Romney and Gingrich Scrap Amid Shifting Fortunes


His fortunes turned upside down in the span of a week, Newt Gingrich sought on Sunday to rally his grass-roots coalition against the heavy campaign machinery of Mitt Romney, whose resurgence was punctuated by new polls showing his lead in Florida widening two days ahead of the Republican presidential primary here.

With new backing from Herman Cain and a chorus of defenders including Sarah Palin, Mr. Gingrich was seeking to consolidate his newly claimed role as the leader of the populist conservative movement and ride it through the Tuesday primary here — and, he promised, all the way to the convention at the end of the summer in Tampa.

Facing disappointing polls for him here but stronger survey numbers nationally, Mr. Gingrich’s team stepped up its outreach to religious leaders and Tea Party adherents as he prepared his supporters for a marathon nominating contest despite the challenging terrain in the post-Florida states — including Nevada and Michigan — where Mr. Romney is the overwhelming favorite.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich continued to battle each other in acutely personal terms, with Mr. Gingrich questioning Mr. Romney’s former abortion rights stance and even his character. In appearances here and farther north, Mr. Romney effectively accused Mr. Gingrich of being a sore loser, saying that he was making “excuses” for his dwindling poll numbers and suggesting that he “look in the mirror.”

The ferocious competition playing out on the airwaves and between their surrogates spoke to the widening rift between the more traditional elements of the Republican Party that have evermore vocally come to support Mr. Romney, including many elected officials, and the grass-roots and Tea Party-inspired conservatives Mr. Gingrich is seeking to rally.

For Mr. Gingrich, the question is whether he can inspire enough support from those conservatives to sustain a long campaign against Mr. Romney beyond Florida. Many Republicans have been flirting for the past six months with various alternatives to Mr. Romney, and Mr. Gingrich is the most prominent of those alternatives left standing.

But he is in many ways a surprising choice as a champion of populist conservatives. (For now, at least, it appears he has taken the distinction away from former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who is still competing here, though he had to unexpectedly leave the campaign trail over the weekend to tend to a sick child.)

Mr. Gingrich received a boost of energy from a huge crowd of several thousand that greeted him in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community in Lady Lake, a reminder of how a swath of the faithful inspired by the Tea Party movement is still with him. Heralding his new endorsement from Mr. Cain, Mr. Gingrich drew loud approval when he called it “further proof that this is a grass-roots movement against the establishment.”

All along, Mr. Gingrich’s team has said that the election here would pit his anti-Washington message and the momentum he had from his South Carolina victory against Mr. Romney’s money and the mechanics of his sophisticated campaign operation.

But by Sunday, the rally’s attendance notwithstanding, it appeared that Mr. Romney and his campaign — which have been pummeling Mr. Gingrich at every turn and vastly outspending him on television ads — had reversed whatever momentum Mr. Gingrich had when he arrived here fresh off his South Carolina primary victory a week earlier.

Seeking to undercut Mr. Gingrich’s positioning as the outsider ready to take on Washington, the Romney campaign and its allies used an onslaught of negative advertising and other appearances to portray him as an ethically challenged Washington insider.

Mr. Romney delivered the attack himself at an outdoor rally here in the South Florida city of Hialeah. His face was red and his hair was just slightly mussed as he told an audience of a few hundred people about Mr. Gingrich’s highly paid work helping the government-sponsored lender Freddie Mac to better communicate with Congressional Republicans seeking to dismantle it.

“The idea of someone working in Washington making $1.6 million being paid by Freddie Mac to say good things about Freddie Mac, at the very time that Freddie Mac is in part one of the institutions behind the great housing crisis that you’ve felt in an extraordinary way here in Florida,” Mr. Romney said, “you want someone who is not part of Washington; you want someone who will change Washington. I will do so when I’m president.”

The argument has been made repeatedly in the television ads playing incessantly on airwaves around the state.

Read the full article from the NY Times here



Conservative and religious voters propel Gingrich to SC victory

By Alan Fram and Jennifer Agiesta

WASHINGTON (AP) – Strong backing from conservative and religious voters and people fretting about the uncertain economy fueled Newt Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, an exit poll of voters showed Saturday.

The data also showed that for the first time, the former House speaker grabbed two constituencies that his chief rival, Mitt Romney, prided himself in winning in the year’s two previous GOP contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. Gingrich bested Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, among the nearly half of voters looking for someone to defeat President Barack Obama this November, 51 percent to 37 percent. And of the 6 in 10 who considered the economy the top issue in picking a candidate, Gingrich prevailed, 40 percent to 32 percent.

Gingrich benefited most from the campaign’s final, tumultuous week, the figures showed.

Just over half said they’d chosen a candidate in the last few days, and 44 percent of them backed Gingrich, doubling Romney’s support. By 50 percent to 23 percent, the roughly two-thirds who said campaign debates were an important factor also supported Gingrich. There were two GOP debates in South Carolina during the past week, and Gingrich was widely considered to have turned in strong performances in both.

In the campaign’s last days, Romney stumbled badly when asked whether he will release his income tax returns and about investments in the Cayman Islands. Gingrich endured an allegation by one of his two former wives, Marianne, that he had asked permission for an open marriage while he was having an affair with the woman who is his current wife, Callista.

That accusation seemed to take only a slight toll on Gingrich.

