Limbaugh: Obama is ‘in over his head’

Limbaugh: Obama is ‘in over his head’

November 2nd, 2009


From his home and on a friendly network, Rush Limbaugh lobbed potshots across the airwaves Sunday at President Obama — “immature, inexperienced, in over his head,” offering the country “radical leadership” and laying siege to the economy.

“We’ll let Mr. Limbaugh foment,” responded the White House’s chief political strategist, dismissing the conservative commentator with the reported $400 million contract (”I’m probably worth more,” Mr. Limbaugh said) as no more than an entertainer and not really the right guy to give “lectures on humility.”

The banter began on the hour long “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Limbaugh the lone guest, interviewed from his home in Palm Beach, Fla., on a network the Obama administration has labeled as the voice of the far-right wing of the Republican Party. Obama adviser David Axelrod swung away later in the morning from Chicago on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

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Election 2009 Forecasts

Election 2009 Forecasts

By Richard Baehr

On Tuesday, there will be elections in four states: two governorships and two U.S. special elections for U.S. House seats, all of whose constituencies were won by Barack Obama in 2008. Republicans or Conservative Party candidates are poised to win two or three of the four races, but in each of them, the Democrats will significantly underperform the results from the 2008 elections. While the White House may argue on Wednesday that there is no national meaning to such a result, the extent of the Democrats’ drop-off from 2008 — roughly 15% or more in each race — may be a warning sign for moderate Democrats in the House and Senate wavering in their support of the health care reform bill or the cap and trade bill, both of which were drafted by the more left-wing elements of their caucus. 

Virginia governor’s race
Virginia’s governor can serve only one term, so every race is an open-seat race. Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine won the last two gubernatorial races by 5% and 6%, respectively. Democrats also won the last two Old Dominion Senate races with Jim Webb besting incumbent George Allen in 2006 by less than 1% and Mark Warner winning an open seat race by 31% in 2008. Barack Obama won Virginia in 2008 by 7%, the first victory there for a Democrat in the Presidential race since 1964. Democrats also picked up three Virginia Congressional seats in 2008.
It would have been fair to say based on these results that once-red Virginia had become purple, leaning more toward blue than red. But now Republicans are on the eve of a sweeping statewide victory in Virginia. Their candidate for Governor, Robert McDonnell, has opened up a huge lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds of about 14% according to the RCP average of the latest poll results. 
Republicans are also leading in other statewide races and are poised to pick up seats in the state legislature. The shift from Democrats to Republicans from 2008 to 2009 in Virginia appears to be over 20% (a 7% Obama win, a 14% McDonnell win). Virginia has been more Republican in presidential election years than in off-year elections prior to 2008. The White House has been of late trying to distance Obama from the race, telling reporters that Deeds ran a poor campaign. But a blowout loss in Virginia is an embarrassment for the White House after their intense and successful organizing effort there in 2008.  
New York’s 23rd Congressional District race
In the special election to fill the seat of  Republican John McHugh, appointed Secretary of the Army, the state Republican Party picked moderate Dede Scozzafava. Doug Hoffman, who had competed for the nomination, then decided to run on the Conservative Party ticket. The Democrats picked Bill Owens. New York 23 has elected a string of Republicans to Congress for over a century, with McHugh winning by huge margins in his last few races, regularly securing 60% or more of the vote. It is likely that McHugh was offered his new job in part to create the open seat and give Democrats the shot at a pickup.  
Obama won the district by 5% in 2008, suggesting that in an open seat race, Democrats would have a chance. With McHugh’s appointment, the GOP was down to two Congressmen from the 29 House seats in the state, from 10 prior to the 2006 midterms. Scozzafava held an early lead in the race until Hoffman gained strength and became competitive with the support of movement conservatives in the district and national conservative figures. But the split in the GOP vote between Hoffman and Scozzafava gave Owens the lead. The tide turned in the last week as Hoffman pulled even with Owens and Scozzafava’s support dropped. On Saturday, Scozzafava suspended her campaign, and on Sunday, she stunningly endorsed Owens, throwing the race into turmoil.  
No one can be sure where Scozzafava’s remaining supporters will go. Many had already switched to Hoffman, but those that stuck with her were not by and large a conservative-leaning group.  The last independent poll from Siena gave Owens a 1-point lead over Hoffman (36-35) with Scozzafava at 20%.  My best guess is that Hoffman is now a slight favorite to win, but this race will be close, and it could go either way (5% margin of victory or less). The combined vote for Hoffman and Scozzafava (whose name will remain on the ballot) will likely reach 55%,  at least 10% more than the Democrat receives. In other words, from a 5% Obama district in 2008, the shift to the Republicans and Conservatives in this open-seat race may be as much as 15% in one year. Still, if Owens wins, this will be a disaster for the GOP, another in a string of open-seat losses in former GOP districts. 
New Jersey governor’s race

