These are my links for December 22nd through December 27th:
Why States May Want to Fall off the ‘Cliff’ – Falling off the “fiscal cliff” is a bad thing, right? Not necessarily for some state governments that could begin collecting more in estate taxes on wealth left to heirs if the United States goes over the “cliff,” allowing sharp tax increases and federal spending cuts to take effect in January.In an example of federal and state tax law interaction that gets little notice on Capitol Hill, 30 states next year could collect $3 billion more in estate taxes if Congress and President Barack Obama do not act soon, estimated the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.
The reason? The federal estate tax would return with a vengeance and so would a federal credit system that shares a portion of it with the 30 states. They had been getting their cut of this tax revenue stream until the early 2000s. That was when the credit system for payment of state estate tax went away due to tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush.
The Year the Dreams Died – 2012 – Barack Obama in 2008 won an election on an upbeat message of change amid hopes that the first black president would mark a redemptive moment in American history. Four years later, the fantasies are gone. In continuing dismal economic times, Obama ran for reelection neither on his first-term achievements — Obamacare, bailouts, financial stimuli, and Keynesian mega-deficits — nor on more utopian promises.Instead, Obama’s campaign systematically reduced his rival, Wall Street financier Mitt Romney, to a conniving, felonious financial pirate who did dastardly things, from letting the uninsured die to putting his pet dog Seamus in a cage on top of the family car.
Obama once had mused that he wished to be the mirror image of Ronald Reagan — successfully coaxing America to the left as the folksy Reagan had to the right. Instead, 2012 taught us that a calculating Obama is more a canny Richard Nixon, who likewise used any means necessary to be reelected on the premise that his rival would be even worse. But we know what eventually happened to the triumphant, pre-Watergate Nixon after November 1972; what will be the second-term wages of Obama’s winning ugly?
Obama’s Numbers Went Down, but Romney Never Inspired Voters to Vote | RealClearPolitics – The 2012 election was different. Barack Obama got 6 percent fewer popular votes than he had gotten in 2008. And Mitt Romney got only 1 percent more popular votes than John McCain had four years before.In retrospect, it looks like both campaigns fell short of their turnout goals. Yes, examination of election returns and exit polls indicates that the Obama campaign turned out voters where it really needed them.
That enabled him to carry Florida by 1 percent, Ohio by 3 percent, Virginia by 4 percent, and Colorado and Pennsylvania by 5 percent. Without those states, he would have gotten only 243 electoral votes and would now be planning his presidential library.
But the conservative bloggers who argued that the Obama campaign’s early voting numbers were below target may have been right. If Mitt Romney had gotten 16 percent more popular votes than his predecessor, as John Kerry did, he would have led Obama by 4 million votes and won the popular vote 51 to 48 percent.
Romney, like Kerry, depended on voters’ distaste for the incumbent; he could not hope to inspire the devotion Bush enjoyed in 2004 and that Obama had from a diminished number in 2008.
But to continue this counterfactual scenario, if Obama had won 23 percent more popular votes this year than in 2008, he would have beaten Romney by 85 million to 69 million votes and by 54 to 44 percent.
In reality, Obama’s vote and percentage went down. Considering what happened in Bush’s second term, that suggests a course of caution and wariness for the re-elected president and his party.
Piers Morgan: Bible And Constitution ‘Inherently Flawed,’ ‘Time For An Amendment To Bible’ – On Monday, CNN host Piers Morgan invited Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren on his program to discuss gay marriage and the bible. Fresh off his feud with Second Amendment rights activists following his full-throated defense of stricter gun control laws in the wake of the Newtown massacre, Morgan inspired further outrage among the religious when he told the pastor he thought it was time for an “amendment to the bible.” In Morgan’s opinion, the bible, like the American Constitution, is “inherently flawed.”
by Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts chain. The company’s Catholic owners say the contraception mandate violates their religious freedom.
