Thank Sonny we’re not California

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

Drop Sonny a note and thank him for managing the small cuts that keep Georgia from being California, where budget “solutions” are mostly just gimmicks that hide the problem and roll it over into another year. Thank goodness for a constitutional prohibition on deficit spending – and for a governor who started managing the nickels early in the downturn. The gimmee crowd – the teachers’ union, for example – really should shut up. It could be far worse.

Fifteen Georgia counties have unemployment rates above 13 percent. State financial incentives for businesses to locate here should be limited to those with high unemployment caused by plant closings. Once skilled and disciplined workers leave to find jobs in metro Atlanta or elsewhere, they’re not going back, worsening those counties’ predicament. Kelly McCutcheon, executive VP of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, notes that “hundreds of scholarly studies and decades of real-world experience reveal no clear benefits in state tax incentives” and are “particularly questionable” in a business-friendly state like Georgia. Use them sparingly. And target ‘em.

Murray County schools are free to go to a 160-day school year, rather than the required 180 days. It’ll make up the time by extending the school day one hour. Schools this legislative year got authority to exercise more local control. The end destination for all education-related decisions is results, outcomes, performance. Inputs should be left to parents and their chosen school leaders.

Georgia is among 17 states with the lowest graduation rates, according to an advocacy group. Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be in schools with low graduation rates. Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely to be born without a married mother and father in the home. There is a correlation. It’s not the schools’ fault. We can’t fix education’s problems until we fix the family – or as an inadequate alternative, change the school model.

Once again the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services wasn’t omnipotent in preventing the death of a child, which authorities say occurred at the hands of the mother’s boyfriend. It doesn’t take a village; social workers won’t always render perfect judgment. It’s the mother and father thing, again. Government can’t raise healthy children or protect them.

Atlanta may have to return $30 million in federal empowerment zone money that it couldn’t spend productively. Too much “red tape” say some critics. Shoot fire, your red tape is my accountability for public money. It wasn’t spent because it was too much money chasing too little real opportunity for productive use. The last thing in the world that should happen now is that politicians and bureaucrats start pushing money out the door.

From a news story: “Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a member of the Finance Committee, is seen as a potential defector from her party on…” You complete the sentence: a) health care legislation b) the Sonia Sotomayor nomination c) the $787 billion “stimulus” porker d) anything Harry Reid wants e) all of the above.

Is the war against terrorism up or global warming down? In India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives an impassioned speech demanding that the country and others do more to confront terrorism and global warming. Global warming won’t kill us; terrorists will.  She also joined a television discussion of what’s wrong with education in the U.S. and India. One world, one solution.

Which is more important — the F-22 or paid jobs among the non-profits? The one is cut, the other funded through the $787 billion “stimulus” bill. The arts are important, sure, and donors are strapped. But to metro Atlanta and to the nation, the F-22 jobs and the fighters they produce, when abandoned, leave us less secure. The “stimulus” will funnel another $342,000 to Georgia’s arts-related nonprofits.

211 comments Add your comment

GA Teacher

July 23rd, 2009
8:42 pm

I am totally fine with the furlough, but for the 180th time, there are no teacher unions in Georgia. Stop watching Fox News and get it straight locally. Thanks.

John

July 23rd, 2009
8:46 pm

State employees in all departnents from DHR to prosecutors to the Georgia State Patrol to DNR and beyond have been furloughed for months–some as much as 12 days. The vast majority of these employees make less than teachers–including prosecutors in many cases. Almost all of these employees work a lot of hours for which they don’t get paid just as teachers do. With few exceptions, these employees haven’t received a raise in two years. Teachers in private schools make significantly less in almost all cases than their counterparts in public schools and most haven’t received a raise in those same two years. They also have had to have reductions in pay while spending as much or more out of pocket for classroom materials for their classrooms–and none of them have received the $100 in free money provided to public school teachers. All of these employees have taken their cuts without whining and without complaining. They are thankful that–unlike the people many of us know who work in the private sector–they have jobs from which they can be furloughed. The vast majority of public school teachers and administrators do a great job. However, they are only hurting their cause and their image in their communities by claiming they are being treated unfairly by being furloughed for three days. They need to shut up and take the teaspoon of bitter medicine they have been given when the vast majority of us out there have had to swallow whole bottles of the same stuff.

