ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2009) — Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere.

However, some studies have suggested that the ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase.

Many climate models also assume that the airborne fraction will increase. Because understanding of the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide is important for predicting future climate change, it is essential to have accurate knowledge of whether that fraction is changing or will change as emissions increase.

To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

The research is published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Story Source:

Adapted from materials provided by American Geophysical Union, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

  1. Knorr, W. Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing? Geophysical Research Letters, 2009; 36 (21): L21710 DOI: 10.1029/2009GL040613

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Question EVERYTHING

I Call Bull

December 31, 2009


by Kristin D. 29. December 2009 14:34

Swistle is a well-known and well-liked blogger: a Mom and a delightful writer with a quick sense of humor, who recently decided to “come out” as an overweight woman.  Previously reluctant to post pictures of herself on her website, she spun together some eloquent, heart-pulling words about self-doubt, steriotypes, and being overweight.

I came across the entry via a series of tweets about fighting on the Internet (cause, God, I love a break from my own gong show to peer at another one) , and read the referenced post and subsequent comments with my heart in my throat.  At the end of the 190+ comments, I finally exhaled.  The very sincere post turned into a bit of an angry clawing session, with the comments shifting almost immediately from Swistle’s well-written confessional post to the fitness path of  well known blogger and (and personal inspiration and friend to me) Sundry, of Sundry Mourning.

It morphed and grew warts from there: some commenters on the thread mourned that fitness writing is boring and self-centred, other women complained that thin women do not understand that fat is not a choice.  One overexcited commenter told another to “put down the pie plate” and the whole thing got pretty nasty.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this on the Internet: months ago I wrote a column over at Bodies in Motivation and got slammed by dozens of women for daring to call myself “fatskinny” (since I am thin and do not know what it’s like to be fat, etc.)  I received dozens of emails from women who said the same thing: fat can be in the genes and I should be sensitive to this.  Obviously: I was lucky.  I was born with skinny genes.

I call bullshit. 

http://blog.aqufit.com/post/2009/12/29/I-Call-Bull.aspx

FED FOCUS-The coming Great Inflation, real or imagined

Wed Dec 30, 2009 3:27pm EST

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa

Currencies  |  Bonds  |  Global Markets

WASHINGTON, Dec 30 (Reuters) – A historic economic crisis has left Americans with plenty of things to worry about. But is inflation one of them? And is there a risk that fretting over higher prices may actually bring them about?

The answers to these questions will help define the timing of the Federal Reserve’s pullback from an unprecedented level of monetary stimulus, deployed to combat the worst financial panic since the Great Depression.

In justifying its pledge to leave interest rates near zero for the foreseeable future, the Fed takes comfort in inflation expectations, which policymakers deem comfortably restrained.

On the surface, that appears true. The most recent Reuters/University of Michigan consumer survey showed a 0.2 percentage point decline in expected inflation one-year out, to 2.5 percent. Market-based barometers have fluttered higher, though not alarmingly so.

Yet beneath the weak economic backdrop keeping prices in check, economists and consumers are increasingly uneasy about the prospect of a continuous loss of purchasing power — the very definition of inflation.

“We have the most potentially inflationary policy I have ever observed in a developed country,” said Alan Meltzer, a Fed historian and professor of political economy at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business in Pittsburgh.

According to widely used economic models, the way consumers perceive the prospect of future inflation has clear implications for prices themselves. Once higher costs are taken for granted, they are more easily tolerated.

Several indicators are already hinting at that possibility .

The price of gold, often viewed as a hedge against inflation, has set record after record, peaking above $1,200 an ounce earlier this month before retreating to below $1,100. A recent JPMorgan survey of clients found that 61 percent expected U.S. inflation to be “above target” between 2011 and 2014.

Another consumer confidence survey, published by The Conference Board, showed Americans expect prices to climb a troubling 5.1 percent over the next 12 months.

And Google Trends, a websearch database, shows a sharp spike in the number of U.S. users looking up the word “hyperinflation” in late 2008 and early 2009.

“There is a real risk that inflation expectations will rise above a certain threshold that suggests a loss of credibility of the Fed,” said Laurence Meyer, a former Fed governor now at Macroeconomic Advisers in Washington, DC.

