Jason Pye

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GOP Presidential Power Rankings

This primary has been crazy. There is a significant portion of the Republican electorate that is determined to make sure that Mitt Romney doesn’t win the party’s nomination. It’s hard to blame them given his frequent position changes and refusal to back away from RomneyCare, which — as I so frequently note — was the basis for ObamaCare.

In the last two weeks, we’ve seen Herman Cain’s campaign implode due to the handling of the past accusations sexual harassment and another series of embarrassing gaffes. As expected, the next candidate in line for conservatives — who have gone through Cain, then Bachmann, then Perry, and then Cain again — is Newt Gingrich, whose campaign was all but dead in the water a few months ago.

The News

Tea Party Debt Commission booted from Senate hearing room

Our friends at FreedomWorks had hoped yesterday to release the findings of the Tea Party Debt Commission at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington. Despite being sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Senate Democrats shut down the event, forcing them move to nearby Hillsdale College.

Congress has not passed a budget — one of its most basic functions — in 933 days, including two years of overwhelming Democratic Party majorities in both chambers while also controlling the presidency. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe and Sen. Lee were understandably frustrated by the actions of Senate Democrats, but were undeterred (as you can see in the video above).

In a statement from FreedomWorks, Kibbe said:

“The Senate hasn’t been able to pass a budget resolution three years running. They have been unable to do their job, and now the Rules Committee is trying to prevent the American people from doing it for them,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks

Romney not backing down from RomneyCare

It certainly seems like Mitt Romney is going to do everything he can to make conservatives and tea partyers completely detest him. While the man has literally distanced himself from nearly every position he has taken in the past on issues close to the hearts of conservative, Romney continues to defend and stand by RomneyCare, which served as the blueprint of ObamaCare:

Don’t expect Mitt Romney to backtrack on his Massachusetts health-care plan at any point this election cycle.

“I am sure there are many people who have calculated, and perhaps correctly, that the healthcare plan I put in place in Massachusetts is not good for me politically, and if I want to encourage my political future, I should say it was a mistake and walk away from it,” Romney told Fox News host Neil Cavuto in an interview set to air later tonight.

“You have seen a lot of candidates look at their biggest vulnerability, call it a mistake, and ask for forgiveness,” Romney continued. “In my case that wouldn’t be honest.”

He affirmed that he believes the health-care program was the “right thing” for Massachusetts then, although he conceded that it hasn’t “worked perfectly.”

“If it hurts me politically, it’s a consequence of the truth,” Romney added. “I am not going to walk away from that. It’s right for states to come up with their own solutions. I doubt other people are going try and follow the one we put together. Maybe learn from our experience. Maybe come up with something better. But the wrong course is to have the federal government impose its will on the entire nation.”

Herman Cain is a joke and should drop out of the race

More information keeps coming out from Herman Cain’s recent interview with the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and at this point, the fact that he was ever considered to be a frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination for president should be an embarrassment.

“I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I’d throw that out,” he said, a dig at his critics.

He defended his view that presidents and presidential candidates don’t need to be immersed in the fine print of world affairs – they simply need to be leaders who can surround themselves with the right people and sift through their advice.

“I’m not supposed to know anything about foreign policy. Just thought I’d throw that out,” he said, a dig at his critics.

“I want to talk to commanders on the ground. Because you run for president (people say) you need to have the answer. No, you don’t! No, you don’t! That’s not good decision-making,” said Cain.

And his reasoning for not attacking Iran? According to Cain, it’s not a practical idea because the country is “very mountainous.” By that reasoning, we shouldn’t have bombed Afghanistan either since al-Qaeda was hiding in Tora Bora. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe we should engage Iran either, but not because of its topography.

If you’re going to run for the nation’s highest office, you damn well better have some idea about foreign policy. This isn’t the type of job that that allows for a learning curve, the current occupant of the White House is evidence of that.

Republicans clearly haven’t learned their lesson

For the last few days, Republican leaders have been dodgey when it comes to whether they will support tax hikes as part of deal that comes out of the Super Committee. It’s not hard to see the writing of yet another betrayal on the wall.

The deal that was on the table from Republicans on the Super Committee would have increased revenues by over $400 billion by closing loopholes. Part of the reason Republicans are proposing tax hikes is because they are so insistant that defense spending cuts, roughly $600 billion over 10 years, that would come if no deal is reached. Keep in mind that defense spending is at its highest level since World War II.