Hobby Lobby might eventually win on that point, Sotomayor said, but the company didn’t meet the standard for an injunction blocking the mandate from taking effect.
The administration’s policy requires most employers to include contraception in their employees’ healthcare policies, without charging a co-pay or deductible. Churches and houses of worship are exempt, and religious affiliated institutions such as Catholic hospitals don’t have to cover contraception directly. (Their insurance companies cover the cost of making it available at no cost to the employee.)
But some Catholic employers say they should be able to opt out of the mandate simply because it violates their personal faith, no matter what type of business they run.
Poll: 46% say Obama’s second term will be better – President Barack Obama looks primed to do a “better job” in his second term than he did in his first term, a plurality of Americans say.According to a CNN/ORC poll out Thursday, 46 percent of Americans think the president’s job performance will improve this time around, while 22 percent say Obama will do a worse job. Another three in 10 see Obama offering “about the same” performance as he did during his first administration.
When will the right start hating Hillary Clinton again? – Her poll numbers are staggering. Fellow Democrats fear her. So do some Republicans. The main question now is, when will the right start hating Hillary Clinton again and kick a “Stop HRC” movement into high gear?You could hear the sounds of the ignition being turned during the past 10 days as an illness that led to a concussion (under circumstances that the public still knows little about) forced Clinton to cancel Senate testimony about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. That led to charges of a cover-up from some dependably anti-Clinton quarters, such as the New York Post and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
Obama looks to retain upper hand as ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations resume – President Obama will strive to retain the political upper hand in negotiations over deficit reduction when he returns to Washington Thursday morning.Obama had been in Hawaii with his family since Saturday but is scheduled to arrive back at the White House just before noon as the nation approaches the year-end fiscal cliff.
Jerry Brown pushes new funding system for California schools – After California schools eliminated art programs and increased class sizes to survive budget cuts, they are finally on the verge of getting more money thanks to voter-approved taxes and economic recovery.But K-12 districts may not share equally in the expanding budget pie.
Gov. Jerry Brown is pushing hard to overhaul California’s convoluted school funding system. His plan has two major objectives: Give K-12 districts greater control over how they spend money, and send more dollars to impoverished students and English learners.
Labor beat Prop. 32 via social media – Leaders of the California unions that spent $75 million to defeat Proposition 32’s union-busting campaign in November discovered something during the bruising battle: 40 percent of likely voters were not watching any Prop. 32-related TV commercials, even though the spots droned on nonstop throughout the fall.So the forces opposed to the measure, which would have banned the use of union payroll deductions for political contributions, changed tactics.
Fusing a sophisticated data-mining operation with messages sent through social media platforms such as Facebook, the unions changed how they were singling out voters younger than 40 who don’t watch TV. Within weeks, they saw support for their position among younger voters climb from 40 percent to 60 percent.
In 2013, Millions Of Americans Face Obamacare Tax Hikes – As part of the negotiations over the fiscal cliff, Congress and President Obama are battling over whether to raise marginal tax rates at the very top of the income ladder.Regardless of how these talks turn out, millions of Americans are already facing tax hikes thanks to Obamacare.
Obamacare’s authors chose to offset about half of the trillion-dollar cost of the law through higher taxes. Since the Supreme Court upheld the law’s individual mandate and allowed states to opt out of its Medicaid expansion, though, the cost estimate has swelled to $1.76 trillion between 2012 and 2021.
In 2013, a number of Obamacare’s taxes will go into effect. Each will increase the cost of health care, yield job losses, and deprive our struggling economy of investment. These are the true costs of Obamacare.
FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard – The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.
The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.
Stephenson, the founder of the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America and a director on the FreedomWorks board, agreed to commit $400,000 per year over 20 years in exchange for Armey’s agreement to leave the group.
Gallup poll: Public’s fear of falling over ‘fiscal cliff’ grows – A new poll finds the public’s fears over the looming “fiscal cliff” growing, as the year-end deadline for a deficit deal nears.Fifty percent of those surveyed in a new Gallup poll released Wednesday believe President Obama and lawmakers will reach an agreement to avoid January’s set of tax increases and automatic spending cuts. Forty-eight percent are doubtful a deal will be reached in time.
