Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Super PAC's in Action In SC

We've seen reports of massive buys by Super PACs in primary states, particularly those affiliated with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Both are accusing the other of being "unfair," in their advertising. A new player has entered the field with this ad:

And yes, they are supporting a candidate who is on the ballot:

Whether either Mitt or Newt can survive this, one can now say that South Carolina Republicans have a real choice!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mitt The Ripper

Stephen Colbert's super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, has an ad for South Carolina:

Although humorous, this also repeats what Newt Gingrich's super PAC has released in a film "When Mitt Romney Came To Town."
The documentary, titled “When Mitt Romney Came to Town,” paints the GOP presidential frontrunner as a corporate “raider” more unscrupulous even than Wall Street executives, preying on the misfortune of people who lost their jobs when his company, Bain Capital, turned around their companies.
While this in itself is bad enough - Mitt has since dropped his claim of "creating 100,000 jobs," changing it to the amorphous "thousands of jobs," it's turning out that it wasn't just the companies that Bain took over that suffered. Under his leadership, Bain played dirty with Wall Street itself.
Yet, there is another version of the Bain way that I experienced personally during my 17 years as a deal-adviser on Wall Street: Seemingly alone among private-equity firms, Romney’s Bain Capital was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its financial alchemy. Other private-equity firms I worked with extensively over the years — Forstmann Little, KKR, TPG and the Carlyle Group, among them — never dared attempt the audacious strategy that Bain partners employed with great alacrity and little shame. Call it the real Bain way.
"Anything to get an advantage," seemed to be Mitt's motto when he was with Bain. Mitt's flip-flops on the campaign trail, and hard examination of his actual record, are demonstrating that anyone who thinks he'll be a "moderate" president or "not bad" should think again. As the latter article concludes: "I have no idea how Romney might behave in office. I do believe, however, that when he was running Bain Capital, his word was not his bond." So neither should we believe him.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Obama and DNC Raise $68 million in 4th Quarter

The newest fundraising reports are in, and President Obama and the Democratic National Committee raised a combined $68 million dollars in the last quarter of 2011.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said Thursday in a video to supporters that the campaign collected more than $42 million for the quarter, with the DNC bringing in more than $24 million, along with $1 million for a joint fund to help state parties in key states.

Breaking it down, that's 1.3 million individual donors last year, with 583,000 in the last quarter. More than 98 percent were for donations of $250 or less and the average donation was $55. That puts the president in good position heading into the election, but more is going to be needed. Mitt Romney raised a total of $56 million for the primary last year. If you don't think that's important, read this:
Romney has been a formidable fundraiser and most party leaders expect a large amount of money to flow into his campaign if he sews up the nomination. Republican-leaning Super PACs have also fared better than Democratic-backed outside groups, further offsetting the president's fundraising.
While we may all decry the corporate money being funneled into the campaigns because of the Citizens United loophole, we have to acknowledge that for at least this campaign season, it's a major factor.

In other news, Republicans in Congress are "outraged" by President Obama's use of a recess appointments, particularly of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That's because they're claiming they're technically not on recess. Which is why they're planning on introducing a resolution criticizing the move.
Rep. Diane Black (Tenn.) and 71 other House Republicans introduced a nonbinding resolution today voicing concern over President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of four administration nominees last week.
“It’s astounding to me that the president is claiming these are recess appointments and within his authority, when Congress was not in fact in recess,” Black said. “These appointments are an affront to the Constitution. No matter how you look at this, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I hope the House considers my resolution as soon as we return to Washington so we can send a message to President Obama.” [emphasis added]
Jonathan Bernstein calls it "the best self-refuting argument ever." In other words, they're going to decry the president's use of recess appointments, because they weren't in recess, and they'll vote on it the minute they get back from recess.

This is why we, as Democrats, need to get involved. It's not just returning the President to the White House. It's returning Congress to Democratic control, so we don't have to put up with obstructive nonsense like this any longer.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Romney and Other GOP Candidates Make the Case for Re-Electing Obama

Last night was the New Hampshire Republican debate, which the consensus was that Romney hadn't been hurt by it. There were fireworks between the other candidates, though. Ron Paul called Newt Gingrich a "chickenhawk," Santorum took shots at Ron Paul, Gingrich complained about "anti-catholicism," and Rick Perry suggested putting troops back in Iraq.

Santorum has emerged as the new "challenger" to Romney after his victory in Iowa, and predictably has drawn fire for his statements. The first came from his attempt to talk about cutting welfare and government aid, when he singled out one group:
For Santorum that means cutting government regulation. Making Americans less dependent on government aid. Fewer people getting food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of federal assistance — especially one group.
"I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money," Santorum begins. "I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families."
Drawing fire for that, he's now saying he said "Blah," not "Black." Which isn't being believed by many. Adding more fuel to the fire, he also went back to his favorite theme, gay marriage.

For the second time in as many days, Rick Santorum waded into the issue of gay marriage, suggesting it was so important for children to have both a father and mother that an imprisoned father was preferable to a same-sex parent.

