Rubio’s Gamble

thMarco Rubio’s announcement to run for President surprised few Monday.  Rubio, a rising star in the party, had been considered a top-tier contender for the White House.  Still, despite being a top-tier challenger, Rubio will need some things to go his way.

Rubio is widely considered everybody’s second choice.  He fills all the requirements for a GOP Presidential contender, young, a Hispanic, charismatic, conservative and a contrast to the Democratic pols of yesterday.

But Rubio is also considered everybody’s second choice for a number of reasons.  First, Rubio’s appeal is to the establishment with the ability to win some conservatives.  But, Bush’s run is sucking the oxygen out of the room.  Second, Rubio has struggled to recover from his Immigration Reform effort and as a result he has been branded as a supporter of “amnesty.”  Lastly, Rubio’s lack of legislative achievements unlike a Scott Walker make his appeal to a white, conservative electorate harder to achieve.

But obviously Rubio’s campaign sees an opening for the candidate.  So what is it?  Running a campaign on the idea somebody must falter for you to win seems far-fetched.  Odds are good Rubio’s campaign will be based on his appeal on the stump and his message.

Listening to Rubio’s announcement speech it is very clear just how strong his appeal is.  His message is one that speaks to the greatness of America and out of all the Presidential announcements his was the most hopeful.  And that is Rubio’s appeal.  He speaks to the opportunity America provides and its greatness.

Contrast this with the other GOP candidates.  Paul’s message is more about reform, Cruz’s is based on Christian values, and the likely campaigns of Walker and Bush will be turning the page on the Obama years.  Rubio really does want to look past these points and look forward.

Whether such a message can succeed or not is debatable.  The Presidential nominating contest is partly based on the personal stories of the candidates but also money, ideas and ideology.  Rubio won’t lack on the first but he may struggle on the second and third.

Bush is likely to garner the majority of establishment cash and Cruz and Walker, heck even Paul, will likely get the lion share of the grassroots donations.  This leaves Rubio to fight for his sliver of dough from both categories.

Ideologically, Rubio fits well into the GOP mainstream.  He has opposed deficit spending bills, like Paul and Cruz, and he fits well into the ideological spectrum of the GOP according to 538.  But his failure on Immigration Reform has badly hurt him among the grassroots.  Perhaps permanently.

Regardless, Rubio has to be the first major contender to announce.  Cruz may make arch conservatives happy but his appeal to moderates in the primary and general election is abysmal.  Paul, while a strong candidate has yet to prove he can broaden his support beyond his father’s constituency.  Rubio, on the other hand, despite his weaknesses, is a stronger candidate.






Just Another State of the Union Under Obama

SPEECH-articleLargeYa know, I remember watching Bush’s SOTU in 2008 and remarking about how much crap he spewed.  Our economy is great.  Aha.  The wars are going well.  Yep.  The list went on.. I don’t remember having a similar feeling until Obama’s speech last night.

The rhetoric Obama spat out was full of lofty goals and ambitions that made his allies swoon and his opponents blanch.  To most Americans it was probably a blah, blah speech for several reasons.

First, the speech was divorced from reality.  The President spoke of our “crisis” ending.  Wait, the “crisis” is over when a study says over half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.  It’s over when the majority of jobs being created are low wage jobs in the low-end  part of the service sector.  Most Americans know this.  It is why they are immune to claims the economy is booming.

Second, Obama came off as cocky.  This is kinda funny considering his party got shellacked and they lost Senate seats in blue Iowa and purple Colorado.  Oh, and they lost seats in the red states of Nevada and New York.  The White House apparently believes this is due to low turnout.  Oh wait, more people voted in Iowa and Colorado than did in 2010.  Darn!

Understandably, Obama is feeling renewed because he has a bunch of fancy policies to spout on about and his numbers are up.  But his tenor came off almost as belligerent and though the speech was not purely partisan it struck one as being more about vetos than bipartisanship.

Third, most Americans are not politically astute.  But they are not dumb.  So when the President says we all need to play by the same rules liberals cheer and conservatives boo.  The middle yawns.  Why?  Because even they know special interests are more powerful than ever under Obama.

