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Tags: Democrats

Environmentalist Billionaire Made His Fortune From Asian Coal Mines



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It’s a safe bet that environmentalist billionaire and big-time Democratic donor Tom Steyer has a bigger carbon footprint than you do:

Steyer, 56, stepped down as co-managing partner of Farallon in 2012 to devote himself to full-time activism because, as he later wrote, he “no longer felt comfortable being at a firm that was invested in every single sector of the global economy, including tar sands and oil.”

But he has provided few details of the extent of those fossil fuel investments or how he profited from them. He said in July 2013 that when he had left Farallon, which manages much of his estimated $1.6 billion wealth, he had instructed the fund to divest his holdings in fossil fuels. Neither he nor Farallon has said whether that process has been completed. Farallon declined to comment.

A spokesman for Steyer declined to comment for this article.

Until now, most of the conservative ire against Steyer has focused on Farallon’s energy investment record in the United States. Little attention has been paid to foreign investments such as its forays into Asian coal.

During Steyer’s tenure, Farallon helped finance coal project acquisitions in Indonesia and Australia valued at more than $2 billion and covering some of the region’s biggest mines, some of which swiftly ramped up production afterward, according to a close examination by Reuters of company disclosures and interviews with people involved in the deals.

Of course, Steyer made clear that this year he would not run ads against Democrats who voted to build the Keystone Pipeline — even though that’s at the heart of his objection to Republicans. Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who advises Steyer, told The Hill that Steyer’s group would not run ads against Democrats, even if they support Keystone. “We aren’t going to go in to try to undermine and hurt Democrats.”

To sum up, it’s okay for him to make a fortune from Asian coal mines, and it’s okay for Democrats to vote to build the Keystone Pipeline; all of our environmental problems can be blamed on Republicans and you eating a Big Mac today.

The only thing that’s green in this picture is the background.

 

 

Tags: Tom Steyer , Global Warming , Democrats

Are Democrats Just Unable to Get Out the Vote in Midterms, Period?



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From the final Morning Jolt of the week:

Can Obama’s Usual Get-Out-The-Vote Tools Work in a Midterm Year?

Clip and save: Nate Cohn, writing in the New York Times, writes that the usual Obama campaign turnout tools can’t and won’t be effective on a large scale in a midterm election:

Much of the optimism on Democratic turnout stems from Mr. Obama’s successful turnout operation in 2012, or from experiments showing large increases in turnout when voters receive targeted mailers or contacts. But political scientists and campaign operatives found that even Mr. Obama’s impressive ground operation was worth less than one point in his presidential elections.

Boy, that conclusion hasn’t permeated the conventional wisdom about 2012, has it? Here’s Ryan Enos and Anthony Fowler, writing at the site of GW political-science professor John Sides:

Among these select groups, we estimate massive campaign effects of 15.4 percentage points for registered Democrats and 13.8 percentage points for Republicans. These numbers suggest impressively effective mobilization efforts by BOTH the Obama and Romney campaigns.

Despite all the celebration of the Obama campaign’s technological and other superiority, their campaign only had a 1.6 percentage point advantage over Romney in turning out party registrants. Of course, we don’t know whether Democratic registrants are inherently more difficult to mobilize than Republican registrants (although we find similar effects in 2008 before the Obama campaign had adopted the technological innovations of 2012, casting further doubt on the importance of these innovations). Also, keep in mind that the 1.6 percentage point difference that we detect may have been enough tip the election in a very close state like North Carolina in 2008, so the Obama mobilization effort may have helped to pad Obama’s victory. Nonetheless, these preliminary results suggest that the praise for Obama’s 2012 campaign may be overblown. Both campaigns appear to have been effective in mobilizing voters, and the 2012 Obama campaign was not dramatically more effective than Romney’s campaign or Obama’s 2008 campaign.

The thing is, wouldn’t a get-out-the-vote effort be minimally effective in a hugely covered mega-event like a modern presidential campaign, compared to a midterm election, off-year election, or special election? In other words, if an election is big enough, most people don’t need to be reminded to come out and vote, while they would in the less-covered, lower-profile election years.

Back to Cohn:

And those experiments are usually conducted in extremely low-turnout elections, like a local mayoral race, in which there are many more marginal voters. Finding people who are potential voters but not existing voters in a national election is harder.

Even Democratic operatives know the limits of the ground game. In a New Republic cover article that otherwise suggested that a strong turnout operation could solve Democratic problems, Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, conceded that field operations would “only solve our problem if the election is a close one.”

He discusses Terry McAuliffe’s efforts in Virginia in 2013 and notes:

But Mr. McAuliffe’s win was narrow — especially considering the tepid Republican effort. And no Democratic turnout effort will revitalize the so-called Obama coalition of young and nonwhite voters in an off-year election. The levels of voter interest in a midterm election and presidential election are simply too different. Indeed, Mr. Kreisberg said the McAuliffe campaign didn’t aim to match 2012 turnout; it was mainly focused on outperforming turnout in 2009.

He adds, “Democrats won the 2006 midterms in a landslide partly by winning voters over 60.” Gallup observed earlier this year:

U.S seniors — those aged 65 and older — have moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. From 1992 through 2006, seniors had been solidly Democratic and significantly U.S seniors — those aged 65 and older — have moved from a reliably Democratic group to a reliably Republican one over the past two decades. From 1992 through 2006, seniors had been solidly Democratic and significantly more Democratic than younger Americans. Over the last seven years, seniors have become less Democratic, and have shown an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010. more Democratic than younger Americans. Over the last seven years, seniors have become less Democratic, and have shown an outright preference for the Republican Party since 2010.

