Newt Gingrich will officially end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and formally express his support for Mitt Romney next week, two sources close to Gingrich tell CNN.
While details are still being worked out, Gingrich is likely to hold his final campaign event Tuesday in Washington, DC where he will make the announcement surrounded by his family and supporters.
It is not surprising that Gingrich is suspending his campaign for the White House as he has all but acknowledged it is winding down and Romney is the presumptive GOP nominee.
“When he says he is transitioning, what he means is that he is trying to determine as a citizen how he will pro-actively help Mitt Romney become president and the Republican Party win back the Senate and help (House Speaker) John Boehner keep his majority in the House,” said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It appears that Gingrich’s focus will be much broader than the presidential campaign, as the former speaker, who made his name and career in the House, plans to be actively involved in helping the GOP take back control of both sides of Capitol Hill.
The Arizona Faceoff – The Administration Tries to Nullify a State Immigration Statute – The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in that other major case that has the political class on edge—Arizona’s immigration law. As with health care’s individual mandate, the Obama Administration is again making claims about the scope of federal power that upset the Constitution’s federalist structure—in this case, to unilaterally nullify state laws that the President happens to oppose.The Justice Department sued Arizona for its 2010 law that requires police to enforce federal immigration statutes. Justice charged that Republican Governor Jan Brewer violated the Supremacy Clause that says federal laws pre-empt state laws. And ordinarily the Administration lawyers would have a point, since the Constitution expressly tells Congress to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” and the courts have long interpreted that to mean that Congress has plenary power over immigration policy.
5 Ways to Jumpstart Cancer Prevention – Know most cancers are preventable. Cancer isn’t all genetics or bad luck. Research confirms more than half of cancer in the U.S. is preventable. The top preventable causes of cancer are lifestyle choices: smoking, obesity, diet, and lack of physical activity (PDF). In 2011, there were 572,000 deaths from cancer. That’s at least 286,000 people that could be alive today had they modified just one of those risk factors. We as a society need to make changes in the way we live and shift our thinking about cancer prevention and wellness.
PokerStars Reaches Agreement to Buy Full Tilt, Settle with DOJ – PokerStars has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice, pokerfuse can reveal. Part of the deal involves the purchase of Full Tilt Poker and full repayment of all players.The specifics of the deal are not yet known, and no statement has yet come from any parties involved.
Rumors that PokerStars has reached a deal with the DOJ to purchase Full Tilt Poker began swirling early Tuesday morning on poker forum 2+2. Sources have corroborated the story with Pokerfuse that a deal has indeed been reached but could not confirm any specific details.
Alex Dreyfus, CEO of Chili Gaming, stated on twitter that PokerStars has paid $750m to acquire Full Tilt and settle its outstanding legal issues with the DOJ. A reported $330m of that price will go to repay Full Tilt account holders with the remainder believed to be in settlement of outstanding charges against PokerStars.
How a British Marathoner’s Death Inspired Over $825,000 in Online Donations – The death of a British runner during Sunday’s London Marathon has inspired over $825,000 in online donations for Samaritans, the charity she was was supporting.Claire Squires, 30, a hairdresser from Leicestershire, England, was just one mile away from the finish line when she collapsed. Squires was pronounced dead on the scene, and investigations into the cause of her death are expected in the coming days.
Squires’ death has sparked an outpouring of donations to her JustGiving page, which states, “I’m running the london (sic) marathon for Samaritans because they continuously support others.” As of writing, more than 45,000 individual donations have accumulated, and the number continues to grow.
Samaritans is the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network. According to the Daily Telegraph, Squires’ brother died from an overdose in 2001 at the age of 25. Her mother has also volunteered for the charity for more than 20 years.
The Long Stall – California’s jobs engine broke down well before the financial crisis. – Everybody knows that California’s economy has struggled mightily since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The state’s current unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, is a full 3 percentage points above the national rate. Liberal pundits and politicians tend to blame this dismal performance entirely on the Great Recession; as Jerry Brown put it while campaigning (successfully) for governor last year, “I’ve seen recessions. They come, they go. California always comes back.”But a study commissioned by City Journal using the National Establishment Time Series database, which has tracked job creation and migration from 1992 through 2008 (so far) in a way that government statistics can’t, reveals the disturbing truth. California’s economy during the second half of that period—2000 through 2008—was far less vibrant and diverse than it had been during the first. Well before the crisis struck, then, the Golden State was setting itself up for a big fall.
