While Romney spent his victory speech in Nevada last night doubling down on his “
Obama is bad for the economy” message, Gingrich opted for a more low-key press conference where he dispelled any rumors of an imminent withdrawal and vowed: “We will go to Tampa.” The rest of his remarks, however, made it clear who his real opponent is, not Obama but Obamney. Not only has his campaign resurrected “Obamneycare” (which has got to have Romney seeing red and Tim Pawlenty kicking himself), but last night he debuted another attack-label for Mitt “the Massachusetts moderate” Romney: he is now also the “George Soros-approved candidate,” a reference to the liberal financier loathed by the right.
Gingrich was talking about an interview in Davos where George Soros made the following remarks:
If it’s between Obama and Romney there isn’t all that much different, except for the crowd that they bring with them. Romney would have to take Gingrich or Santorum as a vice president and probably have some pretty extreme candidates on the Supreme Court. So that’s the downside.
Imagine the hysterical glee when Gingrich (or one of his staffers) heard that gem coming out of George Soros’ mouth. Now he can really go all out on the I’m-the-only-true-conservative-up-against-the-mean-old-Establishment-and-all-that-money, which is exactly what he did last night.
So we stopped and said, alright, the entire Establishment will be against us, the scale of Wall Street money starting with Goldman Sachs will be amazing, and the campaign will be based on things that aren’t true, then how do you define the campaign for the average American so they get to choose do they want two George Soros-approved candidates in the general election or would they like a conservative versus one George Soros-approved candidate.
Looks like Gingrich is settling in for the long fight after all. He made clear at the press conference that he plans to wrest as many delegates out of Romney’s balled-up fists as he can (with special attention, it seems, being paid to Ohio and Arizona). And along the way, you can be sure he’ll trot out the “George Soros-approved candidate” line at least another 4,000 times.
By: Andre Tartar, Daily Intel, February 5, 2012
Though President Ronald Reagan called the right to vote the “crown jewel of American liberties,” many Republicans around the country have begun demanding increased voting restrictions in the name of fighting “voter fraud.” Though actual cases of voting fraud are so rare that a voter is much more likely to be struck by lightningthan to commit fraud at the polls, one Republican official in Indiana has proved that lightning can strike himself.
Yesterday, a jury found Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White (R) guilty on six felony counts of voter fraud, theft, and perjury. The conviction cost White his job, though he plans to ask the judge to reduce the charges to misdemeanors and hopes to perhaps regain the position.
In a statement, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) announced White’s deputy will take over on an interim basis:
I have chosen not to make a permanent appointment today out of respect for the judge’s authority to lessen the verdict to a misdemeanor and reinstate the elected office holder… If the felony convictions are not altered, I anticipate making a permanent appointment quickly.
But a second court case could ultimately give the job to Democrat Vop Osili, who lost to White in November 2010. A judge’s December 2011 ruling — currently on hold, pending appeal — held that due to the voter fraud charges, White’s election was invalid. Should that ruling survive the appeals process, Osili would assume the office.
Ironically, White’s now-removed 2010 campaign website listed election integrity as among his top concerns, and promised he would “protect and defend Indiana’s Voter ID law to ensure our elections are fair and protect the most basic and precious right and responsibility of our democracy-voting.”
By: Josh Israel, Think Progress, February 4, 2012
On Thursday, House Republicans unanimously rejected a resolution from Rep. Gary Peters stating, among other things, that the Bush tax cuts added to the deficit. If you read the text they were voting on, it’s pretty clear that it wasn’t built for bipartisanship: It’s phrased to suggest that Bush was a liar and Republican governance was a fraud. That kind of thing doesn’t pick up votes across the aisle.
But there’s a more important economic debate here. Republicans occasionally flirt with the idea that tax cuts don’t increase deficits. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has said this directly. Speaker John Boehner has decreed that tax cuts don’t need to be offset, but spending proposals do. But there’s a very easy way to see that Republicans don’t really mean this: They believe that tax cuts cause deficits when Democrats are behind them.
