Senator Rand Paul first discussed his higher aspirations at the beginning of this year. He said he wouldn’t close the door on being a Vice Presidential candidate. After a speech in Louisville today, Paul held that door firmly open, saying he wants to be part of the national debate.
Paul’s name has swirled as a possible pick that would give Romney points with the Tea Party. When asked directly what he would say if Romney made the offer, Paul tried to punt.
“I don’t know if I can answer that question, but I can say it would be an honor to be considered,” he said.
Bonuses given after raises at Solyndra – Washington Times – Several of the nearly two dozen employees at bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra LLC who were approved for bonuses Wednesday had months earlier received pay raises as high as 70 percent, a fact the company never disclosed in its request for bonus cash.
The company’s bankruptcy attorneys sought permission for the bonuses in a court hearing, arguing that the extra cash is needed to keep key employees from fleeing only to be replaced by more expensive outside consultants.
With little chance of stable employment and officials moving to liquidate assets, the workers needed to wind down the company have little incentive to stay, the Solyndra attorneys argued.
But an attorney for fired Solyndra workers railed against the plan, saying several of the proposed bonus recipients had received significant salary increases even after the company went bankrupt.
The Post-ABC News poll reports that 69 percent of Republicans have a favorable impression of him, the highest among all the GOP contenders. Even among “very conservative voters” he draws a 62 percent favorable rating. Rick Santorum scores a 74 percent rating (although this may change after his dreadful debate performance), but the numbers suggest that these voters don’t dislike Romney. They simply like (or liked) Santorum better.
In part, voters see perhaps what the right-wing bloggers, with visions of flat taxes and privatized Social Security ( i.e., ideal but unachievable conservative purity) dancing in their heads, miss: Romney is running on a rather conservative agenda. Not hardcore or angry conservatism, but definitely right of center.
Santorum Keeps Lead in Michigan – A new American Research Group poll in Michigan finds Rick Santorum continues to lead the GOP presidential field with 38%, followed by Mitt Romney at 34%, Ron Paul at 12% and Newt Gingrich at 7%.
“You have to ask Congressman Paul and Governor Romney what they’ve got going together,” Santorum told reporters in the spin room in Mesa, Arizona. “Their commercials look a lot alike and so do their attacks.”
Santorum’s top strategist John Brabender went even further, charging that the two men had “joined forces” and were coordinating attacks against his man
“Clearly there’s a tag team strategy between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. For all I know, Mitt Romney might be considering Ron Paul as his running mate. Clearly there is now an alliance between those two and you saw that certainly in the debate.”
The was also coordination in their attack ads, he charged. “Ron Paul for all practical purposes has pulled out of Michigan. Correct? Where’s he running negative ads against Rick Santorum? Michigan.
“It was interesting to me that if you watch Ron Paul when he came into the debate wrote negative things about Rick Santorum down because when he started to get questions he would immediately pick up his paper and start mentioning Santorum stuff.”
He added: “What is amazing to me this shows a remarkable ability by Romney, who has already proven to be the most negative man in history on TV, now he’s even training his opponents to be negative for his benefit and actually I think that takes remarkable skill.”
The Romney campaign ridiculed the notion there was any coordination. “If ever there was an iconoclast who got up there and said what he believed it’s Ron Paul,” said Stuart Stevens, Romney’s chief strategist.
The plan would roll back tens of millions of dollars in spending cuts for the Wisconsin Technical College System as well as a corporate tax cut passed by Republicans last year. Falk, a Democrat and former Dane County executive, is seeking to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in a likely recall election.
“My ‘Invest in Success’ plan will create jobs and spur economic growth by supporting what worked in Wisconsin for 100 years – investing in education and training workers through our technical college system,” Falk said in a statement.
To help balance the state budget, Walker and GOP lawmakers in June of last year cut nearly $73 million, or 25%, from the Technical College System budget over two years. To undo part of that, Falk wants to roll back a tax cut on multi-state corporations approved by Walker and GOP lawmakers in the budget.
Runner has been absent from the upper house since January, when she disclosed that complications related to her condition required her to work outside of Sacramento. She said today that she expects to make a full recovery and will focus on “business and philanthropic efforts” after leaving office.
