Archive for August, 2011

Hillary to the rescue for Obama? I don’t see it

Here we go with the speculation about changes Barack Obama could make to enhance his chances of re-election. One of those proposed changes is making Hillary Clinton his running mate. Richard Benedetto makes the case at Real Clear Politics:

Clinton would add some much-needed pizazz to a tough campaign that [Joe] Biden does not. More importantly, she would shore up a shaky Democratic base, a huge part of which consists of disappointed women who still believe the secretary of state should have been president and would have done a better job than Obama.

Biden, who ran for president himself in 2008, was picked for vice president largely to make up for the foreign policy experience that Obama lacked. After all, he had been chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But Clinton, after three years of solid performance as secretary of state, more than matches that, making Biden expendable.

It is Clinton’s voice, not Biden’s, that we hear when the administration speaks out on …

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2012 Tuesday: Can Bachmann play offense as well as defense?

Rick Perry’s entry into the 2012 presidential race has taken some of the wind out of Michele Bachmann’s sails right when she should have been picking up speed after her victory in Ames Straw Poll and the departure of fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, whose candidacy’s demise she helped to hasten.

That’s in part because Perry has some of the same appeal Bachmann does as a social conservative and as a forceful speaker about conservative ideals. But it’s also because, while Perry can point to a decade-plus track record as governor’s of the nation’s second-largest state, Bachmann is more defined by what she’s opposed in her four-plus years in Congress.

Obamacare, the bailouts, the debt-ceiling increase: Bachmann opposed them all. But as Pawlenty tried to point out, she didn’t bring down any of those measures, much less lead the charge on measures she did want Congress to pass. No doubt, other candidates will pick up that argument against her.

In the debates and the campaign more …

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The newest member of the ‘budget tenthers’: Warren Buffett

OMG, OMG, OMG!!1!111!!!! Warren Buffett wants to raise taxes on the rich! The republic has been saved!!!1!

Not quite.

Suffice it to say, Buffett gets a lot more left-wing, touchy-feely mileage from his op-ed in Monday’s New York Times than the federal government would get in the way of cold, hard cash by taxing him and his “mega-rich friends” more heavily.

From Buffett’s op-ed:

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

At first glance, Buffett seems to have made the case for “millionaires and billionaires” not paying their “fair share.” But let’s look a bit further:

  • In 1992, using Buffett’s figures, the top 400 would have paid …

Continue reading The newest member of the ‘budget tenthers’: Warren Buffett »

Tea partyers ask for consistency on timing of sales-tax votes (Updated)

The Legislature’s special redistricting session kicked off today. But with little business to conduct on the first day — first drafts of new statehouse maps have been released, but no bills yet — the show was stolen by some tea partyers complaining about another item on the session’s agenda.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s call to legislators included moving the date of a 2012 referendum on regional transportation sales taxes from the primaries next July to the November general election. This is a cynical move by Georgia Republicans, who are effectively enlisting Obama Democrats — expected to turn out in much higher numbers in November than in July — to pass a tax their own base doesn’t want.

The tea partyers’ response? Turnout turnabout is fair play.

“Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the Democrats in Washington during the Obamacare debate kept constantly changing the rules in the middle of the game to achieve the outcome they wanted,” Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator with Tea Party …

Continue reading Tea partyers ask for consistency on timing of sales-tax votes (Updated) »

Pawlenty’s departure leaves a bigger hole than polls suggest

If you believe, as I do, that Republicans need to nominate a presidential candidate with executive experience if they’re to defeat the incumbent Barack Obama, then Tim Pawlenty’s withdrawal from the race this weekend is a real loss.

For whatever reason, Pawlenty couldn’t turn that experience into success on the campaign trail. He’s been described as “boring,” but at the same time managed to draw plenty of attention for his scraps with primary opponents Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann. Boring people don’t find themselves in the spotlight for such reasons (though it must be noted that Pawlenty rarely was viewed as coming out of those scraps for the better).

Similarly, Pawlenty was described as the “generic Republican” when, as recently as last month, such a blank slate had an 8-percentage-point lead on Obama in Gallup’s poll (this month, Obama posted a still-shaky 45 percent to 39 percent lead over the “generic Republican”). That’s in part because he ticked a lot of boxes on …

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Why GOP’s redistricting won’t lead to a hard right turn

Now come the Democrats, cartographers of their own power for 130 years, to question the GOP’s intentions as it takes its first crack at drawing Georgia’s political maps.

