“Rick Santorum says that he is what the Republicans really want. Mitt Romney says now that he knows what Republicans want, he can change to those positions.” –Jay Leno
“One of the most talked about commercials was the one with Clint Eastwood, where he said, ‘It’s halftime in America, and our second half is about to begin.’ The bad news? China has the ball and we’re down $15 trillion.” –Jay Leno
“Donald Trump announced that he’s endorsing Mitt Romney for president. It was really nice. Trump was like, ‘There’s only one man with the brains, the skills, and the charisma to be president — but since I’m not running, you might as well vote for Mitt Romney.’” —Jimmy Fallon
Cartoon: Super PACs
“Part of me thinks that Rick Santorum is running for president just to show his high school crush she should have gone to the prom with him.” –Jimmy KimmelBA
ABC News (and other media) has reported that Mitt Romney recently held a campaign rally at Springs Fabrication, Inc., a manufacturing company located in Colorado. During the rally, Romney assailed the stimulus package that Congress passed in 2009. Conservatives and other opponents of the stimulus have repeatedly argued that the measure did not create any jobs. According to CBO analysis and reports from economists, however, the stimulus contributed to GDP, created new jobs, and prevented job losses.
Ironically, Springs Fabrication received $2.3 million in stimulus funds in November of 2009. The government hired Springs Fabrication to complete a plumbing project at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Stimulus funds paid for the project. Despite winning this contract, Tom Neppl, the CEO of Springs Fabrication, says that the stimulus did not allow the company to create any jobs:
"I did not support the stimulus, I did not seek out stimulus funds, and the stimulus did not create or save a single job here," said Neppl. "One of our best customers placed an order as they have in the past, for a government project like those we have done in the past."
Neppl's statement reiterates the conservative line that government spending does not boost economic activity or lead to job growth. The recent history of Springs Fabrication, however, contradicts this assertion.
Springs Fabrication Has Hired Persons as a Result of Government Spending
Although Neppl portrays the stimulus as ineffective, the company he heads has benefited from federal spending. In his statement, Neppl himself acknowledges Spring Fabrication's participation in government projects "in the past." One specific project began in December 2009 when Springs Fabrication entered into an $8.1 million contract to dispose of chemical weapons for the U.S. Army at a location in Pueblo, Colorado. Springs Fabrication was a subcontractor for the $28.7 million government project. Due to the magnitude of this government-sponsored contract, Springs Fabrication was able to rehire 20 persons that it had previously fired due to lack of work.
Although Neppl portrays the stimulus as unsuccessful, he boasted about Springs Fabrication winning the contract. It was the largest contract Springs Fabrication had ever received, and it permitted the company to create jobs in the local community:
"This contract will absorb our existing staff, so we'll have to ramp up a bit," he said. "That's why it's good news -- not just for us, but for Southern Colorado. These big contracts don't always keep the money in the area, but this time it will stay here."
Furthermore, Springs Fabrication won the contract at a time when it was experiencing a downturn in sales (well, there was a recession). Nonetheless, Neppl has given his voice to the bogus assertion that government spending and job creation are unrelated.
Neppl's position seems politically motivated. It contradicts the company's own history of job creation with government funds. Also, it is probably not a coincidence that John McCain held a campaign rally at the company in 2008.
Romney's Use of Springs Fabrication to Bash Stimulus Is Misleading as Well
Romney has promoted Springs Fabrication's experience in order to portray the stimulus as a waste of money. During his campaign rally at the company, Romney blasted the stimulus:
"That stimulus [Neppl] had, it did not do the job. I mean, I understand Tom said he was working on a project that got some stimulus money..."
"I asked well were you able to hire more people because of that, he said no. Didn't add any more people, just more money into the system, but no more people hired," said Romney. "That stimulus did not create private sector jobs like it should have, like it could have, it instead protected government jobs."
