Archive for May, 2011

‘Truth-telling’ Pawlenty may seize the opening in GOP field

For a two-term governor of a decent-size state who’s been running for president all but officially for about a year now, Tim Pawlenty has made surprisingly little noise in the GOP race so far.

That might be about to change.

In a speech Monday making his candidacy official, Pawlenty made clear that his early theme of “truth telling” applies to everyone — including the Iowa audience to whom he was speaking. From RadioIowa (which offers audio of the speech at the link):

Pawlenty called for “big time” cuts in federal spending, including an end to federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol fuel.

“The hard truth is there are no longer any sacred programs,” Pawlenty said. “The truth about federal energy subsidies — including federal subsidies for ethanol — is that they need to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly, but we need to do it.”

Pawlenty, as governor of Minnesota, reduced state subsidies for ethanol. According to Pawlenty, it’s time to do the same …

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APS board politics reportedly resolved; maybe now SACS can focus on the cheating (Updated)

UPDATED at 9:55 p.m.: Khaatim Sherrer El has indeed agreed to step down as chairman of the Atlanta school board. I don’t know why this decision, described by El and fellow board member Yolanda Johnson as “coercion,” would be viewed as progress from a governance standpoint, but then I didn’t understand why a series of 5-4 board splits was grounds for probation of APS’s accreditation and would overshadow the system’s larger, very real problems.

ORIGINAL POST:

11 Alive News is reporting that the Atlanta Public Schools board has decided to change its chairman and vice chairman to settle an internal leadership dispute. Either Brenda Muhammad or Reuben McDaniel will be the new chair and the other one will be the new vice chair, with current chairman Khaatim Sherrer El consequently on the way out.

If true, this would end an eight-month-long political fight on the board that has distracted its members and APS’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, from …

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Is there a winner among (what’s left of) the GOP field?

Herman Cain jumped in, at an Atlanta rally attended by thousands at “high noon.” Mitch Daniels slunk out, via an email to supporters sent in the middle of the night. Another weekend, another news cycle so full of Republican presidential politics you’d think it was spring 2012, not spring 2011. Where does it all leave us?

Cain’s decision was hardly a secret, so let’s focus on Daniels. The Indiana governor was seen as a top choice for fiscal conservatives but potentially vexing for social conservatives. He talked for months as if he didn’t want to run, but no one seemed to believe him — or maybe they just didn’t want to believe him — until his midnight email Saturday. Compared to, say, Donald Trump, Daniels’ declining to run feels like a real loss. (OK, compared to Trump, Charlie Sheen’s declining to run would feel like a real loss.)

So we can now add Daniels to a long and distinguished list of Republican governors or ex-governors who say they’re not running for president next …

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Don’t mix tax, education bills with redistricting session

This summer’s special session of the Legislature is running the risk of becoming a little too special.

Lawmakers will return to Atlanta in August to deal with the decennial task of redistricting. With an additional seat in Congress to place, and a shuffling of state legislative seats from South Georgia and Atlanta to the northern metro suburbs, there will be plenty of work to do — and politics at play.

That’s not enough for some people. Tax reform and school choice are two topics suggested for the agenda.

As much as I support both of those policy goals, it would be better to wait.

In April, Speaker David Ralston pulled the plug on a frantic, late-hours efforts to pass tax reform. A committee of economists and businesspeople had recommended a sweeping package of measures to eliminate most exemptions and deductions from the income tax and flatten and lower rates. It also would have made state revenues more reliant on the sales tax and less on the income tax. But after …

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Summit speakers take whacks at U.S. energy policies, rules

As expected, energy production and policy took up a big chunk of the discussion at the Manufacturing Summit in Dalton Thursday.  But the various speakers took different approaches to their common topic.

First up was Rep. Tom Graves, who represents much of North Georgia in Congress and focused on the proliferation of regulations handcuffing businesses in a number of ways. Graves spoke of energy as one of the many areas affected by what he reported as 43 new major regulations that the federal government imposed in 2010 alone, at an estimated cost to businesses of $26.5 billion.

