On its website, the Republican Party of Virginia's 2012 coordinated committee states that it will "defeat President Obama, Tim Kaine, and congressional Democrats" across the battleground state by raising money and rallying the grassroots. It can now count on an official Fox News platform for further help in those efforts.
Fox News has hired Pete Snyder, the chairman of Virginia Victory 2012, as its newest on-air contributor. Snyder made his first official appearance yesterday on Fox & Friends, where he repeated Republican platitudes about President Obama and his policies.
Snyder's hiring by the network doesn't appear to have affected his Republican Party position, as Virginia Victory still lists him as its chairman and his Twitter bio states he's a "Fox News Contributor, Chairman of Virginia Victory 2012."
Snyder's capital investment firm announced the hiring in a press release, which quoted him as saying he's "long admired Roger Ailes and his pioneering vision and look forward to working with him and the entire Fox News team during the most important election of our lifetimes." The release added that "Virginia is considered by many political observers to be the #1 battleground state in the upcoming presidential election, and Snyder is overseeing the Republicans' efforts in the Commonwealth."
Snyder appeared at a "We Did Build This" event in Roanoke on July 25 for the Romney campaign. The event was based on Fox's and the Romney campaign's distortion of President Obama's remarks about small businesses. Breitbart.com wrote that Snyder "has been traveling throughout Virginia on Romney's behalf."
Don't swallow the Republican lie that the minimum wage is only paid to teenagers. Most who earn minimum wage are adult workers and many are trying to support a family (which is why both parents have to work -- because no family can be supported by a person working full-time for minimum wage). The minimum wage has less buying power today than it did in 1968 (when it had the buying power of slightly more than $10 an hour in today's dollars). It is time to raise it again -- significantly.
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After days of right-wing media outlets lauding Mitt Romney for his hypocritical ad attacking President Obama over welfare work requirements, a Fox News guest finally criticized the ad. But instead of pointing out Romney's hypocrisy, he lamented its lack of images of "welfare moms."
In July, the Obama administration agreed to consider waivers to states to experiment with work requirements in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Such waivers had been requested by two Republican governors. In 2005, an even more extensive version of these waivers were requested by 29 Republican governors, including Romney. But despite his previous advocacy, Romney produced an ad attacking Obama for supposedly gutting welfare reform by supporting such waivers. Right-wing media figures have ignored the hypocrisy and praised the Romney ad.
Today, Fox & Friends hosted Michael Maslansky, business partner of frequent Fox guest Frank Luntz, to critique Romney's ad. Maslansky asserted that the ad contained "a great narrative that Obama doesn't care about ... requiring people to work for welfare." Maslanky then added:
But the imagery is all wrong. It's got people working when he talks about Obama not caring about people going to work. It should have welfare moms as pictures. You want to make it a strong ad? Put welfare moms up there.
A new Reuters/Ipsos Poll (taken of 1,168 adults between August 2nd and 6th) had some rather interesting findings. It showed the the number one issue in this election was the economy, and that only 31% of the public thought thing were moving in the right direction (i.e., getting better). That's no surprise, since that is about what all the polls are showing. But this poll also showed President Obama leading Willard Mitt Romney (aka Wall Street Willie) by seven points (49% to 42%) -- one point more than this same poll last month.
That defies the pundits' wisdom, which repeatedly tells us that when the economy is bad and joblessness high, and the people don't see things improving, then that is supposed to translate into a defeat for the incumbent in the White House (regardless of party). And in the past, that has pretty much held true. Voters have kicked out the incumbent when they perceived things were going south for the country. Why isn't it happening in 2012?
Part of the answer lies in how voters perceive the programs of the two candidates. So far, Romney has not convinced the voters he could do any better with the economy than President Obama is doing. In fact, voters are split on which candidate would do better with jobs and the economy -- with Obama getting 46% and Romney getting 44%. So why isn't the race within the 3 point margin of error, like the views on who would do better with the economy? Why does Obama maintain a larger lead?
I think the real reason why Romney has not been able to get any traction (like most candidates do once they clinch the nomination) is revealed in another poll -- the ABC News/Washington Post Poll of favorability (likability). The poll (taken of 1,026 adults between August 1st and 5th) shows that most people just like the president more than they like Romney. In fact, Romney still has more people rating him unfavorable than favorable (and that unfavorable over favorable rating is higher than any other presidential candidate in recent history). Consider the following numbers:
FAVORABLE (GENERAL PUBLIC)
UNFAVORABLE (GENERAL PUBLIC)
FAVORABLE (REGISTERED VOTERS)
FAVORABLE (BASE VOTERS)
After viewing these numbers, it seems clear that Romney's biggest problem is that the majority of Americans just don't like him very much. And with other factors being equal, voters will naturally vote for the candidate they like the best.
If he is going to have a chance to win the election, Romney is going to have to do at least one of the following things -- either get the voters to like him a lot more, or convince them his economic program would be much better than what the president has proposed (and had blocked by House Republicans). I don't see either as likely to happen.
Romney is just not a people person. He is stiff and uncomfortable around people (especially those outside his class). And his gaffes (London, tax forms, etc.) just feed into this perception of unlikability. As for his economic program, most people see it as a continuation of the failed Bush policies (which it is) and they still blame Bush the most for the current economic mess.
