Politics: White House 2012

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May 18, 2011, 8 a.m.

Ex-Rep. Nath­an Deal (R) “paid fed­er­al in­come taxes equal to” just 2% of his in­come in ‘06 and ‘07, “but won’t ex­plain how he did it.” Aides to Deal “said they will neither re­lease ad­di­tion­al tax doc­u­ments nor an­swer more ques­tions about the can­did­ate’s per­son­al fin­ances.”

Want More On This Race? Check out the Hot­line Dash­board for a com­pre­hens­ive run­down of this race, in­clud­ing stor­ies, polls, ads, FEC num­bers, and more!

In “every oth­er year,” the Deals “gave” the gov’t on av­er­age 17% of their ad­jus­ted gross in­come” or 26% of their “tax­able in­come” (Judd, At­lanta Journ­al-Con­sti­tu­tion, 10/10).

Com­mon Cause GA head Bill Boz­arth: “Rep. Deal may very well be our next gov­ernor and I be­lieve the people of Geor­gia would be much more com­fort­able trust­ing him in that job if he was will­ing to give us the an­swer to these ques­tions be­fore we voted for him.”

Ex-Gov. Roy Barnes (D): “Noth­ing matches up. When some­body pays $2,000 in taxes on $200,000 in in­come, something is wrong.” Deal spokes­per­son Bri­an Robin­son: “Nath­an has paid every cent he owes in taxes, and he’s had three ac­count­ants re­view all of his taxes to as­sure that every line of his tax forms is cor­rect” (Mc­Caf­frey, AP, 10/10).

The Money Trail

Barnes “is re­ly­ing heav­ily on con­tri­bu­tions” from atty. He “re­por­ted tak­ing in” $2.8M in the 3rdQ and “spend­ing” $2.3M. He has $1.6M CoH. Deal “raised” about $2.7M and “spent” $1.3M. He’s “sit­ting on more than” $1.7 CoH.

More than a “quarter of the money” Barnes raised “came from” at­tys and law firms (Red­mon/Shein­in, At­lanta Journ­al-Con­sti­tu­tion, 10/8).

Fam­ily First

Barnes’s camp “said the can­did­ate would can­cel all ap­pear­ances” 10/11 “to at­tend to a daugh­ter, Al­lis­on Barnes Salt­er, and two grand­chil­dren in­volved in a head-on col­li­sion” (Gal­lo­way, “Polit­ic­al In­sider”, At­lanta Journ­al-Con­sti­tu­tion, 10/10).

Po­lice “be­lieve ex­cess­ive speed may have caused a crash” that left a Cobb Co. teen­ager “in crit­ic­al con­di­tion” and “in­jured” Salt­er and “two grand­daugh­ters.” The teen “struck the front” of the vehicle op­er­ated by Salt­er with the Porsche Box­ter he drove (Stevens, At­lanta Journ­al-Con­sti­tu­tion, 10/11).

Barnes: “Mar­ie and I are so grate­ful for all your thoughts and pray­ers. Our pray­ers con­tin­ue to be with the oth­er fam­il­ies in­volved. I’m fo­cused on my fam­ily right now, but will be back on the trail to­mor­row. Thank you” (Twit­ter, 10/11).

Robin­son: “As fel­low par­ents and grand­par­ents, Nath­an and Sandra are keep­ing the Barnes fam­ily in their thoughts and pray­ers to­night. They are saddened to hear of the in­jur­ies and hope for speedy re­cov­er­ies for all in­volved” (re­lease, 10/11).

The gas-price war could gobble up Pres­id­ent Obama’s en­tire green-en­ergy agenda, be­cause it may de­vour his pres­id­ency. Gobble and de­vour may be a bit alarm­ist, I grant you. But polls this week — and White House be­ha­vi­or — be­speak deep-seated, le­git­im­ate con­cern.

Last month, the CBS News/New York Times poll re­gistered a 50 per­cent ap­prov­al rat­ing for Obama, the highest since last May and only the second time since April 2010 that he had hit 50 per­cent or high­er. Now, the same poll shows the pres­id­ent’s ap­prov­al rat­ing at 41 per­cent. Obama’s num­bers sank 9 points even as poll re­spond­ents said that things were mov­ing in the right dir­ec­tion (the right-track num­ber jumped from 24 per­cent to 29 per­cent). The ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll showed a sim­il­ar down­ward pat­tern but a smal­ler or­der of mag­nitude. In one month, Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing in that sur­vey fell from 50 per­cent to 46 per­cent. In both, rat­ings for his hand­ling of the eco­nomy fell. In the ABC/Post sur­vey, ap­prov­al tumbled from 44 per­cent to 38 per­cent (with a 59 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al rat­ing), and in the CBS/Times poll, it fell from 44 per­cent to 39 per­cent (with a 54 per­cent dis­ap­prov­al rat­ing).

