These are my links for March 7th through March 12th:
Patty Murray budget: $1 trillion in new revenue – Sen. Patty Murray’s new budget plan will raise tax revenues by nearly $1 trillion while cutting spending by the same amount over the next decade, according to people familiar with the proposal.The Budget Committee chairwoman plans to brief fellow Democratic senators over the new proposal in a closed-door lunch Tuesday that President Barack Obama is also scheduled to attend. Committee deliberations will begin Wednesday, and the panel expects to vote on the plan Thursday before floor debate next week.
Rome conclave: Cardinals set to elect new Pope – Cardinals gathered in Rome to elect the new Pope will begin voting later, with no clear frontrunner to take over as head of the Roman Catholic Church.The 115 cardinal-electors have attended a special Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.This afternoon they will process into the Sistine Chapel to begin their secret deliberations. They will vote four times daily until two-thirds can agree on a candidate.
The election was prompted by the surprise abdication of Benedict XVI.
The 85-year-old stepped down last month saying he was no longer strong enough to lead the church, which is beset by problems ranging from a worldwide scandal over sexual abuse to allegations of corruption at the Vatican bank.
Benedict’s resignation and the recent damage to the Church’s reputation make the choice of the cardinal-electors especially hard to predict, the BBC’s James Robbins in Rome says.
Schedule of voting during the papal conclave – The conclave to elect a new pope begins Tuesday at the Vatican. The voting process follows a set ritual every day until the Catholic Church has a new leader. Here is an approximate schedule.
Detroit: An American Autopsy – “Go ahead and laugh at Detroit,” Charlie LeDuff sneers defiantly as the once-great metropolis teeters on the brink of collapse. “Because you are laughing at yourself.”So begins LeDuff’s haunting, angry and deeply personal account of what is left of his hometown. The city was once heralded as “Paris of the Midwest” for its cosmopolitan luxuries, broad boulevards and sweeping views of the Detroit River. Yet it was quintessentially American because of its unstinting work ethic and tireless inventiveness.
Ryan to rally GOP on 10-year plan – Rep. Paul Ryan on Tuesday will seek to unify the Republican Conference with a rallying cry to balance the budget in 10 years.
The target set by Ryan (R-Wis.), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is more aggressive than the one Democrats rejected last year that took until nearly 2040 to balance.
Paul Ryan: The GOP Plan to Balance the Budget by 2023 – America’s national debt is over $16 trillion. Yet Washington can’t figure out how to cut $85 billion—or just 2% of the federal budget—without resorting to arbitrary, across-the-board cuts. Clearly, the budget process is broken. In four of the past five years, the president has missed his budget deadline. Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in over 1,400 days. By refusing to tackle the drivers of the nation’s debt—or simply to write a budget—Washington lurches from crisis to crisis.House Republicans have a plan to change course. On Tuesday, we’re introducing a budget that balances in 10 years—without raising taxes. How do we do it? We stop spending money the government doesn’t have. Historically, Americans have paid a little less than one-fifth of their income in taxes to the federal government each year. But the government has spent more.
These are my links for January 7th through January 8th:
Hospital Opens Emergency Tent in Midst of Increasing Flu Cases – It’s the most miserable time of the year for many people in the area. Flu season is in full effect and this one in particular is shaping up to be more extreme than usual.The State Department of Health reports that four Pennsylvanians have already died of complications from the influenza virus.In response to the early start of flu season, the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest had to open an emergency space to care for the increased number of people with flu-like symptoms.The hospital tells NBC10’s Katy Zachry why the tent was erected.
“If we can remove them from the main ED and put them in environment where everyone is masked and everyone can be protected, it’s safer for them and certainly safer for the staff,” said Terry Burger, hospital director of infection control
GOP may use debt ceiling to force Harry Reid to pass budget – Tuesday marks the 1,350th day since the Senate passed a budget. The law requires Congress to pass a budget every year, on the grounds that Americans deserve to know how the government plans to spend the trillions of taxpayer dollars it collects, along with dollars it borrows at the taxpayers’ expense. But Majority Leader Harry Reid, who last allowed a budget through the Senate in April 2009, has ignored the law since then.There’s no mystery why. The budget passed by large Democratic majorities in the first months of the Obama administration had hugely elevated levels of spending in it. By not passing a new spending plan since, Reid has in effect made those levels the new budgetary baseline. Congress has kept the government going with continuing resolutions based on the last budget signed into law.While Reid has forbidden action, the House has passed budgets as required. Senate Democrats have been highly critical of those budgets, designed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. But under Reid’s leadership, Democrats have steadfastly refused to come up with a plan of their own.
ObamaCare: Fast-Food Worker Hours Cut, New Health Care Law Blamed – A fast-food chain is slashing employee hours so franchise owners don’t have to pay health benefits. Around 100 local Wendy’s workers have learned their hours are being cut. A spokesperson says a new health care law is to blame.“Thirty-six to 37 hours a week.” That’s how many hours T.J. Growbeck works at the 84th and Giles Wendy’s restaurant. The money he earns helps him pay for the basics, but that’s not the case for all his co-workers. “There are some people doing it trying to get by.”The company has announced that all non-management positions will have their hours reduced to 28 a week. Gary Burdette, Vice President of Operations for the local franchise, says the cuts are coming because the new Affordable Health Care Act requires employers to offer health insurance to employees working 32-38 hours a week. Under the current law they are not considered full time and that as a small business owner, he can’t afford to stay in operation and pay for everyone’s health insurance.
