A little interest boost

Robert Novak
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Posted: May 08, 2004 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has been alerted that Chairman Alan Greenspan will guide the Federal Reserve Board to a small interest rate boost before the presidential election, and President Bush is reported to be satisfied.
 
According to these sources, the central bank this fall will raise the federal funds (interbank lending) rate from the current historic low of 1 percent up to 1.25 percent. The Fed is expected to push the rate to 1.5 percent later this year after the election and up to 2 percent early next year.

 Typically, Greenspan's public statements have been so difficult to interpret that Fed-watchers have disagreed in their predictions of future action. But the administration has been assured that interest rate increases will not affect the election outcome.

RUDY FOR GOVERNOR?

 Well-placed New York Republicans concede that there will be no chance to keep the state's governorship for a fourth straight term in 2006 unless Rudy Giuliani returns to politics to run.

 These Republican leaders have no idea what the former New York City mayor will do. But they see nobody else who could beat State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the likely Democratic candidate. Three-term Republican Gov. George Pataki is expected either to return to private law practice or, if President Bush is re-elected, get a federal appointment.

 A footnote: Giuliani is the most popular Republican presidential prospect for 2008. His support of gay rights and abortion rights makes him unacceptable to the party's rank-and-file unless they are desperate following a defeat for president this year.

TEMPORARY LEADER

 If Rep. Tom DeLay is indicted in a politicized Texas legal proceeding, he may be replaced temporarily as House majority leader by 80-year-old Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois.

 Ronnie Earle, the Democratic district attorney in Austin, could bring an indictment against DeLay for alleged illegal cash payments in pushing congressional redistricting through the Texas legislature. In secret discussions, Republican leaders discussed naming a seat-warmer to replace DeLay temporarily rather than a competitor for the leadership.

 Hyde, a 15-term House member from the Chicago suburbs, formerly has been chairman of the House GOP Policy Committee and the House Judiciary Committee and is currently chairman of the House International Relations Committee.

TEXAS DISARMAMENT

 Conservatives are upset with Republican Rep. Pete Sessions for signing a mutual disarmament pact with Democratic Rep. Martin Frost, forgoing "outside" support in their race against each other in Texas this year.

 Sessions is the incumbent Republican House member party leaders worry about most in the redistricted Texas congressional map that is intended to pick up six GOP seats. "Voters in the 32nd District of Texas deserve the opportunity to make an informed choice for Congress based on the views expressed by the candidates themselves," said the joint letter signed by Sessions and Frost, a former member of the House Democratic leadership.

 A footnote: Republican John Thune made a similar disarmament statement in 2002 when he narrowly lost to Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson in South Dakota. Thune has not repeated the mistake this year in opposing Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.

GOP'S DON KING

 When honored guests were introduced during Wednesday night's Republican gala at Washington's Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, the biggest ovation went to a celebrity who doesn't even profess to be a Republican: boxing promoter Don King.

 King, waving an American flag in each hand, was greeted with a thunderous ovation when his named was called. Although King has been a political "switch-hitter" contributing to both parties, he has been a vigorous booster of President Bush this year and recently opened the doors of his Florida mansion for a GOP fund-raiser.

 A footnote: Official Republican videos shown at the gala featured Dick Cheney nearly as much as George W. Bush, indicating to the party faithful that there will be no change of vice president on the ticket this year.