These are my links for December 14th through December 17th:
With Supermajority, California Democrats Strategize – The Democratic Party has controlled the California Legislature for a nearly unbroken stretch of 42 years. Yet control goes only so far: it takes two-thirds of the Legislature to enact a host of important legislation in this state, meaning that even the diminished Republican Party has been able to easily frustrate Democratic ambitions.
The Doctor Won’t See You Now – As I wrote a couple weeks ago, Obamacare governmentalizes one-sixth of the U.S. economy — or the equivalent of the entire French economy. No one has ever attempted that before, not even the French. In parts of rural America it will quickly achieve a Platonic perfection: There will be untold legions of regulators, administrators, and IRS collection agents, but not a doctor or nurse in sight.
The Facts about Mass Shootings – A few things you won’t hear about from the saturation coverage of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre:Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.
The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.
Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.
Almost all of the public-policy discussion about Newtown has focused on a debate over the need for more gun control. In reality, gun control in a country that already has 200 million privately owned firearms is likely to do little to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. We would be better off debating two taboo subjects — the laws that make it difficult to control people with mental illness and the growing body of evidence that “gun-free” zones, which ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding individuals, don’t work.
White House won’t accept new tax offer from Republican leader – President Barack Obama is not ready to accept a new offer from the Republican leader of the U.S. the House of Representatives to raise taxes on top earners in exchange for major cuts in entitlement programs, a source said late Saturday.The shape and details of Boehner’s offer were uncertain Saturday night, as was the exact reason the president was prepared to reject it.The source said Obama sees the offer made on Friday by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner as a sign of progress, but simply believes it is not enough and there is much more to be worked out before Obama can reciprocate.Tax rates and entitlements are the two most difficult issues in the so-far unproductive negotiations to avert the “fiscal cliff” of steep tax hikes and spending cuts set for the new year unless Congress and the president reach a deal to avoid them.
The Boehner offer is the first significant sign of a shift in the Republican insistence that low tax rates set to expire on December 31 be extended for all taxpayers, and comes at some risk to the speaker.
Republican leaders balance politics and principle on immigration reform – Senior Republicans say the party is struggling to thread the needle on immigration reform, an issue emerging as the next big item on the political agenda once the ongoing deficit talks reach their conclusion.On the one hand, GOP leaders recognize the party needs a new approach. Mitt Romney performed dismally with Latino voters in November’s general election.On the other hand, internal skeptics fear that a GOP rush to embrace a more liberal approach to immigration would risk sundering the conservative movement without paying any electoral dividends.These dilemmas are not entirely new. President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pushed immigration reform in the middle of the last decade.
They had no success, were subjected to considerable criticism from other conservatives and the issue almost capsized the latter’s run for the 2008 presidential nomination.
What If Nothing or Nobody is to Blame for Adam Lanza? Guns, Video Games, Autism or Authorities – What if there is nobody or nothing to blame for Adam Lanza’s heinous acts? Other than Lanza, of course.What if school security and the school psychiatrist kept an eye on Lanza since his freshman year? The Wall Street Journal has a compelling narrative about the red flags addressed.What if he had a form of autism that has little or no link to violent behavior? Lanza may have had Asperger’s syndrome but, even so, that is not a cause.What if it’s too simple to lay the massacre at the feet of the gun lobby? Reader Larry Kelly tweets that shaming Aspies “makes about as much sense at stigmatizing the NRA. Pick an enemy … any enemy. Let outrage and fear rule.”
What if Lanza wasn’t provoked by video games? David Axelrod, a close friend an adviser of President Obama, tweeted last night: “In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot ’em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game.”
When I asked whether he was laying groundwork for a White House initiative, Axelrod said no: “Just one man’s observation.” A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said today that Axelrod was not a stalking horse for Obama on this issue.
What if Lanza’s mother did everything she could, short of keeping her guns out her adult son’s reach? What if he wasn’t bullied?
Dukakis seen as possible Senate replacement if Kerry tapped for State – Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, may be headed back to the political spotlight as he’s considered a likely interim replacement for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).President Obama is set to tap Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State, according to media reports.