“Serving the people of our community over my lifetime has been an amazing blessing and I am so very thankful for their support throughout each of my elections and my tenure in office,” Runner said in a statement. “In the coming years, I will be working on behalf of the community that I love, but not in the role as an elected official.”
Mr. Obama is proposing to raise the dividend tax rate to the higher personal income tax rate of 39.6% that will kick in next year. Add in the planned phase-out of deductions and exemptions, and the rate hits 41%. Then add the 3.8% investment tax surcharge in ObamaCare, and the new dividend tax rate in 2013 would be 44.8%—nearly three times today’s 15% rate.
Keep in mind that dividends are paid to shareholders only after the corporation pays taxes on its profits. So assuming a maximum 35% corporate tax rate and a 44.8% dividend tax, the total tax on corporate earnings passed through as dividends would be 64.1%.
Why Obama’s corporate tax plan is a total bust – The current U.S. economic recovery is arguably the worst in modern American history. Incomes are flat, housing is moribund, and the past three years have seen the longest stretch of high unemployment in this country since the Great Depression. Yet President Barack Obama—with the backing of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—has the temerity to propose a corporate tax reform plan that would actually raise the tax burden on American business by $250 billion over a decade (and de facto on workers, too) without lowering rates to an internationally competitive level. This is a terrible, terrible plan:
1. The Obama-Geithner plan would lower the statutory corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 35 percent, currently the second-highest among advanced economies. But that would still leave the combined U.S. corporate tax rate—state and federal—at 32.2 percent, far above the OECD combined average of 25 percent. The U.S. combined rate would be a bit below slow-growing Japan and France but above the U.K. and Germany. That’s not nearly good enough. Canada just lowered its corporate tax rate, for instance, to 15 percent. So instead of having the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, the United States would probably be fourth behind Japan, France, and Belgium.
“He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie said Tuesday on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight.” “Really, and just contribute. The fact of the matter is that I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check — go ahead and write it.”
Racial Preferences Redux – The Supreme Court revisits discrimination and government – When the Supreme Court last upheld racial preferences in college admissions, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that she “expects that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary.” That was 2003. By agreeing to hear a challenge to the University of Texas’s admissions policies yesterday, the Justices may have pushed up that deadline.
Heritage defines dependency as significantly depending on the government for help in two of the following basic expense items: housing, food, shelter, income security or higher education.
At the end of 2007, Heritage conservatively estimates there were 59.4 million Americans significantly dependent on the government.
By the end of 2010, this number had risen to 67.3 million, an increase of nearly 8 million. It is likely that another two or three million were added in 2011, for a net increase of 10 million to 11 million over the past four years.
It is not a coincidence that the number of people participating in the labor force has comparably declined over the same period.
California rates health plans on quality measures – California’s largest health plans have improved their care for diabetic patients, but many need to do better at treating children with throat infections, testing for lung disease and helping people overcome drug and alcohol addictions.
These are among the findings of the 11th annual report card released Wednesday by the state Office of the Patient Advocate.
The report card is meant to give consumers an easy-to-use tool to compare the quality of care delivered by the state’s nine largest health maintenance organizations, six largest preferred provider organizations and 212 medical groups.
Each plan is ranked in categories of care with one to four stars, depending on how well it meets national standards or how its members rate it in such areas as ease of getting appointments and customer service.
“Publicly reporting is one tool to keep plans accountable,” said Sandra Perez, director of the Patient Advocate’s Office.
“The report card helps educate everyone on what types of treatment they should be receiving from their health plan,” she said.
As in previous years, Kaiser Permanente outshone its competitors, receiving the top ranking of four stars in most categories. Most other HMO or PPO plans had no categories with four stars.
Among medical groups, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation also earned top scores, with four stars in both patient rankings and meeting national standards of care.
Tightening Arizona Race Heightens Pressure on Romney – With polls showing Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum within the margin of error of each other in Arizona and Michigan, both candidates have some tough decisions to make ahead of the states’ primaries on Tuesday.