And here come the Obama administration’s home-health-care Medicaid cuts.

Coming soon to a voting booth near you: Irate senior citizens.

Tags: Obama , Midterm , Democrats , Get-Out-The-Vote

The Coming Huge Fight Over Abortion — Among Democrats



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Get Ready for a Massive Fight Over Abortion — Among Democrats!

So at what point can we declare that there’s a civil war within the Democratic party over abortion? Because West Virginia Democrats in the state legislature just voted to ban abortion after 20 weeks. Are the Democrats elsewhere just going to avert their eyes? Will NARAL give them a pass because there’s a D after their name?

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat and perhaps the worst governor you’ve never heard of, is now going to be one of the most scrutinized governors in the country:

Another bill Tomblin said he would carefully scrutinize is House Bill 4588, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That bill bans abortions after 20 weeks except in the case of non-viable pregnancies. The law is similar to others that have passed state legislatures across the country, but some of those bills have faced legal challenges. The attorney for the Senate Judiciary Committee last week cautioned against passing the bill to the full Senate, saying it is unconstitutional.

“The abortion bill obviously is one that causes me some concern because the legislative attorneys and others have said the bill is unconstitutional,” Tomblin said. “So I’ll be looking at all those aspects of it once I receive the bill.”

Note that the legislative votes weren’t even close:

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, HB 4588, passed in the West Virginia Senate on the final day of the session, Saturday, March 8, by a vote of 29-5. The Senate approved an amended version of the bill, which had been passed earlier by the House of Delegates. The House had to concur with the Senate changes before final passage, 83-15.

Just in case there wasn’t enough pressure on Tomblin:

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is “supportive” of a West Virginia bill banning abortions after 20 weeks and is considering backing a similar federal ban in the Senate.

“I am pro-life and supportive of the principles in the bill that was just passed in the West Virginia Legislature,” Manchin said in a statement.

Tags: Abortion , West Virginia , Democrats

Montana Democrats: We Demand to See the Birth Certificate!



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Remember when this sort of thing was ipso facto evidence that someone was a lunatic, a conspiracy theorist, a hate-monger, and unfit for public discourse?

The Montana Democratic Party today called on Congressman Steve Daines, who claims in his latest TV ad to be a “fifth-generation Montanan,” to clear up confusion about his roots by releasing his birth certificate.

Daines’ latest ad asserts he “grew up in Bozeman, a fifth-generation Montanan,” which directly contradicts earlier versions of his biography when he claimed: “I’m a third-generation Montanan, kind of that classic Montana kid.”

So the dispute is really whether Daines’s great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were Montanans, huh? Really? Does Daines need to dig up their birth certificates, too? Do we need to dig deep into his Ancestry.com profile to get to the bottom of this?

Democrats insist Daines isn’t really a Montanan, because he was born in California and lived there . . . until he was two.

Everything in Montana’s going so hunky-dory that you guys have nothing else to worry about, huh? Anything else going on in that state?

Yeah, something like that.

Tags: Montana , Democrats , Steve Daines

Democrats Sell Holiday Mug With Misspelled Word



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In yesterday’s Morning Jolt, we looked at the gift options from MyDemocraticStore.com. There’s a terrific new wrinkle to one gift . . . 

Merry Christmas Happy Generic Late-December Holidays from the DNC!

Getting down to the wire for Christmas shopping! Let’s check out the DNC’s store to see what they’re offering as last-minute gift ideas . . . 

A mug that says “Happy Holidays” and offers greetings in many languages, but not “Merry Christmas.” Perfect for that decorated veteran of the War on Christmas!

German-speaking Morning Jolt reader Dieter notes the Democratic merchandisers “couldn’t even spell ‘Frohe Feiertage’ in German correctly. Seriously? They misspelled it ‘Forhe’.” Clearly a continuation of the “judge us by our good intentions, not our bad results” philosophy that brought us Obamacare.

Other gifts available from the Democrats:

A “Speaker Pelosi” magnet pin. What, are these left over from 2010? $1.99. If you find one of these in your stockings, it is a sign Santa just didn’t give a damn this year.

“I heart Obamacare” sweatshirts. Can’t believe they didn’t sell out!

You love equality, but not capitalization.

For $49.95, you can buy a framed photo of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi at the signing ceremony for Obamacare:

You know, the National Republican Senatorial Committee might buy one; they’ll be using that image in their ads over and over again in the coming year . . . 

Tags: Democrats , Something Lighter

A Lame Attempt to Blame Republicans for Obamacare’s Mess



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Jamelle Bouie, writing in The Daily Beast: “Before we blame the problems with Healthcare.gov on ‘big government’ or ‘liberalism,’ we should remember that the Affordable Care Act needed GOP cooperation to succeed.”

Why? As Robert Gamble noted, “If your plan requires complete control and no opposition, then it isn’t a plan, it’s a wish.”

If “the Affordable Care Act needed GOP cooperation to succeed,” why did President Obama, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, and then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi go forward with the bill when it was clear that no Republican in the House or Senate would vote for the bill as written? Why alienate people whose cooperation is absolutely necessary?

If Republicans thought the law was a terrible idea before it was signed into law in March 2010, why would they be obligated to drop their opposition to it afterwards?