Obama’s CIA nominee to face tough questions about ‘enhanced interrogation’ – President Obama’s pick to head the CIA could face a rough road to confirmation in the Senate due to his involvement in the “enhanced interrogation” techniques of the George W. Bush administration.The president on Monday announced he would nominate John Brennan, the White House’s counterterrorism chief, to lead the top spy agency following the recent departure of David Petraeus.
GOP sees Chuck Hagel pick as chance for payback – As the tactical skirmishing begins over Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, the short-term political calculus from 30,000 feet clearly favors Republicans: Hagel’s confirmation hearings are a potential boon for the GOP and a source of queasiness for pro-Israel Democrats, despite the historically long odds of blunting a presidential pick.
An appreciation: Richard Ben Cramer’s masterpiece – I don’t recall the first time I read “What It Takes,” but I knew exactly where to find it on my bookshelf Monday night upon hearing the awful news that Richard Ben Cramer had died.It’s insufficient to say that Cramer’s 1,047-page tour de force on the 1988 presidential race is the best book ever written about a campaign. It is that. But what makes it so valuable, so rewarding, just so much damn fun is that it illustrates why politics and journalism is so much damn fun.
Hagel’s Views Do Matter – Suppose a president were to request an assessment of a hypothetical strike on Iran. Suppose the secretary of defense delivers to him a plan requiring the insertion of US ground forces into Iranian cities to be sure of destroying relevant facilities. That “plan” is as much a veto of a strike as any decision.Donald Rumsfeld enabled the Iraq war by producing estimates it could be won with as few as 135,000 troops. Had he instead on 300,000, the war would not have occurred: it would have seemed too heavy a lift. (As indeed it proved.)A Secretary Hagel could similarly thwart policies he disapproved of by magnifying their cost and difficulty. That’s why his views matter, and that’s why it’s so disingenuous to claim they do not.
Gabrielle Giffords launches anti-gun website – Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband on Tuesday unveiled a new anti-gun violence initiative – two years after she was shot in the head at an event with constituents in Tucson, Arizona.Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, are behind Americans for Responsible Solutions, an effort that “will encourage elected officials to stand up for solutions to prevent gun violence and protect responsible gun ownership by communicating directly with the constituents that elect them,” according to the newly launched website, which is paid for by the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC.
Chuck Hagel: The Armed Services Committee whip list – Seven of the 12 Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee have already expressed some opposition to Chuck Hagel, mere hours after the former Nebraska GOP senator was officially nominated to be Defense Secretary.Hagel doesn’t technically need any GOP votes to advance beyond the committee, on which Democrats hold a 14-12 majority, but some Democrats have also suggested they are hesitant to confirm him.Five of 14 Democrats on the committee have so far suggested they are either going to vote for Hagel or are leaning toward voting for him. Four others have withheld judgment and the rest haven’t spoken out publicly.Here’s how it breaks down so far
Chuck Hagel’s chances — in 3 charts – As Chuck Hagel, the former Nebraska senator and now President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, gears up for his confirmation process in the Senate, there is at least a possibility that he won’t be cleared by the upper chamber to head up the Pentagon.Just how often does the Senate oppose a Cabinet nominee to the point that he or she is rejected or withdraws? And for what reasons? Thanks to a research paper from James D. King, who heads the political science department at the University of Wyoming, we have the answers to these questions.We encourage you to read the entire report, from which we’ve plucked out some charts illustrating three truths about the Cabinet confirmation process – two of which The Fix’s Aaron Blake also noted in a recent post — that reveal both good and bad news for Hagel’s odds:1) The vast majority of individuals whom presidents nominate to their Cabinets are confirmed by the Senate.
2) The defense secretary post has tended to be a source of very little controversy.
3) Public policy issues account for much of the opposition in the confirmation process.
Topsy-turvy Hagel politics – President Obama wants to get credit for bipartisanship, so he picks a Republican defense secretary who will garner few if any Republican votes. He walks away from a politically loyal African American woman for secretary of state (whose nomination would open up his political liabilities) but goes forward with a white, Republican man (whose nomination puts gobs of Senate Republicans in an untenable spot). The two groups of Democrats (gays and Jews) who turned out in droves for him watch a nomination proceed with someone who had tried to exclude gays from government and accused Jews of dual loyalty.
Obama’s Hagelian imperative – Presidents define themselves in large measure by the fights they pick, especially if these fights create tension with members of their own party or base. By nominating Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, President Obama has picked a fight that most would consider unnecessary, and that fight puts him in tension with some Democratic Senators and a portion of his base.He thus defines himself. Not as a president who wants to tilt away from Israel and away from confrontation with Iran; Obama can (and I would argue has) defined himself that way without nominating Hagel. Rather, he defines himself as wanting publicly to stick it to Israel and its strongest U.S. supporters – to rub their faces in his redirection of U.S. policy. As Lindsey Graham says, this is an “in your face” nomination.
Mr. Hagel and the Jews – During the hearings on Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be secretary of defense, it’s clear that the views of gay rights organizations will be heard. There the issue seems to be whether Hagel’s apology for previous remarks and beliefs was sincere, or motivated solely by self-interest. He had years to apologize publicly, but did so only when opposition from gay rights groups threatened his nomination.
These are my links for November 14th through November 16th:
Twinkies Maker Hostess Going Out of Business– Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business after striking workers failed to heed a Thursday deadline to return to work, the company said.“We deeply regret the necessity of today’s decision, but we do not have the financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike,” Hostess CEO Gregory F. Rayburn said in announcing that the firm had filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to shutter its business. “Hostess Brands will move promptly to lay off most of its 18,500-member workforce and focus on selling its assets to the highest bidders.”
