These are my links for December 14th through December 15th:
- Payroll tax cut and spending bill stall in Senate, raising threat of shutdown – Negotiations over how to extend a payroll tax holiday for 160 million Americans and avoid a government shutdown this weekend ground to a halt Wednesday after a standoff in the Senate over how to proceed.
Amid the gridlock, Cabinet secretaries for the first time formally alerted affected federal workers Wednesday to the possibility of a shutdown — indicating in an e-mail that they would determine later which staffers are “essential” to maintain operations in the event of a funding disruption.
- Iraq war draws to a quiet close – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta paid solemn tribute on Thursday to an “independent, free and sovereign Iraq” and declared the official end to the Iraq war, formally wrapping up the U.S. military’s mission in the country after almost nine years.
“After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” Panetta said at a ceremony held under tight security at Baghdad’s international airport. “To be sure, the cost was high — in blood and treasure for the United States, and for the Iraqi people. Those lives were not lost in vain.”
- U.S. Lawmakers Offer Bipartisan Proposal for Medicare With Private Option – A bipartisan proposal to give the elderly a choice between the government’s Medicare program and private insurance plans is intended as a “framework” to overhaul the entitlement, Representative Paul Ryan said today.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who heads the House Budget Committee, proposed replacing Medicare with a private insurance system in the spring. He has now teamed with Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, on a new plan to amend the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled.
The proposal, presented today by the lawmakers, may alter the debate in next year’s congressional campaign as both parties hope to sway voters with their arguments on Medicare’s future. The plan gives people turning 65 starting in 2022 the ability to choose between the existing system, where the government pays hospital and doctors’ bills for seniors, and an alternative system of regulated private insurance plans.
- Paul Ryan-Ron Wyden: Bipartisan Medicare reform – In an extraordinary policy and political breakthrough, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced a bipartisan reform deal. In doing so, they eviscerated the Democrats’ Medicare gambit, undermined President Obama complaints that progress is impossible with Republicans in Congress and gave Mitt Romney a huge political shot in the arm.
The Post reports: “ Working with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the Wisconsin Republican is developing a framework that would offer traditional, government-run Medicare as an option for future retirees along with a variety of private plans.”
In a press release, the duo explained the key elements of the bill:
- Obama nominates 2 for labor board – President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to nominate two Democrats to the National Labor Relations Board, despite a Republican threat to block any appointments to the agency.
The president intends to nominate Sharon Block, deputy secretary for congressional affairs at the Labor Department, and Richard Griffin, currently the general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, to fill two vacancies on the board.
The move comes just days after the board’s top lawyer dropped a controversial lawsuit that charged Boeing with illegally retaliating against union members in Washington state by opening a new plant in South Carolina. That case — along with other union-friendly decisions — has made the board a target of Republicans who contend it has acted too favorably toward unions.
Obama’s nominees would have to be confirmed by the Senate, but Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said last week he would block Obama from making any further appointments to the board. The agency usually has five members but has operated for months with three. It will lose another member by the end of the year, leaving it without enough members to conduct business.
- The Supremes v. Obamacare: Will the Court Decide the 2012 Presidential Election? – At least four justices recently agreed to review the centerpiece of President Obama’s domestic policy. Presuming for the moment that the court divided into its usual liberal and conservative quartets, what strategies might they have employed in deciding to determine the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAACA)? U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th and 6th Circuits had upheld the law’s individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty for not doing so. Congress believed it had the authority to impose such a mandate under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. Liberals assert that health care, constituting nearly one-fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product, is demonstrably within Congress’s economic regulatory purview. On the other hand, the 11th Circuit (in a Florida case brought by officials from 26 states) voided the individual mandate, while upholding the PPAACA’s expansion of Medicaid, employer mandates and insurance exchanges. Although all of these circuit decisions were appealed to the nation’s highest court, the justices accepted only the 11th Circuit decision for review. The Supremes have asked both sides to address the constitutionality of the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion, as well as whether the entire law falls if they void only one part of it. The court will also tackle whether the individual mandate penalty can even be legally challenged prior to its implementation.
- Romney boosters want a Republican campaign about nothing? – Kudos to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” for a terrific discussion Thursday morning between William Bennett (who seems to support Romney) and Rudy Giulaini (who had harsh words for Romney and kind words for Gingrich).
When the topic of conversation turns to, whom should win the Republican nomination? — I think we can agree their opinions are more relevant than having Tina Brown and Arianna Huffington weigh in (which happens all too frequently).
During the discussion, Bill Bennett made a point several times — which I found quite telling — inasmuch as it seems to be a key rationale for nominating Mitt Romney.
