Archives for December 2011

We can finally focus on race for the GOP nomination

As you know, Herman Cain suspended his campaign on Saturday, effectively ending his bid for the Republican nomination and the strange ordeal that he put his family through. Many are wondering what is next for Cain, whether he’ll go on to form a PAC and/or endorse another candidate in the race. Both seem likely, and we already know which way Cain is leaning (and it’s not a surprise):

A top Cain adviser tells us the former candidate plans to endorse in the next few weeks – certainly this month, in order to affect the Iowa caucuses – and is most likely to go Gingrich. They have a personal relationship that goes back to Gingrich’s days as Speaker, a much longer relationship than Cain has with any of the others. And they disagree on few issues. Cain can offer some Iowa organization and his power as a surrogate in the African-American community (including churches), a weakness for the GOP.

Despite his potential to be a “kingmaker,” some conservatives are taking issue with Cain. Over at the National Review, Rich Lowery very pointedly says that Cain should give back money he received from donors. Some of you may say that this isn’t a big deal, but it has been noted that since Cain hasn’t formally ended his campaign, merely suspended it, he would still qualify for federal matching funds, which he may be able to transfer to whatever PAC he creates with leftover campaign dollars.

I’m voting for Ron Paul

It has been no secret that I was backing Gary Johnson, who comes closest to what I believe on both personal and economic liberty, for the Republican nomination. As a businessman and former two-term Governor of New Mexico, Johnson has the experience necessary to govern effectively with libertarian and free market principles.

It has been no secret that Johnson has been considering running for the Libertarian Party’s nomination. On Friday, his campaign sent out an editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican noting this and piece from Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ written by my friend Andrew Davis, who works for Johnson’s campaign, making the “conservative case” for Johnson to pursue a third party bid.

Johnson is rightfully bothered with how he has been treated by the Republican establishment and the media during the course of his campaign. But now that he is considering a third party bid, I will not continue to support him in the Republican primary.

I had no illusions about Johnson when I decided to back him months ago. I knew that casting my vote for him was more about making a point, rather than determining the outcome of the race. But with Ron Paul rising and Johnson seemingly moving on — and understandably so, I’d rather cast my ballot where it can be effective and still support someone that is largely in line with what I believe.

To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with Johnson leaving the Republican field to run as a Libertarian and am I certainly not a Republican partisan — I consider myself a strongly libertarian-minded independent voter when it comes to national elections these days.

Libertarian Republicans For Huntsman?

The choices for libertarian oriented Republicans in this year’s Republican field are, admittedly, better than they have in the past. Not only is Ron Paul doing much better than he did four years ago, getting more press attention, and seemingly surging into second place in Iowa, but we’ve also got Gary Johnson, former two-term Governor of New Mexico.

There’s been much to lament about Johnson’s campaign, of course, not the least being the near disaster caused due to a campaign miscommunication that almost kept Johnson off the New Hampshire ballot, as well as staff problems inside the campaign. At the same time, though, Johnson has largely been ignored by the media, and kept out of nearly all the debates due to low poll numbers (although, as Johnson has noted himself, it’s hard to do well in the polls when they don’t even include your name on the list of prospective candidates).

The possibility that Johnson could run for the Libertarian Party nomination for President next year is also encouraging. It’s not perfect, of course, and libertarian Republicans have had to sit back and watch a bunch of incompetents like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain rise in the polls and get far more media attention than either their qualifications or their accomplishments would seem to warrant while a two-term Governor is ignored. Nonetheless, it’s better than we’ve had it in the past, and hopefully a sign that libertarian-leaning candidates are gaining wider acceptance in the Republican Party as a whole.

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

Guess what? The race for the Republican nomination has been shaken up again. Many of us saw Herman Cain’s downfall coming, it was only a matter of time. But still the fact that he lasted this far into the race is concerning given his lack of experience and complete lack of knowledge on some of the most basic issues, including foreign policy.

It looks as though Newt Gingrich has been able to capitalize on Cain’s misfortune and, as noted earlier, seems like to receive an endorsement. Gingrich leads in six of the last nine national polls, hold a single-digit lead in Iowa, and double-digit leads in Florida and South Carolina. Mitt Romney still leads in New Hampshire, but Gingrich and Ron Paul are gaining steam.

The News

Herman Cain suspends campaign

Herman Cain, long-shot candidate turned brief frontrunner for the GOP nomination, ostensibly ended his bid for the White House earlier today here in Atlanta. Cain didn’t formally withdraw from the race, opting instead to “suspend” his campaign:

Herman Cain ended his Quixotic bid for the White House on Saturday, telling hundreds of supporters in Atlanta the path to victory no longer was passable.

Cain said the onslaught of accusations of sexual harassment and marital infidelity has caused too much of a strain on his marriage and that after discussing it with his wife, Gloria, they agreed it was time to focus on their family.

“As of today, with a lot off prayer and soul searching, I am suspending my presidential campaign,” Cain said, his wife standing behind him, “because of the continued distraction, the continued hurt caused on me and my family, not because we’re not fighters.

But Cain said he “will not be silenced and I’m not going away.”

Cain said he’s on to “Plan B,” which revolves around a website where he will continue to push for solutions to the country’s problems.