What is this insane notion that once a law is passed, its opponents must drop their objections and meekly cooperate in enacting it? That is not the way the Democrats greeted Republican decisions such as the Iraq War or the Bush tax cuts. That is not the way gay-marriage supporters reacted to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Bouie writes: “What’s frustrating about the current conversation over Obamacare is the extent to which there’s been collective amnesia regarding the GOP’s categorical opposition to the law.” That may be what’s particularly frustrating to him at this moment, but I think that “collective amnesia” is rather less frustrating to the public than an expensive website that doesn’t work; unexpected cancellation notices after presidential assurances; sticker shock from high premiums, deductibles and co-pays under the new plans; a more limited selection of doctors and hospitals under the new plans; confusing, rapidly changing rules for “grandfathering” the old plans; the possibility of the “death spiral” for insurance companies; and of course, identity thieves and cybersecurity worries.

He asks, “How would the status quo look if Republican states embraced the Medicaid expansion and worked to build their own exchanges (Kentucky, for instance)?” Well, it depends if those other Republican states built their exchanges and had a decent, working exchange, like Kentucky, or if they had one like Oregon’s, which has yet to sign up anyone. Still. The Medicaid expansion is expensive and does not do anything to help the exchanges or ward off the death spiral.

He asks, “What if, instead of casting endless repeal votes, GOP lawmakers worked with Democrats to fix problems in the law?” Like what? What change to the law has President Obama asked for that Republicans have refused? Obama’s been making all of the changes to the law unilaterally. He’s issuing veto threats to the Upton plan and similar plans in the Senate.

He asks, “What does the political situation look like in a world where Republicans don’t attack the Affordable Care Act as a step on the road to serfdom?” It’s a better political situation for Democrats, but I don’t see why that goal should be a priority for Republicans. You might as well ask what the political situation looks like in a world where the Obama campaign didn’t attack Mitt Romney as a heartless plutocrat who causes cancer in blue-collar workers’ spouses. I suppose that world could be sort of one’s “happy place” to retreat into when reality becomes too much to bear.

He concludes, “If conservatives could let go of their Obama hatred and partisan pique, they might see the real opportunities that exist for center-right health reform.” What’s unclear is why Republicans have to, or should even try to, enact their center-right health reforms within a rapidly-failing Obamacare infrastructure. Scrap this whole damn thing and start over.

Tags: Obamacare , Barack Obama , Republicans , Democrats

The First Four Obamacare Train Wrecks… With Many More to Come



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From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

The First Four Obamacare Train Wrecks… With Many More to Come

Look, Democrats. You fouled up on Obamacare. You fouled up big time, and time is running out to mitigate the damage.

You said you had to pass the bill in order to see what’s in it. Apparently it was like the Ark of the Covenant.

Yes, this is a train wreck. It’s a train wreck upon another train wreck, upon another train wreck… it’s train wrecks all the way down.

For starters, it’s a fragmentation grenade to the full-time job market. CNBC:

With open enrollment for Obamacare about to begin, small- and medium-sized businesses are not hiring because of uncertainty surrounding the implementation of the law, the CEO of nation’s fifth-largest staffing company said on Monday.

“Companies are really not interested in hiring full-time people. That’s really the issue with Obamacare,” Express Employment Professionals boss Bob Funk told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

Funk, a former chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve, admitted that this trend is a “boon” for his business, but “not healthy for the country as a whole.”

Secondly, the Wall Street Journal reports that the software doesn’t work. These geniuses have spent oodles of taxpayer money encouraging people to sign up for the exchanges, only to find out the software to run the exchanges isn’t working:

Less than two weeks before the launch of insurance marketplaces created by the federal health overhaul, the government’s software can’t reliably determine how much people need to pay for coverage, according to insurance executives and people familiar with the program.

Government officials and insurers were scrambling to iron out the pricing quirks quickly, according to the people, to avoid alienating the initial wave of consumers.

A failure by consumers to sign up online in the hotly anticipated early days of the “exchanges” is worrisome to insurers, which are counting on enrollees for growth, and to the Obama administration, which made the exchanges a centerpiece of its sweeping health-care legislation.

If not resolved by the Oct. 1 launch date, the problems could affect consumers in 36 states where the federal government is running all or part of the exchanges. About 32 million uninsured people live in those states, but only a fraction of them are expected to sign up in the next year.

Thirdly, it botched coverage for working families. USA Today:

A so-called “family glitch” in the 2010 health care law threatens to cost some families thousands of dollars in health insurance costs and leave up to 500,000 children without coverage, insurance and health care analysts say.

That’s unless Congress fixes the problem, which seems unlikely given the House’s latest move Friday to strip funding from the law, which is also called the Affordable Care Act.

Congress defined “affordable” as 9.5% or less of an employee’s wages, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the “error” was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn’t provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges.

That can make a huge difference; the Kaiser Family Foundation said an average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but it goes up to $15,700 for families. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all.

Fourth, Obamacare is so poorly-constructed, it manages to louse up coverage and payments for the working-class employees who actually have good plans and care right now. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Kathleen Sebelius managed to be so astonishingly incompetent in designing, building, and implementing this program, they’ve managed to screw over their most stalwart allies. From the Center for Public Integrity:

Many union workers are in health plans with solid benefits and relatively low copayments and coinsurance obligations. Democrats drafting the law bought the insurance-industry’s argument that Americans need to have more “skin in the game,” meaning they should pay more for care out of their own pockets even if they’re insured.

I’ve talked to union members who have not had a raise in years because of rising health care costs. They’ve been willing to forego wage increases at the bargaining table in exchange for keeping decent health insurance.

