December, 2014

Midwestern Governors Build Credentials for 2016

“One group of potential candidates for president probably won’t be shuffling off to Iowa, New Hampshire or other early campaign spots in the new year. They’ll be hunkered down in statehouses across the Midwest, pushing bills through their legislatures,” the AP reports.

“Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Mike Pence of Indiana, Rick Snyder of Michigan and John Kasich of Ohio were all elected after Republicans began taking political control of the middle of the country back in 2010. Since then, they have offered a glimpse of what some conservative policies would look like if put into wider effect.”

“Should any of these governors join the race for the White House, their state records would become their chief qualification for higher office and might provide some distance from partisan battles in Washington. The governors could also benefit from being in a region rich with swing states.”

Hill Office Swap Could Cost More Than $1 Million

The Week: “A new Congress means a new distribution of offices on Capitol Hill — and it’s going to cost us. Some 60 freshmen senators and representatives have selected office space via a lottery system much like what some colleges use to assign dorm space to upperclassmen. Meanwhile, returning members of Congress jockey to move into better office space closer to meeting rooms and the House or Senate floor. The last time these moves were made, in late 2012, the moving bill totaled $1.5 million.”

Obama Hopes to Partner with GOP on New Trade Deals

“President Obama is preparing a major push on trade that seeks to enlist Republicans as partners and test his premise that Washington can still find common ground on major initiatives, even after he angered the GOP with a recent slew of executive actions,” the Washington Post reports.

“It also will test his willingness to buck his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement. Already, Obama is facing fierce blowback from fellow Democrats, who are accusing him of abandoning past promises on trade and potentially undermining his domestic priority of reducing income inequality.”

Things are Looking Up

Politico: “Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent in his first term; it’s already down to 5.8 percent, half the struggling eurozone’s rate. Newt Gingrich promised $2.50 gas; it’s down to $2.38. Crime, abortion, teen pregnancy and oil imports are also way down, while renewable power is way up and the American auto industry is booming again. You don’t have to give credit to President Barack Obama for ‘America’s resurgence,’ as he has started calling it, but there’s overwhelming evidence the resurgence is real. The Chicken Littles who predicted a double-dip recession, runaway interest rates, Zimbabwe-style inflation, a Greece-style debt crisis, skyrocketing energy prices, health insurance “death spirals” and other horrors have been reliably wrong.”

“Come to think of it, the 62 percent of Americans who described the economy as ‘poor’ in a CNN poll a week before the Republican landslide in the midterm elections were also wrong.”

Rubio Not Letting Bush Push Him Out

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) “is planning to take a more active role on the national political stage next month, undeterred by his former mentor Jeb Bush’s moves toward running for president,” The Hill reports.

“Republican strategists predicted months ago that Rubio would not run for the White House if Bush waged a bid. They assumed Rubio’s fundraising base in Florida would migrate entirely to Bush, the state’s former governor.”

The Wall Street Journal notes Rubio “is facing a difficult decision about running for president or continuing to represent Florida in the Senate.”

The Brownback Effect

Politico: “Republicans once idolized Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as a tax cutting superstar — now he’s a lesson in what not to do… It’s a major turnaround from two years ago, when Brownback was considered a Republican trailblazer for conservatives around the nation who dreamed of phasing out their state income tax.”

“Now, Republicans are rethinking how aggressive they can be on taxes in light of the projected $279 million revenue gap that’s plaguing Kansas this year — shortfalls that resulted in the state’s credit rating being downgraded and nearly booted the Republican from office in a state that bleeds red.”

Islamic State Not Much of a State

“The Islamic State’s vaunted exercise in state-building appears to be crumbling as living conditions deteriorate across the territories under its control, exposing the shortcomings of a group that devotes most of its energies to fighting battles and enforcing strict rules,” the Washington Post reports.

“Services are collapsing, prices are soaring, and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims.”

Brown Tries Again to Reshape Court

“When Jerry Brown first served as governor of California, he set out to reshape the powerful California Supreme Court by appointing its first female chief justice. But his pick, Rose Bird, had never served as a judge before and came to be perceived as a liberal ideologue,” the New York Times reports.

“Ms. Bird, along with two other judges Mr. Brown named to the court, was recalled by voters in an election in 1986.”

“Nearly 40 years after he made that selection, Mr. Brown is again seeking to remake a court that to this day is viewed by legal scholars as among the most influential in the nation, with one study proclaiming it the state court most followed by other appellate judges. And once more, the ever-unconventional Mr. Brown is roiling the waters with a series of head-snapping, if decidedly more applauded, choices for this tribunal.”

Huffington Post: Brown issues 105 pardons

Bush’s Business Record Brings Romney Comparisons

The Los Angeles Times says Jeb Bush’s business record, “enmeshed in international finance and some troubled former ventures in South Florida, could end up complicating his return to politics and his hopes to follow his father, George H.W. Bush, and his older brother, George W. Bush, into the Oval Office.”

“Last year, he took a step into the rarefied world of private equity and offshore investments, joining with former banking executives and a Chinese airline company to make bets on natural gas exploration and shipping. One of the funds was set up in the United Kingdom, a structure that allows the company to shield overseas investors from U.S. taxes.”

“During the 2012 race, Romney drew ceaseless attacks from Democrats for his lucrative work at Bain Capital, a pioneering venture capital company that bought scores of troubled companies, took over their management and sometimes laid off employees while garnering huge fees and payouts. But Bush and his aides argue that his investments and entrepreneurial ventures are different because he isn’t taking control of companies and restructuring them.”

Strong Economy Could Shake Up Political Strategy

“After years of muddling along, the U.S. economy appears to be breaking into a sprint that could alter the political landscape heading into 2015 and beyond,” Politico reports.

“The latest evidence of strength came in a report on Tuesday showing growth expanded at a robust 5 percent pace in the third quarter of 2014, the fastest speed in over a decade. The news helped drive the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 18,000 for the first time ever in a bull market charge that began six years ago and shows no signs of slowing.”

Clinton Works to Shore Up the Left

Hillary Clinton “is working hard to shore up support among liberals in hopes of tamping down a serious challenge from the left in the battle for the 2016 nomination,” the Washington Post reports.

“Clinton has aligned herself firmly with President Obama since the November midterms on a range of liberal-friendly issues, including immigration, climate change and opening diplomatic relations with Cuba. In an impassioned human rights speech this month, she also condemned the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation tactics and decried cases of apparent police brutality against minorities.”

“The recent statements suggest a concerted effort by Clinton to appeal to the Democratic Party’s most activist, liberal voters, who have often eyed her with suspicion and who would be crucial to her securing the party’s nomination.”