Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

The One Percent Strikes Back

It's not a joke. In response to the Occupy Wall Street movement, a band of one-percenters—including JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who made $23 million in 2012; and John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp.—has started a campaign to rescue rich CEOs' tattered image. Calling themselves the Job Creators Alliance, the group plans media appearances, pens op-eds, and comes up with talking points to defend executives from the 99 percent who, at least in terms of wages, has seen little trickle down from Wall Street for the last two decades. Bernard Marcus, a founding member of the alliance, isn't worried about Occupiers being offended by his organization's mission. “Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?” he told Businessweek. “If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit," chimed in billionaire Tom Golisano. They've come parroting the standard defense: That they deserve the money they get and that they create jobs...

Primary Campaigns: Very Predictable, But Still Fun

When Newt Gingrich began his presidential run, he said that he was such a transformative and revolutionary figure that a regular kind of campaign just wasn't capable of containing and advancing his unique brand of awesomeness. He proved this by going away on a two-week cruise to Greece, whereupon most of his staff quit in frustration. But just a few weeks ago, it began to look like Newt may have been right, and that his unusual way of running for president -- starting with being a uniquely unpopular figure, then eschewing the normal things candidates do, like raising money and organizing supporters -- might not stop him from becoming the Republican nominee. But alas, now Newt seems to be coming back down to earth. A number of polls in the last week have shown him falling both nationally and in Iowa, where the caucuses are two weeks away. So what does this, and everything that has come before, tell us? I think what it tells us is that even the craziest campaign often has the most...

The Arpaio Effect

Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report saying that under Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s leadership, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) has violated the Fourth Amendment and Title VI through a consistent “pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing.” “MCSO, through the actions of its deputies, supervisory staff, and command staff, engages in racial profiling of Latinos,” the report found. One expert quoted in the report said it was “the most egregious racial profiling in the United States that he has ever personally seen in the course of his work, observed in litigation, or reviewed in professional literature.” No one familiar with Sheriff Arpaio will be surprised at the findings of the DOJ investigation—the self-described publicity hound’s exploits, which include making prisoners wear pink underwear and housing prisoners in tent cities, are well documented. But the fact that the DOJ called the sheriff out in a tangible way is a switch in direction for the...

Dear Politifact, I'm Not Sure that "Lie" Means What You Think It Does

You might remember that earlier this year, House Republicans passed a version of Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap” as their budget for 2011. In addition to its draconian cuts to a constellation of different social services, the GOP buget added a series of “reforms” to Medicare, which were presented as a means to “save” the program. In reality, Republicans had crafted a voucher program whose value was so low that, eventually , seniors would have to pay the bulk of their medical costs out of pocket. And while Republicans could credibly claim to have reduced Medicare spending with their reforms, it wasn’t through any mechanism that reduced the overall rate of health care spending in the economy. Rather, Republicans would “save” universal health insurance for seniors by dismantling it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Democrats attacked Republicans for this, and portrayed the GOP as on a crusade to destroy Medicare and end universal health insurance for seniors. The response from...

Ringside Seat

“The Republican Party has gone insane,” influential conservative commentator Erick Erickson wrote this morning. He was referring to GOP’ers support for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, despite those candidates’ one-time backing of individual mandates to buy health insurance—a cardinal sin for conservatives. But he might just as well have been talking about the Republican nomination race writ large, which has turned into a political version of Pick Six. Fifteen days before the Iowa caucuses, the Gingrich bubble has burst , his support dropping by half. Ron Paul is leading in Iowa now—unless, of course, he’s actually already lost. Romney is the inevitable nominee again —though a few days ago he was a dead man walking. Perry and Bachmann and Santorum are all sneaking up on the frontrunners in Iowa, while Jon Huntsman is climbing in New Hampshire. Everyone’s a winner! So They Say “We posed for a picture, just celebrating the fact that we had raised a lot of money and then we hoped to be...

The Latest Proposition

Opponents of California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, have started collecting the 807,615 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot. It’ll be a slog—they have to have them all by May 14. Earlier this year, Equality California, the largest organization in the state fighting for same-sex marriage rights, declined to participate in the effort to gather signatures, citing the uncertainty of a win at the ballot box and the pending lawsuit against Prop. 8, which the Ninth Circuit is set to decide on soon. This leaves Love, Honor, Cherish (LHC)—another gay-rights organization—leading the way. It’s difficult to guess whether LHC will succeed in its effort to put Prop. 8 to a vote. But it is woefully underprepared to launch an advocacy campaign that can outgun the opposition. LHC is pretty short on cash; whereas Equality California received $3.2 million in contributions in 2010, LHC says it has only $500,000. The results of a recent poll—in which 48 percent...

Now is the Time to Buy Perry

As per my earlier post on Newt Gingrich’s collapse in Iowa, here is how Intrade rates the current odds for victory in the Iowa caucuses: In essence, conventional wisdom has moved away from the view that Gingrich will emerge from Iowa as the winner, and toward the (more accurate) view that the race is a toss-up between Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. With his ground game and appeals to evangelical voters—he’s moved to 10 percent support in the latest Public Policy Polling survey—Rick Perry still has a shot at a strong finish in Iowa, but that isn’t reflected in the Intrade numbers; so far, he’s valued at about 9-to–1 odds. Given the extent to which Perry is still a viable contender for the nomination—or at least, he’s still plausible as a nominee—then it would be silly to pass up these odds, especially if you’re the kind of person who bets on political outcome. Right now, Perry is a steal.

Latinos Flock to Swing States

One of President Obama’s big advantages in 2012 is the extent to which his demographic coalition is growing at a faster rate than the Republican one. Yes, like almost all Democratic presidential candidates since the 1960s, Barack Obama will lose the white vote by considerable margins, but a larger Latino vote—plus similar margins for turnout and vote share—could offset that. At the moment, according to the latest poll from Univision, two-thirds of Latinos approve of Obama’s job performance. More importantly, the Latino population has grown fastest in the swing states that will prove crucial to the president’s reelection effort. This chart from the Wall Street Journal offers a nice illustration of the fact: Of course, with all of this, it’s important to remember that high Latino turnout is not a given. Indeed, Univision found that 53 percent of Latinos are less enthusiastic about Obama than they were in 2008. A larger electorate might offset this somewhat, but how much is an open...

Full Court Press

DAVENPORT, IOWA —Newt Gingrich's preposterous claim that, as president, he would ignore court decisions he didn’t like and subject the judiciary to congressional and presidential review has received the proper amount of ridicule from the press today. Scott Lemieux and Paul Waldman have already delved into the topic here at the Prospect , but these attacks aren’t solely coming from the left. This morning the Wall Street Journal ran the headline "Gingrich vs. Courts Echoes South's Criticism of 1950s Segregation Decisions," which even among the most conservative crowds won't be a favorable comparison. It's a proposal so unhinged that it might be the final straw that forces establishment Republicans to distance themselves from Gingrich. But it's a popular sentiment on the judiciary among the caucus voters Newt needs to win Iowa. Judicial politics have become the cause célèbre among the state's social conservative grassroots ever since Varnum v. Brien, the landmark 2009 decision in which...

The Bain of Mitt's Existence

In an election year certain to be defined by the growing gap between the wealthy and everyone else, Mitt Romney’s time at Bain Capital—during which he bought and restructured companies for a profit—is a liability. The Romney campaign knows this and has been aggressive in trying to turn Bain into a strength for Romney. In his stump speeches and debate performances, Romney has made Bain the centerpiece of his economic message, and when attacked on his former career, he presents it as a net positive. To wit, here’s how the Romney campaign responded after Newt Gingrich accused him of destroying American jobs: Mitt Romney comes from the private sector, where the economy is built by hard work and entrepreneurial drive. It’s clear that after 30 years as a Washington insider, Newt Gingrich has no clue how the real world economy works. After 25 years in business, Mitt Romney understands how jobs come and go, and what we need to do to get our economy back on track. With the The New York Times ’...

Ron Paul on the Rise in Iowa

A little bit of sanity has returned to the GOP presidential field, with the latest polls from Iowa indicating that quasi-frontrunner Newt Gingrich has fallen back. Yet, Gingrich has been replaced by yet another shock frontrunner: Ron Paul is now on track to win the Iowa caucuses. In the latest poll from Public Policy Polling, Paul has moved to the top of the field with 23 percent support. Mitt Romney jumped up to second place with 20 percent, while Gingrich is down in third with 14 percent. Two weeks ago, PPP's numbers put Gingrich clearly atop the field with 27 percent, but that level took a slight dip to 22 percent last week before bottoming out in the latest numbers. It's easy to dismiss Paul's jump to the top as yet another mini-surge that will fall back before the actual vote, but I wouldn't be so sure. Unlike Gingrich, Paul has actually built an Iowa infrastructure, and voters in the state are very familiar with his policy positions because he has traveled to Iowa more...

Gingrich Keeps on Slippin'

When Newt Gingrich rocketed to the front of the Republican presidential pack last month, I maintained that this was just another boomlet. Like Herman Cain before him, Gingrich was a vanity candidate whose stature would decline once the other candidates aimed their guns at his campaign. Gingrich is still ahead in national polls and in states like South Carolina and Florida, but in Iowa—a crucial state for his candidacy—he has seen a preciptious drop in support, thanks to two weeks of anti-Newt television ads from Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. According to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, Gingrich had only 14 percent support from Iowa Republicans. Congressman Ron Paul has nabbed the top spot with 23 percent support, and Romney is a close second with 20 percent support. This is a sudden drop; in last week’s poll, Gingrich was at 22 percent support. What’s more, Gingrich has seen a huge dip in his personal favorability rating, a measure of how voters feel about the candidate...

The Ball's in Your Court

At the December 15 debates in Sioux City, Iowa, nominal frontrunner Newt Gingrich argued that the “courts have become grotesquely dictatorial, far too powerful, and I think, frankly, arrogant in their misreading of the American people.” Showing the discipline and moderation for which he has long been known, Gingrich followed up with assertions that judges that issue First Amendment rulings he disagrees with should be arrested and impeached and that he would ignore court rulings that didn't suit him. Many of the proposals deriving from these intemperate critiques are dangerously radical, others inadvertently reasonable. But what is strange about them is that they all assume a liberal federal judiciary that hasn’t existed for decades. More than forty years later, Republican elites seem to not to have heard about Earl Warren’s resignation from the Supreme Court. While the federal courts have not been bastions of progressive constitutionalism for a long time, conservatives have had...

Newt v. Judiciary

In what seems to be an ongoing effort to convince Republican primary voters that he's the most radical Republican in the presidential race, Newt Gingrich decided to go after the "judicial activism"-haters by declaring yesterday that what we need is more witch hunts of judges. In Gingrich's view, when members of Congress -- a group of people well known for being sober and responsible and avoiding grandstanding and demagoguery -- feel like it, they should be able to haul judges in front of them to explain their rulings, and if the judges don't like it, federal marshals should arrest them. Furthermore, he believes that the president should be able to simply overrule any Supreme Court decision that displeases him. As he said on Face the Nation , "Nine people cannot create the law of the land, or you have eliminated our freedom as a people." Newt would essentially like to overturn Marbury v. Madison and declare the last two centuries of Supreme Court jurisprudence invalid. It should be...

Forgive Newt His Flip-Flop

As many of us noted some time ago, the combination of an electorate that requires perfect fealty to conservative orthodoxy with an orthodoxy that has itself undergone major changes in recent years makes life very difficult for most of the Republican candidates. Many of them have in the past supported things like a cap and trade system for carbon emissions and an individual mandate in health care, if only for the reason that when they supported those things, they were conservative positions to take. Now that those positions are anathema to Republicans, they have shifted away from them. But how much should a Republican voter punish them for their past blasphemies, when they weren't blasphemies at the time? This is coming up now for Newt Gingrich, as some news reports have called attention to his prior support for an individual mandate in health care. Newt's explanation is that, first of all, the individual mandate was devised in part at the Heritage Foundation, and second of all, it was...

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