Kris Kobach has a death grip on Romney's Etch-a-Sketch.
You may not have heard of Kobach, but he is becoming a household name in the Latino community. He is Kansas' secretary of state, but more notoriously, one of the nation's foremost xenophobes and a key player in the hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Kobach wrote the model anti-immigrant legislation adopted by Arizona (SB 1070) and Alabama. More recently, he's the guy who gave Romney the idea of "self-deportation"?harassing Latinos to the point their lives are so miserable that they decide to head back to their home countries on their own.
His presence as a Romney advisor has certainly been an issue in the Latino community, garnering a great deal of attention in the Spanish-language media. It's likely a factor in Romney's dismal numbers with Latinos?numbers so bad, that Romney has no path to victory if they don't improve. It's something he himself now acknowledges, hence the need to bust out that Etch-a-Sketch.
It began in Politico:
When I asked Boston if Kobach was still an "adviser," a Romney spokesperson emailed back: "supporter."Kobach fired back quickly:
Reached by ThinkProgress this afternoon, Kobach said, ?No, my relationship with the campaign has not changed. Still doing the same thing I was doing before.? Asked what that entails, he said, ?providing advice on immigration policy.? ?I don?t want to go into great detail, but I communicate regularly with senior members of Romney?s team,? he explained.Today Kris McBlabbermouth has given the Romney campaign even more reason to cringe.
Kobach confirmed to me that the Romney campaign had privately assured him that his status is unchanged. "I?m still providing policy advice on immigration to the governor and his team," Kobach told me. "I spoke with them yesterday afternoon, and they confirmed that nothing has changed."So to recap, Kobach has seriously damaged Romney's general election chances by becoming a lightning rod in the Latino community, yet when the nominee tries to distance himself now that the primaries are over, Kobach will tell anyone who's listening that the Romney campaign is lying and that he's just as important to them as ever, and he'll say it again, and again, and again.
Even here in California, I can virtually hear Romney's staff in Boston screaming, "Shut the hell up!"
Fox hosts attacked President Obama for his opposition to Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's Small Business Tax Cut Act, claiming the bill would give "the middle class a tax break" and "creates thousands of jobs." In fact, Obama has threatened to veto Cantor's bill specifically because it does not target the middle class; as experts have said, Cantor's bill would disproportionately benefit the wealthy and create few to no new jobs.
Doocy: "The President Will Veto" Cantor's Effort To Give "The Middle Class A Tax Break." On the April 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy teased an interview with Cantor by claiming: "President Obama obsessed with taxing millionaires. But how about giving the middle class a tax break instead? Eric Cantor wants to do just that. But Democrats are vowing to stop him, and the president will veto his suggestion." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/12]
Fox's Carlson: Obama Opposed To Cantor's "Bill That Creates Thousands Of Jobs." Later on the April 18 broadcast, co-host Gretchen Carlson interviewed Cantor, claiming his bill "creates thousands of jobs" and later claiming the tax cuts included in the bill would affect "99.9 percent of U.S. companies," asking, "Why would the Democrats and President Obama be against this?" From Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: Republicans ready now to pass a bill that creates thousands of jobs, but the White House already has the veto pen out. Joining me now, the person who sponsored the Small Business Tax Cut bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Good morning to you, Congressman.
CANTOR: Gretchen, good morning.
CARLSON: All right, so explain this. It has to do with the number 20 -- and you're talking about a tax cut for small business. What is it?
CANTOR: Well, right now, first of all, we're in tax week. Everybody in America has now filled their taxes out and paid the government and reminded again of the fact that Washington continues to want to take more and more of your hard-earned money. We also know that we've got a situation in the economy, we need to see more jobs created and more economic growth.
How do you do that? You look to the job generators, the small businesses of America that create over 65 percent of the jobs. So what this bill does, the Small Business Tax Cut Act that will come to the House floor tomorrow, it provides every small business with 499 employees or less the ability to have a 20 percent tax cut straight up, money to the bottom line. So that small-business men and women can have more money to put back into their business, to grow the business, and create jobs.
CARLSON: Now I understand that it's for businesses that have fewer than 500 employees, but that covers 99.9 percent of U.S. companies. Why would the Democrats and President Obama be against this?
