Mitt Romney’s Disdain for Working Poor Caught on Video

Mother Jones has recently released a series of videos of a $50,000 a plate dinner fundraiser for Romney at the home of an investment banker. One section of his speech was particularly notable:

His comments are incredibly offensive to the working poor. Most who make so little they pay little income tax do not want to be in that situation; it’s because they make so little money they don’t qualify for a higher tax bracker.

Futhermore, evidence has shown that these people DO pay taxes, notably payroll taxes (which is just another type of income tax). The irony is that the percentage of income these people pay in payroll taxes is still likely higher than the percentage Romney has paid in the last 10 years since he is able to take advantage of every tax shelter under the sun plus the low rate on capital gains.

CNN Mesa Debate: Some Takeaways

The GOP contenders have not had a debate in over three weeks, and tonight’s debate was the last one before Super Tuesday. More than anything, tonight’s debate highlighted that all of the remaining contenders can hold their own. There are no more Bachmann’s or Perry’s in the campaign (which makes watching the debate much less fun I might add).

All can state their economic positions well

All of the candidates made strong economic pitches. Santorum did a good job of showing that he’s not just a social conservative by focusing on the debt. He wasn’t afraid to state that the problem is entitlements (Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security/Food Stamps) and made some strong points that all of them need to be tackled now. He implied that social security will need to be means tested, which is something that would be a step in the right direction. It’s nice to see a candidate that doesn’t seem to be in AARP’s pockets.

Likewise, Romney came out today with a call to cut inidividual income tax rates by 20% but to cut deductions as well. This would be a step in the right direction, as a lot of these deductions are just giveaways to certain industries (such as the mortgage interest deduction). I would like to have heard more about this.

The attacks on each other didn’t land

Predictably, Romney’s opponents attacked him over Romneycare. This is getting a bit old and Romney defended himself well. Likewise, the attacks on Santorum fell flat. Bringing up his support for Arlen Specter and somehow implying that led to Obamacare? Please. Santorum also did a good job at explaining his vote for certain Bush policies we all later regret as saying ‘you have to support the team.’ We all know that’s the truth, and it’s refreshing that he simply owned up to that.

Santorum pivoted away from social issues well

The Republicans, and Santorum especially, are not going to win the general election on social issues. Santorum did a good job stating that he’s not going to have the government take away birth control, but that it is a failure of society that we allow so many births out of wedlock and that the moral decay of our society is an issue.

There is something to be said for having a President simply not do anything about abortion/birth control, etc. but be a leader saying that we should strive to strengthen family values.

Foreign policy debate was good, but potentially scary

The GOP candidates did a good job lambasting Obama for failing to help the Iranian Green Revolution, while inadvertently encouraging the takeover of Egypt by the Muslim Brotherhood. Where things got a little scary was Iran. With the exception of Paul, the three candidates took a fairly hawkish view on Iran. This smelled a lot like Bush’s stance on Iraq, where he got us in a war due to a threat that was not close to materializing

Overall, I do not think any candidate was particularly helped or hurt by the debate. The intellectual lightweights, Perry and Bachmann, are long gone from the debates and all four candidates can handle themselves on the podium quite well.

Prediction Markets Indicate At Least 7% Of A Dark Horse GOP Nominee

At, people bet real money on a variety of non-sporting events. Most of the events are politics, particularly who will win elections.

As it stands, here are the percentages given to the main GOP candidates currently:
Mitt Romney: 73%
Rick Santorum: 13.2%
Newt Gingrich: 3.7%
Ron Paul: 2.8%

Sum it up and the prediction markets indicate about a 92.7% chance that the nominee is one of the four candidates currently actively campaigning. Keep in mind, these percentages include the possibility of one of these candidates winning the nomination through a brokered convention. Bettors are giving at least a 7% chance that not only will there be a brokered convention, but the ultimate nominee will be someone who is not even actively campaigning.

Of that, most of the bets are on Jeb Bush being the nominee, though I personally can’t imagine why the Republicans would nominate another Bush. Perhaps the only thing Obama wants more than a Santorum nomination is to be able to actually run against a Bush.

NC Governor Bev Perdue won’t seek second term

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2012, opening the gates for a battle for the state’s governor’s race:

Perdue, who turned 65 earlier this month, was set for a rematch of her 2008 race with former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory (R), but she has been plagued by low approval ratings and faced some tough odds this year.

