May 7, 2011

What is Obama’s Re-election “Strategery?”

Up until now, Obama’s strategy, or, as George W. Bush would say, “strategery” for his re-election bid has confused me. The president appeared to be fumbling the ball whenever it was passed his way, and seemed to be walking into an uphill battle for re-election against the backdrop of a weak economy and a crushing debt, all of which could be used against the president by a halfway credible, fiscally-oriented Republican nominee. The president’s approval rating was underwater in key Northern states needed by the Democrats to get to the magic number of 270 electoral votes, including New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Indeed, President Obama’s election in 2008 began to appear more and more as if it were a fluke, the result of Bush fatigue, the financial collapse, and an especially weak Republican nominee.

Especially perplexing was President Obama’s approach to the debt issue. With economic and fiscal issues seemingly at the core of the coming election cycle, Obama’s decision to don full Paul Krugman jacket on entitlements and spending made little sense. Given that Republicans had thrown down the gauntlet at their endzone, embracing Paul Ryan’s plan to re-organize entitlements in a way that would individualize, means-test, and devolve to the states many of Washington’s most popular programs, Obama would have been far better off, it seemed, had he cast his lot with the folks at the 50-yard-line, perhaps by embracing, in a serious way, one of the centrist deficit reduction plans, such as Bowles-Simpson or Domenici-Rivlin. In so doing, Obama would be essentially “pulling a Bill Clinton,” and stealing the issue of entitlement reform away from the Republicans, as Clinton did with welfare reform. The president’s base would have nowhere to go, and Republicans would have to decide whether to compromise with the president, and allow him to be the president who “saves” Social Security and Medicare, or stand their ground and make Obama seem reasonable to swing voters.

Instead, the president dithered for months following his massive midterm losses and then gave a speech in which he set himself up to be the unabashed defender of the legacy of FDR and LBJ, suggesting that entitlement reform was necessary, and then proceeding to take off the table every possible manner in which to reform entitlements. In so doing, the president retreated to his own endzone on the debt issue, resulting in polls showing that Americans were evenly divided as to whether Ryan and the Republicans or Obama and the Democrats should be trusted on fiscal matters. Entitlements, which had long been a Democratic issue, now seemed up for grabs. None of this made any sense. It was like Obama wanted to lose.

But given the events of the past week, the reasoning behind Obama’s moves are becoming far more clear. With Osama bin Laden dead, and with the subsequent attempt to kill Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, it’s becoming evident that the president is following the Richard Nixon playbook from 1971, and is attempting to introduce a foreign policy element into a campaign that would otherwise center on domestic issues on which the president simply could not win.

In Allan Lichtman’s book, The Keys to the White House, Lichtman dubs Richard Nixon, “The Turnaround President,” due to Nixon’s ability to pivot from a fairly lackluster first term in office to an easy re-election. Lichtman argues that Nixon entered his third year in office with bleak re-election prospects. His party had received a drubbing in the midterm elections, his domestic accomplishments had been sparse, and he was presiding over an economic recovery that wasn’t hitting home with the American people. Moreover, Nixon continued to be mired in an endless land war in Asia. Nixon turned things around by using 1971 and 1972 to focus on two things: foreign policy and job growth. In terms of foreign policy, Lichtman argues, Nixon pulled off a coup via detente with the Soviet Union and by opening the door to China, resulting in eased tensions with these Communist nations, a welcome development in an America where perpetual military conflict to contain Communism seemed inevitable. Nixon’s foreign policy successes boosted his case for re-election, making him seem like a serious president.

The other plank of Nixon’s re-election strategy, according to Lichtman, was to get the short-term economy moving again. The recovery of the early ’70s had finally reached the average American in 1972, just in time for Nixon to reap the political spoils. Now, I think most economic conservatives would argue that Nixon’s policies of price controls and economic stimulus had little to do with the economic recovery, and may have actually hindered the recovery, in the sense that the recovery may have been quicker and more robust had Nixon not employed Keynesian economics. But none of that matters to the bulk of Americans, who arbitrarily reward or punish the sitting president based on the economic conditions on the ground.

Fast-forward to the present day. President Obama, like Nixon, is attempting to introduce a new foreign policy element into this election cycle through a series of attempted foreign policy successes. Instead of detente with the Soviets and “Nixon going to China,” though, we’re going to get a series of dead terrorists. The optics will be this: Obama the Ditherer becomes Obama the Terrorist Hunter.

Further, the president will claim credit for the American economy’s recovery, presuming that jobs continue growing at least at their current pace. April marks the third month in a row in which over 200,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy. Pretty much every economist agrees that this is a paltry sum, and that an economy at this stage of recovery should be adding far more jobs. But unfortunately, Americans won’t be able to compare an alternate universe, where President Nikki Haley is presding over 400,000 new jobs a month, with the actual universe in which Obama is president, and in which the federal government is stepping on the nation’s toes. Instead, the message by fall of 2012 will be that Obama is “creating” between 2 and 3 million jobs a year, and that Republican promises of greater fortunes would constitute the uncertainty that comes with “changing horses midstream.”