“Our rapidly expanding government has brought a pox of regulations upon businesses across this country,” Graves said.

“To the promoters of more government, bigger government…we must stand together and say, ‘no.’ When there are those that say free markets don’t work or capitalism is false, we must stand together as entrepreneurs and push ahead.”

Graves was followed by T. Boone Pickens, the oil and gas …

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Let’s get summitting on manufacturing

I’m in Dalton today for the 2011 Manufacturing Summit, about which I wrote last week. I’ll be sending updates through the day on Facebook and Twitter [sorry about bad links before; fixed now] and plan to have a wrap-up post on the blog after the event ends at 6 p.m.

– By Kyle Wingfield

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

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Delta perks expose Georgia lawmakers’ weak ethics

The problem with Georgia’s ethics laws isn’t that they could and should be stricter, although that’s true. No, the real problem is that too many lawmakers act as if the law is the only word on what is and isn’t ethical.

Witness the upgraded frequent flier status, worth thousands of dollars, that eight legislative leaders accepted last year from Delta Air Lines. (While all are Republicans, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat, also got the perk.)

These gifts of platinum or gold Delta Medallion status, reported in March by the AJC and revisited this week by Richard Belcher of Channel 2 Action News, were made under the guise of “campaign contributions.”

Just how the gifts contributed to anyone’s election campaign is unclear. Medallion status allows for an upgrade to first class, not free travel.

And there’s the tiny detail that not one of Georgia’s 236 legislators represents a district with more than one airport served by Delta. Senate President Pro Tem Tommie …

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Coburn’s departure means heartburn for Saxby Chambliss

The Gang of Six is now a Gang of Five after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., left the group Tuesday. From the Hill:

“We can’t bridge the gulf of where we need to go on mandatory spending,” Coburn said Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t see that there’s going to be any fruition in continuing them at this time.”

The specific mandatory spending in question reportedly had to do with Medicare.

Whether this is good or bad news probably depends on whether you liked the chances that the group would produce a workable bipartisan compromise. For me, it all came down to the details of what the group’s version of tax reform would look like: Was it a true effort to simplify, broaden and flatten the tax code, or was it a Rube Goldberg effort to move things around to obfuscate the real goal of raising taxes?

And that was assuming the group ever came up with an actual plan. It’s been a month and a week since two group members, Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss and Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, visited the AJC and …

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On Newt Gingrich’s careless right-on-right attack

All manner of conservative lawmakers and conservative opinion makers are declaring Newt Gingrich’s presidential chances dead after his Sunday morning bad-mouthing of the House Republicans’ plan for reforming Medicare. A few thoughts of my own:

  • Not 48 hours before his ill-advised remarks on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” in which he described the Medicare plan as a “radical” form of “right-wing social engineering,” Gingrich gave a hard-hitting speech at the Georgia GOP convention in Macon that made attendees think the former Speaker was back at the top of his game. This kind of inconsistency, compounded by two days of back-pedaling since Sunday, is one of Gingrich’s biggest problems.
  • If anything could redeem Mitt Romney’s otherwise stupefying decision to stand by his Massachusetts health reforms, Gingrich’s inconsistency just might be it.
  • As I mentioned in another comment thread earlier today, this episode also gives one the impression that he’s an “ideas man” who doesn’t put much …

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Obama’s back down to his pre-Osama poll numbers

A data point for those who thought President Barack Obama became invincible with the news that Osama bin Laden had been rendered, well, not invincible. From National Journal:

The bump President Obama received after the killing of Osama bin Laden more than two weeks ago in Pakistan has vanished completely, according to the latest Gallup Tracking poll released Monday.

Obama’s approval rating is now at 46 percent, equal to his approval rating in the last tracking poll conducted before Obama addressed Americans late on May 1 and informed them of bin Laden’s death. Forty-four percent of Americans now disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president.

According to the Gallup poll, Obama’s approval rating crested at 52 percent after the bin Laden killing. His disapproval rating never fell lower than 40 percent.

Obama’s bounce is smaller in magnitude and shorter in duration than the bumps enjoyed by other presidents over the past 70 years, according to a study by Republican polling …

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