Carlson later suggested that Obama opposes the bill "because it goes against the narrative of this whole Buffett Rule that seems to be what's going to be the campaign lingo moving forward." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/12]
Obama Administration "Strongly Opposes" Cantor's Bill Because It Would "Provide Tax Cuts To The Most Fortunate." In an April 17 statement, the Obama administration expressed its opposition to Cantor's bill -- H.R. 9, the Small Business Tax Cut Act -- because it "is not focused on cutting taxes for small businesses, but instead would provide tax cuts to the most fortunate." From the White House:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 9. The President believes that small business tax relief can promote hiring workers and increasing investment here at home. H.R. 9, however, is not focused on cutting taxes for small businesses, but instead would provide tax cuts to the most fortunate. Under the bill's definition of income, many of the "small businesses" that would receive the largest tax breaks are law partners, consultants, and other wealthy individuals and corporations with the biggest profits. The proposal is a giveaway that will cost $46 billion and could, in fact, lead to delays and reductions in investment and hiring.
While H.R. 9 has been described as a way to help small businesses, independent non-partisan analyses confirm that 49 percent of the bill's benefits would go to taxpayers making more than $1 million per year. Individuals in higher tax brackets would be able to take the bill's deduction against higher tax rates, making it more valuable for higher earners and more profitable firms. For the one percent of individuals with small business income in the top tax bracket and for profitable corporations, the deduction is worth more than double what it is worth to the two-thirds of small business owners in the 15 percent bracket or lower. Moreover, because "small business" is broadly defined and the tax relief is conditioned only on the size of payroll, many very large and highly profitable firms will be eligible for the tax break. The Administration believes that this bill is not an effective way to incentivize small business investment and job creation.
[Tax Policy Center, 3/28/12]
NY Times Editorial: Bill Is "Designed So That Nearly Half Of The Tax Cut Would Go To People With Annual Income Over $1 Million." An April 14 New York Times editorial called the bill a "particularly cynical" example of "the Republicans' latest effort to tilt the tax code in favor of the wealthy." From the New York Times editorial titled, "More Help for the Wealthy":
Taxes are never popular, especially in April of an election year. But the Republicans' latest effort to tilt the tax code in favor of the wealthy, and starve the government of needed revenue, is particularly cynical.
This week, the House Republican leadership is expected to bring up the "Small Business Tax Cut Act," a bill to let most business owners deduct up to 20 percent of their business income in 2012 -- a $46 billion tax cut. Despite the Mom-and-Pop label, it is designed so that nearly half of the tax cut would go to people with annual income over $1 million, and more than four-fifths would go to those making over $200,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.
The bill is predicated on an overly broad definition of "small business" -- one with fewer than 500 employees, which can include multimillion-dollar partnerships and corporations. It is also based on a willful denial of the reality that small businesses are not the big job creators politicians often say they are. [The New York Times, 4/14/12]
Tax Foundation: Cantor's Bill Can "Easily Be Gamed" And Does Not Create "The Kind Of Incentives We Want In The Tax Code." In a March 29 blog post, William McBride of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation wrote:
To deal with this, Representative Cantor and Senator Reid have each proposed reducing taxes on small business. However, rather than simply cutting the rate, or preventing rates from going up at the end of the year, they propose various special carve outs for small business, further complicating the tax code. One problem is defining small business.
The Cantor proposal would define it based on number of employees, i.e. fewer than 500. That's pretty straight forward, but how would a business with 500 employees respond? If a company can save 20% on their tax bill by not hiring any more employees, that's not the kind of incentives we want in the tax code. Also, it can easily be gamed: if all it takes is a little business income to reduce one's overall tax bill by 20%, we can expect to see a lot more yard sales and ebay entrepreneurs. [Tax Foundation, 3/29/12]
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With the Republican presidential nominating contest concluded in all but name only, Daily Kos and SEIU are now testing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in weekly head-to-head matchups in our national polling. We're also asking about Romney favorability rating each week as well. Here are our inaugural numbers:
Barack Obama (D): 50 (48)Unlike a lot of new tracking polls and regularly-recurring polls which kicked off this week, we don't see any erosion for Obama or any bounce for Romney. (Note that the trendlines in this initial case are a month old, but from this point forward, the numbers will be updated weekly.) It's a good reminder why you should never, ever get too worked up about (or too invested in) a single poll, especially in a frequently-polled race, because another survey is very likely to come right along with contradictory results. As my colleague Jed Lewison wrote in response to some over-heated reactions to today's New York Times/CBS poll which showed the race tied:
Mitt Romney (R): 44 (44)
Undecided: 6 (8)
To those of you who are freaking out about this poll, or think it reflects some sort of conspiracy to steal the election, get a grip. First, the poll is fairly close to last month's NYT poll?Obama down one, Romney up two. That's not a big change. Second, you should never read too much into any one poll. Third, as fun as it would be to see a blowout election, Republicans didn't make the mistake of nominating Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich. And fourth: it's April. There's a long way to go, and a lot of work to do. Even if this poll had shown Obama up by 10, that would still be the case. And finally, fifth, even if you can't wrap your mind around points one to four, the mere fact that you may not like these numbers is not prima facie evidence of a conspiracy, or evidence of any sort, for that matter. If you have an extraordinary accusation to make, you should bring extraordinary evidence, otherwise you're just living in fantasyland?and this is a reality-based community.I couldn't have said it better myself. In any event, I'd also like to call your attention to a separate question we asked this week, in light of tax day:
Q: Do you think Mitt Romney pays his fair share in taxes, more than his fair share, or less than his fair share?And you know which income group is most likely to feel Romney pays less than his fair share in taxes? The highest earners (those making over $100,000 a year), among whom 53% say Romney's tax burden is too light. Views are actually fairly uniform across the economic specturm (and funny enough, the $100K+ crowd is also most likely to think Romney does pay his fair share), but the result is striking nonetheless.