Finally, President Nixon had one final advantage in 1972, and that was the Democratic base and its insistence that its presidential nominee be the most extreme, abstract, unelectable nominee possible, i.e., someone designed to “send a message” as opposed to win an election. Indeed, the nomination of George McGovern turned what would have been a modest Nixon re-election, based on the economic rebound and foreign policy accomplishments, into a 49-state rout. Similarly, the nomination of one of the GOP base’s flavors of the month, such as Herman Cain, Donald Trump, etc, would lead to an extremely lopsided election result, as Obama’s bad ideas defeat the GOP nominee’s lack of ideas, other than the idea that “Obama sucks.”

Further, even if Republicans can be pulled away from the psychologically satisfying act of going down in flames with Herman, Sarah, Donald, or Michele, the introduction of a strong foreign policy component into the campaign mixes the field up a bit, and does so in a way that makes it harder for someone like Paul Ryan or Mitch Daniels to win the nomination. Races that involve foreign policy generally lower the stock of wonky, green eyeshade types, and raise the stock of candidates who exude strength and/or gravitas. This may lead candidates like Rudy Giuliani, who previously may have stayed out of the race, to jump in, while Ryan and Daniels, who were flirting with getting in, decide to stay out. And that of course complicates the Republican calculus even further. It was hard enough before adding a foreign policy element to find an understated social conservative with a primary focus on economic and fiscal issues who could make both the base and swing voters happy, and who was an excellent politcian and serious policy wonk as well. Adding the foreign policy prong makes a hard task seem nearly impossible.

To sum up, Richard Nixon bet the farm in 1971-72 on the notion that short-term job growth and a few big foreign policy triumphs would salvage a lackluster first term and yield a second term for the president. President Obama is likewise putting all of his re-election chips on continued job growth and as many dead terrorists as possible. Team Obama is wagering that jobs and dead terrorists beat either austerity or red meat, and that swing voters will allow Obama to kick the entitlement can down the road as long as things appear to be moving in the right direction. Whether the American people will see through this strategy is anyone’s guess.

by @ 3:48 pm. Filed under Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs
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56 Responses to “What is Obama’s Re-election “Strategery?””

  1. Jonathan Says:

    Dave:

    I know you’re going to hate this, but Karl Rove had an article essentially saying the same thing you have (mainly, that Obama is following the Nixonian path to reelection).

    I remember reading that Nixon feared 3 Democrats who he thought could have beaten him; Edmund Muskie, Ted Kennedy, and Hubert Humphrey. Nixon got extremely lucky with the 1972 Democratic Primaries. Kennedy had Chappaquidick (however the hell you spell that), CREEP and the Union-Leader sank Muskie, and the purist/ ultra-leftwingers in the Democratic Party threw their support to McGovern over Humphrey.

    The other factor in the Democratic Primaries was the fact that the primaries actually dominated the nomination process for the first time, instead of the backrooms of the convention. Humphrey won the 1968 nomination without entering a single primary. The Democrats massively reformed their primary process under the leadership of, you guessed it, George McGovern. The newness of the primaries helped McGovern immensely, since he wrote the rules on it. Humphrey, Muskie and the other Democrats just simply didn’t understand how the system worked as well, and McGovern outmanuevered them (along with myriad other factors).

  2. Craig for Romney 2012 Says:

    Haven’t we already seen Obama’s strategy? Take a quick look at 2010, blame republicans and label them extreme. It didn’t work then and it’s not going to work next year. Bye Bye Obama! :)

  3. Dave Gaultier Says:

    Jonathan,

    I actually admire Rove’s intellect, even though I am diametrically opposed to his vision of the Republican Party. Do you have a link to the Rove article?

  4. Jonathan Says:

    Here’s the Rove article. Turns out he’s interpreting Obama’s Nixonian nature differently than you are Dave, but it is interesting that there are 2 comparisons to Nixon within about a week of each other:

    http://www.rove.com/articles/312

  5. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    “Further, even if Republicans can be pulled away from the psychologically satisfying act of going down in flames with Herman, Sarah, Donald, or Michele, the introduction of a strong foreign policy component into the campaign mixes the field up a bit, and does so in a way that makes it harder for someone like Paul Ryan or Mitch Daniels to win the nomination. Races that involve foreign policy generally lower the stock of wonky, green eyeshade types, and raise the stock of candidates who exude strength and/or gravitas.”

    Huck/Rubio 2012 ..naturally for the win :)

  6. RUBIOZONE Says:

    All I know is, Obama is milking this Osama thing for every drop he can get out of it. I just hope it wont last, as conventional wisdom says it wont.

    I may be the first one to say something like this, but isn’t it completely ODD that from the start Obama was saying that Pakistan was where the action was. Perhaps he knew more and was holding out until he needed a shot in the arm??

