Saturday, September 5, 2015
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Saturday, August 29, 2015
GOP presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson dismissed the Democrat mantra of a “war on women,” saying instead that he thinks the real war should be focused on “what’s inside of women.”
Friday, August 28, 2015
Democratic legislators in the state Senate have brought Californians closer to new hikes on the cost of driving their cars. But the committee vote represented little more than a first step in a complex, intense negotiation between Republicans, Democrats and the man trying to stay influential but above the fray — Gov. Jerry Brown.
Republicans have resisted Democrats’ preferred approach, but California’s business lobby has pressed both parties to embrace new taxes and fees. “Last week, business organizations such as the California Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group said any deal should seek to raise at least $6 billion annually by raising gas and diesel taxes and increasing vehicle registration and license fees,” the San Jose Mercury News reported.
Part of the rationale for increasing fees, instead of simply dialing up gas taxes, has centered around the growing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles in California — and the state’s interest in squeezing revenue out of every car on the road. “We have these Teslas that are being sold and they don’t pay any gas tax,” complained state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, as CBS Sacramento noted.
Gas in California has remained higher on average than out-of-state, thanks to cap-and-trade fees and the state’s unique environmental rules about the blends of gasoline that must be sold. Current state taxes include an excise tax of 39 cents, between 30 and 42 cents in sales tax, and 10 cents for the cap-and-trade levy, as Watchdog Arena observed.
Brown stays secretive
At a recent news conference that left some observers hungry for detail scratching their heads, Brown refused to hint at a revenue source for the improvements. “I’m not going to say where the revenue’s going to come from, how we’re going to get it,” he said. “We’ll get it done, but I’m not going to put all my cards on the table this morning,” Brown said, according to ABC 7 News.
Brown was joined at the appearance by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, who signaled separately that negotiations would be tough. “It will be a bumpy road, but our constituents expect us to work together and figure something out,” she toldthe San Francisco Chronicle.
To date, the governor has not let slip whether he would support or oppose a tax hike to make up the difference.
That raised the possibility that Republicans might get their way, scrounging up revenue from savings and budgetary jujitsu instead of tax increases. But GOP legislators have been keen on siphoning revenue away from California’s cap-and-trade program, which Brown had availed himself of previously in order to fund construction spending on the state’s much-debated high-speed rail project. That has drawn strenuous objections from Sacramento Democrats.
The current proposal advanced by Assembly Republicans “would raise more than $6 billion a year by eliminating thousands of state employees and unfilled positions and reallocating existing state money, both from the budget and from other projects,” the Chronicle noted, while the plan pushed by Beall would raise billions with a suite of increased gas taxes and fees, including an “annual road access charge of $35 a vehicle,” according to the paper.
It was Beall’s bill that cleared its first committee test in the Senate this week, with Democrats besting Republicans in a party line vote.
For now, just a few broad outlines of an agreement have come into focus. According to the Chronicle, both sides reject the option of a “one-time fix, such as a bond measure that would pile more debt on the state. Any money raised must be earmarked only for road and infrastructure repair, and protected against being siphoned into other parts of the state budget.” Plus, legislators agreed that expenditures should be clearly identified and made public, with some kind of oversight and monitoring built into the arrangement.
Monday, August 24, 2015
After submitting a letter-length question to Republican candidates ahead of their first round of primary-season debates, Gov. Jerry Brown has received some responses.
Pressing ahead with the environmental emphasis characterizing his final term in office, Brown asked the presidential hopefuls to outline their own policies. “Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re […] here to stay,” he wrote, as the Sacramento Bee reported. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”
Brown’s office told the Bee he submitted his question via the Facebook page of Fox News, which solicited questions from viewers of the debates, which it hosted and televised.
This month, as the San Gabriel Valley Tribute noted, Brown hit out against the field again, using a fresh report on July temperatures to lambaste “Republicans, foot-dragging corporations and other deniers.” Surveying the damage to the fire-stricken Clear Lake area, Brown “repeated his challenge to Republican presidential candidates,” the Los Angeles Times reported, warning that “California is burning” and asking, bluntly, “What the hell are you going to do about it?”
So far, at least three Republican candidates have touched on environmental issues in the wake of Brown’s challenges.
Not all their remarks have been directly responsive, however. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recently took the opportunity to critique “radical environmental policies that stop things like dams from going in so that water … can be used effectively,”according to the Bee.
But Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who had challenged Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election, both addressed Brown head on, the Bee added. While Cruz dismissed “alarmists” as power-hungry schemers, Fiorina took a more nuanced approach; although she first conceded it “may well be true” that California’s drought was worsened by climate change, she also criticized policymakers for failing to prepare for the kind of droughts the state has had “for millennia.”
Republicans on the campaign trail have broadly reflected opinions among constituents nationwide. Even in California, Republicans have demonstrated consistent skepticism toward claims that human activity has fostered dangerous alterations in temperatures and weather. In a new poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California, a majority of Golden State Republicans said “they don’t believe that climate change is happening and that they don’t think it will be a serious problem in the future,” as the San Jose Mercury Newsreported. “They also support expanding fossil fuel production — from increasing offshore oil drilling along California’s coast to expanding fracking.”
Yet the poll evinced some wiggle room on environmental policy issues. Fully 43 percent of California Republican respondents supported stricter in-state climate rules than what the federal government has passed into law. “Californians of all parties said they support increasing tax credits for electric vehicles and solar power,” the Mercury News added.
In a recent nonpartisan poll commissioned by a water policy foundation, Californians seemed to confirm that the drought had become a leading issue of worry across the ideological spectrum. According to the Los Angeles Times, “62 percent of poll subjects said they would be very willing or somewhat willing to pay $4 more a month for water if the funds were used to improve water supply reliability. Such an increase, if applied to the entire state, would generate about a billion dollars, according to poll sponsors.”
Brown’s environmentalist policies haven’t satisfied all critics. His administration’s emphasis on reducing emissions, for instance, has led some to wonder why he hasn’t pushed harder for cheaper electricity rates, which would benefit owners of many zero-emissions vehicles. One objection, recently voiced in the San Diego Daily Transcript, warned that Brown’s policies “will systematically shift profits into a few private hands instead of building, managing and maintaining a solid and reliable electric-charging infrastructure comparable to our utility grid.”
It has come to this: The GOP, formerly the party of Lincoln and ostensibly the party of liberty and limited government, is being defined by clamors for a mass roundup and deportation of millions of human beings.
To will an end is to will the means for the end, so the Republican clamors are also for the requisite expansion of government's size and coercive powers.
Most of Donald Trump's normally loquacious rivals are swaggeringly eager to confront Vladimir Putin, but are too invertebrate — Lindsey Graham is an honorable exception — to voice robust disgust with Trump and the spirit of, the police measures necessary for, and the cruelties that would accompany, his policy. The policy is: "They've got to go."
"They," the approximately 11.3 million illegal immigrants (down from 12.2 million in 2007), have these attributes: 88 percent have been here at least five years. Of the 62 percent who have been here at least 10 years, about 45 percent own their own homes.
About half have children who were born here and hence are citizens. Dara Lind of Vox reports that at least 4.5 million children who are citizens have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant.
Trump evidently plans to deport almost 10 percent of California's workers, and 13 percent of that state's K-12 students. He is, however, at his most Republican when he honors family values: He proposes to deport intact families, including children who are citizens.
"We have to keep the families together," he says, "but they have to go." Trump would deport everyone, then "have an expedited way of getting them ["the good ones"; "when somebody is terrific"] back." Big Brother government will identify the "good" and "terrific" from among the wretched refuse of other teeming shores.
Trump proposes seizing money that illegal immigrants from Mexico try to send home. This might involve sacrificing mail privacy, but desperate times require desperate measures.
He would vastly enlarge the federal government's enforcement apparatus, but he who praises single-payer health care systems and favors vast eminent domain powers has never made a fetish of small government.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
The GOP is fulfilling its campaign promises to get Washington working in spite of President Barack Obama's shortcomings, U.S. Sen. John Thune said in a video address released Saturday.
The message was taped at Cherapa Place, overlooking downtown Sioux Falls, as the Republican Party’s response to the president’s weekly address, also released Saturday.
In the 5-minute video, Thune credits Republicans with passing a balanced budget without raising taxes, passing dozens of bills ranging from education to transportation to national security and repeatedly blasts the Obama administration, saying it “has presided over the worst economic recovery in 70 years.”
“As a result, too many hardworking families are stuck living paycheck to paycheck, with few chances for advancement and little access to better-paying jobs,” Thune says.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has captured the public’s attention for better or worse, and his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, once seen as a pipe dream, is now a topic of serious discussion. So for the near future at least, Rasmussen Reports intends to track Trump’s race for the White House in a weekly Friday feature we’re calling Trump Change.
