The pundits seemed to award Mitt Romney a great victory in New Hampshire (1/10) but to us it looked like the former governor of Massachusetts escaped from the state in his backyard with a bare plurality of 39.3% (with 92% of the vote reported), followed by Ron Paul with about 23% and Jon Huntsman with 17%. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were battling for fourth place with less than 10% and Rick Perry was battling with Buddy Roemer for sixth place, with less than 1% of the vote.
Now the fight goes to South Carolina, where Gingrich will have the support of a super PAC that is bankrolled by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and is prepared to spend millions of dollars to smear Romneys record as a corporate raider whose Bain Capital looted companies, fired workers and recorded profits without regard to any public good. As Mike Huckabee said in 2008, Romney tends to remind people of the guy who laid you off. Perry, who still has a considerable campaign treasury that he built up when he was a rising star, may see South Carolina as his last hope to make a stand. Santorum and Huntsman also will be trying to put some dents in Romneys armor in the Palmetto State before the 1/21 primary.
TalkingPointsMemo.com reported (1/10) that Romneys victory speech in New Hampshire had barely ended before Fox News was filled with South Carolina-specific TV spots. Two of the three ads were negative ads on Romney the first from a super Pac supporting Ron Paul, another taken up with Gingrichs ad drawing attention to Romneys switch from a pro-abortion governor of Massachusetts to his current pro-life position as a presidential candidate. Romney also had an ad that attacked President Obama and the National Labor Relations Board.
ROMNEY TWISTS JOB CREATION STATS. Mitt Romney claims that during his tenure at Bain Capital, he created over 100,000 new jobs. But it turned out that the 100,000 figure stems from growth in jobs from three companies that Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a gain of 89,000 jobs), the Sports Authority (15,000 jobs) and Dominos (7,900 jobs). Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post noted that the tally does not include job losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved and are based on current employment figures, not the period when Romney worked at Bain, from 1984 to 1999. But the Romney camp conceded to the Posts Kessler that in making the claim that Obama is a job destroyer, Romney is factoring in the jobs that were lost during Obamas presidency before Obamas policies went into effect. In other words, Romney is calculating a net number for Obama, and isnt calculating a net number for himself, Greg Sargent wrote at WashingtonPost.com (1/4). Just wow. After Obamas stimulus took effect, Sargent noted, monthly job loss declined and turned around in the spring of 2010. Since then, the private sector has added jobs for 20 straight months, totaling 2.2 mln.
At te same time, Steve Benen noted at WashingtonMonthly.com (1/5) Romney claims that President Obama is a job destroyer and that Romney created more jobs at Bain Capital and in Massachusetts than Obama has created in three years as president.
MITTS MENDACITY MONITORED. Steve Benen of WashingtonMonthly.com has undertaken to document Mitt Romneys falsehoods, compiling the following list for the week ending 1/6:
1. Romney campaigning in Iowa (1/1): [W]hen the president went around at the beginning of his term and apologized for America around the world, it made us just heartsick.
Benen noted, Hes lying; the president never apologized for America. Romney knows this, but he keeps making the claim anyway.
2. Romney on Fox News (1/3): Ive still got the same positions on the issues I had four years ago. My record as governor and my positions are pretty darn conservative.
Benen noted, Thats not even close to being true.
3. Romney talking about his jobs record on Fox News (1/3): [At Bain Capital], we helped create over 100,000 new jobs.
Benen: Actually, no, he didnt (see above).
4. Romney in New Hampshire on Wednesday (1/4) said President Obama seeks a European-style welfare state to redistribute wealth and create equal outcomes regardless of individual effort and success.
Benen: This isnt just a lie, its also Glenn Beck-level insane.
5. Romney in a new campaign ad airing in South Carolina: The National Labor Relations Board, now stacked with union stooges selected by the president, says to a free enterprise like Boeing, You cant build a factory in South Carolina, because South Carolina is a right-to-work state. That is simply un-American. Its political payback of the worst kind.
Benen: Romney has said this before, and hes been told every time, hes lying.
Honorable mention: Romney continues to make wildly misleading comments about the presidents jobs record, too, Benen noted.
