Treas. Frank Caprio (D) on 10/7 “criticized” ex-GOP Sen. Lincoln Chafee (I) over “Chafee’s acknowledgment that his old Senate” camp cmte owed about $18.4K “in back taxes and fees due to a misunderstanding of tax regulations by his” camp treasurers.
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Caprio “said the tax problem called into question Chafee’s leadership and the people he would bring with him to the Statehouse if elected.”
Chafee deputy mgr Mike Trainor, 10/8 said “that Chafee doesn’t want to raise taxes, but the reality is the state is facing” a $300M to $400M “deficit ‘that demands thoughtful and immediate attention.’”
Trainor: “He’s had the courage to step up to the plate, unlike any of his competitors, and say, in addition to cutting expenses and reducing costs, we need new revenue” (AP, 10/9).
Caprio: “He is asking Rhode Islanders to trust him, telling him that he wants them to pay more in taxes, when he owes back taxes. It raises a lot of questions on what kind of leader he would be” (Edgar, Providence Journal, 10/9).
The results of the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday confirm previous survey data that show the Republican Party has suffered brand damage over the past few months. The GOP’s self-absorption and obsession with pleasing its conservative base in presidential candidates’ rhetoric and in policy initiatives at the congressional, gubernatorial, and state legislative levels have taken a toll. While tea party folks like to boast that they provided the GOP with its majority in 2010, I didn’t notice many of them voting to put Nancy Pelosi in as House speaker in 2006 or to elect Barack Obama president in 2008. In the Bible, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. In politics, it is pretty much independents who giveth and taketh away.
In one telling finding, NBC News/WSJ pollsters Peter Hart (a Democrat) and Bill McInturff (a Republican) asked, “Which political party do you think currently does a better job of appealing to people who are not among its hard-core supporters — the Democratic Party or the Republican Party?” A whopping 55 percent said Democrats appeal more to those outside their base. This is compared with only 26 percent who said that was true of the Republican Party. The survey also showed a continued higher trend of negative ratings for the GOP that started a few months ago. It is further evidence that nothing kills success like excess.
The survey, conducted Feb. 29-March 3 among 800 adults nationwide, found that 33 percent of Americans thought the country was headed in the right direction, while 58 percent said it was off on the wrong track. While this is a bad set of numbers, the right direction ran in the 17-to-19 percent range in August, October, and November. The wrong track was in the 73-74 percent range. The right direction began turning up in December to 22 percent, and it rose to 30 percent in January, before the most recent 33 percent. The wrong track dropped to 69 percent and 61 percent in December and January, respectively, before the current 58 percent.
President Obama’s job-approval rating, which had been at 44 percent in three consecutive NBC News/WSJ polls in August, October, and November, edged up to 46 percent in December. It was 48 percent in January. Now it is up to 50 percent in the new survey. The disapproval rates dropped from 51 percent for three months to 48 percent, then to 46 percent, and now to 45 percent. The Gallup Organization’s national tracking survey conducted March 1-3 put Obama’s job-approval rating at 48 percent, with 45 percent disapproval, although those numbers reversed in the March 2-4 track.
For all of the public attention paid to the general-election trial-heat figures, once you get well within a year before an election, the job-approval rating is a far better predictor of how an incumbent president is going to fare. The 48-50 percent approval range is the minimum that an incumbent wants to see to have a reasonable expectation of winning reelection. In 2004, President George W. Bush had a 48 percent approval rating in his final, preelection Gallup poll. He squeaked by Sen. John Kerry with a 51 percent to 48 percent victory.
An improving economic picture and self-inflicted Republican wounds have combined to boost Democratic fortunes right now. Quantifying how much things have changed, the Wall Street economic consulting firm ISI Group records how many positive and negative economic developments occur each week. The firm found that in the period from the week of May 23, 2011, through the week of Oct. 3, 2011, there was more negative than positive economic news in 16 out of 20 weeks. Since the week of Oct. 10, 2011, however, we now have had 22 weeks in a row of more positive news.
To be sure, this economy is enormously fragile, with dangerous landmines — including rising oil prices and a recession in Europe — ahead. But all you can judge is the here and now, which is a lot better than just four months ago. The effect of better economic news on President Obama’s numbers, along with the brand damage Republicans have been inflicting on themselves and likely nominee Mitt Romney, have probably boosted Democratic hopes artificially high and depressed the value of the GOP stock.
Based more on “micro” race-by-race developments, The Cook Political Report has adjusted its current forecast from a net gain of between three and six seats for Republicans in the Senate to a likely gain of between three and five. It could drop to a two-to-five range, depending upon who ends up running for the newly open Republican Senate seat being vacated by Maine’s Olympia Snowe. In the House, we’ve adjusted our forecast from somewhere between a wash and a net Democratic gain of 10 seats to, now, a Democratic gain of between five and 15 seats. That still would leave Democrats short of the 25 seats they need to win a majority.
It’s worth reminding folks that there is an ebb and flow to politics. We may just be at a pro-Democratic ebb at this point. Eight months, though, is a long time to go.
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"Even as he acknowledged the importance of an open internet, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday set his telecom agency on a course to scrap the tough, broad net neutrality protections imposed by the Obama administration. During a major speech in Washington, D.C., Pai outlined the need for a total revision of existing federal rules that seek to prevent companies like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon from blocking or slowing down web content, including the movie or music offerings from their competitors." Separately, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie that the Clinton Administration "basically got it right when it came to digital infrastructure. We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."
The White House on Wednesday laid out its plan for tax reform, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it would be "the biggest tax cut and the largest tax reform in the history of our country." The tax code would be broken down into just three tax brackets, with the highest personal income tax rate cut from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. The plan would also slash the tax rate on corporations and small businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent. "The White House plan is a set of principles with few details, but it’s designed to be the starting point of a major push to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive tax reform package this year," said National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement today established the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE), as called for in a presidential executive order from January. The new office's website states that its staff "will be guided by a singular, straightforward mission—to ensure victims and their families have access to releasable information about a perpetrator and to offer assistance explaining the immigration removal process."