Just a few weeks ago, Romney seemed headed for big wins in both races. Now he finds himself trailing Santorum in his native Michigan, and Santorum creeping up on him in Arizona. That means the top rivals have to carefully figure out how to best divide their time and energy over the next six days.
Obama will propose lowering the nation’s corporate tax rate to 28 percent. At the same time, however, he will seek to increase the amount of revenues raised overall through corporate taxation by eliminating numerous deductions and loopholes that save companies tens of billions of dollars a year on their tax bills, according to a senior administration official.
Chris Christie: Rick Santorum’s Satan Comments Are Relevant – Rick Santorum says his 2008 comments that “Satan has set his sights on the United States of America” are “not relevant” to the 2012 presidential race, but Chris Christie told me on “GMA” that Santorum is wrong.
“Listen, I think anything you say as a presidential candidate is relevant. It is by definition relevant. You’re asking to be president of the United States. I don’t think [Santorum’s] right about that. I think it is relevant what he says. I think people want to make an evaluation, a complete evaluation of anyone who asks to sit in the Oval Office,” the New Jersey governor said.
Adding to the religious discussion on the campaign trail, yesterday Santorum said he would “defend everything” he says and Mitt Romney said the Obama administration has “fought against religion.”
But Christie doesn’t think a debate over religion is a conversation the Republican Party wants to engage in.
“Do I think it’s the things we should be as a party talking about and emphasizing at the moment? No,” he said.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Obama yesterday
These are my links for January 25th through January 26th:
Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China – In the last decade, Apple has become one of the mightiest, richest and most successful companies in the world, in part by mastering global manufacturing. Apple and its high-technology peers — as well as dozens of other American industries — have achieved a pace of innovation nearly unmatched in modern history.
However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions, according to employees inside those plants, worker advocates and documents published by companies themselves. Problems are as varied as onerous work environments and serious — sometimes deadly — safety problems.
Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that, within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors.
More troubling, the groups say, is some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens. Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside the Chengdu plant, according to a Chinese group that published that warning.
Thou Shalt Not Write Bad Things About Obama – Drudge has a story about Obama getting off of Air Force One in Arizona, greeting Republican governor Jan Brewer, and immediately giving her a piece of his mind. Evidently our president did not appreciate something Brewer wrote about him. According to the pool report, they had a testy exchange from which the president walked away as Brewer was still speaking.
Sound familiar? Bobby Jindal got the same treatment when Obama came to visit Louisiana and the governor met him on the tarmac
“He’s not going to ask me to stay on, I’m pretty confident,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “I’m confident he’ll be president. But I’m also confident he’s going to have the privilege of having another secretary of the Treasury.”
Geithner, 50, has led President Barack Obama’s efforts to pull the U.S. economy out of the worst recession since World War II. Before joining the administration in 2009, Geithner was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, playing a key role in the U.S. government’s bailouts of banks including Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC), and automakers General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.
Because how unfair — indeed, un-American — it is for an office worker like, say, Warren Buffet’s secretary to dutifully pay her taxes, while some well-to-do people with better educations and higher incomes end up paying a much smaller tax rate.
Or, worse, skipping their taxes altogether.
A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama’s executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven’t paid any share, let alone their fair share.
Previous reports have shown how well-paid Obama’s White House staff is, with 457 aides pulling down more than $37 million last year. That’s up seven workers and nearly $4 million from the Bush administration’s last year.
Nearly one-third of Obama’s aides make more than $100,000 with 21 being paid the top White House salary of $172,200, each.
The IRS’ 2010 delinquent tax revelations come as part of a required annual agency report on federal employees’ tax compliance. Turns out, an awful lot of folks being paid by taxpayers are not paying their own income taxes.
There are many theories on who, over a four-day period, forked over the names of GOP Reps. Pete Sessions (Texas), Buck McKeon (Calif.) and Elton Gallegly (Calif.) to media outlets in reference to an ongoing investigation into VIP loans given to lawmakers by Countrywide.
The leaks stunned the three legislators, who have all denied accepting special rates on the loans in exchange for political favors.
Some are pointing the finger at House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for releasing the publicly sensitive information, though his office is pushing back at that notion.