Obamacare provides employers with a disincentive to continue to offer health plans that exceed a certain value. Such plans will be subject to a premium tax… Another unintended consequence of the law will mean that many other union workers — especially those in the building trades — will have to pay more for coverage than they do now.

I’ll give you a moment to chuckle at Obama-backing union members finding their health coverage is now all loused up, but it goes to illustrate just how badly this legislative and regulatory monstrosity is going to hit everyone – even the folks it would be most expected to help.

Now, if a plan is so bad that it hurts so many of the Americans it’s supposed to help… why are we implementing it?

Tags: Obamacare , Democrats , Barack Obama , Unions , Kathleen Sebelius , Nancy Pelosi

Can Conservative Comments from Celebrities Change the Culture?



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The culture section of today’s Morning Jolt:

Can Conservative Comments from Bono and Ashton Kutcher Change the Culture?

Last night I had a chance to dine with some conservative bloggers, new media, and social-networking types, and once again the topic turned to winning the culture.

I won’t get into the specifics of our off-the-record discussion; instead, let me direct your attention to this blunt assessment from John Brodigan, one of the contributors over at Misfit Politics:

Today the new measuring stick of your conservatism is whether or not you want to defund ObamaCare which — in lieu of anyone explaining to me what the marketing plan is to appeal to people outside of our echo chamber — seems like just a ploy to fundraise and build mailing lists.

Nothing we’re doing is trying to engage the culture. Nothing we’re doing is winning hearts and minds, or challenging the view of what it means to be a Republican.

Then, one day, Ashton Kutcher gave a speech after winning an award.

He linked to this video, which has 3.1 million views. He continues:

Heritage (yes I realize they’re #DefundObamacare, but at least they’re trying to reach out) turned it into this:

They did the same with something Bono said recently:

Brodigan continues:

Don’t get me wrong. I know neither guy is going to be showing up at a FreedomWorks event anytime soon. Granted Bono has always cared less about being a slave to liberal ideology and intransigence than he is about helping people, but Kutcher I’m fairly certain supported Obama and is probably going to have to do penance in the entertainment industry for having so many conservatives sing his praise. Just focus on their words. If you swapped out their pictures with one of Ronald Reagan or Marco Rubio, would you know it wasn’t one of their quotes?

I’m still chewing this over, and trying to decide whether this represents a necessary tactic in an era of celebrity-obsessed pop culture, or whether it’s just the latest version of the conservative tendency to instantly adopt and celebrate any celebrity who happens to echo some of our arguments.

After all, when we say it’s shallow and silly and superficial for Democrats to emphasize their Hollywood star supporters at their political conventions, and to hold campaign events with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z and such . . . we’re not wrong.

At the Democrats’ 2012 convention in Charlotte, noted policy wonk Eva Longoria offers a detailed critique of Mitt Romney’s policy and its ramifications for small businesses.

Politics may be entertaining at times, but politics and governing are supposed to be distinct from entertainment. Not everything in life is supposed to be a fun show! Sometimes the country’s problems and potential solutions are complicated, detailed, involve trade-offs, and require a bit of thinking to evaluate. If you’re going to try to transform every aspect of the public’s evaluation of public-policy decisions into a flashy, glamorous, sexy, exciting thrill, pretty soon we’ll see campaigns rolling out Katy Perry in a latex dress at a campaign rallies!

Oh. Too late.

The Katy-Perry-in-latex approach obviously aims to get people with no actual interest or knowledge of what’s going on in the political world to suddenly become interested. Apparently it works, and there will be quite a few folks on the Right side who will want to see our side emulate the same tactics. And Lord knows, Republican beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to effective vote-getting tactics, especially with the young. But how likely are we to win if, through our own decisions, we legitimize the notion that campaigns ought to be duels of celebrities?

After the election, the great Melissa Clouthier pointed out that there is a large segment of Internet users who log onto Facebook . . . and never leave. It’s an audience left untouched by conservative blogs, web sites, magazines, and other media institutions. That’s why NR and every other institution is putting new energy into making these little square graphics with a quote, an illustration, and a hashtag: it’s an effort to bring conservative ideas, messages, and arguments to audiences that may otherwise never encounter them. (This is why we love it so much when you hit “like” for our stuff on Facebook, and share it on your pages with your apolitical friends.)

Those Bono and Ashton Kutcher quotes are swell, but it’s hard to shake the subtext,“look, these aren’t just bromides or slogans that nutty conservatives believe, because these apolitical celebrities are saying them, too!” But these arguments would be just as compelling and just as right if Bono or Kutcher had the exact opposite views. Touting the pair is an implied argument from authority, and we on the Right have generally believed that Hollywood stars are knowledgeable about what it takes to succeed in Hollywood, and not much else.* (Bono might have particular credibility because of his extensive work with international charities and aid groups.)

These sorts of efforts are probably necessary; a big rallying cry since November has been, “We have to take back the culture!” But I feel like we sometimes forget conservatives recoiled from American popular culture for a lot of good reasons.

We felt, and still feel, that Hollywood in particular has become trapped in its own liberal clichés, convincing itself that the latest dreck is a masterpiece. We’re tired of big corporations telling us stories about how bad big corporations are. We’re tired of seeing some of our religions mocked and demonized while others are protected by political correctness.

(If you ever find yourself in a Stephen King novel, trapped between a horrible monster and the small Maine town’s most overtly devout Christian, move away from the Christian and towards the tentacles, because by the end of the book, the monster will be less villainous.)

