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Archive for September, 2010

This afternoon, the NFIB announced that they’re endorsing Chip Cravaack in his bid to unseat longtime Congressman Oberstar:

Today the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s leading small business association, announced its full support and endorsement of Minnesota’s 8th U.S. Congressional District challenger, Chip Cravaack.

A third-generation retired Naval Reserve officer, Cravaack has issued strong positions on policies that would strengthen the nation’s small firms and rein in federal government hindrance of the free enterprise system.

“Captain Chip Cravaack believes strongly that small business can lead America out of this recession if the government will get out of the way and let Main Street do what it does best: create jobs and grow the economy,” said Lisa Goeas, NFIB’s vice president for political operations. “He will fight for the rights of small businesses to enjoy the time-honored idea of secret ballots if faced with labor union elections and stand firm against economically-devastating schemes such as job-killing ‘cap and trade’ pollution deals.”

Offering Minnesota’s 8th District a fresh approach of limited government and fiscal responsibility, Cravaack would be a friend to small business in a state with more than 121,000 small employers. Nationally, small businesses generate more than half of the non-farm Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and have created more than 60 percent of the net-new jobs in the United States over the past 15 years.

NFIB’s endorsement boosts Cravaack’s campaign with significant grassroots backing by Minnesota’s small business community, which actively recruit friends, family members and acquaintances to vote in large numbers on Election Day.

Cravaack’s endorsement comes from NFIB’s Save America’s Free Enterprise Trust (SAFE), the association’s political action committee, which bases candidates’ support on key small business issues such as healthcare, taxes, and labor and regulatory issues.

The choice for 8th District voters. On the day that NFIB announces their endorsement of Chip Cravaack for supporting small businesses and the free market system, Rep. Jim Oberstar announced the ‘success’ of ARRA in Minnesota:

Construction is under way or completed on $677 million in Minnesota highway, transit, and wastewater projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure announced today.

This week the committee released its latest periodic report on the implementation of Recovery Act transportation and infrastructure programs. Nationally, the report shows that a total of $33.9 billion has been invested in 18,365 formula projects now under construction or completed, accounting for 89 percent of the total allocation for such work.

“The transportation and infrastructure investments provided by the Recovery Act have been a tremendous success. They have helped stem the tide of job losses from the worst economic crisis facing the nation since the Great Depression,” Congressman Jim Oberstar, chairman of the Transportation Committee. “This success underscores the immediate need to provide additional funding for infrastructure.”

Rep. Oberstar’s announcement proves that he’s clueless about the economy. Only someone enamored with DC’s pork economy would think that the Stimulus is a success. While it’s true that a number of these infrastructure projects are important, it’s equally true that getting the private sector humming would have a much more profound, long-lasting effect than stimulus spending could ever have.

The NFIB criticized Congress for abandoning small businesses:

Congress has once again failed small business. At a time when small business owners desperately need some certainty, their elected leaders have decided to skip town to focus on keeping their own jobs instead of voting on legislation to extend the current tax rates.

Postponing this critical vote means that all small businesses and their customers are facing an extraordinary tax hike at the end of the year. This real possibility of a major tax increase intensifies the uncertainty facing small businesses who now don’t know what their tax liability will be in 2011. Congress should not expect small businesses to run profitable enterprises this way. This type of mismanagement may work in Washington, but it certainly doesn’t hold water on Main Street.

Raising taxes on our nation’s job creators when they are trying to get through these difficult economic times is simply bad policy. There is bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill to extend all of the tax rates and leading economists have said that the best thing Washington could do to help the economy is to extend all of the current individual rates. With so much agreement on this issue, it’s extremely disappointing that Congress is leaving town without having an up-or-down vote on extending the current tax rates.

Jim Oberstar was one of the representatives who voted to adjourn without addressing this important issue. Without knowing what their taxes will be, small businesses won’t expand their businesses or hire additional employees.

Rep. Oberstar can’t say with any credibility that he’s pro jobs but support doing nothing to help small businesses. Rep. Oberstar has been in DC so long that he’s forgotten that it’s small businesses that drive Minnesota’s, and this nation’s, small businesses. He’s got a DC-centric mindset to the point that he’s ignored Mainstreet Minnesota’s priorities.