Citing the work of one anti-poverty expert, Santorum said, "He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children's lives."
Which isn't backed up by actual professionals, and he was notably not willing to name the specific "expert" he quoted.

In Democratic news, President Obama announced that he will be hosting a forum on Wednesday about "insourcing American jobs."
“We’re heading in the right direction. And we’re not going to let up,” the president said. He announced the White House will host a forum Wednesday titled, “Insourcing American Jobs,” highlighting “business leaders who are bringing jobs back home.”
The White House’s focus on reversing the trend toward outsourcing could put an uncomfortable spotlight on one of the Republican contenders for Obama’s job, Mitt Romney, who headed up an investment firm that took over distressed companies and sometimes outsourced their U.S. production to China or other markets where labor is cheaper.
Also helping is the newest jobs report, as unemployment dropped to 8.5%, along with other signs that the economy is strengthening.

Looking ahead, the "enthusiasm gap" seems to have disappeared, according to new PPP polling:
Voters who made up the core of President Obama's 2008 victory are just as excited and motivated about 2012 as Republicans, conservatives and tea party activists, according to a new survey.
The Democratic-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling finds that African-Americans, tea party supporters and young people are the three most motivated demographic groups going into the 2012 election cycle. According to PPP, 62 percent of black voters describe themselves as "very excited" about voting this cycle, while 55 percent of voters 18 to 29 describe themselves the same way. In 2008, 95 percent of blacks supported President Obama, and 66 percent of voters 18 to 29 backed him.
As the Republicans continue to alienate groups in their attempt to select a presidential candidate, expect these figures to grow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bachmann Out, Obama's Youth Jobs Program, and Bad Boeing

Michele Bachmann has dropped out of the presidential race, much to the dismay of bloggers everywhere. Talking Points Memo has a great tribute to her.

Mitt Romney still hasn't released his tax returns, and is unlikely to. Why?
When Romney jokes that he’s been unemployed for years, he’s obscuring the fact that he’s still collecting millions of dollars of investment income, which is taxed at a much lower rate than it would be if he, like most taxpayers, took home a regular paycheck. He’s also obscuring the fact a great deal of that same income is only vaguely connected to his own underlying investments, and yet benefits from a key loophole in the tax code that allows him and other wealthy finance veterans to more than halve their effective tax rate.
In private equity, fund managers are typically compensated with both a fee (two percent of assets) and substantial share (20 percent) of the fund’s profits. Those profits are called “carried interest” and they’re classified as long-term capital gains, which are taxed at 15 percent — much lower than wage income, on which the top marginal rate is 35 percent.
In other words, even though he's making a lot of money, he's not paying as much in taxes as most middle-class people. It's something that he'd rather not call attention to.

Good news for the economy: U.S. companies added 325,000 jobs in December.

In the "free market bites" or "you expected loyalty?" category, Boeing is closing its Wichita Kansas plant. They're moving the work to their Washington state plant. This has resulted in predictable screaming by the Republicans in the state:
The decision announced on Wednesday drew a bitter reaction from Kansas politicians, who felt Boeing had betrayed commitments to the state and their efforts to help the company win a big refueling aircraft contract from the U.S. Air Force.
President Obama will announce a youth jobs program today.
President Obama will continue his campaign to bypass Congressional opposition to his jobs agenda Thursday by announcing a new partnership aimed at helping a quarter of a million young people find summer jobs.
The initiative, part of Obama's "We Can't Wait" campaign, is intended to replace a youth jobs fund that would have been enacted had Congress passed the president's $447 billion jobs bill.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Iowa Results - Updated

Last night the Iowa caucus was held. It's the first of a number of caucuses and primaries to determine each party's nominee for President. The results are:
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, had 30,015 votes. Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and an upstart challenger who just weeks ago polled in the single digits, had 30,007, the state GOP said.
Each had roughly 25% of the vote in Iowa, the first state to vote in the 2012 presidential caucus and primary season. Paul, a U.S. representative from Texas, had 21%. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was at 13%. Perry was at 10%, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota had 5%, and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman had 1%
Perry said in his concession speech “With a little prayer and a little reflection, I’m going to decide the best path forward,” which is usually a way of saying "I'm dropping out." Huntsman did not campaign in Iowa, preferring to focus on New Hampshire. Michele Bachmann is saying that she's staying in (for now), but after her early showing in the straw polls in Iowa, this result is pretty much the end for her.

Santorum was the surprise, since even two weeks ago he was in single digits. But his showing, along with Ron Paul's, demonstrates the influence of the religious right and Tea Party in the Republican "base," as well as a strong "Not Romney" sentiment among the Republican primary voters.

Romney's win tonight, as close as it was (just 8 votes) is a strong indicator that he will be the eventual nominee. He wasn't expected to win to begin with, with various pundits saying he'd do well to finish third. Whether this translates into actual momentum and the party getting behind him will be the topic of discussion over the next few months.

Updated 11:30 AM:
Michele Bachmann has announced that she is suspending her campaign.

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