We’re tired of seeing our own military revealed as the bad guys behind the conspiracy, southerners depicted as ignorant hicks, suburban parenthood portrayed as soul-crushing conformity, and so on. The problem is that a whole segment of the electorate has marinated in that for years, and our efforts to persuade them lack a common frame of reference.

*Inevitably, some lefty will point to this . . . 

. . . as if Reagan hadn’t been a successful governor, thinker, debater, columnist, radio commentator, etc.

Tags: Culture , Democrats , Republicans , Hollywood , Celebrities

How Democrats Need You to Misunderstand ‘Deficit’ and ‘Debt’



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Apparently the Democrats’ new dodge on the runaway national debt is to claim that the deficit is going down.

This argument relies on the public not knowing the difference between the deficit and the debt.

The deficit is a one-year figure– how much money we spent in the past year, after we had spent every last cent that came in through taxes, fees, fines, and other payments to the government. Last year it was $1.1 trillion; this year we’re supposed to be breaking out the party hats because it might be “only” $900 billion or so.

The debt is the total amount we owe, based on all of the annual deficits adding up, year after year. That figure is $16.7 trillion – $16,708,225,460,175.14, if you want the precise figure.

Looking at the inflation-adjusted numbers for our annual deficit, year by year . . . $500 billion used to be considered a really big annual deficit. We hit that in 2004; unadjusted for inflation, it came in at $413 billion. Back in 1991, the year’s deficit came in at $453 billion. So a half a trillion was the pre-Obama all-time high.

Now look at the Obama era:

2009: $1.5 trillion

2010: $1.36 trillion

2011: $1.32 trillion

2012: $1.1 trillion

In other words, the best Obama has done is twice as bad as it’s ever been.

Sure, some of this is because tax payments are down as the Great Recession stretches on and on… but a lot of it is because the federal government went on a spending spree starting with TARP and the stimulus, a spree that has only slowed slightly.

But Sen. Dick Durbin and other Democrats will continue to cry, “The deficit is going down, all is well! All is well!”

Tags: Debt , Deficit , Democrats

Democrats Accuse Ann Romney of ‘Mudslinging’



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Do you perceive Ann Romney as a “mudslinger”? Politico does.

Democrats have, in fact, been taken aback by Ann Romney’s venture into the mudslinging of the campaign — instead of floating above the fray. She has given endless TV interviews — some of them a bit testy — and seems quite comfortable attacking the president. Most recently, Romney said “it’s time for the grown-up” to take over the country, blamed the Obama campaign for her husband’s low standing among Hispanics and boasted that Mitt Romney was going to save the country.

“Michelle Obama could never get away with saying those things,” said a Democratic operative who has worked with spouses in presidential campaigns. “There would be an uproar.”

That’s mudslinging?

Is the crack, detail-oriented management style of Joe Biden, the pouting obstinacy of Attorney General Eric Holder, the eyes-closed, “the system worked!” wishful thinking of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the “Because I say so” fiats of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the sexual-harassment allegations at ICE, the randiness of the U.S. Secret Service, and the wild Vegas trips of the General Services Administration really best described as characteristic of “grown-ups”? Does anyone at Politico want to stand up and say the years 2009–2012 represent the pinnacle of wise, mature, and strong leadership in our federal government?

Isn’t the Obama campaign attempting to persuade Hispanics that Mitt Romney doesn’t like them? Didn’t the DNC vice chair say of Romney, “This gringo doesn’t speak our lingo”?

Doesn’t every presidential candidate believe he’s going to save the country?

Tags: Ann Romney , Democrats , Mitt Romney

Coming to Charlotte This Week: Democrats Behaving Badly!



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From the first Morning Jolt of convention week . . .

Coming This Week: Democrats Behaving Badly!

Massachusetts Democratic-party Chairman John Walsh, discussing GOP Sen. Scott Brown at a breakfast meeting Monday: “He’s a regular guy. I mean, he spent a couple million dollars folding towels on TV to prove he’s an honorary girl. We appreciate that.” This was a reference to a television ad of Brown’s, in which he is seen folding laundry.

Finally, an actual example of the war on women!

“In the excitement of getting the convention underway and getting the message out about how important it is to reelect President Obama and elect Elizabeth Warren, I made a statement about Scott Brown that I regret, “ Walsh said. “I apologize for that remark.”

Well, that’s probably just those reckless Massachusetts Democrats shooting their mouths off. I’m sure those California Democrats are much more level-headed . . . oh, wait . . .

Reuters: “A top California Democratic official on Monday compared Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan to Nazi Germany’s infamous propagandist Joseph Goebbels, drawing rebukes from both parties the day before the Democratic Party’s nominating convention formally begins.”

Ryan told “a bold-faced lie and he doesn’t care that it was a lie. That was Goebbels, the big lie,” Burton told reporters.

“That obviously doesn’t reflect the views of the campaign,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. “That doesn’t have any place in the political discourse in Charlotte.”

“I get where Burton is coming from,” tweets Josh Barro. “This morning, a flight attendant told me she was out of Diet Coke and I compared her to Goebbels. It happens.”

Which would you rather have? A media that is so biased against your side of the aisle that they jump up and down and scream bloody murder over any error or potential error, or a media that is so in the tank for your side that your party’s leaders have grown completely complacent, to the point of reckless, in their public comments?

Before you say you’d prefer bodyguard-style media coverage, keep in mind that with that approach, you end up with leaders like Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I mean… the cream doesn’t exactly rise to the top in that scenario, does it?

