Archives for August 2011

Tommy Thompson isn’t going to have an easy primary

It looks as though Tommy Thompson, former Governor of Wisconsin and DHHS Secretary in the Bush Administration, is about to enter the race for the Senate seat being left vacant by Herb Kohl. But Stu Rothenberg recently noted, after review a Club for Growth-sponsored poll, that Thompson may have a rough go of it in the GOP primary:

[W]hile Thompson would seem to be a formidable contender, a closer look suggests he won’t have an easy time winning the GOP nomination against a well-funded primary opponent.

A new Club for Growth poll shows how much of a challenge Thompson will face.

The club has already made it clear it doesn’t like Thompson (though it has no preferred alternative at the moment), so the fact that its survey raises questions about his ability to win his party’s nomination isn’t surprising. But dismissing the group’s poll would be a serious mistake.

The survey was conducted by Jon Lerner of Basswood Research, who conducts much of the Club for Growth’s polling. Lerner is highly regarded by political insiders, many of whom have found his surveys to be accurate and his analysis devoid of ideology or wishful thinking.

The July 26-27 survey of 500 respondents “with a history of voting in GOP primary elections” found Thompson with good name recognition (his “hard” name identification was 86 percent, meaning those respondents not only knew his name but had an opinion about him) and a “favorable” rating of 68 percent.

Rick Perry leads in first post-Ames poll out of Iowa

The first post-Ames numbers were released yesterday via Public Policy Polling. Consequently, this also the first poll out of Iowa since Rick Perry formally got in the race for the GOP nomination.

As you could have probably guessed, Perry has overtaken Michele Bachmann as the favorite in the state while Mitt Romney comes in a close second (all three of them are within the poll’s margin of error).

  • Rick Perry: 22%
  • Mitt Romney: 19%
  • Michele Bachmann: 18%
  • Ron Paul: 16%
  • Herman Cain: 7%
  • Newt Gingrich: 5%
  • Rick Santorum: 5%
  • Jon Huntsman: 3%
  • Other/Not sure: 5%

And with Palin in the race:

  • Rick Perry: 21%
  • Mitt Romney: 18%
  • Michele Bachmann: 15%
  • Ron Paul: 12%
  • Sarah Palin: 10%
  • Newt Gingrich: 7%
  • Herman Cain: 6%
  • Rick Santorum: 5%
  • Jon Huntsman: 3%
  • Other/Not sure: 4%

The poll should serve as a shot of reality for Bachmann. Yeah, she won the Ames Straw Poll, but her support was soft. And while I heard Erick Erickson say yesterday that Romney was diverting resources to Iowa, this poll really makes me doubt that (or at leas the wisdom in doing so).

Perry and Bachmann have essentially the same base - conservatives and tea partyers - and they, according to this poll, make up 40% of the GOP’s base in Iowa. These are voters that were already skeptical of Romney and are unlikely to suddenly support him if their candidate were to drop out. Add in Cain and at least some of Paul’s supporters (I presume that a significant number of them would back Johnson or another conservative candidate or just not vote), and the conservative/tea party vote is well over 50%.

Paul Ryan rules out bid for GOP nomination

Despite speculation - largely due to the folks at The Weekly Standard - that he was considering a bid for the GOP nomination for president, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) put the rumors to rest yesterday:

GOP congressman Paul Ryan said Monday he has ruled out running for president in 2012, amid another round of political speculation about his potential interest in the campaign.

“I sincerely appreciate the support from those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation.  While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party’s nomination for President,” Ryan said in a statement.
The House budget chairman from Janesville has been urged to jump into the race by some GOP insiders dissatisfied with the current field, which is led by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. Ryan’s fans within the party see him as a skilled, swing-state politician who can make the party’s best case for attacking the federal debt and overhauling entitlement programs. At the same time, some Democrats have argued that the Medicare changes he’s proposing would be a huge liability for a GOP ticket.

