Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush reportedly admitted today that he is "thinking about" running for president. Jeb Bush has now joined the ranks of Hillary Clinton in admitting that there is a possibility he may throw his hat in the ring.
Strikingly direct Jeb Bush today on White House run: "I'm thinking about running for president," attendee at closed NY event tells us.— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) April 23, 2014
Nobody has officially entered the 2016 election yet.
Americans have no shortage of reasons to resent the Internal Revenue Service. The agency is responsible for confiscating an annual percentage of each citizen's earned wealth on behalf of the state (and it's never a bad time to reiterate this point about "fair shares"). It is now tasked with enforcing Obamacare's hated individual mandate tax -- although with blanket exceptions like this, it's unclear what there is to enforce at this stage. And it has been embroiled in a high-profile targeting scandal, in which agency higher-ups exploited their power to deliberately harass and abuse organizations opposed to the government's ruling party. The scandal has flared up again in recent weeks, as the House of Representatives weighs contempt charges for Lois Lerner amid additional developments coming to light regarding the IRS' internal culture, Lerner's political biases, and possible collusion from the Justice Department and Congressional Democrats. Against that sordid backdrop, we have this:
The Internal Revenue Service has paid more than $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with recent disciplinary problems, including $1 million to workers who owed back taxes, a government investigator said Tuesday. More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012. George's report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.
So while the IRS was slow-rolling and auditing conservative groups, it was bestowing generous, taxpayer-funded bonuses upon employees who'd been flagged for disciplinary issues, including more than 1,100 who owed back taxes. How many ordinary Americans have received any form of bonus during this "recovery," which has been so tepid that Democrats are being urged not to mention it? How many taxpayers would earn "performance" bonuses after getting into trouble at work, or openly violating core tenets of their company's mission? Perhaps most galling is the fact that these unwarranted bonuses don't violate any federal regulations. An incredulous Mary Katharine Ham floats a modest proposal:
Surely in the untold reams of regulations, they could codify that they shouldn’t give piles of money to people charged with collecting your piles of money who then neglect to pay the proper piles of money to the organization for whom they’re charged with collecting piles of money! Lord knows they can’t use common sense, so it must be a law. Pretty sure they could find my lawnmower gas tank in violation of some federal regulation if they tried, but this? No prob, moving on.
Will this public embarrassment -- at a moment where the public is even more suspicious of the IRS than usual -- trigger some painfully obvious reforms within the agency? Perhaps, but never underestimate the power of bureaucratic inertia to do the wrong thing.
What to make of this poll jointly conducted by the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation? After crosschecking other surveys at RCP, my colleague Ed Morrissey (who first flagged this story, by the way) concludes this poll is almost certainly an outlier. I tend to agree with him. After all, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is perhaps the number one Republican target running for re-election in the upper chamber. How on earth, then, is he leading Tom Cotton by double-digits in a state the president lost by 24 percentage points in 2012? Doesn’t make that much sense:
Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a two-term incumbent who has been considered perhaps the most imperiled Democratic senator in the country, holds a 10-point lead over his Republican opponent, Representative Tom Cotton. Mr. Pryor, the son of a former senator, has an approval rating of 47 percent, with 38 percent of Arkansas voters disapproving of him.
Top line numbers are utterly meaningless, although still attention-grabbing, if the sample is skewed. And that’s apparently what’s going on here. The big take-away Senate Democrats will shout from the rooftops is that a race that was once deemed "competitive" is moving into safer Democratic waters. But that’s nonsense. The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol explains:
[The] Times and Kaiser have produced a sample in Arkansas that reports they voted in 2012 for Romney over Obama--by one point. But Romney carried Arkansas in 2012 by 24 points. Similarly, the Kentucky sample is +3 Romney when reality was +23. The Louisiana sample is +3 Obama in a state Obama lost by 17, and the North Carolina sample is +7 Obama in a state he lost by 3.
The whole point of question 12 is to provide a reality test for the sample. That's why they ask that question--we know what happened in 2012, so the only thing to be learned by asking the 2012 question of the sample is to ensure that it's a reasonably accurate snapshot of voters in the state. Of course there'll always be some variance between reality and the sample's report of its vote a year and a half ago--but not a 23 point variance.
A reputable news organization would have looked at question 12 and thrown the poll out. But then again, it was the New York Times.
Kristol argues the contest in Arkansas is exceedingly close. But at the same time, concedes after a barrage of anti-Cotton attack ads, Pryor "is probably now ahead by a point or two.” Still, “a point or two” is nowhere near the double-digit lead the New York Times claims Pryor now enjoys. He doesn't.
Low-information voters, I assume, will take these top-line numbers at face value. But they shouldn’t, of course -- and neither should anyone else.
Professor Brent Terry has apologized for slamming the GOP during a creative writing class lecture at Eastern Connecticut State University earlier this week. During the four-minute rant, captured by one student on audio tape, the professor claimed Republicans do not want Latinos, blacks, young people, or old people to vote. He also warned colleges would start closing if the GOP takes control of both the House and Senate in November.