“What do we want the conversation to be about this summer and fall?,” Bennett asked rhetorically. “I’m worried the conversation will be about [Newt] … rather than about Barack Obama and his policies.”
This is an argument I’ve heard a lot, lately. And it strikes me as silly for a variety of reasons.
First, it is utterly naive to think Republicans can make this election solely a referendum on Barack Obama. Of course, they should attempt it, but the truth is that neither Obama (who might have a billion dollars to run in negative ads) nor the media will ever let that happen.
Whomever Republicans nominate will endure bitter attacks. If Newt Gingrich is the nominee, he will be cast as an insane and erratic cad. If Romney is the nominee, he will be cast as a rich flip-flopper who fired people for a living and belongs to a “weird” religion. I’m not sure which attack is better or worse for Republicans. In this economy, one might argue that the rich “Wall Street” attack on Romney would be more harmful in terms of attracting independent voters. But who knows?
- Giuliani slams Romney, likens Newt to Reagan – Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani slammed Mitt Romney as an unelectable flip-flopper, and said Newt Gingrich, who he compared to Ronald Reagan, offers Republicans the best shot at unseating President Obama.
Speaking Thursday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Giuliani recalled his GOP candidacy in 2008 in which he ran against Romney.
“I’ve never seen a guy change his positions on so many things, so fast, on a dime, on everything,” Giuliani said. “Pro-choice, pro-life. And pro-choice because somebody, a close friend died, and he became pro-choice because this woman died of an abortion. Then he figures out there are embryos and he changes.”
“Then he was pro-gun control,” Giuliani continued. “Fine. Then he becomes a lifetime member of the NRA. Then he was pro cap-and-trade. Now he’s against cap-and-trade. He was pro-mandate for the whole country, then he becomes anti-mandate and he takes that page out of his book and republishes the book. I could go on and on.”
Giuliani said this opens Romney to an attack from President Obama in the general election that “this is a man without a core,” “a man without substance,” and “a man that will say anything to become President of the United States.”
- Newt Gingrich’s general election prospects look bleak – If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich manages to win the Republican presidential nomination, he could jeopardize his party’s chances of ousting President Obama next November, according to several new national polls released this week.
Surveys from the NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, AP/GfK and Reuters/Ipsos all show former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney running better than Gingrich in general election matchups against Obama.
“Electability will come into play for many Republican votes,” said one neutral GOP consultant who preferred to speak anonymously. “It’s going to become problematic. I think you’re starting to signs of it.
- Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back (Politico Inside Election 2012) – Two of America’s most perceptive political reporters join forces for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the race for the White House in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012, a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 presidential election. The first edition, The Right Fights Back, follows the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
- Is Newt Gingrich taking Iowa seriously enough? – Newt Gingrich’s improbable comeback may fall short if he doesn’t win Iowa — and there are signs he’s not taking the threat seriously enough.
Gingrich is getting pounded on Iowa TV by both a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC and Ron Paul’s campaign and is doing little to fight back against ads which take direct aim at him. Less than three weeks before the caucuses, the former speaker is airing a single commercial with little money behind it.
- Mark Levin calls out Krauthammer, Will, Coulter, and Rubin – Mark Levin says that the attacks on Newt Gingrich reminds him of how Sarah Palin has been attacked, and he specifically criticizes Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Ann Coulter, and Jennifer Rubin for basically being over the top in their criticism of Newt and their silence on Romney:
- Winnowing the Field – National Review Online – RT @EWErickson: So I guess we go for Gingrich then. Or Perry or Huntsman.
- Washington Examiner backs Romney – Also Pans Newt Gingrich – OP White House hopeful Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement of the Washington Examiner Wednesday, a boost from an editorial page with a long history in conservative politics.
In an editorial that spends as much space slamming Newt Gingrich as it does praising Romney, the Examiner declares Obama “the only Republican who can beat Obama,” citing recent polls that show the former Massachusetts governor faring better against President Barack Obama than Gingrich.
“The Washington Examiner believes Romney can defeat Obama, but Gingrich cannot,” the newspaper wrote. “And Romney the businessman is far better suited to the nation’s highest office – by temperament, experience, and cast of mind – than Gingrich the consummate Washington insider. By fits and starts over the years, Romney has become the reliable conservative that America so badly needs at this crucial moment in her history.”
The editorial goes on to deride Gingrich’s role consulting with Freddie Mac after he left Congress.
“The fact is, Gingrich is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” the newspaper wrote. “He has tried mightily to shift attention away from his Washington insider status, saying, ‘I have never done lobbying of any kind.’ But that claim simply does not square with the facts, especially concerning Gingrich’s lobbying Republicans in Congress for a new Medicare entitlement in 2003.”
