Archive for May, 2011

The short happy (political) life of Donald Trump

Remember when I told you not to worry about Donald Trump? From Public Policy Polling, a new survey of GOP voters with a simple title: “Trump collapses.”

Donald Trump has had one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of Presidential politics. Last month we found him leading the Republican field with 26 percent. In the space of just four weeks he’s dropped all the way down to 8 percent, putting him in a tie for fifth place with Ron Paul.

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are at the top of the GOP race with 19 percent and 18 percent respectively. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin are further back at 13 percent and 12 percent, followed by Trump and Paul at 8 percent, Michele Bachmann at 7 percent, and Tim Pawlenty at 5 percent.

As Trump got more and more exposure over the last month Republicans didn’t just decide they weren’t interested in having him as their nominee — they also decided they flat don’t like him. Only 34 percent of GOP voters now have a favorable opinion of Trump …

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Boehner’s smart move on debt ceiling, spending cuts

The House Republicans have been setting the terms of the budget debate ever since Rep. Paul Ryan unveiled his “Path to Prosperity,” and now they’ve upped the ante. In a speech in New York City, Speaker John Boehner said any increase in the federal government’s debt limit must be accompanied by even larger spending cuts:

Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the President is given.

A few thoughts on why this is good policy and good politics:

First, it’s good policy because a “clean bill” to raise the debt ceiling, as the Obama administration wants, would be disastrous policy. Congress has proven that the mere requirement to raise the ceiling is not a sufficient restraint. And it’s become clear that the 2012 budget is not going to produce a grand bargain. If there’s going to be a compromise that begins to apply some semblance of fiscal …

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NATO chief visits Atlanta, talks Libya, defense spending

A week after the killing of Osama bin Laden, and with combat operations against Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya now in their eighth week, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to Atlanta on Monday. The visit was one of four stops on a U.S. tour for Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who’s been in charge of NATO since August 2009.

Rasmussen gave an interview to me and a reporter from the local NPR affiliate (WABE) after speaking at a luncheon held by the World Affairs Council of Atlanta and before heading out to Dobbins Air Reserve Base to meet with and thank Georgia National Guard members who have served in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and Libya. Here are some excerpts from the interview.

On whether there can be a military solution in Libya:

What we can do is to protect civilians by taking out major parts of the Gadhafi war machine. So, we target critical military capabilities, like tanks and armored vehicles, rocket launchers, ammunition depots, command …

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Should Georgia legalize horse racing and betting?

Let’s get this week started with a question: Did the third-place finish by a Georgia-owned horse at this past weekend’s Kentucky Derby do anything to make you more supportive of allowing horse racing in our state?

Horse-racing advocates have been trying for a while now to persuade state legislators to legalize the sport — and, more to the point, the gambling that goes hand-in-hand with it — in Georgia. They ramped up their P.R. campaign during this year’s legislative session and have proved willing to latch onto any current event or condition to boost their cause. Unemployment’s still high? Horse racing is about jobs. HOPE scholarship revenues struggling? Horse racing is about saving HOPE.

Did having a Georgia horse in the Kentucky Derby boost your interest in horse racing here?

  • I already supported horse racing in Georgia. (210 Votes)
  • Yes, mucho much! (187 Votes)
  • I couldn’t care less. (63 Votes)
  • I oppose more gambling in any form. (28 Votes)
  • There was a horse race …

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Georgia’s power base jumps right over Atlanta, Democrats

The giant sucking sound expected after last year’s census — pulling statehouse seats, and with them political power, from the southern part of the state into metro Atlanta — isn’t quite as loud as everyone expected.

Or maybe it just depends on how we define “southern” and “metro Atlanta.”

Leading up to the census, South Georgia was bracing itself for a huge loss of clout: perhaps half a dozen of the 45 or so House seats below the fall line (Columbus to Macon to Augusta), and maybe two or three of the region’s 15 Senate seats, too.

The implications for politics and policy were huge. From education (school choice) to transportation (Atlanta congestion versus “four-lanes to nowhere”) to water (interbasin transfers), the continuation of a long northward shift potentially meant big changes.

