On Wednesday, the chairman of the Hillsborough County, Florida Republican party forwarded an e-mail to several hundred party members that warned of “‘the threat’ of ‘carloads of black Obama supporters coming from the inner city to cast their votes.’” While the McCain campaign condemned the email, the sentiment does not appear to be isolated. As Tapped notes, earlier this week, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) proclaimed that the the “rush” of African-Americans to the polls has “got our side energized“:
“There has always been a rush to the polls by African-Americans early,” he said at the square in Covington, a quick stop on a bus tour as the campaign entered its final week. He predicted the crowds of early voters would motivate Republicans to turn out. “It has also got our side energized, they see what is happening,” he said.
The government recently promised the auto industry $25 billion in loans in order to produce more fuel-efficient models. Now, as General Motors and Chrysler consider a merger, executives are hinting at another $10 billion in federal help. Earlier this week, top McCain adviser Carly Fiorina said the campaign opposes any auto bailout:
“I don’t think the government can rescue the industry,” Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Corp, told Reuters at an event in suburban Detroit.”Whatever the government does, it should not take away the fundamentals of risk-taking. Sometimes it leads to rewards and sometimes consequences, downside,” she said. “In other words, the auto industry cannot be saved from its own bad bets.”
Today, however, interviewed on Good Morning America, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed support for the auto industry bailouts:
Q: We’re finding out that there may be a possibility of some sort of bail-out or government assistance for the auto industry. Would that be something that you would support?
MCCAIN: Well, we’ve already done that to $25 billion, and we’ve delayed getting them the money. I would do whatever I think needs to be done to help our automotive industry. We’ve got to make this transition to flex fuel, battery powered, hydrogen automobiles. And, obviously — and, also, I would provide tax credits for people who buy these new automobiles. We’ve got to keep this industry alive. There’s no doubt about that.
McCain has been slowly creeping towards supporting bailouts for the auto industry. In June, he stated, “Frankly I just don’t see a scenario where the federal government would come in and bail out any industry in America today.” Earlier this week, McCain was on the fence, telling NBC, “Let’s get the $25 billion to them to start with and see how that goes.” Finally, today, he hinted at full support for more bailouts.
Fiorina has been ostracized by the campaign for repeatedly publicly contradicting campaign policy. In April, she said McCain favored “private accounts” for Social Security, while McCain was saying he opposed privatizing Social Security. She has also contradicted McCain on birth control policy.
The publishers of The National Interest — the policy journal of traditional Republican realist thinking — offer a split decision on the presidential election. A split is a bad result for McCain since, as they note, “Senator McCain would be a natural choice for both of us, as a fellow Republican and a friend who served with distinction on The Nixon Center board for many years.” The other point is that their complaints about Obama are overwhelmingly concerns about his domestic policy agenda, which I wouldn’t expect any kind of Republican to be enthusiastic about. But both authors are primarily national security people and their publication is primarily about foreign policy, and on this front they clearly prefer Obama, with their main reservation being that some Democrats (Richard Holbrooke is their example) are too neoconnish for their taste.
Clearly, this isn’t going to be the difference-maker in next year’s election. But in terms of the competition among elites and interest-groups that does a lot to shape the actual policy environment once the electoral die is cast, this is a sign of important things to come. Obama has a real opportunity to eschew the excesses of the neocon-lite wing of the Democratic Party and add the bulk of realist practitioners to his coalition. Alternatively, realists might do some work inside the Republican coalition and try to make a serious effort to retake control from the neocons.
The recent economic downturn is forcing states to “scale back safety-net health-coverage programs,” USA Today is reporting. Medicaid, which eats up 17 percent of state budgets is on the chopping block and millions of low-income adults and children are in danger of losing their health insurance.
Sen. John McCain’s solution is to push even more people off the rolls. As the Wonk Room reported, McCain recently proposed cutting $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid to plug the $1.3 trillion funding gap in his budget-neutral health care plan. And while the campaign has argued that McCain will make up the shortfall by finding trillions of dollars worth of “savings,” most observersdisagree.
CAPAF’s very own Peter Harbage, for instance, who conducted the initial analysis of the effects of McCain’s cuts on both Medicare and Medicaid had released a new report documenting the consequences of McCain’s proposed “savings.”
According to Harbage, “the only way for Sen. McCain to achieve his goal is to slow Medicaid growth to 5.5 percent per year –well below what is would take to maintain enrollment growth and match the rising costs of medical care.” To accomplish this, McCain would have to lock in federal spending limits “through so called block grants, which deliver federal funds according to pre-set budget limits rather than on a needs basis, as is now the case.”
In other words, as unemployment creeps up and more Americans lose their health insurance (a 1 percent increase in unemployment resulted in 1 million more people enrolling in Medicaid and SCHIP and another 1.1 million more people uninsured), the federal government will sit on its hands, offering no extra Medicaid funding. Here are the consequences of McCain’s one-size-fits all block grant:
- Total program cut of $738 billion over 10 years
- 29 states could lose more than $5 billion in federal Medicaid spending over 10 years
- Every state could see a reduction of more than $1 billion in total Medicaid spending (federal and state) over 10 years
By limiting average annual growth to 5.5 percent — compared to the estimated 5.9 percent growth rate needed to keep up with medical inflation and Medicaid enrollment growth, states will have to make cutbacks in “program, eligibility and benefits or both.”