Affordable Care Act presents many unknowns for California officials – As California positions itself at the vanguard of the national healthcare overhaul, state officials are unable to say for sure how much their implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act will cost taxpayers.The program, intended to insure millions of Americans who are now without health coverage, takes states into uncharted territory. California, which plans to expand coverage to hundreds of thousands of people when the law takes effect in 2014, faces myriad unknowns. The Brown administration will try to estimate the cost of vastly more health coverage in the budget plan it unveils next month, but experts warn that its numbers could be way off.
The costs will be astronomical and the POLS will be scrambling to pay for it all.
Realignment’s unintended consequence: No supervision, rehabilitation for criminals – The first wave of felons sent to county jails instead of state prisons under Gov. Jerry Brown’s public safety realignment plan are back on the streets after serving their sentences, and local law enforcement officials are worried they will trigger a spike in crime.Almost all of the felons are under no obligation to report to a parole agent or probation officer, and many did not get job training and other rehabilitation services while behind bars.
“Of those 9,000 who have been sentenced to jail in lieu of prison, about 90 percent of them are going to come out without supervision by a probation officer or a parole agent,” county Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers said during a recent meeting of the Southern California Association of Governments.
These are my links for December 10th through December 11th:
Scalia quizzed at NJ’s Princeton on gay issue – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday found himself defending his legal writings that some find offensive and anti-gay.
Speaking at Princeton University, Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder.
“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral.
Scalia has been giving speeches around the country to promote his new book, “Reading Law,” and his lecture at Princeton comes just days after the court agreed to take on two cases that challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
Some in the audience who had come to hear Scalia speak about his book applauded but more of those who attended the lecture clapped at freshman Duncan Hosie’s question.
“It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,'” Scalia told Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both.
Then he deadpanned: “I’m surprised you aren’t persuaded.”
Hosie said afterward that he was not persuaded by Scalia’s answer. He said he believes Scalia’s writings tend to “dehumanize” gays.
As Scalia often does in public speaking, he cracked wise, taking aim mostly at those who view the Constitution as a “living document” that changes with the times.
“It isn’t a living document,” Scalia said. “It’s dead, dead, dead, dead.”
An Increasingly Polarized Nation– Gerald Seib: “Based on nearly complete results, of the 234 Republicans elected to the House, just 15 come from districts that the Democratic president carried… Of 201 Democrats elected, just nine come from districts Republican Mitt Romney carried… Not only are House members coming from reliably partisan districts, many are winning in landslides. In this fall’s election, 125 House members — 42 Republicans and 83 Democrats — won their districts with 70% or more of the vote…””The situation is similar in the Senate. There will be 45 Republican senators in the new Congress. Only 10 of them come from states President Obama won. There will be 55 Democrats and independents who caucus with Democrats. Just 11 of them come from states Mr. Romney won…””Voting in that presidential race, meanwhile, was starkly partisan. President Obama won the votes of just 6% of Republicans, exit polls indicate. Mr. Romney won just 7% of Democrats.”New York Times: “Of the 234 House Republicans who will sit in the 113th Congress, 85 percent won re-election with 55 percent of the vote; more than half of next year’s House Republican Conference won more than 60 percent. And virtually every one of them ran on holding the line against tax increases and the Obama agenda.”
‘Dr. No’ of Senate says ‘yes’ to taxes– The Oklahoma senator and obstetrician known as “Dr. No” has taken on the most unlikely of roles: getting Republicans to say “yes” to tax hikes.Tom Coburn, who has blocked dozens of bills, infuriated Democratic leaders and been on the lopsided end of some 96-3 votes, has been encouraging fellow Republicans both publicly and behind the scenes to break with the anti-tax orthodoxy that has come to define — some say hamstring — the modern GOP.