    I’m not insinuating anything…just my instincts, caused by my basic distrust of the man.

  7. Viking Says:

    #5–can’t happen; they live in the same state. It really is amazing how poor this field is. Consider there are fifty states and many more Red States, there should’ve been someone elected that was decent, even with the 06-08 wipeouts.

  8. Win M. Says:

    Viking –

    It’s easily avoided. Cheney and Bush lived in the same state, and I believe Cheney just switched his residency back to Wyoming. Not a tough fix, especially because Huckabee is so readily affiliated with Arkansas anyway. I know he has a house in Florida, but I presume he’ll maintain some sort of residence in Arkansas.

  9. Kavon W. Nikrad Says:

    Dave,

    Read this:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/morning-jay-economy-still-not-good-enough-reelect-obama_559238.html?page=1

    P.S. The only reason that the economy added 200,000 jobs in April was 62,000 one-time McDonalds jobs that were hired in one day. The economy is not really improving. It is merely being kept alive by government spending.

  10. LV Says:

    The Terrorist theory is a good one, but for over two years, he has denied the fact that terrorist even exist ….and how he going to explain why he wanted to close gitmo and try the terrorist in civil courts…..while knowing about Bin Laden and his compound…. how is he going to square that with the American people…..

    That would be a gift to the GOP.

  11. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Viking,

    He’s got his two homes back in Arkansas. Five minutes of boring paperwork in a federal election clerks office is all it would take to make Huck/Rubio a reality

    And Obama’s worse nightmare of one term and out: http://mjosephsheppardrecoveringliberal.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/snipmap.jpg

  12. Viking Says:

    Craig, changing his residency would really be tipping his hat as to who he’d choose. ;-)

    #9, the scary thing is this economy may be beyond Obama’s control. Tax cuts help and spending cuts help, but remember the two periods of greatest econ growth over the last 20 years, 96/96-2000, 2004-2008, were both caused by asset bubbles. Without an asset bubble, does this country have what it takes to naturally grow?

  13. Metro Says:

    #9: I’ve always had a lot of respect for Jay Cost. But he doesn’t yet understand that our electable candidates aren’t satisfying the grassroots.

    He addressed these issues recently, but really doesn’t get it:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/morning-jay-gop-looks-strong_558450.html

  14. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Governor Huckabee minutes ago on Fox News: “I’m glad the last thing that went through Bin Laden’s mind was an American bullet.”

  15. CraigS Says:

    You bet the farm on foreign policy as a means of ” distracting ” the voters from high unemployment, rising gas prices, inevitable inflation and then hope and pray that the GOP nominates a right wing version of a left wing zealot like George McGovern that allows you to preempt the center and independent vote where lies the 2012 election and victory. Alas, this could well happen.

    CraigS

  16. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Viking,

    Could you imagine Huckabee/Obama debates?

    And Rubio/Biden?

    Game over for the Liberals.

  17. Metro Says:

    A Huckabee/Obama debate is game-over for capitalism.

  18. TEX Says:

    “Could you imagine Huckabee/Obama debates?”
    =================================

    I can see it.
    Obama versus Obama Lite.

    Huckabee is pro life(which is good) anti-gay,tax and spend,big government,nanny state,pro illegal immigration liberal.

    Great conservative Bob Novak,plus many others, had articles describing
    Huckabee as pro-life liberal.

  19. Dave Gaultier Says:

    Jay Cost makes some good points about the underlying realities of the economy. The topline results aren’t going to matter at all if the average person is thinking, “What economic growth? Everyone I know is either unemployed, underemployed, or just scraping by on government assistance!” In that event, it doesn’t matter how many stats the White House releases. Conversely, if the average person really does feel that things are starting to get better, then that will certainly kneecap a lot of the Republican arguments against Obama in the minds of swing voters.

    I would say the two most important factors going into next year are the true state of the economy, measured by the outlook of the average person, and whether the GOP nominates someone reasonable for president (e.g., Pawlenty instead of Cain). Obama’s foreign policy successes are only important to the extent that they neutralize his weaknesses on spending (“Hey, I may not care about the debt, but I can sure kill terrorists!”).

  20. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Metro & TEX = The king and queen in the land of HYPERBOLE

  21. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    I’m out the door on my way to the first place Angels/Indians game BUT here’s a present for the badly mistaken Metro and his sidekick Frenchman..

    Huckabee is CONSERVATIVE. Obama is Liberal. Who do you choose?