He was supported by 6 percent of those who said what they most wanted in a candidate was strong moral character, but these voters were less than 1 in 5 of those who showed up Saturday at the polls. Gingrich did better than Romney among women, and fared a bit more strongly among married than unmarried females.

Gingrich won healthy margins among the state’s conservatives, who comprise more than 6 in 10 voters in the state, one of the country’s reddest. While those results were bad news for Romney, they were even more damaging to Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who has been dueling with Gingrich to become the GOP’s conservative champion and alternative to Romney.

Gingrich won among conservatives and tea party supporters by nearly 2-1 over Romney. Santorum was slightly behind.

Nearly two-thirds of voters said they are born again or evangelical Christians, and they backed Gingrich over Romney by 2-1.

More telling, 6 in 10 said it was important that their candidate share their religious beliefs. Nearly half of such voters backed Gingrich, while only 1 in 5 chose Romney and about the same number picked Santorum.

About 8 in 10 voters they were very worried about the direction of the country’s economy, and they picked Gingrich over Romney, 42 percent to 28 percent.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate of 9.9 percent is worse than the national average, and the exit poll provided evidence of the state’s economic pain. About 3 in 10 said someone in their household has lost a job in the past three years. And about 1 in 5 said they are falling behind financially – around double the proportion who said so in exit polling in the state’s 2008 GOP presidential contest.

Romney’s earlier career heading Bain Capital, a venture capital firm, clearly wounded his prospects. During much of the campaign, Gingrich and others accused Romney and his company of killing jobs in the companies they bought and restructured.

Those blows showed Saturday. According to the exit polls, Gingrich and Romney broke about even among the nearly two-thirds of voters who said they had a positive view of Romney’s activities at Bain. But among those who viewed Romney’s work negatively, half picked Gingrich and 3 percent backed Romney.

Underscoring how poorly Romney fared in South Carolina, less than 4 in 10 said they could enthusiastically back him should he eventually win the GOP nomination.

Romney’s defeat was so sweeping that he lost to Gingrich among voters of every age. The only income group Romney won was people making above $200,000 a year – 1 in 20 of those who voted Saturday. Gingrich also prevailed among voters of every education level except those who have pursued post-graduate degrees, which he split with Romney.

Around two-thirds of voters approved of the job Nikki Haley is doing as governor, which she won with strong tea party support. Haley endorsed Romney, but 7 in 10 tea party backers gave her high marks anyway.

The survey was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research as voters left their polling places at 35 randomly selected sites in South Carolina. The survey involved interviews with 2,381 voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Read more here


Focusing on Nomination, Paul Plots a Backup Plan

Lake Jackson, Tex. — Ron Paul says he has by no means given up on winning the Republican presidential nomination, but he acknowledges that he might not make it.

“The odds are right now that Romney, he pulls it off,” Mr. Paul, a Texas congressman, said in an interview here. “But he doesn’t even have a guarantee in a week. That whole thing can shift rather quickly.”

So even as his aides plot a strategy to pick up delegates, they are beginning to plan how to use the leverage they are gaining to try to force the party to take his and his supporters’ views into account, signaling what Mr. Paul would want to party officials and rival candidates who are eager for the backing of his fervent following but nervous that he might undertake a third-party bid.

One person close to the Paul campaign said this could include support for greater transparency at the Federal Reserve, a commitment to address what Mr. Paul views as the Patriot Act’s infringement on civil liberties and a curb on the powers of any president to wage war without Congressional approval. And the campaign wants Mr. Paul’s supporters to have a voice and a role in the national party machinery — just like they do in many state Republican parties — no matter who becomes the nominee.

“The more delegates I have, the more leverage I have,” Mr. Paul said in the interview here, during which he candidly discussed his hopes but remained circumspect about some issues. “We’ll go after delegates, and we have staying power.”

Asked whether he believed he would have the leverage to make Republicans more willing to accommodate his supporters and positions, he said: “I don’t know how they’re going to handle it. Because we’re very precise on what we would like, and I can’t imagine all of a sudden one of the other candidates changing their position on their desire to go to war constantly.”

He added: “How much leverage do I have? How many more votes am I going to get? You know, the more pressure they feel, the more they might be willing to look at some of those issues. We want to change things.”

But that is a fallback strategy, and Mr. Paul and his advisers say they are in it to win. They see a route to obtaining the 1,144 delegates needed by not overemphasizing primaries in expensive media markets, especially those where it is harder for independents to vote, and focusing on less-flashy contests where the expected cost per delegate is weighted more in their favor.

They will also try to win delegates through the machinery of state parties, where Paul supporters are now embedded in the apparatus. In Iowa, for example, whose delegates are not explicitly tied to caucus results, they believe they can take delegates that might otherwise be awarded to Rick Santorum, who essentially tied for first place with Mr. Romney, one Paul official said.

This “Moneyball”-like approach to delegates, which takes a page from the 2008 campaign of Barack Obama, is about to be put into play. Mr. Paul may make only one stop in Florida before that state’s Jan. 31 primary and will instead focus his efforts after the South Carolina primary on Saturday on caucuses in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Nevada and other places where the cost of television and mail programs is less expensive and where election rules favor his strategy.

People close to the Paul campaign say it would cost them $9 million to $10 million to run an effective campaign in Florida, where only about 50 delegates are at stake. Florida is a closed primary, so independent voters important to Mr. Paul’s strong showing in Iowa and New Hampshire cannot register just before the election. The state is also a winner-take-all contest, meaning only the victor walks away with delegates.

