The $100,000 Raise

Picture this, tomorrow you march into your boss’s office and demand a $100,000 raise.  What do you think?  Would you walk out of that office with a job?  What if you demanded a $2,000 or $3,000 raise?  Perhaps that is more likely.  But it should be no shock that companies have been laying of tens of thousands of workers now that Obamacare is the permanent law of the land.

Starting in 2014, companies with 50 or more employees  must offer their employees corporate health insurance plans, or employee #50 will cost the company an additional $100,000-$150,000 in taxes.  That’s $2,000-$3,000 per person.  So if you are employee #50, you may want to brush up your resume.  In fact, if you are employee 50-100 you may be starting to sweat just a little bit.

So why won’t companies simply offer their employees health insurance?  Probably because with a price tag of $16,000 per family for a corporate plan, it simply isn’t economical.  Companies could pay their employees the $5,000 or so for a private plan through a defined contribution benefit package as Sears, Darden Restaurants and others are opting to do, but that does not save them from the $100,000+ tax.  Imagine being able to get money from your company to go out and buy your very own tailored healthcare plan where single men don’t have to pay for maternity and women don’t have to insure against testicular cancer.  Unfortunately, the insurance lobby was able to convince Obama that personal choice is a bad idea.

I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that companies who are laying off en masse are doing so only to protest the Obama re-election.  Yes, that’s right, companies are intentionally hurting themselves to show Obama how upset they are.  Really??  That would be like suggesting a pro-choice lesbian would get knocked up and have a baby to protest a Romney win.

It’s more like this, if a company can’t afford to pay $16,000 per family in health insurance coverage, they just might lay off 200 workers in order to save between $400,000 and $600,000.  By the way, most small businesses with 5o employees can’t afford  $100,000 in additional taxes.

If you think companies are just bitter and that is why job losses are up 78,000 since the election, consider this: with Obamacare companies just saved $156 million by laying off those 78,000 workers.  Obama is incentivizing layoffs by taxing employment.

Why Obama/Biden are Scared of Romney/Ryan

The morning of the Ryan pick, Obama already had a graphic up from the “truth” team declaring that Ryan was going to raise taxes on 95% of Americans, ban birth control, end Medicare, end green energy, and so on.  The only things they left out were shoving Grandma off a cliff in her wheelchair and poisoning us with e.coli.  But why go overboard when Mitt Romney can already use cancer to kill people.

On the other hand, word on the street is that Biden had to change his pants after the 60 minutes interview with Romney and Ryan.

It’s not that Obama is the one that cut $700 billion out of Medicare.  It’s not that Obama’s green energy initiatives remind everyone of Solyndra.  It’s not that Obama is lying when he says Romney/Ryan would raise taxes on 95% of Americans.   It’s not that Most Americans don’t want to force pro-lifers to pay for other people’s $5 birth control that destroys after conception.  It’s more that Ryan is smarter and more articulate than the other three on the tickets.

Don’t hate me, Palin fans, but Ryan is not a cheerleader.  He is a teacher.  He turns platitudes into tangible facts that people can hold on to.  Obama and the Democrats are running around with the mantra that Ryan will get rid of Medicare.  But anyone who is paying attention knows that it was Obama who cut popular programs like Medicare advantage.

Ryan, on the other hand, wants to give seniors the same options for healthcare that Congress has.  He wants to put choices in their hands.  The scary thing about Ryan is that he actually is understandable on these points, and he has the credibility.  No one has worked more on the US budget and solutions to Medicare, Social Security, and healthcare than Paul Ryan.

Democrats aren’t scared that Biden is an inarticulate gaffe machine.  They have the media on their side.  All Biden has to do is coherently string ten words together in a debate without telling someone in a wheelchair to stand up or make an Indian 7/11 joke and the press will announce he exceeded expectations.

Democrats are scared because the media can only do so much.  Eventually Paul Ryan will be heard, and he speaks a language even independents can understand.

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No Silver Lining – Obamacare Taxes the Poor

We passed the bill, and even now we are still finding out what is in it.  When Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass the 2,700 page healthcare bill to find out what was in it, that’s because nobody really knew.  Turns out they missed something big.  If a state can’t pay the $2 billion to set up a state run health insurance exchange and passes on that portion of the law, the federal government cannot provide the poor in that state with health insurance tax credits.  In other words, if states spend their limited resources on teachers, roads, police, firemen, and libraries instead of building one of Obama’s bureaucratic insurance exchanges, the poor not only don’t get help buying health insurance, but then have to pay the penalty tax for not buying health insurance.

If $695 in penalty taxes is enough to bankrupt a homeless person, than you can count Obama’s claim that no one would ever face bankruptcy for medical reasons again as one more broken promise.

There is a provision for the federal government to set up a national exchange for states who don’t or can’t spend the money to build their own.  However, a simple mistake in the law, or possibly an intentional penalty, only allows for federal tax credits to individuals in states with state run exchanges.  Perhaps Obama thought that by the time the law was implemented states would be able to shell out an additional $2 billion to pay for it.

Personally, I support Governor Scott’s decision to use that $2 billion to keep Florida from having to lay off teachers in our already hurting school districts.

Add this unforced error to Obamacare and there are few silver linings left for most Americans. Families can keep their kids on their health insurance up to age 26, but in many cases these “kids” are either old enough to be out on their own or are still students and could actually get student health insurance plans for far cheaper than the cost of being added on to their parent’s plan.  At the same time, the cost of adding 25 year olds to family plans has helped raise rates for everyone.  There is the tax credit for small businesses, but a tax credit for businesses with 15 or fewer employees who make less than $50,000 but can still afford to provide health insurance and pay an accountant who knows how to figure the credit are few and far in between.

When the health insurance taxes are fully implemented and the price of health insurance shoots high enough, no one will get health insurance until they get sick.  In states that can’t afford exchanges, the poor won’t get insurance either.  The very problem Obamacare sought to fix, that of middle class and poor “free-loaders” who either can’t afford insurance or decide not to buy it, will be made infinitely worse by Obamacare.