Obviously, I’m not a Democrat, but if I were, I’d like to think I would want to be led by the likes of Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, maybe former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

So one cheer for media bias: It helps Republicans weed out the weakest links . . . sometimes.

Tags: Democrats , Media , Paul Ryan

Health Care Costs Still Going Up Under Obamacare? Unthinkable!



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Greg Sargent transmits the next charge against Paul Ryan: “Dems are now going to launch a new offensive hammering home a simple point: Under the Romney/Ryan plan, health care costs for current seniors do go up.”

Er… have any of these Democrats looked at health care costs for everyone since Obamacare was enacted?

Health insurance costs for families are up considerably: “Kaiser’s survey found that annual insurance premiums to cover people through their employers average $5,429 for single people and $15,073 for a family of four in 2011. Those rates rose 8 percent for single people and 9 percent for families. In 2010, premiums rose just 3 percent for families from the previous year.”

Then there’s the price hikes in the current year: “The cost to cover the typical family of four under an employer plan is expected to top $20,000 on health care this year, up more than 7 percent from last year, according to early projections by independent actuarial and health care consulting firm Milliman Inc.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute projects medical costs will increase 7.5 percent for 2013, a rate they characterize as “relatively flat growth.” The National Business Group on Health projects a similar figure: “With the cost of employer-provided health care benefits at large U.S. employers expected to rise another 7 percent next year, employers are eyeing a variety of cost-control measures including asking workers to pay a greater portion of premiums but also sharply boosting financial rewards to engage workers in healthy lifestyles, according to a new survey by the National Business Group on Health, a non-profit association of 342 large employers.”

Of course, all of these rates of increase are much more dramatic that the rates of increase in inflation, wage growth, and other economic indicators: “The projected growth rate of 7.5 percent for overall healthcare costs contrasts with expectations for growth of 2.4 percent in gross domestic product and a 2.0 percent rise in consumer prices during 2013, according to the latest Reuters economic survey.”

Apparently the Obama message will be, “Don’t vote for Romney and Ryan, because they might fail to control the increasing cost of health care as badly as we have!”

Tags: Democrats , Obamacare , Paul Ryan

Democrats: We Prefer Another Recession to Not Raising Taxes



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What the heck? The Washington Post reports:

Democrats are making increasingly explicit threats about their willingness to let nearly $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January unless Republicans drop their opposition to higher taxes for the nation’s wealthiest households. Emboldened by signs that GOP resistance to new taxes may be weakening, senior Democrats say they are prepared to weather a fiscal event that could plunge the nation back into recession if the new year arrives without an acceptable compromise.

And this from the party led by the man who called his opponents “hostage takers.”

Tags: Democrats , Taxes , The Economy

After Long Days of Fundraising, Obama Returns to Fundraising



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The optics of the day:

David Axelrod is insisting that results showing a 7-point Scott Walker win last night is bad news for Mitt Romney.

Bill Clinton said in a CNBC interview, “there’s a recession,” and his spokesman had to issue a statement explaining he didn’t really mean it.

The Greek government is declaring “government coffers could be empty as soon as July, shortly after this month’s pivotal elections. In the worst case, Athens might have to temporarily stop paying for salaries and pensions, along with imports of fuel, food and pharmaceuticals.”

Obama will spend today and tomorrow doing fundraisers in California.

And the RNC is showcasing Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s declaration that the Wisconsin recall would be a “dry run” of the Democrats get-out-the-vote operations.

It’s not that surprising that Obama and the Democrats are in trouble. What is surprising is that he and his fellow party leaders are absolutely convinced that they’re not in trouble.

Tags: Barack Obama , David Axelrod , Democrats , Wisconsin

Democrats Are Always Comparing Their Opponents to McVeigh



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The midweek edition of the Morning Jolt features Occupy protesters who want to blow up bridges in Ohio, reports of disturbing leaks about President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan, and then this continuing outrage . . .

Democrats Are Still Comparing the Tea Parties to McVeigh

Say, do you remember that time the Tea Parties tried to blow up bridges? Oh, that’s right, the dangerous Tea Partiers never did that sort of thing.

But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from insisting that the Tea Parties are quite comparable to the most dangerous domestic terrorist in recent memory:

The chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party is refusing to back down from comments he made likening convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to tea party activists.

Chairman Wallace Collins on Tuesday described McVeigh as an anti-government “right winger” and said he sees tea party activists in a “similar vein.” He previously told a Fox News reporter that if McVeigh were alive today, he would likely be a member of the tea party.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell described Collins’ comments as “offensive and despicable” and demanded an apology.

Collins refused to apologize and says Pinnell is trying to politicize his comments.

Hey, pal, when you’re comparing your political opponents to mass murderers . . . your comments are already pretty well politicized.

Now . . . this is an awful, out-of-line comparison to make anywhere. But to do so in Oklahoma, not too long after the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing . . . well, with leadership like this, it is not surprising that the Democrats got completely wiped out in 2010: “The day began with Democrats holding eight of the 11 statewide elected non-federal positions. It ended with Republicans elected in all 11 statewide posts, along with six-seat GOP gains in both the state House and the state Senate.”

Of course, associating Tea Partiers with a maniac who blew up a day care center is nothing new for Democrats.

Rep. Brian Baird, August 2009: “[Baird] said a ‘coordinated national effort’ to disrupt public meetings with shouts and demonstrations, which he said Republican leaders were ‘egging on,’ was reminiscent of the kinds of things that drove Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.”

