The Note: Questionable Figures

"Last month was dominated by two conflicting worries about the U.S. economy. The bond market was concerned that the economy had hit another soft patch. That drove long-term bond yields lower. The second worry was that inflation pressures were slowly building. That drove short-term interest rates higher, as Mr. Greenspan and his team at the Federal Reserve concluded that price pressures were the greater of two evils."

"It looks like Mr. Greenspan had his priorities right. A string of reports last week -- on jobs, car sales, retail sales and tax revenue -- suggests that the economy is on a more solid footing than it appeared to be just a few weeks ago. That means economists are going to be spending more time in the weeks ahead sniffing out signs of incipient inflation. It also means the odds have improved for another quarter-point increase in the federal-funds rate to 3.25% by the Fed in June -- and probably more to follow."

The above piece was a news article (!) . . . the following is from a Journal op-ed:

"It was too good to be true. After two accounting scandals and years of denial, Congress finally seemed ready to protect taxpayers from the financial high-flying of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But that was before Republican Mike Oxley and others on Capitol Hill decided to ride to their rescue."

Bob Novak writes that Alan Greenspan wants to end his tenure without a recession or inflation period attached to his name. LINK

Bolton:

Good news for Bolton from Sen. Chuck Hagel: "Four Republicans on the panel have expressed reservations about Mr. Bolton's nomination, but the White House has pressed them to support it." LINK

"One of the four, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, said Sunday on the ABC News program 'This Week' that he was still awaiting answers to some of his questions, but that 'I know nothing as of this moment that would -- my guess -- would stop him from being voted out of committee.'"

Based on the Sunday shows, more confidence from Senate Republicans that Bolton's nomination ultimately will succeed. LINK

Doug Jehl of the New York Times weighs in today with a piece on Dr. Rice and the withholding of some Syria-related documents. LINK

The politics of national security:

Wonder why some hard core conservatives are uneasy about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales? How about a New York Times story about the United States Department of Justice trying to soften its image featuring Gonzales worrying that he received too few Democratic confirmation votes.

"In his first months in the job, Mr. Gonzales is promoting a softer image for the Justice Department and seeking to burnish two legacies: the department's often strained relations with Congress under his predecessor, John Ashcroft; and criticism of his own role in formulating the Bush administration's policies on torture, which led to a closer-than-expected Senate vote of 60 to 36 in favor of his confirmation." LINK

"In public appearances, one of his most frequent and emotional focal points has been youth issues - a focus reminiscent of the administration of Janet Reno, who was characterized by some as much a social worker as a prosecutor in her years as attorney general under President Bill Clinton."

Filibuster battles:

"A bipartisan coalition of Senators believe it is close to a deal that would avert the looming showdown between Republicans and Democrats over judicial filibusters," Roll Call's Paul Kane reports.

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