“I remain hopeful that our party will nominate a candidate committed to a pro-growth agenda of reform that restores the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation,” said Ryan in the statement.

In an earlier interview this summer with the Journal Sentinel, Ryan cited at least two reasons for not running: his family (he has three young children) and wanting to see through, in Congress, the debate he started there with his controversial House budget plan, which makes sweeping changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

Cutting later rarely happens

I was reading an article regarding some ideas of what President Obama’s jobs plan will contain, and came across a paragraph that I felt I needed to address.  It contains some thinking that many people feel is pretty sound, but it misses something that is pretty key to how government works when it comes to spending.

The two-phase plan would probably require Obama to argue for spending more money in the short term while reducing the federal deficit over a longer period. Many economists support that combination, saying cuts in spending should wait until the economy is stronger. But political strategists say it has been difficult to communicate that idea to voters.

The idea of spend now, cut later, sounds just fine to a lot of voters.  The problem is that those cuts are for down the road, and there’s no guarantee that those cuts will ever happen.  A program becomes popular, or the cuts themselves become unpopular, and so it never materializes.  For example, take the so-called Doc Fix in Medicare.  In fact, here’s Paul Krugman’s explanation of the Doc Fix back in January:

The reason we keep needing doc fixes is that back in 1997 Congress established a formula for Medicare reimbursements that was, in fact, unworkable. Applying that formula would set reimbursements so low that doctors would drop out, leaving seniors without care. Congress should have fixed the formula once and for all; but nobody wanted to take the budget hit, so instead we’ve had a series of temporary patches. And everyone knows that these patches will continue to be necessary.

Rasmussen: Palin trails Obama by 17 points

As talk of Sarah Palin running for the GOP nomination once again heats up (as seems to be the case every few months), Rasmussen brings us a poll that should remind Republicans why that would probably be a really bad idea.

Barack Obama v. Sarah Palin

  • Obama: 50%
  • Palin: 33%
  • Other: 15%
  • Not sure: 2%

Palin is expected to announce her plans after Labor Day. A few months ago, I thought all of this was for show, but now I’m not so sure. She still has dedicated supporters, so you’d have to think that she’d be a “serious” contender for the GOP nomination.

A One Term President

His opposition all hopes that President Obama follows in the footsteps of George H.W. Bush and becomes a one term President.  However, Ed Morrissey at Hot Air wrote a piece pondering the possibility that Obama will simply not seek re-election rather than lose the election outright.  He cites parallels with post FDR presidents who did just that, with the closest parallel being with Lyndon Johnson.

Obama’s popularity has plummeted recently, as Morissey cites that it’s also dropped in places where the President should be strong:

But the decision may end up being out of his hands if the political environment doesn’t improve.  Obama’s numbers are plummeting in places Democrats can hardly afford to lose.  In Pennsylvania, where Obama will top a ticket that also includes Bob Casey’s bid for a second Senate term, he’s either at 43% approval (Quinnipiac) or at 35% (Muhlenberg).  Wisconsin turned Republican last year and a series of elections this year confirmed it, and Herb Kohl’s seat in the Senate is up for grabs.  Obama can be expected to drag down the ticket in Virginia (James Webb’s seat is open), Florida (Bill Nelson), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), Maryland (Ben Cardin), and Michigan (Debbie Stabenow).  Obama is underwater in New York and New Jersey already, two normally staunch Democratic states, both with Senate races on the line as well.  If Obama runs at the top of those tickets, he might eke out victories in the two states, but his presence on the ticket will depress Democratic turnout and might endanger Kirsten Gillibrand and Robert Menendez; Democrats would almost certainly have to spend a ton of money to bolster them that they’d normally spend elsewhere.

Paul rakes in $1.8 million during birthday money bomb

This was mentioned during the weekly GOP Presidential Power Rankings yesterday, but Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) raised over $1.8 million in a birthday money bomb over the weekend (I only mention it again because the totals are finally in):

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised $1.8 million in 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday, a major online money bomb timed to coincide with his 76th birthday. This is the fourth time Paul has raised more than $1 million in a day this campaign cycle, and a signal that he will have the money to compete as long as he wishes for the Republican presidential nomination.