Susan

July 23rd, 2009
8:48 pm

The Georgia Association of Educators has called itself a teachers union many times over the past 25 years. That is GAE’s terminology–not the television station.

GA Teacher

July 23rd, 2009
9:01 pm

Susan, I understand, but there are many who claim to be God too, that doesn’t make it so. GAE is a bit on the crazy side in my opinion. Also, to all out there such as John: many if not most teachers are okay with the furloughs. WE UNDERSTAND. Remember, those who scream loudest often are those outside of the mainstream. (ie: Ann Coulter and Al Sharpton) If I could shut them up I would. One other thing about the comparison to private school teachers: there isn’t a comparison for the most part. Public schools have to answer to bureaucracy, take all children sent to us, deal with any special ed students, discipline problems and young criminals. Private schools do not unless they want to accept the child. I have taught both and I respect my private school coworkers, but in my personal experience, I do have much more work on the public side with many more disagreeable students and apathetic parents. Private school teachers are usually willing to have less pay to not have to deal with the BS and I can’t say I blame them, but it is their choice.

James

July 23rd, 2009
9:16 pm

Actually, global warming could kill us…just not tomorrow

It was time for the F-22 to end. When the defense secretary says we don’t need a weapon, we don’t need the weapon. It’s bad for Marietta, but it’s not like the government spending is going away or the defense budget is going down. They are reallocating it to a better resource. Isn’t smart and efficient government what conservatives want?

Skeptimal Optimist

July 23rd, 2009
9:24 pm

“They are reallocating it to a better resource. Isn’t smart and efficient government what conservatives want?”

Yep. Finishing off the F-22 air superiority fighter and just filling the gap on a mediocre F-35 designed for ground attack roles to replace the F-16 and F-18 is not smart. And even moreso, taking over 20% of the nation’s economy known as health care and turn it over to the bloated liberal-run incompetent, backpedaling on promises government is DEFINITELY not smart.

Try again.

Skeptimal Optimist

July 23rd, 2009
9:33 pm

“Isn’t smart and efficient government what conservatives want?”

Yep. We’re not getting it with that Stimulus Bill that was passed. Maybe if they’d have slowed down and read the thing and not rushed it – which fortunately the health care bill was stopped for that reason. Hallelujah! Yeah, this is smart and efficient government in lib land:

$50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
$380 million in the Senate bill for the Women, Infants and Children program
$300 million for grants to combat violence against women
$2 billion for federal child-care block grants
$6 billion for university building projects
$15 billion for boosting Pell Grant college scholarships
$4 billion for job-training programs, including $1.2 billion for “youths” up to age 24
$1 billion for community-development block grants
$4.2 billion for “neighborhood stabilization activities”
$650 million for digital-TV coupons; $90 million to educate “vulnerable populations”
$150 million for the Smithsonian
$34 million to renovate the Department of Commerce headquarters
$500 million for improvement projects for National Institutes of Health facilities
$44 million for repairs to Department of Agriculture headquarters
$350 million for Agriculture Department computers
$88 million to help move the Public Health Service into a new building
$448 million for constructing a new Homeland Security Department headquarters
$600 million to convert the federal auto fleet to hybrids
$450 million for NASA (carve-out for “climate-research missions”)
$600 million for NOAA (carve-out for “climate modeling”)
$1 billion for the Census Bureau
$89 billion for Medicaid
$30 billion for COBRA insurance extension
$36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
$20 billion for food stamps
$4.5 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
$850 million for Amtrak
$87 million for a polar icebreaking ship
$1.7 billion for the National Park System
$55 million for Historic Preservation Fund
$7.6 billion for “rural community advancement programs”
$150 million for agricultural-commodity purchases
$150 million for “producers of livestock, honeybees, and farm-raised fish”
$2 billion for renewable-energy research ($400 million for global-warming research)
$2 billion for a “clean coal” power plant in Illinois
$6.2 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program
$3.5 billion for energy-efficiency and conservation block grants
$3.4 billion for the State Energy Program
$200 million for state and local electric-transport projects
$300 million for energy-efficient-appliance rebate programs
$400 million for hybrid cars for state and local governments
$1 billion for the manufacturing of advanced batteries
$1.5 billion for green-technology loan guarantees
$8 billion for innovative-technology loan-guarantee program
$2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
$4.5 billion for electricity grid
$79 billion for State Fiscal Stabilization Fund