While it’s true that they appreciate well-maintained infrastructure, it’s more true that they appreciate a thriving, private sector economy. Rep. Oberstar’s vote for Cap and Tax and Obamacare are votes that will cripple small businesses. His willingness to let the small business tax cuts expire is additional proof that Rep. Oberstar isn’t a friend to the job creators that make Minnesota’s economy thrive.

The voters in MN-08 have a clear choice this election. They can vote for the entrenched incumbent who’s turned his back on Minnesota’s job creators or they can vote for Chip Cravaack, the man that the NFIB thinks will help restore Minnesota’s prosperity.

Based on what I’m hearing, steelworkers, mineworkers and entrepreneurs alike are abandoning Rep. Oberstar because he’s lost touch with Minnesota’s priorities.

Good riddance.

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According to this CNN article, Tim Walz wants to be back to defend himself against the Republicans’ scurrilous attacks:

“I’m always more comfortable being at home,” said Minnesota Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, who is in a close race for a third term. “Especially now making the case for why they should give me another shot at it and I think when I’m not there it’s easier to say things that I can’t defend.”

Rep. Walz makes it sound like it’s difficult to criticize him, that it’s impossible to criticize him without making things up. In the land of reality, it’s pretty easy to originate substantive criticisms of him. Let’s start with Walz campaigning as “an independent leader for southern Minnesota.”

Tim Walz has carried Speaker Pelosi’s water since he got there. This session, Walz voted for ‘the trifecta’ of Obama’s failed stimulus bill, Obamacare and Cap and Tax.

The only things the stimulus bill did was keep bureaucrats working and adding tens of billions of dollars to the deficit. Thankfully, Cap and Tax didn’t get a hearing in the Senate so it withered away, hopefully forever. Obamacare is a disaster. It didn’t bend the cost curve down like was promised. It’s adding to the deficit. Worst of all, it’s destroying the doctor-patient relationship.

What Rep. Walz means is that his spin isn’t as effective when it’s contained in a press release as when it’s delivered face-to-face. The reality is that Tim Walz isn’t the independent leader for southern Minnesota that he pretended to be. He’s been one of the most reliable water-carriers for Speaker Pelosi over the past 4 years.

Worst of all, he’s been a reckless spender because he’s been a guy who’s consistently voted with the environmental special interests. That’s why he voted against his district in voting for Cap and Tax.

Tim Walz’s problem isn’t his inability to refute Randy Demmer’s arguments. Rep. Walz’s problem is that he’s voted against his constituents’ priorities too often.

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When Speaker Pelosi broke the 209-209 tie to adjourn until after the elections, it marked one of the most pathetic displays of leadership (I use that term loosely) in U.S. House history. It’s shameful that the Democrats refused to even draft legislation on their 2 primary responsibilities: the budget and extending the Bush tax cuts.

Paul Ryan, who will be the Budget Committee chairman next January, isn’t amused with the Democrats’ abdication of leadership:

“The fiscal year will end much as it began, with Congress exacerbating our unsustainable budget trajectory. Consumed with their reckless borrowing and spending spree, House Democrats called it quits after failing to send any of the annual Appropriations bills to the President’s desk and failing to even propose a budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Operating with no budget to prioritize taxpayer dollars, Congress agreed to a $1.1 trillion Continuing Resolution to keep the government from shutting down.

“Making matters worse, Democratic leaders failed to take action to stop looming tax increases from hitting families and small businesses. A growing bipartisan consensus stands united against the Democratic leaders’ refusal to prevent across the board tax increases amidst continued economic hardships, fostering greater economic uncertainty and stifling job creation.

“This year’s budget breakdown is particularly troubling given the $1.3 trillion deficit and $13 trillion debt. The unemployment rate remains too high and economic growth remains too low. Congress missed a critical opportunity to stop the looming tax hikes, restrain the explosive growth of government spending, and advance an agenda of real reform.”

If the Bush tax cuts expire, they’ll represent the biggest tax increase in U.S. history. What’s worse is that their expiration will trigger the next round of layoffs and the next recession.

Apparently, Speaker Pelosi and her leadership team don’t care about setting intelligent spending priorities, just like it’s apparent that they don’t care about preventing the next recession.

This is the message that Republicans should highlight from dawn’s early light to the last ray of sunshine each day for the rest of the campaign. This level of irresponsibility is both stunning and pathetic. Democrats shouldn’t be left near the levers of power anytime soon, preferably for the next generation.