Under this administration unions, renewable energy companies, his wealthy donors, unions, the auto companies, the list goes on, have been able to play under one set of rules.  Those other rich people and the rest of America don’t get too.

Now, to be fair, the President did actually put out a fair number of ideas.  Some he had already leaked like the .1% tax on high-end financial transactions (of course we all know this never would hit the middle class’s 401Ks) and 2 years of free community college.  Other ideas he had hinted at before the speech; 12 weeks paid maternity leave, infrastructure spending, paid apprenticeships and a higher minimum wage.

And again, to be fair, some of these ideas do have bipartisan support.  The infrastructure spending idea is not opposed by the GOP.  Nor is a minimum wage hike.  The GOP just wants states to do it and not the Federal government.  Further, some of the middle class tax cuts the President supports by hiking taxes on the wealthy are not foreign to the GOP.  House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan supports doubling the EITC and increasing the child tax credit.  He just does not like hiking taxes on anybody.

Lastly, the President spoke of fairness.  But his administration has been anything but fair.  Has it been fair for the VA vets denied care under his watch?  Or conservative political groups?  What about the wealthy that have been demonized endlessly for not paying enough?  Or the poor that cannot work more than 29 hours because of Obama’s health insurance mandate?  On a sidenote, this might be why a family struggles to live on a minimum wage (though they do qualify for federal food stamps and other programs).

Ultimately, the President’s speech was high on rhetoric and little else.  Americans know the economy is far from recovered.  Voters sent a message to Obama last year by voting for a Republican and even liberals and moderates who did NOT vote.  Apparently, the President did not hear it.

The State of the Union Speech Obama Should Have Given

Obama SOTU-thumb-500x356-3669My fellow Americans, gathered Representatives, Senators and Supreme Court Justices,  Mr. Speaker and Mr. Vice President I come to speak to you from the people’s House.  I speak to you about the state of our country, its struggles and its future endeavors and most importantly acknowledge my failures.

For six years I have blamed my predecessor for this country’s economic ills.  Not a day has gone by I don’t thank him for being my punching bag.  When I became President well over 65% of all working age adults were in the workforce.  Today that number is 63%, the lowest since pre-WWII levels.  The youth unemployment rate for 16-19 year olds sits at 20.2% while 20-24 year old unemployment is at 11.1%.  Under my watch household income has shrunk while I have cozied up to the insurance companies and big banks to ensure I have a ready-made talking point about solving inequality.  Despite the overall unemployment sitting at 6.7%, unemployment in minority communities is at an all-time high while white unemployment has barely nudged down from where it was when I became President.  The unemployment rate for those looking for full-time work is well over double-digits.

On Healthcare I have ensured the US Healthcare system is an utter disaster.  Under my watch over five million people have lost their insurance while the majority of enrollees to Obamacare are Medicaid enrollees.  Though I promised that young people would sign up for Healthcare plans under the exchanges a mere 20% of all exchange enrollees are the young. In fact I fudged the numbers to include those that have only shopped for an insurance plan (not even bought it yet).   I promised the program would run smoothly and efficiently but I guess I over-promised.  Sorry.  I should have guessed that going against public opinion, ignoring the ideas of the other party and mandating dozens of new taxes, laws and Constitutional violations would not go well.  Whoops!

On education I have ensured that many minority children in DC do not have access to a quality education in accredited charter schools.  I closed down the city’s charter school system which many city residents supported. The result being that DC test results have dropped dramatically.  I am also ensuring that children in urban New Orleans do not have the same opportunity as my Attorney General has sued Louisiana for actually wanting to educate its kids.  Nationally, I have repackaged the No Child Left Behind Act under my own name and thrown some grants into the mix for fun.  Today, little has changed except states are now revolting against my top down NCLB replacement, Race to the Top. I believe pre-K education should be offered to every kid in America but I have no idea how to pay for it. Lastly, I have done nothing to address the rising costs of college education or work with schools to find ways to address student debt.

