Lost in the sea of coverageÂ following Mitt Romneyâ€™s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, was the news that the moderators for the three Presidential debates, and one VP debate, were also selected.
There is a certain kind of news one receives that falls into the category of â€œthis may or may not be badâ€”but it canâ€™t be goodâ€.Â For Republicans, learning of the moderators that will be at the helm for these four debates certainly earns this distinction.
In order of appearance they are- Jim Lehrer (PBS News Hour), Martha Raddatz (VP Debate-ABC News), Candy Crowley (CNN), and Bob Schieffer (CBS News).
Since the Romney campaign had to sign off on each moderator, it is hard to imagine that they could not have demanded better (even given that the Obama camp also had to sign off on each).Â By any measure, Jim Lehrer, Candy Crowley, and Bob Schieffer all lean to the left, and the networks that employ them all trail badly in the ratings to their direct competition.
Even if you were to say that these three were the fairest that both sides could agree to, giving a green light to Martha Raddatz for the VP debate was certainly inexplicable.Â The reason for this being, she is a â€œforeign affairs correspondentâ€ which is not Ryanâ€™s forte, and in fact he was brought into the race for his economic mastery.Â One has to wonder how much focus will be put on non-domestic topics just based on her area of expertise.Â On the surface this seems a major concession to the Obama campaign, and one that needed not be given.
The reason these moderators are so important is three-fold.Â First, with all the polls showing that the election has a likelihood of being razor-close, every smallÂ detail that goes into them has a chance to be huge.Â Second, like was the case with the Republican Primary debates, these four showdowns will smash records for viewership and theÂ audience will includeÂ millions ofÂ Independents sizing up the candidates for the first time.Â Lastly, and most importantly, the questions asked of the candidates have the ability to dominate the crucial weeks of news cycles leading up to Election Day.
So What Should The Focus Be?
Poll after poll shows that for the American people ground zero in this election is the economy.Â A Pew Research Poll taken from June 7-17 asked voters to name the top issue that they will be considering in the voting booth in November.Â The top four answers were Jobs (35%), the Budget Deficit (23%), Health Care (19%), and Social Security (11%).
The danger in having biased moderators was on full display for the Republican Primary debate moderated by George Stephanopoulos, when, seemingly out of nowhere, he felt the need to drill downÂ with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum on the issue of female contraception.Â This gave birthÂ (no pun intended) to the Sandra Fluke phase of the campaign and a multi-week sidetrack by the media away from the serious issues of the day.Â There is simply no doubt that, should they choose to, a moderator can actively push the focus to issues that are not widely being considered by votersâ€”and into territory that favors one candidate or another.
As will be the case in October, it just so happens that the issues voters themselves say are paramount are the exact issues that President Obama is desperate to avoid talking about.Â In theory this would make the debates a huge opportunity for Romney and Ryan to drive home their messageâ€”something tells me it wonâ€™t quite go down that way.
Perhaps I will be proven wrong, but will these moderators have the gumption to ask President Obama why a myriad of the promises he made while running in 2008 have been unachieved or even un-attempted?Â Will they remind the American people that twice the President had budgets voted on by Congress, and he failed to receive one solitary vote for either of them?Â Will they ask why he promised to cut the deficit in half but instead oversaw three years of trillion dollar plus deficits?Â Or will they inquire why he has not laid a plan on the table for reforming entitlements, after saying himself this was crucial in 2008?
Republican Are Right to Be Nervously Skeptical
All things being equal, and according directly to the polls, the topics discussed during all four of the debates should almost exclusively be jobs, the deficit, the long term health of entitlement programs, and foreign policy.Â What I fear instead is painful subjection to multiple questions on gay marriage, abortion, contraception, and student loan debtâ€” knowing all the while the fruit is rusting on the vine.
It is true that the level of professionalism that the four moderators will show is yet to be determined, and perhaps at least three of them will be fair (I hold no hope for Bob Schieffer).Â But given the track record of behavior the major media outlets have shown to Republicans in recent years, Iâ€™d say a mildly-crippling nervousness is more than justified.
After all, barring a phenomenal performance by both Republican candidates, one thing is certainâ€”â€œit may or may not be badâ€¦but it wonâ€™t be goodâ€.
