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Inside the Beltway: Press conference unveils the new Kevin McCarthy

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It only took one emphatic public exchange with a reporter to change the image of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, in which he revealed his reasons for denying two California Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell — a place on the House intelligence committee.

Rep. George Santos, New York Republican, did make the cut and Mr. McCarthy explained his reasoning when questioned. His demeanor was steady and succinct, and he dwelled on the nation’s security concerns.

And now, (drum roll, please) the new and improved, forthright and emphatic Mr. McCarthy has emerged from the political mire on Capitol Hill, and the press has seized on the moment. A few headlines of note from the last 24 hours:

“Meet the new McCarthy, not the same as the Old McCarthy” (PJ Media); “McCarthy gets heated with reporter: You don’t get to determine whether I answer a question” (Fox News); “Kevin McCarthy kicks the George Santos can down the road” (Newsweek); “Kevin McCarthy spells out what it would take to remove Santos from Congress” (Huffington Post); “The unlikely alliance of Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Greene” (MSNBC); and “Welcome to Kevin McCarthy’s congressional circus” (Vanity Fair).

THE SWEETHEART ECONOMY

Romance and affection still appeals to Americans. In fact, it appears to be beckoning them in record-breaking terms.

U.S. consumers are expected to spend $25.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, up from $23.9 billion in 2022 and one of the highest spending years on record, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

More than half (52%) of consumers plan to celebrate and will spend an average of $192.80 — up from $175.41 in 2022, and the second-highest figure since the organization started tracking Valentine’s Day spending in 2004.

While spending on significant others and family members is in line with last year, many consumers are looking to show appreciation for the other “meaningful relationships” in their lives. Of the $17 increase in per-person spending, $14 comes from gifts for pets, friends and co-workers, along with classmates or teachers, the research said.

Some are more romantically-minded than others, however.

“Those aged 35 to 44 plan to outspend other age groups, allocating $335.71 on average for gifts and other Valentine’s Day items, approximately $142.91 more than the average consumer celebrating the holiday,” the research noted.

Meanwhile, the GOP has created a small “Valentine’s Collection” of gifts for romance-minded Republicans to consider at its online store.

“There is nothing better for Valentine’s Day than a gift from the GOP. Shop our beautiful etched wine and whiskey glasses and our cozy socks,” the site advises.

Yes, cozy socks sound about right at the moment. Find it all at https://shop.gop.com — and scroll down the page to its “featured collections.”

REPUBLICAN KNOW-HOW

Republican governors have a genuine economic knack.

“At this point it’s so obvious it almost feels like old news. Republican economic policies work. Case in point: 13 out of the top 15 states with the lowest unemployment rates are led by Republican governors,” reported Tommy Pigott, rapid response director for the Republican National Committee.

“In addition, 9 of the top ten states with the highest percentage of jobs recovered since the pandemic began are led by Republican governors,” he said in a written statement shared with Inside the Beltway.

The research is based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the way. The simple numbers speak volumes about which political party really does it better as far as practical and productive economic practices go.

“Republican governors have built economic engines even in the face of massive inflationary headwinds from President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats. If you want an economy that works for you, vote Republican,” Mr. Pigott advised.

PATIENCE GROWS THIN

Americans are looking askance at their politicians at the moment.

“Washington, you have a problem, and elected officials should take note: Regardless of party affiliation, those who elected you no longer have faith in the idea that you actually represent them,” wrote Terry Jones, an editor of Issues & Insights.

The news organization joined with pollster TIPP to conduct a survey of registered voters on that phenomenon, and here’s what the latest Issues & Insights/TIPP Poll reveals.

“Two-thirds (66%) said elected officials represent mostly the views and values of their big donors, not average Americans. Just 16% said they felt their elected officials represented their constituents. Another 18% said they weren’t sure,” Mr. Jones noted in his analysis of the findings.

“We then asked one more closely related question, reflecting how people felt about their own representatives in Washington: ‘How satisfied are you that your congressional representative represents your views and values?’ Once again, voters were not happy. Just 39% of Americans said they were satisfied with their congressional representative, while 52% said they were not satisfied,” Mr. Jones said.

The poll of 1,107 registered U.S. voters was conducted Jan. 4-6. Find the research at TippInsights.com.

POLL DU JOUR

• 82% if U.S. adults approve of the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the classified documents found at President Biden’s office and residence.

• 67% think that the presence of these documents at the residence is a “very or somewhat” serious problem.

• 57% disapprove of the way the “Biden White House” has handled this situation.

• 37% say Mr. Biden has “done something illegal.”

• 44% say Mr. Biden has “done something unethical but not illegal.”

• 18% say he has “done nothing wrong.”

SOURCE: A CNN/SSRS poll of 1,004 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 19-22.

• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.



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