Our latest national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely Republican Voters now think Trump is likely to be the Republican presidential nominee next year, with 25% who say it’s Very Likely. That compares to 27% who felt a Trump nomination was likely two months ago when he formally announced his presidential bid, a finding that included just nine percent (9%) who said it was Very Likely.
At that time, Trump ran near the bottom among the 12 declared GOP candidates. Now he leads the pack of Republican hopefuls which has grown to include 17 prominent contenders.
Among all likely voters, 49% think Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee, including 17% who say it’s Very Likely. That compares to 23% and seven percent (7%) respectively in the earlier survey. Forty-eight percent (48%) now say Trump is not likely to win the nomination, with 21% who feel it is Not At All Likely.
Forty-two percent (42%) of Republican voters say Trump is unlikely to be their party’s standard-bearer next year, but that includes just 15% who say it’s Not At All Likely. That’s down from 29% who said a Trump nomination was Not At All Likely two months ago. (To see survey question wording,click here.)
Rasmussen Reports Managing Editor Fran Coombs or spokesman Leon Sculti are available for media comment on these poll results. Call 732-776-9777x205 or send e-mail
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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on August 19-20, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
As each Republican presidential candidate formally announced, Rasmussen Reports asked voters how likely he or she was to ultimately be the nominee. Jeb Bush was the leader with 56% of likely GOP voters saying he was likely to win the nomination, including 16% who said it was Very Likely. But we haven’t asked that question about Bush or any of the other GOP hopefuls in recent weeks.
Voters agree with Trump on the need to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. They also believe overwhelmingly that illegal immigrants convicted of a felony in this country should be deported. Trump made both proposals in a policy paper he released last weekend that calls for getting tough on illegal immigration.
Earlier this summer, Trump took a lot of criticism from Democrats and other Republican presidential hopefuls over his candid remarks about the criminality of many illegal immigrants, but most voters agree with Trump that illegal immigration increases serious crime in this country.
The reaction to his comments also increased media coverage of the murder of a young woman in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant from Mexico who said he came to that city because it does not enforce immigration laws. Most voters now want to get tough on so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to enforce these laws.
We noted in a commentary last month how the media spins the illegal immigration issue, comparing the coverage of Trump’s positions with those taken by leading Democratic contender Hillary Clinton.
In the face of increasing legal questions about the safety of secrets on the private e-mail server she used as secretary of State and of a vigorous intraparty challenge from Bernie Sanders, belief that Clinton is likely to be next year's Democratic presidential nominee has dropped noticeably over the past month.
Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.
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This week, another GOP contender for president released a plan for replacing Obamacare — demonstrating again that yes, there are Republican alternatives.
As with the plan proposed earlier this year by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the main feature of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's plan to change the pre-Obamacare status quo is a refundable tax credit for those who buy insurance outside their workplace. This is designed not only to ease the transition away from an Obamacare system laden with mandates and subsidies that drive up the cost of care, but also to make insurance affordable for more people than it was before Obamacare.
Some conservatives object that this sounds too much like Obamacare's tax-code-based insurance subsidy. They are right to make their voices heard, but the idea that this proposal is "Obamacare Lite," or even a step in the wrong direction, is preposterous. In fact, the idea of a tax credit had currency in conservative circles when Obamacare was still just a bad idea. More importantly, the subsidies that currently make Obamacare's sky-high premiums more palatable for consumers are not even one of the messy program's bigger problems.
The biggest single problem with Obamacare is its abridgment of human freedom — its unprecedented requirement that every American obtain insurance as a condition of existing, under penalty of fine, and likewise that every employer enter the insurance business or face a penalty.
But the main practical problem with Obamacare so far has been how badly it messed up the insurance market for millions of Americans in the individual and small group markets. These are people who were perfectly happy with what they had, and must now pay more for an inferior product. The additional (often unnecessary) coverage mandates and elimination of all underwriting either caused monthly premiums to skyrocket or caused insurers to jack up deductibles and skimp on their provider networks in order to make their premiums seem like a good deal — in many places, both of these things occurred.
The result is that many Americans who were previously happy with their coverage suddenly find themselves paying substantially more for policies they either cannot use or cannot afford to use.
