1. Wall Street Journal -- U.S. trade laws aren't about "fair trade" or "leveling the playing field," or the other cliches of protectionists. They have become tools of political income redistribution, protecting certain industries at the expense of others and the larger U.S. economy.
2. Fisher Investments -- The U.S. didn’t achieve its economic strength through fear and resignation—rather, innovation has been and will continue to be a chief driver, spurring recovery and driving us to new heights. While many say capitalism was dealt a blow in recent years, this isn’t so. Capitalism requires busts as well as booms—this is normal. Creative destruction is and will be a vital part of helping capital flow to the most productive areas. But with recession finally behind us, we can enjoy the potential of the decade ahead.
3. Michael Barone -- About one-third of the $787 billion stimulus package was directed at state and local governments, which have been facing declining revenues and are, mostly, required to balance their budgets. The policy aim, Democrats say, was to maintain public services and aid. The political aim, although Democrats don't say so, was to maintain public-sector jobs -- and the flow of union dues to the public employees unions that represent almost 40% of public-sector workers.
Those unions in turn have contributed generously to Democrats. SEIU head Andy Stern, the most frequent nongovernment visitor to the Obama White House, has boasted that his union steered $60 million to Democrats in the 2008 cycle. The total union contribution to Democrats has been estimated at $400 million. In effect, some significant portion of the stimulus package can be regarded as taxpayer funding of the Democratic Party. Needless to say, no Republicans need apply.
4. Dec. 31 (Bloomberg) -- The Mayo Clinic, praised by President Barack Obama as a national model for efficient health care, will stop accepting Medicare patients as of tomorrow at one of its primary-care clinics in Arizona, saying the U.S. government pays too little. More than 3,000 patients eligible for Medicare, the government’s largest health-insurance program, will be forced to pay cash if they want to continue seeing their doctors at a Mayo family clinic in Glendale, northwest of Phoenix. Mayo’s move to drop Medicare patients may be copied by family doctors, some of whom have stopped accepting new patients from the program.