How Patrick Swayze died: Why we should care – When I finished my book on famous patients, the most common question I received was “Are the stories of sick celebrities really relevant to other patients?” My answer was that yes, with some caveats, these experiences are well-worth knowing.
The same can be said for the story of Patrick Swayze’s terminal pancreatic cancer, which has now been told by his widow, actress Lisa Niemi Swayze, in a new book, “Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss and Moving Forward.” Patrick Swayze, a dancer and actor best known for his roles in the films “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost,” was diagnosed in January 2008 and died of the disease in September 2009 at the age of 57. He was originally told he would live only a few months.
First, the caveats. Like most celebrities, Swayze had the means, as his wife says, to “think outside the box.” He enrolled in a clinical trial at Stanford University, traveling regularly to Palo Alto from Los Angeles for experimental chemotherapy. Swayze also was a VIP patient, getting first-class attention from top doctors and hospital staffs. Most patients experience greater hurdles.
Nor should pancreatic cancer patients who read “Worth Fighting For” assume that they, like Swazey, can beat the odds and survive longer if they take the same medications that he did. Every case of pancreatic cancer, like all cancers, is different.
The Buffett Ruse – WSJ.com – Remember the moment in 2008 when Charlie Gibson of ABC News asked Senator Barack Obama why he would support raising the capital gains tax even though “revenues from the tax increased” when the rate fell? Mr. Obama’s famous reply: “I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.” Well, we were warned.
Here we are four years later, and President Obama on Tuesday night linked the term “fair” to U.S. tax and economic policy seven times. The U.S. economy is still hobbling out of recession, real family incomes are falling and 14 million Americans are unemployed, but Mr. Obama declared that his top priority is not to reform the tax code to promote growth and job creation. His overriding goal is redistributing income.
Mr. Obama endorsed the political ruse he calls the Buffett rule, which asserts as a matter of moral principle that millionaires should not pay a lower tax rate than middle-class wage earners. Specifically, Mr. Obama is proposing that anyone earning more than $1 million pay at least 30% of that income to Uncle Barack.
The White House says that if a millionaire household’s effective tax rate falls below 30%, it would have to pay a surcharge—in essence a new Super Alternative Minimum Tax—to bring the tax liability to 30%. For those facing this new Super AMT, all deductions and exemptions would be eliminated except for charity.
Scott Walker leads in Wisconsin recall poll – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is ahead in his likely recall election even as his campaign raises — and spends — millions of dollars in expectation of a tough race later this year.
According to a new Marquette Law School poll the governor leads Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a likely candidate, 50 percent to 44 percent. He leads former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the only declared Democratic candidate, 49 percent to 42 percent margin, former Rep. David Obey 49 percent to 43 percent and state Sen. Tim Cullen 50 percent to 40 percent.
Democrats started targeting Walker last year, when he spearheaded controversial legislation limiting collective bargaining for public employees. Under Wisconsin law, Walker was not eligible for a recall election until January of this year.
These are my links for January 11th through January 12th:
Mormons in America – Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life – With a Mormon candidate among the front-runners for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, a musical about Mormons playing on Broadway and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) running television ads about ordinary Mormons, America is in the midst of what some media accounts have dubbed a “Mormon moment.” But how do Mormons themselves feel about the media spotlight, the election campaign and their place in America? A major new survey finds a mixed picture: Many Mormons feel they are misunderstood, discriminated against and not accepted by other Americans as part of mainstream society. Yet, at the same time, a majority of Mormons think that acceptance of Mormonism is rising. Overwhelmingly, they are satisfied with their lives and content with their communities. And most say they think the country is ready to elect a Mormon president.
Coming off his decisive win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary, Romney earns 41% support with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a distant second at 19%. A new telephone survey of Likely Florida Republican Primary Voters finds former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum running third with 15% of the vote.
Speaking to a sold-out Sarasota audience on Wednesday, Bush said she had hoped that her brother-in-law and former Florida governor would have jumped into the race this year.
Husband George W. Bush “and I wish he would,” Laura Bush said when asked if Jeb Bush will run for president someday. “We wanted him to this time.”