One more thing to add to this mess is that many states can’t afford the Medicaid expansion either.  Liberals are scratching their heads trying to figure out why states would forgo more Medicaid money.  But it’s like this: picture if someone with a million dollars in debt invited you to have steak dinner with him at the most expensive restaurant in town.  The two stipulations are this, first you have to pay half, second you have to then do the same thing for every dinner for the rest of your life.  And if this man with a million dollars of debt can no longer afford his half, you’re stuck with it.  Would you accept the offer of “free” steak?  State’s can’t afford their half of the Medicaid expansion, and they certainly know Uncle Sam can’t afford his share either.

In the end, Obamacare is bad news for the majority of Americans.

The Student Vote

There is a truth that Obama will have to face in 2012.  The majority of reasons students voted for Obama in 2008 are irrelevant or evaporated in 2012.  He is not running for the historical title of first black President in 2012.  He did not close Gitmo or bring our troops home, in fact he started a war in Libya.  He did not provide free health insurance for all.  Most of all, he has done nothing to guarantee all these sociology and philosophy graduates jobs when they graduate.

John McCain was not inspiring for student voters.  He was old, determined to win the wars America got into, white, male, loved America, and he was a Republican.  Students have it drilled into their heads that this represents the great satan.

Romney may not be the next great satan to the educational institution, but he certainly isn’t the hip symbol of progressive diversity that Obama was.  However, Romney doesn’t need to win the student vote.  He just needs Obama to lose it.

Obama is still popular with teachers, who by and large are enslaved to their unions and engrained socialism.  But students now have a record to go on, and the novelty has worn off.  The funny thing about students is that they tend to be idealistic purists as often as they are naively ignorant.  The same student who would trade an A for a six pack might also skip the Avengers movie because certain details don’t conform to the comic books.  Obama is certainly not everything American students hoped and dreamed about.  In fact, students who are honest with themselves would realize Obama is nothing that they hoped and dreamed for.

Obama has a special sort of hypocrisy that attentive students will sniff out.  Obama might flash his environmental credentials to a crowd of students, but then in front of business owners he touts how oil extraction has increased under his Presidency even if he had nothing to do with it.  He might tell students how he is bringing our troops home, but then he celebrates excursions into Pakistan to kill terrorists and Libya to do nation building.  He may make overtones to the gay community and talk about equal rights, but look how fast his administration is throwing Biden under the bus for endorsing gay marriage.  Perhaps in 2008, young students might be fooled.  But now Obama has a record.

Obama can’t even win on student loan rates since he demonstrated those take second place to his healthcare legacy.  Republicans wrote a bill to keep student loan interest rates low, but Obama has opposed the bill since it is paid for by tapping a special fund created by his healthcare law.  Obama would rather pay for it by borrowing more from China, which will cause interest rates to balloon even more in the long term.

The difference between a student voter and nearly any other of Obama’s target groups is that as purists students will not vote for the lesser of two evils.  Students won’t vote for Obama just to keep Romney out of office.  They have been taught two things very well: follow your heart, and your vote doesn’t count.  This frees them to vote for Rosie O’Donnell, write in their dorm-mate’s name, or skip the voting booth altogether to stay home and put those free morning after pills to good use.

Can Obama afford to lose the student vote?  Not if you believe the statisticians who put the student vote at 1/5th of the population.  A significant decline in this voting block for Obama means Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia,  and Colorado, even if they simply stay home.

A remarkable success by Santorum – a devastating night for Team Romney

Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum claimed a remarkable trifecta of wins and massive surge of momentum by sweeping Mitt Romney in all three contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

Santorum’s victories are all the more remarkable considering Romney’s advantage in financing and organization. Tuesday’s results included losses in two states – Colorado and Minnesota – that he won in his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Minnesota also became the first state where Romney did not end up in first or second place despite having the support of former presidential candidate and State Governor Tim Pawlenty.

The stunning results by Santorum have raised fresh doubts about whether establishment favourite and perceived frontrunner Romney, can in fact win a General election or even the nomination itself after struggling to get support from the party’s conservative base.

Santorum has now finished first in four of the first eight primaries and caucuses, after his narrow victory over Romney in Iowa’s caucuses on January 3.

The former senator said his campaign was already bringing in more donations, an important consideration for a candidate who trails far behind Romney in the fund-raising race.

As he has before, Romney had seemed on track to win the nomination after big wins in Nevada and Florida last week. He had been expected to win easily in Colorado and did little campaigning in Minnesota and Missouri.

In Minnesota’s caucuses, Santorum won with 45 percent of the vote. But the state became the first this year in which Romney did not finish first or second. Congressman Ron Paul was in second place with 27 percent and Romney was third at 17 percent.

Santorum trounced Romney by 30 percentage points in Missouri, 55 percent to 25 percent. That vote was a non-binding primary, but has symbolic value as a measure of support in a big Midwestern state.

The race was closer in Colorado where Santorum won by 5 percentage points over Romney, 40 percent to 35 percent.

Santorum in his victory speech also appeared more presidential then before, setting up a contrast between himself and President Obama as more of the aloof and arrogant policies from a person out of touch with the American people, or a true conservative alternative who will listen to the voice of the people. Santorum essentially positioned himself as the champion of the American people, economic policy, social values, and defender of the constitution and first amendment in particular. It was a passionate and heartfelt speech that connected with the audience.

“I don’t stand here to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama,” Santorum said. On health care, cap and trade and the Wall Street bailout, he charged, “Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama.”

Romney addressing his supporters said, “This was a good night for Rick Santorum. I want to congratulate Senator Santorum and wish him the very best. We’ll keep on campaigning down the road, but I expect to become our nominee with your help.”

I asked the question in a recent article about Mitt Romney – What does he stand for? (worldviewtonight.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/romney-florida-an-expected-success-can-he-stand-up-to-the-obama-machine/)

The reason I asked the question was not out of any dislike for Romney, I admire a lot about Governor Romney and his business success in particular. The reason I asked the question was that Team Romney were very effective at attacking President Obama and Newt Gingrich with his powerful advertising spending however; I honestly didn’t know what his vision for America was and where he stood on the key issues of the day.