MIND OVER MATTERS

That may seem surprising considering the world has faced a crippling financial crisis that many economists warned might lead to deflation. But it makes sense in the context of the extraordinary measures taken to halt the meltdown.

Experts who have studied bouts of inflation, most common in poor or developing countries, say the makings of an inflationary psychology are already in place in the United States. It begins, they say, when unfathomably large figures are bandied about as if they were mere change.

A cascading series of government bailouts certainly fits into that category. The Treasury spent nearly $800 billion on a stimulus package that has helped ease the pace of job losses but not yet begun to reverse them. The Fed committed to buy more than $1.7 trillion in Treasury and mortgage bonds and expanded credit in the banking system to over $2.2 trillion.

“There is an unprecedented amount of latent inflation represented by the $2 trillion monetary base,” said Michael Pento, senior market strategist at Delta Global Advisors. “Unless the Fed can sell those holdings and raise interest rates in a timely manner, intractable inflation will be in our future.”

ENTER THE SLACKERS

Another camp of economists say all the hand-wringing is overdone. They point to the labor market, in its worst shape since the 1980s, as a sure sign that the economy is sufficiently weak to keep price pressures at bay.

Japan provides the most obvious model for how such “slack” can affect prices. As bubbles popped in the housing and stock markets, the Japanese economy was stuck in a deflationary rut for the better part of two decades, despite heavy government spending.

During America’s last run-in with inflation in the 1970s, wages were a key channel for price increases. Stronger unions meant workers could demand cost-of-living increases to keep up with the ever-rising consumer price index. With that dynamic largely absent today, say skeptics, inflation fears are misplaced.

So far, the hard figures corroborate their view. Consumer prices rose just 1.8 percent in the year through November, and were up 1.7 percent, excluding food and energy, well beneath the recent yearly average.

Such tame readings notwithstanding, anxiety about the longer-term outlook is rising and has been reinforced by the resilience of energy costs in the face of a global recession.

“We will emerge from the crisis with an excess money supply because, despite their independence, central bankers are still feeling the pressure from finance ministers to allow slightly higher inflation in order to be able to service large public debts more easily,” said Jorg Kramer, chief economist at Commerzbank. (Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

 

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Blame on Both Sides

December 28, 2009

@WestWingReport Blame on both sides: White House OKd multi-million pay packages for Fannie/Freddie CEOs; GOP voted against key TSA funding on 6/24

Check out this website I found at edition.cnn.com

Check out www.foodincmovie.com for information on how the most powerful nation in the world handles its food supply.

via foodincmovie.com

It is spring in McAllen, Texas. The morning sun is warm. The streets are lined with palm trees and pickup trucks. McAllen is in Hidalgo County, which has the lowest household income in the country, but it’s a border town, and a thriving foreign-trade zone has kept the unemployment rate below ten per cent. McAllen calls itself the Square Dance Capital of the World. “Lonesome Dove” was set around here.

McAllen has another distinction, too: it is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care. In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average. The income per capita is twelve thousand dollars. In other words, Medicare spends three thousand dollars more per person here than the average person earns.

The explosive trend in American medical costs seems to have occurred here in an especially intense form. Our country’s health care is by far the most expensive in the world. In Washington, the aim of health-care reform is not just to extend medical coverage to everybody but also to bring costs under control. Spending on doctors, hospitals, drugs, and the like now consumes more than one of every six dollars we earn. The financial burden has damaged the global competitiveness of American businesses and bankrupted millions of families, even those with insurance. It’s also devouring our government. “The greatest threat to America’s fiscal health is not Social Security,” President Barack Obama said in a March speech at the White House. “It’s not the investments that we’ve made to rescue our economy during this crisis. By a wide margin, the biggest threat to our nation’s balance sheet is the skyrocketing cost of health care. It’s not even close.”

The question we’re now frantically grappling with is how this came to be, and what can be done about it. McAllen, Texas, the most expensive town in the most expensive country for health care in the world, seemed a good place to look for some answers.

