Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, worried about excesses in real estate investment, has privately called on other federal regulators to take a closer look at imprudent speculation.

 According to Fed sources, Greenspan has told the regulators that there is a limit to what the central bank's monetary policy can do in tamping down inflationary pressures. He has been in contact with the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision, among other agencies.

 A footnote: High officials in the Japanese Ministry of Finance recently commented privately that the vibrant U.S. home mortgage market is supporting an otherwise shaky global economy.


 Republican insiders in Washington fear that Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is in serious danger of losing his seat next year to his Democratic challenger, Pennsylvania State Treasurer Bob Casey, because of a poorly planned and ill-conceived campaign.

 Grievances by Pennsylvania Republicans are piling up. One banking industry CEO in Pennsylvania offered Santorum a chance to visit his more than 3,000 employees. But the senator's campaign staff declined to immediately accept the invitation, explaining this group was not a "priority." Santorum is accused of not making sure to minimize the negative political fallout from his new book ("It Takes a Family"). A current Republican poll shows Casey 9 percentage points ahead of Santorum.

 A footnote: Democratic consultant Paul Begala, who worked on the successful campaign for governor of Pennsylvania by the late Robert Casey Sr., may join the younger Casey's campaign for the Senate.


 AFL-CIO President John Sweeney thought the threat by several unions to leave the merged labor federation was only a bluff and was surprised when they actually left, according to labor sources.

 To his critics inside the labor movement, Sweeney's surprise suggests that he is removed from reality. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Teamsters for months had spelled out their clear intention to leave unless Sweeney made concessions that he viewed as unacceptable.

 A footnote: The major unexpected labor development was the failure by John Wilhelm, president of Unite Here (hotel, restaurant, needle and textile workers), to run against Sweeney for AFL-CIO president. Sweeney was re-elected without opposition.


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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