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“Not A Great Sign”: Christie Sinks To Embarrassing New Low In 2016 Poll

Since shortly after the 2012 presidential election, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has made it very clear that he plans to run for the White House in 2016. But according to a new survey, Republicans would rather he stay in the Garden State.

That’s the takeaway from a CBS News poll, released Sunday, which asks Americans who they would — and would not — like to see run for president.

Republicans are intrigued by several potential candidates. They agree 59 to 26 percent that Mitt Romney should launch a third presidential bid — a much warmer reception than he’s received from party insiders — and 50 to 27 percent that former Florida governor Jeb Bush should try to become the third member of his family to win the White House. Former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee also polls well, with 40 percent wanting him to run and 29 percent hoping he declines.

But Republicans are much more sour on Christie: Just 29 percent want to see him join the race, while 44 percent disagree. Only former Alaska governor Sarah Palin polls worse, with 59 percent urging her to stay out of the race and 30 percent hoping she jumps in.

Considering that Christie has been traveling the country in a highly publicized shadow campaign, while Palin has been filling her days with impeachment calls and incomprehensible rambling, that’s not a great sign.

It’s not just national Republicans who aren’t crazy about a potential Christie campaign; his own constituents don’t seem very enthused by the idea, either. A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released last week found that 47 percent of New Jersey voters disapprove of Christie’s job performance, compared to just 39 percent who approve. Furthermore, voters agreed 53 to 32 percent that Christie is more concerned with running for president than being governor, and an overwhelming 72 percent said that Christie’s gubernatorial decisions are influenced by his presidential ambitions.

Previous polls have found likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton walloping Christie in New Jersey in a hypothetical presidential matchup.

According to the CBS poll, Democrats are much more excited for a Clinton campaign than Republicans are about Christie; 85 percent of Democrats want Clinton to run for president, while just 11 percent want her to pass on the race.


By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, January 19, 2015

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Romney As Republican Comfort Food”: He Talks A Great Donor Game, But Doesn’t Strike The Grassroots As Authentic

It’s way too early to tell who is going to run, who is able to run and who will win from running for president in 2016. But if prognosticators didn’t try to take a stab at it, then those of us in the politics business would be pushing the unemployment rate up another percentage point.

Thus, the latest CBS poll of potential 2016 nominees shows 6 in 10 Republican voters, or 59 percent of that bloc, want to see Romney stump on the presidential campaign trail. Jake Miller at CBS News:

Republicans have a particularly broad field of prospective candidates, and it’s seemingly growing by the day: Just last week, the 2012 GOP nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, told a room of donors in New York City that he’s seriously entertaining a 2016 bid.

Fifty-nine percent of Republicans would like to see Romney jump into the 2016 race, while only 26 percent believe he should stay out, according to the CBS News poll.

Fifty percent of Republicans would like to see former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on the campaign trail as well, while 27 percent disagree. If both Romney and Bush run, analysts expect them to wage a competitive battle for the allegiance of the Republican establishment.

A lot of observers are scratching their collective heads on Romney’s sudden phantom rise given his self-inflicting 2012 defeat and his flopped run in the 2008 GOP primary. But there are indications of a raging battle between donors and various wings of party activists: he talks a great donor game, but doesn’t necessarily strike the grassroots folks as authentic – unless you fell in love with the unrecognizably likable Mitt showcased in that post-election Netflix documentary. And, the only thing holding Bush back, at the moment, is both his brand (the last name makes everyone, regardless of political affiliation, queasy) and skepticism over his stances on key issues as they’ve changed over the past decade.

If anything, such an overwhelming response from GOP voters should not assume Romney is a great candidate. It just says Republicans are comfortable with going with what they know; even Bush with 50 percent is folks simply going with the brand they know as opposed to the truly qualified brand at the moment. The other presumptives will just have to work harder at name ID.


By: Charles Ellison, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 19, 2015

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Mitt Romney | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Of All The Ridiculous Arguments”: Republicans Remain Terrified That President Obama Will Close Gitmo

Ever since President Obama took office in 2009, Republicans have done everything in their power to stop him from closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Given his recent successes at repatriating detainees and the looming assistance Pope Francis has offered, they are upping those efforts.

Key Senate Republicans on Tuesday unveiled legislation that would effectively block President Barack Obama from fulfilling his pledge to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before he leaves office in two years.

The legislation from Sens. Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Richard Burr and Lindsey Graham would prohibit for two years the transfer to the United States of detainees designated medium- or high-risk. It would also ban transfers to Yemen, where dozens of the 127 remaining Guantánamo detainees are from.