California’s population growth is slowing dramatically, study finds – California’s population will grow much more slowly in the next few decades — and that is good news for the state’s still-struggling economy, according to new population projections by USC.The report by USC researchers John Pitkin and Dowell Myers says that through 2050, at least, the state’s population growth will not reach the boom rates of recent decades, especially the 1980s. But California’s population, now about 37 million, will still grow at “manageable” rate for years to come, Myers said.
The report, the third in a series of population projections by the Population Dynamics Research Group in USC’s public policy school, says the slowdown is mainly the result of a dramatic drop in immigration to the state, part of a nationwide trend.
The report expects the California population to grow at less than 10% for each of the next several decades. By comparison, the population surged 26% — more than 6 million people — in the 1980s, a decade the researchers now say was an anomaly. The growth rate was 14% in the 1990s and 10% in the decade just ended.
These are my links for April 3rd through April 4th:
Barack Obama, Constitutional Ignoramus – I’m grateful for the favor Obama did for us yesterday of exposing his extreme constitutional ignorance, with his comments on how it would be “unprecedented” for the Court to strike down a law passed by a “strong majority” in Congress. (As if a House margin of seven votes is a “strong” majority.) True, he walked back the comment today, but surely because his statement was not merely indefensible but outright embarrassing to his media defenders.
I’ve been growing weary of hearing people mention that he’s a “constitutional scholar,” since he never published a single thing on the subject either as editor of the Harvard Law Review or as a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago Law School. But hey—he taught constitutional law, didn’t he?
His course on constitutional law, one of several constitutional law courses on the U of C curriculum, dealt exclusively with the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment—the favorite, all-purpose clause for liberal jurists to use to right wrongs and make us more equal by judicial fiat. There is no evidence that Obama ever taught courses that considered other aspects of constitutionalism, such as executive power, the separation of powers, the Commerce Clause, or judicial review itself.
The list emerged from a two-year effort, similar to a project other medical specialties are undertaking, to identify procedures that do not help patients live longer or better or that may even be harmful, yet are routinely prescribed.
As much as 30 percent of health-care spending goes to procedures, tests, and hospital stays that do not improve a patient’s health, according to a 2008 analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget office.
“Our goal was to improve care and improve the value of the care we deliver,” said Dr. Lowell Schnipper, a cancer physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who led the task force assembled by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The group of more than 200 oncologists released the list from a report in its Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Although the task force emphasized that its recommendations — winnowed from about 10 suggestions by oncologists — were driven by medical considerations, the report makes clear that expense was a major factor. A number of cancer drugs cost nearly $100,000 but extend life a few months or not at all. Widely-used imaging tests cost up to $5,000 yet do not benefit patients.
The list has been closely guarded, with public announcements scheduled for Wednesday. Patients, advocacy groups, and policy experts contacted by Reuters were mixed in their reaction to the recommendations.
“The American people have a much higher opinion of doctors than of government bureaucrats,” said Kate Nix, a policy analyst at the free-market Heritage Foundation. Whether the ASCO recommendations to withhold some tests and treatments will be seen as rationing “depends on how they are used. Will they inhibit the ability of doctors and patients to make the best decision in each case?”
Wisconsin Democrats Ready to Go to War With… Themselves – On Friday, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, by a vote of 5-0, officially certified the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and four GOP state senators (one of whom has resigned). Primaries to determine possible replacements will be held on May 8, with the final election taking place on June 5. The Friends of Scott Walker campaign committee estimates the recall will cost approximately $9 million in taxpayer money.
Since January, it appeared the leading Democratic contender would be former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who received every major endorsement and the backing of large unions representing public workers and teachers.
But polling for Democrats haven’t been great, and former mayor Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett jumped into the race. Barrett lost narrowly to Gov. Walker in 2010.