Team Romney will need to have a very detailed reassessment of their strategy going forward. The tried and tested approach of going negative on his opponents, and touting his business experience combined with large rallies, has left voters and supporters devoid of enthusiasm for his candidacy.

Romney’s speech last night was almost parrot fashion repetition of his talking points from the last week. He is failing to connect with the ordinary voter and too often has appeared rehearsed and uncomfortable when put in personal one to one interviews. Romney will need to throw off the consultant shackles and be more energetic, more personal and more natural on the campaign trail or face certain defeat.

Ironically, despite his poor showing in contests which he barely contested, Santorum’s victories may also be good news for former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Team Romney will now need to develop a strategy to attack Santorum and need Gingrich to stay in the race. The longer Gingrich stays in the race, the longer it will split the conservative vote. Three weeks out of the cross hairs for Gingrich may enable him to lay the ground work for a series of victories himself on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

The Romney strategy was based on spending massive early to knock-out his rivals and claim the nomination early before turning his attention towards President Obama. Last night’s remarkable series of wins by Santorum, now appears to have changed the GOP race into a near certain long drawn out affair, and even if Romney prevails as the nominee, his chances of defeating President Obama in the race for the White House in November have been damaged.

There are three winners from last night’s results. Santorum’s victories give him the momentum he needs going forward and hopefully an injection of much needed financial support. They give President Obama renewed confidence that former Governor Romney is not as strong an opponent as initially believed and the longer the race GOP race on, the more damaged he will become. Finally, it gives Gingrich hope and time to re-organise his campaign and ground work ahead of Super Tuesday to deliver a series of southern victories himself.

A bad night for Romney.

You’re the Nominee – “The Donald” endorses Mitt

Dynamic Businessman – Donald Trump turned the Republican presidential race into a scene resembling one of his Apprentice shows by keeping everyone guessing on whom he would endorse for president. The rumours had been back and forth that he would endorse Newt Gingrich, then it was leaked that he would endorse Mitt Romney however, in true Trump fashion, he kept everyone waiting until the end before confirming his support behind Mitt Romney.

The Romney campaign did not release their public schedule until Thursday morning in an unusual move for them and even then their 20:30hrs GMT slot stood vague, offering only: “Romney for President Event. TBD Location. Las Vegas, Nevada.” Mr. Romney will appear with Mr. Trump at his Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Trump have not always enjoyed the strongest of relationships with Romney as recent as December, referring to Trump as a real estate mogul and reality television star and declined an invitation to attend a Republican debate, which “The Donald” had planned to host, but was later cancelled after other candidates pulled out and included a very public spat with Jon Huntsman.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump suggested the Romney camp would be releasing an official statement soon, and in manner typical of Trump showmanship, said, “I strongly suggest you be there no matter what.”

Trump is a controversial figure and the world’s greatest self-promoter however, like him or loath him, he brings considerable media attention where ever he speaks and when he speaks. Trump did toy with the idea of entering the race last year himself and actually led the polls prior to pulling out with catchy sound bites on U.S. trade policy being weak towards China and regarding Iran. Trump has been one of the most vocal critics of President Obama and his economic record as president. He has made no secret of his concern about the direction and future of America under another four year Obama term and has also criticised the president on the polarising approach to his presidency and his failure to unite American’s in a common cause.

Trump promised to “push our president and the country’s policy makers to address the dire challenges arising from our unsustainable debt structure and increasing lack of global competitiveness.” Following his announcement last May, that he would not be a candidate for the GOP nomination, Trump welcomed other hopefuls to his office at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue for strategy sessions. Romney made the trek, as did former candidates Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry. Gingrich visited in December when he was topping polls in Iowa and nationally.

Trump’s weeks of will-he-or-won’t-he run last year, stole the media coverage and his decision to question the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate, caused such a news media firestorm that the White House was forced to publicly release the document. A feat even Hillary Clinton her campaign team had failed to achieve during the heated Democratic primary campaign four years ago.

Many will question the impact of a Trump endorsement, I believe it will not have a considerable impact on Republican voters, but most certainly on Independent voters where Romney has an increasing negativity rating in recent weeks, due to his attack ads in Iowa and Florida against Gingrich. Trump will be able to command a media audience and spotlight that no other previous endorser of Romney could hope to deliver. The media love “The Donald” and he equally loves them.

Trump said he made the decision after getting to know Romney after meeting with him several times in the past few months and it was his real honour to endorse Mitt Romney. He said Mitt was tough, his smart and he’s sharp and he’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to the country. Trump also cited Romney’s performances in presidential debates and his tough stance on China and OPEC as reasons for his support.

It is certain that Trump’s announcement has all but ruled out a third-party run for the White House which he threatened if the wrong GOP candidate was selected to run as the nominee. One would also have to say that with Trump’s ability to command a media audience and great communication ability, Speaker Gingrich’s hopes of winning the nomination appear to be dwindling by the day now. It will come down to his performance in the Lone Star state of Texas on 3 April, 2012. A poor showing by Gingrich in Texas will effectively finish his campaign and hand Romney the nomination.

Where is America’s Fighting Spirit? Ending the Malaise Presidency

These days it seems Captain America has been overpowered by MalaiseMan. President Obama is MalaiseMan. He told a fundraiser on Tuesday, October 25 that America is in decline, which is the central theme of his presidency. People are buying it too, which is what the Occupy Wall Street movement and Tea Party is a symptom of; they are two sides of a coin that says America is in decline.

More MalaiseMan than Captain America

This takes us back to the evening of July 15, 1979. Gas prices had skyrocketed, there were severe shortages and the endless economic decline seemed much longer than the lineups at gas stations. Carter preached, “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.”

We have heard similar malaise from President Obama. In fact, where Carter spent hours and days at Camp David in what Reagan biographer Steven Hayward tagged “the most remarkable exercise in presidential navel-gazing in American history” and delivered his message in minutes, President Obama decided in minutes and is spending days and hours preaching malaise.