From the moment I arrived, I asked almost everyone I encountered about McAllen’s health costs—a businessman I met at the five-gate McAllen-Miller International Airport, the desk clerks at the Embassy Suites Hotel, a police-academy cadet at McDonald’s. Most weren’t surprised to hear that McAllen was an outlier. “Just look around,” the cadet said. “People are not healthy here.” McAllen, with its high poverty rate, has an incidence of heavy drinking sixty per cent higher than the national average. And the Tex-Mex diet has contributed to a thirty-eight-per-cent obesity rate.

One day, I went on rounds with Lester Dyke, a weather-beaten, ranch-owning fifty-three-year-old cardiac surgeon who grew up in Austin, did his surgical training with the Army all over the country, and settled into practice in Hidalgo County. He has not lacked for business: in the past twenty years, he has done some eight thousand heart operations, which exhausts me just thinking about it. I walked around with him as he checked in on ten or so of his patients who were recuperating at the three hospitals where he operates. It was easy to see what had landed them under his knife. They were nearly all obese or diabetic or both. Many had a family history of heart disease. Few were taking preventive measures, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs, which, studies indicate, would have obviated surgery for up to half of them.

Yet public-health statistics show that cardiovascular-disease rates in the county are actually lower than average, probably because its smoking rates are quite low. Rates of asthma, H.I.V., infant mortality, cancer, and injury are lower, too. El Paso County, eight hundred miles up the border, has essentially the same demographics. Both counties have a population of roughly seven hundred thousand, similar public-health statistics, and similar percentages of non-English speakers, illegal immigrants, and the unemployed. Yet in 2006 Medicare expenditures (our best approximation of over-all spending patterns) in El Paso were $7,504 per enrollee—half as much as in McAllen. An unhealthy population couldn’t possibly be the reason that McAllen’s health-care costs are so high. (Or the reason that America’s are. We may be more obese than any other industrialized nation, but we have among the lowest rates of smoking and alcoholism, and we are in the middle of the range for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.)

Was the explanation, then, that McAllen was providing unusually good health care? I took a walk through Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, in Edinburg, one of the towns in the McAllen metropolitan area, with Robert Alleyn, a Houston-trained general surgeon who had grown up here and returned home to practice. The hospital campus sprawled across two city blocks, with a series of three- and four-story stucco buildings separated by golfing-green lawns and black asphalt parking lots. He pointed out the sights—the cancer center is over here, the heart center is over there, now we’re coming to the imaging center. We went inside the surgery building. It was sleek and modern, with recessed lighting, classical music piped into the waiting areas, and nurses moving from patient to patient behind rolling black computer pods. We changed into scrubs and Alleyn took me through the sixteen operating rooms to show me the laparoscopy suite, with its flat-screen video monitors, the hybrid operating room with built-in imaging equipment, the surgical robot for minimally invasive robotic surgery.

I was impressed. The place had virtually all the technology that you’d find at Harvard and Stanford and the Mayo Clinic, and, as I walked through that hospital on a dusty road in South Texas, this struck me as a remarkable thing. Rich towns get the new school buildings, fire trucks, and roads, not to mention the better teachers and police officers and civil engineers. Poor towns don’t. But that rule doesn’t hold for health care.

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SOCIAL STUDIES

If Air Travel Worked Like Health Care

Fasten your seat belts — it’s going to be a bumpy flight.

by Jonathan Rauch

Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009

“Hello! Thank you for calling Air Health Care, the airline that works like the health care system. My name is Cynthia. How can I give you travel care today?”

“Hi. My name is Jonathan Rauch. I need to fly from Washington, D.C., to Eugene, Oregon, on October 23.”

“Yes, I’d be happy to assist you with that. It does look like we can get you on a flight on January 23 at 1 p.m. or February 8 at 3 p.m. Which would you prefer?”

“Neither. I need to be in Eugene on October 23. As in, the 23rd of October.”

“I’m sorry, we have nothing open on that date. You might try another carrier.”

“I suppose I’d better. Who has availability?”

“I’m afraid I have no way to know that. I have no way to look into their systems.”

“Who would know?”

“You can call them individually and ask. I’m sure you can find one.”

“Look, I don’t have time to call two dozen airlines. It’s important that I get to Eugene on the 23rd. There must be something you can do.”

