A notice just showed up on the web site of Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Thurmond, announcing that former President Bill Clinton will be in Atlanta for a $1,000-a-head fundraiser.
The 5 p.m. Thursday event will be at the Sheraton Atlanta.
The fundraiser will provide an excellent occasion for Thurmond – notice that he is “Mike” now, rather than “Michael” – to emphasize his connections to the Clinton wing of the Democratic party rather than the less popular wing dominated by President Barack Obama.
Thurmond was a 2008 supporter of Hillary Clinton for president, and his connections to Bill Clinton go back to the welfare reform days of the early ‘90s, when Gov. Zell Miller assigned Thurmond the task of working with the White House on the issue.
Thurmond was allegedly offered a federal post by the president/husband. But Hillary Clinton suggested instead a statewide run for labor commissioner.
Thurmond could use whatever money Bill Clinton brings his way. In terms of fundraising, and polls, he lags far behind Republican incumbent Johnny Isakson. Libertarian Chuck Donovan is also a candidate.
The long, three-day Labor Day weekend turned into an opportunity for two of Georgia’s candidates for governor to place some contentious topics before a distracted public.
On Thursday, well after the 6 p.m. start of local TV news, Republican Nathan Deal released partial tax returns covering 28 years – and declared questions about his personal finances closed.
The late announcement guaranteed that the partial revelation wouldn’t hit the largest part of TV watchers in Georgia until the next day – at the outset of the holiday. (See the TV ad that Democrat Roy Barnes pushed out this morning to revive the topic.)
On the Democratic side, an Associated Press piece on Barnes’ position on federal health care legislation was less premeditated – he sat down with AP reporters and editors last week. But the effect was the same.
“I consider it to be the greatest failure, modern failure, of political leadership in my lifetime,” Barnes said….
“Everybody recognized ‘we’ve got to do something here,’ but there was such partisanship on it.”
Barnes blamed Democrats for failing to explain the plan better and Republicans for not delivering reasonable alternatives. But he said ultimately the buck stops with Obama, as it did with him during his one term as governor.
“Listen, I made mistakes. I pushed some things that I should’ve reached a better consensus on,” Barnes said. “He did the same thing. He’ll learn.”
…But Barnes said — like Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue — that he worries the plan’s expansion of Medicaid in 2014 to cover more of the state’s estimated 1.7 million uninsured will leave Georgia on the hook for “staggering costs.”
“I hate to agree with Gov. Perdue, but I agree that this is one place that I think could be very financially devastating to the state until we get this ironed out,” Barnes [said]….
Barnes said current state Medicaid spending of roughly $2 billion could more than double to $5 billion once the federal government reduces matching rates back to more traditional levels.
The federal government and the state share the costs of Medicaid.
The federal government will pay 100 percent of costs for covering newly eligible individuals through 2016, under the law. But federal officials are also under pressure to cut the deficit, and Barnes said there will be tremendous pressure in Washington to have states pitch in.
He predicted governors would band together to create fixes to the law that would make it more manageable for state budgets.
Barnes also said that while he disagrees with Perdue’s decision to sue to overturn the health law, he wouldn’t pull the plug on the legal action if elected governor.
“If the state takes a position then you have to stick with the position,” he said.
He added, however, that he believes the lawsuit will be unsuccessful.
Barnes said roughly the same thing last month before a group of Georgia sheriffs, on the same day that President Barack Obama visited Atlanta.
But his more recent comments contained two significant differences: First, the specific criticism of Obama – no doubt driven by the current barrage of TV and radio ads paid for by the Republican Governors Association, seeking to portray Barnes and Obama as twins separated at birth.
In August, Barnes also predicted that the constitutionality of the new health care legislation – which mandates the purchase of insurance – would be settled quickly:
”I think that’s going to be decided long before I am governor. That issue’s going to be decided in the next 30 to 45 days.”
That optimism seems to have disappeared — Barnes has conceded that the topic of health care will be with him through the November.
Gov. Sonny Perdue was on the stump for Republican Nathan Deal – and himself – over the weekend. From the Times-Georgian of Carrollton:
Gov. Sonny Perdue said Saturday that he has made the Georgia government more efficient over the past eight years and he thinks Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal will continue that trend.
“We want a governor who’s dedicated and focused on the job at hand, with integrity and honesty,” Perdue said. “That’s who [Deal] is.”
Perdue joined Deal and several other Republican candidates in Carroll County Saturday at the annual customer appreciation day and dove shoot hosted by North Georgia Turf.
Republican nominee for governor Nathan Deal will announce a set of education policies this afternoon at the state Capitol. Deal spokesman Brian Robinson told the Gainesville Times that the platform will “emphasize math, science and technology and focus on fitness and nutrition.”
Meanwhile, at a Labor Day rally down in Albany, Democratic nominee for governor Roy Barnes may have been trying out a new jobs message. From WALB-TV:
Barnes says of Georgia’s 10 percent unemployment rate, 6.5 percent are those who have a high school diploma or less. Barnes said he would be in favor of raising the drop-out age, and taking more immediate steps to help business.
“All state and local contracts should be given to companies that employ Georgians and not out of state. We should in my view give a holiday on payroll taxes for those who hiring new workers for at least a year or two,” [he] said….
Barnes says it’s taken President Obama too long to get around to focusing on job creation in the United States, and he’d like to see the President create more permanent job tax credits.
Finally, a compromise offer on the expiration of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts may have surfaced Monday in the New York Times. This from an op-ed piece by Peter Orszag, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Obama administration:
In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether.
Ideally only the middle-class tax cuts would be continued for now. Getting a deal in Congress, though, may require keeping the high-income tax cuts, too. And that would still be worth it.
Why does this combination make sense? The answer is that over the medium term, the tax cuts are simply not affordable.
Yet no one wants to make an already stagnating jobs market worse over the next year or two, which is exactly what would happen if the cuts expire as planned.