Walker's and Rubio's plans, as well as that of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, would undo that crucial part of damage from Obamacare, allowing insurers to tailor plans (no more forced maternity coverage for 70 year-olds) and permit more flexible arrangements like miniature plans. They would also break the state regulatory monopoly on insurance licensing, so that New Jerseyans can buy plans that sell in Iowa for a fraction of the prices they must currently pay. This already makes all of their plans superior not only to Obamacare, but also to what existed before it.
But each also has a mechanism for making insurance more available than it was previously. Walker and Rubio have chosen a tax credit system. Jindal has gone the more ideologically pure route of a deduction, which would not subsidize anyone who does not pay taxes. But the conceptual difference between the two is smaller than you might think. Payroll taxes are taxes too. A refundable credit effectively gives all workers a break on them — including those too poor to pay income taxes but too rich to qualify for Medicaid.
Everyone in the Republican field agrees on Obamacare repeal. Conservative tastes will differ on the precise details of the replacement. But it's healthy for the candidates to show their work and demonstrate their commitment to repeal by presenting real plans for replacement that can always be improved upon later. Walker has done the right thing here, and all other candidates who haven't done so yet should follow suit.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Have you looked inside the latest CNN poll? You’ll find a very interesting number — namely, that Jeb Bush’s approval-disapproval numbers sit at a devastating 35-57.
That doesn’t look like the inevitability we’ve been sold by his surrogates, does it?
What seems quite apparent so far is the GOP establishment, and the Chamber of Commerce crowd who forced Mitt Romney down the throats of an unenthusiastic Republican electorate four years ago, cannot produce a nominee in this cycle. Each poll which gives a majority of the vote to candidates of some stripe of insurgency — Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul — makes that clear.
And while the establishment is in poor enough odor, its problems are magnified by the awful performance of candidates acceptable to it. Bush has made one inexplicable gaffe after another amid a campaign seemingly designed to alienate Republican voters in hopes of attracting Democrats and independents. Scott Walker has managed to couple a stellar record of governance with a stunningly vacant message; his campaign advisors are guilty of pronounced malpractice. John Kasich coupled religious sanctimony on Medicaid expansion with #BlackLivesMatter pandering on the way to five percent in the polls, and this has been characterized as success. Chris Christie appears destined to be out of the race by Labor Day. And Marco Rubio, despite a terrific performance at the debate in Cleveland, simply has not been able to generate any traction.
In a 17-person field, what’s most important is survival. One must demonstrate the ability to stay relevant from one news cycle to the next regardless of what the latest poll says, and one must be able to do so without running out of money. In a field so diffuse, generating lasting momentum is nearly impossible — particularly amid the phenomenon of Trump’s stealing the oxygen from the room.
Who has the funds for real staying power? Obviously Trump does — he’s able to self-finance a campaign and as the front-runner, his fundraising will come easy. And certainly Bush has ample resources for a war of attrition, though his donor base so far is relatively small and mostly limited to the same people who bankrolled his father and brother. But beyond Trump and Bush, the most well-heeled candidate in the race is Ted Cruz — with a wide donor base and a sizable war chest for the long haul.
Here’s a theory to ponder: after the first round of dropouts, in which Rick Perry’s impending demise is joined by several others — Christie, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore, perhaps Bobby Jindal — the likely beneficiary will be the candidate best suited to pull their voters.
And for many, that could be Cruz. Cruz has regional strength in Texas and Louisiana, which could translate into his picking up Perry and Jindal supporters. Despite his clashes with Graham in the Senate, Cruz’ calls for a muscular foreign policy could appeal to the several dozen supporters the South Carolinian has amassed. Those of Christie’s supporters who came to him for his combative style might look to Cruz rather than Trump.
And then after the second round of dropouts, Cruz could gain even more support. Particularly should Paul leave the race; if he isn’t gaining ground, at some point he’s going to have to consider whether his smartest play won’t be to return to Kentucky to defend his Senate seat, and Cruz is a friend and partner in many cases (though for Paul so is Mitch McConnell, which makes for an interesting conflict). Should Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum drop out, none of the others has put in more work to attract the social conservatives they represent than Cruz.
By this point, we might be close to the March 1 “Super Tuesday” primaries, most of which will take place in Deep South states where Cruz has trained his focus toward developing strength. He’s been outshone by Trump in most of them to date, but Cruz is building more organization in those states than any other candidate.
We could see a situation where Trump is ahead on the strength of his performance in the early states and still leads in the polls, though he might have commenced fading in the face of the various challenges befalling a presidential candidate and the terror gripping the party of having to nominate a bull-in-a-China-shop like the real estate magnate has not subsided. But while the establishment might believe Trump is beatable, they could be without candidates to beat him.
