ThinkProgress: After canceling a speech on income inequality last week at the University of Pennsylvania after learning it would be open to the public, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor spoke today at the University of Michigan. It was clear why he had avoided the public previously, as 99 Percent Movement protesters stood silently during the speech while other audience members responded vocally to Cantor’s statements.
MSNBC: NBC News has confirmed that one woman received a settlement from the National Restaurant Association after complaining about inappropriate sexual conduct by Herman Cain.
NBC News is not disclosing the name of the woman nor characterizing who she is. Cain denied the allegations, saying on FOX this morning he was “falsely accused.” “I have never sexually harassed anyone, anyone,” he said, “and absolutely, these are false accusations.”
Despite being the chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, he said he was unaware of any settlement with the accusers, though he didn’t deny it. “If the restaurant association did a settlement, I wasn’t even aware of it,” he claimed, “and I hope it wasn’t for much. If there was a settlement, it was handled by some of the other officers at the restaurant association.”
TPM: On Fox News this afternoon, Herman Cain dismissed the Politico story dogging his campaign this week in the strongest possible terms. There’s only one problem with his story of how the Politico piece came to be: his chief of staff blew a large hole in it already.
On Fox, Cain said that Politico came to him with two anonymous tales of sexual harassment settlements reached while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association. And that’s why he didn’t respond to Politico’s request for comment.
….. That line of reasoning is fine, as far as it goes, except Cain neglected to mention one thing …. his Chief of Staff and famous smoker Mark Block confirmed to TPM that Politico’s reporting of the events was accurate.
…. So Cain’s strong words to Fox are already being found to be less-than-true. That’s not a good sign for a campaign trying to put a tough story behind it.
As you regulars know, I’ve been stamping my feet for some time now about big news orgs that amplify the GOP’s claim to having a “jobs plan” without asking independent experts whether Republican fiscal prescriptions would actually … create jobs.
So kudos to the Associated Press for weighing in with a bracing analysis that calls BS on the GOP’s ideas for job creation, though this one is focused on the 2012 GOP presidential candidates:
Key proposals from the Republican presidential candidates might make for good campaign fodder. But independent analyses raise serious questions about those plans and their ability to cure the nation’s ills in two vital areas, the economy and housing.….
President Barack Obama signs an executive order, to head off drug shortages and to prevent price gouging, in the Oval Office, October 31. In attendance was Pharmacy Manager for perioperative services Bonnie Frawley (L), Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (2nd L), Jay Cuetara (2nd R), a 49-year-old cancer patient who lives in San Francisco, CA, and FDA Commissioner Peggy Hamburg (R).
Daniel Bice (JS Online): Herman Cain’s two top campaign aides ran a private Wisconsin-based corporation that helped the GOP presidential candidate get his fledgling campaign off the ground by originally footing the bill for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses ….. something that might breach federal tax and campaign law, according to sources and documents.
….. Election law experts say the transactions raise a host of questions for the private organization, which billed itself as a tax-exempt nonprofit, and the Cain team. “If the records accurately reflect what occurred, this is way out of bounds,” said a Washington, D.C.-based election lawyer….
Michael Maistelman, a Wisconsin campaign attorney, agreed. “The number of questionable and possibly illegal transactions conducted on behalf of Herman Cain is staggering” ….
Steve Benen: This looks awfully bad for Team Cain. The report points to evidence that two of Cain’s top aides set up a now-defunct non-profit entity that illegally financed the campaign, effectively helping it get off the ground. There’s nothing in FEC filings to suggest the campaign ever paid Prosperity USA back for the substantial funds it spent on Cain’s behalf.
3:30 PM: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes Caroline Kennedy and representatives of other first families and members of the White House Historical Association for a reception in honor of the organization’s 50th Anniversary.
NYT: Obama Tries to Speed Response to Shortages in Vital Medicines
President Obama will issue an executive order on Monday that the administration hopes will help resolve a growing number of critical shortages of vital medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses, among them several forms of cancer and bacterial infections.
The order offers drug manufacturers and wholesalers both a helping hand and a gloved fist in efforts to prevent or resolve shortages that have worsened greatly in recent years, endangering thousands of lives.
