It seems that you can’t turn your head these days without seeing a story on Michigan’s precocious Congressman Justin Amash (R – MI 3). The latest stories center around the possibility of a Senate run to replace Carl Levin, who is retiring following the completion of his sixth (!!!) term in 2014, as well as the so-called rise of Libertarianism within the GOP rank and file in Washington DC. But Amash has been in the news almost since he arrived in DC following the 2010 elections. Following the recent election he even garnered support from a few colleagues as an alternative to then – and current – Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner of Ohio.
The story of Warren Buffett’s secretary (Debbie Bosanek) has once again become news as she was a guest for the State of the Union last week. Thrown into the limelight inadvertently when used as an example by President Obama and Mr. Buffett as to how the tax code is unfair (newsflash – it is), the story has caused quite a divide in the public. The point Mr. Buffett was trying to make was how it was “unfair” that his secretary had to pay a higher tax rate than he did. He was in the 17% range while his secretary was more than double that, near 36%. First, let me say that I truly appreciate the point Mr. Buffett was trying to make and in, fact, discussed it here earlier with this column. However, there is A LOT that is being left out.
Republicans everywhere and probably a majority of Americans that will vote in the November Presidential elections. That is right folks, thanks to the State of Florida we should all be able to call Mitt Romney the GOP nominee for 2012. I know that makes some people mad, but guess what you are in the minority. This post will consist of 2 rants, the first about how the minority of our party bitches about democracy, and the second about how it makes perfect sense that the GOP nominate Mitt.
What is a “fair” tax? With the recent release of Mitt Romney’s tax returns showing he paid a rate well below that of what we expect for a billionaire this debate has been reignited (granted, for many it never went away). Also, the story of Warren Buffet and his secretary is once again in the news after the State of the Union. The thing is, with so many ways to make money, it is hard to come up with a system that taxes one “fairly”. Within a cohort of millionaires, you can bet that they acquire their money in different manners. For instance, Prince Fielder, he of the newly signed 9 year $214 Million with the Detroit Tigers will be taxed differently than the CEO of Comerica Bank. While Fielder will get his money via a “salary”, like most of us, the CEO of Comerica will likely get a large portion of his compensation via stock options, dividends and other various non-salary means. Because of this, they are taxed differently under the income tax system our Country uses.
It is painfully obvious that the tax code we currently employ for generating income for our governments(s) is outdated and beyond repair. However, what is the best solution?
Yesterday, Jon Huntsman announced he was exiting the race for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012. Sadly, this was all but inevitable. Huntsman failed to get traction in what was a very misguided race. With our current election system set up (a poorly designed setup that gives an 3 states an overwhelming say in the nomination process) you must make plays in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Huntsman completely ignored Iowa and spent very little time in South Carolina prior to the New Hampshire primary. While he could not have won Iowa, he certainly could have made an impact there considering the vote difference between Romney and Santorum was 8 votes.
I was able to hear Amb. Huntsman speak in Indianapolis this past summer. He spoke with conviction but spoke with broad brush strokes on policy issues. If you took the time to read some of his policy action items on his webpage, you could see the direction he wanted to go. However, you have to push the message out to voters rather than pull them to a site. Huntsman ran on logic and reasonableness in a time when emotion and soundbites are what many in the Republican base seem to crave. There should have been a base of voters that would embrace that, but he somehow failed to capture them enough to make a difference beyond New Hampshire
If you sat and listened to Jon Huntsman on TV, you could imagine this man being President. Hopefully, he will take another shot down the road.
You may have noticed that we took an unintended hiatus from writing…since about August. There are significant apologies to go around, but hopefully you will come back and read what we have to say in 2012. It certainly will be a year filled with important political news.commentary on the federal and state levels.
We have already had one nomination contest for the Republican Presidential Campaign (which sometimes feels like a campaign to become President of the Republicans rather than the 300+ Million who make up the citizenry of the United States). With Iowa behind us and New Hampshire tomorrow, the nomination could be cemented for Mitt Romney..but I doubt it is. I am betting we go into South Carolina with a 4 man race (and Ron Paul). If Jon Huntsman can make a strong showing in New Hampshire, he has the same type of momentum that Rick Santorum has…except he is going into a state that is much more wide open that New Hampshire. If things break the right way, we might even head to the convention with a nominee.
We will do our very best to put out thoughtful opinions and timely commentary. Hopefully you come over and make some comments too.
A lot is being made of the possible campaign announcement of Rick Perry in South Carolina this weekend. It is, without a doubt, the biggest announcement in the 2012 race. The Governor of one of our largest states announcing he is running for President is newsworthy. The fact that he will be doing it in South Carolina on the day of the Iowa Straw Poll has to make every major news outlet in the US giddy. This guy is not only throwing down the gauntlet to the other candidates, he is throwing it down, picking it up, and then slapping them in the face with it.