The ongoing debate over the payroll tax is a good example. When Republicans proposed a payroll tax cut as stimulus in 2009, it wasn’t offset. When they agreed to it in the 2010 tax deal, it wasn’t offset. But since it has become the White House’s favored policy, House Republicans — the same House Republicans who passed the CUTGO rules stating that spending proposals had to be paid for but tax cuts didn’t — are insisting the payroll tax cut be offset.
Then there’s the Bush tax cuts. When Republicans tally up Obama’s deficits over the last few years, they’re adding $620 billion for the two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts. When they project his deficits for the next five years, they’re assuming the extension of the Bush tax cuts. And they’re doing so explicitly. Earlier in the week, I worked with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on a column summing up the projected budgetary impact of every single piece of legislation Obama had signed into law. In the end, my numbers showed, Obama has passed policies adding about a trillion dollars to the deficit. But Keith Hennessey, who directed the National Economic Council under George W. Bush, responded that I had ignored the trillions of dollars in deficits “from policies President Obama proposes to enact in the future (like extending most but not all tax cuts rates beyond 2012)”.
And Hennessey is right. Not about my analysis, which was restricted to actual policies, not proposed policies (should I also have subtracted $4 trillion from the deficit because Obama favors a deficit deal of that size?). But about the Bush tax cuts, which will add trillions of dollars to the deficit if Obama extends all or most of them in 2012.
Finally, there is a particularly odd claim you occasionally hear about the Bush tax cuts: Revenue increased in their aftermath. Dan Holler, the communications director for the Heritage Action, tweeted as much at me yesterday. “revenues increased between 2003 and 2007…how does @ezraklein argue Bush policies ‘pushed revenues’ down?”
This relies on mixing up the effects of inflation, economic growth, and taxes. The normal way to measure how much revenues a given tax regime is pulling in is to look at taxes as a percentage of GDP. In 2001, taxes revenues were 19.5 percent of GDP. In 2002, they fell to 17.6 percent of GDP. In 2003, 16.2 percent of GDP. In 2004, 16.1 percent of GDP. Some of that is the 2001 recession. But at no point in Bush’s presidency, and at no point since, have taxes returned to 19 percent of GDP.
Or, to put it slightly differently, if tax cuts actually increased revenues, then it would have been absurd for George W. Bush to propose tax cuts as a way of paying down the surplus. In that world, tax cuts would have made the surplus larger, and given the government even more of the people’s money. We would end up in a fiscal paradox, with the government constantly trying to give back its surplus, but ending up with an even larger surplus as a result. But that’s not the world we live in.
By: Ezra Klein, The Washington Post, February 3, 2012
In the winter line-up of Republican presidential candidates, a moderate pro-choice Republican woman has no choice. She might feel as if she were so, well, last century.
It is not news that the Republican Party has moved further right on social issues over the past few decades, but the 2012 campaign is a clear marker showing that the party has left legal abortion behind. All the contenders, past and present, adamantly oppose legal abortion, even the libertarian obstetrician-gynecologist, Ron Paul. Overturning legal abortion may in fact be the one thing they all agree on — so it doesn’t come up much in debates, speeches or interviews. But it is on their agenda.
The one woman in the race, Michele Bachmann, made her anti-abortion views known more strongly than most before dropping out after the Iowa caucuses. At a debate in December, she chastised Gingrich for missing a chance to “defund” Planned Parenthood when he was speaker of the House. Then Bachmann pressed Gingrich harder still for supporting House candidates who favor keeping late-term abortions legal: “He said he would support and campaign for Republicans that support the barbaric practice of ‘partial birth’ abortion,” Bachmann said. “I would never do that.”
Early on, at summer forums before a vote was cast, Rick Santorum staked out the most extreme ground: requiring women and girls who are victims of rape or incest to carry a pregnancy to term. “To put them through another trauma of an abortion, I think is too much to ask,” he declared at an Iowa presidential debate. “One violence is enough.” In June, Santorum told David Gregory on Meet the Press that doctors who performed abortions in cases of rape or incest should be criminally charged.
For two generations of American women, Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision, defined abortion as a private individual decision. Broadly speaking, polls show the American public lives with this framework and is not looking for a fight to tear it down. But a recent Pew Research Center poll shows that the question is a close call, with 54% of the public supporting legal abortion in most or all cases and 42% of the public opposed to legal abortion in most or all cases. The numbers show that the argument over abortion remains divisive, but also that there is an uneasy equilibrium.
