Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Congressional Majority Should be the Real Concern in 2012 for the GOP

While all of the focus in Republican politics has been on the race for the White House, it seems the subject of real importance has been pushed to the side. The United States Senate currently has a 51-47 Democratic majority (with 2 Independents who caucus with the D’s) that is essentially negating the Republican majority in the House of Representatives. In 2010 the GOP had a golden opportunity to close that gap to 49-49-2 but the elections in Nevada and Delaware torpedoed that hope. In 2012 the Republicans must take that next step and win back the Senate.

I do not want this to serve as post diminishing the importance of the presidential race; rather I think the focus on the Senate races needs to be elevated. We have seen numerous instances this year of legislation being passed in the House (even with some Democratic support) and having it fail in the Senate, many times right along party lines. When something like this occurs, it really doesn’t matter who the President is if the legislation cannot even reaches their desk for a signature.

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The GOP and the Debt Ceiling

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I found a recent column by Nate Silver at Five Thirty Eight very interesting and called it a “must read”.  In short summary it says that if “Republicans in the House insist upon zero tax increases, there is a larger ideological gap between House Republicans and Republican votersthan there is between Republican voters and Democratic ones.”  Initially, I found this quote upsetting – my party in Congress was being hi-jacked by the extreme.

…Then I realized something…

Yes, the average GOP voter feels that 26% of the funding shortfall should come from “tax increases” and the House GOP is saying that 0% can come from “tax increases”.  There are problems with this though – both in language and reality.

First off, of course the House GOP is going to say no to any sort of tax increases.  If they hold the hard-line on that then the Democrats (and President) need to come closer to them.  By holding the hardline, they are trying to guarantee that the needed spending cuts really do happen, rather than produce some sort of watered down version that doesn’t do anyone any good in the end.

There is also the question of exactly what “tax increases” means.  In a polling scenario, without further explanation, that term can mean many things to many people.  It can mean across the board increases.  It can mean targeted increases at certain sectors of the economy.  It can also just mean increased revenues through the closing of loopholes.  Heck, “tax increases” could actually even be actual tax rate reductions that increase the taxes of some who have been skirting the intent of the original tax laws.

So, while I greatly appreciate the work Nate Silver put into the article and find the number fascinating, his analysis could be off-target as he doesn’t explore the backstory – he just examines the polling data on its face.  That all being said, I think the House GOP conference needs to put a bit more of their faith in Rep. John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.  He is a seasoned leader and knows when the GOP should come off that hard-line of 100% spending cuts and 0% tax increases (whatever tax increases are).

GOP WH2012 – Tim Pawlenty

Since we talked about one Minnesotan in the Presidential race last week, it only makes sense to talk about the other – former Governor Tim Pawlenty. In the series we have already covered Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann who are somewhat outside the establishment (but for very different reasons).  Tim Pawlenty is different though, he is the very definition of establishment. He, like Rep. Bachmann, “officially” announced his candidacy in Iowa…although he announced in the middle of Des Moines, with a governmental backdrop, while Bachmann announced in her birth town of Waterloo.

Pawlenty served as Governor of Minnesota from 2003 (being elected in 2002) to 2011…and yes, he followed the reign of Jesse Ventura. Prior to that he served in the Minnesota State House two terms of which were as GOP Majority Leader. While both Pawlenty and Huntsman served as Governors, they had very different election paths because of the striking differences between the voter breakdown in their respective states. Pawlenty’s Governor race is actually more similar to Mitt Romney’s in Massachusetts (we will profile Mitt later) as Minnesota is not a conservative state by nature, unlike Utah. Pawlenty won in 2002 with just under 45% of the total vote, beating his DFL (The Minnesota wing of the Democratic Party is called the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party) by 12 % while enduring a 3rd party candidate who took in over 15% of the vote. Pawlenty won a second term in 2006 by a very narrow margin, fending off a high-profile DFL candidate while once again enduring a substantial 3rd part challenge (although this one only garnered around 6.5% of the vote – less than half of the 2002 haul).  Even though Pawlenty officially announced a few weeks ago, his Presidential run essentially began as soon as he left office as he was a regular at party events in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

Pawlenty’s resume is strong compared to some if his GOP counterparts.  He was even given consideration as the GOP VP in 2008 before the McCain camp settled on Sarah Palin.  However, even with the strong resume he is well behind some of his less experienced opponents in both National and Early State polls.  In a way, this all leads to Pawlenty being somewhat of a “paper candidate”.  He has the resume one would like for a President (executive experience in a toss-up state), has some good soundbites for the press, and has an Iowa staff filled with all sorts of top names.  However, even with all of that, he cannot raise money and cannot make a dent in the polling numbers.  Pawlenty is the perfect example that you need a gregarious personality to make in-roads as a President contender.  If he was as outgoing and outspoken as his fellow Minnesotan Bachmann, with his experience he would be at the front of the pack.  Instead, people in Iowa are now going to have to decide which of their neighbors to choose – the one with the resume, or the one who is the dynamic interview.

It is kind of a weird twist that someone like Tim Pawlenty might not even make it to 2012 as a POTUS candidate, but that is what all of the talk is centered on.  sadly, once this type of talk starts it depresses your fundraising figures and your ability to gain volunteers, which then spurs more talk (it one of the nasty little cycles of politics).  Basically, more than any other candidate, Tim Pawlenty’s candidacy hinges on one fateful day in Ames this summer – the Iowa Straw Poll has the ability to end his campaign that day but it could also vault him into the top-tier that has eluded him thus far.

Happy 235th Birthday to the United States of America

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Courtesy of the National Archives (