In the event, redistricting data for Georgia do reveal that roughly six House seats and a Senate seat or two will move northward. Yet, about half of the loss may come not from true South …

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First GOP debate: Yes, we Cain?

So, what to make of the relative praise Herman Cain is getting after last night’s first GOP 2012 presidential debate?

In case you missed it, Cain was the overwhelming winner of the post-debate instant survey conducted by pollster Frank Luntz on the “Hannity” show. And do I ever mean overwhelming: The group of viewers had just one person who admitted to favoring The Hermanator before the debate, but a majority of them said they supported him afterward.

Here’s a clip of the focus group:

Cain is also getting some props from writers at the Washington Post, Real Clear Politics, Hot Air, the Daily Caller and elsewhere.

But there’s that word: relative.

None of these reviews, while favorable, could be described as glowing (except for the Luntz crowd’s reaction). The big guns, as I mentioned yesterday, skipped the debate. And Cain still needs to prove he’s thought deeply about issues besides the economy and the federal budget (e.g., foreign policy).

I have to admit, I was very …

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Smaller names, big intrigue in first GOP presidential debate

More than eight months before the Iowa caucuses, and almost exactly 18 months before the 2012 general election, a handful of GOP presidential hopefuls will debate tonight in Greenville, S.C. There will be no Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich — to name a couple of Republicans all but in the race; nor Mitch Daniels, Michele Bachmann or Jon Huntsman — to name some folks tip-toeing closer to candidacy; nor Sarah Palin, Chris Christie or Mike Huckabee — to name a few big names who seem closer to not running; nor Donald Trump — to name a guy who’s gone from ubiquitous to irrelevant in less than a week.

Despite all that, I think the debate could be very interesting.

Here’s who’s in: Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum. And here’s why this could be a fun group to watch tonight [note: I've added short descriptions of Johnson, Paul and Santorum after inadvertently leaving them out originally -- KW]:

  • Can Pawlenty, a two-term governor of Minnesota who remains …

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Bin Laden: Now, what about Pakistan?

The question in the headline arose almost as soon as Americans learned our guys found and killed Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaida’s leader was hiding not far from Pakistan’s capital in a town called Abbottabad, where the country’s future military officers go to be trained and its past officers go to retire. There is speculation he may have lived in a large, walled compound there for up to six years.

Pakistan’s leaders, CIA Director Leon Panetta reportedly told congressional leaders this week, were either “involved or incompetent” in allowing bin Laden to live securely right under their noses. The White House didn’t notify Pakistan’s government of the mission beforehand, worried that someone in Islamabad’s hierarchy would warn bin Laden and allow him to escape again.

All this, despite our spending billions on foreign aid for Pakistan. If our foreign aid dollars can’t buy competence or confidence, what are we buying?

Public opinion polls routinely list foreign aid among the most …

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Where are they now: Charlie Crist edition

This is what happens when someone burns all the bridges between himself and his own political party: He goes from governor to losing U.S. Senate candidate to … ambulance chaser:

Then again, maybe this is better than watching a former politician become a lobbyist and call in favors for a living…

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Back to reality with a disappointing jobs report

What was I just saying about the soft economy eventually politically trumping the bin Laden story? From the Financial Times:

US businesses slowed their pace of new hiring in April after the economic recovery shifted into a lower gear in the first quarter.

The private sector added 179,000 jobs in April, according to ADP, the payrolls processor. The figures came in below economists’ estimates of a 198,000 rise and reflected a slowdown from February’s revised gain of 207,000. April saw the smallest rise since November, when private employers hired just 122,000 new workers.

“Employment growth at this pace is consistent with only modest declines in the unemployment rate,” ADP said.

Relatedly, help may be on the horizon: Politico reports that Republicans and Democrats alike in Washington think the time is ripe for corporate income tax reform that reduces exemptions and deductions in exchange for lowering rates.

Besides improving incentives and eliminating tax-code distortions for …

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