Over at the American Enterprise Institute, economist James Pethokoukis gives us five reasons why raising taxes, which many Republicans seem intent on doing, is an incredibly dumb idea:

1. The economy stinks. From Wall Street to Washington, the baseline economic case for 2012 is miserable 1-2 percent growth and around 9 percent unemployment. (Indeed, Federal Reserve research finds that when year-over-year real GDP growth falls below 2 percent, recessions follow within a year 70 percent of the time.) Beyond that … not much better. The IMF, for instance, sees sub-3 percent growth through 2016, resulting in continued high unemployment. And this all assumes the eurozone financial crisis doesn’t get much worse, which it likely will. Hardly the time for raising taxes and turning America permanently into slow-growth, no-growth Europe.

Unpopular ObamaCare is still a disaster for America

With ObamaCare headed to the Supreme Court and Democrats supporting repeal of damaging tax and regulatory provisions in the law, Americans continue to sour on President Barack Obama’s key legislative accomplishment; according to a new survey from Gallup:

Given a choice, 47% of Americans favor repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 42% want it kept in place. Views on this issue are highly partisan, with Republicans strongly in favor of repeal and the large majority of Democrats wanting the law kept in place.

 should be kept in place or should be repealed]? November 2011 results

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would review the healthcare law’s constitutionality, a case that is likely to be heard in March, with a ruling issued by next summer. Thus, the law’s ultimate fate may now be in the court’s hands, rather than in Congress’, although it will continue to be a dominant issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. Republicans and conservatives have continued to level criticism against the law since it was passed in March 2010, while President Obama has been just as vigorous in defending its objectives and future benefits.

OWS support continues to fall

We’ve noted here over the last few weeks that the Occupy Wall Street movement and its ancillary groups in other major cities had been quickly waning in popularity. The latest survey from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, only drives home that point:

The Occupy Wall Street movement is not wearing well with voters across the country. Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement’s support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street’s goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.

Voters don’t care for the Tea Party either, with 42% saying they support its goals to 45% opposed.  But asked whether they have a higher opinion of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movement the Tea Party wins out 43-37, representing a flip from last month when Occupy Wall Street won out 40-37 on that question. Again the movement with independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding with the Tea Party 44-40.

Last weekend in Denver, I watched as protesters blocked off a street, claiming ownership of it and refusing to let traffic pass — that is before police pushed them back. Acts of civil disobedience or even violence may seem like justifiable means to these so-called “Occupiers,” but Americans don’t smile on that.

Conservatives supporting Gingrich are being played

Newt Gingrich is the lastest Flavor of the Month for the conservative movement, which is feverishly looking for an anti-Romney candidate. But the former Speaker of the House has been forced to fight back against accusations that he lobbied for Freddie Mac, the government-created housing giant:

As he tried to leverage his recent rise in national polls into a full-fledged bid for the Republican nomination, Newt Gingrich was badly knocked off message on Wednesday by repeated inquiries about the more than $1.6 million he got in consulting fees from the mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which had a role in the housing collapse in recent years.

At a campaign event, Gingrich said that he characterized his work for the mortgage-finance entity as offering “strategic advice” and not as lobbying. He said he provided “strategic advice for a long period of time” after he resigned as speaker of the House in early 1999. The federally backed mortgage lender has been the target of a backlash since the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market and the deep recession in the housing market.

Gingrich said his lucrative association with Freddie Mac as a consultant – he has also said he was paid for his knowledge as an historian – should not trouble voters, he told reporters on Wednesday. “It reminds people that I know a great deal about Washington,” he said. “We just tried four years of amateur ignorance, and it didn’t work very well. So, having someone who actually knows Washington might be a really good thing.”

Congressional Transparency: There’s an app for that

Looking for a way to encourage transparency in Congress, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has released a new app, WhipCast, for smartphone users to track votes, receive alerts, and track issues that are being tackled in Washington:

Military coup openly discussed at Occupy DC

After spending a couple of hours at an Occupy site over the weekend, let me tell you that this “movement” is different from the Tea Party in several ways. The biggest is the respect for property, both private and public. The protesters at Tea Party rallies I went to were mostly respectful to the property they were on and those around them. Even the slight hint of criticism of the Obama Administration was classified as anti-government sentiment or hate speech.

But the Occupy site I visited in Denver, one of the organizers rallied some of his follow protesters to march on the evil corporations — including Starbucks and McDonald — at the 16th Street Mall. After all, the employees at those locations are evil bourgeois pigs that should be taken away from the fry line by the proletariat and dragged through the streets of Red Square!

But imagine if tea partyers were discussing taking over the government with aid from members of the military or speaking approvingly about soldiers in Vietnam shooting their superior officers. That’s exactly what was discussed in a meeting at Occupy DC, via Adam Kokesh:

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