“There are four big caucuses coming up, with twice as many delegates as Florida, that will cost a third as much money, and we are focused on those,” one Paul official said.

With 28 delegates at stake, North Dakota also illustrates the strategy: the Paul campaign estimates that it will cost just $500,000 to run an effective campaign there, and delegates are awarded proportionately, so even if they do not finish first they could walk away with a decent allotment.

Read the full article here



Romney Is Focus as Battle in G.O.P. Takes Sharp Edge


CONCORD, N.H. — The Republican race for president splintered along two distinct tracks on Sunday, with all of the candidates who are not named Mitt Romney intensifying their attempts to derail the one who is. And all the while they kept their sights trained on one another as they try to emerge as his chief rival.

Two days before the first primary of the Republican nominating process, Mr. Romney remained a solid favorite here on Tuesday and beyond. But the winnowed cast of candidates who lag behind him was hatching competing plans to outlast one another through the next few nominating contests, starting with the traditionally bruising primary in South Carolina, which votes on Jan. 21.

And so the steady jog of the last few months became a sharp-edge sprint heading out of the weekend, with barbs flying in speeches, in advertisements and in the final debate before Election Day here, which took place Sunday and included some of the most pointed exchanges of the campaign so far.

In the debate, hosted by “Meet the Press” and Facebook,Newt Gingrich disputed Mr. Romney’s assertions that he was not a lifetime politician, saying, “Can we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?”

“You have been running consistently for years and years and years,” Mr. Gingrich said, looking directly at his rival. He added: “Just level with the American people. You’ve been running for — at least since the 1990s.”

Mr. Gingrich also attacked Mr. Romney’s tenure at theprivate equity firm Bain Capital, accusing him of pillaging companies and cutting jobs to enrich himself and his colleagues. He compared him unfavorably with two other presidential candidates from Massachusetts: former Gov. Michael Dukakis and Senator John Kerry, both Democrats who were defeated.

Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, accused Mr. Romney of lacking core convictions. “We want someone when the time gets tough — and it will in this election — who will stand up for conservative principles,” he said.

Even Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor who has struggled to stand out in the race, scored points with the debate audience when he said Mr. Romney was out of line in attacking him for having served as President Obama’s ambassador to China. “This nation is divided,” Mr. Huntsman said, “because of attitudes like that.” He criticized Mr. Romney for his slogan “Believe in America,” saying: “How can you believe in America when you’re not willing to serve America? That’s just phony.”

Mr. Romney had been seeking to remain above it all and rely on his muscular campaign organization and get-out-the-vote operation to propel him to victory in Tuesday’s primary and beyond. But time and time again, he was forced to defend himself.

“I’m very proud of the conservative record I have,” Mr. Romney said, ticking through a list of leading Republicans supporting his candidacy who, as he put it, “don’t have any ax to grind.”

The Romney team conveyed the nervousness of a leading marathon runner, acutely aware of the potentially volatile nature of this contest, the reluctance of Republicans to unite behind a single candidate and the possibility that an anti-Romney candidate could emerge supreme to split the delegate field with Ron Paul, who is viewed as having a distinct but sizable following.

During a day of hard campaigning, Mr. Romney sought to deflect criticism of his time at Bain and to defend against derision from Mr. Gingrich and the others about his claim to be a nonpolitician. But it did not always go so smoothly. Speaking to voters at a rally in Rochester, N.H., Mr. Romney described himself as a “a high school kid like everybody else with skinny legs” who ultimately “backed into a chance” to run for president.

The son of a wealthy American Motors chief executive turned Michigan governor, Mr. Romney also said, “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired,” and declared, “There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.”

Afterward, his campaign could not provide specific examples, though a spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in a statement that “as a young person just out of college, he worked his way up the career ladder knowing that his continued employment was by no means guaranteed.”

For months, Democrats have been trying to use Mr. Romney’s pedigree against him, seeking to tap into the boiling anger over wealth disparities resonating with voters. As the presidential primary campaign intensifies, his Republican rivals are highlighting the same theme, suggesting that Mr. Romney is out of touch with Americans.

Read the full article here



The Year In Review: ObamaCare’s Failed Promises

2011 Was The Year That Obama’s Signature Issue Unraveled


CBS’ STEVE KROFT: “Why do you think you deserve to be reelected? What have you accomplished?”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: “Not only saving this country from a great depression, not only saving the auto industry, but putting in place a system in which we’re going to start lowering health care costs and you’re never going to go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick.” (CBS’ “60 Minutes,” 12/11/11)


PROMISE: Obama Promised His Plan “Would Save The Average Family $2,500 On Their Premiums.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks Of Senator Barack Obama’s Plan To Fight For Working Families And Take On Special Interests In Washington, Indianapolis, IN, 6/20/08)

FAIL: “The Cost Of Health Insurance Skyrocketed In 2011 After Several Years Of Relatively Small Increases.” (Jane M. Von Bergen, “Health Insurance Costs Skyrocketing,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/27/11)

Workers Paid An Average Of $132 More For Family Coverage This Year. “Although premiums rose, employers kept the percentage of the premium workers pay about the same: An average of 18 percent for single coverage and 28 percent for family plans. Still, with rising costs, workers paid more, up an average of $132 a year for family coverage. Since 1999, the dollar amount workers contribute toward premiums nationally has grown 168 percent, while their wages have grown by 50 percent, according to the survey.” (Julie Appleby, “Cost Of Employer Insurance Plans Surge In 2011,” Kaiser Health News, 9/27/11)

  • Cost Of Single Employee Coverage Grew 8 Percent According To The Survey. “Family plan premiums hit $15,073 on average, while coverage for single employees grew 8 percent to $5,429, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. (KHN is an editorially-independent program of the foundation.)” (Julie Appleby, “Cost Of Employer Insurance Plans Surge In 2011,” Kaiser Health News, 9/27/11)


PROMISE: President Obama Promised That “If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Will Be Able To Keep Your Health Care Plan. Period.” OBAMA: “So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage – they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: fix what’s broken and build on what works.” (President Barack Obama,Address To The American Medical Association, Chicago, IL, 6/15/09)

FAIL: Survey Found That Only 60 Percent Of Employers Offered Medical Coverage This Year, A 9 Percent Decrease From 2010. “Sixty percent of employers said they offered medical benefits this year, a decrease from 69 percent in 2010.” (Jeffrey Young, “Health-Benefit Costs Rise Most In Six Years,” Bloomberg, 9/27/11)

GALLUP: “The Percentage Of American Adults Who Get Their Health Insurance From An Employer Continues To Decline, Falling To 44.5% In The Third Quarter Of This Year.” (Elizabeth Mendes, “Employer-Based Health Insurance Continues To Trend Down,” Gallup, 11/11/11)

Businesses Will Continue To Scale Back Health Care Benefits For Employees To Handle Increasing Health Care Costs And Mandates From ObamaCare. “Governments and businesses have and will continue to cut back and/or reform their health coverage offerings to handle tough economic circumstances, rising health care costs, and requirements of the Affordable Care Act.” (Elizabeth Mendes, “Employer-Based Health Insurance Continues To Trend Down,” Gallup, 11/11/11)

  • The Wall Street Journal: “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in a March 2010 report, found that by 2019, about six million to seven million people who otherwise would have had access to coverage through their job won’t have it owing to the new law.” (Janet Adamy, “Study Sees Cuts to Health Plans,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/8/11)

30 Percent Of Employers “Definitely Or Probably” Plan To Drop Coverage According To A McKinsey Study. “While only 7% of employees will be forced to switch to subsidized-exchange programs, at least 30% of companies say they will ‘definitely or probably’ stop offering employer-sponsored coverage, according to the study published in McKinsey Quarterly.” (Russ Britt, “Firms Halting Coverage as Reform Starts: Survey 30% of Companies Say They’ll Stop Offering Health Plans,” Market Watch, 6/6/2011)

  • Companies That Plan To Drop Health Care Coverage Of Retirees Is More Than 25 Percent. “More than one-quarter of companies plan to discontinue retiree medical sponsorship in 2012 for at least one segment of current and/or future retirees.” (“16th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care,” Towers Watson, March 2011)


PROMISE: Obama: “This Legislation Will Also Lower Costs For Families And For Businesses And For The Federal Government, Reducing Our Deficit By Over $1 Trillion In The Next Two Decades. It Is Paid For, It Is Fiscally Responsible, And It Will Help Lift A Decades-Long Drag On Our Economy.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks On Signing The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act, Washington, D.C., 3/23/10)

FAIL: Health Care Spending To Hit $4.6 Trillion In 2020. “The nation’s health care tab is on track to hit $4.6 trillion in 2020, accounting for about $1 of every $5 in the economy, government number crunchers estimate in a report on Thursday …  Including government and private money, health care spending in 2020 will average $13,710 for every man, woman and child, says Medicare’s Office of the Actuary.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Health Tab To Hit $4.6 Trillion In 2020,” The Associated Press, 7/28/11)

  • ObamaCare To Increase Costs More Than Had It Never Been Enacted. “Despite President Obama’s promises to rein in health care costs as part of his reform bill, health spending nationwide is expected to rise more than if the sweeping legislation had never become law.  Total spending is projected to grow annually by 5.8 percent under Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act, according to a 10-year forecast by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released Thursday.  Without the ACA, spending would grow at a slightly slower rate of 5.7 percent annually.” (Paige Winfield Cunningham, “Health Care Law Won’t Rein In Costs, Study Says,” The Washington Times, 7/28/11)

Health Care Spending “Doesn’t Seem To Be Slowing Down.” “The report from Medicare economists and statisticians is an annual barometer of a trend that many experts say is unsustainable but doesn’t seem to be slowing down.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Health Tab To Hit $4.6 Trillion In 2020,” The Associated Press, 7/28/11)

  • CMS Chief Actuary Rick Foster: “If implemented as written, the health care law will ‘create a whole new world of health care spending,’” (Brett Norman, “CMS: Health Law Will Lead To Rise In Spending,” Politico, 7/28/11)

Health Care Spending Will Continue “Gobble Up” U.S. Resources. “The United States will find little relief from its bleak long-term fiscal outlook so long as growing federal health care and retirement programs gobble up more and more of the country’s resources, said a new economic report issued on Wednesday.” (Donna Smith & Richard Cowan, “CBO Sees Government Benefits Swamping Economy,” Reuters, 6/22/11)


Obama Abandoned ObamaCare’s CLASS “Gimmick”