Hill Poll: Gloomy voters say US on wrong track, kids will be poorer – A mood of economic gloom hangs over the nation as President Obama and Republican leaders scramble to strike a deficit deal that avoids automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, according to a new poll for The Hill.The poll, conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, found nearly 6-in-10 people (59 percent) feel the country is on the wrong track. It also showed people are deeply pessimistic about their chances for future prosperity, with 54 percent saying they believe their children will be worse off as adults than their parents.
California: Smoking Climbs Among Young Adults – Smoking among young adults in California is climbing even as the tobacco habit has leveled off or is declining among younger and older residents of the state, according to a new report from the state Department of Public Health.The smoking rate among adults aged 18 to 24 rose from 12.3 percent in 2010 to 14.6 percent in 2011, the report said. The increase came after the rate had declined in four of the previous five years.That group had the highest smoking rate of any age group in the California. The rate was 13.2 percent among 25 to 44 year olds, 12.1 percent among 45 to 64 year olds and 6.9 percent among those 65 and older. Among all adults the smoking rate was 12 percent in 2011, virtually unchanged from the 11.9 percent rate the year before.The increase among young adults might be a delayed effect of the state’s success in tamping down smoking by high school students, said Colleen Stevens, branch chief for the tobacco control program.
With high school students smoking less, many of those people might be simply putting off trying tobacco until they are 18, and then becoming addicted. The smoking rate among high school students has declined from 21.6 percent in 2000 to 13.8 percent in 2010, although the number of students who reported trying tobacco increased slightly between 2008 and 2010.
Sales of smokeless tobacco products jump in California, report says – Sales of chewing tobacco and other such smokeless products rose sharply in California over the last decade, and officials are especially concerned about the increase in use among youths, state public health officials said Thursday.Smokeless tobacco use among high school students grew to 3.9% of students in 2010, up from 3.1% in 2004. Nearly $211 million in non-cigarette tobacco and nicotine products were sold in California in 2011, up from $77 million in 2001, according to a report released Thursday by the state Department of Public Health.
The main types of smokeless tobacco seen in California are snuff and chewing tobacco, which have similar health risks to cigarettes. But there was also an increase in sales of snus, small packets of tobacco that are placed under the lip. Other dissolvable products like orbs and strips are becoming more popular in other states, and officials predict they will soon come here.
Political ethics panel accuses GOP Berryhill brothers of money laundering – State authorities have accused two brothers who served together as Republican legislators of illegally laundering $40,000 in political donations.State Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) and former Assemblyman Bill Berryhill (R-Ceres), grape farmers who represented adjacent legislative districts, allegedly funneled the money through two county Republican central committees to skirt contribution limits.An administrative law judge will decide whether the men are guilty of charges drafted by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
California Initiative backers must come forward, FPPC says – The people who pay for petition drives in support of statewide ballot measures can no longer hide their identity, thanks to a regulation adopted by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission on Thursday.Meeting in San Diego, the watchdog panel decided to require groups spending more than $100,000 for a signature drive to state on their organization papers what they’re backing.The change comes after people trying to track ballot measures complained there was insufficient information to determine what groups were behind the efforts.“Getting information out about who is circulating petitions is imperative,” said Commissioner Elizabeth Garrett before the requirement won unanimous approval.
In an Internet-related item, the commission will now require candidates and committees sending out mass emails to identify themselves in the missives. Current regulation only requires identification when 200 or more pieces are sent through Postal Service mail.
Obama’s Electronic Medical Records Scam – You know who is benefiting from the initiative? Put on your shocked faces: Obama donors and cronies.
Billionaire Judith Faulkner, Obama’s medical information czar and a major Democratic contributor, just happens to be the founder and CEO of Epic Systems — a medical software company that stores nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population’s health data. Another billion-dollar patient-record database grant program has doled out money to the University of Chicago Medical Center (where first lady Michelle Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett both served in high-paid positions). As I’ve previously reported, these administration grants circumvent any and all congressional deliberation as part of Team Obama’s election-year “We Can’t Wait” initiatives.
A US Border vehicle drives along the US and Mexico border fence in Naco, Arizona, Photo: Reuters
These are my links for April 23rd through April 24th:
For first time since Depression, more Mexicans leave U.S. than enter – A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center.
It looks to be the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent.
Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero—and Perhaps Less | – The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries.