Details about the GOP’s alternate to the DREAM Act emerge– The Daily Caller has obtained details of an ACHIEVE Act proposal being floated by some Senate Republicans.It appears similar to the conservative alternative to the Dream Act that Sen. Marco Rubio worked on last summer (before President Obama issued his executive order, effectively tabling the issue until after the election).Essentially, the proposal involves several tiers: W-1 visa status would allow an immigrant to attend college or serve in the military (they have six years to get a degree). After doing so, they would be eligible to apply for a four-year nonimmigrant work visa (also can be used for graduate degrees.)Next, applicants would be eligible to apply for a permanent visa (no welfare benefits.) Finally, after a set number of years, citizenship “could follow…”
Martinez criticizes Romney comments, points way forward for GOP– New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the GOP’s most prominent Latina, chastised Mitt Romney’s rhetoric Thursday and called on the Republican Party to play ball on immigration reform.“We have to start electing people who look like their communities all the way from city council to county commissioners to county clerks all the way through the state and up into national politics,” she told POLITICO and Yahoo News at the conclusion of the Republican Governors Association meeting here.
Some Republican governors soften on taxes– Some Republican governors are softening on the party’s hard-line toward tax increases for the wealthy, suggesting that GOP congressmen at least be open to rate hikes in exchange for a comprehensive fiscal agreement on taxes and entitlements.“The people have spoken, I think we’re going to have to be [flexible] now,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, when asked if his party would now have to be open to taxes on the highest earners. “Elections do have consequences. The president campaigned on that.”
Top California pollster says 2012 election could be a turning point– DiCamillo said the overwhelming support for President Barack Obama among ethnic voters was solely responsible for his landslide, 21 percentage-point win in California. While non-Hispanic white voters backed Republican Mitt Romney by an 8 percent margin, he noted, Obama carried Latinos by 45 points, Asian-Americans by 53 points and African-Americans by more than 90 points.”It bodes very poorly for the long-term prospects of the California Republican Party,” he said.Both pollsters agreed with the assessment of numerous national analysts that, to become more competitive among Latino voters, Republicans in Congress must support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have been working in the United States for a number of years.That policy change alone, however, will not be enough, DiCamillo said.
“It’s not even the one thing that I would point to as having the most to do with partisan preference,” he said.
DiCamillo said the issue that most separates ethnic voters from non-Hispanic whites in California is their perception of the role of government. His polling has found that while non-Hispanic whites are essentially divided over the question of whether government should do more to try to improve the lives of residents, ethnic voters by a 2-to-1 margin believe that it should.
Jobless Claims in U.S. Jumped Last Week After Sandy– More Americans than forecast submitted claims for unemployment insurance last week as superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the job market.Applications for jobless benefits surged by 78,000 to 439,000 in the week ended Nov. 10, the most since April 2011, the Labor Department said today in Washington. Several states said the increase was due to the storm that hit the Northeastern part of the U.S. in late October, a Labor Department spokesman said as the data were released to the press.The extent of the damage means it may take weeks for the underlying trend in firings to again become clear. Before the storm, the labor market was gaining momentum even as year-end domestic fiscal policy uncertainties raised concern among businesses.“At least a few state labor offices were shut in the prior week so it’s almost as if you have two weeks of claims in one,” said Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC Securities USA Inc. in New York. “You have a double whammy this week, where people were filing claims they were unable to previously and individuals unable to work for the storm were filing additional claims.”
The ObamaCare Battlefront Shifts To The States– Throughout the debate over ObamaCare – and back to HillaryCare and beyond – the fundamental question in health reform has always been this: Who will control our choices – government or individuals?Each side has won battles over the last 15 years in the tug of war between those who want a system that empowers the individual and one that cedes more and more authority to the state.Congress created the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to expand publicly-financed coverage to children.But it later created Health Savings Accounts to empower individuals in the free market.
It expanded Medicare to create a new prescription drug benefit.
But it also boosted participation by private plans in Medicare through the Medicare Advantage program.
Doc Shortage Could Crash ObamaCare Health Care– The United States will require at least 52,000 more family doctors in the year 2025 to keep up with the growing and increasingly older U.S. population, a new study found.The predictions also reflect the passage of the Affordable Care Act — a change that will expand health insurance coverage to an additional 38 million Americans.”The health care consumer that values the relationship with a personal physician, particularly in areas already struggling with access to primary care physicians should be aware of potential access challenges that they may face in the future if the production of primary care physicians does not increase,” said Dr. Andrew Bazemore, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care and co-author of the study published Monday in the Annals of Family Medicine.Stephen Petterson, senior health policy researcher at the Robert Graham Center, said the government should take steps — and quickly — to address the problem before it gets out of hand.
“There needs to be more primary care incentive programs that give a bonus to physicians who treat Medicaid patients in effort to reduce the compensation gap between specialists and primary care physicians,” said Petterson, who co-authored the study with Bazemore.
But such changes may be more easily said than done.
The problem does not appear to be one of too few doctors in general; in fact, in 2011 a total of 17,364 new doctors emerged from the country’s medical schools, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Too few of these doctors, however, choose primary care as a career — an issue that may be worsening.
California Vehicle license fees would triple under measure planned by state Sen. Ted Lieu– Touted as a test of the new Democratic supermajority in Sacramento, South Bay state Sen. Ted Lieu plans to introduce a measure to triple vehicle license fees.The constitutional amendment would restore the 2 percent vehicle license fee slashed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger after he won office partly on that pledge.The 1.35 percent transportation system user fee increase would generate an estimated $3.5 billion to $4 billion annually for roads and public transit in yet-to-be-decided proportions, Lieu said.Buoyed by the Democratic supermajority achieved just last week, Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, plans to introduce the legislation in either December or January. He envisions the Legislature will approve the amendment and place it before voters in November 2014.