With the most recent polling showing Barrett and Falk are tied, Barrett is trying to get Falk to agree to a clean-campaign pledge
The Explosion In Student Loan Debt – The federal student loan program seemed like a great idea back in 1965: Borrow to go to college now, pay it back later when you have a job.
But many borrowers these days are close to flunking out, tripped up by painful real-life lessons in math and economics.
Surging above $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto-loan debt. This debt explosion jeopardizes the fragile recovery, increases the burden on taxpayers and possibly sets the stage for a new economic crisis.
With a still-wobbly jobs market, these loans are increasingly hard to pay off. Unable to find work, many students have returned to school, further driving up their indebtedness.
Average student loan debt recently topped $25,000, up 25 percent in 10 years. And the mushrooming debt has direct implications for taxpayers, since 8 in 10 of these loans are government-issued or guaranteed.
They will also consider extending the pay cut to Superintendent Nick Salerno’s salary by 2 percent. If the changes to his contract are approved, he would be paid $171,500 a year beginning July 1.
The district, which faces an about $6 million budget deficit in 2012-13, made decisions on several cuts last month that mostly targeted its adult school.
While the original plan last month included salary reductions for eight adult school administrators, however board members requested that district administrators across the board share the burden.
The latest deficit amounts to approximately 7 percent of the district’s total annual expenditures of about $90 million.
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the South El Monte High School Professional Development Center, located at 1001 Durfee Ave., South El Monte.
Appeals court fires back at Obama’s comments on health care case – In the escalating battle between the administration and the judiciary, a federal appeals court apparently is calling the president’s bluff — ordering the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the Obama Administration believes that the courts have the right to strike down a federal law, according to a lawyer who was in the courtroom.
The order, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, appears to be in direct response to the president’s comments yesterday about the Supreme Court’s review of the health care law. Mr. Obama all but threw down the gauntlet with the justices, saying he was “confident” the Court would not “take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
Overturning a law of course would not be unprecedented — since the Supreme Court since 1803 has asserted the power to strike down laws it interprets as unconstitutional. The three-judge appellate court appears to be asking the administration to admit that basic premise — despite the president’s remarks that implied the contrary. The panel ordered the Justice Department to submit a three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday addressing whether the Executive Branch believes courts have such power, the lawyer said.
300 newspapers have erected paywalls – Turns out that many of the pay plans have been fashioned by a NY company called Press+, which was started by entrepreneur Steven Brill (American Lawyer, Court TV) and former WSJ publisher Gordon Crovitz. From AP:
The company says it has launched pay walls for 292 U.S. newspapers. Of course, convincing readers to pay for something that was once free isn’t easy. Brill recommends publishers give away enough free page views so that only the heaviest users are asked to pay. “You ease them into the idea that they’re going to be asked to pay,” Brill says. “It works much better than an abrupt message.” Many readers who realize they’re about to hit their limit sign up early to save themselves the hassle, he says. On average, a subscriber gained through Press+ pays $6.50 a month, of which Press+ keeps 20 percent.
[O]n March 14 and 15, Romney had raised over $3 million in New York and Connecticut. … The Romney campaign had a clever pitch for the event. Schmoozing with his money pals before the events, a Romney fund-raiser pointed out that “slightly more than half the delegates” to the GOP convention at Tampa “are evangelicals.” These true-believer conservatives are averse not only to Romney but to semi-reasonable types like Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels. As a result, said this fund-raiser, the “responsible Republican guys” are “starting to realize” that at a brokered convention “it’s not going to be Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, a ticket they could really love. It’s probably Huckabee-Palin or Palin-Huckabee.” That was enough to scare the Wall Street crowd into getting out their checkbooks.
The new measure would apply to illegal aliens who are relatives of American citizens. Here is how it would work, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcement posted in today’s Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government; the agency will grant “unlawful presence waivers” to illegal aliens who can prove they have a relative that’s a U.S. citizen.
Currently such aliens must return to their native country and request a waiver of inadmissibility in an existing overseas immigrant visa process. In other words, they must enter the U.S. legally as thousands of foreigners do on a yearly basis. Besides the obvious security issues, changing this would be like rewarding bad behavior in a child. It doesn’t make sense.
