Obama, Romney looking angry

Image Credit: Associated Press

According to the poll released yesterday by Fox News, President Obama is currently leading challenger Mitt Romney by a 9-point margin. The poll shows Obama taking 49 percent of the vote, while Romney would only take 40 percent if the election were held today.

 

This is a significant increase from Fox News’ June horse-race poll, which showed Obama at 45 percent and Romney at 41 percent.

 

Obama’s advantage in this latest poll is mostly a result of increased support from independent voters, who now favor him over Romney by an 11-point margin. 30 percent of independents remain undecided.

 

54 percent of those polled said that they had a favorable view of the candidate, his highest favorability rating in this poll in over a year. According to the poll, this is nearly as high as the 59 percent approval rating reported shortly after the 2008 election.

 

CNN’s Thursday presidential poll has also shown strong support for the president, with 52 percent of registered voters indicating that they would choose President Obama, while 45 percent said they would vote for Romney if the election were held today.

 

The CNN poll also showed that Obama’s approval rating is staying relatively constant at 50 percent. 47 percent of those polled disapproved of the President’s job performance.

 

56 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the President in the CNN poll, while only 42 percent were unfavorable. These numbers did not look as good for Romney, who had a 47 percent favorability rating and a 48 percent unfavorable rating.

 

These poll results seem to indicate that the President is making inroads with independent voters. The percentage of voters that would pick Obama over Romney has steadily increased over the last month.

 

RealClearPolitics now shows an Obama lead of 4.4 points in its polling average. This estimate includes the CNN and Fox polls.

The FiveThirtyEight estimate is now showing that Obama has a 73.3 percent chance of winning the general election, up significantly from a month ago.

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Support for Amendment 64, Legalizing Marijuana, in the August 8 Public Policy Poll

Colorado support for Amendment 64 compared to general support for legalizing marijuana.

According to today’s Public Policy Poll of Colorado, support for Amendment 64 has grown since the June poll. The amendment, which will be on the Colorado ballot in November, proposes to legalize and regulate growth, possession, and usage of marijuana.

Support has grown by five points to 47-38 from 46-42 in June this year. Independents now support the amendment 58-28, up thirty points from support of 49-40 in June. Democrats favor it 59-22 while Republicans support it 26-61.

15% of voters are undecided on Amendment 64, up from 12% in the June poll.

The poll also posed a more general question, asking whether marijuana should be legal or illegal. Respondents were somewhat more in favor in this situation, supporting legalization 50-42 with 8% undecided. That’s a 2-point increase from June, when respondents supported legalization 49-43.

Support for Amendment 64 and legalized marijuana by political affiliation.

Support for Amendment 64 and legalized marijuana by political affiliation.

The 5-point swing in favor of legalization suggests that Colorado voters are becoming more comfortable with the idea of legalizing marijuana and taxing it in a manner similar to alcohol. This could be a result of the recent pro-legalization ad campaign.

It’s also possible that a lot of this change is a result of statistical noise. The margin of error on both polls was +/-3.5%, so much of the shift could be accounted for by sampling error.

However, the 30-point shift in independent support for the amendment is suggestive. The margin of error for independents is larger than for the overall poll, due to the lower number of independents, but a shift of this magnitude likely represents increasing support in this group.

In addition, little has been heard from groups opposed to Amendment 64. The group Smart Colorado, founded by Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, opposes the amendment but has only raised $16,000 as of the latest update.

Groups in favor of Amendment 64, including the Colorado Democratic Party and the state medical marijuana industry, have raised well over $2 million.

It is still early. The election is still three months away, and the outcome can easily change during that time. California’s latest legalization attempt, Proposition 19, was leading in polls until late September 2010. It was defeated in the 2010 midterm elections 53.5% to 46.5%.

If support for Amendment 64 continues to grow, it may become law in November. But supporters of the amendment will need to be wary of a co-ordinated opposition by special interest groups. Such opposition has defeated similar measures in Colorado and California in the past.

I admit I’m a little behind the curve on this one, but it was just too ridiculous to pass up.

 

Wind Turbine, Tower in a Corn Field

Image Credit: Sebastian Celis via Creative Commons

Last week, Governor Romney’s presidential campaign announced in Iowa that if he is elected president, he will allow the Production Tax Credit (referred to below as the “wind credit”) to expire.

According to The Des Moines Register,

Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for Romney’s Iowa campaign, told The Des Moines Register, “He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits.”

It the Romney campaign actually wanted to get rid of all energy subsidies, I’d be 100 percent for it because energy subsidies create market distortions. But of course the Romney campaign continues to support oil subsidies; because of course they don’t create an uneven playing field.

Besides, if Romney wanted to do away with oil subsidies, you can bet the Koch brothers et. al. wouldn’t be bankrolling his campaign anymore.

That aside, Romney really needs to work on his swing-state strategy. Iowa has more wind energy jobs than any other state, and Iowa Republicans were quick to point out just how misguided his notion was.

As Republican Rep. Tom Latham pointed out, this proposal demonstrates “a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation.”

This isn’t just turning heads in Iowa, either. Green energy jobs are so important here in Colorado that only one Republican representative, Doug Lamborn, supported Romney’s notion. Even Birther lunatic Rep. Mike “Obama’s not an American” Coffman opposed Romney’s proposal. (This clown is my representative, sadly.)

Lest we forget, the wind energy tax credit was originally signed by George H. W. Bush in 1992 and renewed in 2005 by a Republican Congress and signed by George W. Bush.

The bottom line is Romney’s wacky proposal to do away with the PTC and the wind energy tax credit is so ridiculously off-the-wall that even his own party is disavowing his statements.

I seriously doubt Romney ever expected this to be good policy. He’s just doing the pandering he needs to do to appease the Tea Party and his oil billionaire donors.

He never needed Colorado and Iowa’s 15 electoral votes, anyway.

Update: As of 1:20PM ET, the well-cited “Controvercies” section has been restored to Sen. Portman’s page – see revision history.

There’s an interesting article on NPR.org today titled “One Clue To Romney’s Veep Pick: Whose Page Is Getting The Most Edits?

In the article, NPR notes,

In 2008, as The Washington Post wrote at the time, “just hours before [Sen. John] McCain declared his veep choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, her Wiki page saw a flurry of activity, with editors adding details about her approval rating and husband’s employment. … Palin’s entry was updated at least 68 times, with at least an additional 54 changes made to her entry over the preceding five days.”

Meanwhile, the Post said, “on Aug. 22, the day before the Obama campaign officially named [then-Sen. Joe] Biden as the veep pick, Biden’s Wiki page garnered roughly 40 changes. Over the five days prior, users would make at least 111 other changes to his entry.”

As of 10 AM Eastern Time, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio was leading in Wikipedia edits. He has racked up 16 edits so far today, while the Wiki page of the next closest, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, has been edited nine times so far today.

It is also important to note that these revisions may not necessarily indicate that Senator Portman’s page is being cleaned up before the Romney team announces him as the VP pick. Politico notes that the number of edits may be misleading:

By 10:30 a.m., Rubio was tied with Portman at 16. And the edits were almost all driven by one user’s insistence that Rubio was not the “crown prince” of the Tea party. (See above).

The problem with Sifry’s model is that tallying revisions doesn’t account for the difference between serious, substantive edits and the persistence of one user who doesn’t get his way — much less minor spelling edits or slight augmentation of dates, etc.

Those of us taken with the Wikipedia-as-oracle idea would like to believe that those 68 revisions to Sarah Palin’s page provide some sort of precedent in the Internet age. But they don’t. The day before Sarah Palin’s selection was made public, very few people knew who she was. By contrast, everyone watching the 2012 election knows about Marco Rubio or Rob Portman, and more than a few take their own research and opinions to the pages of Wikipedia.

However, as noted by NPR, then-Senator Joe Biden’s Wikipedia page also racked up 40 edits the day before he was announced as then-Senator Obama’s running mate. Politico makes no mention of this.

In light of Politico’s analysis, it seems the most surefire way to determine if these edits are meaningful is to look at the substance of the edits. The NPR story has also been linked to on Reddit, where various Redditors have made note of the changes made to Portman’s page.

Redditor WattersonBill was quick to note that entire sections of Portman’s Wikipedia page including the entire “Controvercies” section (which contained many citations), as well as one discussing his support of NAFTA in 1993, have been removed. You can view the Wikipedia page before the revisions here, and compare the revisions made by user River8009 today (mentioned in the NPR article) to the July 30 version of the page here

So far, the changes made to Senator Portman’s page appear much more substantive than those made to Senator Rubio’s page, which is highly suggestive.

Does this mean Senator Portman will be Governor Romney’s choice for his running mate? Maybe. At best, the changes that are being made to Senator Portman’s page are just another small (if suggestive) clue in the media’s constant search for “Veepstakes” tidbits. We’ll all have to wait for Romney to publicly announce his pick before we know for sure.

This morning, I had CNN’s Starting Point on in the background as I got ready for work. On it was an interview between CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and one of Mitt Romney’s top surrogates, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

I usually tune interviews like this out, because of the nuttiness that is increasingly common from those on the political right. But in this interview, Johnson said something so absurd that I couldn’t help but pay attention.

He said, “President Obama simply doesn’t understand that it’s the free enterprise systems, the private sector, the productive sector, not the government sector that creates long-term self-sustaining jobs. Take a look at the Soviet Union, Venezuela’s economic basket case, and is anybody moving to the island paradise of Cuba?”

O’Brien, visibly perturbed, asked Johnson if this was indeed what he meant. She asked, “You’re surely not suggesting that the idea and the concept behind Solyndra and other green energies like Solyndra is comparable to the Soviet Union and Cuba, right?”

Johnson replied, “No, I am suggesting that, because when you take taxpayer money and you invest that into business, that’s the taxpayer money put at risk. And let’s face it; the lesson of the Soviet Union and other socialist nations is that governments are very poor allocators of capital. It’s an economic model that doesn’t work.”

There are so many things wrong with this that I’m not even sure where to start. For example, one of the biggest problems we face is that private industry isn’t “creating long-term self-sustaining jobs.”

Those arguments aside, my real question for Senator Johnson is, if government subsidizing green energy companies is communist, what does that make government subsidies to fossil fuel companies? What about government subsidies the agriculture industry?

What about the LA Times article detailing evidence that Mitt Romney benefited from government subsidies while he was head of Bain Capital? Or when, as Governor of Massachusetts, he offered subsidies to attract businesses to his state? Does that make Romney a communist?

Of course it doesn’t. Government subsidies to green energy companies aren’t communist either. Subsidies are common practice at the federal and state level, and are given to companies in nearly every industry.

That Romney and his surrogates are making claims this absurd, not to mention categorically false, is evidence of how little they think of the American public.

Here’s the video:

A recent Fox News poll of 912 registered voters conducted  on June 24-26, before the Supreme Court’s healthcare ruling, shows President Barack Obama leading challenger Mitt Romney 45-40, with 10% undecided.

In addition, the poll found that 47% of respondents thought Obama “will do a better job looking out for you and your family during tough economic times,” compared to only 36% who felt that way about Romney.

Obama also lead Romney by a 14-point (41-27) margin when asked which candidate had a clear plan to improve the economy.

The poll also showed a presidential approval rating of 48% and a disapproval rating of 43% with 9% undecided.

Finally, the poll found that 54% of respondents favored the Obama administration’s recent decision to stop deportation and grant work permits to undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought here as children. Only 36% opposed this decision.

The poll was conducted among randomly selected landline and cellular phones and had a 3-point margin of error.

I’ve mentioned before that I find national presidential polling to be somewhat pointless. However, I always find it interesting when Fox News releases a poll that shows Obama with a wider lead than the averages of respected poll aggregators like Real Clear Politics (3.6-point lead) or the Huffington Post (1.5-point lead).

When discussing Mitt Romney’s record on the economy, one of the most important things to examine is his budget. What are his plans for the federal budget if he’s elected? How does he intend to address the stagnating economy or reduce the deficit? Is it possible for Romney to bring back the budget surplus last seen during the Clinton administration?

It’s hard to figure out exactly what a Romney budget will look like, because he hasn’t actually come out with a specific budget proposal. This isn’t unusual; he’s running for office and any budget proposal is likely to have aspects that could be politically dangerous.

He has, however, made several statements over the last few months regarding policy goals that would certainly have an impact on his budget. These statements can be found in the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report. I have also listed them below.

1) Cap total spending. Romney said that, as President, he would “reduce federal spending to 20% of GDP by the end of my first term” and then prevent it from rising above that level.

2) Increase defense spending. He said he would “set a core defense spending floor of 4% of GDP,”

3) Cut taxes. Romney will permanently extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 as well as a variety of other tax cuts that are scheduled to expire in the coming years. He will also eliminate capital gains taxes for low and middle income families, reduce the corporate income tax, get rid of the estate tax, and repeal the new taxes introduced in the Obama administration’s 2010 healthcare law.

4) Balance the budget. As he said, “I am planning on balancing the budget.

He has also indicated that he will not cut social security and that there would not be any significant budget cuts in 2012 or 2013, as that would “cause us to enter into a economic decline”.

According to the budget analysis from the CBPP:

For the most part, Governor Romney has not outlined cuts in specific programs. But if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage — to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement — then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022.

The cuts that would be required under the Romney budget proposals in programs such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty. The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid would make health insurance unaffordable (or unavailable) to tens of millions of people.

My Dad is an ex-Marine who fought in the Vietnam War. So I find it particularly repugnant that Romney would cut disability compensation for veterans, who have sacrificed more for our country than many of us (myself included) can possibly imagine.

Furthermore, as indicated by the CBPP report, cuts in those programs would push millions more Americans below the poverty line or deeper into poverty. The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid would result in more emergency room visits for non-emergency matters, contributing further to rising healthcare and insurance costs.

While these cuts would likely take place well into Romney’s first term, a reduction in discretionary government spending of 29 percent by 2016 would result in the loss of millions of jobs across the country at the federal and state level.

Even if the economic recovery has picked up steam by then – which appears unlikely if the federal government doesn’t begin pursuing growth-oriented programs – mass layoffs on such a scale could easily push the economy back into recession.

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that the tax cuts proposed by Romney, including an extension of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, would cost $4.9 trillion over 10 years.

Romney’s proposed cuts would allow him to balance the budget on the backs of the working poor while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Based estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and Tax Policy Center, Romney’s budget cuts will actually be more severe than those in the Paul Ryan budget. Ryan proposed $5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, while Romney’s cuts would total between $7 and 10 trillion.

In short, the statements that Mitt Romney has made regarding his budget priorities are nothing new. They’re a continuation of the same failed Bush-era policies that reversed the budget surpluses of the Clinton years, causing the fiscal crisis in the first place.

Like Romney said in his April 24 presumptive nominee ‘victory’ speech, “it’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid.”

You’re right, Mr. Romney. We’ve seen your budget proposals, “and we’re not stupid”.

Please visit parts 1 and 2 of my discussion on Romney’s economic policies for analysis of his statements on foreclosure and the auto bailouts.