just a teacher

July 23rd, 2009
9:33 pm

John

The issue to me a “public school teacher” has two parts. One is that we signed contracts several months ago(try changing a contract in the private sector, and see what you get….by the way I spent 20 years in the private sector, working for serval corporatations). The second is the timing of the furloughs. My school system for example, is starting next week. Now the individual county school boards are going to have to carry out our governor’s lack of planning. They will have to break one year contracts given to all the certified employees. The governor himself has questions about the legality of this…..

just a teacher

July 23rd, 2009
9:36 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention that I have 3 other family members that are working for the state of GA. ALL of them make more money than I do as a teacher with 6 years of experience….

educator

July 23rd, 2009
9:49 pm

I must agree their are no teacher unions in the state of georgia because if we did we would have the opporunity to use collective bargining for our contracts. To the one who complained about the 100 gift card my wife spent four hundred dollars last year for school supplies to use in our classrooms. To John most of those state employees are hourly. I wish I got paid by the hour I would make twice as much money.

CORE VALUES

July 23rd, 2009
9:52 pm

Governor PURDUE should be ASHAMED of him self to put this on the backs of our educators!

CORE VALUES

July 23rd, 2009
9:54 pm

Governor PURDUE should be ASHAMED of himself to put this on the backs of our educators!

Northern Songs LTD

July 23rd, 2009
9:57 pm

Gee, only 6 posts before the name calling started, and guess which side it was…

Bill

July 23rd, 2009
10:41 pm

Yeap, it is time for Wooten to go to the farm ! Same old rubbish !

David

July 23rd, 2009
10:47 pm

Get your facts straight. The F22 did not make us safer. Its an old Soviet era jet that just takes critical limited defense dolars away from more critical needs such as fighting al qaeda. Jim Wooten ONCE AGAIN calls himself a conservative but shows his true liberalism by supporting a long-obsolete government program simply because it creates a few jobs. Defense dollars should be spent for defense ! and not for public welfare.

GOP Teacher

July 23rd, 2009
11:47 pm

I am a Union member; they sent directions and answered questions by email Wed and Thur. A furlough means my parking space will be empty next Mon and Tues. The work will not get done; maybe some parents will come and help.

say what?

July 24th, 2009
12:27 am

Unions have outlived their purpose especially in education. We are all stuck in the same sinking boat, why should ONLY teachers get to ride the life boat or have a life preserve thrown to them? Everyone complains about each other’s job, but the fact that we all work these jobs in order to support our families should clue people in to the fact that we are all( teachers, parents, students, caseworkers, etc) the Have NOTS and need to work together. At least teachers are just now getting furlough days, my former employer has been furloughing people since last year. It was bound to happen to everyone but GSP.

The comment about parents volunteering- in my middle school (that did not make AYP) the principal has told parents to “cut the strings” and stop coming to the school so much. But no worry teacher unions and representatives, her job is safe until she is ready to retire in 4 years. Teachers who think parents don’t want to come I guess the welcome committee needs a little tweaking. Way to go Murray county-creative thinking and savings all in one. Let’s see what would happen in a metro county- all teachers would see is that they have to be with kids one more hour per day, not that in the end they would be without students more days. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Thanking Sonny for what? Being in denial all these years but setting aside millions for a fishing tournament near his hometown, or selling property knowing the plans for the adjacent lots? If Sonny could have taken out loans and doled out IOUs he would have but fortunately, and probably the only good thing in GA, we must have a balanced budget; otherwise, it would be IOUs and I will let the next person worry about it.

With the change in presidents Saxby may not know how to act- his power may be diminishing. Good for GA.

Name calling is from all sides, now wait and someone will link Thinking Right topics to color and single mothers. It will just show how shallow and sheltered folk are- GET A LIFE.

Jim morrison

July 24th, 2009
2:08 am

Hey all of you Socialist Barry Obama supporters1

How do ya like that CHANGE NOW!