The Obama Administration Pulled The Plug On The Community Living Assistance Services And Supports (CLASS) Program. “The Obama administration says it is unable to go forward with a major program in the president’s signature health care overhaul law — a new long-term care insurance plan. Officials said Friday the long-term care program has critical design flaws that can’t be fixed to make it financially self-sustaining.” (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Obama Pulls Plug On Part Of Health Overhaul Law,” The Associated Press, 10/14/11)

CLASS Was To Account For 40 Percent Of The Savings In ObamaCare. “By scrapping the CLASS Act, HHS is losing about 40 percent of the savings healthcare reform was supposed to generate. The Congressional Budget Office’s most recent estimates projected $210 billion in total deficit reduction from the healthcare law, $86 billion of which would have come from CLASS.” (Sam Baker, “Obama’s HHS Ends Controversial Program In Health Reform Law,” The Hill’s “Health Watch,” 10/14/11)

Despite Knowledge That CLASS Was “Designed To Fail,” Democrats “Went Ahead Anyway.” “The emails, obtained by a joint Republican panel led by Sen. John Thune and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, reveal that the administration knew the program was designed to fail and went ahead anyway.” (Joseph Rago, “GOP Vets an ObamaCare Program,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/19/11)

Medicare Scorekeeper Rick Foster Predicted The “Program Would Collapse In Short Order And Require Significant Federal Subsidies To Continue.” “‘Thirty-six years of actuarial experience,’ Mr. Foster wrote to the Medicare legislative affairs office, ‘lead me to believe that this program would collapse in short order and require significant federal subsidies to continue.’ He later wrote that ‘I assume you’ve conveyed these concerns to the staff but, if not, let me know and we can express these concerns in a memo.’” (Joseph Rago, “GOP Vets an ObamaCare Program,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/19/11)

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “I Do Not See A Viable Path Forward For CLASS Implementation At This Time.” (Alex Wayne & Drew Armstrong, “Obama Ends Kennedy-Backed Long-Term Care Program As Too Costly To Sustain,” Bloomberg, 10/15/11)

CLASS “Was Amongst The Worst Accounting Gimmicks Used To Make It Seem As If National Health Care Would Reduce The Deficit.” “Known by the acronym CLASS, the government-backstopped insurance for nursing homes, home health aides and the like was among the worst accounting gimmicks used to make it seem as if national health care would reduce the deficit.” (Joseph Rago, “GOP Vets an ObamaCare Program,” The Wall Street Journal, 9/19/2011)

And ObamaCare’s High-Risk Pools Failed To “Meet Expectations”

ObamaCare’s High-Risk Pools Are “Failing To Meet Expectations.” “Democrats’ healthcare reform law set aside $5 billion to help people with pre-existing conditions obtain affordable coverage before insurance exchanges go online in 2014. The program has come under criticism for failing to meet expectations, with fewer than 22,000 people enrolled as of April 30, far short of the 200,000 to 350,000 that had been predicted.” (Julian Pecquet, “Report:  States Better Than Feds In Getting Sick People Enrolled In High-Risk Pools,” The Hill’s “Health Watch,” 8/26/11)

The PCIP Plan Was Estimated To Insure 375,000 But Only 30,395 People Have Signed Up. “Since its creation in July 2010, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan has insured 30,395 people, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the program. Officials initially estimated the initiative could reach as many as 375,000 by the end of 2010. There are up to 25 million uninsured Americans who have pre-existing conditions like heart disease or diabetes.” (Arthur Delaney, “PCIP Enrollment Far, Far Below Expectations In First Year,” The Huffington Post, 10/5/11)

The Program Has Proven Much Costlier Than Originally Estimated. “A temporary program created by the 2010 health care reform law has provided health insurance to fewer people than expected. Yet at the same time, in one big state, the program has turned out to be much costlier than expected.” (Arthur Delaney, “Health Care Reform Program Much Costlier Than Expected In California,” Huffington Post, 11/29/11)

  • For California, The Program Has Cost “Three Times As Much Per Enrollee Than Previously Estimated.” “But California’s PCIP has turned out to cost three times as much per enrollee than previously estimated. The state’s Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which administers the plan, initially figured it would have to pay $1,000 a month in claims per enrollee. New data show claims cost $3,100 per member each month, meaning that the government will have to cap California’s enrollment at 6,800 unless more funds are made available. As of October, 5,290 people are signed up in the state.” (Arthur Delaney, “Health Care Reform Program Much Costlier Than Expected In California,” Huffington Post, 11/29/11)


ObamaCare Created The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) “To Come Up With Ways To Cut Medicare Spending If It Grows Too Fast.” “That’s the job description for the 15 members of the Independent Payment Advisory Board — the new panel created by President Barack Obama’s health care law to come up with ways to cut Medicare spending if it grows too fast.” (David Nather, “Medicare Cost-Cutting Job Could Be Worst in D.C.,” Politico, 5/14/11)

With IPAB, Obama Is Not Reducing Costs But “Limiting Or Denying Care.” “His plan: Use the Independent Payment Advisory Board to limit care and squeeze doctors and hospitals. In other words, he’s not reducing costs; he is limiting or denying care.” (Jennifer Rubin, “Obama’s Reverse Course On The Debt,” The Washington Post’s “Right Turn Blog,” 9/19/11)

