Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is trying to have his cake and eat it too as he runs for re-election. He’s been talking up his independence and working to distance himself from President Barack Obama. At the same time, however, he’s defending his vote for the most unpopular parts of the administration’s agenda — including ObamaCare, which is a big negative for the Arkansas senator.
Of course, Pryor’s support for President Obama’s agenda doesn’t end with ObamaCare, though that may be the most prominent issue in the state as individuals looking to purchase health insurance on the federally-run exchange are looking at skyrocketing costs. He also backed the 2009 stimulus bill, burdensome financial regulations in Dodd-Frank, and wants to tax purchases from online retailers. And that’s only the top of the iceberg.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) seems a litte confused about what party he belongs to. During an appearance on CNBC, the Alaska Democrat tried to distance himself from his the Leftist-wing of his party by telling the hosts that he is a “Rockefeller Republican”:
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) on Monday said he’s closer to being a Rockefeller Republican than a Pelosi Democrat.
“Probably a Rockefeller Republican,” the Alaska senator told CNBC Monday morning when asked whether he was closer to identifying as that or as a Pelosi Democrat.
The comment signifies Begich’s efforts to put some distance between himself and national Democrats in the libertarian-leaning state.
Well, that’s flatly absurd. Begich, who serves on Democratic leadership in the Senate, is no doubt nervous about running for re-election in a state that Mitt Romney won by 14 points. In 2008, he barely defeated then-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), who was found guilty of lying about gifts he’d received from an oil company (that conviction was reversed last year).
When you’re one of the most vulnerable members of the United States Senate, the last thing you want to do is give people a reason to vote against you. That’s a lesson that Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) needs to remember.
The Senate Conservatives Fund is among the groups that is going to dump money into Arkansas to defeat Pryor. They recently dropped an ad in the state that features Bill Shroyer, a small business owner, who criticized Pryor for his vote for ObamaCare.
“When Senator Pryor was the deciding vote for ObamaCare, it was a huge letdown for the state of Arkansas. And people haven’t forgotten that. Washington just doesn’t get it. They don’t understand the consequences of their laws. They feel good when they do them, and they’re all catastrophes,” said Shroyer in the ad. “Look around, Senator Pryor. We used to have about 100 people working here. Now we have 25. The policies that you’re creating in Washington are killing these companies.”
Pryor recently defended his vote for ObamaCare, telling the Arkansas News Bureau that the Republican-controlled legislature’s expansion of Medicaid means that he is “vindicated” for supporting the law. But with insurance premiums expected to rise between 65% and 100% in the state and business owners having to make tough choices — by either cutting back hours, investment and/or staff — Pryor is hardly without blame.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is likely facing a tough bid for re-election next year in a state that Mitt Romney carried by 18 points over President Barack Obama. Landrieu has eeked out wins over the past couple of cycles, but her voting record is increasingly out-of-touch with the conservative views of Louisiana. She voted for the wasteful stimulus bill in 2009 and ObamaCare in 2010, as well as the subsequent legislation that would repeal it.
More recently, Landrieu voted against less than 1% across the board spending cut and increasing the debt limit and voted for gun control measures, online sales taxes, and a $1 trillion tax hike on top of the “fiscal cliff” tax hike she supported earlier this year.
To this point, Landrieu has dared Republicans to challenge her and her big argument for re-election is rather arrogant in that she claims that she’s “indispensible”:
Preparing to run for a 4th term next year in a state significantly more conservative and Republican then when she won her first Senate campaign in 1996, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is laying out the major argument she’ll make to voters: That she has the seniority and relationships on Capitol Hill to get things done for her state.
Paul Krugman is known for saying some very odd things. The neo-Keynesian economist has firmly planted himself as a hack for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, even if it means going back on policies he once supported.
For example, Krugman once spoke strongly against the idea of monetizing debt. But when the Federal Reserve decided roll out “quantitative easing” — a nice name for debt monetization, shifted gears and defended the program. Krugman, who often cherry-picks data to come to predetermined conclusions, has written fondly of death and destruction because he believes it will drive economic output. He’s also a big fan of death panels to deal with the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs.
Krugman was also one of the loudest voices calling for economic stimulus in 2009. After President Obama’s stimulus failed to boost the economy, Krugman, who had advocated for a stimulus bill that exceeded the $833 billion price tag that the Obama Administration requested, complained that it wasn’t large enough.
Krugman chastized those who were pushing for spending cuts and later claimed victory. “Intellectually it was, I think I can say without false modesty, a huge win,” he wrote last year. “I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.”
Back in February, a lobbyist told the Washington Post that the “worst-case scenario” would be that the sequester — $44 billion in spending reductions in the current fiscal year — hits and “nothing bad really happens.”
The Obama Administration did its best to scare Americans into fearing the sequester, telling tales of “draconian” cuts to government programs. They even claimed that there would be longer waits at airport security checkpoints and flight delays. But as Politico notes, those inconveniences haven’t come to pass:
More than a month after Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned of “calamity” in the skies, travelers are still flying. Airlines aren’t yet canceling flights. And there’s no sign of the long lines the Obama administration warned everyone to expect when automatic spending cuts hit March 1.