    The following was accomplished as a 10 1/2 year Governor while facing a legislature with 89 Democrats out of 100 legislators in the House and only four Republicans in the 35-seat Senate:

    The Governor’s strong CONSERVATIVE record:

    *He helped grow the economy of his state by 4.4%, even beating the strong national average of 4.2%.
    * Also among the TOP in job growth (compare to Romney who was 47th of 50!)
    * Cut the state capital gains tax rate by 25%.
    * Abolished capital gains taxes on home sales.
    * Abolished the state marriage penalty tax.
    * Pushed a $90 million tax cut package through the Arkansas legislature in 1997.
    * From 1995 to 2005, cut taxes 90 times, returning nearly $400 million to taxpayers.
    * Indexed income tax brackets to inflation, thus protecting taxpayers from being pushed into higher tax brackets by inflation.
    * Doubled the child-care tax credit.
    * Increased the tax deduction for single individuals to $2,000.
    * Increased the tax deduction for married couples to $4,000.
    * Proposed cutting the executive branch from 50 departments to 10.
    * Banned illegal aliens from getting drivers licenses.
    * Reduced state welfare enrollment by nearly half.
    * Helped pass an unborn child amendment to the state constitution.
    * Helped pass a traditional marriage amendment to the state constitution.
    * Pushed through a property owners’ bill of rights that limited property tax hikes and protected homeowners from unfair tax assessments.
    * Pushed through homeschooling-friendly legislation.
    * Limited the increase in the overall rate of state spending to 4.9% (AFI)–not bad, considering that he was dealing with a Democratic legislature.
    * Protected gun manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits.
    * Removed restrictions on concealed handgun permit holders.
    * Pushed through legislation that allowed the state to fire school boards and school superintendents in school districts that were chronically performing badly.
    * When faced with a $227 million deficit for fiscal year 2002, refused to call for a tax increase and instead called for a massive cut in state spending.

    So far, so good, my friends? You want more?

    Good! Then please let me add this to Governor Huckabee’s accomplishments among HUNDREDS of others…

    * Eliminated the state income tax for families below poverty level.
    * Cut welfare rolls by 50%. – I thought I’d mention that TWICE!!
    * Led efforts to establish the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and a Property Taxpayer Bill of Rights for uniform notice and due process.
    * Made the interstate road system in Arkansas one of the best in the nation, where it had been among the worst, bringing in more trucking and trade. And the small tax the voters raised was repealed once the roads were complete.
    * Carried out 16 executions in his time as governor of Arkansas which refutes his opponents’ claims that he’s soft on crime.
    * Signed a ban on partial birth abortion.
    * Worked to grant school administrators more flexibility in hiring and firing poor teachers.
    * Moved Arkansas from grade “F” to a “C” in Charitable Choice compliance so Arkansas was only one of twelve states to pass.

    * Balanced the state budget of Arkansas every year for over a decade as governor in Arkansas
    * AND left his state with almost $1 billion surplus, a state record

    * Strong promoter of a national BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT
    * AND getting rid of the IRS with the the FAIR TAX

    Go Angels!

  22. TEX Says:

    I don’t see any big role of Obama in getting Osama killed.

    Sarah Palin is the only politician to praise only the military and
    the “Seals” and not Obama.

    Look,Obama had no choice but to let military do it’s business.
    Bombing the place was not even an option:

    a)It would provoke great conflict with Pakistan,because our side wasn’t
    even sure that Osama was there.

    b)If the place was bombed,then what?We would never know if Osama was there and killed.

    Seals operation wasn’t easy but was very doable.
    After months of observing the compound from very close proximity CIA
    knew that resistance would be minimal.

    So,Obama had only one option.No big deal.He just had to go along with
    CIA and Military.

    Not now but at the right time fearless Sarahcuda will talk about it.

  23. Sean Says:

    Obama announcement spoof of Bin Laden death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlOIy6QEbes

  24. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    And just for TEX and his Alaskan candidate who quit on her good constituents after only 30 months as their governor.

    Could this be a reason why?

    When Palin took office in 2007 the Gross State Product was $44.3 million. It was $45.7 million when she left office. Giving Alaska an annual growth in GSP of 1.58% during Palin’s term.

    When Huckabee took office in 1996 the Gross State Product was $58.0 million. It was $97.6 million his last year of office. Giving Arkansas an annual growth in GSP of 6.2%.

    Arkansas’ annual Gross State Product grew by 4.62 points better under Huckabee than Alaska’s Gross State Product’s annual growth under Palin.

    Figures are from data provided at http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/state_summary.php?chart=Z0&year=2007&units=b&rank=aSSState

  25. TEX Says:

    Craig,

    Sarah Palin left Alaska with $11 billion surplus.
    She cut the state budget 9.9% even during great economic times.

    Give it up!

    Liberal preacher from Alaska is tax and spend(he pleaded with democrats
    to let him increase taxes),Big government,nanny state,bleeding hart lib
    toward criminals,pro-illegal immigration,HE IS LIBERAL.

    Craig,he was lucky in 2008.There was nobody to expose him for what he is.
    This time with Sarahcuda around there is no place to hide!

  26. Huckarubio Says:

    Craig, glad you finally got that VP pick correct, hence my name:o) Its the best combo out there for 2012, 2016, 2020, and 2024. Rubio would be in office for 4 terms between VP and POTUS.

  27. Huckarubio Says:

    Tex, Huck is from ARKANSAS not Alaska :)

  28. TEX Says:

    “Liberal preacher from Alaska”

    Sorry,of course he’s from Arkansas.

