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The Biz Roundup February 3

Daschle and Killefer out. Damn.

Thomas A. Daschle, President Obama’s choice to be secretary of health and human services, withdrew his nomination today, citing the distractions that followed his failure to pay $146,000 in taxes in recent years.

His decision came shortly after another prominent Obama nominee, Nancy Killefer, withdrew her nomination to be chief performance officer because of similar — although smaller — tax lapses.

(“Daschle Withdraws Name for HHS Secretary,” Washington Post, February 3) These are huge losses for Obama and for the country. The Dashman was the person best-positioned relative to both the administration and the health-care industry to make this happen. Folks complained about his ties to the industry, but that’s what made him the right person to make healthcare reform happen. And Killefer? Killefer is a real tragedy no matter what your political affiliation (Killefer herself walks, talks, and quacks like a conservative). I think everyone can agree that her mission — cut government wasteful spending — crosses party lines and that she was the best person to make it happen. For $900 in unpaid taxes.

Good thing Giger got his $30 million bonus before the news came out.

After defying the economic slowdown for most of 2008, Walt Disney yielded to recessionary pressures on Tuesday when its first-quarter profits fell by almost a third following steep declines at its television network, theme parks and film studio businesses. . . .

Disney’s broad mix of businesses has helped it fare better than rival media companies, but the depth of the economic slump ensured there were few parts of the company unscathed. “We are surprised by the speed and severity of underlying deterioration across virtually all key [Disney] businesses,” wrote Tuna Amobi in a Standard & Poor’s note.

(“Disney profits fall over recession hit,” Financial Times, February 3) It’s a smaller, smaller world, after all.

What happens when California goes out of business, part whatever

S&P lowered its rating on the state’s $46 billion in general obligation bonds to “A” from “A-plus,” citing “the state’s inability to reach an agreement on a mid-year budget revision and its rapidly eroding cash position.” . . .

The cut reflects the agency’s view of “the lack of political progress around the budget negotiations that we believe is serving to exacerbate the state’s current and projected cash position,” said Gabriel Petek, an S&P analyst, in a release, adding that “the state’s cash position is rapidly eroding.”

(“California’s credit rating cut to lowest of all 50 states,” Los Angeles Times, February 3) I have an idea. Rather than furlough state workers for two days out of each month, why don’t we furlough state legislators and the governor 30 days out of each month. They still have to do their work, only they won’t get paid for 30 days of each month’s work. We elected them to do nothing so we should pay them accordingly.

Starbucks value meal? What next, a stupid clown? Four dollar coffee? (“A value meal at Starbucks? Coming right up,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 3)

We haven’t bought this many cars in January since 1963. And we don’t have the Rambler to blame for it this time around. (“U.S. Auto Sales Hit 27-Year Low,” Business Week, February 4)

That’s 8,000 more people who won’t be buying cars in February. Or much of anything else. (“Job cuts mount: 8,000-plus,” CNN Money, February 3)

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