The Fed: No, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is not scheduled to appear at a campaign event for Ron Paul today. But he might as well be. Today, Bernanke will become the first fed chairman ever to take on-the-record questioning from the media. The press conference is designed to make the Fed less controversial by making its decision-making process more transparent. This will fail miserably. Increasing the Fed’s visibility will only turn it into a more inviting political target. And the Fed is Paul’s bread and butter. With both Paul and former-New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in the race, look for issues like auditing the Fed to become real tests for the GOP field. Birtherism will be a punchline. The Fed will win votes.
Geither exposed: The Washington Post confirms today, what conservatives have been saying all along: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has unlimited discretion on how and when to pay America’s bills and the only reason the federal government would ever default is if Geithner chose to do so. From today’s paper: “Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has already begun juggling the books to conserve cash … he has a range of tools at his disposal, including borrowing money from a pension fund for federal workers. Geithner also has authority to pay investors first for interest they’re owed on the debt, according to a decades-old legal opinion. … During a 1985 debt-limit fight, the GAO concluded that the Treasury secretary ‘does have the authority to choose the order in which to pay obligations of the United States.’” The Post does note Treasury claims that markets will be spooked by Congressional inaction, but as our own Philip Klein has reported, savvy Wall Street investors have already priced this uncertainty in.
Townhall battlegrounds: The number of incidents at Republican townhalls is definitely increasing. But as Slate’s David Weigel notes, the phenomenon is vastly different than it was in 2009: “[T]here is no dominant outrage at the town halls. There is not, as there was in 2009, a surge of people who overwhelm the meeting spaces or force them to move to other locations. There are some Democrats who are bringing cameras to tape their members as they jostle on the hot seats. But there’s no critical mass yet.”
Libya: NATO expanded their bombing of Tripoli yesterday, hitting more Gadhafi residences and a TV facility. But they were again impotent at stopping government forces from tightening their grip on the rebel city of Misurata. Back in the U.S., Tim Pawlenty told Hugh Hewitt he would send special forces into Libya