  29. RUBIOZONE Says:

    Lets just get the F-ckin bastard out of office ok????????????????

  30. RUBIOZONE Says:

    sorry, thats how I feel.

  31. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    TEX of France, Sarahcuda is not even running. But hopefully she will vote for Huck again as she did in 2008 from Alaska.

  32. Franklin Says:

    The democrats could not wait to run against a b-movie actor against Ronald Reagan. Carter was going to rip him apart in the debate. Funny how that turned out. Here is what a far left loon said in a Washington Post editorial, “If Democrats don’t start genuinely reaching out to the white working class, someone will. Her name is Sarah Palin. People may not be taking Palin seriously as a candidate at the moment — her poll numbers are down, and she has not announced her intention to seek the GOP nomination — but there’s a woman who knows how to talk to the white working class. In a field where no one else does, that’s a serious advantage.”

    The fact is that Alaska is a treasure trove of oil and minerals. However so much of it is locked away in federal lands and cannot be tapped. Just recently, Shell was forced to abandon drilling off the Alaska coast. You look at how many jobs could be created in this country by exploiting our natural resourceres.

    Palin established a new royalty system that did two things. It created a fairer system of royalty payments to the state and maintained the incenties for companies to drill.

    The good people of Alaska are not so good when a governor can either resign or be marched into bankruptcy court solely for political gain. Already $550,000 in debt due to legal bills and facing over a million dollars in debt if she stayed, she did the right thing. The state of Alaska is at fault
    here and they even admitted it when they changed the law to ensure what happened to Palin cannot happen to another Alaska governor.

    Here are some Huckabee fact checks:
    •Huckabee claimed that a speech in which he implored the state Legislature to raise taxes was in response to a state Supreme Court order to increase education funding. But he specifically said in that speech that he would address the education matter at a later date.
    •He said a tax on beds filled in nursing homes was a “fee” not a tax, despite the fact that he himself has called it the “bed tax.”
    •Huckabee claimed a gasoline tax was only passed after 80 percent of voters approved it. Not true. The tax was enacted before a referendum vote on highway repairs.
    •He frequently says he cut taxes “almost 94 times” but leaves out the 21 taxes raised during his tenure. In the end, he presided over a net tax increase.

    In recent interviews on Fox News, Huckabee responded to some of the sniping with inaccurate and misleading descriptions of his actions as governor. The campaign of one of his rivals, Fred Thompson, sent out an e-mail this week disputing some of Huckabee’s recent remarks. We also find the Thompson camp to be wrong on one of its criticisms.

    Bluffing on Tax Increases

    A recent YouTube video, first posted by a conservative Arkansas blogger, shows about one minute of a May 2003 speech in which Huckabee encourages the Arkansas Legislature to pass tax increases. In a Fox News interview, Huckabee said that portion of the speech was taken out of context:

    Huckabee (Fox News, Nov. 14): That was in the context of a [Arkansas] Supreme Court order that we had to fund education at a higher level. The legislators had come down to the special session and there was all kinds of talk about, well, this tax increase or that revenue possibility is out of the question, dead on arrival. … Now we were at the point, with a court order over our heads – we were going to have to improve our schools.

    Huckabee also invites listeners to “look at the whole speech, if you can stand it,” claiming that it shows a very different message from the one that clip implies. We have pretty strong stomachs here at FactCheck.org, so we called Huckabee’s bluff. (The entire speech is available in two parts.) We found that the full speech does indeed show a different message. But it’s Huckabee who’s out of step with the facts.

    It is true that in November 2002 the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s funding of its public schools violated the equal protection clause in the Arkansas Constitution. Public schools in poorer parts of the state were being underfunded. The court gave the state until Jan. 1, 2004, to correct the problem. So Huckabee is correct in claiming that he was under a court order to increase public school funding.

    But that is not why Huckabee was in front of the Arkansas Legislature in May 2003. Even without the court order to increase public school funding, Arkansas was facing a budget shortfall. For the fiscal year that ended June 2002, that shortfall was $209 million, according to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The fiscal year 2003 gap was $66.7 million. Huckabee’s plea for a tax increase was aimed at covering these revenue shortfalls. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s Huckabee earlier in that same speech:

    Huckabee (state Legislature, May 2003): But the issue that brings us back to this Capitol on this day cannot wait any longer. The urgency of passing budgets for various state agencies is critical, but just as critical is passing a revenue stream that will fund these budgets and provide an adequate level of service, particularly in the areas of Medicaid [sic], as well as the Department of Corrections.

    The line that really got our attention, though:

    Huckabee: The business of education, we’ve decided to let that wait until the fall.

    We take no position on Huckabee’s call for tax increases. But we do suggest that bluffing on a busted hand is a bad move in the YouTube age.