“Well, it looks like maybe we could squeeze you in on October 26, if you don’t mind departing Washington Dulles at 5:35 a.m.”

“Good grief. All right, I suppose it will do.”

“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t use e-mail to transmit records and other personal or secure documents. We keep our records on paper.”

“Great, thank you, I’ll be happy to make that booking for you. That’s one flight from Washington Dulles to Chicago O’Hare on October 26. Will there be anything else?”

“Wait, hold on. Chicago? I’m going to Eugene. It’s in Oregon.”

“Yes, sir. The Eugene portion of your trip will be handled by a western specialist. We’ll be glad to bring you back from Chicago to Washington, though.”

“You mean I have to call another carrier and go through all this again? Why don’t you just book the whole trip?”

“Sorry, sir, but you do need to make your own travel appointments. We would be happy to refer you to some qualified carriers. May I have your fax number, please? Before I can confirm the booking, we’ll need you to fill out your travel history and send that back to us.”

“Cynthia, I have filled out my travel history half a dozen times already this year. I’ve told six different airlines that I flew to Detroit twice and Houston once. Every time I fly, I answer the same battery of questions. At least a dozen airlines have my travel history. Why don’t you get it from them?”

“We have no way we could do that. We do not have access to other companies’ records, and our personnel have our own system for collecting travel history.”

“But 95 percent of these questions are always the same. Don’t you know that every time I fill out one of these duplicative forms I increase the chance of error? Wouldn’t it make more sense to hold my travel information centrally, so that everyone could see the same thing?”

“Sorry, sir, we have no capability for that, and we do need to have your travel history at least two weeks before you fly.”

“I don’t suppose I could fill out these forms online?”

“No, sir. The forms are only about 30 pages, though. Did you have that fax number, please?”

“I don’t have a fax machine. No one faxes anymore. Just e-mail me the forms.”

“I’m sorry, sir, we don’t use e-mail to transmit records and other personal or secure documents. We keep our records on paper.”

“What century is this? You think paper is secure?”

“We do keep all your travel records on low-acid paper and in fire-retardant file drawers. When someone needs access to your records, we make a photocopy and put them in the mail. Or fax. How many items of luggage were you wanting to bring?”

“Two.”

“OK, good. We suggest you make luggage arrangements with Rapid Air Transport, though of course you’re free to use any luggage company you like.”

“Luggage company?”

“Yes, sir. You’ll need to arrange baggage transport. Would you like a phone number for Rapid, or would you prefer to find your own baggage company? I’m sure Rapid would be pleased to work with you. All you need to do is sign the Personal Travel Records Release form. Where would you like me to mail that?”

“Release form?”

“Yes, sir. You’ll need to sign and fax or mail that back to our Travel Records Department so that we can release your travel records to Rapid. Under the privacy rules, we’re not authorized to tell them when or where you’re flying without your written permission.”

“I suppose I couldn’t just e-mail you this permission, or grant it online?”

“No. Did you want a list of luggage carriers for your Chicago-Eugene leg?”

“Let me guess. Rapid doesn’t operate out West. I have to find a separate luggage company for the second leg.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And they’ll need more copies of all the same paperwork. And they’ll ask me all the same questions. And I’ll have to arrange to get my travel records to them by mail or fax. And I’ll repeat all this nonsense five or six separate times between here and Eugene, because the providers aren’t equipped to talk to each other and my records aren’t digitized and no two providers use the same system.”

“Yes, sir, that’s right! Did you have a preferred fuelist, or did you want a reference for a company to provide jet fuel for your flight?”

“Fuelist. That would be a fuel specialist, I suppose.”

“We can make a fuel arrangement for you, but please be advised that the fuelist’s charge will be billed separately and you will be responsible for it. We’ll need to know where to have that bill sent.

“May I have your flight-insurance information, please?”

“Millennium Travel Care, group number 068832, ID number RS-3390041B.”

“I’m sorry, sir, we’re not in Millennium Travel Care’s provider network.”

“You’re listed on their website. It says you accept Millennium.”

“We did until last week. If you like, you can pay out of pocket for your ticket.”

“How much would that be?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll be happy to get that price for you. That would be $17,885.70.”

“What? For a flight to Chicago? Does anyone actually pay that?”

“I’m sorry, sir, I wouldn’t know. I can tell you that different clients and insurers pay different rates. For individuals, the rate is $17,885.70.”

“Oh.”

“In a sane system, I would call an airline and it would give me a price for the whole trip, not just for one part of it.”

“Plus tax. And fuel.”

“Is anyone else cheaper?”

“Sir, again, I couldn’t tell you that. Carriers don’t have public rate sheets. Prices are privately negotiated, so there’s really no way you could comparison shop.”

“Oh.”

“Did you want to go ahead, then?”

“No. I DO NOT WANT TO GO AHEAD. I do not want to go anywhere! I want to jump off a cliff!

“This system is insane. It is fragmented to the point of incoherence. Record-keeping is stuck in the 1960s. Communication is stuck in the 1980s. None of the systems talks to the others. Everyone reinvents the wheel at every stage of the process. There is no pricing transparency.

“In a sane, modern system, I wouldn’t have to arrange each leg of my flight myself. I wouldn’t have to fax documents around, find and juggle multiple providers, fill out again and again what are essentially the same forms every time I use a provider.

“In a sane system, I would call an airline and it would give me a price for the whole trip, not just for one part of it. It would sell me a safe round-trip journey, instead a series of separate procedures. It would have back-office personnel using modern IT systems to coordinate my journey behind the scenes. The systems and personnel would talk to each other automatically. At the press of a button, once I entered a password, they would be able to look up my travel history. We’d do most of this stuff online.

“In fact, Cynthia, I would be able to arrange a whole trip with a single phone call!”

“Sir. Please. Calm down and be realistic. I’m sure the system can be frustrating, but consumers don’t understand flight plans and landing slots. Even if they did, there are thousands of separate providers involved in moving travelers around, and hundreds of airports, and millions of trips. Getting everyone to coordinate services and exchange information just isn’t realistic in a business as complicated as travel.”

“Yes. I suppose I’m dreaming.”

“Was there anything else I could help you with?”

“No.”

“My goal today was to provide you with outstanding service. Did I accomplish that?”

[click]

  •  
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Book Description
The startling story of the monumental growth of lobbying in Washington, D.C., and how it undermines effective government and pollutes our politics.

A true insider, Robert G. Kaiser has monitored American politics for The Washington Post for nearly half a century. In this sometimes shocking and always riveting book, he explains how and why, over the last four decades, Washington became a dysfunctional capital. At the heart of his story is money–money made by special interests using campaign contributions and lobbyists to influence government decisions, and money demanded by congressional candidates to pay for their increasingly expensive campaigns, which can cost a staggering sum. In 1974, the average winning campaign for the Senate cost $437,000; by 2006, that number had grown to $7.92 million. The cost of winning House campaigns grew comparably: $56,500 in 1974, $1.3 million in 2006.

Politicians’ need for money and the willingness, even eagerness, of special interests and lobbyists to provide it explain much of what has gone wrong in Washington. They have created a mutually beneficial, mutually reinforcing relationship between special interests and elected representatives, and they have created a new class in Washington, wealthy lobbyists whose careers often begin in public service. Kaiser shows us how behavior by public officials that was once considered corrupt or improper became commonplace, how special interests became the principal funders of elections, and how our biggest national problems–health care, global warming, and the looming crises of Medicare and Social Security, among others–have been ignored as a result.

Kaiser illuminates this progression through the saga of Gerald S. J. Cassidy, a Jay Gatsby for modern Washington. Cassidy came to Washington in 1969 as an idealistic young lawyer determined to help feed the hungry. Over the course of thirty years, he built one of the city’s largest and most profitable lobbying firms and accumulated a personal fortune of more than $100 million. Cassidy’s story provides an unprecedented view of lobbying from within the belly of the beast.

A timely and tremendously important book that finally explains how Washington really works today, and why it works so badly.