Cliff Talks Progress Between Obama, Boehner – Budget negotiations between the White House and Republican House Speaker John Boehner have progressed steadily in recent days, people close to the process said, breathing life into talks that appeared to have stalled.
Related VideoLast August, President Obama and Congress put the U.S. economy on course to go over a “fiscal cliff.” With the 2012 presidential election decided, WSJ’s David Wessel tells you everything you need to know about the “cliff” but were afraid to ask.Both sides still face sizable differences before any agreement might be reached by the end of the year, and talks could well falter again over such controversial issues as taxes and Medicare before any deal is reached.The people familiar with the matter say talks have taken a marked shift in recent days as staff and leaders have consulted, becoming more “serious.” Both sides have agreed to keep details private, according to the people, who declined to detail where new ground was being broken.
The Demographics of Mobile News– In the growing realm of mobile news, men and the more highly educated emerge as more engaged news consumers, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, in collaboration with The Economist Group. These findings parallel, for the most part, demographic patterns of general news consumption.But there are some important areas of difference between mobile and general news habits-particularly among young people. While they are much lighter news consumers generally and have largely abandoned the print news product, young people get news on mobile devices to similar degrees as older users. And, when getting news through apps, young people say they prefer a print-like experience over one with high-tech or multi-media features.These are key findings of an analysis of mobile news habits across a variety of demographic groups. This report builds off an earlier PEJ and The Economist Group report, The Future of Mobile News, which found that half of U.S. adults now own mobile devices and a majority use them for news. Both reports are based on a survey of 9,513 U.S. adults conducted from June-August 2012 (including 4,638 mobile device owners). Men, especially young men, are heavier mobile news consumers than women. More than 40% of men get news daily on either their smartphone and/or tablet, compared with roughly 30% of women. On the tablet specifically, men check in for news more frequently and are more apt to read in-depth news articles and to watch news videos. Women, on the other hand, are more likely than men to use social networks as a way to get news.
Report: Bill Clinton really wants Hillary to run for president again– Former president Bill Clinton really wants his wife Hillary to run for president again according to a report by Jodi Kantor of the New York Times. From the article:Bill Clinton, however, sometimes cannot keep himself from verbally gaming out another campaign for her, said a friend who recently spent time with him. “Every indication is that he would really want her to run,” the friend said.It appears that someone is anxious to be America’s first “First Gentleman” in the White House.
Preparing for ‘fiscal cliff,’ investors move assets to avoid higher taxes– As lawmakers struggle to agree on a plan to avert the series of tax increases looming next year, many investors are taking preemptive action to get out of harm’s way.Americans are moving to sell investment homes, off-load stocks, expand charitable donations and establish tax-sheltering gifts before the end of the year. Financial advisers and accountants say people are trying to avoid the higher taxes that will take effect in 2013 if Washington does not avert the “fiscal cliff.”For the most part, the people moving their assets are the wealthy, who have the most to lose even if a deal is struck. Ordinary Americans also are in line for higher income and payroll taxes and fewer deductions and tax credits if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff. But since most of their earnings come through wages, there is little they can do to minimize the impact. Also, the majority of investment income earned by middle-income people comes through tax-deferred vehicles such as individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s, making the possible changes in taxes on investment returns largely immaterial.
CDT Code for Resin Infiltration Gives Practices Additional Treatment and Billing Options– The American Dental Association (ADA) has announced that resin infiltration of incipient smooth surface lesions is now covered by a 2013 CDT Code classification. The newly defined classification allows practices to accurately code and bill for Icon® by DMG America, a resin infiltration technology that fills, reinforces, and stabilizes demineralized enamel for the purpose of arresting the progression of incipient carious lesions and removing cariogenic white spots. Resin infiltration is a new treatment that has been gaining popularity as an alternative treatment that ends the “wait and see” approach to caries management, without having to “drill and fill.”Icon is the first product to bridge the gap between prevention (fluoride therapy) and traditional caries restoration. Icon’s micro-invasive infiltration technology can be used to treat facial and proximal carious lesions up to the first third of dentin (D-1). Classification from the ADA gives more practices the ability to offer their patients a less invasive, pain free alternative to aggressive treatment techniques. This treatment is performed in a single visit without drilling, anesthesia or the sacrifice of healthy tooth structure. Clinicians can immediately treat upon discovery versus waiting to see whether the caries will progress.The official classification defines resin infiltration as: Application of a resin material engineered to penetrate and fill the sub-surface pore system of an incipient caries lesion to strengthen, stabilize, and limit the lesion’s progression, as well as mask visible white spots.
