links for 2009-03-04

  • When the Field Institute's pollsters surveyed likely voters about Proposition 1A, they read the official summary and found 57 percent inclined to vote for it. When those same respondents were told about the $16 billion in hidden tax effects, however, support plummeted to 34 percent of likely voters.

    Schwarzenegger is already campaigning with allied groups to push the spending limit concept and is likely to spend millions of dollars selling it to voters.

    Anti-tax groups are looking for an angel – such as billionaire businesswoman and gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman – to finance an opposition campaign that would exploit the measure's secret tax effect.

    The Field Poll indicates that if they find enough money, killing the measure and undermining the budget agreement is quite possible, even probable.

  • The head of an upstart group that aims to recruit California Republicans to run for statewide offices earned $900,000 in salary and benefits in the 2007-2008 election cycle, angering some Republicans who wondered Monday if the cash is being well-spent.

    Duf Sundheim, former California Republican Party chairman, collected the money while launching California Republicans Aligned for Tomorrow, according to reports that the 527 political group has filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

    The group was officially made public in 2008, though Sundheim said he started working on the GOP candidate development and recruitment efforts in 2007.

    It was backed with $100,000 pledges from more than a dozen major supporters of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, including businessmen Lawrence Dodge and Paul Folino. Over the two-year period, the group raised $1.4 million and paid much of it to Sundheim.

  • Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, 54, a Republican who has been widely expected to explore a U.S. Senate run against California Democratic U. S. Senator Barbara Boxer, was diagnosed with breast cancer on Feb. 20 and underwent surgery at Stanford Hospital on Monday, her chief of staff said this evening.

    Fiorina had appeared at the state GOP convention in Sacramento on Feb. 21 to address grassroots activists — just a day after her chief of staff Deborah Bowker said in an email today that she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

    Fiorina's well-recived speech to the Republican delegates urged the GOP to offer voters a positive agenda of lower taxes and less government, saying they should stress a message of "power to the people.''

    Reached tonight by telephone, Bowker told the Chronicle of Fiorina, "She's doing great…she only just learned about this.''

  • Democratic Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona have joined a quiet revolt in the House that could slow some of President Obama's fast-moving priorities.

    The two are among 49 Democrats from congressional districts that backed Republican Sen. John McCain 's 2008 presidential race and whose support for the Democratic majority's progressive agenda is increasingly not assured.

    A dozen of them were among 20 House Democrats who voted against the $410 billion discretionary fiscal 2009 spending package (HR 1105) on Feb. 25. Another group later forced House leaders to sideline a contentious bill (HR 1106) to allow bankruptcy judges to modify home loans.

  • President Barack Obama's call to raise taxes on high earners and greenhouse gas polluters met fierce opposition Tuesday from congressional Republicans and also a few Democrats. "I would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said of Obama's call to limit high-income taxpayers' itemized deductions for charitable donations and mortgage interest.
    Obama's tax increases are ridiculous and will kill any chance of an economic recovery.
    (tags: barack_obama)
  • General Motors said on Tuesday that its European arm could run out of money by as early as next month, putting up to 300,000 jobs on the continent at risk.

    Fritz Henderson, the struggling Detroit carmaker’s chief operating officer, said that GM would face a liquidity crunch “early in the second quarter” if emergency funds from European countries did not materialise.
    Did anyone think to let the firm fail and reorganize under bankruptcy?

  • NBC's Tom Costello, on duty at the White House today, asked press secretary Robert Gibbs about some comments made by his CNBC colleague Jim Cramer. On the Today show this morning, Cramer called Pres. Obama's budget a "radical agenda," adding, "This is the greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a President."
  • One day after Club for Growth President Pat Toomey said he may challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in a 2010 primary, the group's members have voted Specter as the group's "Comrade of the Month" along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snow (R-ME) for their votes in favor of President Obama's stimulus package.
    (tags: ArlenSpecter)
  • Speaking alongside British PM Brown in the Oval Office Tuesday, the president tries to clarify his missive to the Russian president.

    Says he did not offer a "quid pro quo" to Medvedev on a missile system. "It was simply a statement of fact, that I'd made previously."

  • Stuart Browning highlights the plight of an Ontario man with a cancerous brain tumor who crossed the border to the U.S. to get the medical care that is rationed in his home country.
  • The California Legislature passed two resolutions today that oppose the legality of Proposition 8, which was passed by 52 percent state voters in November and bans same-sex marriages.

    The action comes as the State Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday on whether the measure is a constitutional revision and should have gone through the Legislature before going to voters.

    Both the Assembly and the Senate considered identical resolutions, stating that the Legislature "opposes Proposition 8 because it is an improper revision, not an amendment, of the California Constitution."
    The resolutions mean nothing after the election. Now, the California Supreme court will decide the constitutionality of Prop 8.

  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday expressed doubts in a private meeting with an Arab counterpart that the Obama administration's outreach to Iran would be successful.

    Clinton "said she is doubtful that Iran will respond to any kind of engagement and opening the hand out and reaching out to them," said a senior State Department official, who requested anonymity because he was describing a closed-door conversation.

    Clinton made the remarks in a meeting with Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, during an international donors' conference for Gaza at this Red Sea resort.
    So, will Obama fire Hillary?

  • Two decades ago, it was estimated that as many as a third of California's motorists were driving without insurance, but a series of get-tough laws reduced the rate by more than half to 18 percent, according to a new nationwide survey by the Insurance Research Council.

    Nevertheless, at 18 percent (in 2007), the IRC still tags California as having the nation's seventh highest rate of uninsured motorists at four-plus percentage points above the national average. New Mexico had the nation's highest rate of uninsured at 29 percent while Massachusetts, at 1 percent, was the lowest.

    The IRC believes that the severe national recession will raise the uninsured motorist rate throughout the country from 13.8 in 2007 to 16.1 percent in 2010.

    (tags: California)
  • SB 371 by Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto

    Total cost: $9.98 billion

    * $3 billion for water storage
    * $2.4 billion for the delta and for water conveyance
    * $1.5 billion for regional water supplies
    * $1 billion for river restoration
    * $950 million for water quality
    * $610 million for watershed improvements

    SB 301 by Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter
    Total cost: $15 billion

    * $7 billion for water storage and other projects
    * $2 billion for delta improvements
    * $1.5 billion in competitive grants for water supply
    * $1 billion for conveyance
    * $1 billion for local water districts
    * $1 billion for watershed improvements