It instructs the F.D.A. to do three things: broaden reporting of potential shortages of certain prescription drugs; speed reviews of applications to begin or alter production of these drugs; and provide more information to the Justice Department about possible instances of collusion or price gouging.
Greg Sargent: ‘GOP tightening election laws across the country’
My pick for read of the morning is this very well reported Los Angeles Times piece detailing what is now an undeniable national trend: Republican legislatures and governors are making it harder for people to vote in multiple states across the country.
When you see these examples piled up in one place, as the L.A. Times has done, you get a clear sense of the national scope and potential impact of all these state-by-state initiatives.
As one expert puts it, the presidential race could hang in the balance: “These laws will have an effect on the margin on who votes. And in a state like Florida, a small difference matters. It could easily decide the outcome.”
USA Today: A Republican lawmaker who has criticized the Department of Energy’s $529 million loan guarantee to an electric car company that is manufacturing vehicles overseas has championed U.S.-backed loans to a company headquartered in his home district that does business around the globe.
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., has called for the House Energy and Commerce’s oversight subcommittee to investigate the DOE decision to award the loan to Fisker Automotive, which is manufacturing its first line of vehicles in Finland.
…. Murphy, however, has backed financing for the Westinghouse Electric, which owns facilities in countries including Sweden, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Spain, Germany and the Ukraine and is headquartered in Murphy’s district. In May, Murphy introduced legislation that would provide loan guarantees up to $450 million to Westinghouse for the construction of two new nuclear power plants in the United States.
…. Murphy has received more than $40,000 in contributions from Westinghouse employees and the company’s political action committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Murphy did not respond to a request for comment…..
Steve Benen: …. So, what happens now? The Cain campaign is either lying about the candidate’s alleged misconduct or it’s not. And with the two accusers restricted by their settlement agreements from speaking, it’s possible Cain and his team feel like they can weather the storm without new details emerging. We’ll see.
But the larger political storm is just starting to brew. Cain’s reaction to direct questions yesterday – after being asked four times about the allegations, he sighed, glared at a reporter, stayed silent, and refused to respond – signaled to reporters everywhere that the Republican candidate has a real problem on his hands.
As for efforts to blame the “liberal” media, this may have some salience in GOP circles, but it’s not much of a strategy. For one thing, Politico hardly leans to the left. For another, the article was co-authored by a reporter who used to work for National Review. (Part of me wonders if it was members of the Republican establishment who leaked this, just to make Cain go away.)
What’s less clear is whether rank-and-file Republican voters will care. There’s reason to believe they won’t – the GOP has a track record of looking the other way when sexual misconduct allegations affect their own (Vitter, Clarence Thomas, et al).
I went over to the dark side last night to see the reaction to the Cain story – I (literally) laughed out loud when the Teabaggers claimed it was the Obama administration that leaked the story to GOPolitico.
These people just aren’t very bright. I’d imagine there’s nothing the Obama administration would love more than for Cain to win the GOP nomination – because the President wouldn’t have to break in to a sweat to win four more years.
Karl Rove, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney ….. methinks we have our suspects.
PS The single funniest comment on the dark side last night: that the allegations against Cain were “racist” and were probably invented by the “Kenyan’s” thugs. Seriously.
The Boston Globe: The head of Fiat-Chrysler said today that Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney must have been “smoking illegal material” when he argued in 2008 that the US auto industry could be resurrected without federal financial assistance.
During an interview with CNN, Sergio Marchionne, chief executive of Fiat and Chrysler, said government support was pivotal.
The comment contrasted with a 2008 op-ed column in which Romney urged the federal government not to provide an industry bailout but instead force automakers into a “managed bankruptcy.”
Marchionne told CNN: “Whoever told you that is smoking illegal material. That market had become absolutely dysfunctional in 2008 and 2009. There were attempts made by a variety of people to find strategic alliances with other car makers on a global scale and the government stepped in, as the actor of last resort. It had to do it because the consequences would have been just too large to deal with.”
ThinkProgress: The Washington Post’s blogger Jennifer Rubin reports that the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel has a new ad accusing President Obama of “siding with the Palestinians” in his May 19 speech….