A special session of the Legislature convenes Monday to redraw the districts of federal and state lawmakers. Conducted once a decade, it’s the most nakedly political exercise our state legislators undertake.

But the GOP is baring too much political ambition for Democrats to bear, claims House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. She accuses Republicans of following the 1965 Voting Rights Act too eagerly, to “purge” the state of white Democrats and hand the GOP a super-majority of two-thirds of the seats in each chamber.

The landmark civil rights law is not as negotiable as Abrams lets on. Were Republicans not to err on the side of compliance, by creating as many “majority-minority” districts as possible, a thornier fight would await them.

So, two questions: Why are white Democrats so vulnerable? And …

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Obamacare’s threat goes beyond the individual mandate

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling Friday that Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional is only part of the story. The rest of the story, with maybe the biggest impact, is that the court would let the rest of the law stand without the mandate.

And allowing that to happen could bankrupt the private health insurance industry — and put on the track to full-blown socialized medicine — even faster than an intact Obamacare threatens to do.

Everyone, from the Obama administration to the 26 states, including Georgia, that brought this lawsuit, agrees that the individual mandate is the key to the law because it is the mechanism for making people buy insurance before they become sick. The administration argues this is a reason for keeping the entire law intact; the states argue this is a reason for throwing out the entire law.

But unlike District Judge Roger Vinson, the appellate court decided that Congress didn’t have to include a “severability clause” for the law to …

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11th Circuit says individual mandate is unconstitutional (4th update)

UPDATE at 5:10 p.m.: Rather than tackling the severability issue in this post, I’ve put up a separate item about it.

UPDATE at 3:35 p.m.: Here’s a joint statement about the ruling from Gov. Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens:

We applaud today’s ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit striking down the individual mandate as ‘a wholly novel and potentially unbounded assertion of congressional authority.’ Today’s ruling recognizes the core principles of our federalist system and reminds an over-reaching federal government that the Constitution applies to it, too.

We do not, however, agree with all findings in the decision. Unlike the 11th Circuit, we believe that the Obama administration should be taken at its word that the individual mandate is crucial to the whole bill, and that the whole bill should be struck down. But this much is certain: Federal healthcare reform is on life support, and this case will be decided by the Supreme Court of …

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Poll Position: What’s the right balance between taxes, cuts?

One of several interesting moments in Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate was when all eight candidates were asked if they would accept a budget deal that included $10 of spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.

All eight of them said their answer was “no.”

What’s the right balance between spending cuts and tax hikes?

  • Tax hikes should equal or exceed spending cuts (82 Votes)
  • 1.5 trillion:1 (all cuts) (68 Votes)
  • 4:1 (48 Votes)
  • 2:1 (44 Votes)
  • 3:1 (43 Votes)
  • 10:1 (20 Votes)

Total Voters: 305

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Now, I have a hard time believing all eight of those candidates would really veto such a budget if they were actually sitting in the White House. The question itself, with such a lopsided and unrealistic ratio, seemed designed to lull one or more candidates into thinking they were merely being reasonable by conceding 10:1 — only to see that everyone else knew the real question was, “Do you want to be branded a tax raiser in a Republican primary?” …

Continue reading Poll Position: What’s the right balance between taxes, cuts? »

GOP debate: Pawlenty and Bachmann tangle, but Romney’s still ahead — and looking over his shoulder for Perry

The third time was a charm for the Republican presidential debates.

After an initial debate that most of the big names skipped, and a bizarre second debate undone by its own format, Thursday night’s debate in Ames, Iowa, had everything. Well, everything but a discussion of entitlements and the person of Rick Perry (although the Texas governor, about to enter the race Saturday, was mentioned by name). Still, it was a lively and worthwhile affair.

The candidates were combative: with one another as well as with the journalists asking the questions. The two big stories coming from the debate will surely be Tim Pawlenty’s sparring with fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann and the exception Newt Gingrich took to some of the questions he was asked.

Gingrich was feisty from the beginning, calling out panelist Chris Wallace for a “gotcha question” after the candidates had been asked to leave their talking points at the door. A question about a two-month-old story — the mass resignations

Continue reading GOP debate: Pawlenty and Bachmann tangle, but Romney’s still ahead — and looking over his shoulder for Perry »