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Archive for April, 2012

In picking VP, just find someone to help win

April 24th, 2012


This piece was originally posted on Politico.

Predicting a vice presidential choice is a mug’s game. How many people predicted Sen. John McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008? Who predicted that George H.W. Bush would pick Dan Quayle in 1988? Or that his son would pick Dick Cheney — the man he put in charge of the selection process — in 2000?

There are 10 reasons why you pick a running mate. Reason No. 1: Pick someone who will help you win. The other nine don’t matter.

That’s because, when a candidate picks a running mate, his mind is focused on one and only one thing: winning. Oh yes, compatibility would be nice. But John F. Kennedy was not concerned about compatibility when he named Lyndon B. Johnson to the ticket in 1960. The two rivals were anything but compatible. JFK was concerned about winning. He could not win without Texas. And he could not carry Texas without LBJ on the ticket. End of story.

Since 1960, however, it’s hard to prove that running mates have made a great deal of difference. In the past 12 presidential contests, the party has lost its vice presidential candidate’s home state one out of every three times. Most recently when the Democrats failed to carry Sen. John Edwards’s home state of North Carolina in 2004. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Rick Santorum won’t stop

April 13th, 2012


This piece was originally posted on Politico.

“Irrelevant.” With one word, Sen. John McCain dismissed Rick Santorum’s role in the Republican presidential race.

Santorum’s response? “I’ve endured about eight months of people saying that,” he told The New York Times. “I’ve never been the party establishment’s candidate, and that holds true today and that’s nothing new.”

So why is he still running?

Santorum is a movement candidate. A movement is something people believe in and belong to. A campaign is something people support. Santorum claims to be carrying the flag for the conservative movement. “As conservatives and tea party folks, we are not just wings of the Republican Party,” he told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “We are the Republican Party.”

Are they? The Republican Party nominated McCain for president in 2008. He had run against the conservative movement in 2000 and was distrusted by the right. The Republican Party is about to nominate Mitt Romney for president in 2012. Romney is, first and foremost, a businessman. Definitely not a movement politician.

Movement conservatives like Santorum consider Romney an imposter. He signed a health care mandate into law in Massachusetts, for goodness sake. Nonetheless, conservatives have begun to coalesce behind Romney. Why? Because he looks like the only candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama. Read the rest of this entry »

Progress Report on a Taxpayer Receipt

April 10th, 2012


“Would you like a receipt for that?” That simple question gives customers trust and confidence in their purchases. With a similar gesture, the federal government could gain some sorely needed trust and confidence from citizens. A taxpayer receipt would be a way to acknowledge citizens’ contributions to the Treasury and show them where their tax dollars go.

That’s why Third Way first proposed the idea in 2008 and released an online taxpayer receipt calculator last year. It helped fuel a flurry of activity over the idea. We have updated our receipt for the 2011 tax year. It lets users enter their income taxes and FICA taxes paid so they can see their contributions to nearly 400 items from the federal budget ranging from the FBI to the salaries of member of Congress. It demonstrates how a taxpayer receipt can show citizens what they are getting for their money.

The taxpayer receipt isn’t law yet, but there’s been lots of activity. Here is an update on the progress to date:

The White House has released its own version of an online taxpayer receipt for the second year in a row. First mentioned by President Obama in his 2011 State of the Union Address, this receipt lets users see where their income taxes in terms of major spending categories like national defense and health care and many subcategories. It accounts separately for the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

Read the rest of this entry »

Did regs kill the horse-drawn carriage?

April 9th, 2012


This piece was originally posted on National Journal.

Blaming regulation for the decline of coal is like blaming cars for the demise of horse-drawn carriages. The market, not big bad regulators, replaced an antiquated technology with a more efficient one.

Coal is a nineteenth century technology that maintained dominance in the electricity sector because it was cheap. The precipitous decline in natural gas prices, thanks to hydraulic fracturing, are eliminating cost as a reason to use coal. The result has been a boom in new natural gas power plants, along with a dramatic increase in solar and wind power (whose prices are also declining rapidly), and virtually no new coal plants.

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Reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank

April 5th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted in The Hill.

Good ideas–ideas that work–should transcend ideological and partisan differences.

For almost 80 years, the Export-Import Bank of the United States has been one such good idea, enjoying broad bipartisan support while effectively promoting job-creating American exports. But the Ex-Im Bank’s work will grind to a halt within weeks without a new authorization. And, without a long-term reauthorization, the Bank’s mission would be seriously undermined, creating great uncertainty for U.S. exporters and their workers.

Rep. Rick Larsen, (D-Wash.), (one of the authors) and Rep. Don Manzullo, (R-Ill.), have introduced the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 which would extend the Bank’s authority through 2015 and raise the borrowing authority to $140 billion.

Why should we care? First, the Ex-Im Bank is a self-supporting entity that actually turns an $800 million annual profit for the government. Second, and more important, the Bank supports U.S. exports, and exports have played an increasingly important role in driving stronger American economic growth and much-needed jobs.

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“…And Justice For All?”

April 2nd, 2012


The Supreme Court debate on health care was shocking to many Americans. The shock was that the arguments going on inside the court sounded so much like the arguments going on outside the court. It was nakedly political. The partisan takeover of American politics has now engulfed the Supreme Court.

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