Archives for January 2012
For those of you saying that Rick Santorum should get out of the race for the Republican nomination and endorse Newt Gingrich — the thinking being that it would unite the anti-Romney vote, there is new polling showing that this may not help knock off the GOP frontrunner:
Perhaps the most important number in the NBC-Marist poll was what happens when Santorum is removed from the race. Santorum’s vote splits off evenly if he’s removed, and Romney has an even WIDER lead over Gingrich, 49%-33%. So, Gingrich can’t make the argument that if conservatives weren’t divided he would win. The numbers just don’t bear that out. What’s really interesting — Santorum probably could argue that if GINGRICH weren’t in the race, he’d have a better chance against Romney. Santorum’s image is as good as it’s been since the campaign began.
That may be counterintuitive, but when you look at it, you’d have to make a lot of assumptions about Santorum’s supporters. I suppose some of it makes sense, being that evangelical Christians make up a lot of Santorum’s support, voters that may have an issue with voting for a Mormon.
And as much as I dislike diving into a candidate’s personal life, keep in mind that Gingrich’s has been married three times and has owned up to an affair. This is obviously going to be an issue to many religious-minded voters.
We’ll see what happens after tonight, but Santorum can justify sticking around for the time being. Whether he’s able to gain traction before Super Tuesday is an entirely different story. I’d never vote for the guy, but I think he may have another surge left in him before this is all said and done.
On the train ride in to work this morning, I did what I always do: read the paper of the person next to me. (I try hard not to, honest!) What I spied today was a story about a new vice president at Motown, Ne-Yo, who had a quote called out in the text: “I want to get back to a place where everybody’s listening to the same thing.”
How boringly collectivist.
There’s are a couple of factors to consider here in analyzing Mr. Ne-Yo’s statement. First, he’s the VP of a private company, not a director at a government agency; and second, he’s really talking about how black Americans and white Americans are listening to two sets of music, which has its own problems. (We don’t want the United States divided on racial lines.) But I think Ne-Yo’s statement is a prime example of the silliness which has gripped much of the public.
Let’s start off with the idea that people listening to different things is bad. I mean, I can’t even grasp that. Is there some sort of social disorder that will arise if I listen to Disturbed and another person on the subway listens to Lil’ Wayne? Are we somehow going to conflict? Sure, if you got into a really heated argument—which happens more online than in meatspace—it’s possible, but really unlikely. More likely is that we simply ignore each other and vow never to invite the other to our parties.
While wondering around Facebook and Twitter yesterday, I saw quite a few of my conservative friends — proud members of the anti-Romney faction in the Republican Party — pointing to video from 2006 where then Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was preparing to sign RomneyCare into law.
The reason the video is getting play is because Romney notes that he collaborated with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) in pushing the law through, obviously a moment that’ll make many Republican groan, and rightfully so:
The Massachusetts healthcare reform law, which — as we’ve noted many times here before, including today, served as the template for Obama. But conservatives that hammer Romney on this issue and push Newt Gingrich as the alternative are conveniently forgetting that he supported many of the same ideas that became part of RomneyCare, and later ObamaCare.
Over the weekend, Verum Serum posted audio from a May 2009 Center for Health Transformation conference call where Gingrich very clearly calls for some form of a requirement on individuals to purchase health insurance coverage:
On Tuesday night Barack Obama, America’s class warrior-in-chief, gave a rambling, divisive campaign speech thinly disguised as a State of the Union Address. It was short on facts and truth, but with a heaping helping of blame, obfuscation and denial of any responsibility he bears for the current mess in which the nation finds itself. This was an exercise in unadulterated narcissism, plain and simple, with very little reference to what makes America great. In this meandering diatribe, Obama used the word “I” an astounding forty-five times, “my” eighteen times, “fair share” four times, “millionaires” twice and “shared sacrifice” twice. By contrast, he used the word “freedom” once, “liberty” once, and “personal responsibility” exactly zero times. There were more than two dozen examples of Obama telling us what we should and shouldn’t do. It was all quite nauseating.
As a public service, I will once again break down the SOTU and correct the many errors and omissions contained therein. I can’t cover everything, but I’ll try to hit the high points.
“Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
If libertarians don’t want the Republican establishment to choose this year’s GOP nominee, a brokered convention is the last thing they should want.
Writing at The Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey takes on conservatives who are hoping for a brokered Republican convention this year, arguing that a brokered convention is not only unlikely but undesirable because it would pave the way for the GOP establishment to choose a nominee who is more to their liking. Morrissey writes:
But let’s say for the sake of argument that no one candidate has a majority of the delegates, and none manages to wangle (sic) a majority on the first ballot at the convention. How does this benefit conservatives, who have fought the “establishment” that has pushed Romney for the nomination? The nominating process will then fall into the hands of the Republican National Committee, comprised of state party chairs and other power brokers, where the Tea Party has little or no influence. The fantasy in this case will be that the assembled party bosses and delegates, many of whom are part of state-party establishments, will crown a completely new candidate.
