February 2012

Now that the payroll tax holiday has passed and will remain in effect through the end of 2012, the question remains as to what happens next year.

President Obama and the Democrats have promoted the tax holiday as a middle class tax cut benefiting the average worker to the tune of $1,000 per year or roughly a $20 a week boost to workers  paychecks.   Since that tax holiday went in to effect in 2010 the real effect is that workers won’t see that $20 a week benefit disappear this year.  Next year however could be a different question.

When the talk of an extension came up late last year, Republicans demanded that there should be spending cuts to offset the drain on the Treasury and more specifically the Social Security Trust Fund so that the tax holiday wouldn’t cost the government any more money than it already had in terms of increasing the deficit.

The president along with the Democrats in the House and some help from the mainstream media portrayed the GOP as cold-hearted and not wanting to give middle income Americans a much needed tax cut. Plus it was only temporary.

This was a very effective strategy, as Congress passed a two-month extension so they could go home for Christmas and in essence punted the ball into 2012.  When the time came to deal with the “tax cut”,  Republicans seemed to have lost their resolve and passed an extension without demanding that it be paid for somewhere else in the budget.

Score this as a victory for Obama, but a loss for taxpayers and their future generations who will eventually have to foot the bill for this folly.

For the Democrats it was all part of a strategy of pulling together a populist message that was also a pocketbook issue in an election year.  Who cares about paying the Piper when you have an election to win? Certainly not House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who told PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff that she wasn’t worried about how the reduced payroll contributions will be repaid by saying “I think that this should be the last year for it. One or two years, no, the trust fund can handle that.”

What’s $70 billion in lost revenue when you have a national debt of over $15 trillion?

The bigger problem with the “tax cut” as Obama prefers to refer to it is how do they revert to the old rate once the extension expires without calling it a tax increase as the president accused Republicans who were against the extension of favoring.  Oh yeah I forgot.  It will be after the election which Obama hopes will result in a second term and by that point he will find another way to rephrase it so that he doesn’t look like the bad guy.

In the end this supposed “tax cut” will do little to stimulate the economy as most workers have either been saving the extra money in their paycheck or spending it on gas which is soaring towards record highs instead of making purchases of items that help create new jobs.

Even Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner admits that one result will be that we will have to increase our debt ceiling limit ahead of schedule which should give voters a clue of the bum hand that they have been dealt by Obama and the Democrats.

Tick, Tick, Tick goes the debt bomb.





With Catholic bishops and the Obama administration still locked in a battle over the president’s plan to  require that all health plans provide free birth control,  The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler has noted that one oft-repeated statement by the media has now seemingly become a fact, even though it is inaccurate.

Yesterday that “fact” was given more prominence when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi mentioned it during her press briefing.

“98 percent of Catholic women, I am told by all of you, use birth control to determine the size and timing of their families.”

Pelosi’s reference to “all of you” meaning the media piqued Kessler’s curiosity and so he looked into where that figure came from and he found that the mainstream media has used it as if it was an undisputed fact.  That’s because the media wanted to give the impression that the president’s initiative is really no big deal since virtually all Catholic women have used birth control at one time or another in their lives.

“Birth-control is widely used even by Catholics: 98 percent of American Catholic women have used contraception in their lifetimes.”

— The Washington Post, Feb. 12

“Birth-control is widely used even by Catholics: 98 percent of American Catholic women have used contraception in their lifetimes.”

— National Public Radio, Feb. 10

“Studies have shown that 98 percent of Catholic women have used artificial contraception at some time in their lives.”

—The New York Times, Feb. 10

But,as Kessler points out, the figure which came from an April 2011 study written by Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke of the Guttmacher Institute, has been misinterpreted by the media.

But while the study says that 98 percent of “sexually experienced Catholic women” have “ever used a contraceptive method other than natural planning,” the data shown in the report does not actually back up that claim. In fact, a supplementary table in the report, on page 8, even appears to undermine that statistic, since it shows that 11 percent of Catholic women currently using no method at all. That has led to criticism of the statistic.