“It would be a test to see what the two-thirds (majority) Legislature means,” Lieu told the editorial board of the Los Angeles News Group. “The best way for us to lose the supermajority is to overreach.
“I’m not saying it would be an easy sell,” he added of the proposal. “I’m aware of the fact I may be attacked for it.”
THE IMMIGRATION AMNESTY FANTASY– The networks had barely called the election for President Barack Obama before GOP elites rushed to embrace an amnesty for illegal immigrants.Getting killed by almost 3-to-1 among Latino voters understandably concentrates the mind, but it’s no reason to lose it. The post-election Republican reaction has been built on equal parts panic, wishful thinking and ethnic pandering.It’s one thing to argue that amnesty is the right policy on the merits. It’s another to depict it as the magic key to unlocking the Latino vote. John McCain nearly immolated himself within the Republican Party with his support for amnesty and did all of 4 percentage points better among Latino voters in 2008 than Mitt Romney did in 2012, according to exit polls.What is the common thread uniting McCain, the advocate of “comprehensive” immigration reform, and Romney the advocate of “self-deportation”? They are both Republicans supporting conservative economic policies. Surely, that had more to do with their showing among Latinos than anything they did or didn’t say about immigration.
According to Census Bureau data, among native-born Hispanics, 50 percent of all households with children are headed by unmarried mothers. About 40 percent of all households receive benefits from a major welfare program. This doesn’t mean that the GOP shouldn’t try to appeal to voters in these households. It does mean that they aren’t natural Republican voters.
Latinos tend to have liberal attitudes toward government. Take health care. An ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions poll of Latinos conducted on the eve of the election found that 61 percent of Latinos support leaving Obamacare in place. Sixty-six percent believe government should ensure access to health insurance. This might have something to do with the fact that 32 percent of nonelderly Latinos lack health insurance, about twice the national average.
In California, Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute noted in the aftermath of the election, “Hispanics will prove to be even more decisive in the victory of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, which raised upper-income taxes and the sales tax, than in the Obama election.”
These are facts that never intrude upon Wall Street Journal editorials scolding Republicans for supposedly turning their backs on new recruits. In the Journal’s telling, if it weren’t for Republican intransigence on immigration, Latino voters would be eagerly joining the fight for lower marginal tax rates and free-market entitlement reforms.
John Cornyn on Senate races: GOP bungled it– Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the incoming Republican whip who led his party’s Senate campaign efforts this year, candidly acknowledged the GOP bungled a prime opportunity to take control of the chamber through a combination of poor polling, poor candidates and a poor job of selling its message.While claiming Democrats “got lucky” in gaining two Senate seats, the Texas Republican admitted his party had an image deficiency with women, minorities and disaffected voters — one that needs to be immediately addressed before suffering the consequences in the next election cycle.
Gallup Poll: Economy, Entitlements, Iran Are Americans’ Top Priorities– Solid majorities of Americans in the Nov. 9-12 USA Today/Gallup poll also put heavy emphasis on significantly reducing the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, making college education more affordable, making major cuts in federal spending, and simplifying the tax code by lowering rates and eliminating deductions and loopholes.Not only do at least seven in 10 Americans rate all of these goals as extremely or very important, but majorities of Republicans as well as Democrats agree on their importance. In other words, there is bipartisan consensus that these goals are important.On the reverse side of things, relatively few Americans, including fewer than four in 10 Republicans or Democrats, consider making major cuts to military and defense spending a high priority for Obama.
Romney Blames Loss on Obama’s ‘Gifts’ to Minorities and Young Voters– Saying that he and his team still felt “troubled” by his loss to President Obama, Mitt Romney on Wednesday attributed his defeat in part to what he called big policy “gifts” that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”Mr. Romney’s comments in the 20-minute conference call came after his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, told WISC-TV in Madison on Monday that their loss was a result of Mr. Obama’s strength in “urban areas,” an analysis that did not account for Mr. Obama’s victories in more rural states like Iowa and New Hampshire or the decrease in the number of votes for the president relative to 2008 in critical urban counties in Ohio.
LA Governor Bobby Jindal rejects Mitt Romney’s ‘gifts’ theory– Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal forcefully rejected Mitt Romney’s claim that he lost because of President Barack Obama’s “gifts” to minorities and young voters.Asked about the failed GOP nominee’s reported comments on a conference call with donors earlier Wednesday, the incoming chairman of the Republican Governors Association became visibly agitated.“No, I think that’s absolutely wrong,” he said at a press conference that opened the RGA’s post-election meeting here. “Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.“And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. … So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”
He reiterated the points for emphasis.
“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” he said. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election: If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions.”
Obama to open ‘fiscal cliff’ talks with call for $1.6T in new revenues – So 2009– President Obama is taking a tough opening stance in talks over deficit reduction, pushing Republicans to accept a plan that calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue over the next ten years, according to reports.The figure is double the $800 billion last discussed by the White House and House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) during their 2011 negotiations on raising the debt-ceiling limit.The president’s plan is based on his most recent budget proposal, which sought the $1.6 in new revenues by targeting the wealthy and corporations. The president and congressional lawmakers are set to meet at the White House on Friday as both sides begin hammering out a deficit-cutting plan that helps the nation move past the “fiscal cliff” of rising tax rates and automatic spending cuts set to take effect in January 2013.Both sides say they hope to avoid the fiscal cliff, but are at an impasse over taxes, with the president insisting that the wealthy pay more.
House Republicans on Wednesday were incredulous at the president’s opening bid.
“That is so 2009. It’s like he is still in charge of this place,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), referring to the last time Democrats had a majority in the House.
Look Who’s Refusing To Compromise To Avoid Going Off The Fiscal Cliff – The LEFT– Budget Talks: If President Obama wants to get a deficit deal done to avoid the fiscal cliff, his biggest challenge won’t be Republicans, but his own hard-core left-wing supporters.Two days after the election, Obama’s favorite economist, Paul Krugman, set the tone for the intransigent left in a column titled: “Let’s not make a deal.” Boiled down, his advice to Obama was this: Don’t give in to any Republican demands, even if doing so would “inflict damage on a still-shaky economy.” After all, Obama would be better positioned to “weather any blowback from economic troubles.”Krugman’s advice may be disturbingly cold and calculating, but he has plenty of company on the left.Robert Kuttner, co-founder of the liberal American Prospect magazine, suggests Obama should just sit it out, let all the Bush tax cuts expire, the automatic spending cuts kick in and expect public pressure to force Republicans to give in entirely.
The left-wing Daily Kos called any kind of “grand bargain” between Obama and the GOP a “Great Betrayal.”
Immigrants and the GOP – Debunking some talk radio myths– The GOP’s Presidential election defeat is opening up a debate in the party, with more than a few voices saying they are willing to rethink their views on immigration. This is good news, which means it’s also a good moment to address some of the frequent claims from the anti-immigration right that simply aren’t true, especially about Hispanics.One myth is that Latino voters simply aren’t worth pursuing because they’re automatic Democrats. Yet Ronald Reagan was so eager to welcome Latinos to the GOP that he described them as “Republicans who don’t know it yet.”Recall that between 1996 and 2004 the GOP doubled its percentage of the Hispanic vote to more that 40%, culminating in the re-election of George W. Bush, who won Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Nevada—states with fast-growing Hispanic populations that Mitt Romney lost. The notion that Hispanics are “natural” Democrats and not swing voters is belied by this history.
These are my links for November 13th through November 14th:
Don’t cry now – The GOP Will Have a Better Candidate in 2016– Yes, it’s all sad — and grim, and depressing — but is Election 2012 truly the end of the GOP universe? Perhaps. But before giving way to unseemly hysterics, here are some thoughts to peruse:* Timing is everything: This year, the Republicans needed new and appealing young talents to take on Obama, and that, as it happened, was just what they had. The upside was that in 2009 and 2010 they had a crop of new stars, all born to run on a national ticket. The downside was that they would be ready to start running in 2014 at the earliest. And so the most crucial of all nominations would go to one of a number of has-beens or retreads, whose experience was either old or irrelevant, and whose talent at best underwhelmed.Mitt Romney, the best, left office six years ago, and had a liberal past, a financial career that had netted him millions, and, as the son of another ex-governor, seemed the image of white and upper-class privilege, minus the military heroics, medical problems, or personal tragedies that humanized the Roosevelt cousins, the Kennedy brothers and the elder George Bush.
Near the end, Romney became a good candidate, but he was always less than a good politician; a speaker in tongues that were not his first language, and a technocrat in a profession in which visionaries tend to win the big prize. His loss deprives the country of an effective executive, but it allows the next generation of the GOP, which would have been pushed aside for eight years or more if he had triumphed, to step forward now and make over the party — a moment that can’t come soon enough.
* The country has changed, but the next Republican ticket will have at least one, and possibly two, brownish-skinned children of immigrants, with inspiring stories of rising from nowhere to live the American dream. He and/or she (and “she” must be seen as a real possibility) will never have fired hundreds of people, will not be rich, will not be dogged by multiple changes on issues, will understand modern conservatism from having run and won on it, and also will be a career politician, unlikely to make the unforced verbal errors that haunted this campaign just ended. There are few such “diverse” stars in the Democrats’ stable. Hillary Clinton, if she runs in 2016, will be 69, and unlikely to get the nation’s young in a tizzy. In the next cycle, the dynamic that worked this year in the Democrats’ favor — race, youth and gender — may be turned on its head.
White House ‘secede’ petitions reach 660,000 signatures, 50-state participation– Less than a week after a New Orleans suburbanite petitioned the White House to allow Louisiana to secede from the United States, petitions from seven states have collected enough signatures to trigger a promised review from the Obama administration.By 6:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, more than 675,000 digital signatures appeared on 69 separate secession petitions covering all 50 states, according to a Daily Caller analysis of requests lodged with the White House’s “We the People” online petition system.A petition from Vermont, where talk of secession is a regular feature of political life, was the final entry.
Petitions from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas residents have accrued at least 25,000 signatures, the number the Obama administration says it will reward with a staff review of online proposals.
The Texas petition leads all others by a wide margin. Shortly before 9:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, it had attracted 94,700 signatures.
But a spokesperson for Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday afternoon that he does not support the idea of his state striking out on its own. “Gov. Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it. But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
A backlash Monday night saw requests filed with the White House to strip citizenship rights from Americans who signed petitions to help states secede.
Greetings from the Single-Party State of California! – Dental Care for the Poor– Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is already putting his wish list together. Note the sheer lack of much to do with fiscal solvency:Steinberg talked of using the supermajority to reinvest in public schools and colleges, restore adult dental care for the poor, and alter the initiative process in a way that makes it harder for millionaires to impose their will by spending vast sums qualifying a measure for the ballot.The Senate leader said he might be willing to consider overhauling the state’s income tax structure to lower rates but broaden the base, and to consider a constitutional amendment laying the groundwork for same-sex marriage.
Adult dental care for the poor! Exactly what we need with a cash deficit somewhere around $20 billion, according to the state controller.