Even Jon Huntsman, supposedly the Republican who was most appealing to Democrats, signed a law when he was governor of Utah to outlaw most abortions if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Running for president, he liked to say that two of his daughters were adopted and that he was grateful to their mothers for bearing them. Lest he seem soft next to the rest, Huntsman reminded voters of the “trigger” law: “I signed the bill that would trigger the ban on abortion in Utah if Roe v. Wade were overturned.”
Mitt Romney, the winner in Florida and now the clear front-runner, was pro-choice when he ran against the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 1994, although Romney was personally against abortion. During a debate with Romney, Kennedy remarked, “I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple-choice.” During the same debate, Romney said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal. I have since the time that my mom took that position when she ran in 1970 as a U.S Senate candidate.”
Romney also spoke with sorrow about a death in the family from an illegal abortion. By 2002, however, when he ran for governor of Massachusetts, he presented himself as a “pro-life” politician who would not change the pro-choice laws of the liberal state he would govern. In the last decade, Romney has become more outspoken in his opposition to abortion, though as a “pro-life president” he says he’d make exceptions for rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at stake.
Romney likes to brag about how many years he has been married (42), in a not-so-subtle dig at the thrice-wed Newt Gingrich. The race’s most mercurial candidate, Gingrich never presented himself as a feminist, far from it. In private, his messy divorces do not hold up well to scrutiny from any direction. Women voters in Florida substantially favored Romney. Gingrich’s opposition to abortion rights, always solid, became more aggressive over the course of the campaign. To the surprise of some, he took a “personhood” movement pledge to oppose abortion, with no exceptions.
More significant in shaping the Republican stance toward women was Gingrich’s Contract with America, which lifted him to the perch of House Speaker in 1995. The Contract with America cut women out of the picture of Republican policy and rhetoric. As it turns out, the contract was a harbinger of a wave in Republican politics that is regathering its strength this winter.
On the Republican campaign trail, all candidates ever talk about when they talk about women is abortion – and to some extent, marriage and motherhood. That reduces Republican women primary voters down to a simple equation. This silence — or absence of political dialogue — on women takes a while to notice, but it is plainly there. With abortion a hot topic that Republicans prefer to avoid in front of large national audiences, women seem scarce and even invisible. Yet they are a majority of the American electorate.
Early in the campaign, workplace issues like sexual harassment flickered only when allegations of improper sexual conduct toward women colleagues caused Herman Cain’s downfall.
By contrast, whatever he did in his personal life, President Clinton brought a sound grasp of women’s lives to the stump and to the Oval Office. The first bill he signed into law, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, was a huge gift to working women. President Obama signed the pay equity act named for Lilly Ledbetter. His affordable health care act would make birth control more freely available.
Republicanism has not always been this way, even recently. Constance Morella, a popular Republican pro-choice congresswoman from Maryland, represented a liberal district, but was defeated in 2002 by a Democrat, Chris Van Hollen. There are not many more like her on the House side.
Margaret Chase Smith, a senator from Maine, the grand old dame of the Republican party, wore a rose every day, including on the first of June in 1950 when she gave the brave, brilliant “Declaration of Conscience” speech she is best know for, denouncing her fellow Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. Beforehand, she saw McCarthy on the Senate trolley car, looked him in the eye, and told him he would not like what he was about to hear. Smith ran for president in 1964; she lost her seat in the senate in 1972, after serving four terms.
What would she say about Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann — the two leading Republican women during the campaigns of 2008 and 2012 — and their brand of Christian right politics?
Senator Smith’s memory in the Capitol building lingers. She gave New England Republican women a proud name. To this day, Maine’s senators are both Republican pro-choice women, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.
Out of five Republican women in the Senate, Snowe and Collins may be the last of the moderates. Seen as period pieces from a lost Republicanism, they are vulnerable to challenges from their right. Snowe, up for re-election this fall, is a target of the Tea Party movement. If she loses, Republican women will have even less choice.
By: Jamie Stiehm, The New York Times, February 2, 2012