Posts Tagged National Journal

No Budget, Because –

No Budget, Because


November 19, 2013


Paul Ryan.

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

Paul Ryan.


After they were blamed for causing a disastrous shutdown, many Republicans seemed to want to get the year’s budget fights behind them. As of a few weeks ago, some of them seemed open to relieving the sequester, which is widely hated by lawmakers in both parties, and Congressional appropriators thought they had a chance to enact real spending bills instead of running the government with yet another continuing resolution.

But that’s looking increasingly unlikely, and the reason is the uproar over the first six weeks of health care reform. Republicans are convinced that they are benefiting from the disastrous rollout of the new law. And they don’t want to do anything that might take away attention from the bumbles of the White House. As this morning’s editorial in The Times noted, that sense of elation is already dooming immigration reform, and now it is taking a toll on the budget conference that began last month and needs to reach a conclusion by Dec. 13.

William Allison, a spokesman for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, told the National Journal that his boss, who is running the conference, feels no pressure to accomplish anything.

“If we don’t do anything, the government doesn’t shut down, there’s not a second sequester that hits, there’s not a debt limit, so if we fail to reach an agreement by Dec. 13, the world keeps spinning and everything’s fine,” Mr. Allison said.

“Everything’s fine” means that vital programs will continue to suffer dangerous cuts under the sequester, including science and medical research that is being set back by decades. “Everything’s fine” will leave the Pentagon with an even bigger cut than it was given last year, infuriating generals and Republican defense hawks. “Everything’s fine” spells the end of any hope for investments that might create new jobs or put four-year-olds in pre-school or keep bridges from falling down.

This might have bothered mainstream Republican leaders a few weeks ago, back when they were talking about taking back their party from the nihilism of the Tea Party crowd. But then happened, and then “you can keep your plan.”

“Our perception is that they don’t want to move forward on the budget, jobs, and the economy because they just want to play politics on health care,” said the ranking House Democrat on the conference, Chris Van Hollen.

As long as they feel ascendant, and the president’s poll numbers continue to fall, Republicans will pursue their goal of doing as little as possible.

 No Budget, Because –


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Ted Cruz Unskews the Polls –

Ted Cruz Unskews the Polls

The Texas Republican rolls out his own poll and tells the GOP to ignore all the rest.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greets a young boy during a prayer vigil organized by the Christian Defense Coalition outside the White House last month.(Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Alex Seitz-Wald

By Alex Seitz-Wald

October 9, 2013

Don’t worry, Ted Cruz is telling his fellow Republicans, about that new Gallup Poll showing that the GOP’s favorability rating has sunk to an all-time low. And ignore the National JournalWashington PostCBS NewsAPCNN, and Pew surveys showing that Americans are mostly blaming Republicans for the government shutdown.

Those are all wrong, the Texas senator is telling his GOP colleagues, because he has his own poll, and it shows the GOP is winning.

As David Drucker reports at The Washington Examiner, Cruz argued to Republicans at a closed-door lunch on Wednesday that the campaign he led to shutdown the government over Obamacare has bolstered the GOP’s political position, rather than hurt it. Cruz says he knows this because he paid for his own poll, conducted by his own partisan pollster, who was on hand to explain the results to his skeptical colleagues.

Despite all that, the poll was not much rosier than all public polls, showing that the public blames Republicans for the shutdown by a 7 point margin.

To Cruz, as Drucker writes, this shows that “Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending.”

Maybe Cruz is right, and maybe Republicans are “winning,” and maybe his pollster is better than everyone else’s. Maybe.  

But if not, then he’s falling victim to same fallacy Republicans ran into leading up the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney was reportedly so convinced that he was going to win that he didn’t even bother writing a concession speech. The national public opinion data was pretty clearly showing the opposite, but some on the right stuck to the echo chamber, where the polls were unskewed and the vibes were good, leading to Dick Morris predicting as late as 8 p.m. on election night that Romney would still win big, and later to an on-screen meltdown from Karl Rove when Romney lost Ohio.

The fancy word for this is “epistemic closure,” but basically it means only believing what you want to believe and ignoring the rest. That may be why Cruz thought that Barack Obama would ever agree to defund his signature legislative accomplishment. Or thinking, as a large number of Republican lawmakers seem to, that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be no big deal.

But unlike the election, if Cruz is wrong and breaching the debt ceiling is as catastrophic as most economists are predicting, this time the whole country loses.