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Admits That IPAB Threatens Seniors’ Access To Certain Procedures. “‘If Congress accepted the recommendations and made the decision that cuts in dialysis were appropriate,’ Sebelius replied, ‘I assume there could be some providers who would decide that would not be a service they would any longer deliver…’” (Kathleen Sebelius, House Energy And Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, Testimony, 7/13/11, 0:57:23/4:54:54)


Twelve Democrats Have Signed On To Repeal IPAB. (H.R. 452, Introduced 1/26/11)

The Tampa Tribune: “Bipartisan Consensus … That IPAB Is A Mistake.” “There is bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that IPAB is a mistake. Physicians groups don’t like it, hospital lobbies don’t like it, and even the American Medical Association, whose support helped pass ObamaCare into law, has called for its repeal. Some Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, have signed on to Tennessee Republican U.S. Rep. Phil Roe’s repeal bill.” (Editorial, “Return Control To The Patient,” The Tampa  Tribune, 10/15/11)


Polls Show That Voters Don’t Support ObamaCare, One Of Obama’s “Signature Accomplishments.” “Heading into his re-election campaign, the president faces a conflicted public that does not support his steering of the economy, the most dominant issue for Americans, or his reforms to health care, one of his signature accomplishments.” (Ken Thomas and Jennifer Agiesta, “AP-GfK Poll: More Than Half Say Obama Should Lose,” The Associated Press, 12/16/11)

Half Of Americans Oppose ObamaCare While Only 29 Percent Support It. “The poll found unpopularity for last year’s health care reform bill, one of Obama’s major accomplishments. About half of the respondents oppose the health care law and support for it dipped to 29 percent from 36 percent in June.” (Ken Thomas and Jennifer Agiesta, “AP-GfK Poll: More Than Half Say Obama Should Lose,” The Associated Press, 12/16/11)

36 Percent Of The People Surveyed “Strongly Favor Eliminating” ObamaCare. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal, 1000 A, MoE 3.1%, 12/7-11/11)

“Only About A Quarter Of Independents Back The Law.” (Ken Thomas and Jennifer Agiesta, “AP-Gfk Poll: More Than Half Say Obama Should Lose,” The Associated Press, 12/16/11)

Even Among Democrats, The Health Care Law Has “Tepid Support” With Just 50 Percent Expressing Support. “Even among Democrats, the health care law has tepid support. Fifty percent of Democrats supported the health care law, compared with 59 percent of Democrats last June.” (Ken Thomas and Jennifer Agiesta, “AP-Gfk Poll: More Than Half Say Obama Should Lose,” The Associated Press, 12/16/11)

And Doctors  Are Calling Obamacare A “Step In The Wrong Direction”

Deloitte Poll Finds That Doctors Are Mixed On Their Views Of ObamaCare With 44% Surveyed Agreed That ObamaCare Is “A Step In The Wrong Direction.” “Doctors’ feelings about the health-care overhaul law passed last year are about as mixed as their patients’, research released today shows. Some 44% of doctors said the law was ‘a good start,’ according to a survey carried out by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions consulting group. Another 44% agreed that the law was ‘a step in the wrong direction.’” (Louise Radnofsky, “Survey: Doctors Have Mixed Feelings About Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog,” 12/13/11)

  • Even Surgical Specialists, Along With Other Doctors Strongly Oppose ObamaCare. “Surgical specialists were angriest about the law — 60% of those participating in the survey said they opposed it, compared with 39% of primary-care providers and 36% of other specialists.” (Louise Radnofsky, “Survey: Doctors Have Mixed Feelings About Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal’s“Health Blog,” 12/13/11)

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Perry: Wall Street bailout biggest theft in US

MANCHESTER, Iowa (AP) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling the Wall Street bailout “the single biggest act of theft in American history.

Campaigning in Iowa on Monday, Perry sought to cast himself as an outsider who would cut Washington’s influence. He painted Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, as status quo politicians who should worry Republicans voters.

Perry says the country needs a president who understands Main Street and is not beholden to Wall Street.

With just two weeks before Iowans begin assessing the GOP field, Perry says the values he learned in rural Texas have shaped his views. He says “no one was going to bail out a dry-land cotton farmer” and no one should have bailed out Wall Street during the 2008 financial crisis.

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South Carolina Primary Up For Grabs, Gingrich Making Big Play

By Jim Davenport and Philip Elliott

For three decades, the Republican who won South Carolina’s presidential primary has also won the GOP nomination.

That record helps explain why Newt Gingrich, a self-described lover of history, is working more aggressively than any of his competitors to organize activists and volunteers ahead of the Jan. 21 primary, essentially pinning his candidacy on a state filled with Christian conservatives.

His chief rival, Mitt Romney, is approaching South Carolina tentatively. He invested huge sums in the state in the 2008 presidential race only to bail just days before the vote when it became clear he would lose big to Arizona Sen. John McCain. Many voters couldn’t overlook their skepticism of Romney’s Mormon faith and his reversals on some cultural issues.

The others in the 2012 race are treating South Carolina as an afterthought while they bank their candidacies on one of the two states that vote first, Iowa and New Hampshire.

Enter Gingrich, who’s enjoying a burst of momentum after a summer campaign meltdown.

“I do believe South Carolina will be the decisive primary,” the former House speaker from Georgia told Republicans who packed a theater in Newberry last week. “If we win here, I believe I will be the nominee.”