The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.
The report is based on the Center’s analysis of data from five different Mexican government sources and four U.S. government sources. The Mexican data come from the Mexican Decennial Censuses (Censos de Población y Vivienda), the Mexican Population Counts (Conteos de Población y Vivienda), the National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (Encuesta Nacional de la Dinámica Demográfica or ENADID), the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (Encuesta Nacional de Ocupación y Empleo or ENOE), and the Survey on Migration at the Northern Border of Mexico (Encuesta sobre Migración en la Frontera Norte de México or EMIF-Norte). The U.S. data come from the 2010 Census, the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
California’s Demographic Revolution by Heather Mac Donald – California is in the middle of a far-reaching demographic shift: Hispanics, who already constitute a majority of the state’s schoolchildren, will be a majority of its workforce and of its population in a few decades. This is an even more momentous development than it seems. Unless Hispanics’ upward mobility improves, the state risks becoming more polarized economically and more reliant on a large government safety net. And as California goes, so goes the nation, whose own Hispanic population shift is just a generation or two behind.
The scale and speed of the Golden State’s ethnic transformation are unprecedented. In the 1960s, Los Angeles was the most Anglo-Saxon of the nation’s ten largest cities; today, Latinos make up nearly half of the county’s residents and one-third of its voting-age population. A full 55 percent of Los Angeles County’s child population has immigrant parents. California’s schools have the nation’s largest concentration of “English learners,” students from homes where a language other than English is regularly spoken. From 2000 to 2010, the state’s Hispanic population grew 28 percent, to reach 37.6 percent of all residents, almost equal to the shrinking white population’s 40 percent. Nearly half of all California births today are Hispanic. The signs of the change are everywhere—from the commercial strips throughout the state catering to Spanish-speaking customers, to the flea markets and illegal vendors in such areas as MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, to the growing reach of the Spanish-language media.
A 2005 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of 75,744 minority subprime loan borrowers found the largest percentage was Hispanic (15,647 loans or 20.7 percent). This study found no evidence of adverse pricing of subprime loans by race or ethnicity and minority borrowers paid lower rates.
A 2008 study by the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. found Southern California was the hot spot for the most subprime loans in all of the United States in 2005. And out of the top 10 cities with the most subprime loans, six were in California (percent of Hispanic population in parentheses): Riverside (45 percent), Bakersfield (45.5 percent), Stockton (37.6 percent), Modesto (35.5 percent), Fresno (50.3 percent) and Visalia (46.0 percent). Where Hispanics got into trouble had more to do with home equity loans than primary home purchase loans.
Hispanics were hit hardest with foreclosures after the Housing Bubble popped.
If the Housing Bubble demonstrated anything, it is that Hispanics suffered not from too little, but too much, upward mobility by government-induced home ownership policies.
Boston Qualifying Rate Drops by a Third – Some interesting data-crunching from Ray Charbonneau, who blogs at Y42K?: If you compare the 2011 and 2012 fields of some major marathons, you’ll find the Boston qualifying rate on average has dropped by about a third. Charbonneau excludes the results from this year’s Houston Marathon—where qualifying rates actually went up—assuming that the Olympic Marathon Trials helped attract some higher-caliber athletes than the 2011 race. He also excludes results from this year’s exceptionally warm Boston Marathon and National Marathon in Washington, D.C., where qualifying rates dropped even more than a third. The stricter qualifying standards the B.A.A. put into place for the 2013 Boston Marathon (which went into effect last September) lowered qualifying times across all age groups by five minutes and 59 seconds. Based on Charbonneau’s results, this drop should eliminate about a third of all previous qualifiers.
Rethinking the Hispanic Vote – For Republicans, the illegal immigration litmus test, forcing conservative candidates to toe a hardline on the issue, could very well recede in the near future. A January Pew poll showed the number of Republicans considering illegal immigration as a top issue has plummeted, dropping from 69 percent in 2007 to 48 percent at the beginning of this year. The future Republican positioning on immigration could very well be closer to the policy views of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio than that of hardliners like Iowa Rep. Steve King.