It is being believed on the streets. The Hill newspaper reports that over two-thirds of voters say the United States is declining, and the next generation will be worse off, with 83 percent of voters worried about the future of the nation. Their results conclude that Americans don’t view the country’s current economic and political troubles as temporary; they see this decline as stretching out for years.

President Obama’s policies tap into the malaise, which is why he has managed an economy of decline, failing on jobs, the deficit, healthcare, home foreclosures and rising gas prices.

However, there are signs of improvement. Economic growth in America picked up in the last quarter, showing signs of some recovery as the nation’s total output of goods and services grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent from July to September, almost double the 1.3 percent rate in the previous quarter.

This is because the economy has its own laws of gravity: what goes down will get back up again. The economy does this, not the government. We have become so risk averse we want the nanny state to kiss us better every time the economy hurts us. The President Obama re-election campaign is one of kissing everyone better, what is the Republican message?

Ronald Reagan defeated Carter by offering Americans a vision that was so optimistic it cancelled out Carter’s pessimism. The economy will improve, and a Republican needs to get the message across that America will return to full strength with a gleam of defiance in its eye, not a tear of pity. Which candidate can do this? Which candidate can bring on Captain America to defeat MalaiseMan?

The GOP Debate Disconnect

Moments ago, the Republican candidates finished yet another debate.  This time, CNN and the TEA Party Express were the odd couple sponsors.  Blitzer was in liberal heaven, getting every question the left wanted the candidates to quarrel about on the record.  But there were some very bright spots, which brings us to our debate winner:

I call Newt as winner

Newt Gingrich.  The GOP debate disconnect seems to be how Newt consistently delivers stellar debate performances, and in fact directs the flow of the debate away from where the moderators want to go, and yet continues to flounder in the polls.  Other candidates were taking their cues from Newt, and Newt was again successfully making the case that every candidate on that stage was better than Obama.  At the same time, he was showing why at least in debates, he is the best candidate on the stage.  Newt hit a couple home runs.  The first was in the Social Security squabble between Perry and Romney where Newt reminded us that it was Barack Obama who threatened twice to cancel Social Security checks if Republicans didn’t vote for his liberal budget policies.  Gingrich’s second big home run came again when other candidates were arguing about job growth.  Newt pointed out that Americans create jobs, not government.  He then gave credit to other candidates for what they did to create job growth, but ultimately gave the credit to the American people.  Lastly, on green energy tax loopholes for GE, Newt destroyed Obama’s attacks on the oil industry.  Newt showed that he is the smartest and most studied candidate on the stage.  When asked about whether he would compromise with Democrats in power, his answer was perfect.  Whether or not that reflects in the polls will be seen.

Michele Bachmann was on the attack, but her strikes were good conservative strikes and they hit their

Bachmann had a good showing

targets.  Bachmann came across as the conservative constitutionalist on the stage with a balanced approach to getting our nation back to the constitution.  Her strikes landed on Perry with Social Security, and the HPV vaccinations, she struck Romney on the constitutionality of his healthcare plan, and she landed shots on Perry and Huntsman for their help to illegal aliens.  She did not come across as someone struggling to take down the frontrunners ahead of her, but more like a principled conservative attacking the liberal tendencies of her opponents.  And no one hit her back on anything.

In this debate, Santorum finished a solid third place.  I had a feeling Santorum would do well with the TEA Party audience.  He looked far more relaxed and in control than in the last debate.  He maintained his conservative credentials, but introduced a new element: how he won multiple times in a blue state.  He also was able to identify himself with some of Gingrich’s success.  Santorum hit hard on Perry’s HPV issue and delivered a deadly blow on it.  Santorum and Bachmann are key elements in where I score Perry tonight, and both walked away unscathed.

Mitt Romney took some tough shots.  But despite the tough shots, he continued to show class and to handle attacks.  He was hit hard on Social Security, and in fact his position on Social Security was easily exploitable in front of this TEA Party audience.  Overall, he did a good job at taking some clean shots and his seven things we need to do to fix the economy and budget were spot on.  Romney fell into the expected trap and tangled with Perry too much on Social Security, and Romney’s support for Federal Social Security won’t win him TEA party support.

Herman Cain did a good job, but he continues to look amateurish compared to some of the more experienced heavy hitters.  Cain did well to expound on his 999 plan this time around, and he picked up the Perry/Romney social security fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.  But other than that his performance was unremarkable.  When Newt talked about private accounts for Social Security, he connected far better than Cain’s repeating of Neal Boortz talking points on Chile and Galveston.

Perry took it on the chin

Rick Perry took another beating, and this was a good one.  On social security, HPV and illegal immigration, Perry seemed to slip into his deer in the headlights slo-mo’ mode.  Perry’s argument that his state’s version of the dream act for illegal aliens was somehow a states rights issue was off-base and will not sit well with the TEA party.  Santorum and Bachmann nailed him on HPV and that one will stick.  At the same time, Perry’s role as the attack dog against Romney has soured this race somewhat.  Perry looked kind of amused/detached for a good part of the debate.  That mixed with his slow, Texan accent will remind some voters of a previous Texas Republican Presidential candidate, however unfair that comparison may be.

Ron Paul redeemed himself somewhat from his last debate performance.  However, his dodge on the Medicare Part D question may spark some serious questions that have been lingering in the darkest cellars about Ron Paul.  Is he as much of a purist as he seems?  Instead of quickly putting Medicare Part D on the chopping block, Paul kind of hemmed and hawed about other programs that should be cut first, including his biggest applause getters of the wars, the department of education, etc.  Paul, who is normally eager to take on unconstitutional spending programs, seemed to give an “if I get to it” response on Medicare Part D, which was one of the biggest social spending programs under George W. Bush.