Boom! Obama Campaign Unleashes Its List on Congress– The Obama political operation took a big step today, sending out an email to its millions of supporters asking them to call Members of the House of Representatives to pass a Senate-approved bill aimed at preventing the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts on the bottom 98% of U.S. taxpayers. In some cases, recipients are being asked to call their own Member; in others, where their Member is already in favor of the Senate bill, Obama activists are being asked to call Obama supporters whose representatives may be a swing vote. In case there’s any doubt, these emails are aimed at putting heat directly on Republican House members.”We know we can affect change in Washington when we raise our voices together,” says the email from Stephanie Cutter, the 2012 deputy campaign manager. “So pick up the phone and make a few calls. Republicans in the House need to hear from their constituents.”This email represents a critical shift in Obama’s political strategy. Paid for by the Obama Victory Fund 2012, it is not aimed at re-electing the President–the ostensible purpose of that campaign entity–but at moving his legislative agenda. It is the President using his army to go directly in the face of Members of Congress who are perceived to stand in his way. Apparently, OFA’s lawyers have decided that they can use their email list in this manner, after some earlier doubts. (It’s not clear that this crosses any lines; for example, John Kerry continued to use his 2004 campaign email list to advance his political agenda for years after losing his run for the White House.)
These are my links for June 21st through June 25th:
Hill Poll: Voters: Obama over-reached blocking Fast and Furious docs– A clear majority of likely voters believes President Obama has exercised his executive power inappropriately — particularly in blocking the release of documents relating to Operation Fast and Furious, according to a new poll for The Hill.But in a sign that the electorate’s frustration extends to Capitol Hill, voters by a significant margin also feel Congress has behaved in an obstructionist manner toward the president.Amid the discontent over the behavior of both Obama and members of Congress, the poll found a strong preference among voters for a return to one-party rule in Washington.
Pawlenty, Portman Finances Pose VP Vetting Challenge– With Mitt Romney’s vice presidential vetting process well under way, two of the likeliest contenders for the nod — Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman — have some of the thickest financial backgrounds to comb through.Since dropping his own bid for president last August, Pawlenty has joined the boards of seven companies and serves as a senior adviser to another. Portman has a complicated financial history from a previous ownership stake in his family’s since-sold company, Portman Equipment, as well as numerous investments.Republican researchers familiar with both potential picks say neither the former Minnesota governor nor the Ohio senator presents major problems; still, the vetting process might be more involved for the two top contenders than it is for an array of other contenders who appear to be further down Romney’s list.
Pawlenty appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday to say that he is not campaigning for the No. 2 spot. Nonetheless, he has been perhaps the highest-profile and most active surrogate on the campaign trail for Romney in recent months.
Brian McClung, Pawlenty’s former spokesman and deputy chief of staff, told RCP: “Governor Pawlenty is focused on his business responsibilities and enjoys his work in the private sector. He helps Governor Romney’s campaign when his schedule permits.”
