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.
Showing a growing frustration with the the Obama administration, congressional Republicans on Thursday authorized their second subpoena this week, demanding White House documents related to failed solar technology company Solyndra.
By a 14-9 party-line vote the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative subcommittee authorized issuing a subpoena for any White House documents related to Solyndra, which received renewable energy loan guarantees under President Obama’s stimulus program. The request for documents could include details of the president’s own travel and communications.
Democrats said it was “unprecedented” to subpoena documents from the president’s executive office like this, but Republicans said they’ve run out of patience with White House “stalling.”
“We simply cannot allow the executive branch at its highest levels to pick and choose what they will produce, or whether they will produce anything at all,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns, the Florida Republican who runs the investigative panel.
Thursday’s subpoena came just a day after the Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee voted along party lines to authorize a subpoena for Homeland Security records related to illegal immigrants the department has declined to pursue deportation cases against.
Together they mark an escalation as Republicans have become increasingly aggressive in pushing back against what they see as administration stonewalling of oversight by the new GOP majority in the House.
In each case, the vote only authorizes a subpoena. It’s up to the chairmen of the full committees to actually issue them.
What did the Obama Administration know and when did they know it?
New documents released yesterday indicate the Administration wanted to bail out Solyndra gain before they collapsed. There is too much government money that has apparently wasted to sweep this under an Obama rug.
If there was favoritism, or improper conduct, then the White House should cooperate with the Congress to investigate the matter.
“I regret that we have reached this point,” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), the chairman of the committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and the GOP’s pointman on the Solyndra investigation, said Thursday. “At this point in time, I am not confident that we will have a good faith response from the White House without issuing a subpoena.”
“Sometimes, in the course of an investigation, we find ourselves unable to secure necessary evidence,” full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said. “House Rules expressly give us the power of subpoena to compel cooperation in these instances. It is a tool we use sparingly and only as a last resort. Today, it is our last resort.”
In a statement, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that the administration had “cooperated extensively” with the committee’s request for documents. “All of the materials that have been disclosed affirm what we said on day one: this was a merit based decision made by the Department of Energy,” he said.
“We’d like to see as much passion in House Republicans for creating jobs as we see in this investigation,” Schultz added.
John Garamendi supported President Obama’s failed stimulus, which took bets with taxpayer money and recently lost $535 million on the Solyndra scandal.
California Democrat Rep. John Garmaendi has a Solyndra problem and the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) is calling him and President Obama out.
The National Republican Congressional Committee is sending an early signal that it intends to compete in California in 2012.
The committee is launching an ad Thursday against Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat serving his first full term and running in the redrawn, Sacramento-area 3rd district. His district got considerably more competitive in the state’s independent redistricting process, and he was outraised by his Republican opponent in the third quarter.
The 60-second ad, which launches Thursday and will run on cable for two weeks, ties Garamendi to President Barack Obama and his support for Solyndra, a California-based solar power company that went bankrupt after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee.
“John Garamendi supported the Obama policy that loaned Solyndra money,” the announcer says in the ad. “Garamendi backed Obama’s failed stimulus economic policy. John Garamendi and President Obama are making our economy worse.”
Garamendi’s top GOP opponent is Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann, who raised $125,000 in the third quarter and had nearly all of that left in the bank at the end of September. Garamendi raised just $93,000 and had $113,000 in cash on hand.
The district is one of six potential California targets for the NRCC. Democrats are still expected to gain seats in the state next year, but how many will depend on whether the GOP can pick up some of the more competitive districts such as the 3rd.
It should be an interesting Congressional election season with the new Congressional districts drawn by a citizen’s commission. Also, the top two vote getters in the June primary election, then move on to the general election in the Fall.
Obviously, the NRCC views Garamendi, a long-time Democratic POL in California, as vulnerable.
And, he may very well be, especially of voter turn out for President Obama is low.
Authorities say Christeena Barker led the operation that transported about six pounds of methamphetamine from the Minneapolis and Bakersfield, Calif., areas for distribution in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Federal authorities dubbed the investigation "Operation Price is Right."
Barker, 44, of Moorhead, Minn., pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers called Barker a "career offender-plus" and recommended a sentence of 25 years.
"They moved an enormous amount of methamphetamine in a short period of time into the Fargo-Moorhead area," Myers said during Monday's hearing.
Defense attorney Ross Brandborg asked for a sentence of 15 years. He said his client has lived her life under difficult circumstances, and ultimately cooperated with authorities.
"She was never given a chance," Brandborg said.
Myers said Barker had promised to help with the case after she was arrested in summer 2010. Instead she became a fugitive. She eventually was located in Strasburg in February.
"Agents found her through a bit of luck and a lot of hard work," Myers said.
Barker said in a tearful statement that she fled because she was scared.
"Yes, I've had a drug problem and alcohol abuse. I've never had treatment," she said.
Barker's mother, Betty Ann Schweigert, of Fargo, was sentenced earlier this month to 16 years in prison for her role in the conspiracy. Another one of Schweigert's daughters, Annette Avila, 32, pleaded guilty in July and is set to be sentenced in December.
“Your continued personal obstruction, lack of compliance with a validly issued congressional subpoena and false statements to the committee are unacceptable,” Issa said today in a letter to Solomon. “The NLRB is acting as a rogue agency that believes it does not have to fully answer to Congress.”
Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested that six NLRB employees submit to transcribed interviews for his investigative panel.
The NLRB’s complaint against Boeing in April said the airplane maker violated labor laws by deciding to build a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina in retaliation for union strikes in Washington state, home to Boeing’s factories. NLRB spokeswoman Nancy Cleeland didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Issa’s letter. Boeing has denied it acted to punish the union.
Who Besides Solyndra Got Loan Guarantees? – Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison just resigned, as the controversy stubbornly refuses to go away. Seems worth revisiting the loans once again, since I've spent a little time looking more deeply at the program over the past few days.
Supporters of these programs claim that they're a necessary part of winning the green future because these are investments that are too risky, or too big, for private capital to take on.
Of course, if the government is going to be a VC, supporters say, they have to expect a high failure rate. There's a lot of talk about the manufacturing "Valley of Death", where startup manufacturing firms may have difficulty getting capital to commercialize their prototypes. According to proponents of this theory, there's plenty of money for early stage ventures, and plenty of bank loans for established firms, but no money for mass commercialization of new manufacturing ideas. (Hence the "valley"). This valley, they say, is especially wide for energy firms, because the capital costs for starting up are so high.
I've been somewhat skeptical of those claims–why are people pouring money into manufacturing startups if they're inevitably doomed to die at the commercialization stage? But say it's true. I thought it was worth looking at who got the money from these programs, and for what. How well is the government doing in its role of VC/valley of death sherpa?