Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
President Obama is drawing sharp criticism over his delayed decision not to appoint a car czar. An administration official said Sunday that a task force will oversee the recovery of the auto industry — not a single person.
But the Politico newspaper reports Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin says the delay impacted today's interim deadline for the automakers to come up with a plan: "This appointment has taken so long... we've raised it over and over again. It seems to me it will be more difficult to have this kind of plan in the absence of a car czar."
David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, says the president's panel lacks experience: "It is like taking someone like me — with a PHD — and asking, 'could you participate in the oversight of brain surgery?'"
Fair & Balanced?
FCC officials met last week with advisers to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman to discuss ways to enact a form of the Fairness Doctrine without calling it that. The American Spectator reports Waxman is also interested in policies allowing similar oversight of the Internet.
The Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to present both sides of controversial issues. It was repealed in 1987.
One Democratic committee member who chose to remain anonymous says, "We want to get alternative views on radio and TV, but we also want to make sure those alternative views are read, heard and seen online."
A Rasmussen Reports poll shows 47 percent of respondents oppose a new Fairness Doctrine. Thirty-eight percent think bringing it back is a good idea.
Postmaster General John Potter wants to cut mail delivery days and freeze executive salaries as a way of dealing with a three billion dollar a year deficit. But The Washington Times reports Potter's salary has jumped 40 percent since 2006.
That includes a $135,000 bonus last year, making his total compensation package worth over $800,000. That is more than double President Obama’s salary.
Postal records indicate at least four other officials earn more than a quarter-million dollars/year.
Finally, a battle is brewing in Oregon after five state lawmakers suggested a 1,900 percent increase in beer taxes to help cope with budget shortfalls. Media reports say the legislation would increase the tax on a barrel of beer from $2.60 to almost $50.
The lawmakers say the increased revenue would help offset the costs of alcoholism in lost earnings, law enforcement and health care expenses. But brewers say the tax would cripple their business and not raise enough to justify the increase.
Says Mike DeKalb of Laurelwood Public House & Brewing Co., "If that tax is passed it would mean consumers would pay $315 million more (in 2009) to buy the same amount of beer they bought in 2008."
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.
Bret Baier is the Chief Political Anchor of Fox News Channel, and the Anchor & Executive Editor of "Special Report with Bret Baier.” His book, "Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission," (William Morrow) is on sale now.