Right to Work states (excluding Indiana [which didn't implement its right-to-work law until earlier this year]) were responsible for 72% of all net household job growth across the U.S. from June 2009 through September 2012. If these states’ job increase had been no better than the 0.85% experienced by forced-unionism states as a group, the nationwide job increase would have been less than half as great. And the President wouldn’t have been able even to pretend the economy was in recovery.
We’re still early in the 2012 election cycle, but it’s going to be tough to top Massachusetts Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s diversity scandal (which I’m dubbing “Tipigate”) for irony.
As Ashton noted here last week, Warren — who has been liberalism’s “it girl” of the past few years — is in hot water after it emerged that she claimed Cherokee ancestry during her time as a member of the Harvard faculty.
According to a new piece by Alex Pappas in the Daily Caller, not only is the Cherokee connection dubious (the Warren relative in question was referred to as “white” in the census count), the family tree isn’t exactly Native American-friendly:
Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson, citing a genealogist, claimed Tuesday that Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry includes a great-great-great grandfather who helped round up Cherokees in the days leading to the Trail of Tears.
Warren, of course, shouldn’t be held responsible for the vices of her forebears. But consistency would dictate that she thus has no claim on their virtues either.
Last week, I posted about how the defection-masquerading-as-retirement of Maine’s liberal Republican Senator Olympia Snowe set back the GOP’s hopes for winning back the Senate by putting an open seat in a deep-blue state into play for this fall’s elections. The results of some new polling in another contest halfway across the nation, however, should tamp down some of Democrats’ more enthusiastic expectations for Election Day.
Ever since the Senate’s most conservative Democrat (a designation akin to being the MVP of a Pygmy basketball league), Nebraska’s Ben Nelson, announced just after Christmas that he would be retiring with the end of his term this year, the party has been distraught. Nelson’s situation is almost a mirror image of Snowe’s. Considered an ideological apostate, he is little loved by his party’s base. His personal popularity, however, has kept safe a seat that would otherwise fall easily into the opposition’s hands (Nebraska is just as safely Republican as Maine is Democratic).
According to some new polling from Rasmussen, however, the dream seems to have been premature. The results show Kerrey (who is a known commodity in Cornhusker State politics, having spent four years as Governor and 12 years as a U.S. Senator) trailing the Republican front-runner, Attorney General Jon Bruning, by 22 points. State Treasurer Don Stenberg, who has earned the endorsement of Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, is up 18 on Kerrey. Thus far, it looks like the Democrats’ hopes that a single transformative figure could lead them to the promised land were quixotic. If only there were an example from recent history that could have warned them of that possibility …
Following our recent blog symposium on Mitt Romney’s shortcomings as an effective defender of market economics, this clip from his appearance yesterday on the Today Show is worth watching:
The problem with Romney’s “envy” approach is that it’s a mirror image of precisely the kind of class warfare he’s (rightly) accusing President Obama of. It’s just not going to hold water in a time of economic distress for any Republican — let alone a fantastically wealthy ex-businessman — to attempt to swat away his opponents by claiming they resent his wealth and that of those similarly situated. Romney should instead be making the case for broad-based prosperity — the sort of democratic capitalism Ashton advocated yesterday. Attacking the motives of his opponents instead of rebutting their assertions makes him seem both aloof and unprepared for the debate to come.
Ashton and Quin both point out deficiencies of Mitt Romney’s that go far beyond the narrow attack on Bain I referenced in yesterday’s post. And they’re both right.
Quin says my rhetorical suggestions for Romney would only help so much. Quite so. One Ricochet member asked, in response to my post, if I could come up with a speechmaking salvo that could save Romney from the taint of his misbegotten Massachusetts healthcare experiment. My response: “As Romney found during his time in the private sector, some turnaround jobs are too much for anyone to salvage.”
I’ll just add one factor to Ashton and Quin’s delineation of Romney’s liabilities: he seems unable to connect with voters. This is a man, remember, who was won only one election in his life–and even that occurred in the context of a three-way race where Romney was unable to win a simple majority. As I’ve argued in a previous column, Romney is bedeviled by many of the same shortcomings that hindered John Kerry’s presidential bid: patrician aloofness, a sense that he’ll say or do anything to curry favor with the electorate, and a total lack of the capacity to inspire.
I’ve feared for some time that 2012 will be a mirror image of 2004, with a weak incumbent squeaking by a challenger who earned the nomination by seeming slightly more viable than the other candidates in a mediocre field. Unfortunately, that’s starting to look like exactly how this race is playing out.