Jon Huntsman just has nothing left in the tank.  His good answers were echoes of other candidates, and his bad answers were echoes of Barack Obama.  His Kurt Cobain joke fell completely flat.  His tax plan sounds exactly like Obama’s.  His stance on illegal immigration was wrong.  His Afghanistan rhetoric was meant to sound like the Afghan people needed to take more responsibility, but instead came across like America just wasn’t strong enough to fight anymore.  The best thing that happened to Huntsman tonight was no one asked him about global warming.

If debates drove polls, Newt Gingrich would be the front runner after tonight.  How Perry remains such a strong front runner with debate performances like these speaks to his clout and ability to run a public campaign away from the debate stage.

Did Rick Perry Threaten Ron Paul During the Presidential Debate?

Bookmark and Share  While most of the on air sparring in last night’s Republican presidential debate took place between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, apparently there was a little brouhaha during one of the station breaks. 

As captured in the photo shown here, it was during one of these breaks that Governor Perry strode up to Ron Paul, grabbed Paul’s wrist and raised his other hand to point a finger in Paul’s face in an attempt to make a point to the Congressman.

According to RonPaul.com, here’s how it went down:

“During a commercial break at Wednesday’s Republican debate, Rick Perry and Ron Paul continued their spirited exchange on stage. Suddenly, Perry grabbed Ron Paul’s forearm while aggressively pointing his index finger towards the Congressman’s face. Alerted by Perry’s menacing gestures, Ron Paul’s bodyguard (front left) was standing by, ready to protect the Congressman.”

What exactly was said is unknown but that won’t prevent Pauliacs from trying to use the image against their feeble three time presidential candidate.  So far they are on a campaign to try and claim that Perry was threatening and intimidating Paul. 

If the photo is capturing a truly heated exchange you can rest assured that Governor  Perry most likely urged Ron Paul  to stop the blatant lies Paul’s campaign has been promulgating about Perry, including the one about Perry having been a national chairman for Al Gore.

In past debates, live streams allowed internet users to catch glimpses of the candidates and how they were interacting during commercial breaks but MSNBC’s live stream of last night’s debate did not offer such an opportunity as they simply cut the  feed during commercials.  Had they not, we might have at  least seen the Perry-Paul exchange.

So far, there is no official comment from either Paul or Perry regarding what the exchange consisted of, but that has not stopped Ron Paul fanatics from trying to lift their messiah ever higher by alleging Rick Perry assaulted their guy. 

Until it is known exactly what was said, drawing conclusions is futile, but in the end, it my be in the best interest of Ron Paul that Rick Perry’s words remain unknown because if I know Rick Perry, his words probably did not provide for the type of praise that Ron Paul  would want to duplicate in an ad promoting his candidacy. And it will probably make many Paulbots look truly stupid for their exaggerations and lies.

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Update:  The truth comes out and the Ron Paul crowd does indeed look stupid.  See the conclusion here.

The Third Major Republican Presidential Debate Starts Setting the Tone for 2012

Bookmark and Share    Watch the entire debate below this post.

 

 Last night’s presidential debate was the first one of the 2012 campaign to actually began to shape opinions and sway voters.  While most voters have not yet placed their bets, the exchanges that took place on a stage in the Air Force One wing of the Reagan Library finally began to provide voters with a true sense of the candidates, their styles, their records, and their vision.  While the program did tend to be dominated by a Perry versus Romney narrative.   The other six did get brief opportunities to shine, but few did so in any signficant way.
 
 While I will leave an in-depth analysis of the debate to other White House 2012 posts entitled “A Two Horse Race” and “Quick Debate Recap“, I will offer a few points of my own about moments in the debate that I believe were quite notable.

NBC debate moderator could not help but begin the program by entering into a statement that suggested Americans blame conservative policies for all the economic problems we are experiencing and insinuated that at the same time, most Americans do not believe President Obama’s policies are as liberal as they should be.   Not only is this incorrect, it was also another subtle but blatant editorial opinion being interjected into a conversation by a member of the lamestream media who is suppose to be impartial and non-partisan. 

Another very memorable moment in the debate can be seen about 26 minutes into the  video of  debate that is proveded  below this post.

As Politico’s John  Harris pursued a line of questioning designed to inflame an internecine ideological debate over healthcare, he through the floor open to Newt Gingrich and said;

“Well I’m frankly not interested in your efforts to get Republicans to fight against eachother…….You’d like to puff this up into some giant thing.  The fact here is that every single person up here understands Obamacare is a disaster.  It is a disaster procedural, it was rammed through after they lost Teddy Kennedy’s seat in Massachusetts, it was written badly, it was never reconciled, it can’t be implemented, it is killing this economy.  And if this President has a concern for working Americans, he’d walk in Thursday night and ask to repeal it because its a monstrosity.  Every person up here agrees with that!”……….

At that point the audience broke out into one of the largest round of applauds of the night and once the clapping died down Newt went on to say……….

” And let me just say…since I still have a little time left……….let me just say, I for one….and I hope all of my friends up here —- Are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated, and all of us are committed as a team……. Whoever the nominee is we are all committed to defeating Barack Obama”

To which the audience again broke out into another round of applause but this was even louder than the last.

It was probably one of the best statements of the night and the most real display of anger offered by any of the candidates on the stage last night.  However, it was not enough to propel Newt into the race as an immediate threat to anyone in the front of the field that he trails.  But it did renew my appreciation for Gingrich and made me realize that when the election is over, he might just be perfect as the Republican national Committee Chairman or the new President’s Press Secretary. 

 Beyond that, I again suggest that you see theexcellent analyses provided in the two White House 2012 links above and also that you see the debate by clicking on the link below.  It is a good oner that should not be missed.

Click here to see the complete debate

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Quick Debate Recap

And the winner is:

Good night for Romney

Mitt Romney.  Romney was the adult on the stage.  When the moderators tried to pick a fight between Perry and Romney, Romney put a quick end to it.  When the candidates attacked each other, Romney said that any one of them would be better than Obama.  Romney drove home the point that Obama is in over his head.  He drove that point so well that it stuck out above the fray.  Instead of seeing animosity, disagreements or even easy shots from Romney, he gave honor to Reagan’s golden rule and even offered Perry a “mulligan” on mandatory vaccinations.  Romney, having just released his plan, had that to stand on in the debate.  Romney has also been paying attention.  After last debate, Obama complained that none of the candidates mentioned the middle class.  Romney responded by saying that the middle class has been hurt most by Obama, while not referencing the President’s criticism by name.  Romney also corrected the moderators on the myth of TEA party “membership”, and then followed up by spelling out exactly what the TEA party stands for and endorsing them.

