Good morning! Here’s what you need to know:
1. Munis are back! The Wall Street Journal reports: “Municipal bonds hit a positive milestone Monday, with yields on some bonds retreating to levels not seen since the market began selling off sharply in November.”
2. California’s tax revenues are rising. New estimates project that the state will collect $6.6 billion more tax revenue (than it expected to) over the course of the next two years.
3. Newt Gingrich’s terse dismissal (“right-wing social engineering”) of House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to “overhaul” Medicare laid bare a GOP split on the issue. Mr. Ryan fired back, saying that Mr. Gingrich was not a friend to the GOP House majority he helped create.
4. Mr. Ryan yesterday defended his Medicare overhaul plan, saying it would empower seniors. He accused President Obama of having a “shared-scarcity mentality” that promotes “bureaucratically rationed health care.” Per The Washington Post, he “moved to recast the plan as the only one that would make the economy grow.”
5. The issue of Medicare has made a special election for Congress in New York’s 26th District (Rochester/Buffalo area) much closer than anyone thought it might be. A third-party candidate, wealthy industrialist named Jack Davis, is dividing the GOP/conservative vote.
7. Mitt Romney raised over $10 million yesterday, in a show of financial strength. With the departure of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee from the campaign, Mr. Romney is now the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination.
8. Newt Gingrich, under attack from fellow conservatives for his remarks about the Ryan proposal to overhaul Medicare, kicked off a 17-day campaign swing in Iowa. Politicians are watching to see whether Mr. Gingrich can maintain what is called “message discipline.”
9. New York State’s Attorney General has opened an investigation into the packaging of mortgage loans into securities, in the latest sign of increased scrutiny of the mortgage industry.
10. The Muslim Brotherhood said yesterday that it would step up and take a more active role in the uprising against the Assad regime in Syria.
11. The US and Pakistan are having a major row over the cost of fighting Al Qaeda. Pakistan has submitted hefty bills for its efforts. The US is refusing to pay. Meanwhile, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry is in Islamabad trying to smooth over relations between the two countries.
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