Jon Huntsman, currently seeking the GOP nomination for president, made news this morning, though it wasn't necessarily the good kind. At an event in south Florida, marketed by his campaign as a 'major announcement', the former Utah governor received an endorsement he hoped would help boost his struggling campaign.
But no, not beloved-former-governor-of-Florida Jeb Bush. This endorsement comes from his son, Jeb Bush, Jr. The Miami Herald Reports:
With cellar-dwelling poll numbers and a campaign shake-up to boot, Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman plans a "major announcement" on Wednesday morning in South Florida: The endorsement of Jeb Bush Jr.
His campaign said Bush Jr. will serve as national co-chair of GenH, with the mission to reach out to young people. Also joining the campaign is Republican political strategist Ana Navarro, of Miami. Her title: National Hispanic Chairperson.
Said Bush Jr. in a statement: "Jon Huntsman is the best-prepared candidate to defeat President Obama in Florida and across the country. I am confident that his vision will appeal to young voters, who are alarmed at the trillions of dollars in debt being passed to our generation and who desperately seek jobs and economic opportunity. Washington needs a conservative problem-solver with Jon Huntsman’s record of results."
Anticlimactic to say the least. Was this really a 'major announcement'? If anything, marketing such an endorsement as 'major' makes the Huntsman campaign look pretty desperate for attention. And is it even politically wise? In 2008, Jeb Bush, Jr. endorsed Rudy Giuliani...whose campaign was arguably the biggest flop of the election. (And that's not to mention Jeb Jr.'s scuffle with the police in 2005, when he was charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest.)
But don't count Huntsman out just yet. He has been invited to participate in tomorrow's GOP presidential debate, despite his bottom-of-the-pack polling numbers. And I think it's accurate to say that tomorrow will be, for many, the first encounter with Huntsman's unique ideas and remarkably eloquent diction.
This morning, Rasmussen Reports released the results from its first telephone survey of likely Iowa primary voters. With the Ames Straw Poll just 6 days away, the results are certainly worth a look:
The first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Iowa's Likely Caucus Participants shows that Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann attracts 22% support, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney earn 21%. Just slightly behind is Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 16%, followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry at 12% and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at 11%.
As expected, Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney lead the pack. But notably absent from the top five is businessman Herman Cain. At just 4%, he appears to have lost all his momentum from earlier this summer. Originally one of few Tea Party alternatives to Mitt Romney, the entrance of Bachmann and (pending) Perry into the race certainly did not help his prospects. He recently said that finishing less than third at Ames will have a significant impact on how his campaign will proceed.
But most interesting, perhaps, is what the report had to say about Congressman Ron Paul:
Overall, just 28% of potential Iowa Caucus participants are absolutely certain of how they will vote, while the rest could change their mind. Among those who are certain of their vote, Ron Paul is on top at 27%.
Just 49% of Paul's supporters would vote for the Republican nominee if their man does not win the nomination. That's well below the total for other candidates.
As it has in the past, such a loyal and organized following will likely play to Paul's favor at Ames this weekend (he won the CPAC and RLC straw polls earlier this year). But it is important to remember that only Iowa residents can vote in the Ames poll, making it a (marginally) better gauge of a candidate's real level of support in this important primary state.
Tim Pawlenty, who poured so many resources into Iowa, needs a good showing at Ames arguably more than any other candidate. Though the straw poll is not scientific, it is a huge momentum builder (as it was for Mike Huckabee in 2007), and a low finish can do nothing but hurt his already-ailing campaign. Indeed, before this Rasmussen poll (which places him at 5th place), he was consistently in third behind Romney and Bachmann.
It looks like liberal pundits at ABC News are getting creative to try and smear the 2012 GOP presidential candidates:
"Republican presidential candidates are pitching plans to revive the economy, selling a message of jobs and growth. But when it comes to what they are buying, ABC News found that four of the candidates are selling merchandise made overseas.
"ABC News investigated all eight Republican candidates as well as the president's re-election campaign and discovered that campaign T-shirts for Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Herman Cain were all made outside the United States."
When asked about it, Cain and Gingrich claimed ignorance (probably not the best answer). Rick Santorum said it's too hard to find a shirt made in the United States these days. But Ron Paul was unapologetic, knowing full well that buying foreign-made products doesn't harm the economy:
"I wasn't aware of it ... but I wouldn't change it," said Paul. "I would argue the case that the market should determine it."
