POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 9/14

Greenspan Does Not Back McCain Tax Plan

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan — a lifelong Republican and longtime friend of Sen. John McCain — said the country can’t afford $3.3 trillion of tax cuts proposed by McCain without corresponding spending reductions, Bloombergreports.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign piled on with a memo outlining their own tax plan.

Earlier: McCain’s own economic adviser says the next president must raise taxes.

Palin’s Limited Duties as Mayor

Though Gov. Sarah Palin enthusiastically touts her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaksa, it turns out that many of the basic responsibilities for running the town were not even hers, according to the Washington Post.

“The universe of the mayor of Wasilla is sharply circumscribed even by the standards of small towns, which limited Palin’s exposure to issues such as health care, social services, the environment and education.” 

Most basic elements of local governance in small towns across America were instead handled by the regional or state government. In addition, since most of the town’s expenses were covered by oil revenues, she was spared the fights most towns face over property taxes.

Des Moines Register Poll: Obama Moves Into Big Iowa Lead

Sen. Barack Obama has established a double-digit lead over Sen. John McCain in Iowa, 52% to 40%, according to the latest Des Moines Register Iowa Poll.

“Top campaign advisers to Obama and McCain have said Iowa, where the past two presidential elections have been decided by 10,000 votes and fewer, is in the top tier of swing states. However, there are signs in the poll that Obama has a healthy advantage among key voter groups here.”

Key finding: Obama wins independents, 49% to 36%. 

Obama May Set Another Fundraising Record

“Barack Obama may be playing possum,” Bloomberg observes.

He “hasn’t done much to refute the notion” his financial edge over Sen. John McCain “may be shrinking. So far, though, Obama’s aides privately say they’re keeping a low profile so donors don’t get complacent, suggesting that August contributions — to be disclosed next week — will top February’s one-month record of $55 million. And Palin, while energizing Republicans, has also motivated Democratic donors.”

Update: Obama raised $66 million last month setting a record.

Why McCain Ignores Media Criticism

Politico surveys the impact of Sen. John McCain getting called out by the news media for fabrications in his advertisements and speeches.

“Current campaign aides and other Republicans who’ve closely watched the race, however, have a very different response to the media elites and good-government scolds: We don’t care what you think.”

“McCain seems to have made a choice that many politicians succumb to but that he had always promised to avoid — he appears ready to do whatever it takes to win, even it if soils his reputation.”

Wheels Come Off the “Straight Talk Express”

As NBC News notes, it was a “brutal day for John McCain and his campaign.”
 
“First came a front-page New York Times piece noting that McCain ‘has drawn an avalanche of criticism this week from Democrats, independent groups and even some Republicans for regularly stretching the truth.’ There was also an accompanying fact-check of McCain’s latest TV ad, which called it the “latest in a number that resort to a dubious disregard for the facts.”
 
“The Washington Post gave ‘four Pinnochios’ to McCain’s recent assertion on The View that Palin never took earmarks as Alaska governor. Then the Boston Globereported that Palin didn’t really travel inside Iraq as has been claimed. AndBloomberg News said that the McCain camp may not have been exactly truthful in estimating the size of its recent crowds. “Now officials say they can’t substantiate the figures McCain’s aides are claiming.”

To top it off, the Obama campaign released a very tough memo “unraveling the myth” of McCain’s “straight talk.”

The Real Sarah Palin

The New York Times runs a must-read piece on the phenomenon of Gov. Sarah Palin but notes “an examination of her swift rise and record as mayor of Wasilla and then governor finds that her visceral style and penchant for attacking critics — she sometimes calls local opponents ‘haters’ — contrasts with her carefully crafted public image.”

“Throughout her political career, she has pursued vendettas, fired officials who crossed her and sometimes blurred the line between government and personal grievance, according to a review of public records and interviews with 60 Republican and Democratic legislators and local officials.”

Newsweek Poll: Presidential Race Dead Even

“Sen. John McCain has pulled even with Sen. Barack Obama in the latest Newsweek Poll. Buoyed by the Republican convention and overwhelming partisan enthusiasm for his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain is now tied with Obama among registered voters nationwide, 46 percent to 46 percent.”

However, the poll “suggests the race is very much still in play. McCain’s current level of support, after all, is up just 5 points from July, before either party’s nominating convention, when Obama led McCain 44 to 41 percent.”  

Marist Poll: Obama Holds Small Lead in New Jersey

A new Marist Poll in New Jersey finds Sen. Barack Obama leading Sen. John McCain among registered voters, 47% to 40%.

Among likely voters, Obama’s margin falls to just three points, 48% to 45%.

Other findings: “83% of likely Democratic voters say they support their party’s candidate, Barack Obama, while 87% of likely Republican voters back John McCain.  And, among New Jersey’s all-important likely Independent voters, including those leaning toward a candidate, 51% support Barack Obama compared with 41% for McCain.”

Biden’s Tax Returns Show Little Charitable Giving

Paul Caron wonders if the release of Sen. Joe Biden’s tax returns “might backfire because the returns show that the Bidens have been amazingly tight-fisted when it comes to their charitable giving.  Despite income ranging from $210,432 – $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 – $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% – 0.31% of their income.”

“This giving compares very unfavorably to John McCain, whose tax returns show that he gave 27.3% – 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007.  During the same period, the Obamas’ tax returns show that they gave 5.8% – 6.1% of their income to charity.”

Independent Sector reports that 89% of American households contribute to charity, with an average contribution of $1,620 — 3.1% of income. 

National Poll Update

The latest national polls show a very tight presidential race:

AP/Ipsos: McCain 46%, Obama 45%

Diageo/Hotline: Obama 45%, McCain 44%

Gallup Daily: McCain 48%, Obama 45%

Rasmussen: McCain 48%, Obama 45%

Research 2000: Obama 47%, McCain 46%

Historical Quote of the Day

“I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn’t a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn’t a governor for a short period of time.” 

— Sen. John McCain, quoted by the New York Times, during the Republican presidential primaries. 

Hat tip: Huffington Post.

Democrats Slip in Battle for Congress

“A potential shift in fortunes for the Republicans in Congress is seen in the latestUSA Today/Gallup survey, with the Democrats now leading the Republicans by just 3 percentage points, 48% to 45%, in voters’ “generic ballot” preferences for Congress. This is down from consistent double-digit Democratic leads seen on this measure over the past year.”

CQ Races to WatchHouse | Senate

CQ Balance of Power ScorecardHouse | Senate

Ohio Poll: McCain Leads By Four Points

A new University of Cincinnati Ohio Poll in Ohio shows Sen. John McCain leading Sen. Barack Obama among likely voters, 48% to 44%.

Key finding: Nearly a quarter of Ohio’s likely voters have not yet made a definite vote choice.

Said pollster Eric Rademacher: “Both campaigns have many hours of work ahead if they want to secure a path to the presidency through Ohio.”

Palin’s Next Interview

Ben Smith reports that Gov. Sarah Palin’s first interview on the cable news channels will be with Sean Hannity at Fox News. 

Meanwhile, the third and final segment of Charlie Gibson’s interview with Palin airs on ABC News at 6:30 pm ET. An hour-long special based on Gibson’s two-days with Palin will air on 20/20 at 10:00 pm ET.

Biden to Release Tax Returns to Pressure Palin

According to Mike Allen, Sen. Joe Biden “will release 10 years of tax returns today in an effort to pressure Alaska Gov. Palin to make data available about her acceptance of per-diem travel allowances from the Alaska government when she was at home.”

Sen. John McCain has released two years of tax data and Cindy McCain released a two-page form from 2006. Sen. Barack Obama has released returns for each year going back to 2000.

Update: Biden’s tax returns are available here.

McCain Adviser Says Next President Must Raise Taxes

Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New ProsperityIn a forthcoming book by Fortune columnist Matt Miller, The Tyranny of Dead Ideas, Sen. John McCain’s chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, “makes it clear that the next President is going to have to raise taxes,” according to Joe Klein.

Said Holtz-Eakin: “If you do nothing on the spending side, you’re going to have to raise taxes whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or a Martian.”

He then immediately makes it clear that the “spending side” part of the argument for cutting taxes is “nothing more than a political fig-leaf” covering up basic arithmetic. The growth of entitlement programs and spiraling health costs make it nearly impossible to cut spending for McCain’s proposed tax cuts.

When asked why tax cutting remains the central theme of Republican campaigns, Holz-Eakin said, “It’s the brand, and you don’t dilute the brand.”

Of course, this also means Sen. Barack Obama’s proposed “middle class tax cuts” are equally as foolish given the current state of the federal budget.

Meanwhile, Greg Mankiw notes the political futures markets don’t believe the tax cut rhetoric and predict there is a 74% chance McCain raises taxes if he’s elected president.

Obama Camp Says “Enough is Enough”

As we noted earlier this week, Sen. Barack Obama promised a tougher campaignand today they step up the volume.

Campaign manager David Plouffe, in a memo: “In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people. But as Barack Obama said earlier this week ‘enough is enough.’ We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people.”

As part of their tougher strategy, the Obama campaign released two new television ads. Change has Obama directly making the case that he’s the real change agent in this race. Still takes a shot at McCain’s age, computer skills and lack of understanding of the economy.

Note to the Obama campaign: Is McCain’s lack of computer knowledge really one of the “big issues” that matter to Americans?

Dueling Quotes

“Show me where I’ve ever said that there’s absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change.”

— Gov. Sarah Palin, in an interview last night on ABC News.

“A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”

— Palin, in an interview with Newsmax on August 29, 2008.

Palin Links Iraq War with 9/11

Gov. Sarah Palin “linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would ‘defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans,'” according to the Washington Post.

McCain Distortions Have Reached New Low

The Los Angeles Times notes that this week news organizations and independent watchdog organizations “seemed to reach a consensus to say ‘enough’ to the McCain camp’s efforts to demonize Barack Obama.”

“It got so bad… that FactCheck.org — one of the nonpartisan journalism websites heroically trying to strain truth amid all the sound and fury — had to put out an extraordinary news release. It chastised John McCain’s campaign for — now get this — distorting FactCheck’s debunking of distortions.”

In a related article, the AP notes that “even in a political culture accustomed to truth-stretching, McCain’s skirting of facts has stood out this week.”

McCain Taps Lobbyist to Head Potential Transition

William Timmons, “a prominent Washington lobbyist who has worked for every Republican president since Richard Nixon, has been tapped by the McCain campaign to conduct a study in preparation for the presidential transition, should John McCain win the election,” according to Time.

Timmons, “is a Washington institution, having worked in the Nixon and Ford administrations as an aide for congressional relations, and assisted the transition teams of both Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George W. Bush in 2000. He was also a senior adviser to both Vice President George Bush in 1988 and Senator Bob Dole in 1996.”

He is also the chairman-emeritus of Timmons and Company, “a small but influential lobbying firm he founded in 1975, shortly after leaving the White House. According to Senate records, he registered to lobby in 2008 for a wide range of companies and trade groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Medical Association, Chrysler, Freddie Mac, Visa USA, and Anheuser-Busch.”

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