A bad back doomed any chance Perry stood to break through. It became an open secret that he was using painkillers in sufficient dosages to keep him standing through the two-hour debates. The manager of a rival campaign was at a urinal in an empty bathroom in Hanover, New Hampshire, before the Bloomberg News debate on October 11, when he heard someone come through the door loudly singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” Wondering who was making all the noise, the campaign manager turned his head and saw, to his surprise, the governor of Texas. Perry came down the row of about twenty urinals and stood companionably close by. Nonplussed, the campaign manager made a hasty exit; as the bathroom door closed, he could hear Perry still merrily singing away: “I-I-I’ve been working on the ra-a-i-i-l-road, all-l-l the live-long day . . .”
Asked about the episode, a top campaign official said, “He whistles. I wouldn’t read anything into it.”
Mitt Romney has lost the 2012 election, and he’s lost it because women are deserting the GOP over its opposition to ObamaCare’s contraceptive coverage mandate. That’s been the press drumbeat for the last few weeks. Now the argument appears to be backed up by a new USA Today/Gallup poll of swing-state voters. It shows Barack Obama out front for the first time since the poll started last November—largely because of the 2-1 advantage he enjoys over Mr. Romney among women under age 50.
Leave it to the liberal Salon website to sum up the conventional wisdom: “This is very likely a result of the prominence that contraception and women’s issues have assumed in the public debate since February, when Republicans revolted against the Obama administration’s efforts to make birth control a mandatory component of health insurance coverage.”
One problem with this explanation: The same USA Today poll reports that 63% of those surveyed say they don’t even know what Mitt Romney’s position on government and birth control is. For that matter, 46% say they don’t know President Obama’s position either
Mitt Romney image-makers split on strategy – Members of Mitt Romney’s inner circle acknowledge they still have yet to solve the key challenge they face in trying to help him win the presidency — finding a way to make an emotionally remote and fabulously wealthy candidate connect with average voters
California Relaunches High Speed Rail Plan – Supporters of California’s ambitious high-speed rail project began their hard sell with lawmakers and the public Monday after releasing an updated business plan that scales back the scope of the project and speeds up construction to save money, but still relies heavily on speculative funding sources that might never materialize.
In addition to money from voter-approved bonds and startup funds from the federal government, the plan hinges on receiving billions more from a skeptical Congress, fees from an untested cap-and-trade system that is at the heart of California’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and unnamed private investors to jump aboard and risk their own money once construction begins.
Obama Will Shred The Paul Ryan Budget In Today’s Big Speech – In an election-year pitch to middle-class voters, President Barack Obama is denouncing a House Republican budget plan as a “Trojan horse,” warning that it represents “an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country” that would hurt the pocketbooks of working families.
Obama, in a speech to newspaper executives, is sharply criticizing a $3.5 trillion budget proposal pushed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which passed on a near-party-line vote last week and has been embraced by GOP presidential hopefuls. The plan has faced fierce resistance from Democrats, who say it would gut Medicare, slash taxes for the wealthy and lead to deep cuts to crucial programs such as aid to college students and highway and rail projects.
“It’s a Trojan horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it’s really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country,” Obama said in excerpts of his speech released Tuesday. “It’s nothing but thinly veiled social Darwinism.”
(404) http://t.co/D – RT @GOP12: By 74%-17%, likely GOP voters in PA view Romney’s shifts in positions as motivated by politics; not principles. …
The Rubio Assumption – The deepening assumption that Florida Senator Marco Rubio will be his party’s vice presidential nominee is beginning to put Mitt Romney candidate in a box, deepening the expectation of a Hispanic running mate and setting a trap for presumptive Republican presidential candidate should he make another choice.
“I think there could be backlash, in that Rubio is beloved by many, and Romney is not,” said Javier Manjarres, the editor of the conservative Florida blog The Shark Tank. “Romney would have to try to find someone of Rubio’s caliber to suffice the followers who would be disappointed that he did not pick Rubio.
Solar Trust of America’s Chapter 11 filing on Monday listed assets between $1 million and $10 million, and liabilities between $10 million and $50 million.
The filing comes amid the ongoing controversy surrounding Solyndra, a solar firm that received a half-billion dollar federal loan and was touted by the Obama administration before declaring bankruptcy last year.