People who think that this isn’t going to be an historic year for Republicans either aren’t paying attention or they’re utterly clueless. With huge majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats didn’t have an agenda that the American people approved of. Their agenda for this term of Congress essentially consisted of the stimulus, passing a health care bill that was hated by employers and employees alike and passing a budget blueprint in 2009 that averaged trillion dollar deficits for a decade.

The Democrats’ policies are undermining the current health care system while giving job creators incentives galore to not invest in their business or hire new employees.

Congressman Ryan published this report to explain why it’s important to not let any of the current tax laws expire:

To understand the subject properly, the following points are critical:

  • Higher Taxes Stifle Growth. Higher tax rates will further damage a weak economy. Tax increases not only drain economic resources, but also stifle incentives to greater productivity and investment. The scheduled January tax increases could reduce employment growth by as many as 1.2 million jobs, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates.
  • Hikes Cannot Catch the President’s Spending. Spending in the President’s budget surges to record levels, and by decade’s end will consume more than one-fourth of total U.S. economic resources. The pace of spending is so rapid that even raising taxes nearly $4 trillion over the next 10 years would not catch up.
  • Tax Relief Did Not Cause Today’s Deficits. With the full 2001/2003 tax relief provisions implemented, Federal revenue rose to 18.5 percent of gross domestic product in fiscal year 2007, well above the 50-year historical average of 18 percent. Revenue plunged after that because of a financial crisis and a deep recession, not because of tax relief.
  • The Tax Debate Is Upside-Down. Baseline budgeting gives the false impression that simply keeping tax rates the same as they are today is somehow a new tax cut that will increase deficits and must be “paid for.” It is nonsensical to make taxpayers “pay for” simply avoiding a tax increase.
  • Tax Burdens Already Are Skewed Toward Upper Incomes. Limiting tax increases to “the rich,” as the President and the Democratic Leadership in Congress propose, will create additional barriers to job-creating investments, and will further distort the distribution of U.S. tax burdens, in which those earning in the top 10 percent of income pay more than 70 percent of Federal income taxes. In addition, complaints about current tax laws providing “tax cuts for the rich” ignore the impact raising the top tax rates will have on small businesses, the most vigorous job producers in the country.

This piece of information can’t be overlooked:

The administration wants to raise the top two individual tax rates to capture more tax revenue for the government’s coffers. Yet the historical data clearly show that tax revenue is not necessarily correlated with tax rates. Instead, government tax revenue is highly correlated with economic growth. Over the past 50 years, the top individual tax rate in the U.S. has ranged from a high of 91 percent to a low of 28 percent, but individual tax revenue has remained remarkably steady, moving more in tandem with economic growth than these tax rate shifts. For instance, during the 1980s, while the top marginal tax rate was reduced from roughly 70 percent to 30 percent, individual tax revenues remained fairly constant as a share of the economy. In the latter part of the 1990s, the top marginal tax rate stayed constant, yet individual tax revenue reached a record high in response to robust rates of GDP growth. Revenue as a percent of GDP has tended to fall as a result of recessions.

In addition to not getting anything done with the budget, Democrat leadership kept insisting that “the rich” weren’t paying their fair share. (Minnesotans are familiar with that mantra thanks to Sen. Dayton’s job-killing agenda.) Speaker Pelosi is intent on killing more jobs than she already has. From a purely political perspective, Democrats have given Republicans across the nation a nightstick to beat them bloody with. If I was advising Republican candidates, cutting spending and extending the Bush tax cuts would be the only things my candidates would talk about in their stump speeches. Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a sham spending freeze. During the presidential debates in 2008, then-Sen. Obama said he’d use a scalpel to cut out wasteful spending. These things have been exposed as shams. When Republicans retake the majority, they should forget about spending freezes and cutting with a scalpel. Not freezes, just cuts. Not with a scalpel but with a meat cleaver. Thanks to the Democrats reign of irresponsibility, drastic measures are required. It’s up to the Republicans to jumpstart the economy and get spending under control. The Democrats had their chance and blew it. This November, they’ll pay the price for their irresponsible behavior.

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According to this article, people are actually trying to defend the MPR-Humphrey Institute poll. The more they defend it, the less sense their arguments make.

Republicans think this new poll is flawed, arguing MPR and the Humphrey Institute interviewed more Democrats this time than in their survey a month ago. The pollsters say that’s not the case. Rather more Democrats are now identifying themselves as likely voters than Republicans are, another sign the party could be gaining some steam.