The long-term political implications are equally significant. Democrats have counted Hispanics as a pivotal part of their coalition, but there’s no guarantee that as first-generation immigrants assimilate, they will remain reliable partisan voters. Indeed, a complementary Pew Hispanic Center study, released last month, showed immigrants becoming more Republican the longer they’ve been in this country — a similar narrative to other first-generation ethnic groups.
Democrats want voters this year to focus on what they have branded a war on women, but the flip side of the debate — the so-called war on religion — is not going away anytime soon.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for two weeks of public protest in June and July against what it sees as growing government encroachment on religious freedom.
The protests are expected to include priests and nuns and thousands of Catholic parishioners. Some activists expect civil disobedience, which could lead to powerful images of priests and nuns being led away in hand restraints.
Pew: immigration from Mexico drops to net zero – Immigration from Mexico has reached a net zero, with as many Mexicans moving back to Mexico as are entering the United States, according to the Pew Research Center’s Jeffrey Passel, a highly regarded demographer who used data from both countries.
The report released Wednesday cited several possible reasons, including, “the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.”
California prisons detail plan to downsize, cut costs – The California prison system on Monday unveiled an extensive plan to cut spending by billions of dollars, close a prison and return inmates being housed out of state — all while meeting court-ordered benchmarks on medical care and overcrowding.
In three years, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is expected to be 7.5% of the state’s total budget, down from an estimated 9.4% in the upcoming fiscal year. This is largely because of realignment, the process of sending low-level offenders to local jails instead of state prisons to comply with a court order to reduce chronic overcrowding.
“California is finally getting its prison costs under control and taking the necessary steps to meet federal court mandates,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.
Some parts of the state’s plan will require consent from the Legislature, and its success also hinges in part on court approval. Although the court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to 137.5% of prison capacity, the state expects to fall slightly short, at 141% — a difference of up to 6,000 inmates — by the June 2013 deadline.
Corrections Secretary Matt Cate said the state will ask the court to raise its benchmark next year.
A measure to abolish the death penalty and replace it with a maximum sentence of life behind bars without parole has qualified for the Nov. 6 ballot, the Secretary of State confirmed today. The measure, backed by a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union and some law enforcement and victims rights groups, would apply to inmates currently on death row.
Supporters say capital punishment, which voters added to the state’s books in 1978, costs California more than $100 million a year while leading to very few executions because of the time it takes to go through the appeals process.
State elections officials confirmed late Monday that an initiative to abolish capital punishment in California has qualified for the November ballot, with supporters having gathered more than enough voter signatures to call the question.
The initiative would not only repeal the death penalty but would also convert the sentences of all 724 inmates currently on Death Row to life without the possibility of parole. It would further commit $30 million a year for three years to local law enforcement efforts on unsolved murder and rape crimes.
Teenagers are using salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, doctors said.
“It’s essentially a shot of hard liquor,” said Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the Los Angeles County public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager.”
Although there have been only a few cases, Rangan said the practice could easily become a larger problem. Bottles of hand sanitizers are inexpensive and accessible and teens can find instructions on distillation on the Internet.
Unexplained Infant Deaths Often Linked to Bed Sharing – Among infants who have died suddenly and unexpectedly, most were sharing a sleep surface with another child or adult, and only one fourth were sleeping in a crib or on their back when found, according to a new report.
Results were published in the American Journal of Public Health online April 19. The study was conducted by Patricia G. Schnitzer, PhD, from the Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri, Columbia, and colleagues.
According to the researchers, more than 4000 infants without prior known illness or injury die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States.
The researchers found that only about one fourth of infants were sleeping in a crib or on their back when found, but 70% were on a surface not intended for infant sleep, such as an adult bed. Of note, 64% of infants were sharing a sleep surface, and of those, nearly half were sleeping with an adult.
One study limitation, among others, is the possible lack of generalizability because the data were as drawn from only 9 states.
“Infants whose deaths were classified as suffocation or undetermined cause were significantly more likely than were infants whose deaths were classified as SIDS to be found on a surface not intended for infant sleep and to be sharing that sleep surface,” Dr. Schnitzer and colleagues note.
Big Tobacco Groups Fear Spread of Plain Packaging – The world’s top tobacco groups fear if new rules on plain packaging take hold in Australia and Britain they may spread to higher-growth and potentially more lucrative emerging markets and put a curb on their future profits growth.