Who would that candidate likely be? It’s not going to be Sarah Palin or Herman Cain, who are the antithesis of this kind of back room wheeling and dealing and who aren’t necessarily trusted by the people negotiating the question. Assuming that it’s not one of the candidates who couldn’t close the deal in the primaries, it might be Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, or another establishment figure that chose not to run and get vetted in the first place.
Back when the Congress was taking up the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, which created the Trouble Assets Relief Program (TARP), as financial markets were taking a tumble, many free marketers warned that taxpayers would lose billions. Many members of Congress tried to play down the losses or said that taxpayers would even profit.
If only that were the case. However, the watchdog that oversees the TARP program says that taxpayers are still owed nearly $133 billion:
A government watchdog says U.S. taxpayers are still owed $132.9 billion that companies haven’t repaid from the financial bailout, and some of that will never be recovered.
The bailout launched at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008 will continue to exist for years, says a report issued Thursday by Christy Romero, the acting special inspector general for the $700 billion bailout. Some bailout programs, such as the effort to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by reducing mortgage payments, will last as late as 2017, costing the government an additional $51 billion or so.
The gyrating stock market has slowed the Treasury Department’s efforts to sell off its stakes in 458 bailed-out companies, the report says. They include insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG), General Motors Co. (GM) and Ally Financial Inc.
It will also be challenging for the government to get out of the 458 companies as the market remains volatile and banks struggle keep afloat in the tough economy, it says.
Congress authorized $700 billion for the bailout of financial companies and automakers, and $413.4 billion was paid out. So far the government has recovered about $318 billion. The bailout is called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
The similarities between ObamaCare and Mitt Romney’s signature legislative achievement, the Massachusetts healthcare reform law, have been pointed out by many observers and fact-checkers. In 2010, the Cato Institute put out a video featuring David Boaz and Michael Cannon who explained the how the two laws are essentially one in the same; not just because of the individual mandate (though it’s a big part), but also the subsidies and exchanges required in the plans.
Of course, Romney denies the similarites, insists his plan was based on free market prinicples and is conservative, oftening raising the federalism argument; that his state did what was best for them. But a new study from Health Affairs, which was referenced by Rick Santorum during last Thursday’s debate, highlights the fact that RomneyCare was the model for ObamaCare:
Holly Robichaud of The Boston Herald is reporting that Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Senate candidate and Lioness of Consumer Protection, may have helped Travelers Insurance cheat asbestos victims out of compensation. Robichaud writes:
One of the Harvard professor’s many well-com-pensated part-time gigs included consulting for Travelers Insurance. I know that it is hard to believe that on one hand, Democrats would be bashing an industry, and on the other hand they are making money from it. To be a Democrat is to be a hypocrite.
What did Lizzy do to earn $44,000 in compensation from the insurance company? She made it harder for claimants to collect. Warren helped establish the bankruptcy strategy for companies to avoid crushing lawsuits. In short, go bankrupt to avoid paying victims.
In court briefings, she supported the effort to protect Travelers Insurance from future lawsuits after agreeing to a $500 million settlement with asbestos plaintiffs.
This news should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism until more information becomes available. For example, it would be helpful to know in precisely what capacity Warren worked for Travelers. Robichaud’s rhetoric is beyond partisan even for an op-ed writer and at one point she refers to Brown’s 2010 opponent Martha Coakley as Marsha. So our readers should take these accusations with a grain of salt until we see some less biased reporting.
Seeking to remain relevant in Republican politics, Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich, in what couldn’t have been a more predictable move:
The move by the former GOP candidate and tea-party favorite comes three days before the Florida primary, at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory.
“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”
Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening.”
Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him. Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.).
Cain backed Romney in 2008, but both he and Gingrich are from Georgia and it was obvious during the debates that they had had an affection for each other. And while the endorsement will be played up by anti-Romney conservatives, Gingrich’s actions as Speaker of the House, such as trying to diminish the influence of fiscal conservatives, are continuing to come under fire.
Occupy Wall Street activists should direct their anger over student debt toward the right target: government.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement burst onto the scene last fall, one of the chief concerns expressed by activists — especially younger protesters — was the debt that millions of American students are facing as a result of the exorbitant costs they’ve had to pay for higher education. Many Occupy activists have demanded a bailout in the form of debt forgiveness and some have even gone so far as to suggest that government should provide universal higher education. But if we’ve learned nothing else from these past few years, we should have learned that government bailouts do more to prolong problems than to solve them and that the more government becomes involved in solving a problem the worse the problem becomes.
Take the bank bailouts, for example. Rather than forcing banks to accept the consequences of their irresponsible practices and reform them, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Federal Reserve’s more secretive bailouts only encouraged banks to continue behaving irresponsibly with the assurance that government will come to the rescue.
If government’s eagerness to subsidize irresponsibility with taxpayer dollars isn’t enough to convince you that government can’t solve our higher education problems, you may want to consider government’s role in creating the very problems that have plagued the banks. While many progressives like to blame banking deregulation for the mortgage crisis, the disaster actually occurred as a result of government misregulation, congressional affordable housing mandates, previous bailouts, and expansionary monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Government both created the housing bubble and helped burst it.