The Note

Bob Novak highlights two momentous developments inside the Federal Reserve, and how they could influence the U.S. economy far into the future. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal 's David Rogers takes a look at both the specifics on the table in the Medicare debate as well as the broad, ideological issues underlying the fight. It's not just about cost and competition between the public and private sectors, Rogers writes, but about bigger questions regarding the role of government and fundamental beliefs about what it should do for citizens.

With Medicare reform potentially marooned on the rocks, Republicans are planning an exit strategy to fend off Democratic attacks, writes Bob Cusack of the Hill. LINK

Partial Birth Abortion Act: The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank writes, "In an indication of the potential sweep of the new law, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft assigned responsibility for enforcing it to the Justice Department's civil rights division rather than its criminal division." LINK

USA Today 's Judy Keen writes, "The restriction became law in a climate of renewed debate over abortion." LINK

Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson: "No matter what happens on the legal front, the bill-signing inflamed passions on both sides of the abortion issue in advance of next year's presidential election." LINK

The Boston Globe 's Wayne Washington and Lyle Denniston report, "Regardless of the outcome of those legal battles, Bush's signing of the ban is certain to energize religious conservatives, an important Republican constituency, as next year's election draws near." LINK

The New York Times ' Robin Toner looks at the successful strategy of incrementalism now being pursued by the anti-abortion movement. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board argues that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act finally catches up with the sentiments of the American people.

Legislative agenda: If the agreement on ethanol incentives is any indicator, the energy bill stands a shot at being passed next week, the Wall Street Journal 's John Fialka writes. And it only took a suggestion from the White House.

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon reports Vice President Cheney broke the stalemate over ethanol and moved the energy bill way down field. LINK

The New York Times reports on the energy bill's progress now that House and Senate negotiators have come to agreement on the ethanol issue. LINK

Playing judicial politics: The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board makes a fascinating connection between Democrats' filibuster of appeals court nominee Charles Pickering (of Mississippi) and Tuesday's elections (in which Republican Haley Barbour won Mississippi's governorship) and what the elections (Republican gubernatorial sweep) indicate about 2004 (the South isn't so Democratic). The argument? Watch those filibusters, or Southern voters will administer the smackdown.

"The vacancy rate on the federal bench is at its lowest point in 13 years, because of a recent surge of judges nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate," writes David Savage of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

More Savage: "Experts who track federal judgeships say Republican complaints about a Democratic filibuster of four judges have obscured the larger picture." We have very little doubt that Senator Schumer will be carrying around this clip today just in case someone calls him obstructionist.

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