This is by far the hardest race to forecast.  The RCP poll average shows a very tight race between Democratic Governor John Corzine and Republican Chris Christie, with independent Chris Daggett trailing far behind. Corzine has outspent Christie by well over two-to-one, and the Democrats have a better ground game in the state. Obama won New Jersey by 15% in 2008 (Republicans last won the Presidential election in 1988), and Democrats have won all major statewide races (governor or senator) for many years. Republicans are often close in final polls and then underperform on Election Day. Daggett is a wild card. His support has been eroding, and more of his supporters pick Christie as a second choice than Corzine. Third-party candidates often fare poorly on Election Day (much worse than their final poll numbers) when supporters of these candidates realize they cannot win. This could help Christie.

When an incumbent runs for governor, statewide issues matter, and Corzine is unpopular. New Jersey has a big deficit, high unemployment, rising taxes, and abundant corruption. Unlike Virginia, the Obama team has devoted many campaign days to backing Corzine, and other powerful national Democrats have also trooped into the state to help him. If Corzine loses, his defeat will be more closely tied to Obama than the impending loss for the Democrats in Virginia.
While the RCP average poll result shows a 1% Christie lead, the individual polls are all over the place, with solid leads for Corzine in two polls, and smaller leads for Christie in many others. Picking a winner here is a total crapshoot. Many analysts believe Corzine will eke out a narrow victory (1-2%).  I thought this was likely earlier in the week, but Christie seems to have a bit of momentum heading home. Based on the current poll averages, the Democrats have again dropped 15% or more from the Obama margin in New Jersey in 2008.
California 10th Congressional District race

Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher has been appointed Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Tauscher won her last race in this east Bay district by a 34% margin and received 65% or more of the vote in each of her races. Obama won the district by 32% in 2008. The Democratic nominee, Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, is leading in late polls by 10% over his GOP opponent, David Harmer. This race has been off the radar, with political attention focused on the other three. It would be an enormous upset if Harmer won, but if Garamendi wins by only 10% in the 10th, that too will represent a significant drop-off from  Obama’s margin in 2008 of over 20% in one year.

If Republicans can win in New York 23 and New Jersey, it will be a very big night. In Virginia, the Deeds is done, so to speak. But in each of the four races, the Democrats appear to be headed for a collapse from Barack Obama’s margins in 2008. 
Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.

Page Printed from: at November 02, 2009 – 08:56:50 PM EST

Health care plan hits rich with big tax increases

Health care plan hits rich with big tax increases

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press Writer Mon Nov 2, 6:26 am ET

WASHINGTON – The typical family would be spared higher taxes from the House Democratic plan to overhaul health care, and their low-income neighbors could come out ahead.

Their wealthy counterparts, however, face big tax increases that could eventually hit future generations of taxpayers who are less wealthy.

The bill is funded largely from a 5.4 percent tax on individuals making more than $500,000 a year and couples making more than $1 million, starting in 2011. The tax increase would hit only 0.3 percent of tax filers, raising $460.5 billion over the next 10 years, according to congressional estimates.

But unlike other income tax rates, the new tax would not be indexed for inflation. As incomes rise over time because of inflation, more families — and more small business owners — would be hit by the tax.

“Twenty years from now, we’re going to see more and more small businesses ensnared into paying higher taxes,” said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

The tax would hit only 1.2 percent of taxpayers who claim business income on their returns, according to the estimates by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. But that percentage would grow as business owners’ nominal incomes rise with inflation.

In 2011, a family of four with an income of $800,000 a year would get a $24,000 tax increase, when the new tax is combined with an increase in the top two tax brackets proposed by President Barack Obama and other scheduled tax changes, according to an analysis by Deloitte Tax. That’s a 12.5 percent increase in federal income taxes.

A family of four making $5 million a year would see a $434,500 tax increase, about a 32 percent increase, according to the analysis.

“These are very big numbers and very high effective tax rates,” said Clint Stretch, a tax policy expert at Deloitte Tax.

The new health care tax would come on top of other tax increases for the wealthy proposed by Obama. The top marginal income tax rate now is 35 percent, on income above $372,950. Obama wants to boost the top rate to 39.6 percent in 2011 by allowing some of the tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush to expire.