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Political Cartoon is by Luojie in the China Daily.
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The Republicans in Congress have been repeatedly telling the American people that the reason few jobs are being created is because American corporations are overtaxed -- having to pay the highest taxes of any developed country. And if one was to just look at the tax rates listed in the tax code (and nothing else), that might seem to be true. The U.S. does have a higher top tax rate for corporations than the other countries do. But it is not quite that simple.
The truth is that American corporations actually pay less in taxes than corporations in other countries -- both as a group, and individually. The chart above shows the taxes that American corporations pay as a group -- as a percentage of each country's national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Back in 1965, American corporations would have ranked much higher on the chart above because they paid about 4% of GDP in taxes. But that is no longer true. Currently they pay only about 1.3% of GDP, putting them nearly at the bottom of the chart (with only Iceland pay a smaller combined tax percentage). Obviously, Republican "trickle-down" economic policy has been very good for corporations -- allowing them to pay a much smaller percentage in taxes.
But surely the corporations must pay more when their individual tax rate is considered (instead of as a group against GDP). Well, NO. While the other countries may have a smaller top tax rate, the American corporations enjoy many more tax loopholes, deductions, and subsidies. This allows the individual corporations to pay a smaller effective tax rate in this country than foreign corporations have to pay in their own countries. The U.S. may have a higher top tax rate, but no corporation has to actually pay that high rate. Many corporations pay only a tiny percentage in taxes, or no taxes at all.
The corporations listed below are a perfect example of this. These are the ten American corporations with the highest profits. Note the tiny actual percentage they paid in taxes for 2011 (probably much less than you must pay if you are middle class);
1. EXXON MOBIL
profits -- $73.3 billion
tax percentage -- 2%
profits -- $47.6 billion
tax percentage -- 4%
profits -- $34.2 billion
tax percentage -- 11%
profits -- $28.1 billion
tax percentage -- 11%
5. JPMORGAN CHASE
profits -- $26.7 billion
tax percentage -- 14%
profits -- $24.4 billion
tax percentage -- 19%
7. WELLS FARGO
profits -- $23.7 billion
tax percentage -- 14%
profits -- $23.0 billion
tax percentage -- 8%
profits -- $21.0 billion
tax percentage -- 1%
10. GENERAL ELECTRIC
profits -- $20.1 billion
tax percentage -- 5%
It's pretty clear that American corporations are not paying onerous taxes -- either as a group or individually. They actually pay very little in taxes, and they are sitting on trillions of dollars in profits (billions individually). If allowing corporations to pay a tiny tax was the way to create jobs, then they should be creating those jobs right now. But it doesn't and they aren't -- because increased demand is the only real job creator (in spite of what the Republicans say).
President Obama has said he also wants to reduce taxes for corporations. If he does, then he'd better close a whole lot of loopholes, eliminate a bunch of deductions, and do away with a lot of subsidies. Otherwise, corporations would wind up paying even less than the tiny percentage they currently pay -- or nothing at all.
Personally, I don't want to hear anymore whining from corporations about the high tax rates -- at least until they actually start paying those rates.
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Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.
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I have to admit I really don't understand the thought process of my fellow older Americans (if there is a thought process involved here). What am I talking about? A new poll that AARP took of older people. The survey was taken between July 10th and 16th of voters over the age of 50 (536 non-retired between 50 and 64, and 679 retired voters over 50).
These voters were asked whether Social Security is critical to the well being of seniors, and whether the next president and Congress needed to strengthen Social Security to provide security for future generations. They replied the same to both questions -- 91% said yes and 6% said no. Then they were asked the same questions about Medicare. About 95% said Medicare is critical to the health of seniors, and 88% said the next president and Congress should strengthen Medicare to protect the health of future generations.
The answers given to those questions did not surprise me. I expected that -- and agree with those who said yes to all four questions. It's another couple of questions that has me perplexed. The people were asked who they would vote for in the presidential race in November, and which party they would vote for in congressional races. Here are those figures:
What is going on here? Why are so many of these people willing to vote against there own interests (and the interest of future retirees)? The Republicans have made it clear that they want to abolish the Medicare program and throw seniors back to having to purchase private insurance. They would provide a government check to help in buying that private insurance, but there is no doubt that much more money would have to come out of the pockets of seniors (and those who can't afford it would most likely be put on Medicaid, which is not nearly as good as current Medicare -- just ask doctors).
In addition, the Republicans (including Romney) have made it clear they want to privatize Social Security and subject retirement money to the ups and downs of Wall Street (while their Wall Street friends make large fees for handling that money). This would mean seniors couldn't depend on that money being there when it came time to retire (remember the stock market lost trillions of investor dollars in 2007-2008). And if they can't get it privatized, they want to cut benefits and raise the retirement age.
The Republicans will tell you this is necessary to "save" Social Security. That's a lie!!! The simple fact is that raising or abolishing the FICA tax cap (so that the rich pay the same percentage as all other workers) would put Social Security on a firm footing for many generations to come.