Pays his fair share: 28
Pays more: 11
Pays less: 48
P.S. As always, our approval and favorability numbers can be found on our weekly trends page.
Ted Nugent at the Gov. Rick Perry's inaugural ball.
(Via YouTube)Mitt Romney thinks Ted Nugent should be more civil. Or rather, he thinks "everyone should be civil," as if everyone were going around making barely veiled threats against the president and spouting other incendiary eliminationist chest-thumping pronouncements. As if publicly favoring bullets if the ballots don't go the way one wants were merely a matter of impoliteness.
Among the other vileness flowing from Nugent's piehole over the weekend at the National Rifle Association conference was:
"If Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year."Some took that to be an assassination threat. Whether it was or not?and the Secret Service thinks it's worth discussing with the aging rocker?why is someone so close to getting the GOP nomination not taking it seriously when such a remark emerges from someone whose endorsement Romney sought and received early last month?
Why not a full-throated denouncing? Why not use this as an opportunity to tell Americans that the eliminationist rhetoric we've been hearing so much of since Obama was elected is unacceptable and deserves to be called out for what it is? Be civil? Puhleez. This guy and others far less well known are way beyond finger-wagging.
The Romney campaign claims it did not solicit Nugent's support. Then why did Romney phone the guy just before he gave his endorsement? Nugent said he's backing Romney because the candidate personally pledged in that phone conversation not to mess with anybody's guns. Since Romney agreed, one could, using Republican logic, call Nugent an advisor to campaign.
Yet all Romney had to say about this and other sewage Nugent spewed was a brief talk-nice comment. And it didn't even come directly from Romney, but rather a spokesperson.
As for Nugent himself, apparently convinced that his rancid declarations may somehow get him a new record contract from, say, Tea Party Productions, he has chosen to stand by his remarks at the NRA confab:
?I spoke at the NRA and I will stand by my speech. It was 100 percent positive,? Nugent told the Dana Loesch radio show today. ?It?s about we the people taking back our American dream from the corrupt monsters in the federal government under this administration and the communist czars he?s appointed.? [...]Riiiiiiiiight. Nugent's past commentary has included tidbits such as the president should "suck on my machine gun" and Hillary Clinton is a "toxic c*nt" and, well, a whole barf bag full of "positive change" statements. No doubt, just part of his schtick, proof he's one of the boys, as if tough talk makes one tough. Such talk may not be acted on by the talker. But who might it incite?
?See, I?m a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally, and there are some power-abusing corrupt monsters in our federal government that despise me because I have the audacity to speak the truth to identify the violations of our government, particularly Eric Holder and the president and Tim Geithner, ad nauseam,? Nugent told Loesch.
?I have never in my life threatened anyone?s life. I?m incapable of threatening anyone?s life. Because I?m about positive change, my entire speech, all my articles,? he later added.
Given Nugent's chickenhawk background (he kept himself out of Vietnam by crapping in his pants for days before he went in for his draft physical), it's no challenge to figure how he will behave when the Secret Service comes knocking Thursday. Gutless.
But Nugent is just a has-been wannabe entertainment star who even half-smart 13-year-old boys find creepy. The bigger coward in this affair is the guy who will be making an acceptance speech in Tampa a few months from now. Just how far does Nugent have to go before Mitt Romney denounces his advisor?
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The White House is on a veto spree today. They threatened to veto the House's new 90-day surface transportation extension because it includes a quick approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. Without an explicit veto threat, they "oppose" any version of a[...]