By Perry skipping the Iowa Straw Poll AND making his announcement on the same day, he is making a statement to the nation that he think those in Ames are small time. The articles almost write themselves. Perry is showing an ego with this move, something that is actually missing from the current Presidential race. Basically, this just says that “I am bigger and better than the rest of you” to every candidate who is pandering for votes in Ames. Because of Perry, the Iowa Straw Poll may well be below the fold (or not even on the front page) in many of the major papers.
The Republican Party has been waiting for someone to arrive on the scene who had that big picture feel. Mitt Romney was the closest candidate so far in that regard, but right now the sentiment is that ”Mitt’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep”. Maybe Rick Perry can be that candidate. This first step sure looks like good one to me.
I am sure there will be more on Perry in the days/weeks/months to come, but this story was too good to pass up.
The Republican Party has an interesting relationship with the policy issue of health care and all of many facets. Right now it seems that above all other issues, the media and the possible primary voters are most concerned with Mitt Romney’s health care plan for Massachusetts and the other candidates’ reactions to said plan. That issue itself seems somewhat of a chicken and an egg thing – is the media driving voters concerns in their quest to compare/contrast President Obama and the presumptive GOP front-runner or are the voters truly concerned about it and the media is covering the story because of that? I tend to think it is the former rather than the latter, but then again, I have a healthy distrust of the mainstream media and their relationship with Republican Presidential contenders. In addition to that specific issue we have the overarching GOP distaste for President Obama’s plan (I think half of Congress is still on their first attempt to read through it…) as well as the new Medicare plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and a host of similar (but slightly different) proposals popping up within the GOP.
First off, lets dispel the myth that these discussions are about health care – they are not. Most of what I have seen addresses health insurance and its availability. It doesn’t specifically address “health care”. The whole theory is that by addressing the insurance end, it will drive down costs to consumers. Furthermore, this is more of a discussion as to how involved the Government should be in the area of health insurance – for all citizens, but particularly the poor and elderly. The GOP swept into the majority in 2010, in part, because of their criticism of “Obamacare”. They followed that up with efforts to repeal the measure which has predictably stalled out in the Senate thanks to their Democratic Majority. The thing is, the Republican’s didn’t really see the forest for the trees on this particular issue and as such are missing it on “Romneycare” too (or “Obamney Care” as Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has deemed it). While the public was upset about the President’s and Democratically supported health care policy, it was not because of what was included in the legislation (because many still don’t know, it was like 9000 pages long), it was because they saw it as another example of the Federal Government overreaching their bounds. As such, it is fundamentally different from Mitt Romney’s proposal – his was a state measure addressing a state issue. By lumping the tw o issues together as “Obamney Care” like Pawlenty did, he is doing a disservice to the idea of State’s Rights, something Republicans are supposed to support. Regardless of how successful the policy is, it is hard to argue that when it was first discussed, it was a nice fit for a state like Massachusetts, but it probably wouldn’t work for Montana.
In regards to Rep. Ryan’s health care proposals, I must plead a bit of ignorance as I am not familiar with all of the specific in’s and out’s of the legislation. As I understand it, it calls for the Federal Government to step back from the table of actually providing health insurance coverage by providing vouchers that would still cover the costs of private health insurance but would take the government out of the picture when it comes to actually running the program. Among Republicans on the national stage, many applaud the initial step taken by Rep. Ryan but are hesitant to fully endorse the reforms as work on their own tweaks to the plan (and look at poll numbers that drive their policy decisions). As this particular issue requires great depth explain, the polling is inadequate because the media portrayal is limited - the time it takes to explain such things is much greater than the average soundbite. Until the GOP can hone its message on this issue into concise and consistent soundbites the polling will continue to inaccurately reflect the public’s apatite for such policy.
Finally, it is disheartening to see this “health care” (again, it is not health care, it is health insurance) debate being characterized by many as the “Republicans don’t want everyone to have access to health care”. Honestly, if you believe that then you really need to have your critical thinking skills evaluated. Every American should have access to affordable health insurance. I am pretty sure that a vastly overwhelming majority of the GOP believes this (I can’t speak for everyone of course). The question is who pays for what. Should the Federal Government, in a time when we are running massive deficits and our budget predictions forecast near economic collapse, be providing services that are available to the majority of people through non-governmental entities? Should those in Washington D.C. be mandating a policy that could work and be accepted in some states (i.e. Massachusetts with “Romneycare”) but would be a disaster in others? While everyone should have access to health cover does everyone need to actually be covered or should it be a personal choice?
Hopefully we see some of these issues debated in logical fashion and revised to create the best outcome possible. We can only hope that inaccurate propaganda takes a backseat to factual statements and that sound policy drives the poll numbers rather than converse. While altering the federal budget so that health insurance obligations eat up much less funding is one of the most important issues that those in Washington DC will be tasked with over the next few years, truly ”fixing” health care goes well beyond the bounds of Medicare, Medicaid, and any part of the health insurance discussion. It will be interesting to see if any solid proposals come out that go beyond the scope of health insurance as we near November of 2012.