- Winnowing the Field – National Review Pans Newt Gingrich – We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity. We say that mindful of his opponents’ imperfections — and of his own virtues, which have been on display during his amazing comeback. Very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president. Gingrich himself has never run for a statewide office, let alone a national one, and has not run for anything since 1998. That year he was kicked out by his colleagues, the most conservative ones especially, who had lost confidence in him. During his time as Speaker, he was one of the most unpopular figures in public life. Just a few months ago his campaign seemed dead after a series of gaffes and resignations. That Gingrich now tops the polls is a tribute to his perseverance, and to Republicans’ admiration for his intellectual fecundity.
- Romney Plays Tiffany’s Card – Romney Plays Tiffany’s Card
- Romney Plays Tiffany’s Card – In an interview with Sean Hannity ahead of tomorrow’s GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney sought to neutralize the gaffe he made in last weekend’s debate by taking a shot at Newt Gingrich.
Said Romney: “As for him trying to reference a $10,000 rhetorical bet, the Speaker, as I recall, probably shouldn’t be talking about that given a $500,000 bill at Tiffany’s.”
- MSNBC Likens Romney To The KKK With His “Keep America American” – MSNBC daytime anchor Thomas Roberts says Mitt Romney’s “Keep America American” slogan plays homage to the Ku Klux Klan. The patriotic slogan, which is used in this ad, was apparently used by the KKK in the early 1900s.
Somehow the folks at MSNBC believe Mitt Romney is acknowledging his Klan roots by using the slogan in his 2012 campaign for the presidency.
- Flap’s Dentistry Blog: The Daily Extraction: December 14, 2011 – The Daily Extraction: December 14, 2011
- Flap’s Dentistry Blog: The Morning Drill: December 14, 2011 – The Morning Drill: December 14, 2011
- Rick Perry, Mitt Romney internals show Newt Gingrich slippage, sources say – A weeklong blitz of negative ads from Ron Paul and “Restore Our Future,” the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC, have taken a toll on Newt Gingrich’s standing in Iowa, internal numbers from the Rick Perry and Romney camps show, according to multiple sources.
Sources didn’t provide specific numbers on how far he’s slipped, but it’s perceptible in both camps’ numbers, the sources said.
Perry has been inching up, the sources said – in part thanks to his faith-based push but largely because of his controversial anti-gay rights ad, and the big question is whether he draws at all from Romney and pushes him down out of the top three finishers in the state.
The person who is holding strong, according to the internal numbers, is Paul, who has a true shot of winning the caucuses, according to several Iowa Republican insiders surveying ground games and energy.
- Romney Warns of Nominating ‘Zany’ Gingrich – Updated Mitt Romney is sharpening his warning to Republicans about the consequences of nominating Newt Gingrich, declaring in an interview on Wednesday: “Zany is not what we need in a president.”
“Zany is great in a campaign. It’s great on talk radio. It’s great in print, it makes for fun reading,” Mr. Romney told The New York Times. “But in terms of a president, we need a leader, and a leader needs to be someone who can bring Americans together.”
With 20 days before the voting begins at the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Romney is intensifying his forceful attack on the credibility of Mr. Gingrich, who has emerged as his leading rival in the Republican nominating fight. He has shed his year-long reluctance against doing interviews, hoping to change the narrative surrounding his candidacy before the holidays.
- L.A. International Is Facebook’s Most Social Airport – L.A. International Is Facebook’s Most Social Airport #fb
- Obama looking good in Virginia – Public Policy Polling – RT @ppppolls: Obama leads Romney by 6 and Gingrich by 7 in Virginia, just as much as he won the state by in 2008:
- The Study of Orangutans Deliver Insight Into Obesity of Homo Sapiens | Smiles For A Lifetime – Temporary (Locum Tenens) Dentistry – The Study of Orangutans Deliver Insight Into Obesity of Homo Sapiens
- » Maharaj named Los Angeles Times editor JIMROMENESKO.COM – Russ Stanton has resigned as Los Angeles Times editor. Davan Maharaj , formerly managing editor = new editor
- Uh Oh! Obama 49% Vs. Gingrich 39% | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – Uh Oh! Obama 49% Vs. Gingrich 39% #tcot #catcot
- At Least for Reid, Gingrich Is the 2012 Republican Pick – NYTimes.com – RT @RalstonFlash: So Harry Reid now says Newt is “the presumptive Republican nominee.” via @jestei. #kissofdeath
- The Morning Flap: December 14, 2011 | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – The Morning Flap: December 14, 2011 #tcot #catcot