National Health Care, HA! You really can’t actually think that Obama is better than Bush.

Enough Said!!!

GAE and gullible teachers

July 24th, 2009
2:11 am

What kind of “union” is run by management? GAE. The president of GAE is a Clayton County school administrator. Teachers complain that no one ever speaks up for them, and then they turn around and join an organization that is run by administrators. Why not just save your dues and wear a Kick Me sign?

Chris

July 24th, 2009
4:38 am

I will thank Sonny when my 2008 tax refund arrives! Until then, the governor get a failing grade from Woodstock!

clyde

July 24th, 2009
5:21 am

Georgia can always do what Louisiana did to boost graduation rates,hand out a “thanks for showing up”diploma.

Olympia Snowe,{R}Maine is an odd sort of Republican.She’s never had to stand before her constituents and beg forgiveness for her,sexual,monetary,other, transgressions and she keeps getting elected.Wide margins too,no cliff hangers there.

I’m betting that you could have told us just where in the 17 states Georgia ranked,Jim.If you had wanted to.

Gerald West

July 24th, 2009
5:52 am

Thank Sonny? What’s he done to deserve thanks? What’s he done at all? Before Sonny and his cronies, Georgia was recession proof, attracting new industries and new residents even when the nation was in recession. Now, we have 10% unemployment, the worst budget shortfall except for California, traffic congestion, water problems, plus the endemic health and education problems.

Conservative

July 24th, 2009
6:51 am

Which is better managed General Motors or Lockheed. The F22 was priced to the taxpayer at $60 million but ended up costing 5 times as much. Lockheed’s Union is worse than the UAW.

SAXBY

July 24th, 2009
6:52 am

Lockheed lied to me about the F35.

Cheap Trick

July 24th, 2009
6:59 am

The kenyan would rather fund the unemployed brood mares in Atlanta than the Lockheed Union that voted for him. Race card played in 5..4..3..2..1

ABH

July 24th, 2009
7:09 am

On a purely tactical level, it’s easy to understand why the responsibility for deciding how to trim the state government’s budget in the face of an ongoing economic downturn that is decimating tax revenue has fallen to, or been assumed by, Gov. Sonny Perdue.

As a lame-duck Republican governor closing in on 2010, the final year of his term-limited second four years in office, Perdue faces no political downside for his solo slashing of the budget. Also, in shouldering that thankless task alone, Perdue provides some political cover for members of his party – a majority in the state legislature – who are, or could be, facing opposition in next year’s election.

Borrowing a sports metaphor, Perdue is “taking one (well, actually, more than one) for the team” as he works with limited, and largely behind-the-scenes, guidance from legislative leaders in coping with the dramatic budget shortfall.

While the tactics behind the budget-cutting rubric are understandable, the strategy the governor has chosen to employ to make those spending cuts is simply an ill-advised approach to managing the state’s fiscal crisis.

Throughout these challenging economic times, the governor’s preferred option has been to issue decrees calling for state agency heads to implement across-the-board spending cuts of one specific percentage or another. While the governor gets some credit for giving some breaks to public education – a core function of state government – in terms of the level of mandated percentage-based budget cuts imposed, that overall approach to trimming expenditures is fast becoming problematic.

Perdue’s latest mandate, for a 5 percent cut to most state agencies – not sparing education, nor public safety – in addition to a simultaneous call to furlough state employees for three days before the end of this calendar year, creates some real issues in terms of lessening the quality of basic government services.

For example, in a Morris News Service story earlier this week, Georgia Department of Public Safety spokesman Gordy Wright said state troopers would take furloughs when traffic in their areas is lightest. That sounds sensible, but doesn’t address the fact that light traffic doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be drunken or speeding drivers endangering other motorists at those times.

Similarly, while furloughs might not keep teachers out of the classroom during instructional time, with many school systems opting to impose those furloughs during teachers’ planning days, that doesn’t guarantee students won’t be getting less-effective schooling than otherwise would be the case. Additionally, there are questions about whether teachers, who work under contracts, can be ordered to take furloughs – which means local school systems could have to find other ways to cut expenses, again likely at some real expense to students.