The hosts of CBSs The Early Show (1/3) seemed taken aback when Newt Gingrich called Romney a liar, prompting the disgraced former House Speaker to say they shouldnt be shocked given Romneys constant dishonesty.
As lists like these help demonstrate, Gingrich has a point, Benen said.
Send your nominations for Romney whoppers to Benen at WashingtonMonthly.com.
HUCKABEE CHIDES GOP OBAMANIA. As the GOP candidates stumped around the Hawkeye State before the Iowa Caucus (1/3), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), who won the states caucus in 2008, called out many in his party for prioritizing political victory over the countrys well-being. Marie Diamond noted at ThinkProgress.org (1/3) that in a radio interview, Huckabee expressed his frustration with the current field and said, If I walked in the booth today Im not sure who Id pull the lever for. He explained that he decided not to get in the race this time because, It appears to me, and it still does to a large degree, that many of the Republicans are more interested in just defeating Barack Obama than they are in rebuilding America. Huckabee said he wanted to see more of an emphasis on how to get Americans back to work and noted, defeating somebody without a plan to really resolve problems, to me, is a worthless endeavor.
SANTORUMS TOP 10 MOST OUTRAGEOUS CAMPAIGN STATEMENTS. Rick Santorums surprising second-place finish in Iowa came after months of dogged campaigning throughout the states 99 counties and more than 350 town halls. Igor Volsky of ThinkProgress.org tracked the former Pennsylvania senator throughout this period and compiled a list of his top 10 most outrageous claims:
1) ANNUL ALL SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: Arguing that gay relationships destabilize society, Santorum wouldnt offer any legal protections to gay relationships and has pledged to annul all same-sex marriages if elected president. During his 99-country tour of Iowa, Santorum frequently compared same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs, beer, and paper towels and even tried to blame the economic crisis on gay people. As Santorum explained back in August, religious people have a constitutional right to discriminate against gays: We have a right [in] the Constitution of religious liberty but now the courts have created a super-right thats above a right thats actually in the Constitution, and thats of sexual liberty. And I think thats a wrong, thats a destructive element.
2) IM FOR INCOME INEQUALITY: They talk about income inequality. Im for income inequality, Santorum said during an event in Pella, Iowa, in December. I think some people should make more than other people, because some people work harder and have better ideas and take more risk, and they should be rewarded for it. I have no problem with income inequality.
3) CONTRACEPTION IS A LICENSE TO DO THINGS: Santorum has pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception and allow the states to outlaw birth control, insisting that its a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.
4) GAY SOLDIERS CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR PEOPLE LIVING IN CLOSE QUARTERS: During an appearance on Fox News Sunday in October, Santorum defended his support for Dont Ask, Dont Tell by arguing that gay soldiers would disrupt the military because theyre in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people. He also suggested that there are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and arent anymore.
5) OBAMA SHOULD OPPOSE ABORTION BECAUSE HES BLACK: During an appearance on Christian television in January, Santorum said he was surprised that President Obama didnt know when life began given his skin color. I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people, he explained.
6) WE DONT NEED FOOD STAMPS BECAUSE OBESITY RATES ARE SO HIGH: Speaking in Le Mars, Iowa, in December, Santorum promised to significantly reduce federal funding for food stamps, arguing that the nations increasing obesity rates render the program unnecessary.
7) ABORTION EXCEPTIONS TO PROTECT WOMENS HEALTH ARE PHONY: While discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban in June, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions phony. They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective, he said.
8) HEALTH REFORM WILL KILL MY CHILD: Santorum, who claims that Obamacare motivated him to run for president, told reporters in April that his daughter Bella who was born with a genetic abnormality wouldnt survive in a country with socialized medicine. Children like Bella are not given the treatment that other children are given.
9) UNINSURED AMERICANS SHOULD SPEND LESS ON CELL-PHONE BILLS: During a meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in August, Santorum said that people who cant afford health care should stop whining about the high costs of medical treatments and medications and spend less on non essentials. Answering a question about the uninsured, Santorum explained that health care, like a car, is a luxury resource that is rationed by society and recalled the story of a woman who said she was spending $200 a month on life-saving prescriptions. Santorum told her to stop complaining and instead lower her cable and cell phone bills.
