Friday, November 06, 2009

Unemployment Tops 10% - 16 Million Now Jobless

Unemployement figuresreleased today show a rate of 10%, or the highest unemployement rate since 1983, which was below the high of 11 plus percent under Jimmy Carter's leadership.

Obama’s Trip to Capitol Hill to Push Health Care Postponed Until Saturday - Coincidence?

Obama plans meeting with Pelosi's House on Saturday - image rightpundits

The AP is reporting that the President’s planned trip to Congress on Friday , to push for health care reform, has been postponed until Saturday. The President, according to the White House, had planned a trip to Walter Reed Hospital, on Friday instead. The President has yet to visit Walter Reed, almost a year into his presidency.

Co-incidence or not, on Thursday, thousands of conservatives who would prefer an alternative to the current health care reform proposed by the White House, marched on the Capitol, visiting with members of Congress to let them know exactly how they feel. The rally, which was broadcast on C-SPAN, involved key members of the Republican Congress, including Michelle Bachman of MN, and tech savvy, Rep. John Culberson of Texas. Culberson was one of the leaders of the House Revolt last August when Speaker Pelosi, during the energy debate, shut off the lights, the C-Span cameras and headed on vacation to promote her book, while the price of gas was going through the roof. House Republican’s stayed, in the dark house, getting their message across, using whatever means necessary to stand up for the people in their districts and the country in general.

The majority of the media, along with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, continue to dismiss protestors against health care reform, however, conservatives in general, have taken a page from the liberal playbook of the past, by becoming more vocal when issues matter, a stunning change from what had been the norm for decades. In the case of this dismissal (denial) of the protest yesterday, it is worth noting that the innuendo from the press and the White House, regarding “tea party activist”, and throwing words around such as “conservative”, along with “about 10,000 tea party protestors” marched on the Capitol yesterday, (abridged and in general), are unwittingly speaking to the majority of those who do not support the current proposal.

According to recent polling, 53% of American’s oppose the current plan, and perhaps more telling, 73% who do support the plan identify themselves as liberal. Therefore, one can conclude that 27% of the liberal base no longer is on board the Pelosi express. In addition, when one includes trends in American Political Ideology, Gallop indicates that those who identify themselves as Conservative (this was as of June, 2009), were growing, to pre-2004 levels. As of June, 40% of respondents considered themselves to be conservative, with 35% moderate and a mere 21% identifying themselves as liberal.

With unemployment numbers remaining above 9%, the rate of inflation poised to move, in line with the rising cost of fuel, those numbers may have changed in the past 3 months. Additionally, 2010 will bring a zero cost of living increase to those who rely on social security benefits, as well as any government pensioners. This decision was based upon low oil prices this past summer, which caused a negative rate of inflation (of course, there are three entities that rate inflation, of the three, The BEA, the Federal Reserve and the Depart of Labor, the Dept. of Labor was used in that calculation having the lowest figure). Of note, in 2010, insurance benefits for those very same individuals, is poised to rise by 10 percent. Should pricing on food and oil, continue to rise, and individuals living in high tax states, such as Massachusetts, who’s high insurance premium (Medicare supplement plans included), hike for 2010, lays mainly on the State’s Universal Health Care program, one can see that trend towards conservatism edging higher.

Although the recent Republican (i.e. conservative) wins in two statewide races are being pooh-poohed by the White House, and the Speaker, who are more energized by low margin wins in two special election races in New York and California(Historically, Republicans do not fare well in special elections. Surely, this fact cannot be lost on the President and his Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.

That Saturday trip to the Hill, although a coincidence, given the rally, the statistics on trends and specifically the legislation on the table, may do more damage to the Democrats in 2010 than the loss of two state-wide elections. Although the media is now pointing to “southern democrats” (i.e. blue dogs) as being concerned about their jobs, it would behoove all Incumbents to pay attention to the trends. One must remember that even the most liberal state of Massachusetts, when pressed, has elected Republican Governors, and was the state that embraced Conservative Republican Ronald Reagan, not once, but twice. This following the disastrous term of one Jimmy Carter, whose approach to governing is parallel to the current occupant of the White House.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tea Party Activist March on Capitol to Protest Health Care Reform – Los Angeles Times Indicates a “Swarm” of Protestors.

Crowds continue to grow in DD as Amerian's Defend Against Pelosi's Health Care Bill - image talking points memo

Those that would prefer to seeimprovements made, not an overall of, our present health care system, have taken to Capital Hill today to protest the current form of Health Care Reform being pushed by Nancy Pelosi and Co. The L.A. Times article calls it a “Swarm”. Meanwhile, pro-health care reform protestors were removed removed from Joe Lieberman’s office. All nine of them

Meanwhile, the “Swarm” of Anti-Health Care Reform Activists is continuing to grow to “mob” proportions. One has to wait until tomorrow to hear more rhetoric from the Speaker as to the un-American, gun touting, bible hugging, protestors, complete with pitchforks, who had the unmitigated gall to exercise their first amendment rights.

Apparently, Ms. Pelosi did not get the message sent on Tuesday of this week.

Mark Levin C-SPAN Covers 11/5 Protest Rally

Mass. Health Care Review: Premiums to Rise 10% in 2010 with Pre-Existing Conditions subject to waiting period – U.S. Congress Adopts Mass. Model

Nancy Pelosi - Taking a Page from the Massachusetts Health Care Model? image cinisworld

Massachusettsresidents who hold private insurance plans are bracing for a 10% increase in the cost of their premiums in 2010. Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the Commonwealth’s largest insurer, has set premium increases for individuals at 10 to 11% while those who are self-employed, can anticipate a higher increase. This can mean up to a $40 per month drain on families who are already burdened with risings costs to do the rise in Massachusetts taxes imposed this year in order to cover the Commonwealth’s deficit. Subsidies for the Massachusetts Health Insurance model, remain one of the Commonwealth’s largest expenditures, and with an ever decreasing tax base, one can anticipate yet another round in taxes in 2010 to help foot the bill.

What about pre-existing conditions? Under Massachusetts laws, Pre-exiting conditions are not excluded, rather subject to a “waiting period” of up to six months.

Fees versus taxes, waiting periods versus exclusions; it’s all about parsing a phrase.

Those who live in the Commonwealth and are not covered under the mandatory health insurance laws, face paying a “fee” every year to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance. Although Massachusetts boasts the highest rate of insured’s in the nation, individuals and families who cannot afford the premiums, yet earn too much to qualify for subsidies are met with an additional tax burden.
Meanwhile, the few insurance carriers that are allowed to do business in the State, point to the 26 State mandated benefits they must cover as part of the reason for the increase.

The Health Care Reform Bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is blindly pushing through Congress, includes an interestingly similar feature to the Massachusetts model: under the proposed plan, those who are subject to pre-existing condition clause, will be subject to a “waiting period” of up to six months, before “Congress-Care” kicks in. Meanwhile, private insurance companies will be forced to pay into an ever increasing “risk pool” – driving up premiums for those who still have private insurance plans.

Although the Congressional version of Health Care Reform, has some level of approval from only 42% of the nations populace Ms. Pelosi’s’ intends to push the bill to a vote, despite an obvious message sent to those who would consider adding additional economic burdens to the nation this past Tuesday. Statewide wins for Conservatives in both Virginia and New Jersey, have been dismissed by the Speaker.

What is most startling is that the Speaker, and those Representatives in Congress who reside in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, surely must have access to the data, yet they are willing to foist this flawed program on the rest of the nation. A common sense solution would be to allow for competition in the state (proposed by the House Republican’s), allowing only those benefits that relate to preventative care to be mandated, allowing insurers to offer plans that provide those “high price tag” benefits currently offered under the Massachusetts model (infertility treatments for example), at a higher rate, reducing the risks assessed across the board to consumers. To use the Massachusetts Model for the Nation is, in a word, economic suicide, which does little to aid those who are caught with a debilitating illness in a six month “waiting period”, and raises both premiums and taxes on those who are still employed.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election 2009 – State-wide Elections trend Republican, Congressional Races Trend Democrat – Analysis

The State of New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Virginia both elected Republican Gubernatorial candidates; Bob McDonnell took Virginia by a margin of 18% the state had last voted for a Democrat in 2005 who won by a margin of approximately 5%. Additionally, yesterday saw a sweep, as both the offices of Lt. Governor and Attorney General went to the Republican candidates. In New Jersey, the trend towards Republican Chris Christie was more pronounced, although the margin was 5%, that spoke volumes, as a third party candidate, , Chris Daggett took 6% of the vote.

Historically, New Jersey, like Massachusetts to the north, is considered a Democrat “stronghold”, a Republican has not held that seat since 1997 when Christine Todd Whitman struggled to achieve victory with a 1% margin. In New Jersey, the Incumbent Corzine, was struggling with low approval ratings, and New Jersey has a tax rate, as of 2008, that was 2 points higher than Massachusetts’ , (2009 might show that both states tax burdens have risen due to new taxes imposed on both New Jersey and Massachusetts residents).

Two special elections to fill U.S. Congressional vacancies were won by the Democrat candidate in both New York’s 23rd and California’s 10th Congressional districts. The New York 23rd race garnered most of the national attention due to an apparent “schism” within the Republican Party. The results, however, in the 23rd, upon closer inspection of the incomplete results (not all counties had reported in as of 11:30 pm est.), show Owen’s with 50% of the vote, Hoffman, the Independent New York Conservative Party Candidate with 44.7%, and Dede Scozzafava, the Republican who had dropped out of the race this past weekend, with 5.3% of the vote. That leaves Owen’s victory (considering the New York Republican Party endorsed candidate and the Conservative Candidate combined are at exactly 50 %,) a virtual Republican/Conservative tie.

In the California 10th District, the Democrat, John Garamendi, took the seat by 10 points over Republican Harmon, which was in line with the last CBS/USA Survey poll. That said, the district is heavily Democrat, by 18%, , leaving 8% off the table.

In both local elections, the results are not stellar for the Democrat Party, considering the spread in California’s 10th and , what amounted to “Scozzafava’s” Party Brand as a Republican, leading to a Win for the Democrat.

Were the election results in these four contests a referendum on the President? The question being asked by every media outlet, and using “exit” polls to prove otherwise, (exit polls not always the most reliable (see election 2004where television network exit polling gave the election early to John Kerry, while actual vote count was the opposite) assume that this was more of a local issue, or a referendum on the economy. That said the President and Vice President both spent a great deal of time in three of the four states, especially New Jersey and New York. It goes to popularity and to trust. The general public may be willing to give Obama a pass, personally, but apparently are not willing to vote upon his endorsement of a particular candidate. Additional issues of health care reform, the economy and jobs contributed to the outcome in all four districts, which should send a clear message to those in the Senate and the House facing re-election next year that they will either outright lose their seats or face a very tough challenge from either a Republican and/or Conservative candidate. Additionally, history is not on the side of those incumbents that are affiliated with the “party in power”, as off-year elections generally swing to the opposition party. Therefore it is highly probable that, come 2010, the Congress will be held by the Republican Party, with a White House controlled by the lone Democrat, Obama. One of two situations would then develop. Either the President would begin to govern from the middle (which is highly improbable given his decisions to date being left of center) or should that occur the Congress would stop any further legislation that would be considered “progressive” from getting to his desk. At this point, getting nothing done at all would be preferable to passing legislation that would increase our national debt, increase the role of government, and ultimately increase taxes – the burden of which would fall mainly on the middle class.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Will Today’s Elections Be Driven not by Party but General Political Ideology? The California 10th Congressional District - Bellwether

The majority of headlines today are asking if several key races are a referendum on either the President, or either major Political Party, however, with voter turnout expected to be low on every level, it may be that when the dust settles, the outcomes will be a referendum on “business as usual”. One can pretty much assess (given the poll data) that Virginia will fall to the Republican Party, given McDonnell’s 14 point advantage over Deeds. In New Jersey, it’s nobody’s call, polls vary widely, with Corzine up by 2 points in one, and Christie up by 6 in another, independents (or those that refuse to answer) will determine that particular race. The New York 23rd Congressional District is likely to go to New York Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Although Hoffman is running as a Conservative, it was only due to the fact that a Republican State Committee nominated liberal leaning Dede Scozzafava, without holding a primary. The actions of a few local party committee members have led the media (including conservative pundits) to lay the Scozzafava debacle at the feet of the entire Republican Party – which, in fact, Hoffman’s success is and will be dependent upon all voters in that district, specifically the independent (or unenrolleds) who are leaning Conservative nationwide.

The California 10th will be the wild card in this political horserace, with the Democrat candidate, Garamendi, leading Republican Currently, David Harmer by 10 points. The poll, which was released on the 29th by CBS and Survey USA, was based on 581 registered voters in the district and had a margin of error of plus/minus 1. The bigger story is that the district is heavily Democrat, by 18 percent – should Harman come within striking distance (10 points or more behind Garamendi (who is endorsed by every California Union, and has been the Lt. Govenor of the State for 10 plus years), or wins the district outright, it will be a rejection of the ideology, not necessarily the Party, and perhaps speak to something under-reported – the voter who, although identifying themselves with one major party or another, votes against that party candidate. Therefore, this may be less a rejection of one party over the other, rather a rise of the people being more informed, less inclined to tow the Party line, or vote for the “rock star” candidate, and making a decision based on how they feel that person will best represent their own interests.

All eyes should be on the outcome of the California 10th, and the statistics that rise, once the dust is settled. It would behoove candidates and both major parties, to take a closer look at those Tea Party activists, and other groups too numerous to mention that are making this election more about what the majority of the people want to see happen to their government; be it a State or Federal race.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tuesday Elections – Will they be Predictive of 2010? Analysis VA, NJ, NY 23, California 10th and the Massachusetts Special Election - Senate Race

On Tuesday, four states are holding elections that have the eyes of the nation’s pundits and political party analysts doing a bit of hand-wringing. The Virginia Governor’s race is all but a foregone conclusion (these deductions are based on poll data from Real Clear Politics) with the race for Governor’s (and the balance of the majority of the State’s offices) going Republican. In New Jersey, it remains too close to call, as those same polls have either Corzine or Christie, up by any number of points, with Dagget, the independent in the mix; that said, the majority of the polls favor Christie, which in that Democrat stronghold, should Christie emerge as the victor, that is a real coup for the Republican Party.

The New York 23rd district and the California 10th are in play due to congressional representatives taking positions within the Obama administration. The New York 10th is being watched as it’s a drama based race, the Republican, Dede Scozzafava, bowed out of the race due to low poll numbers and has endorsed the Democrat, over Conservative Doug Hoffman. One can, given that last minute endorsement which, as her core constituency was those who would vote Republican, for the most part, those votes should transfer to either Hoffman and/or voters may still give Scozzafava the vote – whether it counts or no. In that race, like New Jersey, polls are up and down, that said; – consider that race, to likely go to Hoffman (based on those Scozzafava voters who would only vote Republican, pulling the lever for a like-minded Conservative.

Additionally, the California 10th, which has been underreported, finds the latest local news poll (CBS 5) with Democrat Garamendi up by 10 points over the Republican Harmer. Under most circumstances one would assume, given that the district is considered solid Democrat, that the Democrat would basically run away with the seat – however, something is afoot – certain conservative PAC;s have turned their attention to the 10th (and the NY 23rd and the New Jersey Governor’s race) in the past 48 hours.

This can only indicate one thing – the GOP nor for that matter any conservative, is never known to throw “good money after bad” – they may “smell blood” – If Harmon doesn’t outright win the election, then the fact that he comes within striking distance of the Democrat in this particular district is a real signal as to how hard the Democrats must work to keep their jobs in 2010.

Historically speaking, the house changes hand every three to four terms (or 4 to six years) – As the Democrats have controlled both houses since 2006, historical logic dictates that it is probable a change is going to occur giving Republican’s the edge. Therefore, two of the four races, historically would go Republican (the same is true for state Governors, a back and forth between political parties is the norm) that said, should three or all four of the races turn to the “right”, then that would herald something a bit more interesting, a shift in the mindset of the voting populace towards the right. Once the dust clears, it will be interesting to see how these states and districts voted by party affiliation – as it may not only be a rejection of the Democrat by Republicans (given), or Independents (looking increasingly given) but by the rank and file (moderates) of the Democrat Party).

If the GOP or the NRSC throw anything at all to the Special Election in Massachusetts in January, then the handwriting will be further imprinted upon the wall. In the special election to replace Ted Kennedy, a primary battle of some media magnitude is being hard fought by the Democrats, Coakley, Capuano and Pagliuca and Khaezi, as of this writing that, although the GOP has a viable candidate in Republican Scott Brown, he must face a primary from Jackie Robinson, who filed signatures last week . Should Brown win the primary in December (which give his grassroots campaign and Robinson’s lack thereof), if the NRSC and the GOP start to throw anything at all in Brown’s direction, that will signal more than an historical electoral pattern. Although, many pundits are now calling this race, “safe” by virtue of Massachusetts being Massachusetts, this is the next race to watch as far as the state of mind of the voting electorate. Should Brown receive any support from the RNC (NRSC) and become the second Republican Senator in over 3 decades from Massachusetts, that will be clearly indicative of the mind of the electorate, and the end to purely party driven voting for at the very least the 2010 and possibly 2012 cycles.

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