Laura Bush singled out his work on education as a key reason he would make a good president. She said his commitment to public policy is evident.
Jeb Bush has repeatedly said he is not running for president in 2012, though he has not ruled out a future campaign.
3 billionaires who’ll drag out the race – Meet the three billionaires who could drag out the GOP presidential primary, bloody up front-runner Mitt Romney and weaken the odds of defeating President Barack Obama: Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess and Jon Huntsman, Sr.
The three men are contributing millions of dollars to a trio of outside groups flooding the airwaves in early voting states with brutal ads attacking Romney and ads backing the candidates they would prefer to win the Republican nomination.
Homeland Security watches Twitter, social media – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command center routinely monitors dozens of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, WikiLeaks and news and gossip sites including the Huffington Post and Drudge Report, according to a government document.
A “privacy compliance review” issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” which involves regular monitoring of “publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.”
Aaron Suggs had been designated a non-serious, nonviolent felon when he was released from state prison Dec. 8 after serving a sentence for drug possession. That designation resulted in his supervision, upon release, being assigned to the Sacramento County Probation Department rather than state parole agents under a program adopted by the state last year to cut its costs.
State prisons spokesman Luis Patino said last year’s change in state law shifting responsibilities for some felons to counties did not affect how long Suggs spent in prison. County officials also denied that the shifting of post-prison supervision had an effect on Suggs’ ability to commit the crime, although Suggs spent five days in county jail for not immediately reporting to his county probation officer after his release from prison.
Suggs was arrested Monday after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in a house near the Capitol and stole some of her possessions.
These are my links for November 10th through November 14th:
CHELSEA CLINTON TO SHARE “MAKING A DIFFERENCE” STORIES FOR “NBC NIGHTLY NEWS” AND “ROCK CENTER WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS”– Chelsea Clinton is teaming up with “Rock Center with Brian Williams” and “NBC Nightly News” as a Special Correspondent, the network announced today. Clinton’s role with the shows and the network will be to highlight stories within the “Making a Difference” franchise.”Making a Difference” segments have a history of profiling organizations and individuals who represent the best of what works in the United States and around the world, frequently emphasizing stories about everyday people doing extraordinary things. Clinton’s dedication to public service, solution-based advocacy and focus on empowering people across the country and around the globe resonates with the purpose and content of “Making a Difference.” Her position with NBC News will still allow Clinton to continue her work with the Clinton Foundation and her studies in parallel.
“Chelsea is a remarkable woman who will be a great addition to NBC News. Given her vast experiences, it’s as though Chelsea has been preparing for this opportunity her entire life,” said Steve Capus, President of NBC News. “We are proud she will be bringing her considerable, unique talents and dedication to NBC News.”
“Our Making a Difference segments have become a signature of the broadcast. They adhere to a simple goal of highlighting the good works being done across the country and around the world,” said Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor of Nightly News and Rock Center. “Chelsea Clinton has led a remarkable life. She possesses an uncommon understanding of humanity — on city streets, across this country and around the globe. We are so excited she’s joining us to tell the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
Friday question answered – The Pros and Cons of Newt Gingrich– Yet there are still conservatives entranced with his patter and admiring of his intellect. PBS727 declares, “You bet he can. Strongest candidate out there. To hell with with his personal baggage. Just look at [Bill] Clinton, [John F.] Kennedy.” Carldahlmann argues: “Gingrich knows history, and he knows Congress. He’s smart and quick — he would kill Obama in any debate. In spite of his personal baggage, I think he’d make a dynamite President, and would create a very effective troika with Boehner and McConnell — this would be the Democrats’ worst nightmare, which is why I like it.”I agree that Gingrich will benefit for some time from Herman Cain’s and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s woes. It is ironic that the feisty base, which wants to fight, fight, fight against the Democrats, would consider the last GOP speaker of the House to get badly rolled by the White House. But in short order not only his personal baggage but his embrace of decidedly unconservative ideas and ethical problems will become a turnoff for many evangelicals, the group the not-Romney candidate must capture. For all of his flash and humor, Gingrich remains a loose cannon and an inconsistent conservative — not exactly what the not-Romney crowd is looking for.