What happened? The much-feared budget ax is turning out to be a slow-rolling series of snips, with effects that have been much more gradual or modest than projected.
Airlines have yet to suspend or cancel flights in response to the cuts, even though LaHood predicted during a White House appearance Feb. 22 that they would do so “within the next 30 days.”
The White House cried wolf on the sequester, but it’s not the first time they made wild predictions that have been far off the mark.
It’s not easy being a Democrat elected to statewide office in a red state, especially when you’re known for helping an unpopular agenda. Just ask Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR). According to a new poll released this morning by the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund, Pryor’s favorability rating has plummeted and he trails his potential conservative opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) by 8 points.
Club for Growth Action, the free market group’s political action committee, began running an ad in Arkansas hitting Pryor for his support of President Barack Obama’s agenda, specifically mentioning ObamaCare, the stimulus, and Wall Street bailout. The ad says tells Arkansans that “when you vote for Pryor, you vote for Obama.”
Written by Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
I almost feel sorry for the Obama administration’s spin doctors. Every month, they probably wait for the unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics with the same level of excitement that people on death row wait for their execution date.
This has been going on for a while, and today’s new data provide another good example.
As the chart below indicates, the White House promised that the unemployment rate today would be almost 5 percent if we enacted the so-called stimulus back in 2009. Instead, the new numbers show that the jobless rate is 7.9 percent, almost 3.0 percentage points higher.
I enjoy using this chart to indict Obamanomics, in part because it’s a two-fer. I get to criticize the administration’s economic record, and I simultaneously get to take a jab at Keynesian spending schemes.
What’s not to love?
That being said, I don’t think the above chart is completely persuasive. The White House argues, with some justification, that these data simply show that they underestimated the initial severity of the recession. There’s some truth to that, and I’ll be the first to admit that it wouldn’t be fair to blame Obama for a bleak trendline that existed when he took office (but I will blame him for continuing George W. Bush’s policies of excessive spending and costly intervention).
That’s why I think the data from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve are more damning. They show all the recessions and recoveries in the post-World War II era, which presumably provides a more neutral benchmark with which to judge the Obama record.
Written by Randal O’Toole, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Best known for admitting to the National Press Club that the Obama administration wants to “coerce people out of their cars,” Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has announced his plans to leave office as soon as a replacement can be found. Aside from an admirable emphasis on transportation safety, the main legacy he leaves behind is a record of wild spending on ridiculous projects that do little to improve transportation but do much to add to the nation’s debt.
Much of that spending came out of the 2009 stimulus bill. Prior to the stimulus bill, a Bush (II) administration rule required that most spending on transit projects meet certain measures of “cost effectiveness.” Streetcars, for example, had to be cost-effective relative to buses, which they never are, so no streetcar projects could be funded. The stimulus money was exempt from these rules, so LaHood immediately gave funds to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Tuscon for new streetcar lines. LaHood then announced that he was rescinding the Bush rule, an action that was formally completed on January 9 of this year.
Similarly, at the request of the Obama administration, the stimulus bill included $8 billion for so-called high-speed rail projects. But most of the projects funded are anything but high speed. Vermont, for example, spent $52 million speeding up a New York-to-Burlington train to an average of 38 miles per hour. Washington State is spending $590 million speeding up a Portland-to-Seattle train from an average of 53.4 to 56.1 miles per hour.
The main criteria for elibility for these funds was not whether a project was worthwhile but whether the environmental documentation had been written. Florida, for example, had written an environmental impact statement for high-speed rail that concluded that the environmental costs exceeded the benefits, but LaHood was happy to give the state $2.4 billion to build it anyway until the state had second thoughts.
As a result, cities and states all over the country are scrambling to write environmental impact statements for all sorts of inane projects so they will be ready the next time the floodgates of federal spending open. Reconnecting America, a pro-transit group, has cataloged more than 600 transit plans under way in more than 100 metro areas. These include 125 streetcar projects in at least 50 cities which may now be eligible for funding now that the Bush cost-effectiveness requirement has been eliminated.
Altogether, the nearly 500 projects for which costs have been estimated would require more than $250 billion in capital expenditures, which rail advocates lament mean that it would take more than 100 years of federal funding at the current rate to fund them all.
In “FA$T CA$H: Easy Credit & the Economic Crash,” Electra tells a cautionary tale about monetary stimulus in a catchy pop-song. Enjoy:
Here are the lyrics:
The economy is tricky, it’s a coordination game.
Like driving on the highway, knowing when to switch your lane.
Traffic lights coordinate those who go and stop.
The price of credit coordinates those who save and shop.
That fast, fast, cash how fast can you get it?
Pump that gas, gas, gas, inject easy credit.
But will it last? Or will you regret…
The market crash, crash, crash, and don’t you forget it.
If consumers save up, it means they’re more willing
To wait before spending, before shedding a shilling.
What they put into banks, the banks can now lend.
Banks lower interest rates to get producers to spend.
Producers borrow big, when that interest rate’s low.
To start up big projects that take a while to grow.
They assume the low rate means consumers want to wait
Saving up for big, big purchases at a later date.