Newt Gingrich is a great debater and did not disappoint.  His attacks on Obama and focus on Obama, not on other Republicans, showed why he is a great candidate for the GOP.  Gingrich showed a fire that I think most people have lost sight of as he has faded between major events like this.  Unfortunately, because Newt has struggled to gain national attention outside of the debates, this debate as well will probably not give him a bump.  But his performance was a solid 2nd place performance.

Michele Bachmann did not carve out a huge chunk of attention for herself or particularly stand out, but she didn’t make any mistakes either.  She was even able to field the $2 a gallon gas question by pointing out that it was below that when Obama’s presidency began.  I think Americans are understanding better than Huntsman and others what she means when she says she can produce $2 a gallon gas.  But the key for Bachmann was her expounding on why she would not accept a taxes for spending cuts deal.  I think she just beat Gingrich to the punch.  At the Reagan Library, Michele Bachmann reminded us of Reagan’s deal with Democrats where he was promised $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in taxes increased.  Instead, as she put it, he got $3 in tax hikes for every $1 in spending cuts.  This was a shining moment that explained away what could have been easily used in the general election as an attack on the Republican candidate’s uncompromising stance.  For the short amount of time she was given, she met expectations and in that one instance vastly exceeded them.

Rick Perry described himself as the pinata in the party, and as the front runner he could probably have expected this.  He also got a perceived majority of the time as the moderators and other candidates spent a great deal of time fleshing out his positions and attacking his record.  Some of the shine will certainly be gone after tonight.  At one point he seemed to stumble and go into slow motion on one of his responses.  He was beat up a lot and a lot of issues came into the spot light that perhaps he wishes hadn’t.  Perry didn’t back off of his social security rhetoric, which will win him some supporters and lose others.  In the end, Perry survived the night and still came out strong, but I think his front runner status is going to be in danger going forward.  Enter Sarah Palin?

Herman Cain focused on the word “solutions”.  He sounded like a CEO.  He mentioned some of his plans and ideas, but a great deal of it sounded very much like platitudes.  I think in a few weeks I will write a “Where are they now?” blog post about former candidates in this primary who had so much potential but then faded into the background and eventually out of the race.  Pawlenty, Gary Johnson, Mitch Daniels will all make that list.  Is Cain destined for the “Where are they now?” post?

Jon Huntsman did a pretty good job connecting for most of the debate.  A lot of his answers sounded pretty reasonable and brought him further from the edge of moderate liberalism that he had been occupying.  He was doing a pretty good job.  And then he started talking about global warming.  Perry’s slow motion, botched response with simple homey reference to Galileo still put Huntsman to shame on global warming.  Huntsman’s answer on science will distance him from a vast majority of the right base.  Even the vast majority of evolutionists on the right still wouldn’t destroy the economy over global warming science.  Mark my words, this is the death of Huntsman’s campaign, although I doubt he will figure that out for another month or two.

Santorum had an odd look on his face the whole evening.  It almost seemed like every time the camera pointed at him, he was asking himself “what the heck am I doing here?”  I had the same question.  Santorum is a great guy, but his ideas are stale and his campaign is stalled.  Most of his answers echoed Newt Gingrich and the ones that didn’t were the answers of a candidate from a different time than we live in now.  I think Santorum has done a good job of presenting his issues and making sure they are a topic in this primary.  He should gracefully bow out now.

Ron Paul was in rare form.  Well, not really rare form, just rare for what we’ve seen in this year’s more civil, tame campaign.  We didn’t see any of that civil, tame version of Paul tonight.  The moderators, between asking the right questions and denying him equal time, played Ron Paul like a fiddle.  The result was some gems, like Paul saying we should take air conditioners away from troops in the green zone, that gas would only cost a dime if our coins were still made with silver, and that if we put up a fence to curb illegal immigration eventually that fence would be used to keep Americans from leaving.  His performance was completely unpresidential, and he made Perry look like a moderate.  Paul will still appeal to about 10% of America with this debate performance, and they are a very loud 10%.  But he did a great deal of damage to the liveable campaign he had been building to date.  I think he will even lose many of the moderates and independents his anti-establishmentism had been attracting.

Obamacare: 4 Doctors Talk Politics!

Bookmark and Share  An Israeli doctor said,

“Medicine in my country is so advanced, we can take a kidney out of one person, put it in another and have him looking for work in six weeks.”

A German doctor said

“That’s nothing! In Germany, we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another and have him looking for work in four weeks.”

A Russian doctor said,

“In my country, medicine is so advanced, we can take half a heart from one person, put it in another and have them both looking for work in two weeks.”

The American doctor, not to be outdone, said

“Hah! We took an asshole out of Illinois, put him in the White House and half the country has been looking for work ever since.”

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Debate Recap

The commentators in the Iowa debate finally succeeded in getting the Republican candidates to go after one another, and the result was a distinction between the boys, the girl, and the men.  Here is my assessment:

Newt Gingrich

I would name Newt as the winner of this debate.  He presented something the other candidates could not, a clear record on the economy and government with the exact results Americans want today that was left mostly unassailed.  Newt vented his frustration early at Chris Wallace over what came across as unfair questions, but was able to then produce reasonable responses.  Gingrich had a better grasp of history and economics and managed not to contradict himself.  I doubt it will be enough to kickstart his campaign again, but he looked and sounded most like the candidate who could turn our economy around.  Newt said what every American was thinking, the supercommittee part of the debt deal is a stupid idea and Obama should call Congress back to fix it.

