Archives for December 2011

Will Romney really push for ObamaCare repeal?

The question of whether Mitt Romney would really fight for the repeal of ObamaCare (assuming the challenges to the law fail in the Supreme Court) has been on the minds of many conservative and Tea Party voters. It’s a reason why Romney has been unable to runaway with the nomination in this very unimpressive field.

Despite guarantees that he will work to repeal the law, the distrust of Romney is legitimate. As we’ve noted before, he frequently changes positions when it’s politically convenient…and, of course, opposing ObamaCare, which was based on RomneyCare, is certainly convenient. But as Philip Klein points out, Romney has given another reason to doubt his sincerity on this issue:

Mitt Romney talks a big game about repealing Obamacare on the campaign trail these days. But in the wake of the law’s passage, he had a more modest goal: “repeal the bad and keep the good.”

That’s a line that Romney himself used at a 2010 appearance that has now resurfaced. In the video, which Ben Domenech has more on and I’ve posted below, Romney makes many of the same arguments that would be familiar to those following the GOP primary. He says that his Massachusetts plan was different because it was at the state level and argues that his plan didn’t raise taxes (I’ve rebutted those arguments before). But he also does something you’ll never hear him do these days —note the similarities between the two laws.

Gingrich: Arrest judges that make unpopular decisions

In an attempt to fire up conservatives as his poll numbers fall, Newt Gingrich told reporters this past weekend he would ignore decisions he disagreed with, notes the Los Angeles Times:

Newt Gingrich says as president he would ignore Supreme Court decisions that conflicted with his powers as commander in chief, and he would press for impeaching judges or even abolishing certain courts if he disagreed with their rulings.

“I’m fed up with elitist judges” who seek to impose their “radically un-American” views, Gingrich said Saturday in a conference call with reporters.

In recent weeks, the Republican presidential contender has been telling conservative audiences he is determined to expose the myth of “judicial supremacy” and restrain judges to a more limited role in American government. “The courts have become grotesquely dictatorial and far too powerful,” he said in Thursday’s Iowa debate.

As a historian, Gingrich said he knows President Thomas Jefferson abolished some judgeships, and President Abraham Lincoln made clear he did not accept the Dred Scott decision denying that former slaves could be citizens.

Relying on those precedents, Gingrich said that if he were in the White House, he would not feel compelled to always follow the Supreme Court’s decisions on constitutional questions. As an example, he cited the court’s 5-4 decision in 2008 that prisoners held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had a right to challenge their detention before a judge.

“That was clearly an overreach by the court,” Gingrich said Saturday. The president as commander in chief has the power to control prisoners during wartime, making the court’s decision “null and void,” he said.

Biggest lies of ‘11?

Well reading Foreign Policy for that North Korean blog entry, I came across “The 14 Biggest Lies of 2011,” by David J. Rothkopf. I like list articles a lot; lots of information, in a very short time span, and gets you to focus on them. Sometimes, lists are completely, totally wrong; other times they are spot on; and in this case, it’s quite mixed. I want to offer some rebuttals to a few of his items, because they seem, to me, to be wildly inaccurate. Perhaps they are lies, but his own answers to them are not exactly encouraging. I will only focus on that we disagree on, to save space, but do read the entire list. I actually find it rather humorous…in a morbid sort of way.

I will start out by agreeing 100% with his introduction, however, that in DC, that lying is not an art form, but rather “is more reflexive, like breathing or taking cash from fat cats.” It is nothing but a pit of lies, and the Great Obamessiah himself is one of the best of them. All for civil liberties and ending the wars while running for president, not so much when he actually got into office. What a shame.

But onto Mr. Rothkopf’s list:

6 - “America is unthreatened by China’s growth.”

SOPA must be shot down by Congress

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively shredded the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Habeas Corpus, Congress will likely take up the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at some point early next year.

For those of you that haven’t followed SOPA, Tina Korbe at Hot Air offers a very good introduction to the legislation:

Introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and co-sponsored by representatives from both parties (the bill has a total of 31 co-sponsors!), the Stop Online Piracy Act purports to stop “foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves.”

According to Rep. Smith’s website, “IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such. The bill ensures that profits from America’s innovations go to American innovators.”

That sounds relatively harmless, but there has been a lot of concern among tech-advocates that SOPA would would lead to censorship and deter innovation on the Internet.

Korbe continues:

Another one bites the dust, Crazy Midget Dictator Edition

Just after the world lost the esteemable Christopher Hitchens and the visionary Vaclav Havel, it has now lost…Kim Jong Il. The crazy North Korean midget dictator.

Now his son, Kim Jung Un (which sounds like a verb; “Yeah, I was down at the Asian market just kimjong’un”) is in control. As Doug Mataconis tweeted this morning:

A 28yo in charge of nukes, a million man army, and tens of thousands of artillery pieces that can hit Seoul. What could possibly go wrong?

Forgive me if I’m not going to feel particularly hopeful about this.

Kim Jong Il was a bit crazy, we all knew that, But he was also crazy smart. He had the Western world, plus Beijing, dancing to his tune. “Give us food or we nuke Seoul!” And ultimately, we did. He played us well.

His son? Frankly, I’m not sure we have any idea what he’ll do. CBS reports:

North Korea’s heir apparent Kim Jong Un has swiftly risen to power since being made a four-star general a year ago, but he is even more of an enigma than his late father was during 17 years of absolute power.

Within hours of news breaking Monday of leader Kim Jong Il’s death over the weekend, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency was reporting that the country, people and military “must faithfully revere respectable comrade Kim Jong Un.”

The agency also referred to Jong Un as a “great successor” of the North’s guiding philosophy of self reliance and a “distinguished leader of the military and people.”