10) INSURERS SHOULD DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: Santorum sounded like a representative from the health insurance industry when he addressed a small group of high school students in Merrimack, New Hampshire in December. The former Pennsylvania senator not only defended insurers for denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, he also argued that individuals who are sick should pay higher premiums because they cost more money to insure.
Santorum also tried to explain away a racist welfare rant in which he is heard to say I dont want to make black peoples lives better by giving them somebody elses money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money. After being criticized, he claimed he said blah people, not black. Later, he said he stumbled verbally when he was trying to say peoples lives and uttered a short syllable that came out as plives. But it sure sounds like black people on the video.
Volsky also noted on 1/9 that Santorum, in his 1994 campaign for the US Senate, advocated for an individual requirement to purchase health insurance companies. Allentown, Pa., Morning Call reported (4/7/94 and 5/2/94) that Santorum, then a congressman from the Pittsburgh area, agreed with his Republican primary opponent, Joe Watkins, a Philadelphia businessman, that individuals should be forced to buy health insurance rather than forcing employers to pay for employee benefits.
MEDICARE STILL MORE COST-EFFICIENT THAN PRIVATE INSURANCE. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has been leading the Republican effort to privatize Medicare, recruited Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) this past fall to join his plan to offer vouchers for Medicare beneficiaries to choose among competing insurance plans, including the traditional fee-for-service program. Ryan and Wyden said the system would control the growth of Medicare spending better than the current system by encouraging more efficient cost-sensitive decision-making by both providers and consumers. But Laura DAndrea Tyson noted that their is scant evidence to support the Ryan-Wyden assertion. Indeed, she noted in the Economix blog at NYTimes.com (12/30), Medicare spending has grown more slowly than private insurance premiums for comparable coverage for more than 30 years. From 1970 to 2009, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew by 1 percentage point less each year than comparable private insurance premiums. Between 2000 and 2009, Medicares cost advantage was even larger its spending per beneficiary grew at an average annual rate of 5.1% while per-capita premiums for private health insurance plans grew at 7.2%, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In inflation-adjusted terms, Medicare spending per beneficiary increased more than 400% between 1969 and 2009, while private insurance premiums increased by more than 700%.
Joan McCarter noted at DailyKos.com (1/9) that it proves the problem with plans like Wyden-Ryan, or just plain old Ryan, which has been embraced by just about every House Republican, and most presidential candidates. In four decades of data, theres no evidence to suggest that competition in health care has done anything to bring costs down. Rather than working to figure out how to make Medicare work more like private insurance, policymakers need to be figuring out how to get more people in Medicare.
BOEING RENEGES ON KANSAS JOBS IN TANKER DEAL. Kansas lawmakers went to bat for Boeing in 2010 after the Air Force granted a tanker contract to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS). Under pressure from Kansas officials such as Sen. Pat Roberts (R), then-Sen. Sam Brownback (R) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), the Pentagon reopened the bidding process and the $35 bln contract was awarded to Boeing, with a promise of 7,500 jobs at the companys Defense, Space and Security facility in Wichita. Instead, company officials announced (1/9) that Boeing will be closing its Wichita plan by the end of 2013, which will cost 2,100 well-paying jobs. Boeing said it was moving aircraft maintenance, modification and support to its plant in San Antonio, Texas, where the state has offered generous tax breaks. Engineering work will go to Oklahoma City and work on the Air Force refueling tanker will be performed in Puget Sound, Wash.
Kansas had given tax breaks, supported research and provided $2 mln to help Boeing train its workforce in 2007. Boeing is the poster child for corporate tax incentives. This company has benefited from property tax incentives, sales tax exemptions, infrastructure investments and other tax breaks at every level of government. These incentives were provided in an effort to retain and create thousands of Kansas jobs, said Wichita Rep. Jim Ward (D) in response to Boeings move. We will be less trusting in the future of corporate promises.