Also, at some of the state’s more sprawling enterprises, such as the University of Georgia, the governor’s mandate finds administrators struggling with a host of issues, such as whether lower-paid workers, who arguably aren’t in a position to absorb a furlough, should be furloughed nonetheless for as long as higher-paid workers.

With these kinds of issues confronting agencies that deliver core government services, it is becoming increasingly clear that across-the-board percentage-based budget cuts can’t continue to be the governor’s response to lagging tax revenues.

Clearly, it is time for the governor to start thinking in terms of which government services can be cut back drastically, in order to leave core services intact. By way of example, with the vacation season drawing to a close, why doesn’t it now start making sense for the governor to consider closing down the state’s parks and historic sites, at least through the end of the calendar year? Or, why shouldn’t the governor consider shutting down the Department of Driver Services through the end of the calendar year, declaring a grace period for motorists who need their licenses renewed or have just moved into the state, and delaying the issuance of licenses to new drivers for a few months?

Either of these options seems far preferable to the continued squeezing of education and public safety in a percentage-based fiscal vise, and they’d represent the kind of creative thinking that certainly will be needed if, as seems likely, the economy continues to lag

Will

July 24th, 2009
7:10 am

Because of Governor Perdue’s pandering to confederate republicans in his first election, I have never been much of a fan.

However, in addition to your comments regarding his fiscal responsibility, I would add another example. While political extremists like the adultrous governor of South Carolina and the quitter up in Alaska tried to pander to their base regarding stimulus funds, Governor Perdue set aside partisan politics, issued no pandering statements, and eventually accepted funding.

What’s that you say, the stimulus funding has failed? Why don’t we wait until more than 15% of the funds have been spent before passing judgement.

One more example – Governor Perdue’s furlough announcement was intended to direct the political heat at his expense and away from local school superintendents, many of whom were facing tough decisions regarding layoffs or furloughs.

If this has occured in Alaska, the quitter would have most likely blamed either the media or the school superintendents for economic woes relating to public education and washed her hands of problem. In South Carolina, who knows? The adulter governor has taken so many vacations since he was outed (he is on another as we speak), I assume public education in South Carolina has been abandoned.

Caveman

July 24th, 2009
7:10 am

Sonny and his merry Republicons will happily furlough state employees and take money out of local economies rather than cut out their pork barrel spending and paybacks to their big contributors. Over $20 million for Sonny’s “Go Fish” nonsense and over $50 million to the Reynolds family to build hotels on Jekell island prove that there’s plenty of money to pay for corruption in Georgia.

John

July 24th, 2009
7:14 am

I am so tired of hearing people whine about not getting their tax refunds. If you had done what you were encouraged to do and what the vast majority of people do and filed electronically, you would have had a refund a long time ago. I filed electronically on April 15 and my refumd was there in five days. Virtually everybody else who did it that way also got it. Those who filed paper returns have themselves to blame for the delay.

Dave

July 24th, 2009
7:25 am

Caveman — Under the Democrats State Employees would not have a JOB But we would be Taxed to death.

sharecropper

July 24th, 2009
7:52 am

Wooten, you’re at it again. You Republicans are all the same: waste is what’s left over after you get yours. The F22 is a — was? — a pork project, welfare if you will, and if 187 of them (running 1983 software, by the bye) can’t keep us safe, then dozens more wouldn’t help, and we are toast. And money for the arts? Omigod. Only in Georgia, where we apparently still think Little Darkie jockeys on our driveways are the ultimate art. Try to show some leadership. I know it’s hard.

Diane

July 24th, 2009
8:03 am

Why are Georgia DAs and their assistants and their investigators and whoever else going to Jekyll Island Sunday for three days when the state is in such a budget crisis? Couldn’t they do this by video or attend the same training where they live? Why does it take THREE DAYS to get in a 12-hour conference? You could easily do that in a day and a half or, in these times, one day. Sonny Perdue should reward those DA offices who are NOT attending this beach and golf vacation ny not furloughing them and furlough every state employee who does attend an amount equal to the expense the state incurs for the conference to happen and them to attend.

D Brooks

July 24th, 2009
8:20 am

Forget the wonkery. Let’s get primeval. Rising health care costs are a stampede of big ugly rhinos. They are trampling your crops, stomping on your children’s play areas and spoiling your hunting grounds.

