Even The Koch Brothers Disagree With The GOP On The Debt Ceiling: Seven And A Half Things To Know

01/16/2013 08:00 am ET | Updated Jan 16, 2013
  • Mark Gongloff Managing Editor, Business and Tech, The Huffington Post

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Thing One: Kochs Throw House GOP Under Bus: When you've lost the Koch brothers, you've lost the game.

Republicans intent on smashing through the debt ceiling in order to wring some spending concessions out of President Obama are finding themselves awfully lonely these days, but they've kept soldiering on. The latest ally to abandon them may be the toughest to ignore, though. The president of the group Americans For Prosperity, bankrolled by Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, yesterday said the group wants spending cuts, but warned Republicans that screwing around with the debt ceiling "makes the messaging more difficult," the Financial Times writes. The AFP president also warned Republicans not to be seen as "hostage takers." That's a marked change from the summer of 2011, when AFP objected to a debt-ceiling deal because it didn't cut spending enough, the FT notes.

This is way, way beyond former House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling House Republicans to give up on its debt-ceiling threat, like he did again yesterday. Newt's always rattling on about moon bases and zoos and stuff, so nobody listens to him. And certainly the House GOP doesn't care that Sen. Susan Collins (RINO-Maine) warned them to bow to the inevitable and raise the debt ceiling, as she did yesterday. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-DebtPanicStan) are a little tougher to take, but the cognitive dissonance arising from their debt-ceiling warnings is still manageable.

But the deep-pocketed Kochs are harder to ignore. Similar warnings recently from Tom Donohue of the Chamber of Commerce, along with the Financial Services Roundtable, the Business Roundtable and other job creators, also can't be ignored. These people have all of the money. And if the economy goes off the cliff, as a new survey of economists strongly suggests it would in a ceiling-breach, then these people will have less money available for campaign contributions. Game over.

Thing Two: Facebook To Privacy: Drop Dead: After building media anticipation to a frenzy, Facebook yesterday unveiled... drumroll... a new search function. It's a thing called Graph Search, which lets you search through Facebook for stuff your friends like. In Mark Zuckerberg's perfect world, where we are all sharing all of our hopes, fears and selfies with the world all of the time, this might be useful? But as Rolfe Winkler of the Wall Street Journal points out, we're not doing that yet. And as Zach Seward of Quartz points out, some users could well be kind of horrified by the stuff that they are sharing with the world without realizing it. Facebook's stock tumbled nearly 3 percent on heavy volume, partly because getting any revenue out of this thing is still a distant dream.

Thing Three: NightmareLiner: Another day, another problem with Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner. This one was a little scarier: An All Nippon flight had to make an emergency landing after a battery light came on and the pilots smelled smoke, Bloomberg writes. That led to the immediate grounding of the entire fleet of All Nippon and Japan Airlines 787s. Boeing shares were down nearly 4 percent in pre-market trading. They really haven't been hurt much by earlier mechanical problems on 787s, as the company and analysts have shrugged problems off as the typical growing pains of a new jet. But this latest development is more troubling.

Thing Four: Walmart Invites You To Hate It $50 Billion Less: Walmart plans to buy $50 billion more goods made in the U.S. over the next 10 years -- not much, but a start. The ubiquitous big-box retailer is doing this not necessarily out of the kindness of its grinchy heart, but because energy and transportation costs are making U.S. goods a little cheaper in some cases, the New York Times writes.

Thing Five: World Economy To Remain Meh-Tastic: The World Bank cut its forecasts for economic growth in the U.S. and other countries around the world, citing "austerity measures, high unemployment and low business confidence," Bloomberg writes. It slashed its outlook for world GDP growth to 2.4 percent from 3 percent last June. If correct, that means world economic growth will nearly match last year's 2.3 percent growth. The World Bank also cut its forecast for U.S. GDP growth by 0.5 percent, to a sluggish 1.9 percent.

Thing Six: Consumers Trudged Gamely To Stores: At least we can count on one thing in this crazy economic world: American consumers will keep on consuming. Retail sales rose 0.5 percent in December, trouncing expectations, the Wall Street Journal writes. This happened despite still-high unemployment and a steady drumbeat of fear over the fiscal cliff. It remains to be seen whether consumers can withstand the smaller paychecks that are partially a result of that fiscal-cliff fight, as President Obama and Congress both agreed to let the payroll tax cut disappear for some reason.

Thing Seven: Dell Disappearing: This crazy idea of Dell going private keeps getting more realistic all the time. Now it even has real numbers attached to it, according to the Wall Street Journal: Talks are focusing on private-equity buyers paying between $13 and $14 a share for the struggling computer maker. The company has a lot of cash, but would also have to be loaded up with tons of debt in order to make a deal happen, and there are potential conflicts of interest in the involvement of company founder Michael Dell. Other than that, no problems.

Thing Seven And One Half: Judging Books By Their Covers: We really shouldn't laugh at the artistic efforts of others, unless they are this horrible: Meet the Lousy Book Covers tumblr.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Consumer Price Index for December

9:15 a.m. ET: Industrial Production for December

10:00 a.m. ET: NAHB Housing Market Index for January

2:00 p.m. ET: Federal Reserve Beige Book

Corporate Earnings:

eBay

Goldman Sachs

JPMorgan Chase

Heard On The Tweets:

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: Alexis Kleinman and @MarkGongloff

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