Regular readers know that I’m far from the biggest Mitt Romney supporter in the world. That being said, the criticisms of his time at Bain Capital leveled by fellow candidates Newt Gingrich, Jon Hunstman, and Rick Perry have been shockingly opportunistic and intellectually dishonest, particularly for self-proclaimed advocates of free market capitalism (they’ve also ignored the more salient criticism — the numerous instances in which Bain lived off the taxpayer).
Over at Ricochet, I have a proposed rhetorical response for Romney. The whole’s thing here, but here’s a sample:
I would remind my opponents – as I would remind President Obama – that work is a form of public service. Our ability to make money is directly tied to our ability to provide something of value to our fellow man. But sometimes when the customer’s needs change or when we lose ground to our competitors, we have to make changes. We don’t choose these circumstances. As a matter of fact, we hate these circumstances. But, like many Americans that are struggling today, we accept the things that we cannot change, we make the hard choices, and we persevere. That is never an easy task. And unfortunately, sometimes people lose their jobs as a result. But what, I wonder, do my opponents think the alternative is? If a company on the brink of failure has no choice but to let a few employees go now or to see all of their jobs disappear eventually, what should they do?
Those are the kind of painful choices that people face in the real economy. And I find it telling that that concept is foreign to my opponents. They’re not foreign to the American people – because they’re living through them every day. You can talk to anyone who’s ever sat behind a manager’s desk – whether it’s in a corner office or a corner store – and they’ll tell you that there’s nothing that they hate more than having to fire someone. Americans take pride in their work. Losing a paycheck hurts. But losing your sense of dignity hurts more. My experiences in business didn’t make me enjoy firing people. It made me loathe the politicians in Washington for whom those people are nothing more than statistics on a spreadsheet.
Skim through this week’s commentarypieceshere at CFIF, and you’ll notice that all of us at the Center are incensed by President Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau yesterday, all of which seemed to clearly overstep the president’s constitutional authority.
According to the invaluable James Pethokoukis, however, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Writing at the American Enterprise Institute’s Enterprise Blog, Pethokoukis notes that there’s an ominous implication from yesterday’s appointments — that the president could use a similar tactic to appoint a new head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. He writes:
And why is that important? The Federal Housing Finance Agency is the regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And the FHFA currently has an acting director, Edward DeMarco. If Obama replaces him with a “housing advocate” via the same recess appointment process, here’s what might happen next, according to [the Washington Research Group's Jaret] Seiberg:
“That could lead to a mass refinancing program for agency-backed mortgages that would go well beyond the existing HARP program. That could hurt agency MBS pricing and result in higher financing costs going forward. Yet it also could be a big boost for the economy and housing going into the election.”
Indeed, my sources tell me the Obama administration has been eager to implement just such a plan, but needs to have its own man heading the FHFA to make it happen.
There are more grisly details in Pethokoukis’s original post. The upshot? President Obama — without approval from Congress — could commit taxpayers to a quarter-trillion dollars of spending in order to bail out imprudent homeowners in an election year. Essentially, we’d all be financing the president’s reelection campaign. And, in a tight race, the resulting bribe stimulus might just do the trick.
Mr. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, where his parents were working in the oil business. Back in Houston for high school, he entered speech contests run by the Free Enterprise Institute. Students learned the “Ten Pillars of Economic Wisdom,” a government-out-of-the-economy manifesto based on the work of libertarian thinkers like Mr. Hayek, Frédéric Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, then wrote and memorized 20-minute speeches about it. As one of the citywide winners for four years, Mr. Cruz traveled the state, speaking to civic groups for $50 or $100 a speech.
The institute then chose him to be one of its “Constitutional Collaborators,” who spent hundreds of hours debating the Constitution. Using a mnemonic device to memorize it, they toured the state, writing it out for audiences.
It made Mr. Cruz an early adopter of the worldview that now characterizes Tea Party politics, where federal involvement in health care or the economy (and many of the roles it has assumed since the New Deal) is socialism and an abuse of the Constitution. At Princeton, he wrote his thesis on the Ninth and 10th Amendments, the core of the states’ rights argument.
It also directed him toward politics. He graduated from Harvard Law School, then clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and served in the Bush administration at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department.
How many U.S. Senators do you know who could write out the Constitution from memory? Perhaps the Lone Star State will give us at least one.
