State Rep. Nikki Haley (R) and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D) “are each alleging that the other isn’t coming clean with voters about outside income, but state ethics law doesn’t require nearly as much disclosure as either campaign might suggest.”
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The SC GOP 10/11 “nicked Sheheen by saying his income for legal work wasn’t disclosed and he should reveal who his clients are and how much his law firm makes.” State Ethics Commission exec. dir. Herb Hayden: “As far as I can tell, Sheheen and Haley both have disclosed everything that the law requires.”
A Sheheen TV ad, on Haley: “Yet she hid a $40,000 contract she got because of her legislative position.” The claim “falls short because nothing in the state’s ethics law required Haley to disclose that income.”
Sheheen spokesperson Trav Robertson “said the ad is on the mark because Haley claimed to have disclosed all of her income during” a GOP debate in June. But she was never asked “specifically about her ethics filings and Haley noted that all of her income had been disclosed, including through income tax returns” (Davenport, AP, 10/11).
Sheheen: “She flat-out broke the law. We can’t have that in a governor again” (Bell, Greenville News, 10/12).
SC GOP Chair Karen Floyd: “(Sheheen) has for months harped on Nikki Haley for not voluntarily reporting income that she is not even required to disclose, yet today we find out that he is guilty of far worse.” SC GOP exec. dir. Joel Sawyer: “Our understanding is that if the firm is making money in front of the state and he is a partner, then he should disclose any income that he makes in front of the state.”
Senate Ethics Committee Chair Wes Hayes, a GOPer: “We think he’s probably going beyond what he absolutely has to do” (AP, 10/11).
The Widow Make Her
Late ex-Gov. Carroll Campbell’s (R) widow Iris Campbell “endorsed” Haley 10/11 “while” Sheheen “outlined to a Columbia civic group why he was a better choice to pick up Campbell’s legacy.”
Iris, on Haley: “She has stayed focused when she has been shot at from every angle. She’s one tough lady.” Haley, on Campbell: “Everything that he did he earned. If you give a man a job you give him pride.”
Sheheen “invoked Campbell,” noting he was a GOPer “who could succeed” with a Dem-controlled Legislature.” Sheheen “said he would ‘work hard and pull together’” (O’Connor, Columbia State, 10/12).
Washington wants you to believe, all it wants for the holidays is an extended payroll-tax cut.
It does not.
What Washington really wants this December is a lever.
The Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes invented the cylindrical screw “machine” that led to other lever-based devices that revolutionized humans’ ability to move water and earth. “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world,” Archimedes wrote.
These are the days of leverage seeking. The lever is pressed hard against the immovable rock of economic anxiety, perennial joblessness, and slack investment. The stalled economy has become the rock upon which Democrats and Republicans have tried to leverage political gain in this year’s payroll-tax endgame.
The endgame has plenty of drama. President Obama’s advisers on Tuesday issued a veto threat against the only viable piece of legislation to extend the payroll tax. (The House passed its bill after the Senate failed to move its own version.) This standoff sits alongside yet another shutdown scenario. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stalled a negotiated conference report on the remaining nine pending appropriations bills. A government shutdown now looms on Friday, when the current stopgap spending bill expires. Reid won’t move the spending bill until the payroll tax’s fate is resolved.
Reid has found his place to stand. With a lever, he intends to move Republicans.
Republicans have found their lever, too. Oddly, it’s called Keystone — that much-discussed energy pipeline from the tar sands of Canada. Upon the Keystone, Republicans hope to leverage concessions from Reid and Obama. The road to Keystone for Republicans was tortuous, and it only came after weeks of stumbling through a tax wilderness of their own creation.
As everyone has noticed, Democrats have been torturing Republicans over whether to extend last year’s 2 percent cut in the employee-based payroll tax. Historically, Republicans support all tax cuts and oppose any attempts to raise taxes. And yet they were surprisingly phlegmatic about extending the payroll-tax cut. GOP objections on policy were these: Last year’s payroll-tax cut wasn’t paid for, and any future extension must be “offset” with spending cuts to preserve funding for Social Security. The economic benefits of the lower payroll tax were hard to discern because it appeared to neither dramatically lower unemployment nor increase gross domestic product.
Democrats responded with a millionaire’s surtax to cover the cost of next year’s payroll-tax cut. Republicans vigorously objected, arguing — with only scant economic data behind them — that the targeted millionaires were “job creators” and that the new levies would slow job growth. What the public saw was a black-and-white tax divide: Democrats were pushing to keep a middle-class tax cut, while Republicans were willing to jettison that to protect millionaires. In the face of hideous political optics, Republicans began to retreat.
On policy, Republicans felt more secure. After all, the Democratic argument for extending the payroll tax did not consist of much more than “things-could-be-worse-if.” Last year’s payroll tax didn’t turn the economy around, Democrats conceded, but “things-could-be-worse-if” it wasn’t extended for at least another year.
This sounds remarkably like the postgame defense of the stimulus act, but in both cases Democrats have a muted economic point. Although neither the stimulus nor the payroll tax reversed deep structural problems in the U.S. economy, they did act as buffers to protect the poor and middle class from harder times. Extending unemployment benefits — an option that has received less attention — also provided antirecessionary padding. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the GDP multiplier of jobless benefits is actually twice that of the payroll-tax cut.
That’s why Republicans have come around on extending both. Along the way, Democrats and Obama exploited divisions in their ranks. Senate Republicans were split down the middle on the issue, and two weeks ago House Republicans would have been similarly cleaved.
Tired of being divided, the GOP looked for a lever to divide Democrats. Republican members believe they’ve found it in Keystone. TransCanada, backer of the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline from oil sands in Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, projects 20,000 jobs will be created in the next two years. The State Department is skeptical of those numbers and estimates the U.S. job boost could be as low as 5,000.
Either way, Republicans have rallied behind the project and see it as their first maneuver in weeks to divide Democrats. The White House delayed a final decision on whether to green-light Keystone until 2013. House Republicans want a decision next year. The AFL-CIO supports the Keystone pipeline project, as do many other trade unions (although they oppose the current House GOP bill). Democrats call Keystone a “poison pill” meant to “score political points.” This objection is music to GOP ears. Music played by a lever.
Adding Keystone to the bill dramatically increased House GOP support. For the first time in months, House Republicans passed a big bill with more than 218 votes from their own conference.
Republicans believe they have found their lever. Reid knows he has his. The world will soon move beneath someone.
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