ROMNEY TAX PLAN HITS WORKING POOR, MIDDLE CLASS. Mitt Romneys tax plan would increase taxes for everybody making less than $40,000 and the lower your income, the bigger a percentage would go to paying for the tax breaks for wealthier Americans, according to a new analysis by the Brookings Institution and the Tax Policy Center (taxpolicycenter.org, 1/5). Romneys plan would extend the Bush-era tax cuts that are scheduled to expire in 2013 and repeal some taxes on the wealthy that were part of the Affordable Care Act, but he would allow expiration of tax credits for higher education, expanded refundability of the child credit and expansion of the earned income tax credit that was part of President Obamas stimulus act. Jed Lewison at DailyKos.com (1/6) noted that everybody else would get a tax cut, but unless you make more than $100,000, the tax cuts would be quite modest, ranging from as little as $27 to as much as $490. For those making more than $1 mln, the Romney tax cut would average $145,568.
Romney also would increase federal deficits by $180 bln in 2015 compared to current tax levels.
WHAT IF REPUBLICANS SWEEP? What will happen if the GOP wins control of Congress and the White House next year? For its January/February issue, Washington Monthly asked a group of distinguished journalists and scholars to think through the likely ramifications. Among the conclusions, Steve Benen noted at WashingtonMonthly.com (1/5):
David Weigel reports that the Tea Party will control the agenda regardless of which Republican wins the nomination.
Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann predict that theres a better-than-even chance that the Senate filibuster will be destroyed.
David Roberts shows that the GOP wont eliminate the EPA, but will permanently cripple it.
Harold Pollack disabuses liberals of the hope that health care reform can survive a Republican presidency.
Dahlia Lithwick writes that one more round of judicial appointments by a Republican president, not only at the Supreme Court but also at the circuit courts of appeals, will lead to a generation of anti-government rulings no future Democrat can undo.
See the *Washington Monthly* January/February cover package, What if Obama Loses? Imagining the consequences of a GOP victory at your newsstand or WashingtonMonthly.com.
SOME RIGHTS FOR DETAINEES IN DEFENSE BILL. Human rights activists were alarmed that the National Defense Authorization Act codifies the US militarys authority to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely (see editorial), but Adam Serwer noted at MotherJones.com (1/9) that wile it erodes the rights of Americans at home, it may have augmented those of detainees in Afghanistan.
Thanks to a 2008 Supreme Court ruling, Guantanamo detainees have habeas corpus rights and can challenge their detention in federal court. But individuals held by American forces in Afghanistan face military panels where they rarely get to see, let alone challenge, the evidence against them. But that could change, as a little-noticed provision in the NDAA mandates that terrorist suspects being held in long-term military detention must have the option of being represented by military attorneys while their status is evaluated by a military judge. The legislation would offer far more due process to detainees who, until now, havent had any meaningful opportunities to challenge their detention, Serwer wrote. According to some legal experts, the measure would be an unprecedented extension of due process rights to detainees who are still being held in a war zone. Ironic, considering that elsewhere in the legislation it further militarizes domestic counterterrorism and hands the president the power to hold certain individuals suspected of terrorism without charge or trial.
Supporters of the provision included Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both of whom pushed hard for a version of the bill that authorized the military detention of American terrorism suspects apprehended on US soil, Serwer noted. I want to be able to tell anybody who is interested that no person in an American prisoncivilian or militaryheld as a suspected member of Al Qaeda will be held without independent judicial review, Graham said during debate on the Senate floor in December.
GOP PRESIDENTIAL TAX PLANS FAVOR RICHEST 1%. Citizens for Tax Justice (ctj.org) has crunched the numbers on tax plans of the leading Republican candidates and found that they would cost the Treasury from $6.6 tln to $18 tln over a decade.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrichs $18.1 tln tax plan would give the richest 1% of Americans an average tax cut of $391,330, which would be over 190 times as large as the average tax cut of $1,990 that the middle fifth of Americans would receive.
Texas Gov. Rick Perrys $10.5 tln tax plan would give the richest one percent of Americans an average tax cut of $272,730, which would be over 270 times as large as the average tax cut of $1,000 that the middle fifth of Americans would receive.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romneys $6.6 tln tax plan would give the richest 1% of Americans an average tax cut of $126,450, which would be over 100 times as large as the average tax cut of $1,220 that the middle fifth of Americans would receive.