Amazon Exclusive: An Essay by Robert G. Kaiser

Last fall the House of Representatives set off a sudden collapse of the stock market by voting against the first version of the “bailout” legislation that had been hurriedly written to try to stabilize American banks and other financial institutions. Supporters of the bailout scrambled to change the legislation in ways that would win support for it from a majority of Congressmen. In a matter of days new provisions were added: extension of an excise-tax rebate for makers of Puerto Rican rum (cost to the Treasury, $192 million); extension of a special tax break for the owners of stock car racing tracks (cost, $100 million); a tax break for makers of movies within the borders of the United States (cost over ten years, $478 million) and more. These “sweeteners”–a revealing bit of Washington jargon–did the trick. Days after rejecting the $750 billion bailout, the House approved it.

This dreary sequence was evidence of a fact that careful students of Washington’s ways had realized for some time: In the first decade of the new millennium, the government of the United States was broken. It had taken three decades to create the mess. Democrats and Republicans had collaborated in its creation, and as that story of the sweetening of the bailout bill makes clear, money was at the heart of the problem.

Those sweeteners were payoffs of a kind–spending proposals that would allow the politicians promoting them to boast of their own influence in Washington, hoping to win votes in the process. Spending on the favored projects of Senators and Congressmen had grown exponentially since Republicans took over congress in 1994 and decided that they could defend their majorities if their members could bring home a lot of bacon. Hence the explosion of the legislative provisions called “earmarks” that John McCain assailed in his presidential campaign.

But money became a dominant factor in more insidious ways. Over the 30 years, opinion polls, focus groups and television commercials became the most effective tools to win elections, and all of them were expensive. So were the consultants whom candidates hired to make their commercials, shape their campaigns, even choose the issues they would run on. To win a politician needed a lot of money. Money could elect someone to office who never addressed important matters that affect ordinary Americans’ lives. Money elects candidates who have no real philosophy of governance nor a coherent view of the world. The result has been unreal politics–candidates winning or losing office on the basis of their positions on social issues essentially unrelated to governance, for example.

Not addressing problems has become easy in a political environment distorted by money. In these three decades when money became so important in Washington, Congress lost much of its effectiveness as a governing institution. Running for reelection became more important than running the country, or keeping an eye on the exercise of executive power–the roles the Founders envisioned for the House and Senate. The quality of governance in the United States had declined palpably in these years.

(Photo © Lucian Perkins)

After filibustering and obstructing on health care reform for months, Republicans are letting a final vote on the Senate health care bill happen sooner than they have to under Senate rules. Republicans have agreed to forfeit some of their 30 hours of post-cloture debate and allow the vote to take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning instead of 7 p.m.

One reason they’re letting the vote go through earlier in the day is that senators are worried about some bad weather that is sweeping across the midwest. They want to make sure they will b able to fly home in time for Christmas. But the Republicans also got a pretty significant concession from the Democrats in exchange for allowing the earlier vote.

Before they leave for recess, the Senate has to raise the statutory limit on the national debt so that the federal government can continue operating and borrowing money. Immediately after the 8 a.m. health care vote, the Senate will vote on a bill to raise the debt ceiling by about $300 billion (H.R. 4314). That $300 billion increase is expected to run out in February and the ceiling will have to be raised again before that happens.

Under the agreement allowing the earlier health care vote, Senate Republicans have been guaranteed votes on four amendments to the second debt ceiling bill that the Democrats would probably rather have avoided. According to the Senate Calendar, the Republicans will be allowed to hold votes on the following amendments (all will be subject to a 60-vote requirement) when the second debt ceiling vote takes place in January:

Sen. Thune [R, SD] TARP amendment — would end the Troubled Assets Relief Program (Wall Street bailout) and require that all TARP funds that are repaid by banks be spent on reducing the debt. Many Democrats want to use repaid TARP money for job creation measures.

Sen. Murkowski [R, AK] EPA amendment — seeks to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouses gas emissions if Congress fails to pass their own climate change legislation.

Sen. Coburn [R, OK] rescission amendment — not much information available on this one, but it will likely change the rules and require that Congress votes on presidential rescission packages.

Sen. Sessions [R, AL] spending caps amendment — would set spending caps for the next five years on all discretionary government spending. Besides entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, the amendment would limit spending growth to a maximum of 2 percent per year for the next five years.

Article Tags: TARP Debt ceiling