POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 12/7


Missouri GOP Prefers Talent Against McCaskill

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Sarah Steelman (R) has an up hill battle to win the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Missouri if former Sen. Jim Talent (R) decides to make the race.

Key findings: 53% of GOP voters would like Talent to be their nominee against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), while 26% said Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder (R) and only 17% picked Steelman.

Elizabeth Edwards Seriously Ill

Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer has spread, and her health has deteriorated, multiple sources told WRAL News.

The Edwards family issued a statement to People magazine: “Elizabeth has been advised by her doctors that further treatment of her cancer would be unproductive. She is resting at home with family and friends.”

Elizabeth has posted a statement on her Facebook page: “The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And yes, there are certainly times when we aren’t able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It’s called being human. But I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious.”

Taxes at 60 Year Low

Felix Salmon provides some context to the tax debate on Capitol Hill, reminding that federal taxes are actually the lowest in 60 years, “which gives you a pretty good idea of why America’s long-term debt ratios are a big problem. If the taxes reverted to somewhere near their historical mean, the problem would be solved at a stroke.”

“Income taxes, in particular, both personal and corporate, are low and falling… Employment taxes, by contrast — the regressive bit of the fiscal structure — are bearing a large and increasing share of the brunt. Any time that somebody starts complaining about how the poor don’t pay income tax, point them to this chart. Income taxes are just one part of the pie, and everybody with a job pays employment taxes.”

 

GOP May Tap “Prince of Pork” for Appropriations

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) is the leading candidate to become the next chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, ABC News reports. Known as Kentucky’s “Prince of Pork,” Rogers has pushed through 135 earmarks at a cost of $246 million.

The other possible candidates: Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) who had 185 earmarks at a higher cost ($316 million). And there’s Jack Kingston (R-GA) with 145 earmarks at a cost to taxpayers of $211 million.

“None of them may be what the Tea Party movement had in mind when it comes to federal spending, but one of these men will be put in charge of what is arguably the most powerful committee in Congress.”

Reid Won Despite Surge in GOP Turnout

Jon Ralston notes official turnout figures from Nevada will show that Republicans erased the Democratic voter registration edge in the midterm election — both parties turned out just under 300,000 voters — but that Sharron Angle still lost by 41,000 votes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

“But what these numbers indicate, most importantly, is that the Reid campaign eroded Angle’s GOP base with its brutal campaign, driving enough independents (just under 13 percent of the total) and moderate Republicans to vote for him, and the Reid turnout operation did its job by losing only 1 percent off its registration in a midterm election.”

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

“What I got out of the election is not so much that we won but they lost. Now we’ve been given a second chance. But we have to go earn it.”

— House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH), quoted by the New Yorker, saying the Republicans’ landslide victory in November was probationary.

Huckabee’s Mortgage

The Arkansas Times reports Mike Huckabee and his wife are building a $3 million home in Florida and that they’re taking on a $2.8 million mortgage.

Is this a sign he’s not serious about running for president?

Bush Says Stance on Immigration Proves He’s Not Running

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) “quipped that it was obvious he was not running for office,” noting that his views on Arizona’s immigration law “differed from those of most of his Republican colleagues,” the Denver Post reports.

While Bush said he “is sympathetic to the plight of Arizona officials forced to deal with all the problems linked to a porous frontier, he believes there are solutions other than a law criminalizing illegal immigrants.”

Said Bush: “It’s the wrong approach. The net result is not much has been done.”

Johnson Admits Smoking Marijuana for Three Years

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R), a likely 2012 Republican presidential candidate, hasn’t been shy about his support for marijuana legalization and use of the drug as a youth, recently telling the New Republic, “I never exhaled.”

But in an interview with the Weekly Standard, Johnson admitted for the first time that he smoked marijuana more recently — from 2005 to 2008 — for medicinal purposes after he broke bones in a paragliding accident.

Said Johnson: “It’s not anything I volunteer, but you’re the only person that actually asked about it. But for luck, I guess, I wasn’t arrested.”

Ranking the Modern Presidents

A new Gallup poll ranks the nine presidents of the last 50 years and finds John F. Kennedy is first and Richard Nixon is last.