Mitt Romney

Romney proved once again how effortless this race has been for him.  When Pawlenty shot across his bow with a jab at how much property he owns, Romney shrugged it off like Michael Jordan would if he wasn’t picked first in a neighborhood game of pickup basketball.  Romney looked and sounded like a professional and did not allow Wallace, Pawlenty or anyone else to shake his demeanor.  In fact, he made almost everyone else look like amateurs, especially Pawlenty and Bachmann.  Romney positioned himself as the successful businessman, accomplished politician, and leader.  In fact, when Cain touted his independent business success, when Pawlenty talked about balancing his budget and cutting spending and taxes, and when Pawlenty and Huntsman talked about leadership, Romney kept coming to mind.  He ignored interparty skirmishes and focused on Obama, which is a key in this race.  His only slip up was trying to discuss the semantics of state versus federal constitutional restrictions.  I think his point was a good one, especially when he asked Wallace what he knew about Massachusetts constitution, but ultimately the point was lost on the other participants.

Ron Paul

Republicans still don’t like Ron Paul, and he is still abrasive.  However, he came in third in this debate because he toned down the abrasiveness and instead mixed in some well earned “told ya so”.  Paul made key points on the Fed, the debt, the debt ceiling deal, the precariousness of our currency, and the costs of war.  These were timely points and made well.  He did not leap into easy traps on military spending that he has fallen into before that come across as disrespect for men and women in uniform.  Paul was also able to better articulate his views on social issues.  In the past he has come across as more liberal than libertarian.  This time he was able to articulate what be actually believes about gay marriage and abortion, stating that our liberties come from our creator, not government.  He may not win over the mainstream religious right, but will win over some more religious libertarians and constitutionalists.

Rick Santorum

Yes, believe it or not, Rick Santorum is fourth on my list.  His performance will most likely not change anything, but as a second tier candidate he exceeded expectations.  He was well prepared, made logical answers to the questions asked, and avoided harmful entanglements with other candidates.  He continues to represent George Bush neo-conservatism and will continue to bring useful balance to the debate.  He still has no chance of winning.

Herman Cain

Cain came across as the most unknowledgeable of the candidates.  He presents a good story of a businessman outsider seeking to change Washington’s business side.  However, Cain does not present a well rounded candidate that voters would trust on issues of foreign policy or domestic social issues.  Until he can get past soundbites to real plans and strategies he will not garner the needed support.   He was the only candidate to drive home the growth aspect of turning our economy around in a real and tangible way.

Jon Huntsman

Who?  His late entry, semi-liberal credentials, and lack of energetic or unique performance make Huntsman an afterthought.  He was like an off-brand candidate.  Aside from cyberwar with China, nothing he said really stood out.  If Huntsman was not at the next debate, I doubt most viewers would even realize it.  For example, remember that candidate from New Mexico, the Ron Paul wannabe?  What was his name again?

Tim Pawlenty

Chris Wallace was able to get under the candidates skin and even inspire direct confrontations between candidates.  Mostly though, the culprit ended up being Tim Pawlenty.  In a role usually occupied by the perennial anti-GOP establishment candidate Ron Paul, Pawlenty went after Bachmann, Romney, and whoever else got in his way.  He came across as a third place candidate trying to remind people why he is in this race, or at least that he is in this race.  I did not enjoy listening to him.  When he wasn’t on the attack, he was apologizing for cigarette taxes or highlighting things he did as governor that both Romney and Huntsman have on their resume.  In a race where the focus needs to be on Barack Obama, Pawlenty allowed himself to fall into the hands of the commentators and make for some great controversial TV.  Personally, I think this primary would come to a much better result without Pawlenty.

Michelle Bachmann

The loser of last night’s debate was Michelle Bachmann.  When Pawlenty attacked her, she fought back and lost.  Pawlenty managed to paint her as more of an ideologue than a successful conservative champion.  Pawlenty highlighted her lack of results, and she let that stick.  I believe she did receive some of the more unfair questions, including the one about submitting to her husband, but instead of recognizing those questions for what they were, she showed why she is not the caliber of Newt or Mitt and engaged the questions as though they were credible concerns.

Honestly though, what earned Bachmann the F was when she failed to return to her podium on time after the commercial break.  She is trying to overcome this idea that she is an unprofessional activist, not a serious contender.  However, her tardiness, fumbling over major points such as combining pro-life and taxes in bills, and engaging Pawlenty in unscripted arguments show why Bachmann’s runner up status has been purely on the substance of her popular TEA party beliefs, not because she is a polished candidate.  Conservatives may like her in the polls, but when they go to vote I think we will see them be more likely to send a quarterback than the mascot in to play.

Gore/Clinton 2012?

Al Gore has a new cause: socially responsible capitalism.  And it could be his ticket to the Whitehouse.

Now, Whitehouse2012 is normally a GOP primary website blog and I certainly would never endorse an Al Gore candidacy.  However, it is worth noting that Barack Obama’s economy is in trouble, his ideologies are becoming highly unpopular with many of the social liberal/fiscal conservative Democrats who elected him, and the contrast between his words and deeds are becoming ever more apparent.

Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but Obama’s policies are failing and he has no one left to blame.  Even DNC Chair Debbi Wasserman-Shulz said Democrats own this economy.  Of course, in her opinion things are going pretty well in America these days.  Obama on the other hand, with a playful chuckle, has admitted that his trillion dollar stimulus hasn’t created the “shovel ready jobs” he hoped it would.

Meanwhile, Al Gore is presenting himself as a contrast to the anti-capitalist rhetoric of his party.  At least that is how he is positioning his pro-socially responsible version of capitalism.

Gore has some other things on his record that could make him a formidable opponent to Obama:

1. He won the vice presidency twice and won the popular vote in 2000.  Al Gore may be the last person left who could run against the “wrongs” of George W. Bush and actually get votes because of it.

2. Gore has Clinton/Gingrich’s economic coattails to ride.  Bill Clinton balanced the budget, even if he did it by siphoning money from Social Security.  But that could help Gore too, after all he coined the term…

3. Social Security lockbox.  Just sayin’.

4. Gore is the ultimate green energy advocate.  I mean, come on.  He won a Nobel Prize.  Nevermind that his garage consumed more energy every year than George W. Bush’s entire property.