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A lot of the things that consume us during a presidential campaign have absolutely nothing to do with what kind of a president any of the contenders will be. It isn't as though during the last three years we've said, "Boy, it sure was a good thing we spent all that time talking about Reverend Wright in 2008." But some things actually matter, and so it is with the discussion about whether Mitt Romney can comfortably appeal to voters in the center and to what degree he has to continue reassuring his conservative base. This will not cease to be a relevant question on the day he takes office. Instead, he'd be constantly confronted with choices that involve potentially angering conservatives. So it's useful to understand just what forces would be operating on a President Romney.
Steve Kornacki makes a useful comparison with George W. Bush, who despite his own rather profound conservatism found ways even as a candidate to distance himself from his party. And that was (for the most part) acceptable to his base:
For conservatives, the basic appeal of Bush was that he'd be their own Clinton ? someone with similar charm and charisma who'd finally be able to deflect the Democratic attacks. They didn't want him straying too far ideologically, but they were more than happy to give him a lot of room to roam.
Today's conservatives aren't looking for another Clinton. They haven't faced a humbling defeat at Obama's hands (not yet, at least), and they believe adamantly that rigid adherence to their ideology is a winning national strategy. This doesn't mean Romney won?t try to distance himself, but if he does, he'll face a much fiercer backlash than Bush ever did.
One of the many differences between Bush and Romney is that conservatives trusted Bush. Even if he presented himself as "a different kind of Republican" (i.e. one who wasn't so cruel when it came to social issues), they knew that he was one of them. There was no doubt in their minds about where Bush stood on most things, and on most things he was with them. With Romney, they'll doubt everything.
We also need to understand this in terms of the day-to-day communication flows that end up in the Oval Office. Conservatives are going to be working very hard to keep Romney from departing from the ideological commitments he made to them; they won't just trust that he'll do the right thing. So they will be constantly lobbying the White House, offering a combination of threats and pleading. Every time President Romney goes to a meeting or a fundraiser, he'll be buttonholed by a conservative Republican who'll tell him that he darn sure better toe the line. That goes for the people around him too. The White House staff will be reminded on a daily basis that conservatives are restive and distrustful, in need of not just the reassurance that comes with attention (for instance, Karl Rove used to hold weekly conference calls with conservative Christian leaders when Bush was in office), but specific action. The counter-pressure from voters in the middle will come in more impersonal forms, like poll numbers.
That doesn't mean there won't be some occasions where Romney will face a choice between alienating the middle and angering the base, and the evidence will be overwhelming that the latter course is the one with the least political risk. But he can also count on conservatives to be much louder than they were during the Bush years, which could have a real impact on the decisions he makes.
Florida prosecutors are ending their probe into Rep. David Rivera's personal and campaign finances, after an investigation that had stretched over most of the first-term Republican's time in office.
Prosecutors determined that ambiguities in Florida's campaign finance laws and the statute of limitations preventing prosecution over campaign expenses more than two years old meant they could not charge Rivera, sources close to the case told The Miami Herald.
"Prosecutors also concluded that Rivera did not break any laws by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret donations to a campaign for an obscure post within the state Republican Party," the Herald reports.
The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office told TPM that it would not comment before the release of a "close-out" memo, which is expected this week.
The decision to end the probe comes even though a report made public this week shows that a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation into Rivera's activities last year identified "possible criminal and ethical violations."
Among other things, the report states that, "From 2006 through 2010, FDLE identified approximately $65,000 in what are believed to be non-campaign related credit card charges that were paid for with campaign funds. These expenses included but were not limited to; pet services, dry cleaning, dental care, medical services, entertainment and travel expenses for his girlfriend." The report was turned over to Assistant State Attorney Joe Centorino on July 29, 2011.
In a statement to the Herald, Rivera's campaign said the congressman had "at all times acted in compliance with both the letter and spirit of Florida and federal campaign finance laws and has timely and properly reported all personal income."
"In essence, FDLE launched a fishing expedition that became a wild goose chase and which has now proven to be a discredited, unwarranted and politically-motivated witch-hunt resulting in Congressman Rivera's exoneration," the statement said. "FDLE's unprofessional waste of taxpayer dollars in this matter is shameful."
Though the state investigation is over, Rivera is not out of the legal woods yet. He's still facing an investigation by the FBI and the IRS over a half-million dollar payment made by a Florida dog racing track to a company connected to his mother and godmother. As reported back in 2010, the money was sent in 2008 by the dog track to the company tied to Rivera's mother after Rivera, then a state lawmaker, helped out on a campaign to approve slot machines.
Messages left with Rivera and his office were not immediately returned.
Read the full Florida Department of Law Enforcement report from July 2011:Rivera_ES
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) explains why House Democrats really are communists. And so was President Woodrow Wilson. [...]
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Florida prosecutors end probe of freshman congressman David Rivera. [...]
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