There are two races in Orange County and Sacramento County that are very close, and the GOP is not willing to concede as yet. There is a possibility that the ability to keep the Democratic legislature from overruling the Democratic governor rests in the hands of two Republicans.
Hooray! Bankrupt California Is Now a One-Party State!– I might dislike the state GOP even more than Harold Meyerson does, but there are some other numbers that prevent me from celebrating what Meyerson hails as “the political transformation of California.” For instance:The last Republican turned off the lights* Democrats have controlled all eight statewide executive offices since 2011, for only the second time since the 19th century.* Democrats have a 28-12 edge in the state Senate, tied for its largest advantage since the 19th century. The party has held a majority there since the late 1950s.
* Democrats have a 54-26 edge in the state Assembly, its largest advantage since 1978. The party has run the Assembly since 1997.
* California has been represented in the U.S. Senate by Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for two decades.
* That 38-15 congressional delegation advantage, if it indeed holds, will be by far the largest spread in state history, and almost the largest percentage advantage as well (there was that 3-1 moment in the 1870s). Republicans last held more California congressional seats than Democrats in the late 1950s.
So what has all this enlightened Democratic governance produced? Here’s one way of looking at it: The last month that California had an unemployment rate of less than 10% was January 2009. The last month its unemployment was lower than the national rate was April 1990. The 2010 Census marked the first time California didn’t gain a seat in the House of Representatives since basically ever. For the first time since the Gold Rush, a majority of California residents were born in the state. The ultimate migration-magnet in a nation of immigrants is just no longer so, however strange that may be to accept.
California to GOP: Adios– here are many ways to illustrate the descent of the California Republican Party into oblivion. A starting point is the demographic breakdown of the members of Congress elected last week in the state.Assuming the leaders in the few remaining close races hold their leads, there will be 38 Democrats and 15 Republicans representing California in Congress come January. Of those 38 Democrats, 18 are women, nine are Latinos, five are Asian Americans, three are African Americans, four are Jews and at least one is gay. Just 12 are white men. Of the 15 Republicans, on the other hand, all are white men — not a woman, let alone a member of a racial minority or a Jew, among them.The composition of the state’s new Democratic congressional delegation merely reflects the state’s demographic changes. Latinos (72% of whom backed Obama) were 23% of the California electorate in 2012, up from 18% in 2008. The share of Asian voters (who voted for Obama at a 79% rate) doubled, from 6% to 12%, between those two elections. Voters under 30 increased their share of state ballots cast from 20% in 2008 to 27% in 2012, and backed Obama at a 71% rate. The state’s proportion of white voters, meanwhile, fell from 65% in 2004 to 63% in 2008 to just 55% last week.
More sentient Republicans now say the party needs to modify its position on immigration. But a deeper look into the politics of the increasingly young and multicolored electorate suggests that the GOP is estranged from this new America on more issues than just immigration. The exit polling on Proposition 30, the tax hike on the wealthy promoted by Gov. Jerry Brown to keep the state’s schools and universities from further disastrous budget cuts, shows key elements of the Democrats’ new majority consigning the old Howard-Jarvis-no-tax-hike California to history’s dustbin. Voters under 30 supported Proposition 30 at a 67% rate, and Asian Americans gave it 61% support.
Majority Supports Path to Citizenship; Greater Division on Other Social Issues – ABC News– Most Americans support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, an issue that may be high on the agenda of newly re-elected President Obama and the 113th Congress, given the increased importance of nonwhites – including Hispanic voters – in the nation’s political equation.On two other prominent social issues in last week’s voting, a bare majority continues to support legalizing gay marriage, and this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds a new high, 48 percent, in support for legalizing small amounts of marijuana for personal use.A PATH – Fifty-seven percent of Americans in this survey, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, with 39 percent opposed. That’s virtually identical to results of a similar question last asked in mid-2010, with support up from its earlier levels, as low as 49 percent in late 2007.
Debate on the issue was heightened by restrictive immigration policies enacted in Arizona in 2010 and Alabama in 2011, and, in June, when Obama moved in another direction, granting immunity from deportation to many undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children.
Hispanics accounted for 10 percent of voters in Tuesday’s presidential election, reaching double-digits for the first time, and Obama won them by 71-27 percent, improving on his 2008 margin in this group. In the exit poll, voters overall, by more than 2-1, said illegal immigrants working here should be offered a chance to apply for legal status rather than being deported.
In this survey, support for a path to citizenship peaks at 82 percent among Hispanics, 71 percent among Democrats and liberals alike and 69 percent among young adults, all key Obama groups. Support’s at 68 percent among nonwhites overall, compared with 51 percent among non-Hispanic whites. Obama lost white voters by 20 points last week, but won nonwhites — who accounted for a record 28 percent of the electorate – by 61 points. It was a record racial gap.
The Fiscal Cliff: Will Obama and Congress Cut a Budget Deal?– Five people will gather Friday inside the White House to begin making decisions that could affect the pocketbooks of 315 million Americans.When President Obama sits down with the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress, only 46 days will remain before the nation risks plunging over the “fiscal cliff” — a pileup of scheduled tax increases and spending cuts that threaten to drain $560 billion out of the economy next year and derail the recovery.It will be high-stakes poker, holding the promise of great rewards for an economic rebound if Washington succeeds and the peril of another recession if it fails.
Promise or peril, some Americans are going to feel the pinch. Should Obama get his way, those with annual incomes above $250,000 will face higher tax bills. If Republicans come out on top, tax rates and defense spending will remain the same, but social programs will face budget cuts.
A compromise portends discomfort, most likely in the form of reduced paychecks, jobless benefits and business tax breaks. And a stalemate means higher taxes and reduced federal spending across the board, including at the Pentagon.