The truth is that any American who is not rich is voting against his/her financial interests if they vote Republican -- and this is especially true of those over the age of 50. I am simply astounded by the numbers above. Seniors need to wake up and realize that Republicans are not their friends. Republicans have never liked Medicare or Social Security, and don't care about those Americans who depend on those programs.
NOTE -- In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that I am a member of the "over 50" group.
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Johnson-Goldwater. Nixon-Humphrey. Nixon-McGovern. Carter-Ford. Reagan-Carter. Reagan-Mondale. Bush-Dukakis. Clinton-Bush. Clinton-Dole. Bush-Gore. Bush-Kerry. Obama-McCain.
There's a small group of Pennsylvania voters who have cast a ballot in each of those elections -- and every November election -- the state has held over the past 50 years. But thanks to the new voter ID law passed by Republicans last year, a large chunk of them don't currently have the means to participate in 2012.
Nearly one-fourth of the senior citizen voters who have cast a ballot in the past 50 consecutive elections (including November 2011) lack a valid state-issued ID and could be prevented from casting a ballot in November, according to a new AFL-CIO analysis of data provided by the state.
Pennsylvania's "Voter Hall of Fame," organized by the Department of State, is a list of 21,000 inductees who have voted in 50 consecutive general elections. Of the 5,923 of them who are currently registered voters, 1,384 of them either have no valid state ID or have an ID which expired before Nov. 6, 2011, which would make it invalid at the polls under the state's voter ID law.
The AFL-CIO matched Hall of Fame inductees with a list of registered voters who lacked a form of photo ID, only including individuals who were over 68 years old and who voted in the 2011 election to restrict analysis to still living voters.
One of those Hall of Fame voters is Edith M. Haagen, a 91-year-old from Clinton, Pa. who used to work for the state. She used to have a license, but it expired in 2007 (according to her husband, Sam) and will not be valid under the law.
"I wouldn't be able to vote if I don't get some form of ID," Haagen told TPM in a phone interview Wednesday. "I wondered why it was, what was the problem that they'd pass something like that. It's awful funny."
Haagen lives just three blocks from her polling station but will likely vote absentee ballot this year so she can still have her vote counted.
"For an older person, you know, I think it will be a lot of trouble," Haagen, a former secretary, told TPM.
Jule Mecca, a 90-year-old from Dunmore, had to give up her driver's license about three months ago because she had cataract surgery. She normally casts her ballot at the polls (her brother-in-law gives her a ride) and is hopeful she will be able to obtain a state issued form of ID before November. One advantage: she worked for Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation, or PennDOT, for 17 years.
"I know a lot of people up there, so I shouldn't have no problem," Mecca said, calling voting "very important" to her.
"This country is in a bad state of mind," Mecca told TPM. "I'd like to see the best man get in there. I don't know why, for what reason, [voter ID was passed]. I couldn't tell you."
While a top state Republican bragged that the voter ID law would help Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania, it nearly cost them at least one Republican supporter.
Helen Taylor, an 81-year-old from Doylestown who wants to vote for Romney, wasn't aware the voter ID law would prevent her from voting until she was contacted by TPM. She no longer drives, and her licence expired a few years ago after she got into an accident.
Taylor first voted for Dwight Eisenhower after seeing him speak in Philadelphia as a young woman. She's heard some people talking about the law but didn't think it would affect her. Taylor doesn't think the law is necessary.
"I mean, here I am, I'm 80-years-old, I live in a retirement community," Taylor said. "I definitely want to vote. My whole family always likes politics. My parents were Democrats, they loved Roosevelt and all that. But everybody -- well there are a couple Democrats left I think -- but almost everybody is a Republican now."
Elizabeth Albers, a 95-year-old from Doylestown, told TPM she just got her ID yesterday after reading about the law.
"If you have friends you should be able to get there. I'm very fortunate, I have several people who drive me different places," Albers said. "I hope other people do too."
Several of the voters on the list generated by Pennsylvania told TPM they did have a valid form of identification and that the state had made a mistake. That same data showed that up to 43 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters lacked state-issued identification.
Additionally, AFL-CIO's analysis found that over 79,000 voters who have cast a ballot in every election since 2000 lack state-issued photo ID. The Republican administration in Pennsylvania claimed in a press release that 99 percent of voters already had a valid form of ID but had no evidence to support that claim. While the law was passed to prevent in-person voter fraud, the state admitted it had no evidence that such fraud had taken place in the state.
Carol Aichele, the Pennsylvania official who testified that she didn't know the details of the voter ID law she's charged with implementing, says on the Voter Hall of Fame's website that inductees "hold a special place in Pennsylvania history."
"They bridge generations - from a time of war and depression to one of peace and prosperity - and understand how precious our freedoms truly are," Aichele said on the Hall of Fame's website. "For 50 years, they have placed their responsibilities as citizens of this Commonwealth first. We are grateful for their lifelong commitment to democracy, and we proudly induct them into the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame."
A Pennsylvania judge is currently deciding whether the state law allowable under the Pennsylvania constitution. The Justice Department has launched a separate Voting Rights Act investigation into the state law.
Political Cartoon is by Bill Day at caglecartoons.com.
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