Bill Clinton

Oh look, Obama gave another speech on the economy…

President Barack Obama spent yesterday day in Ohio slamming Republicans for not backing his latest gimmick stimulus “jobs” proposal. As his backdrop, the White House used a bridge that connects Ohio (House Speaker John Boehner’s state) to Kentucky (Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s state) that isn’t large enough to handle traffic demand as an example of a project that his proposal would tackle. Well, there’s a problem…that bridge isn’t “shovel ready”:

[Obama] headed out to one today which he’s described as a “bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.” It is on a busy trucking route, spanning the Ohio River between Covington, Ky., and Cincinnati.

It’s the Brent Spence Bridge. It doesn’t really need repairs. It’s got decades of good life left in its steel spans. It’s just overloaded. The bridge was built to handle 85,000 cars and trucks a day, which seemed like a lot back during construction in the Nixon era.

Today, the bridge sort of handles more than 150,000 vehicles a day with frequent jam-ups.

So, plans are not to repair or replace the Brent Spence Bridge. But to build another bridge nearby to ease the loads.

But here’s the problem, as John Merline graphically notes here, that could screw up all those envisioned photo op shots of the Democrat and the traffic:

Veronique de Rugy: It’s not just about taxes

Over the last couple of days, we’ve explained why President Barack Obama’s latest tax hike proposal is a campaign ploy, not a serious policy proposal. But Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University, notes that what’s getting lost in the shuffle from conservatives and libertarians in the debate is that government has grown out of control and that has served as an impediment to economic:

Former president Bill Clinton hit the morning shows on Sunday and Monday. The purpose was mainly to highlight his Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York this week, but he also used the opportunity to remind people that the economy won’t suffer from letting marginal tax rates creep back up to the pre-Bush-tax-cut levels. His evidence: The economy was doing well during his presidency in spite of the 39.6 percent top marginal rate on income.

To be sure, the economy was doing well in the nineties, even with higher marginal rates. However, the burden of taxation isn’t the only factor in the health of an economy. A factor consistently overlooked by those calling for higher marginal tax rates is the size of government as measured by its spending.

According to OMB’s historical tables, when Clinton left office, government spending as a share of the economy was 18.2 percent. In FY 2005, the government spent $2 trillion. This year, government spending as a share of the economy is 25.3 percent, and real spending has reached $3.3 trillion. That’s significantly larger than when Clinton left office.

A primary challenge for Obama?

President Obama has been taking a beating lately.  His approval rating is pretty dismal.  Unfortunately, as is clear from things that have only recently transpired, things ain’t exactly getting better.

You see, while Obama has held his own against a variety of GOP challengers in head to head polls, Rasmussen found that he has a 64% disapproval rating among undecided voters.  Let’s face it folks, Democrats aren’t likely to abandon Obama and Republicans aren’t exactly lining up to jump ship for bluer waters.  The battle is for the hearts and minds of the undecideds, and on that battleground Obama is clearly getting his butt kicked.

This comes amid news that left wing crusader and former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nadar is pushing for a primary challenger to hit Obama from the left.  From the Washington Times:

“What we are looking at now is the dullest presidential campaign since Walter Mondale — and that’s saying something, believe me,” Mr. Nader told The Washington Times.

The group’s call has been endorsed by more than 45 other liberal leaders. They want to recruit six candidates who bring expertise ranging from poverty to the military.

Mr. Nader said the intent is not to defeat Mr. Obama but to make him focus on issues that might get lost in a purely Obama-versus-GOP discussion.

A primary challenge would definitely hurt Obama.  As it is now, he can campaign against GOP talking points while the GOP is busy fighting itself to pick who will challenge him next November.  Having to battle with the left wing of his own party would put him in the position of having to argue left wing policy.  For the record, there are a lot of folks who aren’t crazy about left wing policy at the moment.

David Boaz for President?

Back in July, Executive Vice President of the libertarian Cato Institute David Boaz chimed in on the 2012 GOP nomination asking “Is There Still Time?

Barry Goldwater announced his candidacy for president on January 3, 1964, about nine weeks before the New Hampshire primary. A decade later, Ronald Reagan announced his challenge to President Gerald Ford on November 20, 1975. After that unsuccessful race, he announced another, this time successful candidacy, on November 13, 1979.

I’m not suggesting that Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, or Chris Christie is another Ronald Reagan or even another Goldwater. Nor am I unaware of the changes in the campaign process. But I do wonder if a candidate with real appeal really has to announce his or her candidacy so many months before earlier candidates did.

Now he’s asking “Is It Too Late for Another Candidate?

Now the William J. Clinton Presidential Center (whatever happened to good ol’ Bill? I guess “William J. Clinton” sounds more presidential) reminds us of a more recent president who started his campaign later than any of today’s contenders. From September 30 to October 3, the center will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton’s announcement of his candidacy, which happened on October 2, 1991.

Is time running out? Or could a candidate with something attractive to offer still get into the race? It’s still earlier in the season than when Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton announced their candidacies.

Economic freedom is on the decline in the US

The Fraser Institute, a libertarian-leaning think thank based in Canada, issued the annual Economic Freedom of the World report yesterday. The report weights countries commitments to the principles of a free economy, including the size of government, security of property rights, sound money, free trade, and regulation; rating each country on a scale of 1 (less free) to 10 (most free).

Unfortunately, the report shows that economic freedom has “suffered another setback” as the “average economic freedom score rose from 5.53 (out of 10) in 1980 to 6.74 in 2007, but fell back to 6.67 in 2008, and to 6.64 in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available.”

Here’s the top 10 freest economies:

  1. Hong Kong (9.01)
  2. Singapore (8.68)
  3. New Zealand (8.20)
  4. Switzerland (8.03)
  5. Austrailia (7.98)
  6. Canada (7.81)
  7. Chile (7.77)
  8. United Kingdom (7.71)
  9. Mauritius (7.67)
  10. United States (7.60)

The United States is down from 7th in 2008 (we were ranked as the 3rd freest economy in 2000). What’s the reason for the decline of economic freedom in the US? The report shows that “[m]uch of this decline is a result of higher government spending and borrowing and lower scores for the legal structure and property rights components.”

Our scores declined across the board, including falling from 2nd on “Access to Sound Money” to 11th. We also fell from 29th to 44th in “Freedom to Trade Internationally,” a fundamentally economic right. Although Bill Clinton declared more than a decade ago the that the “era of big government is over,” the report shows us ranked 54th in terms of the “Size of Government.”

Congressional Black Caucus admits to double standard

The Congressional Black Caucus admits that they’re doing things differently because Obama is in the White House than if someone else, like even Bill Clinton, were sitting there.  I picked it up in a piece over at The Hill.

Unhappy members of the Congressional Black Caucus “probably would be marching on the White House” if Obama were not president, according to CBC Chairman Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).

“If [former President] Bill Clinton had been in the White House and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House,” Cleaver told “The Miami Herald” in comments published Sunday. “There is a less-volatile reaction in the CBC because nobody wants to do anything that would empower the people who hate the president.”

In this instance, the problem is the unemployment rate for African-Americans that is still moving upwards.  Members of the caucus want action, but don’t want to undermine the president.

“We’re supportive of the president, but we getting tired, y’all,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in August. “We want to give [Obama] every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is.”

The thing that bugs me is that, if by their own admission they’re treating Obama different, aren’t they simply doing the exact same thing they would criticize others for?  After all, they’re giving preferential treatment to Obama because of his skin color.  How is this not racism?

And So It Begins: Romney’s new strategy in action

Mitt Romney, who has seen his lead vanish in national polls, has put his new strategy of going after Rick Perry in action. Yesterday, while visiting Texas, Romney knocked “career politicians” for the nation’s current problems:

Though Mr. Romney has assiduously avoided taking on one rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Mr. Romney took a veiled swipe at Mr. Perry in a speech Tuesday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in San Antonio.

“I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy,” Mr. Romney said. “Career politicians got us into this mess, and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

The attack line, which lit up the Twittersphere Tuesday morning when the campaign released some early excerpts, was met with some applause, but it is a point that Mr. Romney makes frequently on the campaign trail. Mr. Romney often argues that he is not a career politician and is one of the few candidates, having spent 25 years in the private sector, with the executive know-how to create jobs.

In his speech before the V.F.W., Mr. Romney tried to walk the line between offering an optimistic vision for the nation’s future — he even name-checked former President Ronald Reagan and mentioned “the shining city on a hill” — and painting a grim picture of the country under President Obama’s leadership.

“I believe in America,” Mr. Romney said, wearing a blue tie and speaking in a measured, even voice. “We believe in freedom and opportunity. We believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. We have deep and abiding faith in the goodness and the greatness of America.”

Gingrich to target 10th Amendment

Newt Gingrich made waves back in the day with his “Contract with America”.  It was a revolutionary idea, a contract versus the traditional politicians promise, and it worked.  The GOP took Congress and we had divided government.  President Clinton was sort of caught between a rock and a hard place and had to work with Republicans rather than enact some of the measures he may have wanted to in the first place.  Now, Gingrich is trying to see if lightning strikes twice:

Much as he did with his “Contract with America” in 1994, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich hopes to provide 2012 Republican legislative and executive candidates with a common purpose, a platform that appeals to the American people. He thinks the topic of Tenth Amendment enforcement could be that rallying point, the issue that touches all others and informs elected officials’ approach to governance.

That’s why, today, he launched “Team 10,” “a crowd-sourced, participatory effort to listen, learn and work with the American people, both online and in person, to develop ideas for enforcing the 10th Amendment and returning power back home.” Essentially, Gingrich wants to utilize social media, conference calls and in-person events to survey American opinion about ways to ensure a balance of power between the federal and state governments. The effort is, of course, linked to his campaign, but, on some level, it also transcends his campaign, as it taps into widespread sentiment among voters, regardless of whom those voters plan to support in the presidential election.

What happened to this Herman Cain?

Via Ta-Nehisi Coats at The Atlantic:

Coates says that “[t]he contrast between a man making an actual argument on math, and a man spouting tribal slogans (“class warfare” “sharia law” etc.) says a lot about the movement he represents.” While Islamophobia has crept its way in to some conservative circles, I disagree. Perhaps Herman Cain thinks that is what the movement has become about, but he’s wrong. This kind of rebuttal would likely get a standing ovation among conservative voters today while his anti-Islam rhetoric is only is only going to marginalize him as a candidate.

Gary Johnson makes his case to participate in Monday’s debate

Continuing his protest against not being invited to participate during Monday’s CNN-sponsored Republican debate in New Hampshire, Gary Johnson, who served two-terms as Governor of New Mexico, stated his case for inclusion at FoxNews.com:

In the early part of 1991, there was a governor from a relatively small state who, away from the national spotlight, had compiled a credible record, been reelected by those he served, and who was in the early stages of putting together a national campaign for President. His ranking in national political polls – when he was included – was in the neighborhood of 1-2%. By the end of 1991, he had skyrocketed to roughly six percent.

His name: Bill Clinton.

The so-called “frontrunners” for the ’92 Democrat presidential when Bill Clinton was still a blip on the screen? Mario Cuomo and Jerry Brown, both of whom were polling in double-digits. We all know how that turned out.

Likewise, in 1975, another governor, Jimmy Carter, was polling at 1%. And in 1987, the same was true of a fellow named Dukakis.

The point is clear: Using polls this early in a presidential election cycle to define who is a serious candidate or pick potential winners is a bad idea. Using them to exclude me, another Governor with a solid track record, from a critical national primary debate is even worse. But that is precisely what CNN and the other sponsors of the June 13 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary debate are doing.


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