    A Tax By Any Other Name …

    On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Huckabee about several taxes for which the conservative organization Club for Growth has lambasted the governor, including one on nursing home patients. Huckabee played with semantics in his response :

    Huckabee (Fox News Sunday, Nov. 18): Well, we didn’t raise them on nursing home patients. That was a quality assurance fee that was supported by the industry.

    Huckabee backed and signed into law a 2001 bill requiring a “quality assurance fee,” which was a $5.25 fee per bed, per day for nursing homes designed to increase funding for the state Medicaid program. Arkansas media outlets and state legislators dubbed it the “bed tax,” and in fact, Huckabee himself has called it that on at least one occasion. In discussing a controversy over the subsequent hikes in prices charged to private-insurance patients (those who personally pay their bills), he said:

    Huckabee (quoted in Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 19) : Many of them told their patients that it was directly resulted from the bed tax. What we have shown you is that is not true; some of these increases are not the result of the bed tax.

    Whether the governor calls it a tax or a fee, the money charged was to be adjusted annually so that nursing homes would pay an annual fee “equal to six percent (6%) of the aggregate annual gross receipts,” according to Act 635 of 2001. The legislation also stipulated that nursing homes could not list the fee as a separate charge on billing statements to patients.

    It is true, as Huckabee said, that the industry strongly supported the measure. The president of the Arkansas Health Care Association said the group was “ecstatic” that the governor signed the bill into law, according to the Democrat-Gazette. Huckabee had vetoed a bill that would have raised the funds through a tax on tobacco products.

    Huckabee also told Fox News that the bed tax “increased the quality of care by increasing the staffing requirements.” The tax may have led some homes to hire more employees, but a separate piece of legislation specifically increased the staffing requirements. Despite that law, a 2003 congressional report by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform found that many of Arkansas’ nursing homes didn’t meet federal staffing recommendations.

    Increases with Voter Approval?

    Huckabee has similarly been playing loose with the facts about gas tax increases. In 1999, the Arkansas Legislature approved – with Huckabee’s support – a 3 cent per gallon increase in gasoline taxes and a 4 cent per gallon increase in diesel fuel taxes. Huckabee has claimed in campaign appearances and on Fox News that these increases were part of a statewide referendum that passed with 80 percent voter approval. Here is an exchange with Fox News’ Sean Hannity:

    Hannity (Nov. 16): You talked about cutting taxes and balancing budgets. You know, what was the net result? You did support some tax increases, but some tax cuts. Can you explain that?

    Huckabee: Yes, I did. Certainly, there was an issue that involved road building and infrastructure on roads and bridges, and I did support that. We added $1 billion to our economy, 40,000 jobs, went from having the worst to the best roads. When we put that out there for the people to decide whether they wanted to affirm it, they did by an 80 percent vote, I would call that leadership.

    We would call that not true. Huckabee is right that about 80 percent of Arkansas voters approved a referendum to increase funding for highway repair. But the referendum happened after the gas tax hike had already become law.

    Huckabee seems to be describing the plan he wanted rather than the plan he actually supported. In Huckabee’s initial proposal, a tax increase on diesel fuel would be used to finance bonds that would, in turn, be used to repair major highways. The higher diesel fuel tax would have taken effect only if the bond initiative passed, according to the Associated Press. Huckabee’s plan, however, met resistance from Democratic lawmakers, many of whom were from rural districts that did not have major highways but that did have roads badly in need of repair. Their proposed alternative was to add a gasoline tax hike to the bond referendum.

    But Huckabee actually campaigned against sending the gas tax proposal to the voters. Eventually he supported a plan under which the gas and diesel tax increases would take effect regardless of whether the bond passed.

    Championing His Tax Cuts

    The former Arkansas governor is fond of saying – in debates, on his Web site and in that Nov. 18 Fox News interview – that he cut taxes “almost 94 times in my state.” (On his site, he rounds up to “nearly 100 times,” adding that he saved “the people of Arkansas almost $380 million.”)

    That turns out to be far from the whole story. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration found that 90 tax cuts were enacted in legislative sessions from 1997 through 2005, while Huckabee was governor, and those cuts reduced tax revenues by $378 million. But Huckabee fails to mention the 21 tax increases that occurred under his watch and that raised revenues by substantially more. The total net tax increase under Huckabee’s tenure was an estimated $505.1 million, says the Department of Finance and Administration’s Whitney McLaughlin, adding that the figure has been adjusted for inflation.

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette combed through a list of those 90 tax cuts, finding that a number of them pertained to very specific taxes and relatively small amounts. (We asked the Huckabee campaign for its tax tally, but we didn’t get a response.) The newspaper does give Huckabee credit for spearheading “one of the largest tax cuts in Arkansas history,” an income-tax cut that amounted to $90.6 million in one year alone.

    He Obeys the Law, Too

    In that Fox News Sunday interview, Huckabee said that he balanced the state budget “every single year of my 10.5 years as governor,” a boast that he has repeated on the campaign trail. What Huckabee forgot to mention is that the Arkansas Constitution has a balanced budget requirement. The state can run a deficit only if a majority of voters approve such a move in a statewide election. To his credit, Huckabee does sometimes acknowledge the balanced budget requirement. But to our ears, trying to claim credit for obeying your state’s constitution is a bit like bragging that you obey the law of gravity.

  33. Jose Says:

    Dave, why is Cain unreasonable?

    He’s extremely likable and has decades of executive experience in the public and private sectors. Might even pull some of the black vote from Obama.

    Would also expose the left for the race baiters they are, the names they will call Cain will not be flattering.

    I’d happily go down swinging with a Cain ticket.

  34. Dave Gaultier Says:

    Dave, why is Cain unreasonable?

    His campaign is based on conservatism in the abstract. Ideas and policies will ultimately be an afterthought to him. He’s a talk radio type. He’s running to represent a big picture philosophy, not to govern. If he were nominated, he would likely pick up some policies here and there, such as the Fair Tax that he is already touting, but it would be clear that policy wasn’t his interest, and that a Philosophy 101 debate is what he really wants. That sort of candidate never wins because swing voters want someone who can actually solve problems.

    He’s extremely likable and has decades of executive experience in the public and private sectors.

    No one cares about private sector experience in politics. People say they do, but they don’t. If they did, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Linda McMahon would all be serving in public office right now.

    Might even pull some of the black vote from Obama.

    No, he wouldn’t.

    I’d happily go down swinging with a Cain ticket.

    I don’t want to “go down swinging.” I want to win.

  35. Jose Says:

    That sort of candidate never wins because swing voters want someone who can actually solve problems.

    If you don’t think Cain has a record of problem solving you aren’t looking hard enough. Cain has been accountable for the bottom line his entire professional career. He started out as a mathematician for the Navy calculating ballistics trajectories (talk about rubber meeting the road). That’s the highest level of applied mathematics, doesn’t get any smarter than that.

    The guy has successfully run multiple businesses and banks and you don’t think he has solved problems?

    No one cares about private sector experience in politics. People say they do, but they don’t. If they did, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Linda McMahon would all be serving in public office right now.

    Rick Scott says hello. Ron Johnson says hello. Mitt Romney says hello. California and Conn. are not representative of the entire country.

    I don’t want to “go down swinging.” I want to win.

    Win to what end? If winning is just managed decline and small changes at the margins, count me out. I’m not convinced Pawlenty would be anything more than that.

    If people aren’t willing to vote for someone like Cain, It’s going to take some kind of fiscal crisis ala Greece to get people to wake up. Reelecting Obama will precipitate this, better sooner than later. If the public wants to commit economic suicide so be it, i’ll just move to Singapore.

    The types of changes necessary require someone with strong ideological vision in a position of leadership ala Reagan. Pawlenty is not that. Boehner and McConnell are not that.

  36. Liz Says:

    Obama might be primaried by Trump. Just wait.

  37. SGS Says:

    Craig for Huck – a recommended reading about balanced budget amendment: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/05/why_the_balanced_budget_amendm.html.

    It argued with several points why it is not a good idea, and that we already have in place ways to balance our budget – by having only the programs specified by the US Constitution. Anyway, a few minutes of your time, if you may. Thanks.

  38. Carl Says:

    Nom Romney, Palin, Huckabee, Trump and we lose.

    Mitch Daniels and T Paw seem like the best bets to victory.

  39. TEX Says:

    Daniels is Bushie lap dog and T-Paw is T-Yawnplenty.
    There is nothing more to say.

  40. Matt "MWS" Says:

    Dave G,

    “The topline results aren’t going to matter at all if the average person is thinking, “What economic growth? Everyone I know is either unemployed, underemployed, or just scraping by on government assistance!” In that event, it doesn’t matter how many stats the White House releases.”

    Indeed. Doing so in such a situation would make him seem out of touch and detached from the real concerns of ordinary Americans. He suffers a bit from this perception to begin with.

  41. Franklin Says:

    It seems way too early to say who can win and who cannot. In Mar 1980, Reagan trailed Carter by 17 and Ford led Carter by 10. Reagan eventually won by 10. We need to see who is in and how they perform on the campaign trail and in debates. Connecticutt and California are only exemplery of the
    idiocy that exists in some quarters of the country. Michigan did vote in a businessman with no government experience.

    The killing of Bin Laden does not give him a free pass on foreign policy. If
    Libya drags on or Quadaffi defeats the rebels, there are going to be questions. Quadaffi killed 190 Americans so why are we giving him a pass? Where is the decisive leadership in that? Bin Laden’s death will also likely bring the debate on coercive interrogations and waterboarding. McCain was against it. Interestingly enough Lindsay Graham has backed off a bit. He opposed coercive interrogations but now he is saying that the CIA should be doing it and not the military.

    Energy policy could also be a major issue. Goldman Sachs predicted the drop in oil prices but are saying that prices could start rising in 2012. Unless
    you run Genghis Khan, people are not going to vote for $5 a gallon gas. Obama would be toast no matter who wins.

  42. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Huntsman dines with Huck :) 8)

    POLITICO

    Published 06:05 p.m., Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Jon Huntsman is the latest 2012 hopeful to dine with Mike Huckabee, the 2008 Iowa caucus winner who has said he’ll decide this summer whether or not to throw his hat in the ring himself, a source familiar with the meeting said.

    Huntsman and Huckabee sat down together in New York City last week, the source confirmed. Huckabee, who won a bitter battle for Iowa with Mitt Romney in the last race, has also met with Donald Trump, and with Haley Barbour a few weeks before the Mississippi governor bowed out..

    Huckabee continues to lead in many national polls and is well ahead in early Iowa surveys, as well as in South Carolina. But he has insisted he hasn’t yet made up his mind about what to do. He also has a lucrative contract with Fox News, which is factoring into his equation about whether to run again. Word of the meeting was first reported by CNN, which also noted that Huntsman will be the latest possible contender to meet with the man many Republican elites would like to see run, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The two are set to sit down in the coming week, CNN reported.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Huntsman-dines-with-Huck-1370597.php

    http://www.seattlepi.com/default/articl … 370597.php

  43. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Kavon, ;)

    Huntsman dines with Huck

    POLITICO

    Published 06:05 p.m., Saturday, May 7, 2011

    Jon Huntsman is the latest 2012 hopeful to dine with Mike Huckabee, the 2008 Iowa caucus winner who has said he’ll decide this summer whether or not to throw his hat in the ring himself, a source familiar with the meeting said.

    Huntsman and Huckabee sat down together in New York City last week, the source confirmed. Huckabee, who won a bitter battle for Iowa with Mitt Romney in the last race, has also met with Donald Trump, and with Haley Barbour a few weeks before the Mississippi governor bowed out..

    Huckabee continues to lead in many national polls and is well ahead in early Iowa surveys, as well as in South Carolina. But he has insisted he hasn’t yet made up his mind about what to do. He also has a lucrative contract with Fox News, which is factoring into his equation about whether to run again. Word of the meeting was first reported by CNN, which also noted that Huntsman will be the latest possible contender to meet with the man many Republican elites would like to see run, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The two are set to sit down in the coming week, CNN reported.

    http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Huntsman-dines-with-Huck-1370597.php

  44. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Oops, sorry for the double. (There was about a seven minute delay before the first one appeared.)

    Anyway, I wonder how soon Huntsman drops out now.

    I’m guessing Franklin/TEX/Telly are praying that Huck and Sarah don’t dine when Mike visits Alaska next month ;)

  45. teledude Says:

    ~ getting nervous again. Heh heh

    Top Iowa GOP Donors Venture to New Jersey to Court Gov. Christie
    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/top-iowa-gop-donors-venture-to-new-jersey-to-court-gov-christie/

    Because they know.

  46. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsQmkkmDYpk

  47. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7I_9MMcWvk

  48. Smack1968 Says:

    tele,

    I’m in Davenport this weekend, it will be the last time we come to the Eastern Iowa, I guess….that’s what I’ve been told.

    Two weeks from now our TPAW Army is going to Sioux City and we will be volunteering there for two months…every other weekend.

    Now for the subject of Christie…

    NO.

    NO.

    NO.

    Not in a least bit interested in a Christie candidacy what-so-ever.

    Even if TPAW was not in the race I would not be supporting Christie for a second.

    The man has not finished out his first term. Let him face the voters of NJ and let’s see him get the thumbs up or down.

    TPAW did just that in a blue state in a horrible GOP cycle of “06″ and TPAW won.

    Christie,

    Stay in NJ and do your job…period.

  49. Matthew E. Miller Says:

    Cain isn’t serious because, he A.) Has no government experience and B.) Was the CEO of a business that isn’t all that large and doesn’t deal with anything relevant to governing the country. I’m sorry but anyone who thinks that a lack of government experience is a good thing knows nothing about governing. Cain would get rolled. Again and again and again. He would make so many substantive mistakes he would effectively become a lame duck before his first term was over.

  50. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    I prefer the Domnio’s pizza guy.

    But would love Cain in Huck’s cabinet.

  51. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    *Domino’s

  52. Craig for Huck/Beat Obama! Says:

    Huck’s pal, Huntsman Jr as Sec of State with Cain, Commerce or Treasury perhaps.

  53. Franklin Says:

    I could care less if Huckabee dines with Palin. Could Cain do any worse than
    George W Bush?

  54. RUBIOZONE Says:

    If Rudy runs, watch out. He learned his lessons from 08. If Daniels runs, its gonna be a battle between Him and Rudy and Romney.

  55. greg Says:

    the 2 main issues for 2012 will be unemployment and the economy correct for the sitting president?

  56. demotivator Says:

    demotivator…

    [...]What is Obama’s Re-election “Strategery?” | Race 4 2012[...]…

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