If Larry Jacobs thinks that Democrats are more fired up than Republicans, then he’s delusional. Place after place, article after article tells me that Republicans can’t wait for voting to start. By contrast, there’s less enthusiasm for the DFL. Though the enthusiasm gap isn’t as big in Minnesota as in other states, it’s still there.

But Republican Party of Minnesota assistant chair Michael Brodkorb counters, “We’re seeing the exact opposite. All indications are Democrats are still having an enthusiasm gap here in Minnesota. They’re still having concerns about rallying behind Mark Dayton’s candidacy.”

According to professor Jacobs that’s partly true, as Dayton’s numbers among Democrats and Independents still aren’t great. But Emmer’s Republican support is only at 59 percent, a cause for concern among the GOP. And tom Horner could drop off if his numbers don’t spike soon.

I noted in this post that Rasmussen’s latest polling says Tom Emmer’s support amongst Republicans is high:

Eighty-eight percent of Minnesota Republicans support Emmer, a state legislator who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin.

There’s no way I’ll trust Jacobs’ numbers over Scott Rasmussen’s. Jacobs is also asking me to believe that Republicans aren’t united. That’s impossible for me, especially after Marty Seifert’s unifying gesture at the endorsing convention. Here in Central Minnesota, the unity between the 4 different BPOU’s is outstanding.

There’s no reason for Republicans to be disinterested. Recently, Randy Demmer and Lee Byberg qualified for the NRCC’s Young Guns program. Chip Cravaack is giving Jim Oberstar alot of heartburn. I’m hearing that Chip will get a major endorsement Thursday. Check back to this blog this morning for additional information.

First, the fact that the NRCC has upgraded those races says that they’ve noticed that they’re running good campaigns. Second, the fact that the NRCC is injecting money into these races should do nothing except fire up the faithful the rest of the way.

Despite all these positive developments, Larry Jacobs is telling us that GOP enthusiasm is shrinking? Oh yeah, that makes sense. I always get depressed when I get tons of good news.

There’s another thing that Jacobs’ poll isn’t measuring: people aren’t taking Dayton and Horner seriously after putting together budgets that don’t balance and policies that don’t create jobs. In fact, Dayton’s jobs policies were born in the 1970′s and 80′s. That isn’t how you build a 21st Century economy. That’s how you fund a 20th Century government.

Independents aren’t lining up to be led by a man who wants to raise taxes to build a 20th Century economy.

The MPR-Humphrey Institute poll is junk. It isn’t worth taking seriously.

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To those of us who’ve kept track of Tarryl’s tall tales, it isn’t surprising that Michele Bachmann is hitting her hard with her latest ad. It was just a matter of time. Here’s Michele’s ad:

Tarryl’s tried portraying herself as the only fiscal conservative in the race. She’s even used the pay raise bit as a gimmick. I’ve said before that it’s just a gimmick considering her voting for raising her per diem from $66/day to $96/day and for voting against cutting senators’ stamp allowance from 5,500 per senator per year to 3,500 per senator per year. That minimal reduction in the stamp allowance would’ve save Minnesota’s taxpayers $112,000 this biennium.

Tarryl isn’t fiscally responsible. She said that Obamacare is good but that it didn’t go far enough. Obamacare doesn’t bend the cost curve down. It just lets costs to keep jumping. The plan that Tarryl would likely prefer would be more costly than Obamacare.

Tarryl had the temerity to tell another legislator that she wasn’t worried about her vote to increase her per diem, saying that “nobody gets defeated because they raised their own pay”, saying additionally that “voters will forget” before she’s up for re-election again.

Tarryl is a con artist and not a very good one at that. She’s casting herself as a fiscal conservative 4 short years after voting to increase spending by 17 percent from one biennium to another. Had the budget she voted for become law in 2007, the 2009 deficit would’ve been $9,000,000,000 instead of the $6,400,000,000 that it wound up being.

When I met with her in January, 2007, I asked if the legislature would do vigorous oversight into identifying wasteful spending. She said they would. They never did.

Tarryl is good at saying whatever she thinks the person she’s talking to wants to hear, then doing what she’d planned all along anyway. I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her if I had 2 broken arms and a bad back.

Thanks, Michele, for highlighting Tarryl’s hypocrisy.

