Archive for August, 2010

‘Miss me yet?’ In one swing state, a clear ‘yes’

No commentary needed, although I have bold-faced a couple of sections. From the blog of Public Policy Polling:

We’ll start rolling out our Ohio poll results tomorrow but there’s one finding on the poll that pretty much sums it up: by a 50-42 margin voters there say they’d rather have George W. Bush in the White House right now than Barack Obama.

Independents hold that view by a 44-37 margin and there are more Democrats who would take Bush back (11%) than there are Republicans who think Obama’s preferable (3%.)

A couple months ago I thought the Pennsylvanias and Missouris and Ohios of the world were the biggest battlegrounds for 2010 but when you see numbers like this it makes you think it’s probably actually the Californias and the Wisconsins and the Washingtons.

There’s not much doubt things are getting worse for Democrats…and they were already pretty bad. Somehow the party base needs to get reinvigorated over the next two months or there’s going to be a very, very steep …

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Unsteady ground under GOP congressional leaders?

There is talk about Republican leaders in the House and even the Senate “measuring the drapes” in anticipation of winning a majority in the November elections. If they are, they might not want to order drapes in their own favorite color just yet.

After all, what does it say about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s grip on his job that two of the people he chose as his closest confidants may not be back in the Senate come January? (Bob Bennett of Utah already lost his primary; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is trailing a challenger pending the counting of absentee ballots.)

From the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney:

Murkowski was one of McConnell’s rising stars. He tapped her for his inner circle in her first term, and she also got a spot on the Appropriations Committee. The darling of Alaska’s former senior senator, Ted Stevens, Murkowski rocketed through the ranks. This year, she was elected secretary of the Senate Republican Conference, one of the top six leadership …

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Wrap-up from Barnes-Deal-Monds debate

There weren’t too many surprises in Saturday’s debate with Democrat Roy Barnes, Republican Nathan Deal and Libertarian John Monds. We started with a trio of questions about health care — the event was sponsored by the Medical Association of Georgia — but also touched on the economy, taxes, immigration, education and water (in which retiredds’s question about plans A, B and C made an appearance!) in what felt like a very short hour. I really appreciate all the questions y’all submitted, and I’ll incorporate more of them as I meet with the candidates during the rest of the campaign.

Moderating a debate leaves little time for thorough note-taking, so I’m trying to track down a transcript or copy of the video to confirm a few things I think I heard that may be of interest. In the meantime, I direct your attention to the following write-ups and video clips in case you missed it.

First, from the AJC’s Aaron Gould Sheinin:

Given the sponsor’s focus, the questions were dominated by …

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Georgia’s worrisome intramural fight over abortion

There’s one bit of unfinished business from the GOP primary for governor. And, no, I don’t mean a public kiss-and-make-up session between Nathan Deal and Karen Handel.

I worry that the long-term health of the pro-life movement in Georgia may have taken a self-inflicted hit during this primary, because of the words and tactics of Georgia Right to Life.

The most prominent anti-abortion group in a red state, GRTL issues endorsements during each election cycle that Republican candidates covet. High among its criteria is a stipulation that candidates agree to only one exception to a ban on abortions: when the life of the mother is in danger.

GRTL defends its stance as “the 21st-century demands of being pro-life,” a tacit acknowledgment that one exception hasn’t always been the rule. For decades after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, many pro-life groups allowed for two additional cases: pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

It was largely over these two exceptions …

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PSA or shameless plug — you be the judge

I’ll be moderating the first face-to-face debate featuring Democrat Roy Barnes, Republican Nathan Deal and Libertarian John Monds, this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cobb Energy Centre near Cumberland Mall. It’s sponsored by the Medical Association of Georgia, and my fellow interrogators will be John Bachman of Channel 2 Action News and Wendy Saltzman of WGCL-TV (CBS Atlanta).

Admission is free, although Cobb Energy Centre charges $5 for parking.