Hard questions await Obama at news conference– This is not what the White House wanted for President Barack Obama’s first news conference of his second term.He won’t be able to dwell much on his stronger-than-expected victory or even press his agenda for the next four years. Instead, he’ll be diverted by a Washington sex scandal.
Pew Poll: Broad Concern about ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Consequences – Blame Congressional GOP More– As the president and congressional leaders begin negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” deadline at the end of the year, there is widespread public concern about the possible financial consequences. More say the automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect in January would have a major effect on the U.S. economy than on their own finances. But nearly identical majorities say the effect of the changes would be mostly negative for the economy (62%) and their personal financial situation (60%).The public is skeptical that President Obama and congressional Republicans will reach an agreement by the end of the year to avoid the fiscal cliff. About half (51%) say the two sides will not reach an agreement, while just 38% say they will. If no deal is reached, more say that congressional Republicans would be more to blame than President Obama (53% vs. 29%).
Pew Poll: Hispanic Household Wealth Fell by 66% from 2005 to 2009– Median household wealth among Hispanics fell from $18,359 in 2005 to $6,325 in 2009. The percentage drop—66%—was the largest among all racial and ethnic groups, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project. During the same period, median household wealth declined 53% among black households and 16% among white households.The Pew Research report provides the first look at how the Great Recession impacted household wealth. It finds that plummeting house values were the principal cause of the erosion in wealth among all groups. However, because Hispanics derived nearly two-thirds of their net worth in 2005 from home equity and a disproportionate share reside in states that were in the vanguard of the housing meltdown, Hispanics were hit hardest by the housing market downturn.The Pew Research analysis also finds that the median wealth of white households is 18 times that of Hispanic households and 20 times that of black households. These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest in the quarter century since the government first published such data, and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession.
Public Opinion Strategies: Three Keys From the Exit Polls– Given the demographics of the 2008 and 2012 elections, the Republican Party is in danger of becoming the “Win In Off Years Only Party” unless we make a full-throated improvement with Hispanic voters. And, we have to admit it is us, not them.Want proof? That’s easy – as of this writing, Mitt Romney is getting 48.7% of the vote, while House Republicans are getting 48.4% of the vote. The House majority for 2014 (and beyond) is not built on winning the vote, but on fabulous drawing of the congressional district lines. So even the battleground we won on (congressional) was tilted for us, which we may not be able to count on in ten years.
Republican polling firm explains what went wrong– On Election Day, Mitt Romney had a victory speech prepared — but not a concession. He believed he would win. His confidence was based in part on internal polls showing an electorate that favored Republicans. Many Republican Senate candidates also got false optimism from their numbers.In a memo, the firm of Romney pollster Neil Newhouse, Public Opinion Strategies, explains its mistakes and suggests how to fix them going forward.As a part of the Republican polling community, our prescription includes doing at least one-third of the interviews with cell phone respondents going forward, adjusting as required, ensuring that we include enough younger voters in our sampling, and (in many cases) polling until the final weekend of the campaign. This is going to cost campaigns and organizations more money on polling, but it is necessary to have a more accurate representation of the electorate.
President 2012: Gallup defends itself– Gallup’s Frank Newport posted a memo online defending the organization’s 2012 polling, which gave Mitt Romney the lead in the presidential race from mid-October to the end of the month.Newport notes that the final pre-election Gallup poll, taken after a hiatus due to Hurricane Sandy, showed a dead heat, not so far off the final popular vote results.“In the end, Gallup’s national popular vote estimate was that the popular vote was too close to call, a statistical tie — 50% for Mitt Romney, 49% for Barack Obama,” Newport wrote. “When the dust settled, Romney got 48% of the popular vote and Obama received 50%, meaning that Gallup’s percentage-point estimate was within two percentage points for Romney and within one point for Obama.” (Further counting has boosted Obama’s total closer to 51 percent.)
However, he added, “it is clear that voting today is subject to new pushes and pulls” and that changes to the pollsters’ likely voting model might be necessary.
Newport also takes what appears to be a veiled shot at The New York Times’s Nate Silver, who argued that a mid-October Gallup poll showing Romney ahead was likely wrong.
“It’s not easy nor cheap to conduct traditional random sample polls,” Newport writes. “It’s much easier, cheaper, and mostly less risky to focus on aggregating and analyzing others’ polls.”
These are my links for November 18th through November 21st:
Parties brace for ‘super’ fallout – Now, both parties are quickly trying to figure out how to turn the committee’s embarrassing failure into a political win for their side.
The Democratic message: We stood up to Republicans looking to gut Social Security, slash Medicare and permanently extend the Bush-era tax cuts for high income Americans.
The Republican counterattack: Democrats wanted little more than tax increases and refused to consider changes to deficit-driving health care entitlements. Both sides are positioning themselves as the party that compromised and sought a middle-ground.
But will this political posturing work for a Congress that had a 9 percent approval rating in one recent poll? Or will it just back fire with voters? Many lawmakers are worried about what the supercommittee has wrought for both sides.
Lawmakers already taking aim at auto-cuts – Failure by Congress’ debt-cutting supercommittee to recommend $1.2 trillion in savings by Wednesday is supposed to automatically trigger spending cuts in the same amount to accomplish that job.
But the same legislators who concocted that budgetary booby trap just four months ago could end up spending the 2012 election year and beyond battling over defusing it.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., say they are writing legislation to prevent what they say would be devastating cuts to the military. House Republicans are exploring a similar move. Democrats maintain they won’t let domestic programs be the sole source of savings.