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The latest MPR-Humphrey Institute poll isn’t worth the bandwidth it’s printed on. Here’s the poll’s least credible finding:

Party Allegiances Strained, Emmer Coalition Crumbling
The usual party coalitions that unify nearly all Democrats and Republicans behind their Party’s standard bearer have broken down in the 2010 gubernatorial contest. In an extraordinary breach, 4 out of 10 Republican voters have not yet declared for Emmer. Dayton is also struggling but not as extensively as his Republican opponent; a third of Democrats are not supporting him at this time.

In a dramatic breakthrough, Horner is now drawing 22% of Republicans, starting to fulfill his plan to raid the GOP base. He is drawing far less Democrats (10%) while also taking a fifth of independents.

According to the graphics, Tom Emmer is only drawing 59% of GOP votes. That isn’t credible after seeing poll after poll showing Rep. Emmer and Sen. Dayton getting 70+ percent of their parties’ support.

Not surprisingly, the MPR-Humphrey Institute overpolled Democrats, with 48 percent identifying themselves as Democrats, 38 percent identifying themselves as Republicans and 12 percent not identifying with either party.

This summer, a report said that Republicans and Democrats were almost at parity.

This information flies in the face of the horserace numbers:

Among the 18% of likely voters who are undecided, they are predominantly Democrats (51%) rather than being Republican (25%) or independent (24%).

Compare that statement with this statement:

Minnesota voters have awoken from their summer slumber. More than 8 out of 10 Minnesotans are interested in the November elections, a substantial increase that is being propelled by the energizing of formerly turned-off Democrats.

According to the first statement, of those people who remain undecided, half of them identify themselves as Democrats. In the second statement, Minnesota Democrats are energized. It’s impossible to reconcile those statements. How can someone say that Democrats are both energized and undecided?

It seems to me that people don’t get energized if they don’t have something to be energized about. If that seems incoherent, check this out:

The sharp shift from the deadlocked race in August to Dayton’s lead a month later stems in part from Democrats being more likely to vote. In the August survey, 46% of likely voters were Republican compared to 41% who indicated they were Democrats and the 13% who said they were independent. By late September, there were more Democrats (48%) than Republicans (38%) who were likely voters; independents remained largely unchanged at 12%.

This indicates a bad sample. There’s no way Republican intensity dropped 8 points in a month. Talking with contacts around the state, intensity with Republicans is increasing.

Another reason why this poll doesn’t have any credibility is because independents aren’t punishing Horner or Dayton for their unserious budget plans. Independents aren’t partisan by nature, meaning they demand competence.

Sen. Dayton’s “work in progress” budget hasn’t balanced in two tries. In addition, he initially committed to increasing education funding and that it’d happen “without exception and without excuses.” When his budget fell short the second time, Sen. Dayton admitted that he’d have to postpone repaying the education shifts until 2014.

Breaking promises isn’t the way to prove you’re competent. Bungling your budget twice isn’t the way to prove you’re competent, either.

Rasmussen’s latest polling refutes the MPR poll in terms of Republican support for Rep. Emmer:

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Minnesota Republicans support Emmer, a state legislator who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin. Dayton, a former U.S. senator, has the backing of 82% of the state’s Democrats. Horner, a public affairs consultant and former Republican, is favored by three percent (3%) of GOP voters and 10% of Democrats.

It’s one thing to have support be off by 10 points between polls. It’s another when there’s a 29 point gap. Since Rasmussen is one of the most reliable pollsters out there, I’ll trust his numbers before I’ll trust the MPR-Humphrey Institute’s numbers.

The KSTP-SUSA poll says that Horner is taking as much support from Dayton as from Emmer. Their horserace number is 38 percent Dayton, 36 percent Emmer. Rasmussen’s horserace number is 42 Emmer, 41 Dayton.

Now I’m supposed to believe that Emmer’s horserace support has dropped 12 points while Dayton’s horserace support has stayed the same? I don’t think so.

This race is tipping in Tom Emmer’s direction, though it’s still far from a done deal. This poll, along with the Minnesota Poll, aren’t worth the bandwidth they’re printed on.

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During tonight’s Hannity show, Caroline Heldman trotted out the Democrats’ line that “it took eight years to screw this country up. It won’t be fixed overnight.” It bothers me that Republicans don’t challenge the Democrats on that premise.

After the 9/11 recession, the economy grew by 8 percent when Bush’s policies were implemented. Rapid, sustained growth happened once Reaganomics took hold, growth that helped create 20,000,000 jobs in 8 years.