These sud­den re­versals, in what the White House dis­misses as out­lier polls, erase much of the steady gain in gen­er­ic ap­prov­al and sup­port for Obama’s eco­nom­ic policies since Septem­ber. That’s when the White House mes­sage shif­ted away from Re­pub­lic­an turf on debts and de­fi­cits to­ward jobs and high­er taxes on the wealthy.

The pop­u­list wave that Obama was rid­ing ap­pears to have been de­voured by the un­der­tow of high­er gas prices — des­pite hy­per­act­ive at­tempts to shield his pres­id­ency from the polit­ic­al back­lash.

Some Re­pub­lic­ans de­light in Obama’s gas-price pre­dic­a­ment, re­mem­ber­ing how he skewered Pres­id­ent Bush and GOP nom­in­ee John Mc­Cain dur­ing the 2008 cam­paign. On April 25, 2008, Obama stood in front of gas pumps in In­di­ana­pol­is and de­cried the hard­ships that high­er prices ($3.43 per gal­lon in In­di­ana­pol­is at the time) were in­flict­ing on middle-class fam­il­ies. “Few costs, ob­vi­ously, are rising faster than the ones people pay at the pump,” Obama said. “To most Amer­ic­ans, they are a huge prob­lem, bor­der­ing on a crisis.”

Fast-for­ward to this year. On Jan. 23, the av­er­age price of a gal­lon of gas in In­di­ana­pol­is was $3.19. On March 13, it was $3.98 — a 25 per­cent in­crease in 50 days. That isn’t bor­der­ing on a crisis. That’s a full-blown crisis.

Pan­ic with­in the White House is palp­able. Obama gran­ted in­ter­views on Monday to loc­al TV af­fil­i­ates from Cin­cin­nati; Or­lando, Fla.; Des Moines, Iowa; and Pitt­s­burgh. These are not only big swing-state cit­ies, each has also suffered alarm­ing price spikes. Here’s the tale of the tape from Gas­Buddy.com: Since Jan. 23, gas prices are up 67 cents in Cin­cin­nati, 40 cents in Or­lando, 59 cents in Des Moines, and 36 cents in Pitt­s­burgh.

Price pres­sure isn’t all that Obama faces, and, by it­self, it can­not ex­plain all of his ap­prov­al-rat­ing woes. It ap­pears that something deep­er is at work here, and the way the pres­id­ent deals with it will tell the na­tion a great deal about his en­ergy philo­sophy and his polit­ic­al strength.

In the 2008 gas-pump speech in In­di­ana­pol­is, Obama said, “There is no easy an­swer to our en­ergy crisis. Any real solu­tion isn’t go­ing to come overnight.” This is pre­cisely what he is say­ing now. Give him cred­it for con­sist­ency. What Obama prom­ised in 2008 was a $150 bil­lion in­vest­ment in “the green-en­ergy sec­tor” that would cre­ate “5 mil­lion new jobs.”

The ver­dict on these in­vest­ments is not yet in, but the pres­id­ent faces a danger that gas prices could be­come the proxy for voter an­ti­pathy to­ward his over­all “green jobs” agenda. Some of the evid­ence for Obama is troub­ling.

The eco­nom­ic-stim­u­lus pack­age de­voted $90 bil­lion to green jobs. A White House pro­gress re­port re­leased on Monday coun­ted 224,500 jobs cre­ated. That’s a far cry from a $150 bil­lion in­vest­ment cre­at­ing 5 mil­lion jobs. The Chevy Volt, its $48,700 stick­er price sub­sid­ized by fed­er­al tax­pay­ers to the tune of $7,500, has sus­pen­ded pro­duc­tion. Stock prices for non­sub­sid­ized elec­tric-vehicle com­pan­ies — such as Li-ion Mo­tors, T3 Mo­tion, and ZAP — are down sharply.

That’s not all. The fail­ure of sol­ar-cell maker Solyn­dra and two oth­er green-en­ergy firms, En­er 1 (lith­i­um-ion bat­ter­ies) and Beacon Power (en­ergy stor­age), col­lect­ively cost tax­pay­ers $696 mil­lion. A $500 mil­lion green-jobs train­ing pro­gram now un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion in the House has vastly un­der­per­formed. The Labor De­part­ment’s in­spect­or gen­er­al found that the pro­gram placed about 10 per­cent of the job seekers it ori­gin­ally en­vi­sioned.

In all of these cases, the White House says that today’s spend­ing and sub­sid­iz­ing will pay off in the fu­ture. Fur­ther, the ad­min­is­tra­tion ar­gues that Re­pub­lic­ans’ hos­til­ity to green tech­no­lo­gies will soon re­leg­ate them to “flat-earth-so­ci­ety” status. Obama has said that the coun­try has no choice but to catch up on years of neg­lect in fin­an­cing green start-ups — some of which might very well fail — to close the green-tech­no­logy gap with our glob­al com­pet­it­ors.  

That ar­gu­ment will get its stern­est test ever in the fiery de­bate about gas prices. Make no mis­take: What Obama says and does on gas prices will de­term­ine the fate of his green-en­ergy agenda “¦ and pos­sibly his pres­id­ency.

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