 Ted Cruz Unskews the Polls –


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Romney Snags Top Twitter Ad for Debate –


Romney Snags Top Twitter Ad for Debate

Updated: October 3, 2012 | 10:19 a.m.
October 3, 2012 | 7:30 a.m.


There’s only one “Promoted Trend” ad unit allotted by Twitter per 24-hour period, and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney bought it in a bid to steer the online conversation his way in advance of Wednesday’s debate.

The ad puts the hashtag #CantAfford4More in the feed of every user who logs into Twitter via the Web, and it is also visible to mobile users and those accessing via desktop application Tweetdeck.  The ad, which insiders say costs $120,000, is accompanied by a Promoted Tweet from the @MittRomneyaccount that reads, “Another term for @BarackObama will bring more taxes, regulations, and debt that have ground our recovery to a halt.”

“If there’s one thing that we learned with the 20 debates that we did in the primary, it’s that Twitter is where a lot of real-time conversations are going,” Romney’s digital director Zac Moffatt told National Journal in an interview last month. At the time, Moffatt wouldn’t confirm or deny plans for a Twitter advertising buy for the debates, but he said the campaign planned “to use that experience to build something that’s most in line with what our goals are.”

Romney’s campaign became the first presidential purchaser of a Sponsored Trend when it bought one during the Republican National Convention to promote the candidate’s acceptance speech.

 Romney Snags Top Twitter Ad for Debate –


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The Art of the Friday News-Dump –



The Art of the Friday News-Dump


By National Journal staff


Updated: September 21, 2012 | 2:20 p.m.
September 21, 2012 | 2:13 p.m.


When newsmakers release a tidbit on a Friday afternoon, chances are, it’s not something that puts them in the best light. Stories dumped on Fridays, as the strategy suggests, peter out during the weekend — or at least give the subjects more time to craft their responses. This gallery takes a look at news that’s broken on Friday afternoons that might not, from the newsmaker’s point of view, qualify as “good” news.


Months after releasing an estimate of his tax return for 2011, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney released his actual return for that year on Friday, Sept. 21.



The Art of the Friday News-Dump –


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Strategists: Volatile Political Climate Should Leave Politicians Wary – Shane Goldmacher –

Strategists: Volatile Political Climate Should Leave Politicians Wary

Shane Goldmacher

April 26, 2012


A bipartisan group of pollsters and political strategists sketched a sordid picture of a nation deeply unhappy with its political leaders and a turbulent set of elections on the horizon in 2012 at the United Technologies/National Journal policy briefing on Thursday.

Politicians of all stripes should be wary of a public deeply distrustful of its leaders, they agreed.

Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, said a recent survey he conducted asked voters if they would pull a theoretical lever at the ballot box to vote out the entire Congress. And 56 percent of them said they would.

“The message is we hate you,” Hart said.

Sarah Fagen, a former political director in the George W. Bush White House, described a “period of volatility” ahead for everyone in politics. “If you’re an incumbent you should be very, very worried,” she said.

Fagen predicted by November there would be some unexpected shocks to the political system – the losses of committee chairs, or lawmakers who were never perceived to be in danger.

Glenn Bolger, a leading Republican pollster who has numerous congressional clients, said there are indeed “a lot of nervous House incumbents.” And rightfully so, he said: “Nobody should feel comfortable, nobody should feel safe.”

The strategists and pollsters concurred the landscape is fertile for a potential independent candidate for president, but they less sure there was still time for such a candidacy.

“Somebody is going to have to be the eat-your-vegetables candidate,” said Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist.

Simmons described a public losing trust with all its major institutions with politics as “the leading edge.”

“I think it means danger for everybody,” Simmons said.

 Strategists: Volatile Political Climate Should Leave Politicians Wary – Shane Goldmacher –

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Gingrich Tells Romney He Will Quit Race –

April 25, 2012

Gingrich Tells Romney He Will Quit Race



Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee at an event Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.

Chuck Burton/Associated Press Newt Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee at an event Wednesday in Cramerton, N.C.

Newt Gingrich told Mitt Romney on Wednesday morning that he would suspend his presidential campaign next week and begin working to turn out conservative voters for Mr. Romney and Republican candidates in the fall election, Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman said in an interview.

