The Unspeakable Recklessness of Rick Santorum

It's hard to say whether more I'm shocked by former Senator Rick Santorum's sheer stupidity or outraged by the flippant callousness of his remarks. I suspect the former since the latter should not surprise even as the inhumanity remains ever so striking. For the nation to invest in the health and well being of its citizens is not now, nor is it likely to ever be in the foreseeable future, a priority for the GOP, but for a likely Presidential candidate to under any condition to advocate for a debt default simply speaks of an outrageous ignorance of economics and unspeakable recklessness.

Via Think Progress:

As the U.S. steps closer to the economic ledge, a litany of Republican lawmakers are holding the debt ceiling hostage over unpopular priorities like lowering the corporate tax rate cutting entitlement programs. Likely GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum made his own ransom demand today on Fox News Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace that defunding the health care law is “the price” he demands for the debt ceiling and that he’d “absolutely” let the country go into default over it:

SANTORUM: [The health care law] is a program that if the president wants to defend, he should stand up and say the 2012 election is about Obamacare. We’ll put this on hold, and make it a referendum on Obamacare.

WALLACE: Well ok that’s 2012, but you’re saying you’d let the country go into default on this issue.

SANTORUM: No I think the president would let this country go into default on this issue.

WALLACE: But you would make that the condition — you’d make that the price? 

SANTORUM: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Over at Capital Gains and Games, Bruce Barlett, a domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and a Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush, bemoans that Wall Street, and the nation for that matter, should have known better then to send "a bunch of not-too-bright, ignorant Tea Party members to Congress." Imagine putting one in the White House.

Senator John Ensign to Resign

An ignoble end to an ignominious career.

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Sources confirmed this afternoon that embattled U.S. Sen. John Ensign will resign from office on Friday, opening the door for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to appoint Rep. Dean Heller to finish out the term.

If Heller is appointed, it would give him a strategic leg up as an incumbent against his presumed opponent in the 2012 Senate race, Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley. Berkley is still expected to run.

Ensign's political star fell two years when he revealed he had an affair with a campaign aide, a scandal for which he remains under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

It's unclear whether the ongoing investigation played a role in Ensign's resignation, or whether he was stepping down early at the behest of the Nevada GOP in order to benefit Heller, the party's presumptive nominee for 2012.

The move is implicitly political on the GOP's part in an effort to keep the Nevada Senate seat. Senator Ensign, a member of the notorious C Street Christian fellowship, had already noted that he would not seek re-election next year in the wake of his lascivious conduct that led to Senate Ethics panel investigation that remains ongoing. Rep. Dean Heller, who represents the sprawling Nevada Second Congressional District that covers most of the state except the southern areas around Las Vegas, was expected to seek the seat. Now rather seek election to an open seat, he'll enjoy the benefit of being the incumbent.

Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who represents the Nevada First Congressional District that includes Las Vegas, announced earlier this month that she would seek the seat.


Quick Hits

Here are some other items making the rounds today.

It's primary day in Kansas, Michigan, and Missouri. CNN has an overview.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid continues to hold a narrow edge over the Tea Party extremist Sharron Angle in Nevada in the latest Reuters-Ipsos poll Among voters who said they are likely to vote, Reid held a 48-44 percent lead.

The Senate on Tuesday opened floor debate of on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Five Republicans have already stated their intention to confirm while one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, will not vote to confirm. The vote will likely be held Thursday or perhaps Friday before the Senate adjourns for its August recess. More from the New York Times.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged Tuesday that President Obama's presence in some districts would hurt Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. The Hill has more on Gibbs' remarks.

David Corn of Mother Jones profiles the outgoing GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina who was ousted by the Tea Party backed candidate Trey Gowdy. In the article, Congressman Inglis Bob Inglis slams Republican demagoguery, bemoans anti-Semitic tea party conspiracy nonsense, decries Sarah Palin's ignorance, while he looks for a job.

Speaking of conservative extremism and purity tests in South Carolina, the Greenville County Republican Party voted 61 to 2 to rebuke Senator Lindsey Graham for not being conservative enough. The story from CNN.


Tea Party Candidate in Nevada Senate Race May Be Reid's Saving Gracee

If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid succeeds in his bid to win re-election, he may want to send a thank you note to Jon Scott Ashjian who is running as the Tea Party of Nevada candidate. While polls in mid-February had put Ashjian, a 46 year old self-described "frustrated patriot" and independent businessman, at about 9 percent but more recent polling suggests that he is now up to around 18 percent with the gain coming at the expense of GOP hopefuls Sue Lowen or Danny Tarkanian catapulting the embattled Senator Reid into a four point lead.

Polling results for the Las Vegas Review-Journal indicate that if the election were held and with Ashjian in the race, Senator Reid would draw 36 percent of voters, while the Republican nominee would get 32 percent and the Tea Party candidate 18 percent. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. That's pretty much the best news Harry Reid has had in a long, long time.

Over the weekend, the Las Vegas Review Journal profiled Jon Scott Ashjian who left the Republican party the day he decided to run for the Senate seat.

Ashjian says he's learning the ropes through this grass-roots movement, where he is his own communications director who answers the phone, relies heavily on family and friends for help and schedules his own TV and radio appearances, which are starting to pick up.

Don't call him a politician, though.

"I'm a frustrated patriot," Ashjian said. "I'm not a politician. I'm not savvy with radio and TV. But I believe I can make a change, and that's what I'm here for. I'm here to give people a third voice."

A campaign Web site is in the works, with a Facebook profile and a Twitter account -- all of the necessary social media to get his message to voters.

His traditionally conservative platform is simple:

■ Smaller government.

■ Fiscal responsibility by voting against future stimulus packages, big business bailouts and tax increases.

■ Cutting small-business taxes.

■ Investing in education.

■ Creating jobs.

Ashjian describes the Tea Party of Nevada as being neither Democrats nor Republicans but simply tax payers fed up with big government and high taxes.

"We're not Republican or Democrat," Ashjian said. "We won't fold into one party or the other. We're a tax-paying party that can make a difference and a party of normal people who want change. Bigger government and higher taxes is not working. Right now we're at a real crossroads to make change, and the bottom line is there's never been so much disdain for politicians."

There's more...

Tea Party of Nevada to Field Own Candidate in Senate Race

The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that the Tea Party of Nevada has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will field its own candidate in the Senate race for the seat currently held by Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader.

The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report.

[Las Vegas Sun columist Jon] Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party's U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy.

According to the party's constitution, the Tea Party of Nevada will "promote this nation's founding principles of freedom, liberty and a small representative government. We believe that our government under both Democrat and Republican control has led to massive national debt, crushing deficits, increased taxes; while establishing a large and powerful federal government in a direct refutation of the founding ideals of America."

The move is likely to marginally help the embattled Harry Reid who has been trailing in most polls by a wide margin against potential GOP challengers. There are currently three Republican challengers vying to win the GOP nod: former State Senator Sue Lowden, former UNLV basketball star Danny Tarkanian and former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle.

In addition there are six other third-party candidates going through the verification process to appear on the ballot as US Senate candidates — one Reform Party hopeful and five as independents.


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