President Obama wasn’t exaggerating when he said this cost onslaught is unsustainable. The rhinos have been roaming unchecked for a generation. We’ve thrown research projects, legislative and corporate reforms at them, all in an effort to tamp down health care inflation. But the rhinos keep coming. They are ubiquitous, powerful, protean and inexorable.

They feed on fuel sources deep in our system: expensive technological progress, the self-interest of the millions of people who make their living off the system, the public’s desire to get the best care for nothing, the fee-for-service payment system and so on.

The rhinos are closing off your future. As the White House folks say, health care premiums have doubled over the last decade. The government is saddled with $36 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

So your only question should be: Where do you find a tool or weapon big enough to stop the rhino stampedes? You know the problem is big, and you figure the response had better be gigantic.

Then you look on Capitol Hill and you see a bunch of popguns. The politicians describe these big ugly problems, but when it comes time to talk about their remedies they tell you: Don’t worry. Nothing’s going to change. In other words, we’re going to eliminate the biggest, hairiest, most entrenched problem in the country without fundamentally changing the system and without asking for sacrifice from anybody.

Good luck.

Then you talk to the health care experts promoting the bills and they are very honest: We don’t know exactly how to slow health care inflation. But we think we have some good ideas. We’re going to put some innovations, information clearinghouses and pilot projects in this legislation, and over the next 10 years we will see what works to really bring down costs. We’re going to go on a voyage of discovery to learn about rhino eradication.

And, indeed, some of the ideas do sound good: more information technology, comparative effectiveness research, conducting experiments to bundle hospital payments so they are based on outcomes. Some of the providers that do things right, like the Mayo Clinic, really are getting results.

But some of these ideas have been watered down in the legislation. And you’re not a complete idiot. You know there is a big difference between finding islands of excellence and creating a national system based on them.

Besides, you’ve got a bunch of big, evil rhinos stomping around! You want more than some promising ideas to pinpoint waste, fraud and abuse. You want some big heavy hammers to clock those suckers in the head.

Now that the first wave of legislation is bogging down, you want to take the seeds of cost control and you want to do more. You want to eliminate or cap the tax exemption on employee health benefits. This is a big way to crush one of the core drivers of health care inflation. You’re willing to give MedPAC-style technocrats a chance to take control of Medicare spending away from Congressional spendthrifts.

You want to loosen federal regulations so that states have more room to experiment — not tighten them, as the current legislation does, so that states have less. You want reforms throughout the system that will cut down on first-dollar reimbursement in exchange for catastrophic protection. You want to tie Medicare subsidies to income. You want to look at anything that will move us away from a fee-for-service model, the core perversion in the system.

You want to change incentives at both ends. The legislators who drew up the first bills want to change the provider’s incentives. But big cost savings can also come if consumers have choices and incentives to hunt for cheaper coverage. The Wyden-Bennett bill gives people a chance to choose the best option, instead of imprisoning people in existing coverage, as the current legislation does. The Medicare Part D reform has produced impressive reductions by allowing consumers to pocket prescription drug savings. Other proposals would give people tax credits and allow them to go to any trusted community group — like AARP or a union or a religious group — that wanted to compete to offer coverage.

Not everything is compatible with everything else. But the point is that you have rhinos at the door! You’ll try anything that works. You want a political class that no longer perpetuates the myth that people can get everything for nothing. You know that it was political pandering that got us into this mess in the first place.

Obama is right. Things will be bad if we don’t tackle the problem this year. Things will be worse if we add to the costs without beating the rhinos.

Churchill's MOM

July 24th, 2009
8:32 am

Where does the Washington Post find these people, all my friends love Sara.

Last year’s Republican vice presidential nominee remains a deeply polarizing figure, and there are warning signs for her as she emerges as a possible contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. While she is still widely popular among those in her party, she has lost ground among Republicans generally and among the white evangelicals who are so critical in the early presidential primaries.

Overall, the new poll found that 53 percent of Americans view Palin negatively and 40 percent see her in positive terms, her lowest level in Post-ABC polling since she first appeared on the national stage last summer as Sen. John McCain’s running mate.