Poll: Former Supreme Court clerks think the mandate is done for– A new poll of 56 former Supreme Court clerks finds that 57 percent think the individual mandate will be overturned. That’s a 22-point jump from the last time the same group of clerks was surveyed, right before oral arguments. Back then, 35 percent thought the court would toss out the required purchase of health insurance.Most of the clerks found the Supreme Court’s questioning to be more skeptical than they had expected. As one clerk put it to Purple Strategies’ Doug Usher, who conducted the research, “I feel like a dope, because I was one of those who predicted that the Court would uphold the statute by a lopsided majority…it now appears pretty likely that this prediction was way off.”That seems to capture the mood of the rest of the country, too. Over on InTrade, the estimated likelihood of the Supreme Court overturning the mandate has marched upward ever since oral arguments, hitting 79.9 percent Wednesday morning.
For Obama, Supreme Court health-care, immigration rulings to close a tough term– The Supreme Court this week will conclude its term by handing down much-anticipated rulings on health care and immigration, President Obama’s remaining priorities before the justices. It is a finale that cannot come quickly enough for the administration, which has had a long year at the high court.In a string of cases — as obscure as the federal government’s relationships with Indian tribes and as significant as enforcement of the Clean Water Act — the court rejected the administration’s legal arguments with lopsided votes and sometimes biting commentary.The administration’s win-loss record will sting a lot less, of course, if the court upholds the constitutionality of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act. That decision on health care, which will define the term, could come as early as Monday and almost certainly will be announced by Thursday.
The court also will decide the fate of Arizona’s tough law on illegal immigrants, which the Obama administration challenged in court before it could take effect. The government’s argument that the law conflicts with the federal authority to decide immigration policy got a sour reception from the justices, but the government hopes for at least a split decision on other aspects of the measure.
The administration’s ungainly portfolio at the Supreme Court this term has drawn attention from all points on the ideological spectrum.
Poll: Immigration not Hispanics’ #1– American Hispanic voters are more concerned about health care and unemployment than they are about immigration, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll.In fact, only 12 percent of Hispanic registered voters said that immigration policy is the most important issue to them.
New YG Network Poll Shows Majority Favor Health Reform Repeal– A majority of Americans want the health care law completely or partially repealed and think the federal government should not be able to force citizens to buy insurance, according to a new poll from the YG Network, a center-right issues advocacy group whose senior staff are former aides to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.With the Supreme Court expected to rule as early as this week on the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the poll offers a glimpse into how Americans view the legislation.The poll, conducted between June 19 and June 21 by GOP pollsters McLaughlin & Associates surveyed 1,000 people with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Respondents were split almost evenly in terms of their politics. Thirty-two percent were Republicans; 34 percent were Democrats and 29 percent were independents; 4.5 percent didn’t know or refused to reply.
The survey sometimes referred to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare,” a term often used by critics of the law. The poll also tested a number of Republican talking points.
Rep. Paul Ryan Being Vetted for Vice President– I’m reliably informed that Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the Budget Committee chairman, has submitted paperwork to the Romney campaign. Sources confirm that he is being vetted for the vice-presidential nomination.Ryan, one of the GOP’s brightest young stars, is clearly a favorite of Romney allies. But some top Republican officials are wary of plucking him from the House, where he is the party’s most influential voice on fiscal issues.
Obama’s White Support Is Too Low to Win– Today, the demographic status quo is not good for either candidate. The long-term future favors Democrats. The GOP must reconcile itself with the browning of America. But even in early 2009, amid renewed talk of an emerging Democratic majority, it was clear that demographics are not electoral destiny. That Democratic majority has not emerged over the past decade because Democrats have not made sustained inroads with the actual demographic majority.How quickly that proved true. In 2010, whites backed GOP House candidates by a 60-38 margin. It gave Republicans a historic landslide. The white margin two years ago roughly matches the break-even point today. That’s because presidential electorates are browner and blacker, though possibly not enough for Democrats. Plainly put, the data shows that Romney will likely win if he matches his party’s minority support in 2008 and its majority support in 2010.Democrats have come to depend on diversity. But even today, diversity may not prove enough to save Obama.
I am happy to be back from about ten days of vacation.
By the way, the Supreme Court will be NOT be announcing their ObamaCare decision this morning!