On the deficit and spending I would have created a nightmare scenario for our country if not for the GOP.  After opposing my Stimulus Package in 2009 which added billions to the baseline budget, the Sequester in 2011 and the budget shutdown of 2013 a few months ago, spending levels have been brought back to FY 2008 levels.  All this while I did everything in my power to attack them for hating kids, women and seniors.  Nice job guys!  Under my Presidency the deficit has grown far faster than any other President.  Despite polls showing the public supporting entitlement reform and simplifying the tax code I refuse to support entitlement reform.  Meanwhile, I have allowed the IRS to pass hundreds of new rules and regulations as well as illegally target conservative groups.

On energy I have blocked the Keystone Pipeline to make my union and environmentalist buddies happy.  I wonder why the Canadian Prime Minister is mad?  I have ordered the EPA to wage a war on coal so that energy costs skyrocket.  I have instructed the Department of Energy to hand out subsidies to failed companies like Solyndra and distorted the free market by offering massive tax rebates for those that buy electric cars.  Hmm, I wonder why they are still expensive today?

Now onto the challenges we face today.  Many challenges await us: income inequality, combating terrorism, protecting the middle class and ensuring a strong economy.  Well, all I can say is that you can put your faith in government.  I mean, didn’t you see the Life of Julie documentary that was put out showing how the government can take care of women?  Just trust us, after all we have done such a bang up job on the economy and Healthcare.  Oh, I should mention this though, I plan to use the power of this office to further ignore the views of Americans and bypass Congress (you guys don’t matter anyways if you don’t agree with me).

So in closing I want to say thank you to the American public for not listening to me ramble for 65 minutes, (even I would not want to listen to me talk for that long) reelecting me after I turned my opponent into the second coming of the devil and for giving me another term.  I mean how else can I ensure that the government will meddle in your affairs while my party and I get votes by simply saying the GOP “hates women.”

So my fellow Americans thank you again for listening.  I know I didn’t listen to you in 2009 and 2010, did not last year and will not for the rest of my term but I am cooler than you so all is good.  Here I have laid out a vision for how to make our country great with more government, more spending and policies that damage the economy and deny kids a good education.  I hope you join with me and help me implement this government centered agenda.  Thank you and God bless America!

First Presidential debate: Post analysis

I will freely admit I did not watch the first Presidential debate live yesterday.  I got up early Thursday (think 5:30) to watch it before I headed off to work.  I had watched some network analysis for about an hour after the debate and many pundits concluded Romney won.  What I did not suspect until I watched the debate was by how much.

It was obvious just by Romney’s body language he was going to come out of the gate strong and he did.  His points began clear and concise and that did not change.  For the first 15 to 20 minutes Obama appeared to hold his own.  But then something changed.  I am not sure what but Obama began to look tired, irritated, deflated and confused all at once (not an easy feat).

Obama’s attacks on Romney were easily deflected and Romney drove home his attacks on the President in a respectiful but firm way.  He politely talked over the moderator, at times, to get his points across.  For the record I thought Jim Lehrer did a credible job with an extremely rigid and stupid format.

Pre-debate the press had seemed to center on two themes.  First, Romney’s campaign was flailing and his back was against the wall.  He had to do something about it by winning the debate.  Second, the media placed unusually high expectations on the President.  Indeed, polls taken before the debate showed the public thought Obama was a better debater than Romney.  Oh how that view has likely changed.

Getting back to the debate Romney did four things in the debate (beyond winning) that I thought were crucial for his campaign.  First, he showed command of the issues in a way his stump campaign speeches have not.  Second, he showed a more moderate and bipartisan side to the general electorate than they have seen portrayed in ads.  Third, he humanized himself by mentioning time and time again the struggles of everyday Americans.  For the President’s part, he waited almost thirty minutes to mention another human being.  Fourth, Romney appeared presidential.  His interruptions of the moderate and President were forceful, but not rude (as mentioned above).  All in all a solid debate performance for Romney.

For the President there is little to be said that is positive.  He started out well and then faltered badly.  It was almost as if he fell asleep during the debate and by the time he woke up it was too late.  He had no clear responses to attacks and his focus on Mitt Romney’s mythical $7 trillion budget deficit over four years was laughable.