The dip in Palin’s favorability comes as she gets ready to leave office Sunday with about 18 months remaining in her term and plans to turn her attention to national politics. Palin, 45, has said she intends to campaign for other like-minded candidates, and speculation has been rampant that she may seek the GOP nomination to oppose President Obama.

She debuted at last year’s Republican National Convention as a popular figure, with nearly six in 10 Americans holding a favorable opinion of her. But public confidence in her dropped as the November election neared, and it has slipped even further in the months since.

Republicans and GOP-leaning independents continue to rank Palin among the top three contenders in the run-up to 2012, however, with 70 percent of Republicans viewing her in a positive light in the new poll. But her support within the GOP has deteriorated from its pre-election levels, including a sharp drop in the number holding “strongly favorable” impressions of her.

And while Palin’s most avid following is still among white evangelical Protestants, a core GOP constituency, and conservatives, far fewer in these groups have “strongly favorable” opinions of her than did so last fall.

Democrats, meanwhile, continue to express deeply negative opinions of Palin, with more than three-quarters expressing unfavorable views, including 56 percent who feel that way intensely. Among independents, 40 percent view her favorably and 51 percent unfavorably, the survey shows.

Perhaps more vexing for Palin’s national political aspirations, however, is that 57 percent of Americans say she does not understand complex issues, while 37 percent think she does, a nine-percentage-point drop from a poll conducted in September just before her debate with now-Vice President Biden. The biggest decline on the question came among Republicans, nearly four in 10 of whom now say she does not understand complex issues. That figure is 70 percent among Democrats and 58 percent among independents.

“She just, to me, lacks substance and dedication,” poll respondent Barbara Jamison, 59, a data-entry worker at a publishing company, said in a follow-up interview. Jamison, an independent from Killingworth, Conn., added that Palin “strikes me as being more interested in celebrity than in actually doing political work.”

Palin will resign on Sunday at a picnic in Fairbanks and hand over power to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R). As she departs, Americans’ views of her are deeply divided across a range of questions, even in areas that are considered her chief political attributes.

As a vice presidential candidate, Palin was seen as an empathetic figure, but the new poll shows Americans split on whether she understands the problems of people like themselves. By contrast, nearly two-thirds think Obama is in touch with the problems they face.

***Handel 2010***Palin Sanford 2012*****

jconservative

July 24th, 2009
8:40 am

“The end destination for all education-related decisions is results, outcomes, performance.”

Jim, would you not get better results if schools were open 240 days a year instead of 180 or 160? Think how much could be learned in an additional 2 months in school. And 2 months times 12 years – how much more could one learn?Only in America & France do we waste this much productive time.

JF McNamara

July 24th, 2009
8:45 am

Skeptimal Optimist said

“Finishing off the F-22 air superiority fighter and just filling the gap on a mediocre F-35 designed for ground attack roles to replace the F-16 and F-18 is not smart.”

Ok, you pretty much lost all of your credibility on anything defense related. Maybe you should research our military mission profiles and the capabilities of the F-35. Also, how many times has F-22 been used in combat? Hint, 0.

Also on your diatribe about the stimulus. Just because you don’t agree with where money goes doesn’t mean it isn’t serving the best purpose. It just means you don’t agree.

The funny thing is that some of the things you listed are pretty smart uses of funds. For example, Funding Pell grants educates people leading to higher overall lifetime earnings and taxes paid. Same thing for child care education. Studies show that those who learn more in the formative years become more productive over their lifetime. I could go down the list, but why bother. You could do it with 2 minutes of research on any of the topics you so boldly listed.

Northern Songs, Ltd.

July 24th, 2009
8:46 am

And the honeymoon ends – and we didn’t even get to consummate it. Buh bye Sarah.

Cue the spin cycle.

jconservative

July 24th, 2009
8:52 am

I agree with David re the f-22. If it is such a great weapons system
why has it not flown a single combat mission in the 2 wars we have been
fighting? This plane was created in 1983 to meet 1980’s challenges the Pentagon expected to exist 20 years later.

Mid-South Philosopher

July 24th, 2009
9:03 am

Ah, Jim, your perception as to the “Teachers’ Union” is a bit inaccurate. Neither GAE or PAGE is really all that powerful. Certainly not to the extent that some of the teacher unions (with collective bargaining, which is prohibited by law in this state) are in the North.