State GOP Rep. Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) demanded Terry apologize for his offensive harangue “as a point of personal privilege.” Only an hour after Cafero made the request on the House floor, Terry released a statement:
During my creative writing class yesterday, I allowed my own political opinions to color the discussion. I regret the language I used, and I apologize to any students in the room who were offended. As a liberal arts university, Eastern is known for encouraging debate and discussion about a host of social and political issues.
My role in my own classroom is to keep the debate lively yet respectful. I did not meet that standard yesterday, and for that I am truly sorry.
Read more about Terry’s initial comments here.
Last week on Good Friday, the White House announced yet another delay for the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2014 midterm elections. The White House cited the project needing "further review" before approval and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the move was not political. The bright side is labor unions called the delay "gutless," a “low blow to the working men and women of our country," and a "cold, hard slap in the face for hard working Americans who are literally waiting for President Obama's approval and the tens of thousands of jobs it will generate."
A new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows 61 percent of Americans support the approval of Keystone, a new high.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor building the major oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, while just 27% are opposed. This includes 37% who Strongly Favor the project and 10% who Strongly Oppose it. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided.
Last night on The Kelly File, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul discussed the recent and ongoing rash of violence in the Windy City. Paul, who was in town for a school choice event, explained that the violence problem in Chicago goes far beyond guns and comes from a lack of leadership, education and guidance for young people in certain parts of the city. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (like Barack Obama) is an opponent of school choice, which allows kids to get out of miserable, failing schools in violent neighborhoods. But thanks to Emanuel's solid support for teacher's unions, instead of being able to pursue a future through educational choice, teenagers are trapped in worthless, hopeless schools. Due to a lack of opportunity, they join gangs.
Gang initiations typically require a violent act. Those violent acts usually involve guns that were purchased or stolen illegally by gang members and then are used in crimes (again illegal). When guns aren't purchased illegally on the street, they're brought into the city illegally. As Megyn Kelly points out in her introduction, all gun sales in Chicago are already banned, yet the Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy (and Emanuel) is still blaming a lack of gun control for the violence. He admits murders by gunshot wound are higher in Chicago than the national average, but fails to acknowledge that the rest of the country has less stringent gun control laws. In fact, states and cities with fewer gun control laws and more concealed carry permit holders have lower crime rates.
But not only are McCarthy and Emanuel's calls for more gun control unproductive, they're also out of touch with the people who live in the communities being affected the most. Since the ban on concealed carry in Illinois was struck down in December 2012, residents from Chicago's south side have been flocking to classes to learn about how to protect themselves. The Reader recently did a feature story, Dismantling the Stigma of Guns, profiling Gerald Vernon, a long time Second Amendment advocate and firearms instructor living in Chicago's south side.
Gerald Vernon believes conceal-and-carry laws and responsible firearm owners are crucial to keeping people safe—especially in the communities hit hardest by crime.The first lesson Gerald Vernon shared with his conceal-and-carry class is, to him, the most fundamental: "The only thing that stops bad people with guns is good people with guns."
His ten students—eight men and two women, all African-Americans—were listening intently. They had gathered in a meeting room at a south-side social service center to learn about gun ownership and self-defense from Vernon, a veteran firearms instructor who was seated at the front of the room next to a table set with an array of revolvers and semiautomatic handguns from his collection.
The students didn't appear to need any convincing. "I'm interested in protection," explained Thomas Brandon, 57, when it was his turn to introduce himself. The others said they were there for the same reason.
Last week, Chicago Magazine published an investigative story alleging McCarthy and Emanuel were cooking the books on "decreasing" crime rates.
“The bases have already been rallied,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) asserted this month on the Fox News Channel before boldly repudiating Democrats’ latest gambit to retain their Senate majority. But where does this leave independents and non-affiliated voters? Ultimately, they will exert enormous influence in swing districts and hotly contested congressional races this fall. Thus their voting preferences matter, and on one issue in particular, Democrats find themselves deeply underwater.
According to a recent Fox News poll, independents overwhelmingly prefer anti-Obamacare candidates to pro-Obamacare candidates -- that is, if Obamacare is the only issue in which both candidates stand in disagreement. Consequently, this underscores just how "unpalatable" the president’s signature domestic achievement has become, and gives us yet another reason why Democrats continue to run from it (via the Washington Times):
The Fox News poll showed that if the only difference between two candidates running for Congress this year was their position on the Affordable Care Act, then independents would support the candidate that fights against the health care law by a 54- to 29-percent margin.
This may not bode well for Democrats as they look to defend their Senate majority.
To be fair, most independents will evaluate office seekers on a whole host of issues, and vote for the candidate who they feel most aligns with their values. But make no mistake: this is another bump in the road for Congressional Democrats -- and they know it.