Mr. Gingrich plans to officially endorse Mr. Romney’s candidacy after suspending his own efforts next week, said R.C. Hammond, the spokesman. Mr. Hammond said that Mr. Romney was “cordial and respectful” during the call and that Mr. Gingrich said he was “committed to helping him in the fall.”

“A Republican turnout, especially among conservatives, is key to stopping an Obama second term,” Mr. Hammond said in a brief interview with The Times. “Victory only comes for Republicans with a strong conservative turnout in the fall.”

At an appearance in North Carolina, Mr. Gingrich conceded that Mitt Romney would be the party’s nominee and suggested that he would leave the race in the next several days.

“I think you have to at some point be honest with what’s happening in the real world, as opposed to what you’d like to have happened,” Mr. Gingrich said, according to a brief report in The National Journal.

Mr. Gingrich had repeatedly said that he would press ahead to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., this summer, where he hoped that conservative delegates would give him — not Mr. Romney — the nomination.

Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, continued to sound that theme Tuesday night after Mr. Romney decisively won all five contests held Tuesday, in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. In a speech, he suggested that he would continue his campaign until the convention.

But in North Carolina on Wednesday morning, Mr. Gingrich sounded more conciliatory and appeared ready to suggest that unity behind Mr. Romney’s candidacy was the most important consideration for Republicans.

“Governor Romney had a very good day yesterday. He got 67 in one state, and he got 63 in another, 62 in another,” Mr. Gingrich said in referring to Mr. Romney’s winning percentages. “Now you have to give him some credit. I mean this guy’s worked six years, put together a big machine, and has put together a serious campaign.”

He added: “I think obviously that I would be a better candidate, but the objective fact is the voters didn’t think that. And I also think it’s very, very important that we be unified.”

The National Journal reported that Mr. Gingrich told the audience in North Carolina that he would continue to be in the state “as a citizen” throughout the week. It is not clear what that means for his presidential campaign, which is more than $4 million in debt, according to reports filed recently with theFederal Election Commission.

But he also suggested that his campaign may be coming to an official close.

Mr. Gingrich said that: “We’re working out the details of our transition, and we’ll have information for the press in the next couple of days.”

In addition to talking with Mr. Romney, Mr. Gingrich has had several conversations with Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, including a call Tuesday night.

Mr. Hammond said the discussions with Mr. Priebus have focused on “making sure there is a conservative platform at the convention.” He said that Mr. Gingrich’s support for the eventual nominee — in this case, Mr. Romney — was never in doubt.

“Whether or not he was going to get behind Romney was a settled question,” Mr. Hammond said, adding that Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Romney and Rick Santorum had long ago “made a pact that no matter what happened, each would support each other in the general election.”

Mr. Hammond said that Mr. Gingrich made no deals with Mr. Romney in exchange for dropping out of the race and had never asked Mr. Romney for help paying off his campaign debt.

“We take responsibility for all the debt obligations that we have,” Mr. Hammond said, adding that Mr. Gingrich planned to spend the coming months trying to raise money to pay off the debt. He said Mr. Gingrich told the staff not to even think about asking other candidates for help.

“It’s not something that we should be considering,” Mr. Hammond said, quoting Mr. Gingrich.

 Gingrich Tells Romney He Will Quit Race –

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Dems: Romney naive on foreign policy for meeting details demand – The Hill’s Ballot Box

Dems: Romney naive on foreign policy for meeting details demand

By Rachel Leven – 03/31/12 03:23 PM ET

Democrats are accusing GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney of being naive about foreign policy after Romney’s campaign demanded President Obama release notes about his meetings with world leaders. 

Romney’s desire for President Barack Obama to disclose the information “is yet another indication that Mitt Romney is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief,” said Dr. Colin H Kahl in a statement put out by the Democratic National Committee.

“Such a dramatic and unprecedented step would undermine the ability of the United States to successfully conduct foreign policy at a time when our nation faces numerous challenges abroad, and suggesting it is just a reckless attempt to score cheap political points,” Kahl, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, said.

Kahl cited sensitive meetings the president has with Israeli and European allies as an example of meetings that should be kept under wraps. Publishing these notes would tip “our hand to Tehran about every last element of our strategy to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

The DNC’s statement came after a Romney adviser called on Obama Friday to “release the notes and transcripts of all his meetings with world leaders.”

Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told the National Journal that these disclosures were necessary for “the American people [to] be satisfied that [Obama’s] not promising to sell out the country’s interests after the election is over.”