As we anticipated in last week’s Liberty Update, the U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear legal challenges to ObamaCare this term. As we also noted in that commentary, the issue broadly boils down to whether an explicit provision of the Constitution will be rendered meaningless and effectively read out of the document itself.
That is not hyperbole. Our Founding Fathers didn’t randomly insert provisions into the Constitution for no reason whatsoever. Rather, they crafted that document to design a federal government of limited, enumerated powers and to safeguard individual freedom to the greatest extent possible. Accordingly, they intentionally included the Commerce Clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution to empower Congress “To regulate Commerce with Foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” ObamaCare, however, does not merely “regulate commerce among the several states.” Rather, it compels commercial activity from every citizen, and punishes inactivity on the part of any individual.
Anyone asserting ObamaCare’s validity must therefore answer this question: If the Commerce Clause somehow permits forced commercial activity and prosecution of inactivity, what possible hypothetical federal mandate would it not permit? Such a result would void a specific clause within the text of the Constitution because no limiting principle would remain. That, in turn, would mean that no other provision remains safe in such a brave new world.
Hopefully, at least five Justices respect the Constitution enough to not remove yet another thread from its fabric. Should the Court fail, however, the fight will not be finished. The job will simply fall upon us as individual citizens to effectuate the individual freedoms that too few elected and appointed officials seem to respect.
Granted, Newt has 9 staff members in the Palmetto State while Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry each have 7, but hey, he’s still #1!
Troy wrote an insightful entry analyzing Gingrich’s somewhat discussed boomlet as perhaps not enough to overtake the unfathomable Mitt Romney. Still, if there’s anyone in this race who knows how to galvanize a movement, it’s the author of the Contract with America.
Quin, I await another onslaught on why Gingrich would not be (to put it nicely) your choice for POTUS.
Jennifer Rubin’s interview with House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) gives more reason to surmise that a pairing of him and GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney as the 2012 Republican ticket. Rubin says that Ryan’s response to Romney’s entitlement reform plan was “effusive” and a clear statement of support from the leading elected conservative intellectual.
With Romney mired in an electoral no-man’s land – leading all other challengers but only garnering 25% support – adding Ryan to his team sometime next year would probably be enough to get disaffected Tea Party and conservative support otherwise underwhelmed with Romney’s checkered history.
For a state with an overwhelmingly Republican tilt, Utah can produce some political headscratchers. Consider:
Utah’s former governor, Jon Huntsman, is running for president as the most moderate candidate in the GOP field, despite being the former chief executive of the nation’s most Republican state. Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a hardcore conservative beloved by the Tea Party, is a former Huntsman staffer, but he’s also likely to challenge incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch next year with the argument that Hatch is too much of a RINO for residents of the Beehive State to send back to Capitol Hill. At the same time, it was announced today that Chaffetz is backing former Massachusetts governor (and one-time Utah resident) Mitt Romney for president, on the grounds that Romney is the most electable candidate in the GOP field.
It’s hard to keep all these machinations straight, but one thing’s for certain: the usually laudable Chaffetz will pay a price with his Tea Party base for coming out early for Romney. Romney’s Massachusetts health care reform was a dry run for Obamacare, right down to the individual mandate that makes tea partiers shutter.
By Chaffetz’s own admission, Romney is a friend. But while that loyalty is laudable, it need not extend to elevating Romney over other presidential contenders this early in the process.
Chaffetz claims Romney’s economic experience makes him the logical choice in 2012. For his sake, he better be right. As Mitt would probably tell him, there’s nothing worse than saddling yourself with an illiquid asset that goes bust.
Current commentary on the 2012 presidential race, including here at CFIF, centers primarily on the strength of the germinating Republican field. The more Barack Obama weakens between now and November 2012, however, the easier the task for whoever emerges from the GOP race. On that note, two new polls should have Team Obama sweating. In the first, Rasmussen reports that Obama only leads “Generic Republican” by one point this week. With most discussion of that generic Republican field focusing on its supposed weakness, that is significant. In the second, CNN reports that 48% of respondents state Obama’s presidency has been a failure to date, while only 47% rate it successful. The fact that CNN polled all adults, rather than registered voters or likely voters, is all the more reason for him to worry.
It is well known throughout the halls of CFIF that one challenges our own Troy Senik at one’s own risk. That principle carries additional weight on a week in which George Will, the dean of conservative commentators, cited Troy by name in his column.