Of all the ridiculous arguments they’ve made over the years for keeping the prison open, this one takes the cake.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Ayotte argued the administration’s increased clip of transfers was dangerous because it could allow detainees to re-enter the terrorism fight, citing the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Given that none of those who have been reported to have been involved in the Paris attack had ever even spent a night at Gitmo, this is nothing but absurd fear-mongering.

Besides, here are the facts about the recidivism of Gitmo detainees who have been released from a report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

According to the report, the percentage of freed detainees “reengaging” during the Bush administration was 19 percent, while another 14.3 percent were “suspected of reengaging.” Since Obama took office, however, just 6.8 percent of detainees are confirmed as reengaging, while just 1.1 percent are suspected of returning to the battlefield.

“Nearly half of the former detainees confirmed of reengaging are either dead or in custody, and more than one-third of the former detainees suspected of re-engaging are either dead or in custody,” the official said.

I have no idea what has Senators Ayotte, McCain, Burr and Graham so terrified. But it looks to me like it mostly has to do with witnessing President Obama succeed on a campaign promise while he protects our national security.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 18, 2015

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Congress, GITMO, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mitt Flips On The Very Poor”: Is Romney The Guy Republicans Want Talking About Poverty?

Nearly three years after he famously said he was “not concerned about the very poor,” former presidential nominee Mitt Romney told Republicans in a speech Friday night the party must focus on helping “lift people out of poverty.”

Welcome to Mitt 3.0: The Mitt who cares.

His comments on the very poor—not to mention the 47 percent—may have played a major role in his 2012 loss, but don’t tell that to Romney. The issue is now among the hottest debates in politics—and he seems determined to be part of that conversation.

Of the three topics the Romney stressed in his brief address to the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting—during which he also confirmed he was thinking about a third campaign for president—two had to do with the less fortunate.

“First, we have to make the world safer,” Romney said. “Second, we have to make sure and provide opportunity for all Americans regardless of the neighborhood they live in. And finally, we have to lift people out of poverty. If we communicate those three things effectively, the American people are going to be with us—be with our nominee and with our candidates across the country.”

But why the change of tone?

Over the past three years, the issue has changed in ways that favor a more progressive approach. The poverty rate has actually gone down since Mitt 2.0—the economy fixer—lost the race in 2012.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the official poverty rate went from 15 percent in 2012 to 14.5 percent in 2013. The last time the poverty rate dipped was in 2006. That’s not to say things have gotten markedly better, the number of people in poverty—45.3 million—has remained statistically the same.

This problem is hardly a new issue. The poverty rate was on the rise in 2007, when Romney first ran for president as Mitt 1.0—the Conservative. But even though it spiked from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 13.2 percent in 2008, only then-Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) chose to make the issue a centerpiece of his campaign.

But one thing that has changed is public opinion on the issue. Recent polling shows a more compassionate country when it comes to the poor. A June 2014 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed fewer people blamed the poor for their financial situation. When asked “which is the bigger cause of poverty today?”, 46 percent of those polled attributed poverty to “circumstances beyond people’s control” as opposed to 44 percent who blamed “people not doing enough.” In 1995, 60 percent blamed “people not doing enough” for their poverty, while 30 percent blamed “circumstances beyond people’s control.”

Back in 2012, it wasn’t as if the Romney campaign completely ignored the poor—poverty was a key issue for his then-running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Romney, himself, routinely talked of the rising number of people on food stamps and other government programs as evidence President Obama’s economic policies weren’t working.

But it was what he said behind closed-doors that caused any poverty message he tried to ring hollow. His campaign was never able to shake his comments about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay income tax made during a Florida fundraiser.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” Romney told a group of donors during a closed door meeting. “These are people who pay no income tax. … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

When a recording of his remarks leaked, it became a public relations disaster for Romney, solidifying the image of him as an out of touch millionaire in the minds of voters. Even after he lost the 2012 race, Romney doubled down during a call with donors, blaming the Obama administration for giving special interest groups—like African Americans, Hispanics and young people—“gifts” to get their vote, according to the New York Times.

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Romney said, according to the Times.

He blamed the so-called gifts for overshadowing his campaign about “big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

With wages stuck in neutral for many, poverty and income inequality will likely be a major issue of the 2016 campaign. But Republicans have to think—is Mitt the guy they want talking about it?