Democratic messaging gurus and pollsters have warned embattled incumbents not to defend Obamacare. It's too toxic. They've also admonished their party against touting the economic recovery. It's too weak; the idea that America's economy is roaring back to life isn't resonating with voters. Democrats have virtually zero chance of winning back the House, so their primary concern is retaining the Senate -- which the GOP can reclaim by netting six seats in November. Some losses are expected, but Team Blue believes it can use political triage to save their majority. In order to do so, they'll need relatively strong turnout from the voting blocs that were instrumental to re-electing President Obama in 2012, so strategists are dialing up every play in the book to galvanize specific constituencies. Colorado Senator Mark Udall's first ad of the cycle hews to this strategy. It attacks Udall's Republican opponent -- Rep. Cory Gardner -- for wanting to "outlaw" birth control, an outlandish claim:
Also of note is the fact that Udall's signature was conspicuously absent from that letter sent by red and purple state Democrats urging the Obama administration to approve the wildly popular Keystone pipeline. Those ineffectual Senators were ignored, of course, but at least they made an attempt. Mark Udall evidently believes that he has too much at stake with deep-pocketed environmentalists (he is a Tom Steyer beneficiary) to go to bat for a broadly-supported, job-creating infrastructure and energy project. Thousands of American jobs can wait, it seems. Gardner is hitting Udall over the issue:
The Obama Administration and Senator Udall continue to play politics with the American economy. pic.twitter.com/SFbfbX3AMa— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardnerCO) April 18, 2014
To recap, the Republican in this race is talking about job creation. The Democrats is fear-mongering about birth control.
In upstate New York, becoming a Buffalo Jill is almost as impressive as becoming a New York City Rockette. But, as the following young women will tell you, being a Buffalo cheerleader is not so glamorous as it seems. Tuesday, five former Jills announced they are suing the football team and its managers for withholding wages and for forcing them to endure degrading treatment. WBEN.com reports:
The five former Jills claim the team, Stejon Productions, the current manager, and Citadel Communications, the former manager, failed to pay the minimum wage for extensive game day work as well as community event appearances. The hundreds of hours of work did not meet the minimum wage standard of $8 per hour in New York State.
Here's a few more details from the testy lawsuit:
"In flagrant violation of numerous laws of the State of New York, exploited plaintiffs, who worked for them as members of the Bills’ cheerleading squad, by failing to pay them for all hours they worked each season. The Bills, Citadel and Stejon also failed to reimburse the Jills for certain business expenses, failed to pay them in a timely manner, took unlawful deductions and kick-backs from the Jills wages, unlawfully took gratuities paid to the Jills, failed to adhere to the notice and record keeping requirements of the Wage Theft Prevention Act, and were unjustly enriched as a result of the Jills’ work."
In addition to not receiving compensation for their appearances at football games or practices, these former cheerleaders claim they were also subjected to mandatory and embarrassing public appearances, such as the Jills Annual Gold Tournament, where they had to dress in bikinis and then step into a dunk tank.
No offense to these ladies, but how many want to be a cheerleader because of the great salary? It's more about the status and name recognition, is it not?
The Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals are currently facing similar lawsuits. I guess these Buffalo Jills just have nothing to cheer about.
Earlier this week the Los Angeles Times ran a story about 50 and 60-year-old adults being forced to move back in with their parents in order to survive Obama's economy. Yesterday, NBC published a story about how a record number of Americans are working in temporary jobs that have become permanent or as part-time workers.
For Americans who can’t find jobs, the booming demand for temp workers has been a path out of unemployment, but now many fear it’s a dead-end route.
With full-time work hard to find, these workers have built temping into a de facto career, minus vacation, sick days or insurance. The assignments might be temporary — a few months here, a year there — but labor economists warn that companies’ growing hunger for a workforce they can switch on and off could do permanent damage to these workers’ career trajectories and retirement plans.
“It seems to be the new norm in the working world,” said Kelly Sibla, 54. The computer systems engineer has been looking for a full-time job for four years now, but the Amherst, Ohio, resident said she has to take whatever she can find.
“I know a lot of people who are doing this temping. It seems to be the way this is going,” she said.
What didn't the NBC report discuss? The reason behind a record number of part time jobs: Obamacare. Conservatives and labor union leaders have been loudly warning for years about how Obamacare will (and already has) destroy the traditional work week in America thanks to overreaching mandates requiring employers to provide health insurance for employees above a certain threshold in work hours. As a result, we've seen millions of Americans unable to find full-time work, not to mention a career, leaving them without a health plan or retirement through one solid employer.
Here's a flashback from last summer:
When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.
Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.
Now this vision has come back to haunt us.
President Obama, who claims to be a crusader for the middle class and working Americans, has successfully destroyed both in addition to the American economy as a whole. "Recovery summer" 6.0 is about to start will tens-of-millions of Americans out of work and in the food stamp line.