President Bill Clinton, April 2010: “With the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing approaching, former President Bill Clinton on Thursday drew parallels between the antigovernment tone that preceded that devastating attack and the political tumult of today, saying government critics must be mindful that angry words can stir violent actions.”

Vice President Joe Biden, August 2011: “Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having ‘acted like terrorists’ in the fight over raising the nation’s debt limit, according to several sources in the room.”

I liked this column written by Charles Lane after a New York Times columnist accused conservatives of “waging jihad”:

. . . Terrorism is not defined by ideology or objectives; it is defined by methods. Terrorists are people who commit acts of physical violence, or threaten them, to influence politics. Tea Party members of Congress, by contrast, ran for office, got elected, and are now casting votes in the national legislature according to what they promised and what their constituents want. In the debt-ceiling debate, they played hardball politics in pursuit of their principles, as they see them.

If there’s any violence, or threat of violence there, or any law-breaking at all — much less a “jihad,” I can’t see it.

There are real terrorists out there: Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Iran’s rulers. Yet some of the same people who are slapping the “terror” label on the Tea Party and condemning Obama for dealing with them also advocate outreach to Mideast terrorists, if not to negotiate with them, at least to understand of what makes them tick.

Tags: Democrats , Tea Parties

Alabama Democrats Use Bill Maher for Fundraising



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The Democratic party continues its bold stand against hateful rhetoric, such as the C-word, this time in Alabama:

An Evening with Bill Maher

March 17, 2012 Chairman’s Reception at 7pm 

Performance at 8pm

Come join Alabama Democrats at the Von Braun Center Concert Hall in Huntsville for an Evening with Bill Maher. 700 Monroe Street Southwest, Huntsville, AL 35801.

Tickets are $100 and include admission to the pre-event Chairman’s reception and prime seating at the performance.

Paid for by the Alabama Democratic Party. P.O. Box 950. Montgomery, AL 36101. (334) 262-2221. (800) 995-3386.

Now, if every Republican officeholder is expected to comment on and denounce Rush Limbaugh for using the S-word, why isn’t every Democratic officeholder expected to comment on and denounce Bill Maher for using the C-word?

“Oh, he’s just a comedian.” No, he’s a Democratic-party fundraiser. Maher donated $1 million to Obama’s SuperPAC.

Why is one acceptable, to the point where Maher is still welcome to headline fundraisers, but Rush is supposed to be persona non grata?

UPDATE: I see the technical geniuses at the Alabama Democratic Party are trying to hide this little embarrassment by taking down the web page for this. But there are a few problems.

1) Gentlemen, it’s kind of hard for you to insist you have no ties to Bill Maher if the URL “http://aldemocrats.org/bill-maher” now redirects to your home page, instead of to the image above selling tickets to his show.

2) That’s why I grabbed an image of that page, with the URL “http://aldemocrats.org/bill-maher” visible at the top, because I suspected you would be dumb enough to think that if you took down the page, it would make this glaring hypocrisy and double standard go away. Taking down a web page does not erase evidence of its previous existence. Ask Nir Rosen how that works.

3) Oh, look, it’s a Google cache of the page.

4) Oh, hey, let’s look at the announcements on AL.com, an Alabama news site, from February 20:

The Alabama Democratic Party will host an evening with comedian and political commentator Bill Maher in Huntsville on March 17. Tickets are $100 and include admission to a chairman’s reception prior to the event. For more information, contact the party at 800-995-3386.

The days of Soviet-style editing of past declarations to fit current desired realities is over, fellas. Man up.

Tags: Alabama , Bill Maher , Democrats

It’s Never a Referendum on Obama, Is It?



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Ron Brownstein becomes the latest big media voice to recognize that whatever the flaws of the eventual GOP candidate, President Obama will run for reelection in a country that, in many places, really doesn’t approve of the job he’s doing:

In sum then, Obama in 2010 could reach an Electoral College majority by carrying states where his approval rating stood at least at 46.6 percent, something that would be difficult but hardly impossible. To reach a majority based on the 2011 results, he’d need to carry states where his approval stood at 43.7 percent or above. That’s a much more daunting prospect.

There are lots of reasons why the Gallup numbers could be more a snapshot of the past than a forecast of the future. Obama’s approval rating has generally run slightly lower in the Gallup tracking poll than in most other surveys. More important, his ratings have generally ticked up in most recent polls as Americans have expressed somewhat more optimism about the economy’s trajectory, and he has shifted the Washington debate away from deficit-reduction toward jobs and tax equity; those improvements would not be heavily reflected in these numbers. He’s also generally polling above his approval ratings in head-to-head match-ups against the leading Republican contenders-who have seen their favorability ratings decline amid their fierce primary struggle. But even with all those qualifications, these Gallup numbers show how much work awaits the Obama campaign, not only in states at the border of the emerging Democratic coalition like Virginia, Florida and Nevada, but some, like Pennsylvania and Oregon that have been part of its core since 1992.

The argument of President Obama and his fans is that in 2012, the country will face “a choice, not a referendum on Obama.”

It’s a familiar refrain.

After New Jersey and Virginia: “Elections not a referendum on Obama.”

After Scott Brown’s victory: “A top adviser to President Obama rejected assertions that Tuesday’s vote was a referendum on the president or Democratic policies, and instead took a shot at Coakley.”

On the eve of the 2010 midterms: “I don’t see that it’s a referendum necessarily on the president.”

Last September: “Gov. Cuomo is rejecting talk that the NY-9 race between Democrat David Weprin and Republican Bob Turner is actually a referendum on President Obama.”