A new Rasmussen Reports statewide survey shows that, if the recall election was held today, 52% of Likely Voters would vote to recall Governor Walker and remove him from office. Forty-seven percent (47%) would vote against the recall and let him continue to serve as governor.
Though Obama said he was confident the court would uphold the law, the centerpiece of his political legacy, he appeared to be previewing campaign trail arguments should the nine justices strike the legislation down.
In a highly combative salvo, Obama also staunchly defended the anchor of the law — a requirement that all Americans buy health insurance — as key to giving millions of people access to treatment for the first time.
“Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” Obama said.
Pointed comments from Supreme Court justices last week during three days of compelling hearings have convinced many commentators that the court, expected to rule in June, will declare the law, dubbed ObamaCare, unconstitutional.
GSA chief resigns amid reports of excessive spending – The chief of the General Services Administration resigned, two of her top deputies were fired and four managers were placed on leave Monday amid reports of lavish spending at a conference off the Las Vegas Strip that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception.
Administrator Martha N. Johnson, in her resignation letter, acknowledged a “significant misstep” at the agency that manages real estate for the federal government. “Taxpayer dollars were squandered,” she wrote. At the start of her tenure in February 2010 she called ethics “a big issue for me.”
Public Buildings Service chief Robert A. Peck, a fixture in the Washington area real estate community on his second stint running the department, was forced out, along with Johnson’s top adviser, Stephen Leeds. Four GSA managers who organized the four-day conference in October 2010 have been placed on adminstrative leave, officials said.
The leadership collapse came hours before GSA Inspector General Brian D. Miller released a scathing report on the $823,000 training conference, held for 300 West Coast employees at the M Resort and Casino, an opulent hotel in Henderson, Nev., just south of Las Vegas. From $130,000 in travel expenses for six scouting trips to a $2,000 party in Peck’s loft suite, event planners violated federal limits on conference spending.
The episode is an embarrassment for the Obama administration at a time when the role and size of government have taken center stage in the presidential campaign. How much government should spend, and on what, will be at the heart of the election-year battles between Democrats and Republicans.
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.
Amid the gridlock, Cabinet secretaries for the first time formally alerted affected federal workers Wednesday to the possibility of a shutdown — indicating in an e-mail that they would determine later which staffers are “essential” to maintain operations in the event of a funding disruption.
Iraq war draws to a quiet close – Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta paid solemn tribute on Thursday to an “independent, free and sovereign Iraq” and declared the official end to the Iraq war, formally wrapping up the U.S. military’s mission in the country after almost nine years.
“After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” Panetta said at a ceremony held under tight security at Baghdad’s international airport. “To be sure, the cost was high — in blood and treasure for the United States, and for the Iraqi people. Those lives were not lost in vain.”
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who heads the House Budget Committee, proposed replacing Medicare with a private insurance system in the spring. He has now teamed with Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, on a new plan to amend the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled.
The proposal, presented today by the lawmakers, may alter the debate in next year’s congressional campaign as both parties hope to sway voters with their arguments on Medicare’s future. The plan gives people turning 65 starting in 2022 the ability to choose between the existing system, where the government pays hospital and doctors’ bills for seniors, and an alternative system of regulated private insurance plans.
Paul Ryan-Ron Wyden: Bipartisan Medicare reform – In an extraordinary policy and political breakthrough, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced a bipartisan reform deal. In doing so, they eviscerated the Democrats’ Medicare gambit, undermined President Obama complaints that progress is impossible with Republicans in Congress and gave Mitt Romney a huge political shot in the arm.
The Post reports: “ Working with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the Wisconsin Republican is developing a framework that would offer traditional, government-run Medicare as an option for future retirees along with a variety of private plans.”
In a press release, the duo explained the key elements of the bill:
Obama nominates 2 for labor board – President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to nominate two Democrats to the National Labor Relations Board, despite a Republican threat to block any appointments to the agency.
The president intends to nominate Sharon Block, deputy secretary for congressional affairs at the Labor Department, and Richard Griffin, currently the general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers, to fill two vacancies on the board.