South Korea, meanwhile, put its military on high alert, while people in the streets of Pyongyang broke into tears as they learned the news that Kim had died at the age 69 of heart failure.

#SEC Charges Former Fannie/Freddie Execs With Fraud

Hello! From the commission itself:

Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2011 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged six former top executives of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) with securities fraud, alleging they knew and approved of misleading statements claiming the companies had minimal holdings of higher-risk mortgage loans, including subprime loans.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with the Commission in which each company agreed to accept responsibility for its conduct and not dispute, contest, or contradict the contents of an agreed-upon Statement of Facts without admitting nor denying liability. Each also agreed to cooperate with the Commission’s litigation against the former executives. In entering into these Agreements, the Commission considered the unique circumstances presented by the companies’ current status, including the financial support provided to the companies by the U.S. Treasury, the role of the Federal Housing Finance Agency as conservator of each company, and the costs that may be imposed on U.S. taxpayers.

Could Gary Johnson play a role in November?

With Gary Johnson all but having officially announced that he will seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President, Public Policy Polling included him in a poll of voters in his home state. The result? While short of Obama by a distant 21%, Johnson trails Mitt Romney by a mere 4%.

Americans are more fed up than ever with the 2 main political parties right now so we also looked to see how Gary Johnson might do in his home state running as a Libertarian and the answer is pretty darn well.  In a 3 way contest with Obama and Romney he gets 23% with Obama at 44% and Romney at 27%.  And in a 3 way with Gingrich, Johnson gets 20% to 45% for Obama and 28% for Gingrich.

What’s interesting about Johnson’s support is that he’s pulling a fair amount from both sides.  His supporters in the match up with Obama and Romney go just 47-33 for Romney in a head to head contest. And his supporters against Obama and Gingrich actually vote for Obama 47-40 in a head to head.  So Johnson’s pulling from across the spectrum. Just because he’s doing that in New Mexico doesn’t really say anything about his ability to do it on a broader scale but it shows that with folks who are familiar with his message he has support across the spectrum.

Mark Your Calendar: Supreme Court schedules ObamaCare oral arguments

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the challenge over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as ObamaCare:

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on President Obama’s healthcare law over a three-day span in late March.

The schedule further confirms the universal expectation that the court will issue a ruling on the healthcare law next June, at the height of the 2012 campaign.

The Supreme Court will begin on March 26 with one hour of arguments on whether it can reach a decision on the reform law before 2014. There is a possibility that a separate federal law will prevent the courts from ruling until the law’s individual mandate has taken effect.

On March 27, the justices will hear two hours of arguments on the core question of whether the mandate is unconstitutional.

And on March 28, the court will hear arguments on two issues: how much, if any, of the law’s other provisions can be upheld if the mandate is unconstitutional, and whether the health law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional.

The individual mandate is the main issue with the law, though not the only one. Not ruling on the law until it goes into effect defeats the purpose. But as I’ve written a few times in the last couple years, the fate of this law is going to ultimately depend on what side of the bed Justice Anthony Kennedy wakes up the morning he casts his vote. In other words, don’t get your hopes up.


Ron Paul leads in Iowa

With the Iowa caucus just a couple of weeks away, camapaigns are working hard to make a good impression on voters and to push down rivals. Polls earlier this month had showed Newt Gingrich doing well in the Hawkeye State, but as his record has been attacked, his base of support has dropped.

Recent polls had showed Gingrich in a statistical tie with Paul and/or Mitt Romney in the state; but according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), Gingrich has bottomed out and Ron Paul now leads (though Romney is in the margin of error):

  • Ron Paul: 23%
  • Mitt Romney: 20%
  • Newt Gingrich: 14%
  • Rick Perry: 10%
  • Michele Bachmann: 10%
  • Rick Santorum: 10%
  • Jon Huntsman: 4%
  • Other/Not sure: 7

PPP dives into Paul’s numbers:

Paul’s ascendancy is a sign that perhaps campaigns do matter at least a little, in a year where there has been a lot of discussion about whether they still do in Iowa.  22% of voters think he’s run the best campaign in the state compared to only 8% for Gingrich and 5% for Romney. The only other candidate to hit double digits on that question is Bachmann at 19%. Paul also leads Romney 26-5 (with Gingrich at 13%) with the 22% of voters who say it’s ‘very important’ that a candidate spends a lot of time in Iowa.  Finally Paul leads Romney 29-19 among the 26% of likely voters who have seen one of the candidates in person.

Romney trying to win over Tea Party voters

With roughly 75% of the Republican electorate choosing another candidate, Mitt Romney is making an appeal to the Tea Party-minded voters. Romney is hoping that the endorsement of South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was backed with Tea Party support, will convince these voters that he is worthy of their backing:

In a state where the Tea Party may hold greater influence than in any other early primary contest, Mitt Romney told reporters in South Carolina today he could be the “ideal” candidate to earn Tea Party support.

“I believe on the issues as well, that I line up with [Tea Party supporters]: a smaller government, a less intrusive government, regulations being pared back, holding down the tax rates of the American people, maintaining a strong defense – and so many Tea Party folks are going to find me, I believe, to be the ideal candidate,” Romney said.

The former Massachusetts governor also contrasted his personal background with that of the state’s current frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, in making his appeal for Tea Party support.

“I think the Tea Party is anxious to have people who are outside Washington coming in to change Washington, as opposed to people who have been in Washington for 30 years,” Romney said.

At his side, Governor Haley noted that there was “no such thing as a Tea Party candidate,” but that a candidate can be supported by the Tea Party.

“That is what makes the Tea Party great. They’re independent people,” Haley said.

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