Democrats obsessed with Romney?– Borrowing the title from a popular new wave song from the 1980s, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is out Monday with an email that highlights the numerous recent attacks on the Republican presidential candidate by national Democrats.In an email with the heading “You’re My Obsession,” the Romney campaign states that “President Obama’s political machine has developed an obsession with attacking Governor Romney.”
The former Massachusetts governor, who’s making his second bid for the White House, has been at or near the top of most national polls this year in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, and he’s also currently at or near the top in surveys in crucial early voting states.
For months, Romney’s been the target of Web videos and emails from the Obama re-election campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and Priorities USA, an independent group that is supporting the president’s re-election bid. But the efforts seem to have stepped up in recent weeks.
Many of the emails and Web videos highlight what the Democrats call Romney’s “flip-flop” on numerous issues.
Canada Will Sell Oil To China If US Keeps Delaying The Pipeline – The Obama administration put off the decision to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline until 2013.
But that won’t stop Canada from trying to find another buyer, namely China, according to AFP.
Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already spoken with Chinese President Hu Jintao about possible oil exports this past Saturday.
Harper told reporters, “This does underscore the necessity of Canada making sure that we are able to access Asian markets for our energy products.”
With plans for the Keystone XL oil pipeline on the rocks, and China looking to diversify its energy supplier portfolio, this might be the perfect opportunity for Canada to get its foot in the door of the Chinese energy market.
Poll Watch: Voters split on harassment charges, favor lie detector test– Likely voters are split over whether to believe Herman Cain or the women who accused him of sexual harassment, but a plurality would like him to take a lie detector test to help decide the issue.According to The Hill Poll, likely voters are split, 39 percent to 40 percent respectively, on whether they believe Cain or his accusers. Another 21 percent aren’t sure whom to believe.
Forty-seven percent of likely voters would like him to follow through on his professed willingness to take a lie detector test, while 35 percent said he should not and 18 percent were not sure.
Back in September he told a TV station that the U.S. had “gotten a little soft’’ when it came to competing in international markets.
On Saturday, speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of an economic summit in Honolulu, he said the U.S. had been “lazy’’ when it came to enticing businesses to invest in America.
“But we’ve been a little bit lazy, I think, over the last couple of decades,’’ the president said. “We’ve kind of taken for granted — well, people will want to come here and we aren’t out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new business into America.”
Soft and lazy. Sounds like America could use a few months on Parris Island.
Not that he’s lost hope. In the first year of his term, he gave a healthcare speech and proclaimed that “we can do great things.’’
This year, in his State of the Union speech, he was no less optimistic.
Americans, he said, are a people who “do big things.’’
“Lazy’’ is a strong word, though, and in a staid talk about trade and currency policy, it caused a bit of a stir.
Washington’s unwelcome delay in the Keystone XL pipeline project– EARLY LAST WEEK, as the Obama administration prepared to announce a delay in deciding whether to permit the construction of the Canada-U.S. Keystone XL oil pipeline, Joe Oliver, Canada’s natural resources minister, was in Asia to discuss cooperation with the energy-hungry and cash-flush Chinese on extracting his nation’s oil reserves. Given that China already has an $11 billion stake in Canadian oil production, Mr. Oliver should have little trouble getting the help.Despite the passion among environmentalists against Keystone XL, Mr. Oliver’s travels illustrate the critical point: Canada’s oil will come out of the ground, and someone somewhere will refine it and burn it.
Video: FINALLY: Warren Buffett Reveals What HIS Tax Plan Would Look Like – Warren Buffett is on CNBC this morning talking about the Buffett tax.
As he’s indicated before, what Obama calls the “Buffett Rule” (higher taxes on the rich, basically) differs from his real proposal for such a tax.
His idea is really simple.
He says his tax would require earners making over $1 million to pay 30% of their income in taxes and those making more than $10 million to pay 35%—something he admits most people are already doing.
The difference between the current progressive system, and his idea is that his scheme wouldn’t give any breaks to people who get much of their money from capital gains.