These are my links for June 13th through June 18th:
Supreme Court’s Super Mondays Don’t Serve Justice– For court watchers, the drama is becoming unbearable. With just two Mondays left on the U.S. Supreme Court’s calendar to announce opinions — June 18 and 25 — the five most important cases of the term all remain undecided.The club of Supreme Court devotees (OK, junkies) likes to think of the first Monday in October as opening day, and the last Monday in June as game seven of the World Series. But many years, the series is a dud. Most of the cases are technical and unexciting, they enter the casebooks with little fanfare, and the public barely notices. This year will be the exception that proves the rule.
Defeat of healthcare law would erode voters’ trust in Supreme Court– Every political strategist working the fall elections sees a game changer coming by the end of the month.That’s when the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act.The Democrats have a nuclear option in this political game if the high court throws out the healthcare law as unconstitutional.
That blowup-the-system button, not pushed since FDR’s attempt to stack the court with Democrats during the New Deal, is for Obama to use the bully pulpit of the White House, and the national stage of a presidential campaign, to launch a bitter attack on the current court as a corrupt tool of the Republican right wing.
The Folly of ObamaCare – We pay our presidents for judgment, and President Obama committed a colossal error of judgment in making health-care “reform” a centerpiece of his first term. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — and regardless of how the court decides — it’s clear that Obama overreached. His attempt to achieve universal health insurance coverage is a massive feat of social engineering that, by its sweeping nature, weakens the economic recovery and antagonizes millions of Americans.
Looming health care ruling will be among Supreme Court’s most important– Winners and losers are the natural consequence of the American legal system. In the Supreme Court, five majority votes among the nine members are enough to fundamentally change lives and legacies.The high court in coming days will issue rulings in perhaps its most important appeal in a dozen years: whether the sweeping health care law championed by President Barack Obama will be tossed out as an unconstitutional exercise of congressional authority.The stakes cannot be overstated — what the justices decide on a quartet of separate questions will have immediate and long-term impact on every American, not only in the field of medicine but in vast, untold areas of “commerce.” Health care expenditures alone currently make up 18% of the U.S. economy, and the new law promises to significantly expand that share.
Five scenarios: Health care options before the justices
The Hill Poll: Voters fear US could slip into a double-dip recession– A massive majority of likely voters fear America could be slipping into a second economic downturn just four years after the Great Recession, according to a new poll for The Hill.But people remain split over which of the presidential candidates — Barack Obama or Mitt Romney — are offering the better prescription for economic health.
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts
These are my links for May 21st through May 22nd:
Targeting John Roberts – The left tries to intimidate the High Court on ObamaCare– You can tell the Supreme Court is getting closer to its historic ObamaCare ruling because the left is making one last attempt to intimidate the Justices. The latest effort includes taunting Chief Justice John Roberts that if the Court overturns any of the law, he’ll forever be defined as a partisan “activist.”Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy recently took the extraordinary step of publicly lobbying the Chief Justice after oral argument but before its ruling. “I trust that he will be a Chief Justice for all of us and that he has a strong institutional sense of the proper role of the judicial branch,” the Democrat declared on the Senate floor. “The conservative activism of recent years has not been good for the Court.”
Romney and the Right– This November, millions of conservatives will find themselves in the familiar position of holding their noses to vote for a problematic Republican presidential candidate, because the alternative is far worse.Although conservatives don’t exactly have fond memories of the candidacies of Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole in 1996 and Senator John McCain in 2008, the almost certain nomination of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has its own sting.In 2010, tea-party energy swept a new generation of conviction conservatives into statehouses, governors’ mansions, and the U.S. Congress. Many on the right held out hope that the big payoff would be putting a principled conservative in the White House.
Timing May Be Key in Romney’s VP Announcement– t Romney deliberates on his most important pre-convention political decision, the identity of whomever he selects as a running mate isn’t the only choice he and the vetting team must make.The timing of that vice-presidential unveiling can have a major impact on the race, as the experience of his 2008 predecessor demonstrated fully.