But victory in the state won’t come easy for the thrice-married Gingrich.

He has acknowledged having an extramarital affair, an issue that may turn off Christian conservatives who hold great sway in South Carolina. Gingrich, a recent convert to Catholicism, frequently makes a point of talking about his close partnership with third wife Callista.

He has advocated a “humane” approach to immigration that would let longtime residents work toward citizenship. Critics have labeled that as “amnesty” for millions of foreigners who are illegally in the United States, and that’s another potent issue in the state.

Winning in South Carolina would be even more difficult if he were to come in with a 0-2 record, losing in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Perhaps for all those reasons, if not in spite of them, Gingrich is building the largest presidential organization in the state. He’s sinking more into South Carolina than he has in any other early voting state as he seeks to capitalize on his rebound after a troubled campaign start when virtually his entire staff quit.

He has opened five offices and hired nine people, the most of any of the Republicans.

In early nominating states like South Carolina, Gingrich’s campaign was meeting with former aides and advisers to Herman Cain, who dropped out of the GOP race Saturday. While Cain’s endorsement remains up for grabs, Gingrich and his rivals were looking to schedule one-on-one meetings this week with the former pizza executive.

South Carolina voters are starting to notice Gingrich, and at least some like what they see.

Virginia Coker of Hartsville attended a town hall-style meeting Wednesday night at the Newberry Opera House that doubled as a fundraiser for the state party. She was hardly a fan before Gingrich took the stage and answered more than a dozen questions from the party faithful. She left a convert.

“He’s going to be the nominee,” Coker predicted.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor in his second presidential bid, is working quietly to build an organization in the state. He hasn’t visited much and has only three paid workers in South Carolina. But Romney has done the groundwork for a campaign that could quickly be up and running if he chooses to compete in the state. Unlike Gingrich, Romney has millions in the bank to start airing television ads that could affect the race.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas are the only candidates who have aired television ads in the state, though that was expected to change in the coming weeks.

GOP activists have yet to fall in line behind a single candidate, giving hope to candidates languishing at the back of the pack, such as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Bachmann has a lean operation and is keeping much of her focus on Iowa. She could tap into a network of evangelical Christians, if she performs well in Iowa first.

To some, Santorum appears to be the candidate most likely to engineer a surprise.

“Crisis pregnancy centers are strongly behind Senator Santorum,” said Karen Floyd, a former South Carolina GOP chairwoman, noting this powerful and wide network of anti-abortion voters who show up on Election Day.

Alexia Newman, who runs a Spartanburg pregnancy center, has been rounding up Santorum support for months because of his strong conservative positions on social issues, even though the economy is taking center stage in the race.

“There’s really only one or two candidates really bringing up the debate,” Newman said.

Still, the hurdles are high for those candidates.

Consider that conservative Christians who talk kindly of Santorum also finish their sentences with doubt about his ability to capture the nomination.

“There’s probably as much of a chance of the Rapture happening by election time as there is for Rick to win the nomination,” said Harry Kibler an activist who runs RINO Hunt, a group that criticizes “Republicans in Name Only.”

As for Gingrich, the next two months will tell whether he can overcome his hurdles — and make history himself.

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Elder: Hey, Occupy Wall Street; Wealth Isn’t a Civil Right

By Larry Elder

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Everything demanded by the Occupy Wall Streeters — whether “free” health care, a “world-class education” or a “guaranteed living-wage income regardless of employment” status — costs money.

When a CEO makes a lot of money in the private sector, it is because his company — rightly or wrongly — values that CEO’s services at that price. To say it is “not right” that a CEO makes (fill in the blank) times more than the janitor is to say it is not right for the marketplace to set wages. If the marketplace ought not set wages, then who or what should?

Most people work for the private sector, which cannot exist without profit.

Is the OWS objection to bank bailouts on the grounds that government should not protect businesses from the consequences of their actions? Or is the objection that bailouts should be for everybody?

We already have a huge welfare state, with entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — the biggest expenditure of the federal budget. Europe’s welfare state is larger, with a slightly smaller “gap” between the rich and the poor. Yet its citizens also take to the street to denounce inequality. Puzzling, isn’t it?

No one can legally ask about the immigration status of a public school student, so Americans and non-Americans, including illegal aliens, receive a K-12 public education at taxpayers’ expense.

Per-pupil spending for public education increased 49 percent from 1985 to 2005. Community colleges are cheap, and many states guarantee a junior college graduate admission to a public four-year college.

The physical advantage that men possess over women is an increasingly small advantage — given the decline of labor-intensive jobs and the technology that makes it easier for machines to do hard, dangerous, repetitive work.

There are more tenants than landlords, which thus exemplifies the stupidity of “rent-control” laws. Rent-control laws disproportionately benefit the non-poor because the elite pull strings, work the system and are better connected than the non-poor. All of this matters when items of scarcity (in this case, apartments) are dispensed by government dictates rather than through prices.

Government possesses no money of its own. It raises money by taxing, by borrowing or by printing.

The bigger the government, the smaller the private sector.

Individuals can spend their money more wisely, efficiently and more humanely than can government.

People value and spend their money more wisely when they acquire it by their own efforts — also known as work. There are real-world, direct consequences on you for squandering your own money, as opposed to when government squanders the money of its people.

Government employees enjoy job security unknown in the private sector and are often paid more than their private-sector counterparts. Greed?