The post The 2012 Presidential Debates: When Moderators Arenâ€™t Moderate appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
The bedrock of winning elections at every major level of politics is building coalitions of supporters for whom you can count on to head to the polls and cast a vote for you.Â Especially in a country as large and non-monolithic as ours, coalition building on some level is a requirement for victory and often explains why politicians are so willing to speak often, but say very little.
A close look at President Obamaâ€™s effort in this area reveals that he has elevated this process to an art formâ€”but far from art, what he has created is an ugly picture beneficial to himself, but terrible for America.
While the Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling on Thursday to uphold the Affordable Care Act certainly carries the negatives of energizing Republicans and leaving him to defend a tax increase, it is foolish not to acknowledge the potential political windfall that he has unleashed.Â He has managed to cement a new member in his group of coalitionsâ€”a group with millions of potential voters.
As we have discussed here before, for decades the Democrat party in America has used the social safety net and the laws of this country to build a formidable coalition of voters.Â The newest members are the up to 33 million people who will now be guaranteed health insurance by virtue of being a breathing American.Â For the first time in history an American president will be able to say â€˜if you vote Democrat you will have (possibly for free) health insurance, and if you vote Republican you will notâ€™, a potent motivator.
The addition of the health care voter coalition can now be added to the two others that he has bolstered recently, in what may be the most cynical and politically motivated two months in American presidential history.
First it was going on record with the news that he had â€œevolvedâ€ on the issue and now supports gay marriage. This was followed by a surprise move to essentially remove the possibility of deportation for young illegal aliens.Â While the gay community is relatively small, bolstering his claim to the Hispanic vote was a huge benefit to his Electoral College math.Â Early next week, we will have a story detailing how the health care law really has more to do with sealing up the Hispanic vote than anything else.
Besides the Latino vote, Obamacare allows the Democrat Party to further stack the deck against Republicans as they try to implement the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid reforms in the Paul Ryan budget over the next few years.Â Top Democrat strategists have to be secretly celebrating, knowing full well that the already difficult politics of reforming these programs just got down right suicidal now that 16 million more people have been added to the rolls.
The Presidents relentless coalition building will continue from now until November.Â With the economy not in position to rebound at all, and the two major initiatives of his Presidency either unpopular (health care) or ineffectual (the stimulus), he really has no other choice.Â I am predicting that sometime in the next few months he will make a shocking public policy jester to the unions, who remain the last sizeable group he has not tried to directly entice.
Though it goes against the grain, at this point I would consider advising Mitt Romney to not moderate on illegal immigration and stay as far right on this issue as he was during the presidential primary.Â The reasons for this are several.
First, it is the law and the right thing to doâ€”we simply cannot be the only nation on earth that doesnâ€™t enforce its borders.Â Though many are quick to forget it, this is a message that resonates with nearly all Republicans, and millions of Independents.Â Second, there is simply no way for Republicans to match what Democrats can offer.Â While Republicans and Latinos have large overlaps in religious beliefs and family values, Democrats are in essence offering citizenship, free or nearly free health care, and an ever-expanding web of financial assistance that delivers from birth to death.
It may be high time to face the factsâ€”winning over the Hispanic community is not going to happen anytime soon, and the more Republicans bend and soften on these issues the more they enrage fellow Republicans and appear hypocritical to Independents.
The irony here is that many of the Republicans who have been hesitant to support Mitt Romney, largely due to their belief that he tries to be all things to all people, are the same people that are urging him to cow tow to the Hispanic vote and moderate his position on illegal immigration.
There are still tens of millions of Americans who still believe strongly that we are a nation of laws.Â Should Mitt Romney take a stand on this issue and add this too often ignored group to his list of coalitions, it may end up being a net positive in November.
The post Healthcare Fallout: Obamaâ€™s Growing List of Coalitions appeared first on The Conservative Reader.
â€œAfter carefully considering the whole situation, I stand with my backÂ toÂ the wall. And walking is better, than running awayâ€¦and crawling ainâ€™t no good at allâ€
Willie Nelsonâ€”Lyrics to â€œWalkingâ€ (1974)
While not known for his astute political analysis, with these lyrics Willie Nelson has managed to perfectly describe the conundrum myself and millions of other voters face in selecting a candidate to support for president amongst the Republican field.