For the President this poses big issues going forward.  He effectively blew his advantage in terms of presidential character and his command of the issues appeared lacking.  Voters seem to have firmly settled into ideological and partisan camps, but voters are also driven to other characteristics if they split on the issues.  Obama seemed to have the edge with many of these voters (moderates or independents) heading into the debate on substance, style and leadership points.  Does he still now?

But do not just take my word for it.  Look at the views of other prominent liberals and Democrats on the debate.  Joe Klein, writing for the Swampland, said Obama’s performance was “inept.” Renowned and sexist liberal Bill Maher said that “Obama needed a teleprompter.”  Political analyst William Galston at the Huffington Post said he expects a Romney bounce.  All this points to the fact the President ceded a huge advantage in the debate last night.

Can we say “Mitt Romney, the comeback kid?”  Because Romney sure looked like one Wednesday evening.

Another speech, another plan, and more of the same

On Monday, the White House outlined yet another plan.  This plan was even more extensive than the president’s so-called “Americans Jobs Plan.”  Legislation for that plan has yet to be forthcoming.  But I doubt legislation for Obama’s grand Deficit Reduction Plan will be coming soon either.  Considering the provisions in the plan it is very unlikely it could even pass the Democratic controlled Senate let alone the GOP dominated House.

The president’s Deficit Reduction Plan hinges on four key pillars. 1) The Deficit Reduction Committee in Congress finding at least 1.2 trillion in savings by Thanksgiving (along with finding savings for the president’s $447 billion jobs plan), 2) a whopping $1.5 trillion tax increase on the wealthy (which contrary to what the president says only generates this much revenue if those who make 200K and 250K are included), 3) a smoke and mirrors budgetary gimmick of saying winding down the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will save the country $1 trillion.  Finally, 4) $300 billion cut from Medicare in waste and fraud.  Social Security or cutting government spending apparently is off the table in this plan (unless Congress forces it).

This plan has no chance of passing.  The president knows this.  Just like he knew his jobs plan would not pass intact through Congress.  Whether the payroll tax cuts in the president’s jobs plan even get through Congress remains to be seen.  This was yet again another attempt by Obama to endear himself to his political base and draw a contrast with the GOP and their “nieve” insistence on smaller government and “no new taxes.”  But it gets better. The president promised in no uncertain terms (just like the Bush tax rate) that he would veto any plan that did not meet his liking. 

To say on policy substance this plan is a disappointment is an understatement.  Do the math in your head and you find Congress is responsible for finding amost half the savings in the president’s plan (and does not have his blessing to touch entitlements).  Another $1 trillion is based on future outlays the White House and OMB up until now did not even consider future outlays.  Finally, the true deficit reduction comes in a meager cut to Medicare over 10 years and a massive $1.5 trillion tax hike.  This is not a plan, this is a liberal’s wet dream.

It is no wonder than the left has eaten up this plan.  David Corn writing for Mother Jones applauded the president for his stance.  So did Rolling Stone Magazine.  Jonathon Chait in New York Magazine was at least honest when he titled his piece, “Obama is not trying to make a deal anymore, he is trying to win.”  Steve Kornacki, writing for Salon echoed as much in his piece “Obama settles on reelection strategy.  Gee I wonder what that strategy is? 

But greater electoral concerns remain for the president.  Even if he excites his base and makes Congressional Republicans look bad he is still in the WH when November 2012 rolls around.  Voters are unlikely to keep the same guy in office who has presided over 32 months of 8%+ employment.  Also, considering the results of NY-9 and NV-2, it is unlikely voters are going to knock the Republicans out of control of the US House.  So the president’s basic electoral problems remain, even with his base happy.  And than concerns about the president being a drag on down-ballot Democrats in tough reelections must be considered.

This plan fails on policy and on assuring the president’s election.  Hell, it has failed its main goal.  This plan never was about policy.  It was a purely partisan move.  And it shows.

Obama’s Speech: More of the same

For those who missed the president’s speech I will spare you the full transcript.  The president’s plan basically consisted of 6 pillars. 1)  The president called for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut (for employees and employers) from 7.2%-5.2%. 2) Congress needs to pass patent reform (which they all but have).  3) Sixty-two billion dollars was proposed to aid states avoid laying off “teachers, policeman and firefighters.” 4) An additional $140 billion needs to be spent on infrastructure projects such as “repairing school roofs” and “improving access to the Internet.”  5) Extend unemployment benefits to the tune of over $100 billion for another year. 6) Finally, the president called for comprehensive tax reform.