In a fit of feistiness, I’ll nevertheless do the unthinkable and metaphorically run down those same halls with exposed scissors by responding to Troy’s thoughtful ricochet.com piece “Presidential Race Freefall.” In his column, Troy laments Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’s decision not to run for president in 2012, saying, “we’re essentially left with Huntsman, Pawlenty, or Romney. Out of that group, Huntsman is too moderate, Romney is too elastic, and Pawlenty is more acquittable than embraceable.” He concludes with a fear that, “it’s time to start proceeding to the exits in orderly fashion.”
Those are certainly understandable and justifiable sentiments. But I have a hunch that a lot of people may be selling Pawlenty short. Consider that he won the relatively liberal state of Minnesota’s highest office not once, but twice. That accomplishment included a reelection victory in 2006, a devastating year for anyone running with an “R” next to his or her name, particularly in a state like Minnesota. In fact, the Democrats recaptured both state legislative houses that November. So we’re not talking about a candidate whose campaign for national office rests on a flimsy resume constructed in the fair weather of some deeply red state . Pawlenty’s feat becomes even more impressive when one considers that despite governing a state so blue that it was the only one to support Walter Mondale over Ronald Reagan, he was one of only four governors to earn an “A” grade for fiscal management in 2010 from the Cato Institute. Notably, Governor Daniels earned a “B” that year. Then, in announcing his candidacy in Iowa yesterday and appearing afterward on Rush Limbaugh’s show, Pawlenty boldly called for an end to ethanol subsidies from which many in Iowa benefit.
In other words, Pawlenty is a man who has managed to win in difficult electoral environments while maintaining a remarkably strong conservative record. There may be some steel beneath that mild Clark Kent exterior.
According to a Wall Street Journalsurvey of economists, unemployment for the November 2012 election will remain elevated at 7.7%. That would make it the highest for a presidential election since the Carter/Ford nailbiter in 1976, when it was 7.8%.
Ominously, the report adds, “Economists in the survey slightly raised the likelihood of recession over the next 12 months to 14%, largely due to rising oil prices.” The article endeavors to highlight the caveat that, “analysts point out that it is often the overall trend – rather than the level of joblessness – that determines an incumbent’s fate.” The 7.8% rate of November 1976 (in which the incumbent Ford lost), however, had declined from 9.0% in May of 1975, 8.3% one year earlier and 7.9% at the beginning of 1976.
Liberal pundits appear eager to claim that no Republican wants to take on the supposedly strong Obama, but this survey and storm clouds in the form of higher gas prices, overall inflation and worldwide chaos may suggest otherwise.
For all of the good that came out of the 2010 midterm elections, the biggest disappointment had to be the fact that Peter Schiff — CEO of Europe Pacific Capital and a devout student of Austrian economics — lost in the Republican primary for the open U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut.
For a taste of Schiff’s particular brand of straight talk (which would make John McCain soil himself) one need look no further than a piece he authored in today’s Washington Times, wherein he excoriates the entire Beltway establishment and uses political handicapper Stuart Rothenberg as a metaphor for everything that’s wrong with the political class. The piece begs to read in its entirety, but here’s one particularly fine excerpt:
This is how the game works in big-time politics: A potential candidate hires a polling firm to create a strategically written and scientifically executed poll to discover the buzzwords and simple campaign themes that “resonate” among voters. Consultants then boil down the poll results to a few “winning” message points and strategies. At that point, the modern candidate simply hammers away again and again at those sound bites. Winners are those who stay “on message” while knocking their opponents “off message.” It is of little consequence to the professionals that this process produces the kind of vacuous, unprincipled leaders who have brought our country to the doorstep of economic ruin.
If the American people are really tired of business as usual, they could do a lot worse than to summon Peter Schiff to Capitol Hill. Here’s to hoping he gives the Senate another look in 2012.
In this week’s Liberty Updatecommentary “2012 May Be Even Brighter for Conservatives Than 2010,” we note that there are reasons why 2012 might bring even more conservative change than this week’s results regardless of the political climate two years from now. In the Senate, Democrats must defend 23 seats, many of those in red states like Montana, whereas Republicans need only defend 10 (most of which are in red states like Wyoming, Utah and Texas). And in the House, post-census redistricting in states that elected Republican governors and legislatures this week may add even more seats to the 60+ they won two days ago.
Here’s another encouraging (and related) factor for conservatives. The same post-census realignment that will facilitate more conservative wins in the House will also alter the Electoral College, thereby affecting the 2012 presidential race. How significant that effect will be one cannot yet say, but every point will count if that White House contest is as close as two of the previous three have been.