In a statement released by her campaign, Perdue said she wanted to focus on education reforms rather than an all-comsuming reelection campaign.

“It is clear to me that my race for re-election will only further politicize the fight to adequately fund our schools,” she said. “A reelection campaign in this already-divisive environment will make it more difficult to find any bipartisan solutions.”

Perdue has struggled recently with reports about campaign finance violations, and some top aides to her 2008 campaign have been indicted . Perdue has not personally been implicated in any wrongdoing.

Names that are likely to be bandied about as possible Democratic replacements include Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, and former congressman Bob Etheridge.

McCrory has announcement that he will formally launch his GOP campaign next week.

Perdue, a Democrat, served in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991, and in the North Carolina Senate from 1991 to 2001. In 2000, she became North Carolina’s first female lieutenant governor and won reelection in 2004. Perdue defeated Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, in the 2008 governor’s race and was sworn in as the first woman governor of North Carolina in January of 2009.

Perdue’s administration and that of her predecessor, Mike Easley, have been tainted by scandal. Easley became the first North Carolina governor to admit to a felony, and Perdue was fined by the state Board of Elections for accepting flights aboard campaign donors’ aircraft. Peter Reichard, the Perdue campaign’s finance director, was charged with obstruction of justice. Reichard also served as Easley’s finance director for his 2000 gubernatorial campaign.

- JP

Bachmann says she will seek 4th term in U.S. House

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, in the wake of her unsuccessful run for the GOP presidential nomination, announced Wednesday she will seek a fourth term in the U.S. House:

Bachmann declared her plans in an interview with The Associated Press. The Republican congresswoman had been mum on her plans since folding her presidential campaign after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and bringing a strong, powerful voice to Washington, D.C.,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann will be a formidable candidate in Minnesota’s 6th District, where other Republican hopefuls had stood aside until she made a decision on running for re-election. Some experts had speculated that Bachmann might instead turn to a career in talk media.

Bachmann is a potent fundraiser who raised $13.5 million in her last House race, but would likely start from scratch after the presidential campaign. A campaign finance report that would show how much money she can bring to the race isn’t due until the end of the month.

Bachmann also faces uncertainty over how her district will be reshaped. One redistricting plan put forth by Democrats would throw her into a race with Rep. Betty McCollum, a six-term Democrat who represents the St. Paul area. A special redistricting panel is due to issue maps late next month.

In 2000, Bachmann won a seat in the Minnesota State Senate. Two years later, after redistricting forced her to run against another incumbent, Bachmann won the seat for the newly drawn State Senate District 52. As a State Senator, Bachmann was focused on culturally conservative issues, such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

Since winning election to the U.S. House of representatives in November 2006, Bachmann has served Minnesota’s 6th congressional district, which includes the northernmost and eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities and St. Cloud. She has the distinction of being the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress from Minnesota.

- JP

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Steps Down from Congress

In a message to her constituents posted to Youtube, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced Sunday that she is leaving Congress:

“I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week,” she said.

Giffords served five years in the House of Representatives, and qualified for a congressional pension earlier this month.

She said she would return to public service.

“I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country,” she said in the two-minute video.

In a television interview broadcast in November, she said she would not return to Congress until she was “better.”

After Giffords submits a resignation letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Gov. Jan Brewer, the governor will set a date for special elections to choose who will finish out Giffords’ term, which — like all House terms — runs through the end of the year.

On January 8, 2011, Giffords was a victim of an assassination attempt wile meeting with constituents at a Tuscon supermarket. She was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head. Thirteen people were injured and six killed in the shooting, including federal judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman. The Congresswoman was later brought to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, Texas, where she recovered some of her ability to walk, speak, read and write. On May 16, 2011, she had recovered enough to travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch of the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, commanded by her husband Mark Kelly.

Jared Lee Loughner was detained by bystanders until he was arrested by authorities and charged with 49 counts of killing federal government employees, attempting to assassinate a member of Congress, and attempting to kill federal employees.

Giffords served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2001 to 2003. She was elected to the Arizona Senate in 2002, took office in January of 2003 and was re-elected in 2004. He resigned her State Senate seat in December of 2005 to run for the U.S.Congress.

Now in her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Giffords is a member of both the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition. She sits on Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

- JP