President Newt?– Newt Gingrich did very well for himself in the foreign policy debate Saturday, especially when he put down a smug Scott Pelley on the issue of whether killing Al-Awlaki comported with the “rule of law.” … Jennifer Rubin and I discuss what a Gingrich Presidency might be like in our most recent Ricochet podcast here (starting about 4:20 in). Rubin also has a detailed post on why Gingrich is not a “conservative dreamboat.” … A key point not addressed by issues papers is his firmness in negotiation, or lack thereof. During the welfare reform debate of 1995-6, my impression was that Gingrich always wants to be the hero who walks into the room and cuts the grand deal. As a result he is all-too-ready to make dramatic concessions, which is one reason Clinton cleaned his clock in the post-1994 budget negotiations. Fastest sellout in the West! …KEYWORDS: INFANTILE, EGOMANIAC
Some Democrats refuse to back President Obama– Sen. Joe Lieberman was treated like an outcast back in 2008 when he broke from the Senate Democratic Caucus and openly opposed Barack Obama’s bid for the White House.Asked last week if he’d back Obama in 2012, the Connecticut independent said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
This time around, there may be more Liebermans.
A number of moderate Democrats like Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders are declining to give their unqualified support for the president, saying they’re either too focused on their own races or are calling on the White House to cater to their agendas before they will offer an endorsement. Some up for reelection in red states or in swing districts fear that even showing up on stage with Obama will give their opponents an image to seize upon — much as Democrats did in 2008 when they repeatedly flashed shots of Sen. John McCain hugging President George W. Bush.
So as the president faces the dual challenges of energizing his base while wooing moderates, some Democrats in Congress are keeping their distance, with the president’s approval rating hovering in the mid-40s — and even lower in states like West Virginia, where moderate Sen. Joe Manchin is up for reelection.
Obama Dings Republicans On Waterboarding, Says Jobs Bill May Have To Wait Until After Election – President Barack Obama took one of his first swings at his Republican opponents on Sunday, criticizing Rep. Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain for supporting the use of waterboarding.
In an afternoon press conference at the APEC summit in Hawaii, Obama was read comments from the two aspiring presidents, and set aside his vow not to comment on the Republican race until they have a nominee to categorically defend his administration’s stance on the issue:
“Let me just say this: They’re wrong. Waterboarding is torture,” he said. “It’s contrary to America’s traditions. It’s contrary to our ideals. That’s not who we are. That’s not how we operate. We don’t need it in order to prosecute the war on terrorism. And we did the right thing by ending that practice. ”
“If we want to lead around the world, part of our leadership is setting a good example. And anybody who has actually read about and understands the practice of waterboarding would say that that is torture. And that’s not something we do — period.”
But Obama refused to attack former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for criticizing his record dealing with Iran, saying only that it’s a complicated issue — and anyone who says otherwise “is either politicking or doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”
Anti-Newt Gingrich chatter begins– A conservative source forwards an anti-Newt Gingrich email making the rounds this weekend, drawing Republicans’ attention to the former House speaker’s history of off-message and ideologically erratic comments.The email is a reminder of the challenge Gingrich faces ahead of him, if he really has to go through the same level of vetting as other credible GOP presidential candidates — like Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann did when they were on the upswing in the polls. But it’s also a sign that Gingrich’s rise is being taken seriously by his opponents inside the party. The email reads, in part:
Fellow Conservatives I urge all of to take a hard look at the real Newt Gingrich. Take 10 minutes of your time to read this email and pass it around as we can’t afford another faux president.
*The Newt Gingrich Files: Does he know where he stands?*
*MUST KNOW QUOTES*
• Gingrich: “There Are Parts Of The DREAM Act That Are Actually Quite Useful.” (“Newt And Callista Gingrich On Al Punto With Jorge Ramos,” Newt.org, 10/13/10)
• In A 2007 Interview With PBS, Gingrich Came Out In Favor Of A Cap And Trade System, Saying “It’s Something I Would Strongly Support.” (PBS’ “Frontline,” 4/24/07)
How Gingrich Can Win– Rich Galen explains how Newt Gingrich can win the GOP presidential nomination.”The two candidates who are stable in their numbers are Romney (with a ceiling of about 25 percent of GOP voters) and Ron Paul (who will stay between six and 10 percent). That leaves about 65 percent of Republican voters looking for a home. Cain will continue to drift downward (my words, not Newt’s); Santorum, Huntsman, and Bachman are, and will continue to be minor players.”