Cain will apparently make an endorsement in the race in the coming weeks, which already has other candidates jockeying for position. Keep in mind that Cain backed Romney in 2008, but it’s unlikely he’d do again. It certainly seems that he and Gingrich had developed a bit of a bond over the course of the campaign, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him to go that route.

It’s the Fed, Stupid, not the CRA

Steven L. Taylor over at Outside the Beltway has a post up arguing that the Community Reinvestment Act, the law that ordered banks to make loans out to those who really couldn’t afford them, was not the reason for the housing bust, but rather greedy megabanks that were preying on naive homeowners. Mostly, he gets this from Barry Ritholtz. Here’s a summary of the arguments:

 

  1. The boom and bust was a global phenomenon, so the CRA couldn’t possibly have done all of this.
  2. What was done in the US mostly happened outside of CRA target zones, in the suburbs.
  3. “Nonbank mortgage underwriting exploded from 2001 to 2007, along with the private label securitization market, which eclipsed Fannie and Freddie during the boom.”
  4. Most of the lenders were private firms not subject to CRA regulations.
Taylor then concludes thusly:

At any rate, the notion that the crisis in mortgage financing was caused by, as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp,” is patently absurd.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Unemployment Statistics

Before Democrats, the Obama Administration, liberals, and progressives start crowing about the updated unemployment figures—which the Bureau of Labor Statistics say is now down to 8.6%—there’s something you should know about the why it is down—and it’s not pretty.

The BLS divides up the unemployment numbers into six figures, U-1 through U-6. U-3 is the “official” number, the one that’s always toted on the primetime news channels. U-6, however, is the real unemployment figure, which counts marginally attached workers (those that have stopped looking for work for the time being) and underemployed workers (those working part time but want full time work), among others. And the worst part is?

Even that is rosy compared to the “real truth.”

The truth comes in near the middle of the Bureau’s press release:

In November, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs declined by 432,000 to 7.6 million. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.7 million and accounted for 43.0 percent of the unemployed. (See tables A-11 and A-12.)

The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 64.0 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.5 percent, changed little.(See table A-1.)

Emphasis mine.

Cain is done, but who knows his next move?

The question of what Herman Cain will do in the coming days, whether he will stay in the race or exit to focus on healing the wounds that have no doubt been created in recent weeks, is something that observers and pundits are dwelling on. What he does could, obviously, have a significant impact on the race.

For his part Cain and his campaign have, as usual, given mixed message. At first they said that Cain could leave the race. That changed as the day went along, after Cain gave a firey speech in Ohio. However, by the end of the day it appeared that Cain was still weighing all of his options, and said that no decision would be made until he spoke with his wife.

Many Republicans are saying that Cain needs to get out of the race for various different reasons, from him now serving a distraction to the feeling that he nees to focus on his family. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a tea party favorite, is among them:

“Beyond reassessing his campaign, he probably needs to understand that he is a distracter for what’s going on right now and we should move on,” West told WMAL’s radio show “Morning Majority.”

November BLS report shows job growth, but not all good news

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the jobs report for last month, which on the surface looks like a positive; in that the economy added 120,000 jobs and the unemployment rate decreased to 8.6%:

Job creation remained weak in the U.S. during November, with just 120,000 new positions created, though the unemployment rate slid to 8.6 percent, a government report showed Friday.

The rate fell from the previous month’s 9.0 percent, a move which in part reflected a drop in those looking for jobs. The participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October.

The actual employment level increased by 278,000. The total amount of those without a job fell to 13.3 million.

The measure some refer to as the “real” unemployment rate, which counts discouraged workers, also took a steep fall to 15.6 percent from 16.2 percent, its lowest level since March 2009.

The growth for November is right around what is needed to keep up with population growth, and numbers for October were revised upward to over 200,000 jobs. So this is very good news, right? That depends on how far into the numbers you go. On the surface a 8.6% unemployment rate is welcome news comparatively speaking.

However, the report notes that some 315,000 umemployed people got out of the job market. As Conn Carroll notes, the “jobless rate counts only people who are actively looking for work.” So when you remove a chunk of people from the number of the unemployed — again, not because they found work, the umeployment rate will only go down. That’s basic math, but it won’t be the lede in many stories.

Gingrich at 50% in Florida

Newt Gingrich has certainly had a good last several days. In addition to other polls showing him rising to the lead in the race for the GOP nomination, Rasmussen showed him with a 21 point lead over Mitt Romney. A third poll out of Florida showed Gingrich not only leading, but taking 50% of GOP voters.

But Gingrich’s rise is bringing a renewed interest in his past, not just his exploits as a lobbyist and consultant, but his failures as Speaker of the House, which has some of his former colleages still in the Congress are concerned that he may actually win the nomination:

Despite being in Washington for decades and leading the 1994 GOP revolution, Gingrich only has garnered six endorsements from Republican House members, and none in the Senate. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has sunk in the polls, has 13 (including from one senator) while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has 46 (including from 8 senators).

Some of Gingrich’s former colleagues attribute the scarce endorsements to the former House Speaker’s leadership style.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who served in the House from 1995 through 2004, said that sentiment is true from a certain standpoint.

“Any time you throw a thousand ideas out there, you got a great likelihood that a great majority of them are not very good,” he said.

 


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