Health campaigners are pushing for tobacco companies to package their cigarettes in plain packs displaying the product name in a standard typeface and with graphic health warnings as a way of discouraging youngsters from taking up smoking.
Australia aims to become the first nation in the world to force tobacco groups to sell cigarettes in these plain, brand-free packets by December this year, while Britain this week launched a three-month consultation over the issue.
Smoking Cessation Worth It Despite Dim Outcomes – Drugs and counseling to help patients stop smoking typically double the odds of success relative to solo cold-turkey attempts, but success rates still seldom exceed 20%, a researcher said here.
The bottom-line message: “Keep trying,” said Michael K. Ong, MD, PhD, of the University of California Los Angeles, in a presentation at the American College of Physicians’ annual meeting.
Existing approaches to smoking cessation will remain the best available for the foreseeable future, Ong suggested, and even though their effectiveness is modest at best, they are better than letting patients fend for themselves.
He noted that clinicians are often reluctant to assist patients with these problems. A recent CDC survey found that only about half of smokers who saw a health professional in the previous year reported being advised to quit.
An earlier survey identified a series of reasons that physicians had for not offering to help with smoking cessation, such as they’re too busy; the services are not billable; it’s a futile effort; and patients may be scared away.
AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento – As the sun set behind Monterey Bay on a cool night last year, dozens of the state’s top lawmakers and lobbyists ambled onto the 17th fairway at Pebble Beach for a round of glow-in-the-dark golf.
With luminescent balls soaring into the sky, the annual fundraiser known as the Speaker’s Cup was in full swing.
Lawmakers, labor-union champions and lobbyists gather each year at the storied course to schmooze, show their skill on the links and rejuvenate at a 22,000-square-foot spa. The affair, which typically raises more than $1 million for California Democrats, has been sponsored for more than a decade by telecommunications giant AT&T.
At the 2010 event, AT&T’s president and the state Assembly speaker toured Pebble Beach together in a golf cart, shaking hands with every lawmaker, lobbyist and other VIP in attendance.
The Speaker’s Cup is the centerpiece of a corporate lobbying strategy so comprehensive and successful that it has rewritten the special-interest playbook in Sacramento. When it comes to state government, AT&T spends more money, in more places, than any other company.
We’ll be here all week. But seriously, folks, we have a man-bites-dog story for you today.
First, some background. Last week Byron York of the Washington Examiner reported that “some Obama staffers are reportedly obsessing over a nearly 30-year-old story about [Mitt] Romney’s dog”:
In 1983, Romney took his family on vacation and, faced with a packed station wagon, put his Irish setter Seamus in a travel kennel strapped to the roof of the car. Romney constructed a special windshield in an effort to make the dog more comfortable, but Seamus ended up relieving himself on the roof, which reportedly caused much consternation among the Romney boys. Ever since the story got out–it was reported by the Boston Globe in 2007, during Romney’s first run for president–Romney opponents have used it in semiserious and sometimes fully serious ways to portray him as insensitive.
“I have heard, in focus groups, the dog story totally tanks Mitt Romney’s approval rating,” Chris Hayes said on his MSNBC show. The Washington Post reported last month that the Seamus story “is ballooning into a narrative of epic proportions”:
Late-night host David Letterman has been giving the dog near-nightly shout-outs. There are parody Web videos, “Dogs Aren’t Luggage” T-shirts and Facebook groups. (“Dogs Against Romney,” which protested outside last month’s Westminster dog show, has more than 38,000 Facebook fans.) The New Yorker featured a cartoon, with Rick Santorum riding in Romney’s rooftop dog carrier, on its cover last week. In the five years since the story was revealed, New York Times columnist Gail Collins has mentioned Seamus in at least 50 columns.
The Dog Days of the Presidential Campaign Begin – I would note that in 2008, John McCain’s presidential campaign wouldn’t have touched this anecdote with a ten-foot pole. Between this and the Romney camp’s rapid response to the Rosen comments, we are seeing a Republican presidential campaign that is exponentially faster on its feet and way more nimble than the previous general-election campaign against Obama.
Lugar’s problems, however, have nothing to do with the “anti-incumbent” mood or Congress’ poor reputation. Instead, they have everything to do with his record and his horrible campaign.
