President Obama has dinner with campaign donors and winners of the “Dinner with Barack” contest at The Liberty Tavern in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va.
MSNBC: Medicare’s basic monthly premium will rise significantly less than expected next year, the government announced Thursday. That could pay political dividends for President Barack Obama and for Democrats struggling to win over seniors in a close election.
…. In a statement accompanying release of the Medicare premiums, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asserted that seniors have nothing to fear from the new health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” she said. “People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices and lower costs.”
ThinkProgress: Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry released a tax plan this week that he and many media reports called a “20 percent flat tax.” But Perry’s new alternative tax scheme is hardly “flat”.
Leaving aside the fact that it is layered on top of the existing tax code, it establishes not one but two different tax rates: 20 percent for wages, and zero percent for investment income. Because capital gains and dividends would be sheltered from taxes under Perry’s plan, some of the wealthiest Americans would wind up paying nowhere near 20 percent overall.
In fact, billionaire Warren Buffett, who has lamented the fact that he currently pays only 11 percent of his adjusted gross income in federal income taxes, would pay as little as 0.2 percent under Perry’s plan.
ABC: Today’s New York Times story … includes an intriguing reference to a staff memo directing those traveling in a car with Mr. Cain, “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to.”
Could the affable Mr. Cain really have a “don’t-talk-to-me-unless-I-talk-to-you” policy?
Yes. He does. Really.
A top aide to Mr. Cain explains to me why.
“It’s the same policy for any Secretary of Defense or four-star general,” a senior Cain staffer explained to ABC News. “You don’t talk to them unless they talk to you, generally. Sometimes you get guests in the car and they want to talk and talk and talk, and then Mr. Cain wants to prepare for the next interview or the next speech and he’s very engaging, so it can be a distraction. After a while, he gets to the point where he doesn’t want to talk, but wants to prepare for what he’s doing next.”
More excellent comedy from Dick Halperin today in Time. He magnificently ignored all the polls that show President Obama leading RomPerryCain in swing states, and concluded that if the election was held today he’d lose.
It’d be nice, though, if Halperin had an original thought:
Mark Halperin (today): Is President Obama on the ropes? …. The coalition that helped elect the President …. has been disbanded.
Mark Halperin (December 2010): The coalition that got Barack Obama elected President just two years ago has been shattered ….
Last year, Alex Pareene of Salon (which I seriously hate linking because it’s become Firebagger Central) did a series on “the worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer …. the most predictable, dishonest and just plain stupid pundits in the media.” Halperin had to settle for the runners-up prize, behind Richard Cohen. It’s worth a read again:
Alex Pareene (2010): Mark Halperin – The Drudge-loving political analyst who gets everything wrong …. his belief in the unerring political instincts of Karl Rove and the godlike omniscience of Matt Drudge ….
…. Halperin’s worst quality is actually that he is constantly wrong. He is a professional political analyst, yet he often seems to be completely, 100 percent wrong about even the horse-race aspects of politics that he specializes in. He kept promising, in 2006, that Bush’s approval ratings would once again surge past 50 percent. Remember when John McCain “suspended his campaign” to fix the economy? Mark Halperin said McCain won the week.
The book Halperin wrote …. “The Way to Win,” his preview of “the way to win” the presidential election in 2008. His advice was to emulate Karl Rove and worship Matt Drudge – the key to victory seemed to involve a lot of Matt Drudge – and the 2008 election as it actually happened made the whole book (which he co-wrote with Politico co-founder John Harris!) look utterly ridiculous.
… All we ask for is a little accountability. At the very least, Halperin’s TV chyron should read, “ALWAYS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING.”
Marketwatch: With a little more than two trading days left in the month, it is shaping up to be the best October ever for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And that is saying something, since the Dow has existed since 1896, 115 years ago.
As of mid-day trading on Thursday, the Dow INDU is ahead more than 11% for the month. The previous record for the month of October was held by 1982, when the Dow turned in a 10.7% return. That’s an auspicious historical precedent, since that month came very early in that decade’s spectacular bull market which, arguably, didn’t end until nearly 20 years later.
Adam Serwer (Washington Post): Republicans are touting yet another poll that purports to predict the end of the Jewish allegiance to the Democratic Party. Citing a new poll by John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell they have convinced themselves that this time, Obama really is in trouble among Jewish voters.
…. the poll is laughably bogus. Not only does their sample skew conservative, (only 64 percent of respondents voted for Obama, as opposed to the 77 percent of Jewish votes he actually got) but many questions are phrased in as leading a manner as possible. Indeed, given the wording of the questions, it’s actually surprising that 63 percent of respondents overall approved of Obama.
Here’s their phrasing for a question on Obama’s policy on Israel:
Considering what President Obama has proposed for Israel just over a year before his 2012 re-election campaign – a return to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem, and allowing the right of return for Palestinian Arabs to Israel – how concerned would you be about President Obama’s policies towards Israel if he were re-elected and did not have to worry about another election?
….. Again: Obama hasn’t proposed “a return to the 1967 borders”…
What’s surprising is that only 67 percent of Jewish voters in the poll said they were concerned about Obama’s policy towards Israel should he be reelected – this, even though M&C invented out of thin air the idea that Obama supports a “right of return” for Palestinian Arabs … this question seems to have been designed to elicit panic about Obama among the poll’s staunchly pro-Israel respondents, but even that wasn’t enough to do it.
The phrasing in this poll is comically skewed …. As always, the game is to perpetuate the sad conservative meme that this time, really this time, American Jews are going to abandon their liberalism and vote Republican because Obama is a huge anti-Semite. The only thing this poll reveals is how badly some want to keep this storyline going.
South Town Star (March 6): President Barack Obama has appeared to tip his hand on Illinois’ bill to end the death penalty, which Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to act upon within the week.
During a recent encounter with Quinn at the White House last week, the president praised the bill as well as Illinois’ legalization of civil unions, said state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), a lead legislative backer of the death penalty bill and Obama’s successor in the Illinois Senate…
Obama has publicly stated his support for the death penalty in heinous cases but as a state lawmaker voted against expanding it for crimes arising from gang activity. Obama was a driving force behind a 2003 capital punishment reform bill that required interrogations be videotaped in capital cases.