The Roundup for December 19, 2011

Waiting on the vote in the House on the payroll tax, but there isn’t a lot of suspense in the immediate term. The House will vote down the Senate bill. Then things get more unpredictable.

• AT&T threw in the towel on its bid to acquire T-Mobile, which is one of the first major corporate mergers actually scuttled in an anti-trust action that I can think of, at least in quite a while. Pretty sure that the only person to say a word about this in Congress was Al Franken.

• Breaking: it still sucks to get a loan modification. And while I’ve focused on those brave Attorneys General trying to fight the corrupt lending industry, I should pat more attention to those cravenly acquiescing to it, like Florida’s Pam Bondi.

• An inequality tax? Seems a bit unwieldy, but it could work as well as any other tax prone to allowing individuals to stash their money to get under the compliance level.

• Syria will allow monitors in to observe the country, under the terms of a deal it signed with the Arab League. Let’s see if this leads to additional protests or if the Syrian security forces just ignore the monitors and continue to brutalize their people.

• Newt Gingrich is fading in Iowa because he’s just getting pummeled on the air with a negative barrage. The question is whether Ron Paul, seemingly the beneficiary in Iowa, can carry the momentum to New Hampshire, where he already sits in second.

• Thanks, Paul Krugman, for making us all worry about an economic collapse in China. Just what I needed!

• Something to savor – the new air pollution restrictions that managed to get through the EPA over the past few years will lead to dozens of coal plant retirements.

• The pay-for on the doomed payroll tax deal, a change to Fannie and Freddie mortgage guarantee fees, would also impact FHA loans to the tune of about 17 bucks a month. That money would come back in the first year in the form of the payroll tax cut, but it is an issue. I do believe that it’s better for the housing market to have Fannie and Freddie properly price their thing of value, the guarantee, so we don’t have to keep bailing out their shortfalls.

• Turns out that Mitt Romney still makes lots of money from Bain Capital, 13 years after leaving work there.

• Set your calendars: the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act March 26-28, 2012.

• Shouldn’t Rick Perry want there to be proof that fracking pollutes groundwater? Isn’t natural gas competing with his home state energy product, oil?

• If I were a drone operator, I’m sure I would have a high level of stress too. Wait, I would never be a drone operator.

• Activists in Wisconsin completely ignored Scott Walker’s restrictions on speech, requiring the purchase of a permit for demonstrations in the Capitol, and engaged in a holiday sing-along instead.

• How about Jeb Bush coming out of nowhere with a Wall Street Journal op-ed? Must be a coincidence.

• The clashes in Egypt are getting pretty intense.

• CAP is getting really brazen on denouncing premium support. File these quotes away for when Democrats change their minds and decide to support it.

• Unsurprisingly, almost all of Jim DeMint’s deficit reduction plan cuts money for the poor.

• As the Iraq war ends, CNN catches up with Jessica Lynch. She’s a teacher now, and a mom.

• The Obama Administration announces $9 billion in fraud recoveries under the False Claims Act.

• In addition to the tragic end to a proposed food aid deal, the death of Kim Jong-il has complicated the return of the remains of US soldiers from the Korean War.

• Prince Alwaleed bin Talal buys a stake in Twitter. He has a similar financial stake in Fox News Channel.

• Ron Paul sweeps up the “freedom to drink unpasteurized milk” vote.

• I think Katha Pollitt has the definitive take on Christopher Hitchens.

• For some reason, ESPN college football analyst Craig James wants to run for the GOP nomination for US Senate in Texas.

• If the Worst Persons in the World slots aren’t filled up today, you could do worse than the couple who put out a fake Salvation Army bell and kettle and stole the money they made from it.

Braveheart died. Understated brilliance.

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