The big haul came despite a cyberattack during the same time period that shut down Pauls website for a few hours.

Paul had more than $4 million in the bank at the end of June, and besides this raised another $600,000 in a day for fundraising for the Iowa straw poll, in which he finished a close second behind Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Paul spent about a half million dollars on the straw poll.

With the aforementioned Gallup poll showing Paul doing better against President Barack Obama than Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), including with carrying independent voters (something she hasn’t done), it’s hard to say that he shouldn’t be getting more coverage in the media.

Taxing the rich is smoke and mirrors

When it comes to debt reduction, one often cited method is to increase taxes on the richest Americans.  It’s a small wonder that this one gets trotted out so much, since it’s typically rather popular.  Even billionaire Warren Buffett has come out in support of this one, citing that he has a lower effective tax rate than his own secretary.  The problem is that it won’t actually solve a thing.

The whole “tax the rich” is smoke and mirrors, designed to look like those in power are addressing the issue of debt while really doing nothing more than taking more money that wasn’t theirs to start with.  We could take every penny from every billionaire in this country, as well was tax the profits of every Fortune 500 company in the U.S. and still have a problem with our debt.

There are plenty who will say that I’m arguing that if it won’t fix it all, then it shouldn’t be done at all.  I’m actually not.  What I’m saying is that the whole argument is predicated on it doing something that it really won’t.  People are free to support whatever policies they so choose, but they need to be aware of the fact that what they’re proposing won’t make a dent in the national debt.  It won’t really make a dent in the deficit either.

Taxation is essentially the government taking money from citizens to pay for whatever.  The key word in that is “taking”.  Making no mistake, it’s the correct verb.  They take it from Americans like you and me, and then spend it on things that we might not necessarily agree with.  They’ve used it to fund wars that were horrendously unpopular.  They’ve used it to arrest such nefarious criminals as guys who sell raw milk.  Ah yes, they use it oh so wisely </sarcasm>

FCC does away with the Fairness Doctrine

“We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” - John F. Kennedy

While the Left will no doubt endlessly whine about this, the FCC has finally done away with the Fairness Doctrine, a policy that was entirely inconsistent with the right to free speech:

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the elimination of 83 outdated and obsolete agency rules on Monday, including the controversial Fairness Doctrine.

“The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction. As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead,” Genachowski said in a statement.

“The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books.”

The rule required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in a manner deemed fair and balanced by the FCC. The commission deemed it unconstitutional in 1987 and ceased enforcement.

UT Senate: Chaffetz will not run against Hatch

Count me among the people that are disappointed that Rep. Jason Chaffetz will not challenge Sen. Orrin Hatch in the Republican primary next year:

In bowing out of a U.S. Senate clash with Orrin Hatch on Monday, Jason Chaffetz avoided what he said would be a “multimillion-dollar bloodbath,” but predicts Hatch is not in the clear.

“I think he’s vulnerable,” Chaffetz said. “He’s got a major task ahead of him in convincing Utahns he’s still the right guy for that job. I think he’s got a serious threat of [Democratic Rep.] Jim Matheson running against him, a serious campaign, and another insurgent campaign on the Republican side.”

Chaffetz ended months of speculation Monday, announcing that he would pass on a Senate bid and instead seek re-election to his House seat.

“If I were to run an interparty battle it would be a multimillion-dollar bloodbath,” Chaffetz said Monday. “I don’t think that’s necessarily in my best interests. I don’t think it’s in the best interest of our party, the nation or our state.”

It looked likely that Chaffetz was going to challenge Hatch. He talked like a candidate and received nudges from grassroots activists and national groups, including the Club for Growth. In fact, poll commissioned by the Club for Growth indicated that Chaffetz would be off to a solid start.

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