House Democrats said they are proud that they found a way to finance the health care package largely from a tax on the wealthy. There is, however, little appetite for a millionaire’s tax in the Senate, and some tax experts think it is a mistake to tap only rich people to pay for services used by all.

“If health care is a benefit that is worth having, then it’s worth paying for,” said William Gale, who was an adviser to President George H. W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and is now co-director of the Tax Policy Center. “This gives the impression that it’s only worth having if someone else pays for it.”

Obama promised during the presidential campaign that he would not increase taxes on couples making less than $250,000. However, the health care bill would impose new taxes on people who don’t buy qualified health insurance, including those making less than $250,000 a year.

Under the bill, individuals are required to obtain health insurance coverage or pay penalties, which are described as taxes in the legislation. The penalty would be equal to the cost of an average insurance plan or a 2.5 percent tax on incomes above the standard threshold for filing a tax return, whichever is less. There would be waivers for financial hardships.

To help afford insurance, families with incomes up to four times the federal poverty level would qualify for subsidies. The poverty level for a family of four is $22,050 this year.

Republicans argue that the penalties violate Obama’s tax pledge, and they liken the millionaire’s tax to the Alternative Minimum Tax, which Congress enacted in 1969 to ensure that wealthy Americans cannot use loopholes to avoid paying any income taxes.

The AMT was never indexed for inflation, so Congress must enact a fix each year to spare about 25 million middle-income families from being hit with big tax increases.

“They’re going down the same road by not indexing this tax,” said the Republican lawmaker Camp

One year on, Obamamania gives way to luke warm support

One year on, Obamamania gives way to luke warm support
Nov 2 04:37 AM US/Eastern
A year on from a historic election, the spirit of popular goodwill that yielded America’s first black president has retreated to tepid support for Barack Obama as he presses his change agenda.Since the November 4 poll, Obama’s visage has been everywhere, conspicuously on the streets of the nation’s capital where millions of foreign and domestic tourists have visited over the past year, many of them snatching up poignant souvenirs.

A quick look around downtown Washington confirms that the Obama trinkets are still for sale, but more than one strategically placed street hawker have found little point in displaying the T-shirts, posters, and “Yes We Can” buttons bearing the new president’s image.

“They stay in the truck,” grumbled a vendor who identified himself as “Dick,” as he pointed to a rusty vehicle behind him. “They don’t sell anymore.”

Indeed, Obama’s honeymoon with the American people lasted less than six months.

In the aftermath of his inauguration in January, Obama’s approval rating soared to 70 percent. Early on, he tested Americans’ faith by diving headlong into controversial programs to rescue the economy, including bailing out sinking US auto manufacturers and unleashing a 787-billion-dollar stimulus plan.

In late April, at the end of the first 100 days in office, Obama still enjoyed more positive reviews than his predecessors in the previous 20 years.

But the fall was soon to come as questions started simmering about the president’s ability to pull the US economy out of a nosedive.

In July, his popularity dipped even below that of predecessor George W. Bush in the same period of his presidency.

Since mid-October, it has hovered just above 50 percent, a “significant drop” from his earlier numbers, according to Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll.

“In general, this puts Obama’s current ratings slightly below average for all US presidents since World War II,” Newport told AFP, adding that the country’s ongoing economic travails are contributing to the curb in enthusiasm.

On Sunday, even as data released by the Commerce Department last week showed the United States had emerged from the worst recession in decades, a monthly approval index by Rasmussen Reports showed 29 percent of those polled strongly approve of Obama’s performance, compared to 39 percent who strongly disapprove.

That left him with an approval index of -10, two points worse than in September, Rasmussen reported.

“Overall, Americans are not highly satisfied with the way things are going in the US,” said Newport.

And as a consequence, the popularity of Obama gear at the souvenir shops that abound in Washington appears to be taking a hit.

“Sellings have really slowed down since Obama took office,” said vendor Vin Ngo.

This is not for want of supply: from a lifesize cardboard cutout to gold jewelry to a bottle of special vintage champagne bearing the president’s name, the list of Obama tchotchkes and high-end souvenirs is long.

High or low as it may be at home, Barack Obama’s popularity abroad is irrefutable, argues Professor Clyde Wilcox of Georgetown University in Washington.

He is “the first African-American president, a young man who has won many honors and done great things. He is a cultural phenomenon in the US and around the world,” Wilcox said.

As such, the conditions remain ripe for more sales, according to Lian Nelson, another street vendor in Washington, who hangs Obama T-shirts alongside those featuring another prominent African-American hero: Michael Jackson.

Who is outselling whom? According to Nelson, the “King of Pop” is well ahead.




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