The president was overheard Monday telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with missile defense issues after the election.

GOP candidates, including Romney, have seized upon the issue, calling for Obama to reveal his “real agenda.” 

Obama responded to the criticism saying that it is difficult to get anything accomplished during any election year.

 Dems: Romney naive on foreign policy for meeting details demand – The Hill’s Ballot Box.

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It’s hard to hate these occupiers – The Washington Post

Harold Meyerson

Harold Meyerson

Opinion Writer

It’s hard to hate these occupiers

By Harold MeyersonPublished: October 20

By the hoary conventions of American politics, Americans should fear and loathe Occupy Wall Street. The occupiers are vaguely countercultural, counterculturally vague. They are noisy. They are radical. They offer no solutions, though they are prey to the damnedest ideas. (Anti-consumerism! Anti-leaderism!) They are an extra-parliamentary menace, mocking the very possibility of liberal reform. They are anarchists or, worse, McGovernites. Some of them appear genuinely nuts. For all these reasons and a hundred more, real Americans should hate their guts.

And yet, they don’t. Despite the best efforts of trained pundits, working feverishly to convince the public that these are not people you’d want running the republic or dropping by for lunch, Americans seem remarkably unperturbed by the menace of Occupy Wall Street. In fact, the majority supports the protesters. According to a National Journal poll, 59 percent of Americans agree with Occupy Wall Street, while 31 percent disagree — a level of support comparable to that found by a Time magazine survey last week. The Post’s Greg Sargent has thoughtfully broken down the data and found that the group that should resent the occupiers most — working-class whites — doesn’t resent them any more than anyone else does. In the National Journal poll, 56 percent of non-college-educated whites back the demonstrators, though the right-wing media continually depict them as trust-fund babies gone wild.442

In the strange case of Occupy Wall Street, none of the usual cultural signifiers by which we’ve been conditioned to hate one another seems to be working. Where have you gone, Archie Bunker? What gives?

What gives, I suspect, is that most Americans don’t particularly care what the demonstrators in downtown New York and other cities look like or believe in. They’re not interested in the demonstrators’ attempt to build a movement prefigurative of a radically consensual society (which could end up just as gridlocked as the U.S. Senate). What they care about is that the demonstrators are confronting unmerited power and unearned wealth. They are taking on the banks.

For good, historically specific reasons, everybody hates the banks. Even New Yorkers, whose economy depends on the bankers’ ability to pay for overpriced amenities, hate the banks. In a Quinnipiac University poll this week, New York City voters supported Occupy Wall Street by a 67-percent-to-23-percent margin. Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is a profiteer without honor in his own home town.

Whence this fall — if not from grace (a state that few of us, and even fewer bankers, attain), then from the occasional decent opinion of humankind? At its root is the simple fact that the Wall Street banks over the past quarter-century have done none of the things that a financial sector should do. They have not helped preserve the thriving economy that America once enjoyed. They have not funded our boldest new companies. (That’s fallen to venture capitalists.) They haven’t provided the financing to maintain our infrastructure, nor ponied up the capital for manufacturing to modernize and grow here (as opposed to in China). Instead, they’ve grown fat on the credit they extended when Americans’ incomes stopped rising. They’ve grown plump on proprietary trading and by selling bad deals to suckers. (Citigroup, likeGoldman before it, just agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle charges that it defrauded investors.)

The original J.P. Morgan was hardly a beloved figure. But in the course of attending to his business, he helped form the American economy. He consolidated railroads, cobbled together the companies that became U.S. Steel and General Electric. In pursuit of profit, he helped build the country. By no stretch of the imagination is that what today’s Wall Street is about. The country isn’t being built; no one’s been building it for the past 30 years. Wall Street’s interests are elsewhere, in realizing huge profits and bonuses for arbitrage and paper-swapping that has brought little but debt and ruin to the larger economy.

So Occupy Wall Street espouses a fuzzy radicalism? That’s fine. At its best, American radicalism kick-starts an era of liberal reform, to which, as in the ’30s and ’60s, its zeal is essential. At its worst, that radicalism can hinder those reforms by itself becoming an object of public ire. But Occupy Wall Street, all our assumptions about cultural polarization to the contrary, isn’t an object of ire. It’s channeling ire — our ire — where ire should go: toward the banks that have fostered and profited from America’s decline. 

It’s hard to hate these occupiers – The Washington Post.

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