Lugar’s record and style don’t fit comfortably with where his party now is, yet he made little or no effort to sooth conservatives or to prepare for a battle. If he had, he might, for example, have purchased a house or condo in the state so that he wouldn’t need to stay in a hotel when he returns to the state to campaign.
More than a year ago, I wrote in this space about Lugar’s vulnerability in a possible one-on-one primary. Almost immediately, I received a call from a Lugar staffer telling me how wrong I was and pointing out that the Senator was hugely popular and had a large campaign war chest.
In other words, Lugar’s team didn’t understand what could happen if voters were presented with a credible opponent who either had money or would be supported by outside groups willing to spend heavily to defeat the Senator. And later, the campaign didn’t understand why anyone would care that Lugar didn’t own a residence in the state.
A new book offering an inside look at the US House of Representatives depicts Weiner as a desperately ambitious loudmouth who berated his staff and would do or say anything for TV airtime.
Weiner “would enter his office in the Rayburn Building screaming at the top of his lungs, ‘Why the f–k am I not on MSNBC?!’” journalist Robert Draper wrote in “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the US House of Representatives.”
He finally got his wish, Draper wrote, when Weiner pushed to become the liberal spokesman for ObamaCare.
“He was now on MSNBC every week, sometimes every day — to the point where he was carrying his own makeup kit. (Or rather, his press guy was.)” Draper wrote.
Excerpts of the book, due out Tuesday, surfaced yesterday on the Web site Politico.
The President’s health law will be partially paid for by tax increases and the creation of new taxes. When Obamacare first passed, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that its tax hikes would total $502 billion over the next 10 years. But most of the new, higher taxes don’t kick in until later in the decade, which means that once all of the law is fully implemented, the taxpayers’ tab will be much bigger than originally estimated.
A new study by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC) revealed today that Obamacare will impose higher taxes totaling $4 trillion between now and 2035, with substantial hits on working Americans. That works out to more than $1.7 trillion over a decade—more than triple the original 10-year score.
Below is a list of 10 of Obamacare’s most costly taxes and fees, drawn from research by Heritage tax policy expert Curtis Dubay:
In-Sen: Mourdock Leads Lugar in Internal Poll – Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock leads Senator Dick Lugar by one point according to a poll commissioned by the Mourdock campaign. Conducted between April 16 and 17 by the firm McLaughlin and Associates, the poll surveyed 400 likely Republican primary voters and found Mourdock in the lead, 42–41, against Lugar. The poll had a 4.9 percent margin of error.
Since January, Lugar’s favorability rating has fallen ten points, from 57 to 47 percent, while Mourdock’s has risen by eleven, from 35 to 46 percent. “These results clearly demonstrate that Richard Mourdock has the momentum to win,” a memo from pollsters John McLaughlin and Stuart Polk notes.
Menthol Cigarettes Double Stroke Risk – Menthol cigarettes more than double the risk for stroke compared with regular cigarettes, a new study shows. In women and nonblack smokers, the risk for stroke was more than tripled.
No significant associations were observed between the tobacco additive and other forms of cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The mechanism by which menthol may increase stroke risk remains unclear.
One potential mechanism is that menthol stimulates upper-airway cold receptors, which can increase breath-holding time, which may in turn facilitate the entrance of cigarette particulate matter into the lungs, notes Nicholas Vozoris, MD, from St. Michael’s Hospital, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Another possibility is that menthol cigarettes exert some selective effects on the cerebrovascular system.
“It must be a slow news day if this has made the air,” Daniels told Fox News on Wednesday. “But for what it’s worth, I did send a congratulatory note to Gov. Romney the other day offering to anything I could to help him, and here I am.”
It didn’t come across as a particularly strong endorsement, and the Fox News anchor noted that Daniels has a dry, self-deprecating manner.
“He’s already won our nomination,” Daniels continued. “He’s earned it, he’s proven himself the best nominee we could put forward, and I’m just happy to sign on and help him.”
TAPPER: And that’s not comparable to what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke?