 The Guttmacher Institute, citing “confusion” over the statistic, on Wednesday posted the actual data behind it. It turns out it was based on a question that asked self-identified Catholic women who have had sex if they have ever used one of 12 methods of birth control. Jones, in an interview, said the women were asked to answer “yes” or “no” whether they had used each of the different forms; only two percent had said they had used only natural family planning.

 In other words, a woman may have sex only once, or she may have had a partner who only used a condom once, and then she would be placed in the 98 percent category. Jones said the correct way to describe the results of the research is this:

 “Data shows that 98 percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives.”

But by counting women who may have used some form of contraception only once as part of the 98%, the Guttmacher Institute has only distorted the picture even further.

I would venture to say there are plenty of Catholic women who used birth control once and only once and yet it appears that thanks to the wording the media uses that it is widespread even though as Kessler points out that the numbers are lower for the overall Catholic population since the study focuses only on women between the ages of 15-44.

While the media isn’t involved in a complete lie, it’s a half-truth at best and since Guttmacher started off as an arm of Planned Parenthood, the data should be looked at with a jaundiced eye to boot.

Pelosi’s 98% mention at the  2:58 mark.

The mainstream media has reported that the Tea Party is dead, but as this interview with Billie Tucker of the First Coast Tea Party proves that is far from true.

When asked why the media is reporting on the death of the Tea Party, Tucker responded “they want us to” and said the media is looking at the numbers that are attending rallies, but the real strength is in the databases which are now larger than ever before.

Tucker also spoke on the Houston Tea Party, which has been fighting voter fraud with their True the Vote campaign and how involved the group is in the current election cycle.

Media bias is alive and well, and much to the mainstream media’s disappointment, the Tea Party had a very large presence at this past weekend’s CPAC meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Republican presidential contest took yet another unexpected turn last night with Rick Santorum’s sweep of the Missouri primary and Minnesota and Colorado caucuses.  While Romney spent little time or money in these states compared to Florida and South Carolina, the results showed the continued weakness in the Romney campaign.

Since these contests were essentially beauty contests with no delegates being awarded, the losses still had to sting for Romney who is the front-runner that can’t seal the deal.

To be honest Romney wasn’t expected to really win Missouri or Minnesota with their strong Evangelical bases, but he was hoping to score a victory in Colorado, but was undone by the delegates lack of confidence in his conservatism.

In the grand scheme of things this is more of a PR hit for Romney than anything else, but it leaves open the question of why he can’t get Republican voters to coalesce behind his candidacy. On the other hand it also continues to keep both Santorum and Gingrich in the race as we head to Super Tuesday on March 6 and what will probably be the make or break time for the GOP.

Even if Romney wins a majority of the delegates next month, it is also likely that Gingrich and Santorum to a lesser degree will come away with enough delegates to remain a threat to Romney’s chances of winning the nomination outright.

Romney may be a successful businessman, but he has failed to translate that success into the teflon candidate he needs to be.  Unforced errors have provided plenty of ammunition for not just his Republican competition, but also the Democrats.

Will a long drawn out campaign hurt the GOP?  Not necessarily as the nominee should emerge as a more battle-hardened candidate and be better able to go toe-to-toe with Obama in the fall.  At the same time the nastier the battle gets, the higher the likelihood that the Republican nominee will emerge so bloodied and bruised that he won’t have the ability to compete against what no doubt will be a very powerful Democratic machine that will go all out to keep Obama in the White House.

The GOP’s biggest problem right now though is a slowly recovering economy that is giving Obama a boost as consumer confidence grows that things have actually turned around.

We may still have unemployment above 8% and growth of less than 2%, but voters cast their ballots on perception rather than reality and if the perception is that things are turning around, the Obama will gain the upper hand in November.

Four years ago Romney was the anti-McCain and benefited greatly from that position even if he didn’t win the nomination.  Now he he is the John McCain of 2012 and conservatives just can’t bring themselves to support someone who has a very moderate record as a politician, no matter if he is espousing a more conservative view today.

Like McCain who beat off the Romney challenge four years ago, Romney should be able to fend off Gingrich and Santorum  as his money and organization should carry the day though the road ahead will be bumpy for at least the next four weeks.