With the unemployment rate near 10%, it is easy look at the millions of jobless Americans and think that "buying American" and slowing the outsourcing of jobs will help. But as John Stossel explains (below), outsourcing is good for American business, drastically lowers consumer prices, and does not actually "steal" any jobs from Americans. Yes, a "Made in the USA" tag might look more patriotic, but such products are almost always more expensive. Indeed, less-funded, grassroots campaigns are put at a disadvantage if pundits insist that they "buy American."
Here's an idea: how about lower corporate tax rates and allow American businesses to keep more of their earnings, like the GOP candidates propose, to spur domestic job creation? Perhaps the pundits at ABC could learn a little bit about economics from the likes of Ron Paul...
Last November, the Obama-Pelosi machine was stopped dead in its tracks as Republicans made their biggest single gain since 1948, gaining 63 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate. The message from the American people was clear: Stop the reckless spending!
Now, just half-a-year later, it seems our representatives have forgotten this message. Indeed, some Republicans seem to think it is ok to raise the debt ceiling without real spending cuts because it of "political necessities".
But isn't this the exact reason why the American people sent so many incumbents home last year? Why the Democrats, who oversaw one of the biggest spending increases in our history, were ousted and disgraced en masse?
Is this acceptable to you? Or do you believe that our congressmen must be held accountable to the American people, whose money they so irresponsibly waste on expanding entitlements, bailing out failed federal programs, and unnecessary foreign wars?
If you answered the latter, then check out this petition from Heritage Action for America, telling Congress to stop the spending now. No more excuses.
It takes more than elections and conservative policy proposals to get Washington's spending problem under control; it takes real conservatives putting real pressure on their Members of Congress.
Does Rahm Emanuel, newly-elected governor of Chicago, finally get it? The Chicago Tribune reports:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sending pink slips to up to 625 city employees Monday and privatizing many of their jobs to finish closing a $30 million budget hole, but union leaders said the mayor jumped the gun and never gave them time to negotiate.
Nearly 130 seasonal transportation workers will be told to leave immediately. That means fewer sidewalks, curbs and gutters will be repaired.
Emanuel said he intends to get private companies to clean the city's airports and libraries, work now done by city employees. Operators at the city's water-bill call center and employee benefit managers also will see their jobs outsourced. Those union workers will receive 30- and 45-day layoff notices.
And not only that, but the Chicago Sun Times reported today that:
Determined to deliver suburban-style curbside recycling to 359,000 Chicago households without it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he would privatize four of six service areas and allow city employees to compete in the other two.
Within four months of the so-called "managed competition," blue-cart recycling will come to 20,000 additional households who live in Wicker Park, Bucktown and Logan Square. Even more homeowners will get the service next year.
Strong-arming unions, laying off public employees in favor of private corporations, closing budget gaps without raising taxes, "managed competition"? Since when has Rahm Emanuel, once President Obama's Chief of Staff, been a conservative?
Mayor Emanuel inherited a disastrous financial situation, as Chicago faces budget deficits over $1 billion per year. Could it be that Rahm Emanuel has finally seen the light? Perhaps he could teach his friends in Washington a thing or two, especially as Congress faces a similar battle over spending cuts and balanced budgets.
In a surprising move, Texas Congressman and presidential hopeful Ron Paul has announced he will not seek re-election to the House of Representatives in 2012. His hometown newspaper reports:
After serving almost 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman Ron Paul told The Facts this morning he will not be seeking another term for the District 14 seat.
Paul, 75, will instead focus on his quest for the presidency in 2012.
"I felt it was better that I concentrate on one election," Paul said. "It's about that time when I should change tactics."
Ron Paul has represented Texas' 14th congressional district since 1997, having served 4 previous terms throughout the 1970s and 80s. He will be missed (if he does not win the GOP nomination), as he is among Wasington's strongest critics of big government, high taxes, and the abuse of executive privilege, and is considered by some as the "Godfather of the Tea Party".
As far as the implications for his presidential campaign, I don't think there is anything too significant. There are not many doubts as to whether his campaign for the presidency is serious this time around, and considering his age, a retirement may have come whether or not he was running for the presidency.
Regardless, I wouldn't expect to see less of Paul, who maintains an ultra-loyal following and will likely remain the outspoken critic of big government that he has been for the past thirty years.
Though winning the GOP nomination looks unlikely at this point for former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, that hasn't stopped him from getting creative when seeking much-needed campaign contributions.
After making surprise appearances on online poker forums earlier this week, Johnson opened a new page on his website Thursday geared exclusively toward poker players. "You're getting a raw deal," it reads. "It's your money. Government has no business telling adults how they can spend it." Johnson, in Las Vegas, has met with the Poker Players Alliance.