MAHER: To compare that to Rush is ridiculous – he went after a
civilian about very specific behavior, that was a lie, speaking for a
party that has systematically gone after women’s rights all year, on
the public airwaves. I used a rude word about a public figure who
gives as good as she gets, who’s called people “terrorist” and
“unAmerican.” Sarah Barracuda. The First Amendment was specifically
designed for citizens to insult politicians. Libel laws were written
to protect law students speaking out on political issues from getting
called whores by Oxycontin addicts.
TAPPER: What about all the clips of you saying rather “edgy” things –
offensive to many people, no doubt – from your show on HBO, “Real
MAHER: Of course if you take out of context over 10 years snippets
inside comedy bits you can make anyone look bad – and sometimes, I
have been! Not perfect, but not misogyny. In general, this is an
obvious right wing attempt to dredge up some old shit about me to
deflect from their self-inflicted problems. They are the kings of
And through it all, I have defended Rush’s right to stay on the air!
Not what he said, that was disgusting – but the right to not disappear
because people who don’t even listen to you don’t like what you said.
That really bothers me. I never hear Rush Limbaugh unless a guy in the
next truck at a stop light has it on; it would be arrogant for me to
say “he has to disappear” and deprive the people who do listen to him
of what they like. We all have different tastes and different
opinions, that’s America.
Why Ron Paul May Cut a Deal With Mitt Romney – For Ron Paul, victory is finally in sight. No, not a swearing-in ceremony next January 20, or even a single statewide win. Halfway through the primary season, Paul has won only a preference poll in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and he is running dead last in delegates among the four GOP candidates for President. He has spent a lot, if not always wisely: the $31.55 he has dropped per vote (more than even Mitt Romney) is a sum that might shock even a Democrat.
But winning the presidency was never Paul’s foremost goal, and as he nears the end of his last presidential crusade, he has one more chance to promote his ideas. The Republican race is a muddled mess. Even after his southern losses, only Romney has a real shot at amassing the 1,144 delegates required to wrap up the nomination, and he would then face the task of unifying the GOP’s warring factions. Which is why Paul’s campaign has sent discreet signals to Camp Romney that the keys to Paul’s shop can be had for the right price.
They include Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, media mogul Fred Eychaner, Pfizer executive Sally Susman, Stoneyfield Farms president and CEO Gary Hirschberg, and Microsoft executives Suzi Levine and John Frank. Several have each raised more than half a million dollars for 2012, according to estimates provided by Obama’s campaign.
His writings showed clearly that the latter was the path he chose. His previous writings had been those of a sensible man saying sensible things about civil rights issues that he understood from his years of experience as an attorney. But now he wrote all sorts of incoherent speculations and pronouncements, the main drift of which was that white people were the cause of black people’s problems.
Bell even said that he took it as his mission to say things to annoy white people. Perhaps he thought that was better than being insignificant in his academic setting. But it was in fact far worse, because the real damage was to impressionable young blacks who took him seriously, including one who went on to become President of the United States.
The Tea Party has drowned – The Tea Party is over. In the way of parties that end, there are still people around. Those who remain search for a return of the old energy and make unconvincing demonstrations of people having a good time. But the central focus, the excitement, the purpose of the thing is dissipating. That is because the bad stuff that its members and boosters put out — lies, slanders, paranoia, ignorance — is losing what grip it had over the minds of people with minds. What’s left, though, is something else, which will not go away: the identification of moral choices blurred and contemporary indifferences ignored.
GRAPH: The escalating cost of Obamacare – So I’ve created the updated graph below. Notice how low the numbers are in the 2010 to 2013 time period and how they quickly soar. All the spending to the right of the black line wasn’t reflected in the CBO’s estimate for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) at the time of passage.
These are my links for February 29th through March 1st:
National GOP: Romney 40%, Santorum 24%, Gingrich 16%, Paul 12% – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, coming off his primary wins in Arizona and Michigan, has jumped to a 16-point lead over Rick Santorum in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters shows Romney with 40% support to 24% for the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. This is Romney’s biggest lead to date and the highest level of support any GOP candidate has earned in regular surveying of the race. Two weeks ago, it was Santorum 39%, Romney 27%.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earns 16% support, closely followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 12%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided. The new findings mark virtually no change in national support for Gingrich and Paul.
Bob Kerrey running for Senate in Nebraska – Climbing down from the fence, Democrat Bob Kerrey said Wednesday that he will run for his old Senate seat from Nebraska, soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson and a major target for Republicans who hope to win control of the chamber in November.