For months now GOPers have been carefully considering the whole situation, and have yet to settle on anyone. With the voting only two weeks away a majority of those undecided now officially are standing with their backsÂ againstÂ the wall.
In this regard I am no differentâ€”laid here are the reasons I am currently walking, and not running, toward Newt Gingrich. Like any well thought out decision there are three main factors at playâ€”the mind, the gut, and the legitimate reservations. The following is an honest, pull-no-punches account of my thought process for each.
The reason why the polls have been a roller coaster in this cycle is fairly simpleâ€”you have a massive pool of Conservative voters and not one single, unquestionably consistent Conservative, who couldÂ certainly beat President Obama. My sense is that the field does have strong Conservatives, namely Bachmann and Santorum, but neither have been able to garner the support necessary to win the White Houseâ€”and Ron Paul will have to be addressed in full at some other time. As the polls suggest, the two with the best chance at unseating Obama are Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.
This being the case, the exercise has come down to a question of who I feel is more Conservative between the two and who has the better chance of successfully vocalizing Conservative philosophy to the general electorate. On both counts my answer is Newt Gingrich. As we have seen in the Republican primary, the debates between President Obama and the Republican nominee are going to be viewed by a record amount of people and will largely be the deciding factor for Independents.
Perhaps no figure in modern political history has more of a gift for the debate stage than Newt Gingrich. Making this an even larger advantage is the mythic narrative that President Obama is some legendary debater. While last cycle he may have gotten the better of Hillary Clinton and John McCain overall, he never blew either off the stage (and managed to lose to both on multiple occasions).
Along with his debate prowess, there are two other things that make me comfortable with the idea of Newt as the nominee and as President. First is his deep understanding and respect for history. Whether it be American or world history, his decision making process would be solidly grounded in the actions and outcomes of past situations. I happen to think that had the filter of history been applied to many of the decisions made by our last two presidents, many of the undesirable results we have seen could have been avoided.
Second is the structure and proven results of the concept of a â€œContract with Americaâ€. The 1994 contract saw roughly 70% of its content become lawâ€”and that was with a Democrat in the White House. Any Republican taking a serious look at his â€œ21st Century Contract with Americaâ€ would likely agree that achieving even 50% of its content would result in our Country standing on immensely more solid ground than it is currently. Clearly there is no time now to go through the platform item by item, however, you can review it in detail or read a brief highlight of it here. It is only fair that serious Republicans inspect this document before discounting Mr. Gingrich.
The biggest source of apprehension I have toward Mitt Romney is his striking similarity to our 43rd president. George W. Bushâ€™s eight year application of a watered down â€œcompassionate Conservatismâ€ did a great deal of damage to the viability of the philosophy. I canâ€™t help but shake the feeling that when inevitably faced with unpredicted situations, a President Romney would not be guided through these times of crisis by Constitutional Conservatism. Instead I see him falling back on the identical political pragmatism that Mr. Bush turned to when the pressure was on.
While certainly not without its own risks, I also prefer Gingrichâ€™s personality to Romneyâ€™s in the area of foreign policy. My view is that in general, and especially with the Iranian nuclear situation, many of Americaâ€™s national security interests can be forwarded through an aggressive posture. Though it is a fine line to walk, putting a reasonable fear into rogue nations couldâ€”as proven by Reaganâ€”actually help us avoid potential conflicts. A Romney-foreign-policy approach would likely be strictly by the book (i.e. painfully cautious and deferential), and result in a more-of-the-same outcome. Though I see positives in both approaches, I feel our enemies would have a greater fear of (and hence a greater respect for) a President Gingrich.
At a time when a dramatic move toward the Right is a legitimate possibility, on nearly every issue Mitt Romney is far too timid for my taste. One perfect example is in the area of Federal income tax policy. The enthusiasm throughout the country for major tax reform has never been greater, yet in this climate the proposal offered from Romney is to keep the top rate at 35% and largely leave the current structure intact. Though it could use some tweaking, the Gingrich proposal is for an optional 15% flat tax, where each taxpayer could choose to use the old system or opt for the flat rate. This is emblematic of the level of change the former Speaker is willing to push forâ€”and the type of transformation Mitt Romney will never champion.