I guess we can think of this as another desperate attempt for attention gone...well...totally right! At least among those affected by increasing government regulations on the online poker industry. In several states across the nation, and even at the federal level, regulators are cracking down on what many perceive to be an illegal industry that has a history of bank fraud. But the retaliation has been strong from Republicans and libertarians alike, and a bill is currently making its way through Congress that would leave the issue of whether to legalize online poker to the states.
Johnson, whose libertarian views have also garnered him some strong support among opponents of the drug war, has been polling at less than 1%, though he remains popular in his home state (as governor, he twice won as a Republican in a majority-Democratic state and vetoed more bills than all 49 other governors combined).
Though it's not the first time Texas Congressman Ron Paul has introduced a bill to end the TSA abuse of American travellers, perhaps this time Congress will actually take him up on the idea. Minutes ago, the former doctor introduced the "American Traveler Dignity Act" on the floor of Congress. As Paul explained, the bill...
"establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are not above laws the rest of us must obey.
Paul has been one the TSA's strongest opponents, even opposing the expansion of the agency back in 2001 (following the 9/11 attacks) when many other politicians were using the terror threat following 9/11 as an excuse to further regulate the airline industry. He recently said:
"If the perpetrators were a gang of criminals, their headquarters would be raided by SWAT teams and armed federal agents. Unfortunately in this case, the perpetrators are armed federal agents...the unfortunate fact that we put up with this doesn't speak well to our willingness to stand up to an abusive government."
This legislation comes on the heel of widespread outrage at the TSA's methods and abuses of American travellers. Just last week, a 95-year-old woman was held for 45 minutes at Northwest Florida Regional Airport while trying to board a plane to be with family members as she faced the final stages of her battle with leukemia. Americans deserve better than this.
For more on the TSA embarrassment, see Helen Whalen-Cohen's full breakdown of the agency's failures and abuses in "Agency of Incompetence" in the July Issue of Townhall Magazine.
While his son leads the charge against dodging debate on the debt in the Senate, Ron Paul recently offered his own opinion on how to solve the debt crisis, one that has a lot of people talking.
His solution? Destroy the debt.
That's right. Just get rid of it. Or at least some of it. No, this is not out of the Onion. His plan is serious, and will spare lawmakers from having to make a last minute compromise, and help ensure that Republicans do not give in to pressures to raise
taxes revenues. The plan is politically viable, even attractive, if negotiations continue to hit a wall in the coming days.
But how does this work, you say? Economist Dean Baker explains:
The basic story is that the Fed has bought roughly $1.6 trillion in government bonds through its various quantitative easing programs over the last two and a half years. This money is part of the $14.3 trillion debt that is subject to the debt ceiling. However, the Fed is an agency of the government. Its assets are in fact assets of the government. Each year, the Fed refunds the interest earned on its assets in excess of the money needed to cover its operating expenses. Last year the Fed refunded almost $80 billion to the Treasury. In this sense, the bonds held by the Fed are literally money that the government owes to itself.
Unlike the debt held by Social Security, the debt held by the Fed is not tied to any specific obligations.
Thus, having the Fed essentially burn the bonds amounts to nothing more than eliminating a liability that the government has to itself, while still taking us $1.6 trillion further from hitting the debt ceiling. Also, Stephen Gandel pointed out yesterday:
What's more, under the current scenario, the Federal Reserve would eventually have to sell that debt back into the market. That could cause interest rates to rise. Rip up the debt and you don't have to worry about what the added selling pressure of the Fed would do to the market.
Yes, there are a number of catches to this plan, not the least of which is the message such a default would send to the rest of the world. And as Paul has said, it is only a temporary relief, and should not take the place of real spending cuts. But is waiting around 'til the last minute, only to once again raise the debt ceiling without securing anything more than miniscule spending cuts really any better? There aren't many options at this point, as we face huge deficits for the next two years and a Congress that can't agree on anything more specific than generic "spending cuts".
"Imagine if the United States economy was a skyscraper, and federal government is an elevator filling floor after floor with our debt. Now consider our debt ceiling...it's really not a ceiling at all, it's just another floor."
As Rep. McHenry points out, the debt crisis is not some abstract idea with no effect on the daily lives of Americans. Doing nothing about the crisis will have a negative and very real effect on American families and small businesses, and simply raising the debt ceiling without real spending cuts makes it ineffective in restraining government spending.
Now is not the time to give in to President Obama, whose insistence on raising revenue in a time when federal spending is about as high as it's ever been will only increase the burden on American families and let those officials responsible for the crisis off the hook.
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