….Yet here’s what ECI’s own executive director Noah Pollak tweeted about the speech as it was happening:
So, first Pollak thought the line about the ’67 borders was no big deal ….. but then, when there was an opportunity to attack President Obama, the line about the ’67 borders magically became a dangerous betrayal of Israel. You really couldn’t ask for a better demonstration of bad faith.
One shouldn’t, of course, expect Jennifer Rubin herself to report any of this. In addition to being Pollak’s former colleague at Commentary, back in February Rubin took a trip to Israel, courtesy of the Emergency Committee for Israel.
Howard Kurtz (The Daily Beast): After two years of carping about President Obama ramming his ambitious and costly proposals through Congress, some on the right now fume that he is determined to get his way by using — the nerve! — his executive powers.
Charles Krauthammer’s latest column, on this very subject, contains a curious omission, almost a sense of amnesia. The esteemed scribe details how the Obama administration is pushing through three important changes in federal policy, accusing the president of trying “to impose a liberal agenda on a center-right nation” through “regulatory stealth.”
….but here’s the thing: Every president uses the federal bureaucracy to push the country in his preferred ideological direction. That, in fact, is part of what elections are about. Each White House occupant appoints agency chiefs who agree with his philosophy ..… the Krauthammer column implies that Obama practically invented the nefarious practice.
Take, for example, George W. Bush. His EPA moved to loosen clean-air rules near national parks. His Interior Department cleared the way for oil drilling on 130,000 acres of pristine federal land near national parks in Utah (which Obama has since reversed) …. his Minerals Management Service, which referred to oil companies as “clients,” told the firms they did not have to provide detailed response plans for blowouts because such plans were “purely speculative or generic.” This was five years before the BP oil disaster …. his White House Council on Environmental Quality edited an administration report to emphasize scientific uncertainties about global warming …. his Securities & Exchange Commission mounted 87 percent fewer fraud investigations that led to federal prosecutions…..
….Obama may well be engaged in a “leftward lurch” toward stricter federal regulation, as the conservative Krauthammer views it. But when it comes to using the Executive Branch to achieve political goals, he’s had plenty of company.
President Barack Obama signs the middle-class tax cut bill in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on December 17, 2010 in Washington DC. The measure would extend tax cuts for families at every income level, renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and enact a new one-year cut in Social Security taxes that would benefit nearly every worker who earns a wage.
John Podesta, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Progress, issued the following comment on the tax extensions and unemployment insurance compromise announced yesterday:
Progressives need to be clear and honest about what just happened on taxes and the economy. Since the midterm election, it has been clear that the Congressional Republican Leadership was perfectly prepared to see middle and working class tax cuts expire and extended unemployment insurance end unless millionaire tax cuts were extended. All the talk about decoupling and extending middle class tax cuts from the cuts for millionaires was wishful thinking at best and just political talk at worst and no strategy could have produced it during the lame duck.
So President Obama was faced with a choice: he could trade a few more years of unnecessary and wasteful tax breaks for the rich in exchange for assistance to the unemployed, additional targeted tax relief for working families through the refundable earned income tax credit and child credit, and keeping tax rates low for 98 percent of Americans; alternatively he could allow taxes to rise on everyone starting in January.
At the end of the day, President Obama decided he couldn’t abandon the millions of Americans who are struggling to keep their families afloat, who are diligently searching for work, and who simply cannot afford higher taxes right now, even though the Congressional Republican Leadership was more than happy to do so if we wouldn’t pay their ransom.
It was a steep price, but this deal will mean about 2 million jobs saved or created over the next two years. On balance, I think the President was right to choose helping working Americans over a December conflagration. But the question hanging over Washington and the country today is how will he avoid repeating the same scenario being played out again and again for the next two years? That’s a question that is keeping me awake at night.
(Reminder: There are enough ‘Obama Is A Sell-Out!’ articles out there today, I’m just bringing you a few restrained, thoughtful and reflective pieces, ones that are probably getting lost in all the noise. But for those who want to read the ‘Sell-Out!’ stuff, you won’t have to look too hard!)