October 8, 2015

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

  2:53 pm

Kevin McCarthy of California, House Majority Leader, dropping out of the race for Speaker of the House on the day of the election among the Republican Caucus merits a third FPP on the contest this week. The first two were predicated on the basic math that more than suggested that McCarthy couldn’t get to 218 votes, something absolutely necessary for a Republican to prevail in the election involving the entire chamber .

This basic math was due to intensely strong feelings on the part of those willing to go to the mattresses against the old leadership. While there are 247 Republicans in the House and only 188 Democrats, the fact that there are more than 30 members with those feelings necessitates finding someone outside of the old leadership group to represent the Party.

This problem seemed unsolvable until Jason Chaffetz of Utah threw his hat into the ring, running on the idea that someone with the right disposition, and with superb communication skills, and an established record of working well with both sides is needed to bridge the divide and establish unity.

Having watched the clueless reaction by both Fox and CNN following McCarthy’s decision, it’s safe to say that his election had been assumed to be inevitable, and the brief news flashes of Chaffetz getting into the race had been mere lip service to his announcement.  But it is clear that Jason’s reason for getting in, that the math didn’t add up, was right on target.

Meanwhile, the obvious people to take on the job have all declined to go after it.  Paul Ryan of Wisconsin wants to stay on as head of Ways and Means.  Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Trey Gowdy of South Carolina are going to stay on as head of their respective committees.  No major figure has stepped up or expressed interest as of now.  Daniel Webster of Florida, who was in the race, and who had won the support of the House Freedom Caucus led by Jim Jordan of Ohio, has expressed that he’s not sure if he will stay in  with the majority leader out of it.  He was, by implication, not really running for the job as much as he was standing in opposition to the status quo.

Only Chaffetz, the head of The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is definitely still in the running,  and he is still campaigning and lining up support.  Unless someone with real stature in the body jumps in, it’s hard to see anyone else coming out of this.  Chaffetz is the logical candidate to gain support from both sides.  If he does, the House will get more combative, and more conservative.

He figured out the math before anyone else and offered a solution to it.



October 7, 2015

The Four Questions That Will Decide the Nomination

  4:30 pm

Nate Silver’s 538 currently held a discussion about the Republican quest for the nomination, in which Silver concluded that especially now that Walker’s out of the race, “there aren’t all that many plausible ‘Party Decides’ choices. It’s just Bush, Rubio, and probably Kasich.”

The other major participant in the colloquy, hjenten, responded: “there are other candidates who can win, but I think in most universes, it’s one of those.”

Silver: “I’d say team BRK (Bush-Rubio-Kasich) collectively have a 70 to 75 percent chance…”

The “Party Decides” reference is to the thesis that “early endorsements in the invisible primary are the most important cause of candidate success in the state primaries and caucuses” according to Professor David Karol of the University of Maryland.  In other words, the leadership of the Party will form an ultimate consensus about which candidate they want to represent them in the General Election, and whoever that is will probably be the nominee.  At least that’s the way it’s almost always worked.  Most high-level members of the Party haven’t endorsed yet, but they all have opinions and are weighing the criteria most important to them.

Silver concludes that he thinks Rubio is a better fit for the Party and probably will present a younger, stronger image for the GOP going forward.  His colleague, commenting about Jeb’s name ID asks “Can most people pick out Jeb vs. George?  Then goes on to comment that “Bush is just starting to use that war chest.  He’s got lots of money.  That’s not an awful position to be in.”

But they are in total agreement that the nomination will probably go to Marco or Jeb.  Which will win will be dependent on the answers to these four questions:

  1.  Can Rubio withstand the spotlight?

  2.  Is Rubio too conservative to win the nomination?  (By our three-pronged metric he would be more  conservative than any Republican nominee since Barry Goldwater.)

  3.  How much of an advantage does Bush’s money give him.?

  4.  And, lastly, does Bush begin to look more attractive to Party officials as people tune in?

Silver concludes:   “IDK the answers to these questions.”

Neither do I, but if someone wants to conjecture or has any thoughts on the subject, this is your chance to opine.

hat tip:  GS


October 6, 2015

“We Need a Speaker Who Speaks”

  4:17 pm

Last week John Boehner worked with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded and open until December 11th. It passed 277 to 151. The kicker is that only 91 Republicans voted in favor, while 186 Democrats did. Bear in mind that there are 247 Republicans in the House and only 188 Democrats.

The political fallout in the GOP caucus was intense enough to act as a catalyst, causing Boehner to announce his forthcoming resignation from the House. In essence 156 Republicans voted to shut the government down in defiance of the wishes of its own leadership.

Jason Chaffetz, who is challenging Kevin McCarthy, long time right hand man of Boehner,  for the Speakership,  was one of the 156. Others in that number urged him to run against McCarthy. When a reporter asked McCarthy how he would be different from Boehner he responded: ” I won’t be as tan.”

Speaking of catalysts:  When Sean Hannity asked McCarthy why Republicans weren’t fighting the Democrats harder, he replied:

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?  But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee.  What are her numbers today?  They’re going down….and the reason is that she’s untrustable (sic).”

This has given Hillary a feistier rejoinder about the whole Benghazi affair, and allows her a new twist on her old “vast right wing conspiracy” meme.  In one fell swoop McCarthy gave her campaign new life and spirit.

Contrast this with Jason’s first press conference since announcing that he’s running.  In front of two dozen reporters gathered in a semi-circle he fielded every question with aplomb.  When asked if he isn’t afraid of retribution from the new leadership if he loses,  he points out that he was recently targeted by the Secret Service (SS),  and “the worst they could come up with was that I wanted to be one of them.  You can fire at me all day long.  I just got a colonoscopy from the Secret Service.”

McCarthy and his allies see the House election this way:  they think they can easily pick up the 124 votes they need on Thursday.  And they think that regardless of what The House Freedom Caucus says now about voting for Pelosi to prevent McCarthy from becoming Speaker, when push comes to shove, they will back down and vote for Kevin to keep from turning the chamber over to the despised Democrats.

Maybe.  But reports of Chaffetz picking up defectors and stragglers keep coming in.  The real question is, how wide the divide?  Are the 156 Republicans who voted to shut the government down last week, rather than support Boehner and McCarthy, willing to preserve the status quo?  As long as there was only token opposition that might have been the case.  But Chaffetz is one of the most powerful members of the caucus, and easily one of the best communicators in the Party, much less just in the House.  And he’s willing to fight the Administration when he sees it as a necessity to maintain the Party’s core principles and defend the Party’s actions in Congress.

His biggest appeal is that he will actually fight for conservative ideals on a regular basis, and in front of  national cameras.  He trumpets what is emerging as his campaign theme:

“We need a Speaker who speaks!”


October 5, 2015

Jason Chaffetz: Master of the House

  1:29 pm

Jason Chaffetz:  Voters “didn’t send us here to perpetuate the status quo. They want us to tackle the tough issues…..McCarthy has a majority in the Republican Caucus, but he doesn’t have 218 votes to become Speaker of the House.”

Chaffetz went on the record a week ago supporting Kevin McCarthy as Speaker.  Yet yesterday on Fox News Sunday he announced his own candidacy for the job.  What happened that caused him to renege on his support?  One word:  Math.

He says that there are about 50 members of the caucus who will not vote for John Boehner’s right hand man when push comes to shove.  Republicans have 246 members in the House, and they will decide which candidate they will put up to lead The House of Representatives in a closed session on Thursday.  If Chaffetz is correct on his head count he will probably emerge as the next Speaker.  Indeed, if he’s right about the number who won’t back McCarthy if the caucus puts him up, and the Caucus puts him up anyway, the next Speaker will be a Democrat.  This, in spite of the fact that, in Jason’s words:  “There are more Republicans in the House than there have been since Babe Ruth swung a baseball bat.”

It might get interesting.  McCarthy, when asked on Fox News if he had the 218 votes necessary to become Speaker said “we’re very close.”  If “very close”  means something like 210 or something like that, McCarthy will probably get enough votes from members who can’t abide the thought of losing control of the body.  What makes it dicey is that the House Freedom Caucus has threatened to vote for a Democrat if it comes down to a choice between a member of the current leadership and giving control to the other side.  And the House Freedom Caucus appears not to be alone.

Tea Party Caucus Chairman, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas:  “When 60% of all Republican voters believe that beltway Republicans have betrayed them, this is a historic time to change the current direction of Congress….we must ensure that whoever is the next Speaker will work with Conservatives, not against us.”

Feelings are strong, both among Republicans in the House and among Republicans in the country.  Chaffetz didn’t up and decide to get super ambitious all of a sudden.  Julius Caesar was stabbed 19 times for that.  He was drafted by members looking for a solution to a massive problem.  In announcing his candidacy on Fox he said:  “I’m offering myself as a candidate to try to bridge the divide.”

Why was Chaffetz drafted?  For one thing, he’s both outside the current leadership and still one of the most powerful members of Congress.  He’s the Chairman of The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a position he won in a four-way House election.  For another, he’s been very high profile.  His investigation of Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood and her organization has elevated the controversy of funding it with $500 Million a year of taxpayer money to the point where many are in favor of shutting down the government rather than passing a budget that includes the subsidy.

His investigation of the transgressions of The Secret Service was so combative that 45 members of the SS went into Chaffetz’s personal file and brought out that he had once been rejected as an applicant to the SS.  This was, of course, an invasion not only of his privacy, but of Federal Law.  This investigation promises to become even more acrimonious as a result.

One thing is certain, and that is that there is enough anger in the Party and in the country that Republicans need to put forth a new image to voters in the 2016 elections if the party and the nation are going to successfully confront the challenges we are facing going forward.  Jason has promised to carry the fight for the future to the American people;  going on shows and exposing the administration, or even Republicans in The Senate, when necessary.  He says it’s time to get things done.

In a letter to colleagues asking for their support:  “I will do a great job of communicating a positive and strong message of hope and opportunity for our country.”

This could change everything.


October 3, 2015

Weekend Miscellany

  8:00 am

Not sure if there will be another Miscellany tomorrow. I’m in transit a good part of the day today.


Source of Immigrants by State by Decade since 1850

Most immigrants in South Dakota are from Ethiopia. That’s one I would never have guessed. Click here to check changes by census year (it hasn’t always been mostly Mexico, and the forecast is that fairly soon it will be mostly Asia).

pew by state

End-of-Life Counseling Has Wide Support

From Kaiser:

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services prepares to finalize a plan to pay physicians for discussing end-of-life treatment options with Medicare patients, this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that about 8 in 10 of the public favors Medicare and private insurance covering such discussions and about 9 in 10 say doctors should have these discussions with their patients.

kaiser - eol

Trump News Coverage and Polling

As many of us pointed out, the Trump phenomenon fed on media oxygen. As his act has grown old, the media has dried up, and the polls have dropped. The correlation here is 0.93.


Note that the increase in media preceded Trump’s rise and the decrease preceded his decline.


The Walker Blame Game

Predictably, the Walker implosion has led to much finger-pointing among his former staff. While there is no doubt more than enough blame to go around, and it will take time to get a true consensus, the early count of fingers seems to show more pointed at campaign manager Rick Wiley than at anyone else.

Wiley, meanwhile seems to be trying to deflect blame as much as possible.

“One reason Republicans hate political consultants is that so many of them seem to have absolutely no conception of loyalty or reticence or even self-awareness,” wrote Matthew Continetti. “Scott Walker is a talented governor who won three elections in a blue state. He deserves the respect of his employees, who were happy to spin best-case scenarios for him as long as the money was good.

“Now, though, Walker’s campaign manager is suddenly out of a job. So what does he do? Like a true Washingtonian, he absolves himself of responsibility for the collapse while explaining to the press — and to his future clients — that it was entirely the governor’s fault.”


Gun Laws

Support for stronger gun laws over recent years. (Sorry, no link, this is from a Pollster newsletter).

pollster - gun laws

New York from 2,000 feet
Just lots of cool pics.

Stat Lib

Briefly Noted
Russia Blames Poland for WW2: Well, of course.
What Could Go Wrong?: The feds are reported to be building a publicly-accessible database of every address in the US.


October 2, 2015

Trump Falls to Second Place Nationally

  9:28 pm

Cue the Drudge siren. As the writeup in the link says: “Donald Trump has boasted that he’s ‘leading every poll and in most cases big.’ Not anymore.”

IBD/TIPP National Republican Primary

  • Carson – 24%
  • Trump – 17%
  • Rubio – 11%
  • Fiorina – 9%
  • Bush – 8%
  • Cruz – 6%
  • Kasich – 4%
  • Paul – 3%
  • Huckabee – 2%
  • Christie – 2%
  • All Others – less than 2%
  • Undecided – 9%

Survey of 377 registered Republicans or Republican leaning independents was done Sept 26-Oct 1 and has a margin of error of ±5%.


Poll Watch: Gravis Shows Trump Rising, Pew Shows Bush Sliding

  7:43 pm

Gravis would have us believe that Trump somehow lost over 40% of his support in Iowa while somehow simultaneously gaining 60% nationally:

Gravis Marketing National Republican Primary

  • Trump – 35% (22)
  • Carson – 17% (12)
  • Rubio – 11% (15)
  • Fiorina – 9% (22)
  • Cruz – 7% (6)
  • Bush – 7% (6)
  • Huckabee – 5% (2)
  • Kasich – 3% (4)
  • Paul – 3% (2)
  • Christie – 2% (4)
  • Santorum – 1% (1)
  • Graham – * (*)
  • Pataki – * (*)
  • Jindal – * (*)

Survey of 898 Republicans has a margin of error of ±3.3%. Numbers in parentheses are from the September 18 Gravis poll.

Meanwhile, Pew did a different and rather interesting survey where they left the candidate support as an open ended question; that is, they didn’t read a list of names, they relied on voters to recall names on their own. A poll done this way would inherently favor candidates with high name recognition — which makes Jeb Bush’s four percent even worse:

Pew Research Open-Ended National Republican Primary

  • Trump – 25%
  • Carson – 16%
  • Rubio – 8%
  • Fiorina – 8%
  • Cruz – 6%
  • Bush – 4%
  • Huckabee – 2%
  • Paul – 2%
  • All others – Less than 2% each, totalling 4%

Survey was done Sept 22-27.


Poll Watch: Trump Down to 18.8% in Iowa

  5:49 am

The Trump slide has officially reached the Hawkeye State, and it is significant. Trump’s single poll peak in Iowa was 32%, and his RCP average reached 28.3%. Now, he clocks in with just 18.8%…

Gravis Marketing Iowa Republican Caucus

  • Trump – 18.8% (32)
  • Carson – 14.1% (16)
  • Cruz – 10.6% (7)
  • Fiorina – 9.7% (5)
  • Rubio – 8.9% (6)
  • Bush – 6.9% (4)
  • Kasich – 2.6% (1)
  • Paul – 2.4% (1)
  • Graham – 1.8% (*)
  • Huckabee – 1.8% (3)
  • Jindal – 1.7% (5)
  • Christie – 1.4% (2)
  • Santorum – 1.3% (*)
  • Pataki – * (*)
  • Undecided – 17.9% (11)

Automated phone survey of 454 likely caucus voters has a margin of error of +/-4.6%. Numbers in parentheses are from the August Gravis poll.


September 30, 2015

Will America Embrace The Energy Revolution?

  2:41 pm

Hillary Clinton announced the other day that she will oppose The Keystone Pipeline project. That’s interesting since, under her watch, the state department gave Keystone XL the thumbs up after a very long, very bureaucratic review.

Obama was using the review process by state as a cover to keep the pipeline from being built, without having to come out against it publicly. It’s a major tell of Clinton’s corruption, since, while her approval was deemed necessary for oil from the Alberta tar sands to come to the United States, Bill Clinton made more than $700,000 speaking to Canadian groups seeking his influence on Hillary’s decision.

The state department ultimately gave Keystone XL the thumbs up. Having milked it for all it’s worth, and safely out of office, she now comes out against the project, having before said that it was environmentally safe. So, if it’s environmentally safe, the only reason to oppose it is to prefer Canada sending the oil to China and not to us.

Sanders is dead set against it, and the trenches have been built. Democrats have, in effect, said that they want nothing to do with energy development, even if said development would take place with us or without us, and China will benefit, while we get nothing.

America runs on energy and uses mass quantities of it. This despite the Obama Administration’s never ceasing efforts to keep us from drilling or mining for it, shipping it where it needs to go, and taxing and regulating it to death when it gets there.  Democrats are all in against energy.

By contrast, Republican candidates for the Presidency all pay occasional lip service to developing energy, but only one has a comprehensive plan to do so, and turn it into maximum advantage for America:

Jeb Bush announced his “Embrace The Energy Revolution” plan yesterday in a speech at Canonsburg,  Pennsylvania,  in one of the leading states in the hydraulic fracturing boom that has lifted the country into being the number one energy producing country in the world.  Jeb wants to make us number one by a massively larger margin.  Given a rational energy policy and the proper encouragement, conflated with a business environment that is favorable to entrepreneurship, that is the proverbial piece of cake.  Especially since we have none of those things today.  His plan:

  • Approve the Keystone Pipeline, echoing Mitt Romney in 2012.
  • Encourage more shale development and create the jobs that come with it.
  • Allow states greater control over offshore drilling rights.
  • Fight Obama’s plan to force U.S. power plants to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Lift the decades old ban on exporting oil.
  • Streamline the federal natural gas export permitting process.
  • End the federal war on coal.

“At the end of this (presidential selection) process, people start migrating towards who can lead and who has the experience to be able to solve problems.  What people care about is making ends meet and their families.  They care about why decision makers can’t solve problems.”

Bush has laid out by far and away the most comprehensive set of proposals to solve problems.  Every one of his energy proposals, e.g., will not only result in more energy produced but also create more jobs and make energy and electricity less expensive.  His export prescriptions will increase exports, decrease imports, and reduce our balance of payments deficits.

It will also strengthen American foreign policy.  The ability to export energy to Eastern European allies, e.g., will undercut their current reliance on energy dependence on Russia.  They will also reduce the income received from us by governments who are clearly enemies of our nation, such as Venezuela and Iran.  Having more exports conduces to having a stronger dollar, and aids in maintaining it as a world reserve currency.

“Rather than appeal to people’s anger, what I’m doing is offering up a set of proposals that has outlined the most dramatic reforms of any campaign.”

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Jeb laid out his Tax reform plan a couple of weeks ago.  A couple of days ago Donald Trump laid out his tax plan, which led to a tweet from Jeb yesterday:

“Finally saw Donald’s tax plan.  Looks familiar!  I’m flattered.”

Can’t wait to see Donald’s energy plan.



September 28, 2015

The Trump Tax Plan

  1:14 pm

I expected it to be a lot worse than it is. In fact, it’s a lot better than what we have now. It actually has many of the same features that Jeb’s and Marco’s have, which probably means that they were used as templates in it’s formation.

To start with, it’s designed to be revenue neutral, unlike Jeb’s, Marco’s, or Rand’s, which cut taxes more but reduce short term revenue.  Huck’s can be revenue neutral or an overall tax cut depending on what the consumption tax rate is set at. Revenue neutrality is ostensibly in it to not exacerbate the deficit.


1. It cuts the top individual rate to 25% from nearly 40% now, and cuts the current 7 brackets down to 4: 0%, 10%, 20%, and 25%.

2. It introduces a new business rate of no more than 15% within the personal income tax code. This is a novel idea and will be very friendly to small businesses.  It’s the plan’s best feature.

3. It completely eliminates the estate tax, much like the others.

4. Like all the specific Republican tax plans, it eliminates the marriage penalty.

5. Like jeb’s plan, it gets rid of the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers have been abusing.

6. Something that will come in handy in the general campaign: it gets rid of taxes for single taxpayers earning less than $25,000 a year, and taxes for couples filling jointly if they make less than $50,000 a year.

Ramifications include what should be a major increase in the repatriation of overseas profits. While all the GOP plans do that, the importance of getting the $2 1/2 Trillion parked overseas by American corporations moved back to America,  something that will never happen if the tax code stays the same, can’t be emphasized enough. Our economy needs that money right here.  In like manner this plan should do away with corporate inversions and the trend to renounce U.S. citizenship in order to pay lower tax rates abroad.

So, if it lowers rates and gets rid of some taxes altogether, how is it revenue neutral?  This is somewhat vague.  It plans to phase in “a reasonable cap” on the deduction of business interest expenses, e.g.  In fact, there is a lot of seeming similarity between this plan, Jeb’s plan, and Marco’s plan, but with significant differences that will constitute a future FPP.

All three are based on the current code, incentivize business formation and competitiveness, reduce the tax burden on most Americans, simplify the existing code by eliminating much of its obfuscation and by  reducing the number of brackets, and address major problems like corporate inversions and the repatriation of foreign earnings.

I think it’s the most Republican element in Donald’s campaign.  But what do YOU think?


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