The decision comes on the heels of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise announcement Tuesday to not seek re-election in Maine. And the twin events breathe new life into Democratic hopes of holding onto the Senate.
Santorum Leads Big in Tennessee – A new Middle Tennessee State University poll shows Rick Santorum way ahead in next week’s Tennessee GOP primary with 40%, followed by Mitt Romney at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 13% and Ron Paul at 11%.
Odds of a Brokered Convention Are Increasing – We’re finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn’t be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.
US Stocks: Stocks Add to Losses Amid Bernanke Speech – Bernanke said the job market is still “far from normal” and may require the Fed to launch more stimulus measures, in his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress. (CNBC.com is streaming this event live.)
Bernanke also added rising gasoline prices will likely push up inflation temporarily, while reducing consumers’ purchasing power.
Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil, not lower prices – The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.
Instead, DOE is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles, Chu told House appropriators during a hearing on DOE’s budget.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused House Leader Linda Upmeyer of failing to properly inform legislators about planned debate today on the bills. The short notice hindered Democrats from offering amendments to improve the bills, McCarthy said.
But Upmeyer, R-Garner, shot back this morning that Democrats did have adequate warning, and suggested their flight from the Capitol was an attempt to make a political scene.
“Iowans didn’t send us down here just to do easy stuff,” she said. “The Second Amendment is a question that many Iowans would like placed before them. I don’t know why they’re afraid to have a debate on a subject just because they don’t like the subject. That seems ludicrous to me.”
One bill would alter the state constitution to specifically include gun rights. Another would rewrite the law on “reasonable force” so that a person may use force — including deadly force — against someone who they believe threatens to kill or cause serious injury or who is committing a violent felony.
In separate communications Feb. 23, ADA officials urged the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to table or vote against S. 1461, and the Association joined dental, other health, religious and social organizations expressing “our strong opposition” to the bill in a letter to the full Senate.
The 2009 ADA-supported Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes FDA regulation of the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. The proposed S. 1461, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2012, would prohibit the FDA from promulgating any regulations involving certain types of cigars.
“There is a strong association between cigar smoking and mortality from oral (mouth) and pharyngeal (throat) cancers,” the Association told the HELP Committee bipartisan leadership in a letter signed by Dr. William R. Calnon, president, and Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, executive director. “About 8 out of 10 people with mouth and throat cancers use tobacco. Smokers are many times more likely than non-smokers to develop these cancers and the risk increases with the amount smoked and the duration of the habit. On average, 40 percent of those with the disease will not survive more than five years after being diagnosed.
“Taxpayer dollars would be better spent discouraging the use of cancer-causing products, including traditional large and premium cigars,” the Association said. “It is vital that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration be allowed to retain its strong, effective authority to regulate these products.”
According to PPP, Walker’s two potential contenders, Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk, hold narrow leads over the unpopular governor. The poll shows Barrett with a 49-46 advantage, while Falk has a slight 48-47 edge over Walker.
The poll also found that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would have a more commanding lead over Walker than either Barrett or Falk. PPP found that Feingold would hold a 52-45 advantage over the governor. Feingold, however, has said he will not run in the recall election.
Poll: Wisconsin’s Walker to survive union recall drive – So much for that recall effort. According to a new Rasmussen poll of likely Wisconsin voters, Gov. Scott Walker should survive an effort to throw out his 2010 election, a campaign driven by pro-union activists angered that he limited collective bargaining rights for public employees in a budget-cutting move.
It’s a huge and positive switch for Scott’s fortunes. Opponents made headlines when they easily collected 1 million signatures on a recall petition. Walker this week said he would not challenge the signatures-including names like “Donald Duck”-because there isn’t enough time before the May recall election.
Rasmussen’s poll is the latest done on the election and finds that 54 percent of likely Wisconsin voters at least somewhat approve of the governor’s job, while 46 percent somewhat disapprove. He does good with independents, as 58 percent approve of his performance. The telephone poll of 500 likely voters conducted Monday shows a pro-Walker move, coming days after a Public Policy Polling survey conducted February 22-26 that found the state divided 49 percent-49 percent on the recall.