“So, Newt’s thinking goes, he doesn’t need to beat Romney — he needs to consolidate the non-Romney vote and he’s the only one who can do that.”
An example from recent history: “Sixty-two percent of Iowa voters wanted someone other than Barack Obama four years ago. The only reason he won was because Hillary and Edwards almost precisely split 60 percent of the votes.”
The American Spectator : Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech, and Islam – Unfortunately, the persistence of such sentiments only invites one to state principles that might seem obvious, but never grow unworthy of affirmation. There is no moral equivalence between those exercising their right to free speech and Islamists who wish to impose the standards of traditional Sharia (Islamic law) on society and are prepared to harm physically others and their property to achieve that end.
More generally, this affair — along with the attack on a Tunisian TV station for broadcasting the film Persepolis, and the death threats that forced the flight from Pakistan of the judge who convicted the assassin of Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor who opposed the blasphemy law — demonstrates that Islam as a whole still has a long way to go to come towards accepting basic standards of toleration of criticism.
In short, one hopes that the following principle — well summed up by a prominent Melkite Greek Catholic deacon — will come to be accepted as mainstream in Islam: ‘[O]ne’s response to someone else’s provocative action is entirely one’s own responsibility. If you do something that offends me, I am under no obligation to kill you, or to run to the United Nations to try to get laws passed that will silence you. I am free to ignore you, or laugh at you, or to respond with charity, or any number of reactions.’
Facing Eurocollapse – As the world financial crisis deepens, it is unlikely that it can be alleviated without carefully reviewing the infelicitous confluence of mistakes in Europe and the United States that has brought it to its present extreme state. The European Monetary Union, involving 17 countries, was based on a number of generally admirable premises, but also on a couple of false assumptions. All civilized people were grateful at the extension of European cooperation to this new level of intimacy, as ancient foes led by France and Germany reached an ever-closer community of national interest. For German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who did not trust Germany’s political instincts to cause his country to act responsibly when alone and not in the company of allies of less erratic recent history, an ever-closer union was an insurance policy of constructive peer-group thinking. He was sincere in espousing “a European Germany and not a German Europe.”
Romney and Gingrich Shine; Perry Doesn’t – No one touched Romney. He was unflappable and knowledgeable. He again showed the right political instinct to want to address the struggles of the middle class, although his tax plan doesn’t do it. His China-bashing will probably play well in the Midwest, although it’s foolhardy on the merits. He consistently got applause. I remember one of the early debates when Romney was flying above the other candidates and Pawlenty — I think — attacked him and he declined to reply, saying “that’s fine.” He said the same thing tonight when Santorum went after him. After all the churning in the race, Romney is in the same basically comfortable place he was in several months ago.
Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites – As social media use has become pervasive in the lives of American teens, a new study finds that 69% of the teenagers who use social networking sites say their peers are mostly kind to one another on such sites. Still, 88% of these teens say they have witnessed people being mean and cruel to another person on the sites, and 15% report that they have been the target of mean or cruel behavior on social network sites.
GOP senators praise Boxer on highway bill– California Sen. Barbara Boxer won rare praise from Republicans on Wednesday for unanimously passing an overhaul of federal highway programs bill out of her committee.Boxer, a liberal Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, worked hand-in-hand with conservative Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe to consolidate 90 federal highway programs into 30, grant states more flexibility in spending highway money and expand a pilot program to leverage taxpayer money with private investment.
The two-year, $84 billion bill has no earmarks for pet projects and aims to offset all new spending with trims in other areas of the government. The 18-0 vote was a rare moment in the bitterly partisan climate on Capitol Hill and provides a template for infrastructure investment that has been sought by the Obama administration but rebuffed by Republicans.
The Senate last week defeated President Obama’s proposal for $50 billion in infrastructure spending.