The fact that a voter would have reservations about their candidate is only natural. Having said that, the lengthy nature of his list points to why I am walking, and not running, toward Mr. Gingrich.
According to my television and mailbox, and no doubt yours too, not only should Gingrich be checked off our short listâ€”he should be arrested and checked in to Guantanamo Bay. These attacks are largely overblown rubbish, but there are three main factors I view as legitimate reasons for apprehension. Like Romney, Newtâ€™s career includes multiple examples of unsettling â€œpolitical flexibilityâ€, his past personal life has often been a mess, and a rather large number of his former Republican colleagues have been outspoken against him (noteworthy on this list for me is Tom Coburn, whom I respect greatly).
Quite honestly these things have made the decision a far more anguished one than it has been in the pastâ€”or that it ought to be I might add. If I insisted on taking solace it would be found in the fact that while both candidates I view as being able to win the nomination and defeat President Obama have strong negativesâ€”both would be an upgrade for the Country.
I personally want the Republican Party, and the Country, to move significantly to the Right. I want the 10th Amendment to be respected, the enumerated powers to be followed, and for personal responsibility to once again be required and not optional. I do not see Mitt Romney doing this to the extent I want. In my eyes Newt Gingrich is, as George Will says, the most Conservative candidate who can win.
Like it will for many voters, my decision largely came down to a risk vs. reward ratioâ€”and there is no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would be the safer choice. Given the circumstances, what America needs right now is a real and powerful constraint on Federal power. Of the nationally viable candidates, Gingrichâ€”and the 21st Century Contractâ€”comes the closest to my vision of a positive American futureâ€¦For this reason I am willing to roll the dice.
Photo courtesy of Dave Davidson, whose outstanding work can be seen at Prezography.com
In his recent visit to our state, President Obama toured Alcoa, one of the worldâ€™s largest manufacturers of aluminum, located in Davenport, IA. As a part of his visit, President Obama praised the manufacturing sector of the economy and touted the strong growth of private sector jobs over the last 15-months of his administration. President Obama also mentioned in his speech that not only had Alcoa rehired laid-off workers, but that it was anticipating the need to add new employees to its workforce.
I am delighted that the President recognizes the positive impact private sector manufacturers are having on the economy, but what he failed to mention as a part of his visit was that he is advocating for repeal of the Last-In, First-Out accounting method, which would devastate businesses in our country, cost workers their jobs, and hurt our recovering economy.
The Last-In, First-Out accounting method, better know as LIFO, is a textbook accounting method that has been used by businesses for over 70 years. LIFO allows businesses to manage inventories in a way that helps protect assets from the costs associated with inflation. As a part of this method, businesses may incur a tax liability that has been held over from one year to the next, which is called a LIFO reserve.
President Obama proposes that the LIFO reserve should be eliminated and that businesses should pay a retroactive tax on this liability. Estimates put the amount the federal government would stand to collect from repealing LIFO at between $50-100 billion dollars.
President Obama says that he is only trying to end a tax break for oil companies and billionaires, so he can reduce deficit spending. And, while I applaud his, and other, noble efforts to reduce deficit spending and lower our national debt, repealing LIFO is precisely the wrong way to go about it.
The President and so many others who are advocating for the repeal of LIFO donâ€™t seem to understand that this one time shot of revenue would have a chilling effect on the recovering U.S. economy and devastate businesses that use LIFO, many of which are manufacturers and wholesalers.
President Obama is correct that many of the largest U.S. oil and energy companies use LIFO. But so do many of our largest manufacturers and wholesalers, such as Archer Daniels Midland, Caterpillar, U.S. Steel, Nucor, Wal-Mart, and Dupont. Alcoa, the same company that President Obama praised during his visit to Iowa, has the 10th largest LIFO reserve in the country.
And many Iowa businesses would be hurt by LIFO repeal. John Deere, Meredith Publishing, Sukup Manufacturing, and Winnebago Industries, all use LIFO. So do farm equipment dealers, automobile dealers, grocery stores, and many other main street businesses.
A repeal of LIFO would have a huge impact on jobs as well. Employers would have to scramble to pay retroactive taxes and would be forced to lay off workers, cut health care benefits, stop contributions to 401(k) plans, and cancel planned hiring.
