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Opinion

All bets are off

Happy Friday from The Point!

Daily Point

Betting on Trump team

Up until 10:30 a.m., the market in Sean Spicer futures was chugging along on Predictit.com, with gamblers getting 2-to-1 odds that the White House press secretary would still be in the job on the last day of 2017. In essence, you could have bought one share of “Spicer still in job on 12/31” for 33 cents, and if he made it, each share would be redeemed for a dollar.

But around 10:30 a.m., as rumors began to circulate that Spicer was going to quit Friday, shares of Spicer plummeted to 1 cent. But there were never any odds that he would be replaced by a Long Islander. Anthony Scaramucci, the new director of communications, lives in Manhasset and is a minority owner of the Mets.

With President Donald Trump dissing his attorney general and the White House leaking warnings to special counsel Robert Mueller, Spicey, however, had not been the name expected to be in the news Friday.

Predictit offers dozens of political wagers on different topics. One of the hottest and most intricate betting pools is a 24-candidate wager on who will be the first Cabinet member or top aide to leave. Chief of staff Reince Priebus is the leading candidate, with the chance to reap $1 on him costing 53 cents as of 1 p.m. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the next most likely, but is far behind Priebus with shares at 17 cents. And the third choice, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, offers high odds, with the bet that he will leave first costing only four cents.

And who is most secure right now, according to the market? Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. A bet that he’ll be the first to go pays 100 to 1, with a buying price of just a penny.

Lane Filler

Talking Point

LIPA closes door

Since the Long Island Power Authority requested bids for clean energy proposals in December 2015, it has had to “beat developers away,” chief executive officer Tom Falcone told The Point. And LIPA’s stingy approval of just a few projects has left those who wanted a piece of the action very disappointed.

LIPA says it now has enough renewables in the pipeline to meet its requirements through 2023, and is unlikely to contract for any more power in the next two years. At that time, LIPA will look to add 400 megawatts to meet the state green-energy goals, and Falcone estimates a thriving offshore wind industry from Virginia to Massachusetts will be ready to offer the best deals.

To that end, LIPA will sign a memorandum of understanding next week with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, figuring it will have more purchasing power as part of a larger consortium of New York utilities.

“Why do things piecemeal?” said Falcone. And that’s going to mean a lot fewer energy developers knocking on LIPA’s door.

Rita Ciolli

Pencil Point

Scorcher

More cartoons of the week

Pointing Out

Zeldin’s choice

Having failed so far to repeal Obamacare, Congress is trying other things on its to-do list.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans are considering tying legislation that is unpopular in the party's conservative wing — to increase the debt limit — to the always popular issue of more funding for veterans.

The Veterans Choice Program allows veterans to get medical care outside of VA facilities, and Rep. Lee Zeldin is a big supporter. But he also regularly campaigns on cutting the deficit — not adding to it — and voted in 2015 against increasing the federal debt.

“Congressman Zeldin thinks the best policy is one that is able to stand on its own rather than having to be added to other legislation in order to pass,” Jennifer DiSiena, Zeldin’s communications director, told The Point.

But both increasing the debt limit and funding for the Veterans Choice Program have become must-pass pieces of legislation. The Congressional Budget Office expects the government to run out of the so-called “emergency measures” to pay its bills by October. And the Veterans Choice Program account will run out of money by mid-August.

Congress will take up these proposals in August, and if the two bills are piggybacked, Zeldin will face a tough choice.

Melissa Holzberg

Columns