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The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute
Thursday, September 6th
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17:26 On a conference call for the 65,000 people who had been given tickets to hear him accept the Democratic nomination, Obama told disappointed supporters that, “I regret that we’re not all gathering in one place to deliver my acceptance speech tonight. I could not ask you, our volunteers, our law enforcement, first responders to subject themselves to the risks of severe thunderstorms.”
“We can’t let a little thunder and lightning get us down. We’re going to have to roll with it.”
17:01 Here is David Axelrod and Valerie Jarret’s response to the question of why Obama had to personally intervene to reinstate the language regarding Jerusalem and God into the Democratic platform:
What’s interesting about this is that, according to Politico, Obama had seen the language of the platform prior to the convention:
While the campaign at first said Obama had seen the language prior to the convention, it later said he did not learn of the issue until Wednesday morning, when he became aware of seeing news coverage of the Issue [sic]. Once that happened, the president directed his staff to change the language to include a reference to God and Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because, the campaign source said, the amended version is “consistent with the president’s own positions.”
Of course, it’s entirely plausible—probable, even—that Obama did see the platform prior to the convention, but didn’t notice these specific issues. After all, the platform isn’t exactly a short document, and Obama does have other responsibilities and duties, as Axelrod said.
16:31 Payroll giant ADP reported today that American private companies added 201,000 new jobs in August, a higher number than expected. 185,000 of these jobs came from the service sector, while manufacturing added only 3,000. At the same time, jobless claims fell to 365,000 last week, which is lower than most economists predicted.
It’s always good to beat expectations, but we shouldn’t get our hopes up just yet. For one, the official government numbers aren’t released until tomorrow, and although ADP often tracks these numbers closely, they are quite different at times. Additionally, as Joel Prakken, Macroeconomic Adivsers chairman said, “it’s really not adequate to put unemployment on a sustained downward trend… there is still a long way to go before we could categorize the labor market as substantially healed.”
16:09 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is known for his relatively moderate policies and willingness to compromise with Republican state legislators, gave an unusually partisan address at the Democratic convention earlier this morning. While he usually avoids such attacks, BuzzFeed reports that he slammed the Republican convention, saying “It was theater. That’s why the actors were so at home there.” He also took a jab at Clint Eastwood, saying, “And watching that made my day, to tell you the truth.”
He called Paul Ryan’s budget a “paint-by-numbers picture of the America they want to bring us to,” and used Romney’s selection of Ryan as a way to criticize Republican policies and ideology more generally.
Cuomo is very likely to run for president in 2016, although he has not said anything official about it yet.
16:00 The Romney campaign has seen its first sponsored Twitter hashtag used against it. The campaign promoted #AreYouBetterOff to the top of Twitter’s list of trending hashtags and, as the chart below shows, it didn’t work out so well. By a ratio of about 5:1, “yes” responses outnumbered “no” responses.
15:24 Erick Erickson tweets that the Allen West commercial featuring Democratic delegates booing the inclusion of God into the party platform has been pulled.
I’m interested to hear more about this. The commercial seemed pretty effective to me given that the vast majority of Americans consider themselves religious.
15:13 A top Senate Democrat told BuzzFeed today that Bill Clinton will be a frequent presence on the stump for President Obama over the next two months. Clinton will focus especially on the Midwest, where his appeal to white working class voters can be of most use. That’s a group that has soured significantly on Obama, so Clinton will have his work cut out for him.
14:56 District Court Judge Susan Bolton upheld the controversial “papers please” provision of the Arizona immigration law on Wednesday. The provision allows police to check people’s immigration status if they’re suspected of being in the country illegally.
Bolton was the latest hope of the law’s opponents. The Supreme Court reversed most of the SB 1070 state law earlier this year, but kept that controversial section in place. Opponents of the ruling asked Judge Bolton to block the provision directly, contending that it would encourage racial profiling.
Bolton didn’t stop that provision, but she did block another section of the law that made it a crime to harbor, shield, and transport undocumented immigrants.
14:35 One of the three steelworkers who were “former employees of companies controlled by Bain Capital” featured at the Democratic convention yesterday turns out to not have been employed by such a company after all.
David Foster told a story about 750 steelworkers who lost their jobs when the Bain-controlled company GST steel fell apart in the early 1990s. But according to a former spokesman for GST Steel, Foster never actually worked for the company. Rather, he was employed by the United Steelworkers of America as their regional union director to represent GST Steel.
14:24 The first Republican ad focusing on the Democratic delegates’ loud “No” votes against including God in the party platform is out. It’s sponsored by Florida Rep. Allen West and features footage of the delegates voting against including God, as well as media pundits commenting on the situation. It’s pretty effective, and similar ads will likely be played in races across the country.
14:18 Bill Clinton wasn’t the only speaker last night, of course. One of the most talked about Democrats for the 2016 campaign is Elizabeth Warren, and she gave a 15-minute speech last night.
14:11 Former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords will deliver the pledge of allegiance at the Democratic convention tonight, CNN reports. It would appear that Giffords is recovering well from her near-death experience during the Tucson shooting.
13:35 The Romney campaign has featured Bill Clinton in yet another of its ads, this one called “Give Me a Break.” It refocuses voters’ attention on what Clinton said about Obama in 2008 rather than what he’s saying now.
11:52 The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the Democratic platform contains almost $700 billion in new federal spending over the next decade:
In fact, the Democratic platform recommends launching a number of new federal schemes and increasing the funding for many existing programs. Among the 21 new spending proposals included in the Democratic Party platform are:
- $453 billion over ten years to fund an expansive stimulus-like job creation scheme;
- $18.4 billion over ten years to get the transportation sector to buy into alternative fuels:
- $6.5 billion over five years for global food security and agriculture research;
- $5 billion in one-time funding for clean energy handouts;
- $5 billion in one-time funding to force the government into the broadband Internet business;
- $980 million over ten years for government-funded abortions (if taxpayers’ pay for 10 percent of abortions); and
- $45 million over five years to support American Indian and Alaska Native languages.
In total, the Democratic Party platform recommends $674.8 billion in additional federal spending over the next decade.
Wow, that’s a lot of new spending! But don’t worry, the Democrats are going to reduce the deficit in a “balanced and sustainable” way.
11:31 Gallup reports today on Obama’s likability challenge. It’s not that Obama isn’t likeable (he is), it’s that his likability has consistently been much higher than his approval rating:
Such a gap is typical for presidents, but in Obama’s case it’s particularly interesting because both numbers hover right around 50%, making his reelection prospects uncertain. Gallup says that the better-liked candidate has won each election since 1992. That’s bad news for Romney, as Obama has held a lead on this metric since the beginning of the campaign:
10:40 In an awkward moment for Democrats yesterday, the Party voted to re-insert language about God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel into the platform after criticism from the media and Republicans. Unfortunately for the leadership, neither of these moves was overwhelmingly popular with the delegates. During a voice vote, the ayes and noes sounded about the same, but the leadership gave the vote to the ayes. This led several delegates to boo the decision, so the RNC now has prime video material of Democratic delegates booing the insertion of God and Jerusalem into the Democratic platform.
Even Democratic strategists like Paul Begala called this whole situation “embarrassing” and “an unforced error.”
10:35 Obama says he regrets his “syntax” in the “you didn’t build that comment.”
10:27 John Harris and Alexander Burns of Politico discuss the negative nature of the campaign. They place greater blame on President Obama when it comes to personal attacks:
Obama and his top campaign aides have engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults than the Romney campaign.
With a few exceptions, Romney has maintained that Obama is a bad president who has turned to desperate tactics to try to save himself. But Romney has not made the case that Obama is a bad person, nor made a sustained critique of his morality a central feature of his campaign.
Obama, who first sprang to national attention with an appeal to civility, has made these kind of attacks central to his strategy. The argument, by implication from Obama and directly from his surrogates, is not merely that Romney is the wrong choice for president but that there is something fundamentally wrong with him.
Read more here.
9:56 A new book to be released in September, called “The Price of Politics,” by Bob Woodward, reveals some fascinating insights into the debt debacle of 2011:
But at a critical juncture, with an agreement tantalizingly close, Obama pressed Boehner for additional taxes as part of a final deal — a miscalculation, in retrospect, given how far the House speaker felt he’d already gone.
The president called three times to speak with Boehner about his latest offer, according to Woodward. But the speaker didn’t return the president’s phone call for most of an agonizing day, in what Woodward calls a “monumental communications lapse” between two of the most powerful men in the country.
When Boehner finally did call back, he jettisoned the entire deal. Obama lost his famous cool, according to Woodward, with a “flash of pure fury” coming from the president; one staffer in the room said Obama gripped the phone so tightly he thought he would break it.
“He was spewing coals,” Boehner told Woodward, in what is described as a borderline “presidential tirade.”
According to Woodward, a lack of communication between the White House and Republicans in Congress was nothing new:
The failure of Obama to connect with Boehner was vaguely reminiscent of another phone call late in the evening of Election Day 2010, after it became clear that the Republicans would take control of the House, making Boehner Speaker of the House.
Nobody in the Obama orbit could even find the soon-to-be-speaker’s phone number, Woodward reports. A Democratic Party aide finally secured it through a friend so the president could offer congratulations.
Obama has long been criticized for not being engaged enough with Congress, including with his fellow Democrats. Hopefully he’ll fix that problem in a second term if he wins.
9:31 There’s a new ad out by the RNC, called “The Breakup.” It features a woman speaking to an empty chair over what appears to be a romantic dinner. The woman explains that she has to “break up” with the empty chair, which of course turns out to be President Obama. I think it’s a fairly effective ad, but the interesting thing is the use of the empty chair. Will the meme started by Clint Eastwood start to feature more prominently in Republican ads? I would be surprised if it didn’t; it’s such a great metaphor.
9:23 For your viewing pleasure, here is Bill Clinton’s full speech from last night. Reviews are generally quite positive; I’ll be bringing you others’ thoughts, as well as my own, later on.
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