Archive for February, 2012

February 29, 2012

Romney’s Ongoing Dilemma

Once more Mitt Romney regained his “front-runner” status with his wins in Arizona and Michigan last night. The pressure was assuredly on him to take the top spot in his home state of Michigan but in the end his slim victory only highlighted his tenuous hold on the party’s leadership position.

While the inevitability of Mitt’s nomination is continually questioned, especially given the fluidity of the GOP’s voters and their difficulty resigning themselves to the former Massachusetts governor.

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February 29, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Stimulus Is Maligned, but Options Were Few

It was the winter of 2009 and the United States economy was shrinking. In the last three months of 2008 the economy had contracted at an annual rate of 8.9 percent, the sharpest decline in more than half a century. It shrank at a 6.9 percent rate the next quarter. By February 2009 the country had lost more than five million jobs.

We know what President Obama did. In February, he pushed Congress to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an $831 billion fiscal stimulus package aimed at creating demand for goods and services to reignite growth and stop the downward spiral.

Since then, Republicans have condemned the legislation as an unmitigated disaster. “These policies have made our economic woes worse,” the House speaker, John Boehner, wrote earlier this month on the third anniversary of the bill’s enactment.

The attack hardly fits an economy that appears finally to be gathering steam. By the end of last year the economy had recovered to its peak size in 2007, before the recession. Employment is growing at a steady, though modest, clip. The jobless rate is 8.3 percent, down from 10 percent at its peak in October 2009.

Perhaps more intriguingly, the Boehner attack suggests a question: Were there other plausible choices? And would they have fixed the economy sooner?”
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February 28, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Five myths about Medicare

Because of Medicare’s size and growth, the health-care program has taken center stage on the campaign trail and in Capitol Hill discussions about the federal budget deficit. Medicare covers almost one in six Americans and comprises about 15 percent of the federal budget, but it is often misunderstood. Let’s take a few minutes to separate fact from fiction.
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February 27, 2012

Speculating Away Our Recovery

As gas prices rev up into high gear well before the summer months of traditional high demand predictions estimate prices at the pump will reach well over $4.00 a gallon. Along with the impacts this will have on the average consumer, these increases will, and already have, produced gushers of political rhetoric, laying blame squarely on the President’s shoulders. While high gas prices are great fodder for political gamesmanship, their accuracy is often suspect. How much influence does or can the leader of the U.S. have over the price of crude, let alone the prices at the pump?

February 27, 2012

Poll Update: Obama holds double-digit lead over rivals

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama holds double digit leads over the top two GOP presidential candidates, according to a new national survey.

  • A Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll released Monday indicates Obama topping Mitt Romney 53% to 43% in a hypothetical matchup,
  • The President leads Rick Santorum 53% to 42% in a similar matchup.
  •  Against a generic GOP opponent in the general election (an unnamed candidate who has not suffered negative attacks during the primary process), Obama has a five-point advantage (50%-45%), up from a dead heat back in November.
  • It’s also telling that the president is at or above 50% in all three general election matchups.
  • Polling from USA Today/Gallup tells a different story with Obama & Romney deadlocked at 47%
  • Santorum holds a 49%-46% margin over the president.
  • The Battleground poll indicates the primary contests have taken a toll on Romney, with 51% of independents holding a unfavorable opinion of him, compared to just 33% who see him in a positive light.
  • Against Obama, Romney trails the President by 22 points among independents.
  • 40% of independents have a favorable view of Santorum, with 32% saying they see him in a negative way.
  • Among GOP voters only the two front runners are evenly matched with Santorum at 36% and Romney at 34%.

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February 27, 2012

Irish President lectures a Tea Partier & pays homage to the America

Mashed Potato Bulletin:

If my Irish father were still alive, he’d be bursting with pride in Irish President Michael D. Higgins. As am I – for both his sentiments and because  he speaks in clear full sentences and doesn’t pause for applause, something that is absent in our country today. Our public political languages are now Bumpersticker and Gasbaggery. We have no orators.

I especially like his outrage at our moral failure regarding health care.

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February 26, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Better-educated Republicans doubt climate change; believe Obama’s Muslim

I can still remember when I first realized how naïve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republican ones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
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February 24, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Stocks Return More With Democrat in White House:

While Republicans promote themselves as the friendliest party for Wall Street, stock investors do better when Democrats occupy the White House. From a dollars-and-cents standpoint, it’s not even close.

The BGOV Barometer shows that, over the five decades since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, $1,000 invested in a hypothetical fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) only when Democrats are in the White House would have been worth $10,920 at the close of trading yesterday.
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February 22, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Harder for GOP to claim healthcare reform is a job-killer

Whatever happened to the dread horror of job-killing uncertainty? Just last year, the talking point was all the rage, unanimously chorused by GOP pundits, politicians and economists looking to hammer President Obama for a stalled-out economy.

The argument was simple: Employers were refusing to hire because they feared the “regulatory uncertainty” flowing in the wake of the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank bank reform law. Terrified that the future implementation of these reforms would crimp their profits, employers laid low. A policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation provided the smoking gun: He argued that job growth slowed dramatically almost immediately after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in April 2010 — “this suggests,” he wrote, “that businesses are not exaggerating when they tell pollsters that the new health care law is holding back hiring.”

Less than a year later, however, references to the intersection between regulatory uncertainty, healthcare reform and the labor market have plummeted. There’s a very obvious reason for that: The private sector has added over a million jobs over the last six months while the unemployment rate has fallen steadily.

And yet nothing fundamental has changed on the regulatory front…
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February 21, 2012

The Daily Scoop: Birth control as election issue? Why?

“The way the American democratic system works is very peculiar,” says [D.G.] Hart, who teaches history at Hillsdale College in Michigan.

“But I don’t know that this [election cycle] is any worse than any other period when religious and racial preferences were expressed as cultural preference,” when a presidential election becomes an even more pointed referendum on what kind of society we want to construct.

He notes a disconnect among Republican voters between what the law currently requires and permits and “what people think Obama is requiring, and their perceptions go a long way to motivating them. You might think we would be better, and it is surprising that these cultural matters keep coming up this way.
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