However, “teachers”, as a voting block have the potential to be the “most” powerful voting block in Georgia. Just ask the “Austell Apple Seller”!

jconservative

July 24th, 2009
9:05 am

Jim said “Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a member of the Finance Committee, is seen as a potential defector from her party on…” You complete the sentence:”

Do you believe Republicans should pour the money into Maine & try to elect a more “loyal to the party line” than Snowe? Lets see, that was tried in Rhode Island in 2006, bunch of neo-con money poured into the state against the sitting incumbent Republican. Both then spent all their money in the primary. Then the general election allowed an unknown Democrat with a big pile of money to buy the election. As a result of this, the Democrats controlled the Senate by 1 vote in 2007-2008 session.

Be very careful of what you wish for in politics. In the Senate it is not the vote on individual issues that matters most, it is, rather what caucus you join.

Tom

July 24th, 2009
9:13 am

C’mon, folks, Wootie is exactly right: without the F-22, we’ll be much less safe if the Soviet Union decides to attack us.

deegee

July 24th, 2009
9:13 am

I totally respect the work of public school teachers. But don’t they get a lot more days off with pay than without pay? I am an employee of a private company that cut pay instead of jobs this year. The pay cut computes to one day’s wages a month. I still have to go to work on my “furlough” day. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying.

So it ain't so, Joe

July 24th, 2009
9:32 am

Is it me or did the state’s fiscal year start on July 1st?? It took Sonny 22 days to furlough teachers and less than that for him to cut funding to state agencies. If that isn’t rolling over problems to the next fiscal year than what is? And Wooten wrote column after column about Obama breaking contracts through the GM bankruptcy, but praises Sonny for doing the same thing to teachers. A hack if I ever saw one.

Get Real

July 24th, 2009
9:35 am

Wooten is all about party first with his Sen. Snowe comment. Don’t let facts get in the way.

Redneck Convert

July 24th, 2009
9:37 am

Well, old Sonny got it right. Keep the Go Fish program and lay off the worthless teachers. I say do anything you got to do to keep from having a tax increase. I get loose bowels when they even mention a tax increase. Matter of fact, I ain’t feeling too good right now. I’m going to take a little break. Pardon me.

. . . Wooten is right to talk about all the worthless unwed mothers. He keeps bringing it up and one day it will sink in. It’s all Those People dropping babys all over the place that’s causing all our problems. We need to have a Snip Program. Just let some of us roam around in gangs in Atlanta snipping all the men that’s making all these babys. Then put them on road gangs so they can start paying us back for all the problems they cause. If we don’t do it sooner or later we’re going to have a tax increase.

Excuse me. I got to take a break again. That word scares the heck out of me. Have a good day everybody.

[...] Jim Wooten says to thank Sonny we’re not California. [...]

Peter

July 24th, 2009
9:53 am

Forget about thanking Sonny……..Drill your own well, and work from home……he has done zero to help the state water issue, and commuter issue !

By the way Jim….looks like the Feds will have to look into education in the state as well !

Northern Songs, Ltd.

July 24th, 2009
10:02 am

Did Tom @ 9:13 not get the memo? This is 2009, not 1979, or ‘69, or ‘59, or……….

Dunwoody Mike

July 24th, 2009
10:09 am

Skeptical Optimist,
Oh God! Money for people to go to college! What a dreadful thing…we need to keep kids ingnorant, don’t we?

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 24th, 2009
10:14 am

Warren E. Buffett showed again why he is known as one of the world’s
best investors, thanks in part to another prominent investor, Goldman
Sachs.

Mr. Buffett’s stake in Goldman is now worth $9.1 billion, or about $4.1
billion more than what he paid 10 months ago, according to an analysis
by Linus Wilson, an assistant professor of finance at the University of
Louisiana at Lafayette.

According to Mr. Wilson’s calculations, Mr. Buffett would realize an
annualized return of about 111 percent if he sold his Goldman stake,
which is held by his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway.

In comparison, the federal government received a 23 percent annualized
return for its Goldman investment, the bank said after it agreed on
Wednesday to pay $1.1 billion to settle warrants the Treasury
Department received after injecting $10 billion into the bank in
November.