5. Gore is an outsider who has been out of the spotlight long enough for the stink of dirty politics to wear off.  People look at the Clinton years and even Gore’s candidacy with nostalgia now.  Sure he tried to sexually assault a massage therapist a few months back, but he’s a Democrat.  It’s part of the job description.

All Al Gore needs is a good running mate.  Who better than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?  While Obama is out there bowing to dictators and can’t seem to rub enough etiquette together  to keep from embarrassing himself every time he visits England, Hillary has become somewhat of a rockstar of foreign policy.

In fact, she is even the hero of a new comic book.  How’s that for an inspiring idea for a Summer 2012 movie?

Hillary is the Democrat most Democrats wish they had run in 2008.  She fixes Obama’s overseas messes, and can invoke the “following orders” argument for embarrassments like our war on Libya.

There is still time for an opposing Democrat ticket to make a primary out of it.  When this latest leg of the great Obama recession kicks into full gear, a Democrat primary is going to look real appealing to the disappointed left.

So you heard it here first: Gore/Clinton 2012.  Time to get the band back together.

Perry: Social and Fiscal Conservative?

Governor Rick Perry has set the standard for Republican governors when it comes to surviving this economic malaise.  In fact, rookie governor Rick Scott of Florida acknowledged Perry’s successes by attempting to start an economic competition with him.  In one sense though, Scott is winning.  Scott has already balanced his budget.

Obama has made abortion a US foreign export, says Rick Perry

On the other hand, Perry is struggling to fight a Democrat filibuster in his state in his attempt to close a $27 billion budget shortfall, second in size only to California.  Perry is finding himself  in the same boat as many Republican governors who have had to make cuts to education and other social spending in order to keep his state afloat.

While the Texas budget battle could make or break Perry’s short term future, his ardent pro-life and pro-states rights views will give him an easy in among social conservatives.  Perry recently spoke in Los Angeles to a pro-life Hispanic group and raked President Obama over the coals for expanding the destruction of human embryos for research and his reversal of the Mexico City policy which had prevented taxpayer funding of abortion overseas.  Perry said that Obama has made abortion a US foreign export.

Aside from the Texas budget, Perry’s biggest issue may be dealing with the ten point rule.  Perry is a conservative governor from Texas with that familiar southern drawl.  Though he surpasses Bush in articulation, the unfair charge of being a George W. Bush II is sure to rear it’s ugly head.   If Perry can anticipate and dismantle that argument early on, he may be able to contain such sentiments with the extreme left who wouldn’t vote for him anyway.

Rudy: Fresh Candidate or Romney Clone?

Some are convinced that Rudy is ready to step into the 2012 primary.  But is Rudy going to bring something fresh to this race?  Or will he simply join the race as one more fiscal conservative who will turn off social conservatives and join McCain as one more perfect GOP candidate who goes down to the Left?

Rudy is focusing on New Hampshire and recently used an opportunity in that state to rip Romney for Romneycare as the “inspiration” for Obama’s own unconstitutional healthcare mandate.  The idea for the Rudy camp seems to be that he lost last time because he bet the farm on Florida and was crowded out by Romney and McCain.  Will things be different this time around?

This time, Rudy is betting the farm on New Hampshire and perhaps a game changing late entry.  Even if Rudy Guiliani pulls off an upset in New Hampshire, will that mean he represents the GOP?  Hardly. Rudy will need to contend with the Southern/Midwest social branch of conservatism, and if 2010 is any clue, he may very well lose Florida again.  Both Rick Scott and Marco Rubio captured the swing state on a complete social and fiscal conservative platform.

More likely, Rudy will capture the fiscal conservatives who can’t abide Romney’s weak explanation of his healthcare plan, and Romney will capture fiscal conservatives who are not as socially liberal on issues like abortion as Rudy Guiliani.  Could this provide an opening for a strong social conservative even in New Hampshire?

Conservative in a Liberal state? Or Liberal in a Conservative country?

Mitt Romney is becoming more trustworthy, and less likeable. Some of the polish came off of his perfect appearance as he attempted to dissect and differentiate Romney Care from Obamacare. But in the end, the nation of soundbite voters seems to be only hearing the fact that Romney made no apology for his experiment.

Romney gambles on voter education

Of course, Romney is right. At least as far as his healthcare provision enacted on a state level being different than the federal level, he is right. Whether Romneycare was constitutional on the state level, or whether or not it was a good decision, are two completely different questions. Honestly, no conservative is going to look at Romneycare and say “oh, that was a good idea because he did it on the state level.” Romneycare, like abortion, like many other issues that spot Mitt’s past, will be one more thing that Americans will have to trust he won’t pursue as President.

Massachusetts is a liberal state. I grew up in Connecticut and I know that the whole northeast region is owned by the liberals. Even the Republicans in the northeast are split between fiscal conservatives and libertarian conservatives. There are very few good ole’ southern social conservatives in the Northeast. But can Romney win the trust of those social conservatives? As sure as New England is blue, it will also vote for Obama in 2012. Honestly, any President who takes Massachusetts in the general election is probably not the President the majority of Republicans want.

Romney may have an argument when he claims that he was a Conservative running a Liberal state. But the majority of Republicans, especially TEA party Republicans, are hungry for principles, constitutionalism, and trustworthy conservatism. They don’t want a President who is going to jump the Conservative ship because he thinks that’s what the country wants. They don’t want a President who is going to make liberal moves and then turn around and try to justify them. They want a Conservative who justifies conservatism.

Mitt Romney may have a tough time in a debate with Obama convincing the country that he was right and Obama was wrong on healthcare. But despite his perpetual front-runner status right now, Romney will have an even tougher time convincing primary voters that Romneycare was the right thing to do in Massachusetts and the wrong thing to do for the rest of America. Honestly, I was more comfortable with Romney when he was just a flip flopper.

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