President Obama should take LIFO repeal off the table as part of his deficit reduction talks with Congress. And, if he wonâ€™t, Congress should refuse to pursue LIFO repeal as a part of the negotiations process for the sake of our country.
Reprinted from The Retailer, an Iowa Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association Publication, by permission.
Talking points are truly amazing things. They capture the essence of the obsessions of political operatives. The political news has recently been dominated by the talking points surrounding the debt ceiling debate, with the main terms of choice being the assorted variants of â€œapocalypse.â€
First of all, failing to raise the debt ceiling would not automatically lead to a default on the national debt. The federal government would continue to collect revenue, and could use that revenue to pay debt obligations as they fall due, or in other words, pay the coupon interest on time. This would involve deep cuts to everything else, and if you are a professional politician that is synonymous with impossible, so there is an assumption that default would be the result.
And that default would be â€œapocalyptic,â€ â€œa catastrophe,â€ â€œa disaster,â€ or would â€œcost us our credit rating,â€ â€“ which is doomed anyway because it is a mirage; the federal government is borrowing 40% of the money it spends this year and is projected to do so for the next ten. This is not a debtor worthy of a AAA rating, and the only reason we havenâ€™t seen a failed bond auction is because the Federal Reserve has been buying everything in sight.
Professional politicians who never saw a dollar belonging to somebody else that they wouldnâ€™t spend, now lecture us on the importance of borrowing money to pay the obligations on the money they borrowed to spend on political goodies. We are told of the need to increase our debts to stay current on our debt payments.
When individuals pay debts with new debts (called â€œSurfingâ€ by finance experts) it is usually the last desperate trick before they call a bankruptcy lawyer. When our political overlords do it, they demand to be: 1. Re-elected; 2. Paid more; 3. Given a medal or an honorary Ivy League doctorate.
The apocalypse for the Democrats is that this issue is coming to a head too soon. Over the next ten years, a majority of the baby-boom generation will be enrolled in Social Security and Medicare. And, as the American economy continues to die over the next ten years, it is thought that these voters will be more frightened of losing benefits than of the country collapsing under the weight of the debt. Government dependency is the Democratic Partyâ€™s stock-in-trade, and they will be there to defend all government spending with borrowed (or more likely, printed) money.
In their calculation, if they can only delay the eventual tipping point where the economy just canâ€™t take more debt, then as things continue to get worse more voters will fear losing Big Government than losing everything to Big Government.
While weâ€™re talking about Medicare, some time soon you should do a web search for â€œunemployed college graduates,â€ and see how many news articles you can find. Think about this: A generation wants to get government-financed benefits, while a younger generation is chronically underemployed and not paying much money in FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), the tax that funds Medicare. No job means no wages; no wages means no FICA; no FICA means no Medicare â€“ unless they print the money and finance it with pure, un-tempered inflation.
The professional politicians cannot get us out of this problem; it is in their best interest to make the problem bigger. The cynicism is downright psychopathic â€“ make sure that so many people depend on your appropriations that you cannot lose power even if the country is completely bankrupted. This, I fear, is what most Congressional Democrats, and probably most Congressional Republicans, intend to do.
It must stop. It is time to stop rewarding politicians who successfully loot the public treasury by affixing their names to schools, institutes, nature trails and wildlife refuges as recognition of their long and illustrious careers of running the nation into serfdom.
Iâ€™ve been told that veteran bankruptcy lawyers have a common speech they give to their clients who feel guilty or ashamed about the debts theyâ€™ve run up. They say â€œStop that. Do you think corporate CEOâ€™s feel guilty when they restructure debt? No! You are Mr. and Mrs. X, Incorporated, and you are getting out of debt.â€
We need to put down the pride, the guilt, and the illusions of prosperity fashioned by self-interested politicians, and declare that we are the United States of America, Incorporated, and we are getting out of debt. If we donâ€™t, we will default eventually anyway either directly or through currency devaluation, but by then our nation will not have a future. At all.
[Note: The first article â€œOn National Debt, Default is Inevitable,â€ the numbers in the article were from the Monthly Statement of the Public Debt, June 2011, but the link inside the article was to the Monthly Statement of the Public Debt from June 2010. Apologies for the error.]
Photo Becky Stares â€“ Fotolia.com