The reality is that the economy can recover quickly if the right policies are put in place.

The economy will struggle if the Obama and Dayton tax increases go into effect. There isn’t a sane economist who’d argue with that. The reality is that heaping huge additional tax burdens onto America’s and Minnesota’s job creators isn’t the way to get the economy humming again.

Based on Mayor Rick Wolff’s op-ed, it isn’t just the taxes that are holding Minnesota back. It’s the spending, too:

Emmer has stated that when it comes to LGA, government should restrain itself and only provide for what he deems “core” needs, including public safety and drivable roads. Those are undeniable core city services, but as the mayor of a small town, I know my residents would say that list falls short. Minnesotans want to live in an educated community where the public library attracts both young and old. They want recreation centers where youth can find positive and safe ways to occupy their time. They want senior centers so our elderly can socialize instead of feeling abandoned. For decades, Minnesotans have viewed government as a partner, not an enemy, in achieving a quality of life that other states envy, and this has only been possible through LGA.

With all due respect to Mayor Wolf, LGA shouldn’t be paying for libraries and rec centers. If a city wants those things, then a local levy should be voted on to see if the citizens want their property taxes raised to pay for these things.

If the city decides to raise property taxes on themselves to pay for those things, then the city has made a decision to raise their own taxes. Tom Emmer and Tim Pawlenty shouldn’t be blamed for their vote to spend money on quality of life items. That’s that city’s fault and their’s alone.

This is a trend that Emmer’s $1.1 billion cut to property tax relief programs would continue, and while he is politically astute enough to say that his plan would not eliminate LGA, because he knows the program is the lifeblood for the communities in which most voters live, his rationalization for deep LGA cuts is more self-serving to his small government ideology than to the families and small business who see their property tax bills climb and city services disappear. In the case of LGA, government has improved the quality of life for Minnesotans across the state, and that’s a hard reality to digest if your vision for the future relies on casting government as the villain.

Mayor Wolff should re-examine his city’s spending priorities before criticizing Rep. Emmer. LGA shouldn’t be used for quality of life expenditures like parks, recreation departments and libraries.

QUESTION: Has Mayor Wolff considered the fact that it’s just a matter of time before libraries are extinct because entire collegiate libraries are being digitized and put on the internet?

Has Mayor Wolff tried leading on the issue of spending money on needs first before spending taxpayers’ money on quality of life projects? If he hasn’t, why hasn’t he?

Just because that’s been the cities’ habit seemingly forever doesn’t mean that the cities didn’t pick up some bad budgeting habits. Taxpayers are sending the unmistakingly clear message that they’re tired of spendaholic, business-as-usual governance. They want responsive government, not governments that tell the people what’s demanded.

Mayor Wolff needs to understand that he doesn’t have the right to demand tons of money from me just because he’s gotten addicted to spending LGA money on niceties.

The bottom line is this: If mayors didn’t spend money they don’t have on niceties, we wouldn’t need the Obama and Dayton tax increases. If employers knew that their tax burden and their regulatory burden weren’t increasing, the American economy would start growing at a much livelier pace.

Simply put, we can’t afford spendaholic politicians like President Obama, Sen. Dayton and Mayor Wolff. If we want a real economy, we need to cut spending, reduce regulations and make permanent the Bush tax cuts.

If we did those three things, the economy would’ve rebounded quickly.

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Just when Democrats thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. This time, they’ve got to worry that they’re losing Robert Byrd’s Senate seat:

Republican John Raese has edged ahead of West Virginia’s popular Democratic Governor Joe Manchin for the first time in the state’s special U.S. Senate race.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely West Virginia Voters finds Raese earning 48% support to Manchin’s 46% when leaners are included. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided.

RCP’s Sean Trende just tweeted that Manchin’s problem is that West Virginians like him as governor but they don’t like President Obama’s agenda.

By electing Raese, West Virginians get the best of both worlds: Manchin stays governor and Raese votes against President Obama’s agenda, especially Cap and Tax.

The question now becomes which races the DSCC can’t pour resources into. They’ve got a ton of races where their longtime incumbents are in trouble or where the incumbent’s successor is in trouble. (Think Connecticut.) Patty Murray and Barbara Boxer aren’t in great shape either.

The other thing that’s gotta scare Democrats is that, with big turnouts for the House races, those turnouts might tip an extra Senate race or two.