Obama Thinks He’s the Fairness Czar– Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., came across as a moderate, sensible Democrat when he said on “Meet the Press” Sunday that negative political ads are “nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.”Booker, a Barack Obama surrogate, later tried to walk back his comments. He posted a video in which he explained that he was expressing his frustration with negative campaigning when he spoke out, effectively undermining the president’s re-election narrative. (Booker also referred to the biggest non-story in politics last week, about a political consultant who recommended that a super PAC use Wright in an anti-Obama ad. That ad didn’t get made.)
Obama Campaign Does Damage Control After Dems Question Anti-Bain Strategy– The Obama campaign is in full damage-control mode one day after Newark Mayor Cory Booker publicly derided Democrats’ assault on presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney over his record at Bain Capital.Chief Obama strategist David Axelrod today publicly rebuked Booker, a popular and high-profile surrogate for the campaign, saying he was “just wrong.””I love Cory Booker. He’s a great mayor. If I were, if my house was on fire, I’d hope he were my next door neighbor,” Axelrod said on MSNBC, referring to Booker’s rescue of a neighbor last month.
“I agree with what he said later. I think this was a legitimate area for discussion,” Axelrod said of Booker’s subsequent comments clarifying the issue.
As for the criticism that the Team Obama’s Bain attack is part of “nauseating” political discourse with which Booker has become “very uncomfortable,” Axelrod said, “on this particular instance he was just wrong.”
Hamid Karzai blows top over Dana Rohrabacher– Afghan President Hamid Karzai says Rep. Dana Rohrabacher will be banned from entering his country until the congressman “changes his tongue” and stops criticizing Afghanistan.“A democratically elected congressman of the United States of America should not be talking of an ethnic divide in Afghanistan, should not be interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, should not be asking the Afghan people to have a federal structure as against what the Afghan constitution has asked for, should not be speaking disrespectfully about the Afghan people or the various ethnic groups in Afghanistan,” Karzai said in an interview with CNN. “If an Afghan did that from Afghanistan, how would you react to him in America?”
Sarah Palin: ‘Shame’ Cory Booker backed down– Sarah Palin is applauding Cory Booker’s criticism of the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital as “candid,” adding that it was a “shame” that the Democratic mayor retreated from his initial remarks that have touched off a firestorm.“It was a shame to see Cory kind of back down from what his answer was, which was so candid,” Palin told Sean Hannity of Fox News on Monday
El Monte school district moving to dismiss employees who have been on paid leave for months– After 10 months of investigation, the local high school district is winding down its inquiries into a dozen employees accused of stealing.Four of the El Monte Union High School District employees no longer work for the district, for undisclosed reasons, and the school board is still figuring out what to do about eight other employees, according to Superintendent Nick Salerno and Thomas Madruga, the district’s attorney.Most the workers in question were on the district’s maintenance/facilities staff.
Several of the 12 employees have been on paid leave since late June or early July of last year. Officials would not reveal exactly how many.
The school board was briefed about the workers during a closed-session portion of a May 2 board meeting, according to Madruga. And resolutions for the remaining employees could come soon, he said.
Sources inside the district said the board rejected a proposal that would have let two of the employees come back to work, after facing a few days of unpaid leave as discipline.
Madruga and Salerno said the charges relate to accusations of theft that were brought to the attention of the district at the end of the last school year.
Some of the allegations were small, such as taking home the last few sheets of a roll of paper towels, according to Salerno and Madruga.
But others involved using the district’s lines of credit to acquire personal property.
“I mean costly equipment, major equipment,” Salerno said.
Some of the employees were accused of using district finances to buy a motor home.
Salerno said that district officials learned that a culture of taking things from the district had taken hold among a handful of employees in the district’s maintenance staff.
He said as far as he knew, the practices had been going on for decades.
“There seemed to be this small circle who accepted this stuff and thought it was OK,” he said.
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.