Get past the spending and policy proposals and it becomes clear however this is two things.  First, almost all these ideas have been tried before in various forms either from the GOP or Democrats.  Second, this was a purely partisan speech.  It was meant to gear up the president’s base for 2012. One might be asking him/herself how one comes to these conclusions?  Afterall, the president finally put up some policy ideas.  Isn’t that what Congress and detractors wanted?

The answer is no.  New, fresh ideas were what opponents and Congress wanted.  But the opposite was give. Look at the policies the president proposed.  Consider that already 50 Republican house members have signed onto legislation sponsoring a measure similar to the president’s in the House.  Patent reform has all but passed Congress.  On state aid and infrastructure spending, was not the $900 billion Stimulus Package supposed to do the same?  Many Americans seem to be getting to the point where they need but hate unemployment benefits.  And contrary to Nancy Pelosi’s comment, “Unemployment benefits create jobs,” they surely do not.  As for tax reform, that is not going to be done tomorrow.  That is a year-long, if not longer, process that does need to start now but is unlikely to come soon enough to boost the economy in the short-term.

This speech was blatantly partisan.  Only this president could fill a speech with so many straw men arguments and boogeyman and have the audacity to claim it was a “Jobs speech.”  Consider that Obama called on Congress to pass everything.  He left it up to Congress to find a way to off-set the debt from the new plan.  He called on Congress to pass his plan (which is not even in writing yet) and stop opposing his policies, because apparently if you do, “Opponents want to deregulate everything.”  I was unaware that opposing unchecked spending and massive bureaucracies that infringe on personal liberties was a form of “Deregulating everything.”  This speech literally dripped of Trumanesque 1948 “The do nothing Congress” references.

Look at the way Obama used the Warren Buffet secretary example.  I would consider it masterful if it was not so disgusting.  Obama cited Warren Buffet’s secretary, who pays more in taxes than Buffett does.  What Obama does not mention is that Buffet and he are on good terms and that Buffett basically puts all his assets and income in a untaxable trust.  How come the president does not call for Buffett and his buddies, the ones who helped elect him, to stop doing so?  Even as Obama was trying to fire liberals up he was trying to keep rich billionaire donors on his side for 2012.

This speech however was not notable for what it contained but rather what it did not.  Obama spoke of businesses hiring once they got a pay-roll tax credit.  Um no.  Most liberals have even acknowledge this at one point or another in the last year.  Businesses, small and large, aren’t not hiring because they lack cash, they are not hiring because they fear what new regulations will come down the pike when they hire a new employee.  No paltry 2% tax credit to hire somebody new is going to off-set the massive cost of new regulations (estimated to be around 100 billion to 1 trillion dollars) on businesses in this country.  The president completely missed his moment to keep his signature policies intact but promote a pragmatic way forward with new regulations and ease business owners valid concerns.

Then there is this to consider.  Businesses that are hiring, that require expertise in a certain area, are not hiring unemployed workers with an expertise in that area.  They are hiring from other companies.  Those companies and businesses hiring from another and so on.  Those unemployed with those jobs skills are not hired and long-term unemployed (6 months or more) face an even worse situation.  The president’s plan would do little to address this issue.  Perhaps why the unemployed had decidedly mixed views on the speech, regardless of political leanings?

Thirty five.  Thirty five minutes.  The length of the speech.  The length of the same speech we have heard time and time again.  Soaring rhetoric (to some) punctuated by the occasional already tried policy idea and numerous attacks on Congress, more specifically Congressional Republicans and apparently all the concerned American voters in this nation.  Nevermind the president never hit on the true problem that is stalling hiring and that all his policies are either pending or have been tried before.  No.  This is something new.  Something better.  Or not.

P.S.  Even more of the same has come from the president today.  The whole act will be passed by levying new taxes on oil and gas companies, those making $250,000 and above as well as on private dividends.