And at that juncture, the unthinkable might become inevitable; namely, that the RINO/Chamber of Commerce GOP establishment might well see Ted Cruz as their only hope to stop Donald Trump from getting the Republican nomination.
Rubio and Walker were supposed to be the “fusion” candidates in the race. They were supposed to be the campaigns capable of bridging the gap between the establishment and the Tea Party. Cruz was supposed to be an impossibility because he’s too conservative. But as the race has developed, the GOP electorate is even more anti-establishment and hard-core conservative than anyone expected, and that’s why non-politicians who are unafraid to use what the mainstream media calls “divisive” rhetoric have prospered. It turns out that a little “divisive” rhetoric is actually interesting to the voters. Cruz has been happy to let fly with pointed discussions of serious issues all along, and he’s putting himself in position to be more than acceptable to Trump’s and Carson’s voters should they fail to secure the nomination.
The continued self-destruction of Hillary Clinton, and the inability of the Democrats to find a plausible alternative amid a devastated bench, only makes the moderate/establishment narrative less compelling. The weaker Clinton and the Democrats look, the more tempting it will be to nominate the most conservative candidate possible. The opportunity could be that good to undo the damage of the Obama years.
I’m not making the case that Cruz is the man to unite the Republican Party’s warring clans…yet. What I am saying is, as Al Hunt noticed earlier this week, Cruz is positioning himself very strategically. And if the anti-establishment sentiment among the voters on the GOP side continues alongside sluggish performances by Bush and the other moderates, it’s not impossible that he could have the RINO crowd begging him to save them from Trump.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
The Clintons survived the scandals and wars of the ‘90s because in the '90s there was a lot less cable TV and Internet and no Twitter or social media. (AP Photo)
Which Democrat will be the one to play Barry Goldwater to the Richard M. Nixon of Hillary Clinton? Who will step up to tell the self-wounded one-time colossus that the time has arrived to go home?
On August 7, 1974, Goldwater and the Republican leaders of the House and the Senate called on the president and told him he had lost the support of his party in Congress. The next day, Nixon told the country that he would be leaving his office, and the day after that, he resigned.
Coming on top of the pay-to-play scandals surrounding the Clinton Foundation and the embarrassing, extravagant sums she demands for her speeches, the criminal investigation into the scrubbed secret server maintained and surrendered by the former first lady may make her a burden too great for her party to carry. In a recent poll of registered voters, 58 percent say Hillary lied about the emails and 54 percent believe that she weakened the country's security. Since the main task of the president is securing the country, this doesn't bode well.
But worse than the cost of what already happened is the prospect of what still may come. "Until a month ago, one of the arguments I frequently heard ... was that that she'd been vetted like nobody's ever been vetted," wrote Frank Bruni in March. "All the skeletons had been tugged from the Clintons' labyrinthine closets. All the mud had been dug up and flung."
Then came "Clinton Cash" and the conflicts of interest, and when that had sunk in, the unsecured server. Who can swear there's not even more fresh new mud where that came from, ready to start fresh new media frenzies? With the server now in the hands of the government, there's the continuing prospect of fresh new developments from now through November of 2016. News could break during the primaries, after the primaries, during the conventions or shortly before the opening of the polls. Can one run a campaign while under indictment? We may be about to get an answer.
"Dems will put up with a scoundrel, but not a loser," the editors of this paper wrote earlier this year. They cited the undying support of Bill Clinton, who, to be fair, while he was in office never did anything like this. But the problem is that Hillary is becoming a loser because she's a scoundrel, as her lies and the continued exposure of them seem to come more and more to the fore.
Her ratings took a predictable dip in 2013 when she left her old role as diplomat for the tumult of politics. Another dip came in 2014 when her book launch fizzled and she claimed to have been "dead broke" after the White House. But the holes in the hull were punched by the Clinton Foundation and then the emails, which made her approval ratings slide underwater and saw her fall behind many GOP rivals in many important swing states.
The Clintons survived the scandals and wars of the '90s because in the '90s there was a lot less cable TV and Internet and no Twitter or social media. In the '90s, they controlled the White House and party and now they do not. In the '90s, they were in office, not merely seeking it; and Bill was a skilled and adroit politician, which Hillary is not.
For all of these reasons the time may soon come when their party will find that it cannot afford the Clintons. And some solon with indisputable party credentials will take that long walk to their door.
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