“This is not redistribution in the sense of you take money away from one guy who’s working real hard, and give it away to someone who’s not working at all.”
In fact, that is exactly what Alaska’s Permanent Fund dividend payments do. Each year since 1976, “[a]t least 25 percent of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sales proceeds, federal mineral revenue-sharing payments and bonuses” taken in by the state — predominantly from the oil industry — are “placed in a permanent fund.” A portion of that fund’s annual earnings are “transferred to the State’s dividend fund,” which is then divided among Alaskans in the form of yearly dividend checks.
And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. … It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.
By Goldfarb’s own definition, Palin is a “Wealth Spreader.”
During the Talking Points Memo segment of his show last night, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly diagnosed “Why McCain continues to run behind Obama.” Noting the huge audience for Obama’s Wednesday night infomercial, O’Reilly said that McCain countered it by appearing on CNN’S Larry King Live: “Maybe 3 million people saw that.” O’Reilly then said that McCain should have appeared on his show instead:
O’REILLY: McCain was on Larry King. Maybe 3 million people saw that. McCain could have been on The Factor and 7 million people would have seen him. Also, millions more would have heard him on The Radio Factor, but the senator passed. And we don’t exactly know why.
This isn’t the first time O’Reilly has inflated the influence of his show. In September, O’Reilly claimed that millions of Americans could have been protected from the financial crisis if only Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) had “come on “‘The Factor’” in order to “warn the folks about the economy.”
McCain’s token gesture was a political quickie aimed at pacifying a noisy party that you’d never really want to get personally involved with… Groups like the CPRS are specifically designed to cloak radical players in the robes of academic respectability.
$440k is a token gesture? I don’t know what kind of sums Greenwald is used to playing around with, but where I come from, half a million dollars is a pretty fair indication of support. Greenwald refers to CPRS as “Khalidi’s front organization,” which implies that CPRS had some other nefarious purpose. What that was, I’m sure Greenwald will tell us very soon. Very, very soon.
If Greenwald’s right, though, about McCain thoughtlessly throwing money around, doesn’t this mean that there could have been all kinds of other dangerous “front organizations” receiving money from IRI when McCain was too busy to do background checks? Shouldn’t someone be looking into this? Because this raises serious questions.
He answered, via e-mail, that “I will stick to my policy of letting this idiot wind blow over.” That’s good advice for anyone still listening to the McCain campaign’s increasingly reckless ad hominem attacks. Sadly, that wind is likely to keep blowing for four more days.
Reader B.L. got Gallup to give him the partisan breakdown behind their recent polling that shows most voters want to spread the wealth around. This chart compares the number of people saying they “feel that the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed”:
Granting that you can’t demonstrate causation based on correlation, but what seems to have happened here is that McCain started articulating an unpopular, anti-egalitarian message. But his endless repetition of the message “taught” a significant number of self-identifying Republicans than their previous egalitarian views were “wrong” and brought them around to the orthodox conservative position. A small number of independents seem to have gone along for the ride as well, which isn’t surprising since we know many independents are covert partisans and there’s also the possibility of statical noise. And Democrats didn’t move at all. But in essence, McCain’s message seems to be persuading his base to change their minds about an issue, rather than persuading undecided voters to turn against Obama. The underlying oddity is that both before and after McCain seized on the idea that spreading the wealth around is bad, the public appears to be broadly supportive of the idea of spreading the wealth more equally.
Yesterday, Jeff Gillan of NewsONE in Nevada asked Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, if Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was “qualified to be President.” Ensign responded by saying that he didn’t think Palin was “experienced enough to be president“:
GILLAN: do you think she’s qualified to be President?
ENSIGN: well, I do not think that Barack Obama or her are experienced enough to be President of the United States – neither one of them, and Hillary Clinton was much more qualified to be President than Barack Obama was, but that who the nominee is. John McCain is much more qualified than Barack Obama and certainly Joe Biden is much more qualified than Sarah Palin is. I’d rather have the most qualified person at the top of the ticket, not number two.
Ensign is only the most recent conservative to challenge Palin’s qualifications for office. Just yesterday, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, who is a top McCain supporter, said that Palin was not “prepared to take over the reins of the presidency.” Here are some conservatives who doubt Palin:
– In a recent New Yorker interview, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said, “I don’t believe she’s qualified to be President of the United States.” Palin “is arguably the thinnest-résumé candidate for Vice-President in the history of America,” added Hagel.
– On Meet the Press two weeks ago, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, said, “I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States.”
– In an interview with CNN earlier this month, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney stuttered and hesitated when asked if Palin is “ready to be President.” “That’s something which I — I believe the American people will, uh, assess individually,” said Romney.
McCain, however, disagrees. He told Don Imus recently that Palin is “the most qualified of anyone recently who has run for vice president to tell you the truth.”
UPDATE: Secretary Eagleburger appeared on Fox News today to recant his statements from yesterday when he said “of course” Palin’s not ready to be Vice President. “I made a serious mistake yesterday,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking when I said it. … I was just plain stupid, and if I have given the flim flam artist Barack Obama some success with this, I am deeply apologetic. I did not intend it.” Watch it: