Weak fields

Amidst the hundreds of pre-post-mortems going for Romney's campaign, Washington Post's Richard "Liberal" Cohen --sniff-- misses Ron:

In 1980 Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination. He beat a future president, George H.W. Bush; two future Senate majority leaders, Howard Baker and Bob Dole; and two lesser-known congressmen. This year Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination. He beat a radio host, a disgraced former House speaker, a defeated Senate candidate, a former appointee of the Obama administration, a tongue-tied Texas governor, a prevaricating religious zealot who happens to serve in the House of Representatives and a cranky libertarian doctor. Where did all the talent go?

Cohen longs for the intellectual heavy-weights of yore (George W. Bush and Reagan?) and concludes that the only solution, as is all things, infinity is more moderates voting for more trickle-down Republicans, more NeoCon foreign policy Republicans and more top-end tax cut Republicans.  In short, more of everything Romney is running on, but spoken moderately?  Or something. 

Pretending the trend this cycle is a full rejection of GOP ideas (just like the opposite in 2010) is a miss, but even further off the mark is pretending Obama is winning this election merely because the Republican field was weak.  It was weak.  So weak it was fun

So:

  • Agree with Cohen, George W. Bush and Reagan did, indeed, win their elections.  But neither were particularly strong candidates on the trail. 
  • The overall not-sucking-enough economy kept a few Republicans stronger than, say, Herman Cain out of the race, sure, but even with them in Romney would've probably been the favorite. 
  • Romney was never that electable to begin with.
  • House Republicans tarnished the brand.  Extreme ideas like redefining rape scare many voters.  Probably more than one independent voter out there still wondering how the hell Planned Parenthood fits into the GOP recovery plan, for sure.
  • The Romney campaign has been a disaster, and campaigns matter some.

All true, but none are a good way to understand Obama's lead.  Jonathan Bernstein:

[...]the easiest interpretation of what’s going on right now is that, if Obama leads by 3 to 4 points, only a point or two needs to be explained beyond the fundamentals. At best, we’re talking about maybe 5 or 6 percent who would otherwise be voting for Romney but currently appear to be supporting the president.  That’s still worth studying, of course — but it’s a relatively small effect overall.

The basic story here is that, after all, it is the economy.

The economy, and incumbency.  Romney's campaign follies, GOP vs. Pollsters, and the (inevitable) Fox News meltdown are just the icing on the cake.

 

It’s Time for the Candidates to Get Specific on the Homeownership Crisis

Now that the presidential tickets are set, it’s time for the candidates to get specific about problems and solutions critical to our economic recovery and future prosperity. Along with job creation, they should start with Home Opportunity—the cluster of housing, homeownership, and fair lending issues that are so central to the American promise of opportunity for all.

America continues to face a Home Opportunity crisis, with 2 million foreclosure filings this year, and millions more families at risk. That’s millions of senior citizens losing their economic security, children and families uprooted, neighborhoods blighted with vacant properties, and a continued drag on our economy.

What’s more, unequal opportunity and the discriminatory targeting of communities of color by unscrupulous brokers and lenders means that minority families continue to be especially hard hit. Major discrimination settlements by the Justice Department against Countrywide, Wells Fargo, and other major lenders reveal that, despite the progress we’ve made as a nation, Americans of color have been especially unlikely to get a fair deal from the banks. That translates to a historic loss of community assets and wealth that hurts us all.

Unlike employment, however, Home Opportunity has received inadequate attention in the general election campaign, despite its undisputed political, as well as economic, importance. For swing states like Florida (with 25,534 new foreclosure filings in July alone) and Nevada (with 26,498 filings), these questions are especially pressing. Amazingly though, neither campaign’s homepage includes housing, homeownership or foreclosures among the featured issues.

Early in his campaign, Mitt Romney famously told the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.” Months later, he appeared to shift position, saying in Florida: “The idea that somehow this is going to cure itself by itself is probably not real. There’s going to have to be a much more concerted effort to work with the lending institutions and help them take action, which is in their best interest and the best interest of the homeowners.”

Romney also said in a Republican debate that government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—the historic guarantors of the 30-year fixed mortgage for generations of middle class Americans—“were a big part of why we have the housing crisis in the nation that we have.” In neither case, however, have specific solutions followed. Romney has, by contrast, called for eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Dodd-Frank legislation that created it.

As incumbent, President Obama has implemented multiple measures, including the Bureau, the Making Home Affordable program, housing counseling, and joining 49 state attorneys general in a national mortgage settlement with five major banks. (Intriguingly, Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan’s constituent services site refers Wisconsans with homeownership woes to the latter three programs for assistance).

Yet, most analysts agree that Making Home Affordable has fallen short of Administration goals, and that the national mortgage settlement, while helpful, does not reach the majority of homeowners who could benefit from its terms. Many argue, in particular, that the President can do more to extend principal reduction—shrinking the principal owed on mortgages to reflect homes’ fair market value—to mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie. And while the Administration outlined three options for the future of those enterprises over a year ago, the President’s preferred agenda for them remains unclear.

The Obama Justice Department has been aggressive in settling discrimination suits against major lenders, but Candidate Obama has not discussed the role of discrimination in creating the housing crisis, nor the role of future equal opportunity efforts in solving it.

In short, the candidates, as candidates, have yet to articulate to the American people their respective visions for the future of Home Opportunity. How will each address the lender misconduct and inadequate rules that led to the current crisis? How will each ensure that families with the resources to be successful homeowners are not thwarted by future misconduct, arbitrary restrictions, or a lack of sound information? How will each help rejuvenate neighborhoods devastated by predatory lending and mass foreclosures? And how will each ensure that people of all races, ethnicities, and communities have an equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream?

With the tickets now set, it’s the candidates’ responsibility to get specific on these questions, so critical to the nation’s choice of the next president. As voters, it’s our responsibility to demand that they do.

Read also:

 

 

Mitt Romney is Out of Step with the American People on Energy Policy

Last year New Mexico was No. 1 in the nation for installing solar power.

It is one of the top states in the country for wind energy.

New Mexicans also benefit from energy efficiency programs. With $8.9 billion in annual energy expenditures each year, energy efficiency programs could save New Mexico residents some serious money – and reduce the amount of toxic power plant emissions they have to breathe as well.

Yet what’s the crux of the energy vision Mitt Romney laid out in New Mexico today?

He wants to get rid of the renewable energy and energy efficiency programs that are employing New Mexicans and saving them money.  His solution?  Pretend it’s 1900.  More drilling, more fossil fuels, more of the same.

In disclosing his so-called energy plan in Hobbs, N.M. today, Romney didn’t even bother to mention that one of our country’s most significant energy savings programs is about to be finalized as early as this week.

The Obama Administration is about to implement new clean car standards that will push average auto mileage to 54.5 per gallon by 2025, saving consumers around $8,000 on gas during the life of a vehicle.

In New Mexico, that also will mean residents will save a total of 135 million gallons of fuel and $575 million when fully implemented – not to mention reducing thousands of tons of tailpipe carbon pollution each year, according to a NRDC analysis released just this week. For a dog’s-eye view of what these standards will mean for America, make sure to check out: http://www.doublethempg.com/  

Few issues illustrate the stark differences between Mitt Romney and President Obama like their views on where to take America on energy.

If your desire is to:

  • move America backward;
  •  keep us shackled to Big Oil;
  • forever be dependent on foreign oil supplies and the wild price swings in the international oil market; and
  • leave the planet in terrible shape for our children.

Then Romney’s your man.

If you want to move America forward, and keep developing the growing clean energy economy that’s benefitting New Mexico and every other state in the country – then remember what President Obama has done so far.

As Bloomberg News reported this week, electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar has increased by 73 percent since President Obama took office. President Obama’s clean energy programs have helped create an estimated 2.7 million clean economy jobs, according to the Brookings Institution. Those are real jobs, providing real paychecks to real Americans, many of whom live and work in New Mexico.

If Congress ignores Mitt Romney and reauthorizes the Production Tax Credit that has already created 75,000 jobs in the wind energy industry (and that many Senate Republicans support), America could get as much as 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030.

If Romney and the GOP would stop trying to denigrate and decimate America’s solar industry, we could get as much as 25% of our energy from rooftop solar panels alone in 40 states (51% in Nevada and 52% in California). Instead of focusing on the failures of a few companies, they should be noting the enormous growth in solar overall.  Ideology has blinded them, and they can’t see the forest for the trees.

Mitt Romney is simply out of step with the American people on energy policy, as with so much else.   In survey after survey, Americans overwhelmingly say they want Congress and the White House to do more to increase clean energy sources in this country, and wean us off of fossil fuels. Those opinions do not differ in New Mexico, which is why we support environmental champion Martin Heinrich in his bid for U.S. Senate. Increasing clean energy sources is good for our economy, good for our health and strengthens our national security.

Either Mitt Romney doesn’t get this message from the American people or our voices are being drowned out by the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from dirty polluters.

It’s your choice. Which America do you want?

Mitt Romney Energy Plan Fact Sheet

 

 

Romney & Ryan’s Fossil Fuel Favoritism: Starve Clean Energy, but Feed Oil with Taxpayer Money

Mitt Romney announced last week he would not extend an incentive for wind and solar power if he were elected president. Clean energy is often cast as a Democratic issue, but the incentive has broad Republican support. More than 80 percent of installed wind power comes from Republican-majority states.

Romney, however, persists in deriding the success of renewable energy. In an op ed this spring, he said wind and solar power were part of President Obama’s “imaginary world.”

Yet any American who has taken a road trip this summer knows clean energy is very real. Wind turbines have sprouted on ridgelines across the country, employing steelworkers, producing income for farmers, and generating clean energy that doesn’t endanger our health.

Roughly 35 percent of new power built in the United States in the last four years has come from wind, and more than 100,000 Americans now have jobs in the solar industry.

Clean energy has become one of the brightest spots in our economy and helped retain our competitive advantage in the global market. But Romney can’t see where the future is headed. He wants to end renewable incentives, yet continue underwriting oil and gas companies with billions of taxpayer dollars every year. He wants to turn his back on the innovative edge of the energy market in order to prolong the same coal, oil, and gas habits we have used for the past century.

His new running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, shares Romney’s fossil fuel favoritism. The Ryan budget passed by the House would dish out $40 billion in subsidies to oil companies over the next ten years, but would slash clean energy investments by 90 percent by 2014—down to just $1 billion.

Romney and Ryan’s failure to support clean energy is a failure of imagination. They are so eager to appeal to the far-right side of their party and placate their deep-pocketed donors from the fossil fuel industry that they can’t see what any American driving through Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Ohio, Michigan and countless other states can see: clean energy is already taking root in our communities, already putting people to work, and already making our air safer to breathe. We should nurture this growth and prosperity, not thwart it.

The Best Ticket Dirty Money Can Buy

This morning, we awoke to news that Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be Mitt Romney’s running mate. 

I am sure the Koch brothers are smiling this morning because they have been cultivating Congressman Ryan since he set foot on Capitol Hill, giving him one of his first donations in 1999.

Koch Industries, owners of one of the largest petrochemical companies in the world, has been the 6th largest contributors to Cong. Ryan during his career, giving him $65,500.  In fact, the oil and gas industry has given him $244,250 since 1999.  Now sure, the Koch Brothers are behind Philip Morris, and the NRA, but they played the long game with this career-politician pick and Ryan as VP will solidify their support.

The fossil fuel industry was already sitting pretty even before the Ryan selection.  The Romney campaign has already benefited from the overwhelming spending of outside groups, like Restore our Future, a well known Koch-funded entity, that has already spent $14,011,137  in a brazen effort to buy the White House.

What has this money bought for the polluters?

Romney went from standing in front of a coal plant talking about how they kill people in 2003 to standing with one of the most radical members of the Senate, James Inhofe (R-OK) to stop EPA’s efforts to reduce mercury from power plants.  As my colleague at NRDC, John Walke, says, “It’s appalling that anyone would vote to expose our children to more mercury, a dangerous brain poison, and over 80 other toxic air pollutants that power plants in the U.S. spew every day.”  John goes onto note that these standard are projected to prevent 11,000 premature deaths; nearly 5,000 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 5,700 hospital and emergency room visits; and 540,000 days when people miss work and school. 

For his part, Cong. Ryan, with his abysmal 16% League of Conservation Voters score, has voted to delay long-overdue air pollution control standards for industrial boilers and incinerators that also emit mercury.  He voted against efforts to protect communities from coal ash - the toxic byproduct of burning coal that contains arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals - metals that when some are ingested have devastating results like lower IQ

As someone who spent much of her youth in towns in Appalachia surrounding these coal facilities, I can tell you that the devastation is enormous and the fact that Ryan took the side of the polluters instead of children with learning disabilities caused in some part by that pollution is astonishing.  Add on top of all of this, the cuts that Ryan’s budget proposed - cuts that would’ve devastated community water systems and kept enforcement cops off the street who keep companies from breaking laws that protect our communities.  Heck, his budget would’ve even eliminated programs for sidewalks, not to mention public transportation infrastructure

Yes, Koch Industries is sitting pretty today.  Let’s hope that the voters see in November see that a Romney/Ryan ticket isn’t about protecting their families or helping us get on the right track - it is the best ticket dirty money can buy.  Look no further than the record to see for yourself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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