Suggestions for questions are welcome in the comments thread below…

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Transportation proposals need to take us somewhere

What does a proposal for an interstate from Savannah to Knoxville have in common with a plan for a streetcar connecting the Georgia Aquarium to the King Historic District?

Both have more to do with trying to move money than with moving people or freight.

Neither proposal is new. But both resurfaced this week — the interstate because a feasibility study for the project is now under way, the streetcar because its supporters applied for a second round of federal grants for transit projects.

Let’s look at each one.

The highway, dubbed I-3 in honor of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart near Savannah, was pushed in the mid-2000s by two then-members of Congress from Georgia: Reps. Max Burns and Charlie Norwood.

We certainly need to route traffic, particularly cargo, around Atlanta to reduce congestion here. But a new interstate from Savannah to Knoxville promises little improvement.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a route that’s significantly shorter than just …

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ObamaCare: Bending the cost curve upward

Keith Hennessey discovers a valuable little ObamaCare nugget in a new report by the Congressional Budget Office:

Unlike with other major legislation, CBO’s scoring of the health laws blended spending increases and tax cuts into a single measure of deficit effects. The final scoring showed that these two bills combined would reduce the budget deficit over the next ten years. [emphasis original]

Some analysts dispute this scoring. That’s not my point. In addition to providing the deficit effects, CBO should have told lawmakers what the separate effects would be on spending and on taxes. To make a well-informed decision, policymakers need to know the gross effects and not just the net.

(snip)

Only now does CBO tell us in a parenthetical:

“Taking into account all of the provisions related to health care and revenues, the two pieces of legislation were estimated to increase mandatory outlays by $401 billion and raise revenues by $525 billion.”

This is a very different picture. …

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Just when you thought Sarah Palin had lost it . . .

By “it” I mean the ability to help candidates win races through her endorsements, and by “you” I mean anyone who jumped off the Mama Grizzlies bandwagon after Karen Handel’s defeat in the GOP runoff here. From an Associated Press report from Palin’s home state of Alaska:

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailed her lesser-known conservative opponent Tuesday in a surprisingly tight race that was seen as a test of the political power of Sarah Palin and the tea party movement.

Joe Miller held a nearly 2,900-vote lead with two-thirds of precincts reporting as he looked to pull off one of the biggest political upsets of the year. Miller had 51.7 percent of the vote, compared with 48.2 percent for Murkowski. [From Kyle: Updated results show Miller with a lead of 1,960 votes with 98 percent of precincts reporting; it's now Miller 51.1, Murkowski 48.9.]

Miller is a decorated Gulf War veteran backed by Palin and the Tea Party Express who sought to cast Murkowski as being too liberal and …

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More businesses ought to ‘tax-plain’ themselves

Call it a “tax-planation” — spelling out for your customers why the government has forced you to increase what you charge them. From a Wall Street Journal article:

In New York, the sale of whole bagels isn’t subject to sales tax. But the tax does apply to “sliced or prepared bagels (with cream cheese or other toppings),” according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. And if the bagel is eaten in the store, even if it’s never been touched by a knife, it’s also taxed.

That was news to one New York bagel-store owner, who found out he was out of compliance with the policy this summer when the state audited his company.

Kenneth Greene, the owner of 33 Bruegger’s Bagel franchises throughout New York, says the state demanded that he start charging taxes on all bagels, except for those that remain intact and are consumed off premises, and forced him to pay a “significant” sum in taxes that the state estimated he owed.

Mr. Greene says the extra charge, about eight cents a …

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$578 million for a school, and layoffs for teachers

The hubris of the American education establishment is on full display at the new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles, price tag: $578 million.

It’s not just the pensions that are gold-plated in today’s schools. Read this description of the new school from an article by the Associated Press:

At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex’s namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel [at the site where the school was built].

Partly by circumstance and partly by design, the Los Angeles Unified School District has emerged as the mogul of Taj Mahals.

The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation’s costliest — the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009.

(snip)

Los Angeles is not alone, however, in building big. …

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