sought to bring fresh faces to the leadership after the electoral defeat suffered by Congressional Republicans last week.
Pelosi changes tune on earmark reform
Just a few months ago, Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), called Republican earmark reform efforts a "sham," and said she would move to eliminate all earmarks if she were Speaker. But just a few days after her party was swept into power, she's apparently had a change of heart. She has now told reporters that she thinks eliminating all earmarks "probably isn't realistic," and has instead announced that her first agenda item will be renewing the earmark reforms that Republicans made earlier this year. Those reforms require the sponsors of all earmarks to be publicly listed in spending bills, creating an extra layer of transparency and accountability.
Bush nominates slate of federal judges
The White House this week publicly announced a list of judges nominated by President Bush to fill vacancies on federal courts across the nation. The list includes nominations for vacancies on the fourth, fifth, ninth and D.C. circuit courts, as well as federal district judge openings in Washington and California, and two spots on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The nominations highlight the new environment in the U.S. Senate for Bush's judicial appointees. With Democrats now holding a slim majority in that chamber, many believe it will be much harder for Bush to get his nominees approved. This could be especially consequential in the event of another vacancy on the Supreme Court during Bush's remaining time in office.
Renowned economist Milton Friedman passes away
The world lost one of its greatest champions of economic and individual freedom Thursday when Milton Friedman died at the age of 94. In an era when New Deal and Great Society philosophies were pushing for ever bigger government, Friedman provided sound intellectual arguments for free markets and less government interventionism. He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, and influenced several world leaders including Presidents Ford and Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Friedman was a longtime economics professor at the University of Chicago and wrote several books advocating economic and political freedom. His life is proof that ideas have tremendous power, and his efforts to champion the virtues of liberty worldwide will be greatly missed.
Quote of the Week
"Anti-Americanism or anti-Europeanism are not merely foolish, they are the surest route to the destruction of our true national interest."
-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during a speech this week.