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Thing One: Ceiling Watch! Well, that didn't take long. While most of us are still picking through the rubble of the fiscal-cliff fight, Congress has gone ahead and started the next ridiculous budget war, over the debt ceiling.
The U.S. is just a couple of months away, maybe less, from not being able to pay its debts without a rubber-stamp from Congress, because democracy. In fact, it already hit its borrowing limit, but the Treasury Department is taking extraordinary steps -- pawning the microwave, bag-lunching it -- to stave off default. House Republicans, pig-biting mad after losing the fight over the fiscal cliff, see a chance for a win in the debt-ceiling fight. Just as they did in the summer of 2011, they plan to hold the debt ceiling hostage in exchange for the spending cuts they didn't get in the fiscal-cliff deal, the New York Times writes. In fact, the early skirmishes over the debt ceiling have already begun, the Washington Post writes.
President Obama swears he's having none of this fight. But it's hard to see what choice he has, unless he re-arms himself with the 14th Amendment, which theoretically gives him the power to override Congress and raise the debt ceiling by his lonesome. As the White House is wont to do, it has already disarmed itself of that weapon, saying less than a month ago that "This administration does not believe that the 14th Amendment gives the president the power to ignore the debt ceiling -- period." Of course, it's not too late for him to change his mind.
Meanwhile, the only people who seemed truly happy about the fiscal-cliff resolution were traders on Wall Street, who jacked up the Dow Jones Industrial Average by more than 300 points. But Jonathan Cheng of the Wall Street Journal points out that the buying was tinged with anxiety over this debt-ceiling fight, which has the potential to be far more destructive than the fiscal-cliff foolishness. We learned in the summer of 2011 that investors don't take it kindly when the world's biggest economy up and decides not to pay its bills.
Otherwise, the day was spent in grumbling about the fiscal-cliff deal, from the left and right. Corporate CEOs were whining about it, because it didn't gouge enough money from the poors, Reuters writes. This despite the fact that the deal contains a mountain of corporate tax breaks, as the Huffington Post's Ben Hallman, Christina Wilkie and Chris Kirkham point out. Those breaks will save companies, and cost taxpayers, nearly $100 billion over the next two years, the Washington Post writes.
The deal is going to shave about 1.5 percent from GDP next year, according to many economists, a growth curb we really can't afford right now. Minimum-wage workers will be especially stung by the payroll-tax hike that will offset a meager rise in pay next year, writes HuffPost's Dave Jamieson. And the moderately wealthy will be affected by the deal's curbs on tax exemptions and deductions, the WSJ writes -- curbs that mean former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer saying he's just not going to be able to give as much to charity as he usually does.
Thing Two: Christie's Primal Scream: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie flattened Speaker of the House John Boehner yesterday like an angry Jadeveon Clowney, over the House's failure to vote on a $60 billion aid package for victims of megastorm Sandy. The bill has idled in the House for more than 66 days, Christie noted, far longer than most other hurricane-relief packages. The embarrassing backlash from Christie and lawmakers in the region inspired Boehner to hurry up and schedule votes on a couple of relief packages in the weeks ahead.
Thing Three: Google Off The Hook: Careful readers of this newsletter might recall that, just yesterday, we alerted you to a New York Times story about how regulators were going to get tough with tech giants in the new year. We should have known better! It turns out that "getting tough" involves immediately dropping antitrust probes, as the Federal Trade Commission is going to do for tech giant Google, the Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, the unfettered Google is free to continue to force users of its other products into its confusing and unpopular Google+ social network, the Wall Street Journal's Amir Efrati writes.
Thing Four: Al Jazeera Coming To America: Al Jazeera, the Arab TV network that many Americans mistakenly think is some kind of front for Al Qaeda, has bought Al Gore's flailing Current TV network for about $500 million, the New York Times' Brian Stelter writes. Al Jazeera plans to shut down Current and replace it with its own English-language programming, giving the network access to 40 million American homes.
Thing Five: Americans Unpatriotically Conserving Energy: Oh noes, the Wall Street Journal writes, despite an ever-rising pile of unnecessary gadgets and toys, American electricity use is on the wane, meaning bad news for the profits of utilities. Electricity use is expected to grow by less than one percent per year through 2040, according to a new Energy Department estimate. Back in the good old days, electricity use grew by 8 percent per year, the WSJ notes. This is horrible news, obviously, unless you are one of those fancy-pants people who "use electricity" or occasionally make forays into the "environment."
Thing Six: Toyota Bounces Back: Japanese auto maker Toyota reclaimed its title as the world's biggest auto seller last year, selling a record 9.7 million cars, the New York Times writes. This comes after a series of disasters for the auto maker, including losses and recalls.
Thing Seven: Bank Of America To Resume Banking: Less than two years ago, Bank of America was having a near-death experience, with its stock price crumbling and mortgage losses mounting. It still has mortgages to worry about, but its stock price more than doubled last year, the bank claims it has raised its capital to meet tougher international standards, and it is apparently lending more money to home buyers and companies, the Financial Times writes.
Thing Seven And One Half: Bridge To The 19th Century: On this day in 1870, construction began on the Brooklyn Bridge. Building the marvel took 13 years and an estimated 27 lives, including that of its designer, John Roebling. His son, Washington Roebling, was also injured in the construction. Ultimately his daughter-in-law, Emily Warren Roebling, helped supervise the bridge's completion.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:15 a.m. ET: ADP Employment for December
Heard On The Tweets:
Not wearing glasses is my personal Instagram filter.
— Ken L (@VocabuLarry) January 2, 2013
I'm the one who gets a strike on my first bowl and struts around pumping my fists then proceeds to have 5 gutter balls in a row.
— Sarah Thyre (@SarahThyre) January 2, 2013
"I need some space."- astronaut breaking up with his girlfriend
— david nuzzy nussbaum (@theNuzzy) January 2, 2013
I worry that no joke ever written could ever be funnier than a giraffe sprinting.
— Adam Hess (@adamhess1) January 2, 2013
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.