Deficit Deal Fell Apart After Seeming Agreement – Called away from dinner tables, the Jets-Patriots game on television and, in one case, a soccer team party, several Democratic members of the special Congressional committee on deficit reduction raced to the office of Senator Patty Murray for a hasty 8:30 meeting to discuss the outlines of a potential agreement. Crucially, it appeared to have the backing of at least one Republican on the 12-member panel even though it included a tax increase.
As the members spoke, they began to see the outlines of a deal, tentatively agreeing on tax rates, revenues, spending cuts and changes to Social Security and Medicare, according to interviews with members of the committee and their aides.
Supercommittee blame everywhere – A full-scale blame game erupted into public view Sunday after nearly three months of secretive negotiations on the supercommittee that failed to resolve an impasse to cut at least $1.2 trillion in deficits over the next decade.
Fanning out across the Sunday talk shows just hours before the supercommittee’s deadline, Republicans insisted that Democrats wanted to institute a $1 trillion tax hike, while Democrats argued that the GOP wanted to gut popular entitlements and protect the rich. And both sides insisted they were willing to compromise when the other refused to move off their partisan positions.
Throughout his term, President Obama has avoided leading on the issue of fiscal responsibility. He walked away from his own commission, the one led by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, when he found its report filled with inconvenient choices.
Now in a week when leadership is needed to push this critical committee to do something big and bring the nation’s fiscal house back into order, the president once again disappears. It causes one to wonder, why?
Obama has work cut out for him in order to win Michigan in 2012 – President Barack Obama says he saved Michigan’s auto industry, but that isn’t helping his 2012 re-election bid in Macomb and Oakland counties, where Republican front-runner Mitt Romney’s strength helps give him a 5-point lead in the state a year before the election, a Free Press poll shows.
There’s time for the president to woo voters, but without the two key suburban Detroit counties, it would be difficult for Obama to win Michigan, a state whose voters have backed Democratic candidates in the last five presidential elections.
In a head-to-head matchup statewide, Romney tops Obama 46%-41% in the poll.
In Macomb, where Obama received 53% of the vote in 2008, the president trails Romney, 68%-20%. Even controlling for a high margin of error because of a small sample size in the county, Obama trails Romney in Macomb by at least 20 percentage points.
A large cohort study of California inpatients without a history of psychiatric disorders found that those with methamphetamine-related conditions were 9 times more likely to have a subsequent schizophrenia diagnosis than non–drug users, and an almost 1.5- to 3-fold diagnosis risk compared with heavy users of cocaine and opioids, but not cannabis.
“This provides the first world-wide evidence for a long-standing debate that suggests that methamphetamines may facilitate the development of schizophrenia in a small subset of users,” lead author Russell C. Callaghan, PhD, research scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.
“Methamphetamine users often present to clinical and emergency department settings with psychosis. And our findings suggest that these people need to be monitored closely for an attenuation of their psychotic symptoms. Also, given the side effects with antipsychotic medications, I think we really need to prescribe those treatments judiciously,” said Dr. Callaghan.
He added that the study findings do not apply to patients who take lower and controlled doses of amphetamines for medical purposes, such as for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
How I ended up leaving Poynter JIMROMENESKO.COM – “How did this go off the rails?” Poynter’s attorney asked me during a Nov. 12 phone conversation about my threat to file a cease and desist order against the institute for using my name on their website after being taken off the payroll.
U.S. Facing What Some Call a Dental Crisis – Roughly half of all Americans don’t have dental insurance, and PBS NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser is calling it a dental crisis. She states in the report that:
The federal government has identified more than 4,500 areas of this country, like Grundy, Va., where there are not enough dentists. It says nearly 10,000 new providers are needed to meet the need.
The state of dentistry today is at a point where many are calling for change, and soon.
Is General Dentistry Dead? – Correct. The ADA has been, and still is against a mid-level provider. Feeling that the patient deserves treatment by a dentist.
The push for a mid-level has come from a combination of legislators being pushed by “patient advocacy groups” (then again one can ask them the question if they’ve ever actually asked the folks their apparently advocating for if THEY want to be treated by a “second tier” provider or a dentist – answer – they haven’t). Groups such a Kellog and Pew who tend to fund many of these studies when looked at closely, aren’t exactly the most impartial of groups (remember who with a research paper one of the 1st things yu should do is not look at the results, but look at who is funding the research in the 1st place to see if from the start the potential for bias exists).
Additionally on the legislative front, if you ever have the chance to talk with one of your elected officials about this (and I would encourage you to, since they like to listen) is that what dentistry needs to do is not get into the whole “access to care” issue, but the UTILIZATION of care discussion. Access to care in theory would provide access to 100% of people. However, the reality is that even with *cough*free*cough* care the UTILIZATION rate is at best about 60%. The reality is that unless your talking a military style system where going to the dentist is mandatory, there is a very significant portion of the populaton that will not seek out dental care (unless its an EXTREME emergency situation) no matter what. There is plenty of dentists available to handle to demands of the populatin with its current utilizaton rates. Trying to develop a system for 100% access will just end up wasting dollars on that significant population that won’t seek care. If those dollars are directed at existing providers to make the reimbursement rates FAIR, that will have a much greater impact on access. The bottomline is that the overhead for a mid level won’t be any less than that for a dentist, and if a midlevel is getting the same rates for a procedure as a dentist is (and one would sumise that would be the case since in the medical world a nurse practitioner gets the same reimbursement for suturing up a laceration as an MD/DO does) then they’ll have te same problems meeting overhead as a dentist would. The key is that dentistry, when talking about this issue needs to stick to the objective data, which can be tough when the opposing side tends to have mor emtoional “data” than objective data