For three years now, we’ve been told that Democratic losses are not reflective of the president, and that each contest does not reflect disappointment or frustration or anger with the president, because his name wasn’t on the ballot. Well, come November 2012, his name is on the ballot, and Democrats have to hope that the mysterious strange, inexplicable, anti-Democrat mood that cropped up shortly after Obama took office and keeps manifesting in the most unlikely of places somehow doesn’t appear again.

Tags: Barack Obama , Democrats

Democrat Party’s Unfavorable Rating Hits 27-Year High



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If today’s polling news is gloomy for Republicans, it’s not that much cheerier for Democrats, either:

Favorable views of the Democratic Party have fallen to their lowest since the Reagan landslide of 1984. Even fewer Americans see the Republican Party positively, and Americans by 2-1 say they’d welcome an independent alternative for president.Being open to a third-party candidate is a far cry from actually voting for one. Still, 61 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll respond  positively to the idea of an independent running for president against the two major-party nominees. Thirty-two percent say no thanks.

If having a choice is largely uncontroversial, the results nonetheless underscore the level of interest in alternatives – and the extent to which the two main parties are struggling for popularity a year from the 2012 election. The public now divides, 48-46 percent, in favorable vs. unfavorable views of the Democratic Party.

And the GOP fares even less well: Fifty-three percent see it negatively, 40 percent favorably.

A strategist told me recently that of all demographic groups, Republicans are currently the least satisfied – because in their minds, they worked their tails off in 2010 to elect conservative Tea Party Republicans to Congress, and yet they see so little change in Washington as a result.

In the ABC News-Washington Post poll, 38 percent of self-identified “somewhat conservative” voters see the GOP unfavorably; 30 percent of self-identified “very conservative” voters see the GOP unfavorably. Only 21 percent of self-described liberal voters see the Democratic Party unfavorably.

Tags: Democrats

The DNC Convention Logo: I See Red People



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In an acknowledgement that their national convention will in effect, ask the American people to retain a leader who has presided over the first downgrading of the national credit rating in history, the Democratic party announced today that their convention logo will honor the Obama legacy of red ink:

Okay, not really. But if you squint your eyes, the actual logo does look a bit like it:

Tags: 2012 Conventions , Democrats

Will the Super-Committee Louse Up the Scare-Granny Campaign?



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Politico, this morning:

President Barack Obama’s health care law has high negative ratings, and they’re not getting any better. But House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan has high negatives, too — and they’re not healing either.

It’s almost enough to suggest that the two plans will just cancel each other out as liabilities in 2012, with the Democrats and Republicans fighting to a draw as they try to scare voters to their side. The big health care question of the election would be: Whose albatross is bigger?

In all likelihood, though, the Ryan plan may be more damaging to the Republicans than the health reform law is to the Democrats. That’s because voters have more of a history of switching their votes over Medicare than they do over health care in general, according to independent health care experts.

I’m not sure that past history is quite so illuminating on this front, partially because we’ve never had legislation like Obamacare before. We have never had legislation that directly effected the health care of every American like this; we’ve never had a law that required every American to purchase health insurance from a private insurer before, we’ve never had a roughly 50-50 chance that the Supreme Court will strike it down as unconstituional before, and we’ve never had promises so quickly broken (“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan“). We’ve never seen legislation trigger mass layoffs by U.S. medical device manufacturers and moves to shift operations to China. At least on this scale, we’ve never seen legislation whose primary selling point that it would save money suddenly become a financial liability so fast.

But if we are insistent upon looking at past history, we notice that the two recent GOP landslides of recent memory – 1994 and 2010 – both had a Democratic president’s attempt to dramatically change the health care system front-and-center in it.

In the Politico story, they write, “That doesn’t mean most Americans want it repealed, though. A Bloomberg poll in June found that 35 percent of Americans want to get rid of the law, but 51 percent want to ‘see how it works’ — perhaps with small changes — and 11 percent want to leave it alone.”

But support for repeal, as measured by Rasmussen on a weekly basis, is remarkably consistent. No more than 43 percent have ever opposed repeal (and it has been as low as 32 percent) and no less than than 47 percent have ever supported repeal (and that figure has been as high as 63 percent). The most current split is 55 percent supporting repeal, 39 percent opposing repeal.

However, the article does make the intriguing point that if Obama were to agree to even modest Medicare cuts as part of a future deal with the Super-Committee (or whatever they’re calling the bipartisan group assigned finding another $1.5 trillion in savings), it complicates the Republicans-want-to-push-granny-off-the-cliff narrative:

…now that Obama has put some big Medicare changes on the table as he tried to negotiate with Republicans — such as raising the eligibility age, increasing premiums and changing deductibles and co-payments — some Democratic operatives are worried that the tables will become unturned.

“I definitely think it muddies the waters,” said Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg. “I do think that no matter what happens, things have gotten murkier.”

How badly could a pre-election Medicare savings deal muddy the waters? A June poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that most seniors think it’s more important to keep current benefits in Medicare and Social Security than to reduce the deficit. But the difference was especially lopsided among older voters who are Democrats or lean Democratic: Eighty-one percent of those seniors said it’s more important to leave their benefits alone.

By the way, what are those big Medicare changes that Obama put on the table? Paul Krugman writes, “according to many reports, the president offered both means-testing of Medicare benefits and a rise in the age of Medicare eligibility.” A good step if true, but you can’t get credit for being a bold reformer if you insist upon proposing all of the most unpopular ideas in secret behind closed doors.

Tags: Barack Obama , Democrats , Medicare , Obamacare

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