UPDATE: When I started this post, I thought that things were bad for the Democrats. After reading Ed’s post, I’ll now admit that it could be worse:

House and Senate Democrats are increasingly competing against one another over a small universe of deep-pocketed donors who could make a financial difference in the final stretch before the midterm elections.

In some cases, donors report that they are being urged to fund Senate campaigns at the expense of the House, where Democrats are in danger of losing their majority.

One House Democratic fundraiser said that some Senate operatives are telling big donors and union officials, “The House is lost; you have to save the Senate.”

I’d love hearing Ruy Texeira’s take on the Emerging Democrat Majority now.

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Based on Quinnipiac’s latest polling, that sure seat that Democrats were counting on in Connecticut is anything but sure:

Propelled by Connecticut likely voters who say they are “angry” with government, former wrestling executive Linda McMahon, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, is closing in on Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat, and now trails just 49-46 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 51-45 percent Blumenthal lead in a September 14 likely voter survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, conducted by live interviewers.

In today’s survey, 4 percent are undecided and 9 percent of voters who name a candidate say they could change their mind by Election Day. Blumenthal leads 89-9 percent among Democrats. McMahon leads 80-16 percent among Republicans. Independent voters shift from 47-46 percent for Blumenthal September 14 to 49-44 percent for McMahon today. In a gender reversal, women back Blumenthal 56-39 percent while men back McMahon 52-44 percent.

The momentum is unmistakeable. Blumenthal is a blah candidate in that he’s the type who’s checked off all the traditional boxes but who doesn’t have a clue about solving this nation’s problems. That type of candidate will have a terrible time this year.

That’s because the nation is in peril economically. People don’t care if candidates have checked of all the right traditional boxes on the resume. They care whether the candidate has solutions that will change the course of our economy.

In this economy, people are more apt to vote for a woman who’s been the CEO of a growing company because she’s dealt with all the things that go into creating a great economy.

I won’t make a prediction yet but if the next poll shows this trend continuing, then I’ll move this race into the leans Republican category.

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The Obama administration’s characterization of the tax debate is to talk about tax cuts as though extending the U.S. government’s current tax policies is cutting taxes. That’s insulting to thinking people. If the Pelosi-Reid Congress doesn’t extend the U.S. government’s current tax policies signed into law in 2001 and 2003, or if President Obama vetoes such a bill, the new policy should be called what it really is: the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Tax Increases.

The Heritage Foundation and the IHS Global Insight Macroeconmic Model have put together a study showing the impact that letting the Bush tax cuts would have on job creation. For instance, their study of Minnesota’s Sixth District would lose an average of 1,945 jobs annually and, per household, $6,473 in total disposable personal income between 2011-2020.

If that happens, the middle class will suffer while “the rich” just ride the policy out. Mr. Dayton says that he just wants “the rich” to pay their fair share in justifying his tax-the-rich scheme. Apparently, Mr. Dayton hasn’t figured it out that tax fairness doesn’t help the middle class.

Whether the taxes being increased are federal or state, the effect is the same. Reducing the profit margins of Minnesota’s job creators will cause them to reduce entrepreneurial activity, something that hurts everyone.

From a political standpoint, it’s totally foolish to not vote on the Bush tax cuts. Some DC pundits say that it just opens incumbent politicians to questioning whether they’ll vote to extend all of the tax cuts or just a portion of the current tax policy.

I’m not convinced of that. With voters questioning Democrats’ veracity, I wouldn’t be surprised if voters didn’t just assume that these incumbents wouldn’t vote for only part of the tax cuts. The only people who’d be spared would be the Democrats that signed the letter to President Obama stating that they favor keeping all of the current tax policies in place.

By not voting, Pelosi and Reid are giving voters a reason to vote against incumbent Democrats.

That’s without considering the fact that Democrats were so unserious that they didn’t debate extending the Bush tax policies or even bother writing legislation that could be debated.

By not even meeting that minimal threshold, they’re essentially telling the American people that they’re irresponsible and unwilling to even perform the most basic functions of governing.

At a time when unemployment is 9.6 percent and with the biggest tax increase in U.S. history looming, voters will question Democrats when they talk about jobs.

If Bush’s tax cuts expire, unemployment will jump, triggering the next recession. If that recession hits, Obama can forget about re-election. If there’s another recession, alot of Democrats will lose their Senate seats.

The bottom line is this: if President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid don’t extend Bush tax policies, they’re essentially throwing their incumbents under the bus.

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