Archive for February, 2012

The ‘regional’ GOP is being won outside the South

So much for the Republican Party being the party of the South and nowhere else.

Just when social issues returned to the fore of the national debate, with both the Obama administration’s health insurance mandate for contraception and the Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood funding flap in recent weeks, the Bible Belt is taking a back seat. Instead, this GOP presidential campaign is shaping up for the real action to be everywhere except Dixie.

Ours is the region that, you may recall, overly giddy liberals less than four years ago labeled the last bastion of a dying conservatism. But the sudden demise Thursday of CNN’s Super Tuesday debate, to have been broadcast March 1 from right here in Atlanta, was another primary blow against the region. Consider:

  • A pair of Southern favorite sons — Herman Cain (born in Memphis, raised in Georgia) and Rick Perry (a Texan born and bred) — are long since gone from the race.
  • A passel of Southern governors or ex-guvs — Mississippi’s Haley …

Continue reading The ‘regional’ GOP is being won outside the South »

Three years of “stimulus”

It has been three years since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed. Feel stimulated yet?

Three years later, the net change in jobs (since March 2009, through January 2012) is -428,000.

Last year, months after the recovery was to have taken hold, the economy created 1.8 million jobs. That might sound impressive if you don’t follow the labor market closely, but at that rate — monthly job creation of 152,000 — we won’t return to the previous employment peak of 146.6 million jobs until October 2014. That would be almost halfway through a second Obama term, and almost exactly seven years since that peak.

The unemployment rate, still well above the levels the Obama administration predicted when the stimulus was passed, has fallen in recent months in large part because between
3 million and 5 million Americans have grown discouraged and stopped looking for work. (The range owes to how retiring baby boomers are accounted for.) After rising for nearly six decades, the …

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About that charter schools report

Yesterday, as I was writing my column for Thursday’s AJC print edition, the state Department of Education released its annual report about charter schools. The headline resulting from that report — that charter schools are performing worse than other public schools based on the federal measure of Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP — is misleading.

For starters, here is the five-year trend line for scores, as illustrated in the report:

Charter school scores

Source: Georgia Department of Education

If you see any meaningful separation between “all” charter schools and “all” traditional public schools, you’re probably in the minority. What I see are two lines following much the same trend, taking turns being insignificantly ahead of the other. The five-year average for charter schools is 79.4 percent; for traditional public schools, it’s 79.6 percent. Pretty much a dead heat.

Ah, but aren’t charter schools supposed to produce better outcomes? If not, why bother with them?

Well, the majority of charter …

Continue reading About that charter schools report »

Charter schools amendment can fix our court-made mess

House Speaker David Ralston has said he “didn’t know if we were living in an era of two-thirds votes anymore.” We’ll soon find out.

Last week, Ralston’s House rejected a constitutional amendment restoring the state’s authority to establish charter schools. The measure needed 120 votes but received 110. (It would also need a two-thirds majority in the Senate and a simple majority in a referendum this fall.)

A day later, the House voted to give the measure another chance, as soon as today. Two chief objections stand in the way of at least 10 lawmakers changing their minds.

The first is that the General Assembly should favor local control. This is a familiar refrain, particularly among Republicans. While seven Democrats voted for the amendment, other Democrats like to throw that phrase back in the GOP’s collective face when it departs from that orthodoxy.

But no control is more local than that exercised by parents and students. And this issue is chiefly about …

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Poll: Do you find this Romney ad or this Santorum ad more effective? (with videos)

It’s not Friday yet, but I wanted to do a poll about these two political ads. Which one do you find more effective or persuasive?

Option 1:

Or option 2:

Now, the poll:

After watching both ads, I have a better impression of:

  • Neither (41 Votes)
  • Rick Santorum (21 Votes)
  • Mitt Romney (18 Votes)
  • Both (0 Votes)

Total Voters: 80

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Elaborate in the comments thread. And, please — try to refrain from, I hate both of those guys and always will! Please be as objective as you can; I’m truly curious about this.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading Poll: Do you find this Romney ad or this Santorum ad more effective? (with videos) »

2012 Tuesday: Are Obama and the left baiting GOP into nominating Santorum?

It’s been a couple of weeks since the Obama administration announced it would force religious-affiliated entities such as hospitals and colleges — most notably those tied to the Catholic church — to cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in the health insurance plans they provide their employees. And ever since, much of the commentary (including some of my own) has focused on the apparent mistake President Obama was making in alienating a large chunk of the electorate. Why would he make such an unforced error?

Maybe he thinks he can bait the GOP into making an error of its own.

After a couple of years of hearing that social issues would take a back seat in this election to the country’s soft economy and dire fiscal situation, suddenly social issues are all the rage:

  • There was the contraception mandate that came Jan. 20.
  • While those flames were still burning hotly, the decision by Susan G. Komen For the Cure to stop awarding grants to Planned Parenthood clinics …

Continue reading 2012 Tuesday: Are Obama and the left baiting GOP into nominating Santorum? »

Obama’s new budget: Still more red ink

President Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal yesterday. A lot can, and will, be written about it — including writings by me on this blog. For now, just the bottom line:

Accounting for the roughly $200 billion in net deficits attributable to the 2009 “stimulus,” Obama has taken an inherited deficit of $1.21 trillion and borrowed an increasing amount of money in each of the three fiscal years since then:

$1.29 trillion in FY 2010

$1.30 trillion in FY 2011

$1.33 trillion in FY 2012

We are expected to believe that this number would shrink to “just” $900 billion in FY 2013 if Obama’s budget were implemented. Here’s why I say “expected to believe”: All of the reduction comes from higher taxes, and this administration has been very wrong in its revenue estimates before — most recently by about $230 billion this year. This is in largest part because the economy has yet to improve in the way the administration thought it would. And all of this is without even delving …

Continue reading Obama’s new budget: Still more red ink »

Catching up on the past week: Charter schools, Santorum, birth control, Whitney

While I’ve been away, I (and y’all) missed a lot of opportunities to comment on a lot of topics. Here’s some quick making up for lost time:

CHARTER SCHOOLS AMENDMENT FAILS: Here’s hoping a second effort this week finds success. If not, the agents of the status quo — i.e., the educational establishment trying to protect its turf — may find the next option even less palatable than this one. I’ve been hearing for weeks now that one prominent Plan B involves setting up a state commission to review charter applications in tandem with local school boards; if a local board doesn’t follow that commission’s recommendation, the board could find itself receiving significantly less state education money. It would be wholly constitutional — the Legislature already attaches all sorts of strings to state money, and the final decision on an application on the charter would rest with the local board — and there are Democrats and Republicans alike pitching its merits. Only a simple majority …

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The moment you’ve all been waiting for …

Thanks to everyone for their well-wishes (and patience waiting for a moderator to post them in my absence) — as well as all the name suggestions! We didn’t wait this long to name the boy, but I’ve been trying to stay away from the computer and pay attention to him, his mom and/or his big brother.

But without further ado, I’m pleased to announce that his name is …

Owen

Owen

Like it? Think he’s cute? I’m glad to hear it.

Don’t? I trust you’ll understand that I’d just as soon not know about that.

I’ll have a new, now-where-were-we post on another topic up momentarily. Oh, and commenting is out of moderation and back to normal.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading The moment you’ve all been waiting for … »

Gone parentin’

I’ll be off-line for the next week or so: My wife and I welcomed our second child into the world this morning! It’s another boy — name still TBD — and he and his mama are resting well this afternoon. Life truly is miraculous, and I’m a thankful, proud papa today.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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