People spend their money more humanely because they won’t waste as much of it. Consider that to deal with “the poor,” the federal government has a vast array of agencies, programs and policies. But only about 30 cents of each dollar designated for the poor actually gets in the hands of the recipient. Contrast this with the United Way, Salvation Army and other private charities where 90 cents of each dollar donated gets to a beneficiary.

Americans agree that some people — whether faultless or irresponsible — need assistance, if only occasionally. The only issue is (SET ITAL) how (END ITAL) they will be helped.

Americans are the most generous people of any industrial nation. We give more of our time and money than do the Germans, British and Japanese. Note that those states have a bigger public sector than we do. Maybe they feel they gave at the office.

The U.S. Constitution isn’t just any ordinary document. It is the contract between the government and its people, the ones who empower government and who — once upon a time — expected the Constitution to restrain government, not empower it.

Government’s involvement in housing caused the meltdown — not greedy Wall Street bankers. The same Occupy mindset caused the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, placed on human growth hormones by President Clinton, who pushed banks into lending to poor credit risks and allowed Wall Street to play with taxpayers’ money.

There is no bad guy. It’s not the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist or the Maltese Falcon. There is no evil entity, snorting steam from his nose, standing in an office full of Nazi memorabilia, staring out the window with the cityscape view, laughing: “Ha! Ha! Ha! Pretty soon, all this will be mine. Mine, I say!”

Life has never been so good, with so many choices, with so many more conveniences, so much less danger of dying from disease, with so many choices for entertainment and affordable travel.

When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul. But at some point Peter begins to feel taken advantage of.

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Republican Candidates and Obama Find Common Ground: China


China’s swift economic rise, and a presidential election dominated by fears of a declining American economy, have produced a rare convergence: Republican contenders talking tough about China, and a president who is already getting tough on it.

As President Obama returned Sunday from a trip to Asia that was filled with signs that the United States plans to be a counterweight to Beijing’s growing influence in that region, Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates have stepped up their denunciation of China’s trade practices, casting the country as predatory and a culprit for lost jobs at home.

Given the bleak economic backdrop, China’s emergence as an election issue is no big surprise. But it is an unusual case in which domestic politics are playing to Mr. Obama’s diplomatic advantage, allowing him to project to China the picture of a country united in its resolve.

Still, the intensity of the American pushback — in Congress, as well as on the campaign trail and during Mr. Obama’s travels — could have volatile and damaging consequences for the relationship between the two countries, regardless of who wins the White House.

Mr. Romney, diplomats and other experts said, could be haunted by his harsh claims that China steals American technology and hacks into its computers, and his threat to declare it a currency manipulator on his first day in the Oval Office. As candidates, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both attacked China, only to have to make amends after bitterness in Beijing hindered their efforts to work with Chinese leaders.

Mr. Obama carefully avoided going after China when he ran in 2008, and he has sought to balance criticism of Beijing’s economic policies with pledges of global partnership. But experts and former officials said the president would be pressured, by the Republicans and by his own political advisers, to take a harder line this time around.

“He has not risen to the bait to try to outbid Romney rhetorically in terms of the security relationship,” said Jeffrey A. Bader, who was Mr. Obama’s chief adviser on China until last April. But, he added, “If you look at what he has said on economic issues, it’s hard edged.”

At an economic summit meeting in Hawaii last week, Mr. Obama said that China was now a “grown-up” economy, and that its leaders needed to start behaving that way — singling out Beijing’s artificially depressed currency, which undercuts exports from the United States. The American people, he declared, “understandably, feel that enough is enough.”

On Saturday, on the Indonesian island of Bali, Mr. Obama threw his weight behind neighbors of China who are disputing Beijing’s aggressive maritime claims in the mineral-rich South China Sea.

Chinese leaders were rattled by the flurry of American initiatives during the president’s trip, which also included reaffirming an alliance with the Philippines, opening a historic diplomatic channel to Myanmar and agreeing to deploy 2,500 Marines to Australia.

The American election adds to their confusion, China experts said, because they are uncertain how much of Mr. Obama’s stance is driven by domestic political calculations.

For all that, the president’s criticism has been far more measured than that of Mr. Romney and other Republicans, who excoriated China at a debate in South Carolina that occurred just as Mr. Obama was greeting the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, in Hawaii.

“We can’t just sit back and let China run all over us,” Mr. Romney said, calling for tariffs on Chinese goods. “People say, well, you’ll start a trade war. There’s one going on right now, folks.”

For Mr. Romney, a wealthy business executive with free-market credentials, bashing Beijing is a rare chance to play the populist and appeal to working-class voters, many of whom do blame China and other Asian nations for sucking away jobs with cheaper labor and production costs.

Not wanting to be outflanked, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas likened China to the Soviet Union. “I happen to think that the Communist Chinese government will end up on the ash heap of history,” he said.

While Chinese officials are sophisticated enough to understand the posturing in Republican primaries, Kenneth G. Lieberthal, a China adviser to President Bill Clinton, said that on a recent visit to Beijing, several of them expressed worry to him about the tone of the campaign. China is in its own delicate leadership transition and has a restive military eager to flex its muscles.

“This kind of rhetoric really helps the nationalist and conservative wings of the Chinese government,” said Cheng Li, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “To reinforce the hard-liners could lead not only to economic tensions, but a military confrontation.”

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