"Since June 2004, the Fed has raised its short-term rate target to 3% from 1% and has signaled plans to raise it further, while the 10-year Treasury bond yield has fallen to less than 4% from 4.7%. That sort of decline in long-term rates "is clearly without recent precedent.'"
But don't be quick to blame a weakening economy . . .
Richard Wolf of USA Today tries to make sense of the who-gets-what puzzle when it comes to calculating Social Security benefits. "As President Bush and Congress wrangle over how to keep the retirement system solvent and whether to add individual investment accounts, the issue of who gets what is getting increased scrutiny. That's because 2 million retirees who paid into Social Security throughout their working lives are collecting benefits that aren't enough to keep them out of poverty, according to the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security." LINK
The Hill's Patrick O'Connor previews Jim Kolbe's (R-AZ) attempt to bring former Democratic congressmen to the Social Security negotiating table since the crop of Democrats currently serving seem pretty "dug in" their opposition. LINK
SEC nominee Christopher Cox:
The Washington Post's Carrie Johnson writes that one of the most important indicators of Rep. Christopher Cox's reign as chairman of the SEC is how he will handle the agency's enforcement division -- and whether or not he'll replace the newly minted former prosecutor, Linda Chatman Thomsen, who took over last month. LINK
The Washington Post's Chuck Lane explains the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that federal law trumps state regulations on the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and that based on Congress' ability to regulate interstate commerce, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies can prosecute those who use it. Lane Notes that Justices Scalia and Kennedy joined the majority, while Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas criticized the ruling for overriding the rights of states. The Bush Administration's director of national drug control policy, John Walters, hailed the decision as the end to medical marijuana as a political issue. LINK
"The decision weakens, but does not overturn, state laws that permit seriously ill people to use marijuana to relieve pain or nausea," writes the Los Angeles Times' David Savage, who Notes that while federal agents, prosecutors and judges can seek to go after those who grow or use marijuana, it's the state and local police who usually are the ones doing the law enforcement, and they don't have to assist. LINK
Samantha Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Sen. John Cornyn wouldn't say no if asked to be a Supreme Court justice. His spokesperson Don Stewart said, "You can never rule out something like that, but it is not something he is looking for or something he has asked for." LINK
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has hired a second attorney, reports the Houston Chronicle. Richard Cullen, former Virginia attorney general and chief counsel to former Sen. Paul Trible (R-VA) during the Iran-Contra scandal, will work for DeLay as the House ethics committee begins to investigate his overseas travel. LINK
The politics of national security: