Conservatism

I'll Take Republican Talking Points For $100 Alex

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As a fan of game shows and an avid trivia nerd, I was disappointed that I couldn't attend the Jeopardy tapings this past weekend when the show rolled into D.C. However after reading a Politico article describing Alec Trebek’s ideological inclinations, I’m glad I missed out on hearing him cavorting on politics: “People [are] relying too much on the government,” the “Jeopardy” star said over the weekend while holding forth with the press during a day of taping in Washington. “If you want to tax high earners more, it would be nice if you told us where you are spending the money. If you are going to use our extra taxes to reduce the debt, fine. If you are going to use our extra taxes to finance new programs, whoa, let’s slow down a moment,” Trebek added, when asked by POLITICO which political issues concern him most. “The same word that I am using with my children, a lot of people are using now: a sense of ‘entitlement’ in our society. I think we need to get away from that.”... “I don’t...

Romney vs. Congressional Republicans

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President Obama was prepared to spend his week contrasting himself with Republicans on students loans, but Mitt Romney deflated that argument yesterday afternoon. The 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act lowered the interest rates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent for federal student loans, but comes with an expiration date: this July. A one-year extension would cost just $6 billion dollars, but would benefit over 7 million young people with student loans. The Obama campaign has highlighted the lack of action from congressional Republicans on the issue, and the president will speak at three college campuses today and tomorrow. He can’t use this against Romney, though, after the presumptive Republican nominee came out in support of the extension yesterday. Romney’s pivot to the center doesn’t mean the issue is settled. This marks the first point of disagreement between Romney and his party since he cleared the primary competition. How congressional Republicans respond over the...

Marco Rubio Hedges

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In the latest installment of Will He, Won’t He, Florida Senator Marco Rubio opened the door just a crack for the possibility of accepting the Republican vice-presidential slot should Mitt Romney offer it to him. In an interview with CNN yesterday morning, Rubio said : “Up to now, it’s all been theoretical,” Rubio explained, but now the party has a nominee who has begun the process of finding a running mate. “Moving forward, we’re going to let his process play itself out,” Rubio said. While that does look like a purposeful shift in tone after his string of denials over the past year, I don’t think it amounts to much. Everyone hems and haws until it becomes more than a hypothetical. The only person I’ve believed fully thus far is Suzanna Martinez, who said she would decline the VP spot because of family considerations. But for everyone else, it will be easy to change tone if Romney does offer them the spot. “I know I said I would never be vice president under any situation, but Mitt...

A New Kind of Gold Standard?

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In the latest issue of the magazine, I have a piece examining a strange and growing trend in some conservative circles—pushing states to adopt alternative currencies to the federal dollar. The basic concern is one you've probably heard from Ron Paul: The Federal Reserve can't be trusted, the national debt is out of control, so the U.S. dollar, backed only by faith in the government, may become worthless. (The story outlines some of the more obvious economic problems with this theory.) To deal with the concern, problem-solving state lawmakers have started introducing bills to create a second currency, one of gold and silver. Sounds like a fringe concept right? Well, not entirely. In the 2011-2012 legislative cycle, 17 states saw some form of the legislation introduced, either implmenting a second currency or at least prompting a study of one. The famous (and failed) "doomsday bill" in Wyoming included one such study. Utah already passed its version last year, so you can now start...

Republicans Keeping Anti-Gay Views in the Closet

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As polls in favor of marriage equality trend upward, politicians are pushed into an awkward corner. The Prospect 's Paul Waldman explained earlier this morning how the incentives just aren't there yet for Democrats to go out on a limb and support same-sex marriage; favoring civil unions probably captures enough of the vote. But at the same time, Republicans have to struggle with the divide between their base, which wants constitutional amendments barring any legal recognition for LGBT couples, and the wider public, whose views soften each passing month. As I noted earlier this week, it's already created a divide between Romney and some of his high-dollar donors. Now it looks like an issue state-level Republicans will have to grapple with as well. North Carolinians will vote next month on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The Charlotte Observer reports that one major candidate has done his best to duck the issue: He’d rather talk about something else – say, the...

They're Just Not That into Romney

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Yeeesh, what does Mitt Romney have to do to drum up a bit of enthusiasm from his party? Sure, he's got to be feeling pretty content as each day brings another Republican casting aside the somehow-still-going campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul to accept the inevitable proposition that Romney will be the party's nominee. Yet few can seem to offer an explanation for why they like Romney beyond the fact that they’re stuck with him. Shortly after I noted John Boehner’s lackluster endorsement yesterday, reporters asked Mitch McConnell for his take on Romney and were given the same nod-and-sigh routine : “Yeah, I support Governor Romney for president of the United States,” Mr. McConnell said. “And he is going to be the nominee. And as you have noticed, the party is in the process of unifying behind him. And I think it’s going to be an incredibly close, hard-fought race. Everybody is banding — bandying polls around, but just look at the Gallup tracking poll yesterday actually had...

Electorate Still Dislikes Romney

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Mitt Romney is starting the general election running far behind Barack Obama. A CNN poll puts Obama ahead by 52-43 percent over Romney, a wider margin than Obama actually won in 2008. That's paired with a new Washington Post /ABC News poll that doesn't include a head-to-head matchup but still offers a bit of discouraging news for the new presumptive Republican nominee. Almost half of the country has unfavorable views of Romney. Just 35 percent say they like Romney while 47 percent dislike the former Massachusetts governor. Meanwhile Obama sits comfortably with 56 percent favorability and only 40 percent unfavorable. As has been the case in most recent polls, Obama owes this advantage to Romney's trouble with women voters. Obama leads Romney 55-39 percent in CNN's numbers, and only 27 percent of women had a favorable impression of Romney in the WaPo survey. Both polls were conducted during height of the faux-outrage following the manufactured media controversy around Hilary Rosen's...

Try Not to Get So Excited Boehner

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Mitt Romney had no trouble garnering more endorsements than his opponents during the Republican primaries, though a number of prominent figures held off from granting Romney their nod until his nomination was all but certain. John Boehner was one such politician—no huge surprise given his position in the party (then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi refrained from directly endorsing Obama in the 2008 primary though it was clear she supported him against Hillary Clinton). Now that Romney is the presumptive candidate Boehner is free to offer his support, but boy does he sound unexcited about the idea: “It’s clear now that Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee,” the Speaker told reporters after a House GOP conference meeting. “I think Mitt Romney has a set of economic policies that can put Americans back to work and contrast sharply with the failed economic policies of President Obama. And I will be proud to support Mitt Romney and do everything I can to help him win.” This is just the latest in a...

ALEC Gives In, But There's No Reason to Celebrate

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After weeks of pressure, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) appears to be backing away from long-term efforts at creating barriers to voting (voter-ID laws) and pushing "Stand Your Ground" legislation. The latter allows those who feel threatened in public places to use force; Florida's version is currently at the center of the Trayvon Martin case. Giving in to public pressure, ALEC announced Tuesday that it was disbanding its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which promoted such legislation and helped see it proliferate. The organization is now "reinvesting these resources in the task forces that focus on the economy." ALEC's spokesperson did not respond to interview requests nor did Public Safety Task Force Chair Jerry Madden, a Texas state representative. ALEC, which proudly calls itself "the nation's largest, non-partisan, individual public-private membership association of state legislators," has operated as a largely secret arena in which corporate sponsors...

Even Romney's Donors Support Same-Sex Marriage

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The prolonged Republican primary forced Mitt Romney to take stances on a host of controversial issues to win the allegiance of conservative voters. That could be alienating now that he is moving to the general election. His opposition to reproductive rights, harsh tone on immigration, and deference to Paul Ryan's budget have been the centerpiece of the campaign so far; he has also turned against gay rights, a move that puts Romney out of touch from the increasing majority of Americans who favor same-sex marriage. During debates Romney tried to cast himself as nondiscriminatory in his interactions with LBGT individuals but settled on a hardline opposition to same-sex marriage. "From the very beginning in 1994, I said to the gay community, I do not favor same-sex marriage. I oppose same-sex marriage and that has been my view," Romney said in January. He reiterated that stance in February, disparaging a court's decision to overturn Proposition 8. "I believe marriage is between a man and...

Romney's Not-So Secret Plan

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One of the more frustrating aspects of this year's Republican primary was the utter lack of specificity in candidates' proposals. It turns out this was a strategic decision. In an interview with the Weekly Standard last month, Romney said : “One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education,” Romney recalled. “So I think it’s important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies. So for instance, I anticipate that housing vouchers will be turned over to the states rather than be administered at the federal level, and so at this point I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we’ll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that...

The Koch Brothers Are Perfectly Sincere

The Koch brothers defend themselves.
I've thought before that if I had a few billion dollars to give away, one of the things I'd do would be to bend the political world to my will, much like Charles and David Koch do. Not only would you get the satisfaction of helping to produce positive change, you could, if you were clever enough, destroy politicians who irritate you. A Republican state legislature somewhere tries to force women to endure some novel kind of slut shaming? Hey, Mr. State Rep who spent $82,000 on his last campaign, how're you going to feel when I drop a million dollars of attack ads on you? Bwah hah hah. If you're going to do that with your few billion dollars, it's part of the deal that the other side is going to attack you. The more effective you are, the more visible you'll become, and the more nasty things will be said about you by people you don't like anyway. And you can't really let that get you too upset. I'm sure George Soros doesn't lose sleep every time Bill O'Reilly claims he's at the head of...

Today in Looney Tea Party Theories

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With Rick Santorum finally out of the picture, the Romney campaign is reportedly starting its VP hunt, but there's no announcement on the immediate horizon. Recent hire Ed Gillespie will lead the search, according to Buzzfeed, and it will likely be a long process to make sure the party doesn't repeat its 2008 mistake in selecting someone ill-prepared for the national spotlight. A freshman congressman seems unlikely to pass that muster, but Florida Representative Allen West has received a bit of buzz thanks to support from the far right wing of the Republican Party. Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, and Nikki Haley had previously touted him as a possible running mate. "He is well-spoken, he is direct, people in Florida love him, he has a huge following," Cain said in a radio interview. It could be the start of a groundswell of support to force Romney to select a more conservative running mate than he would naturally prefer. But it won't go anywhere when West goes around making claims like this...

Paul Ryan Wants Democratic Friends

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Paul Ryan's budget has become a rallying cry for Democrats, and President Obama's re-election in particular. Republicans have long expressed an antipathy for the general concept of government services, but these were often expressed in the abstract or lone exceptions, with the party generally focusing on the starve-the-beast philosophy of reducing taxes so that government outlays would eventually have to be reduced. Ryan's budget gets that down on paper in crystallized form, codifying those ideas into a specific vision for the future that would gut all government services except health spending, Social Security, and an increased budget for defense, discarding the rest of discretionary spending. Earlier this morning, Ryan told a group of reporters in New York that his budget wasn't actually all that extreme because an anonymous selection of a dozen Democrats have told him they love his bill. From Buzzfeed: "There are a number of democrats but I don’t want to name their names, because I...

Romney Tries to Master His Problem With Women

(Flickr/Shannon Hurst Lane)
A minor kerfuffle emerged among the political chattering class yesterday over RNC Chairman Reince Priebus' statement that the allegations that his party is waging a war on women were as fictitious as a war on caterpillars. Democrats blasted out press releases, falsely indicating that Priebus had equated women's issues with insect issues, misconstruing an awkward metaphor. Yet the substance of what Priebus claimed was objectionable. The GOP's war on women didn't just spring from liberals' imaginations. It developed when the party decided to turn reproductive rights into a contentious issue, proposing bills in Congress that would have allowed any employer to refrain from providing women with birth control, Mitt Romney declaring his intention to ruin Planned Parenthood, and the tepid response to Rush Limbaugh's offensive descriptions of Sandra Fluke. That disdain for women has been born out in polls; Romney, for example, now trails Obama by 18 percent among women. I might be reading too...

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