Former Sen. Rick Santorums $9.4 tln tax plan would give the richest 1% of Americans an average tax cut of $217,500, which would be over 100 times as large as the average tax cut of $2,160 that the middle fifth of Americans would receive.
Rep. Ron Paul has proposed the repeal of the 16th amendment to the US Constitution, which allows Congress to enact income taxes. Rep. Paul says a national sales tax or a flat tax would be preferable to the existing personal income tax, but would not support either until the 16th amendment is repealed.
HEATING ASSISTANCE CUT IN TIME FOR WINTER. Congress and the White House reduced funding for heating assistance for the poor by 25%, just in time for winter, Arthur Delaney reported at HuffingtonPost.com (1/5). Nearly 9 mln households received assistance totaling $4.7 bln in 2011. The average benefit was $417 per year and 90% of the households that received assistance last year had at least one vulnerable member, which the National Energy Assistance Directors Association describes as a person older than 60, younger than 18 or disabled. Households are eligible for the program if their income is at or below 150% of the poverty level or 60% of their states median income. The 2012 allotment for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program was cut to $3.5 bln under the budget bill approved by Congress before they lawmakers left town for Christmas vacation. Early in 2011, Obama proposed cutting energy assistance to $2.5 bln, the funding level when he took office in 2009. He doubled the funding in 2009 as part of the stimulus package.
WALL STREET HELPS SCOTT BROWN RAISE FUNDS AGAINST WARREN. Freshman Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) raised $3.2 mln during the last three months of 2011 to increase his campaign war chest to $12.8 mln, the most that any Massachusetts candidate has accumulated at this stage of a statewide race, the Boston Globe reported (1/9). The Brown campaign raised $8.5 mln during the year, and Peter H. Stone reported at IWatchnews.org (12/2) that Wall Street lobbyists are pouring money into the campaign in an effort to stop Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor who was an architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a centerpiece of the financial services overhaul.
Frank Phillips reported for the Globe that members of Warrens fund-raising team say she will be able to match Browns fundraising in a campaign that could determine control of the Senate. I have never had an easier time raising political money, Philip W. Johnston, a former state Democratic chairman and veteran party fund-raiser said of Warren. Its easier than raising money for [Edward M.] Kennedy, he said.
PROGRESSIVE LABEL OK WITH AMERICANS. The most positively viewed political label in the US is progressive, at 67%, according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (12/28). Progressive is viewed more favorably than conservative (62%) and liberal and capitalism (50% each). Republicans may have helped rehabilitate the label of socialist, which is viewed positively by 31%, by using that term to describe President Obama though that level was little changed since 2010 and 60% view the term negatively. Libertarianism is positively viewed by 38%, with the most positive views on the left and right ends of the spectrum.
ARIZ. CITY CANDIDATE FACES ENGLISH TEST. City officials in San Luis, Ariz., have singled out a Hispanic woman running for City Council to take an English proficiency exam to prove her eligibility to hold office under the new state law requiring all public officials to speak, read and write in English. Alejandrina Cabrera has been an annoyance for the citys current leadership, having led efforts to recall Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla, but Guillermina Fuentes, a former mayor of the fast-growing city, alleged that she had to interpret for Cabrera because in many cases she did not understand what was being said, The Yuma Sun reported (12/31). In San Luis, nearly all 25,000 residents are Latino and about 88% speak a language other than English at home, the Los Angeles Times reported (1/6), citing Census Bureau data.
Marie Diamond noted at ThinkProgress.org (1/9) that the Voting Rights Act protects the right of non-English speakers to cast a ballot, but these protections do not apply to candidates.
ALTERNATE PARTY STATUS: Libertarians are on the ballots of 29 states, the Green Party is on the ballots of 16 states, the Constitutional Party is on 12 states and Americans Elect Party is on 15 states, Ballot Access News reported (see ballot-access.org). Green candidates for president include Kent Mesplay of San Diego, Calif.; Jill Stein of Boston, Mass.; and Harley Mikkelson of Caro, Mich. (See gp.org.)
From The Progressive Populist, February 1, 2012
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