By: Jackie Kucinich, The Daily Beast, January 19, 2015

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Mitt Romney, Poor and Low Income, Poverty | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Isn’t The Debate Republicans Want To Have”: Republicans Befuddled By Obama Plan To Cut Middle-Class Taxes

Even President Obama’s most fervent opponents must acknowledge that he’s getting quite good at putting them on the defensive. Facing a Republican Congress and with only two years remaining in his presidency, he seems to come up with a new idea every couple of weeks to drive them up a wall. So he certainly wasn’t going to let the State of the Union address go by without using the opportunity — days of pre- and post-speech commentary, plus an audience in the tens of millions — to its utmost.

At Tuesday’s speech, Obama will announce a series of proposals meant to aid middle class and poor Americans and address inequality, most particularly an increase in the child care credit and a $500 tax credit for working couples (here’s the White House’s fact sheet on the proposals). To pay for it, investment and inheritance taxes on the wealthy would be increased and some loopholes that small numbers of the super-rich (like one Willard Romney) exploit will be closed. While the SOTU is often the occasion for dramatic announcements that are soon forgotten, this one lands in the center a debate that is looking like it will shape the upcoming presidential race. Naturally, Republicans are not pleased.

But if you listen carefully to what they’re saying, you’ll notice that they are barely mentioning the proposals for middle-class tax breaks which are supposed to be the whole purpose of this initiative; instead, all their focus is on the increases America’s noble job creators would have to endure in order to pay for it.

“Slapping American small businesses, savers and investors with more tax hikes only negates the benefits of the tax policies that have been successful in helping to expand the economy, promote savings, and create jobs,” said Orrin Hatch. “More Washington tax hikes and spending is the same, old top-down approach we’ve come to expect from President Obama that hasn’t worked,” said John Boehner’s spokesperson. “This is not a serious proposal,” said Paul Ryan’s flak. “We lift families up and grow the economy with a simpler, flatter tax code, not big tax increases to pay for more Washington spending.” For the record, a “flatter” tax system means either the poor paying more or the rich paying less, though Republicans never say which they prefer.

Marco Rubio was on the same page. “Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful,” he said on Face the Nation. “The good news about free enterprise is that everyone can succeed without punishing anyone.” That was about as close as any Republican came to actually talking about the tax cuts Obama is proposing (though this National Review editorial does discuss them, by arguing that it’s an attack on motherhood). That’s probably because Republicans been in favor of ideas like them in the recent past.

While Obama does want to provide new funds to make community college free to anyone who wants it, most of his proposals in this round use the tax code to help people of modest means, which is exactly what Republicans usually suggest when they’re forced to come up with an idea to help the poor or middle class. Since they believe that government programs to help ordinary people are useless almost by definition, the only way to give anyone a hand is with a tax cut. And yes, the hand they usually extend is toward the wealthy, whose burdens are so crushing that justice demands that lawmakers not rest until they can be afforded relief. But tax cuts are so magical they can help anyone, which is why Republicans been in favor of expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the child care tax credit before.

But paying for it by increasing investment and inheritance taxes on the wealthy, like Obama is proposing? Not on your life.

One thing’s for sure: as the economy improves, both parties are now being forced to address the underlying issues of stagnant wages and inequality that have been an anchor around ordinary people’s lives for the last few decades. It’s fair to say this isn’t the debate Republicans want to have, and it’s easy to mock them for their insistence that they’re really the party with something to offer the middle class and the poor. But it’s a lot more productive to just take them at their word and see what they actually propose to do.

So Mitt Romney says he has cast off his previous contempt for those of modest means and now wants to focus his 2016 presidential campaign on the issue of poverty? All right — what are his ideas? If they’re actually worthwhile, he should get whatever credit he’s due. If it’s more trickle-down policies and stern lectures about bootstrap-pulling, then we’ll know nothing has changed.

You can argue — and many will — that it’s pointless for Obama to introduce significant policy proposals like this when he knows they couldn’t make it through the Republican Congress. But what alternative does he have? He could suggest only Republican ideas, but he wouldn’t be much of a Democratic president if he did that. Or he could offer nothing at all, and then everyone would criticize him for giving up on achieving anything in his last two years. If nothing else, putting these proposals forward can start a discussion that might bear legislative fruit later on. Major policy changes sometimes take years to accomplish, so it’s never too early to start. And if Republicans have better ideas, let’s hear them.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, January 19, 2015

January 20, 2015 Posted by | Middle Class, Republicans, Tax Cuts | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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