1. John F. Kennedy
2. Ronald Reagan
3. Bill Clinton
4. George H.W. Bush
5. Gerald Ford
6. Jimmy Carter
7. Lyndon Johnson
8. George W. Bush
9. Richard Nixon

Rangel Faces Another Inquiry

The New York Post reports that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is facing a new ethical inquiry from the Federal Election Commission, just days after the House voted to punish him with censure for 11 ethical violations.

Ironically, the probe concerns whether Rangel misused funds from his political action committee to pay legal fees to deal with the very charges for which he was censured on Thursday.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“At the rate we’re going, it could be four, five years before we are back to a more normal unemployment rate.”

— Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in an interview on 60 Minutes.

How Boehner Rode the Tea Party to Victory

A must-read New Yorker profile of House GOP leader John Boehner (R-OH) notes he “seemed an unlikely clarion for an anti-establishment revolt” but was actually “among the first Beltway Republicans to recognize that the rise of the Tea Party represented, for Republicans, a near-miracle of good luck.”

“Boehner aggressively wooed the insurgents, spending much of the summer traveling, often by motor coach, to campaign events — he attended more than a hundred and sixty — and donating millions of dollars from his own campaign chest to the challengers. He adopted the overheated Tea Party rhetoric in vowing to dismantle the Obama health-care plan (‘this monstrosity’), and, after the election, he announced a renewal of the Republican moratorium on budgetary earmarks and forswore domestic travel by military jet, a relished perk of his predecessors.”

Bigger Than the Stimulus

First Read: “Extending the Bush tax cuts for two years — along with extending jobless benefits and targeted tax cuts — would likely cost more (approximately $1 trillion) than the stimulus cost (approximately $800 billion). Here’s our back-of-envelope math arriving at the $1 trillion approximation: If the price tag of extending the Bush tax cuts over 10 years is nearly $4 trillion, then doing it for two years is some $800 billion. And extending the jobless benefits and targeted tax cuts raises that price tag even higher.”

Why Obama Will Break a Campaign Promise

The New York Times reports President Obama and Senate Republicans are closing in on a deal to temporarily extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all income levels in return for also extending jobless benefits and the Obama middle-class tax cuts from the 2009 stimulus package.

First Read: “So how did we get to the point where Obama is about to break one of his biggest campaign promises in extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy? First, the votes weren’t there for Democrats. On Saturday, Senate Republicans — assisted by a handful of Democrats — filibustered two amendments that would have 1) extended the Bush tax cuts only for those making less than $250,000 and 2) extended them for those making less than $1 million. And if Democrats don’t have the votes now, they certainly won’t have them next year when the next Congress convenes. Second, the employment situation is worse off than anyone would have expected a year ago, and that has put an enormous amount of pressure on Democrats not to change the current tax policy, even if the facts don’t necessarily fit the narrative that tax cuts create jobs. If the economy was creating 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month — instead of the 39,000 in November — Democrats would have a stronger argument to let the cuts expire.”

Ghosts of Caucuses Past

David Yepsen has an excellent overview of the 40 year history of the Iowa caucuses and shows “how they evolved and how lessons from past caucus battles shape the campaigns today.”

“Since they become nationally significant events in 1972, the Iowa caucuses have provided important early boosts to Democrat George McGovern in 1972; Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1976; Republican George H.W. Bush in 1980; Democrat Gary Hart in 1984; and Democrat Barack Obama in 2008. Victories also have cemented the status of front-runners.”

Raese Unlikely to Mount Another Campaign

John Raese told the Charleston Daily Mail that after four failed runs for elected office, he’s unlikely to run for either governor or Senate again in 2012.

Said Raese: “I’ve run four statewide elections, and I’ve never been successful, and I think this last time resonated with me. I never say never to anything, but at this point I’m worn out.”

Graham Says GOP Made “Poor Choices” in Senate Primaries

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Republicans made some bad decision in choosing their U.S. Senate candidates for the midterm elections.

Said Graham: “The House had a dramatic election. We picked up seats in the Senate. Some of us thought, maybe we could pick up two or three more, but we made some pretty poor choices when it came to candidates.”

Many analysts think Graham is vulnerable to Tea Party challenge when he’s up for reelection in South Carolina in 2014.

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