The move comes just days after the board’s top lawyer dropped a controversial lawsuit that charged Boeing with illegally retaliating against union members in Washington state by opening a new plant in South Carolina. That case — along with other union-friendly decisions — has made the board a target of Republicans who contend it has acted too favorably toward unions.
Obama’s nominees would have to be confirmed by the Senate, but Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said last week he would block Obama from making any further appointments to the board. The agency usually has five members but has operated for months with three. It will lose another member by the end of the year, leaving it without enough members to conduct business.
The Supremes v. Obamacare: Will the Court Decide the 2012 Presidential Election? – At least four justices recently agreed to review the centerpiece of President Obama’s domestic policy. Presuming for the moment that the court divided into its usual liberal and conservative quartets, what strategies might they have employed in deciding to determine the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPAACA)? U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 4th and 6th Circuits had upheld the law’s individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty for not doing so. Congress believed it had the authority to impose such a mandate under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce. Liberals assert that health care, constituting nearly one-fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product, is demonstrably within Congress’s economic regulatory purview. On the other hand, the 11th Circuit (in a Florida case brought by officials from 26 states) voided the individual mandate, while upholding the PPAACA’s expansion of Medicaid, employer mandates and insurance exchanges. Although all of these circuit decisions were appealed to the nation’s highest court, the justices accepted only the 11th Circuit decision for review. The Supremes have asked both sides to address the constitutionality of the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion, as well as whether the entire law falls if they void only one part of it. The court will also tackle whether the individual mandate penalty can even be legally challenged prior to its implementation.
When the topic of conversation turns to, whom should win the Republican nomination? — I think we can agree their opinions are more relevant than having Tina Brown and Arianna Huffington weigh in (which happens all too frequently).
During the discussion, Bill Bennett made a point several times — which I found quite telling — inasmuch as it seems to be a key rationale for nominating Mitt Romney.
“What do we want the conversation to be about this summer and fall?,” Bennett asked rhetorically. “I’m worried the conversation will be about [Newt] … rather than about Barack Obama and his policies.”
This is an argument I’ve heard a lot, lately. And it strikes me as silly for a variety of reasons.
First, it is utterly naive to think Republicans can make this election solely a referendum on Barack Obama. Of course, they should attempt it, but the truth is that neither Obama (who might have a billion dollars to run in negative ads) nor the media will ever let that happen.
Whomever Republicans nominate will endure bitter attacks. If Newt Gingrich is the nominee, he will be cast as an insane and erratic cad. If Romney is the nominee, he will be cast as a rich flip-flopper who fired people for a living and belongs to a “weird” religion. I’m not sure which attack is better or worse for Republicans. In this economy, one might argue that the rich “Wall Street” attack on Romney would be more harmful in terms of attracting independent voters. But who knows?
Giuliani slams Romney, likens Newt to Reagan – Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani slammed Mitt Romney as an unelectable flip-flopper, and said Newt Gingrich, who he compared to Ronald Reagan, offers Republicans the best shot at unseating President Obama.
Speaking Thursday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Giuliani recalled his GOP candidacy in 2008 in which he ran against Romney.
“I’ve never seen a guy change his positions on so many things, so fast, on a dime, on everything,” Giuliani said. “Pro-choice, pro-life. And pro-choice because somebody, a close friend died, and he became pro-choice because this woman died of an abortion. Then he figures out there are embryos and he changes.”
“Then he was pro-gun control,” Giuliani continued. “Fine. Then he becomes a lifetime member of the NRA. Then he was pro cap-and-trade. Now he’s against cap-and-trade. He was pro-mandate for the whole country, then he becomes anti-mandate and he takes that page out of his book and republishes the book. I could go on and on.”
Giuliani said this opens Romney to an attack from President Obama in the general election that “this is a man without a core,” “a man without substance,” and “a man that will say anything to become President of the United States.”
Newt Gingrich’s general election prospects look bleak – If former House Speaker Newt Gingrich manages to win the Republican presidential nomination, he could jeopardize his party’s chances of ousting President Obama next November, according to several new national polls released this week.
Surveys from the NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, AP/GfK and Reuters/Ipsos all show former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney running better than Gingrich in general election matchups against Obama.
“Electability will come into play for many Republican votes,” said one neutral GOP consultant who preferred to speak anonymously. “It’s going to become problematic. I think you’re starting to signs of it.
Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back (Politico Inside Election 2012) – Two of America’s most perceptive political reporters join forces for an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the race for the White House in POLITICO’s Playbook 2012, a series of four instant digital books on the 2012 presidential election. The first edition, The Right Fights Back, follows the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Gingrich is getting pounded on Iowa TV by both a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC and Ron Paul’s campaign and is doing little to fight back against ads which take direct aim at him. Less than three weeks before the caucuses, the former speaker is airing a single commercial with little money behind it.
Mark Levin calls out Krauthammer, Will, Coulter, and Rubin – Mark Levin says that the attacks on Newt Gingrich reminds him of how Sarah Palin has been attacked, and he specifically criticizes Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Ann Coulter, and Jennifer Rubin for basically being over the top in their criticism of Newt and their silence on Romney:
In an editorial that spends as much space slamming Newt Gingrich as it does praising Romney, the Examiner declares Obama “the only Republican who can beat Obama,” citing recent polls that show the former Massachusetts governor faring better against President Barack Obama than Gingrich.
“The Washington Examiner believes Romney can defeat Obama, but Gingrich cannot,” the newspaper wrote. “And Romney the businessman is far better suited to the nation’s highest office – by temperament, experience, and cast of mind – than Gingrich the consummate Washington insider. By fits and starts over the years, Romney has become the reliable conservative that America so badly needs at this crucial moment in her history.”
The editorial goes on to deride Gingrich’s role consulting with Freddie Mac after he left Congress.
“The fact is, Gingrich is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” the newspaper wrote. “He has tried mightily to shift attention away from his Washington insider status, saying, ‘I have never done lobbying of any kind.’ But that claim simply does not square with the facts, especially concerning Gingrich’s lobbying Republicans in Congress for a new Medicare entitlement in 2003.”
Winnowing the Field – National Review Pans Newt Gingrich – We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the frontrunner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity. We say that mindful of his opponents’ imperfections — and of his own virtues, which have been on display during his amazing comeback. Very few people with a personal history like his — two divorces, two marriages to former mistresses — have ever tried running for president. Gingrich himself has never run for a statewide office, let alone a national one, and has not run for anything since 1998. That year he was kicked out by his colleagues, the most conservative ones especially, who had lost confidence in him. During his time as Speaker, he was one of the most unpopular figures in public life. Just a few months ago his campaign seemed dead after a series of gaffes and resignations. That Gingrich now tops the polls is a tribute to his perseverance, and to Republicans’ admiration for his intellectual fecundity.
Romney Plays Tiffany’s Card – In an interview with Sean Hannity ahead of tomorrow’s GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney sought to neutralize the gaffe he made in last weekend’s debate by taking a shot at Newt Gingrich.
Said Romney: “As for him trying to reference a $10,000 rhetorical bet, the Speaker, as I recall, probably shouldn’t be talking about that given a $500,000 bill at Tiffany’s.”
Sources didn’t provide specific numbers on how far he’s slipped, but it’s perceptible in both camps’ numbers, the sources said.
Perry has been inching up, the sources said – in part thanks to his faith-based push but largely because of his controversial anti-gay rights ad, and the big question is whether he draws at all from Romney and pushes him down out of the top three finishers in the state.
The person who is holding strong, according to the internal numbers, is Paul, who has a true shot of winning the caucuses, according to several Iowa Republican insiders surveying ground games and energy.
Romney Warns of Nominating ‘Zany’ Gingrich – Updated Mitt Romney is sharpening his warning to Republicans about the consequences of nominating Newt Gingrich, declaring in an interview on Wednesday: “Zany is not what we need in a president.”
“Zany is great in a campaign. It’s great on talk radio. It’s great in print, it makes for fun reading,” Mr. Romney told The New York Times. “But in terms of a president, we need a leader, and a leader needs to be someone who can bring Americans together.”
With 20 days before the voting begins at the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Romney is intensifying his forceful attack on the credibility of Mr. Gingrich, who has emerged as his leading rival in the Republican nominating fight. He has shed his year-long reluctance against doing interviews, hoping to change the narrative surrounding his candidacy before the holidays.