Romney's statement is misleading. The Colorado Springs Gazette interviewed Neppl. During the interview, Neppl said that the stimulus funding he received did not allow him to hire new people or make a profit. Neppl, however, explained that this was not due to an inherent defect in the stimulus. Instead, the company's costs were larger than expected; so it failed to make a profit (which probably explains why it could not hire additional workers). Cost overruns frequently occur on major manufacturing and construction projects. The stimulus did not cause this.
Moreover, although Neppl did not make a profit on the project, he says it could still benefit the company. He believes that it could lead to future contracts for the company.
Romney opposes the stimulus, but he needs to state legitimate reasons for doing so, rather than misrepresenting the experience of Springs Fabrication. The company failed to profit from the stimulus money it received because it underestimated the cost of the project. Furthermore, the company has profited previously from government spending and has used this money to hire workers.
In addition, economists argue that the stimulus created or saved jobs and contributed to GDP. Other than challenging this data, it is difficult to imagine a sound argument against the stimulus. Certainly, Romney has not offered one.
Note: An earlier version of this article appeared on the blog Dissenting Justice.
Here’s a roundup of this morning’s must-read budget and economic stories:
The Hill says some Republican lawmakers want to end the ban on earmarks.
The Heritage Foundation’s “Foundry” blog finds dependence on government at an all-time high.
Politico says Congress is even having trouble passing “easy” legislation.
USA Today reports support is growing for plans to tax goods bought and sold on the Internet.
Bloomberg says the official unemployment rate doesn’t reflect the number of workers who have left the job market.
Washington Post reports leaders in Greece have reached an agreement on austerity measures.
Fired up from a victory in Nevada’s caucuses, Mitt Romney used his stump speech in Las Vegas to remind supporters that President Barack Obama has not fixed the state’s economic woes. "Four years ago, candidate Obama came to Nevada, promising to help. But after he was elected, his help was telling people to skip coming here for conventions and meetings," Romney told the crowd at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa on Feb. 4, 2012. Did we hear that right? Was the president urging a business boycott of Sin City? ...>> More
Is President Barack Obama weakening America’s military? As part of our analysis of a typical Mitt Romney presidential campaign speech, we’ll look at a line he has used about spending on the U.S. military. "President Obama is shrinking our military and hollowing out our national defense," Romney said in a speech after winning the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 4, 2012. First, the president’s official proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 is scheduled to be released later this month. After that happens, Congress will have to pass spending bills and ...>> More
The night of his victory in the Nevada caucuses, Mitt Romney used his stump speech to stomp on President Barack Obama’s policies and record. Romney, who led the Republican field by a sizeable margin in a state hammered by unemployment and foreclosures, used those themes to make his case against Obama. He also repeated a claim we have heard -- and checked -- numerous times. "Three years ago, a newly elected President Obama told America that if Congress approved his plan to borrow nearly a trillion dollars, he would hold ...>> More
The last time we rated a Mitt Romney claim on unemployment, we dinged him with a Half True for using a big number without describing it accurately. This time, he got it right. In a speech after winning the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 4, 2012, Romney said, "If you take into account all the people who are struggling for work or have just stopped looking, the real unemployment rate is over 15 percent." That's much more accurate than his statement at the Tampa debate on Jan. 23, when he said that "we ...>> More
"Neither the president nor his campaign staff or aides will fundraise for super PACs." — President Barack Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, July 9, 2011 "Senior campaign officials as well as some White House and Cabinet officials will attend and speak at (super PAC) Priorities USA fundraising events." — President Barack Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, Feb. 6, 2012 A fundraising decision by President Barack Obama’s campaign in February 2012 prompted news headlines on the "reversal" and a Republican Web video on a "failed promise." We figured it was time ...>> More
What better way to scare American voters than tell them the government wants them to pay 25 cents a gallon more for gas? In an appearance on Meet the Press on Feb. 5, 2012, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich argued that President Obama’s policies have "weakened the country." Prime example: "He has an Environmental Protection Agency proposal that would raise the price of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon. There are very few Americans who want to see the price of gasoline raised by government ... 25 cents a gallon." ...>> More
EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally ruled this claim True. A short time later, we were contacted by an attorney who represented Gingrich during the ethics proceeding and who disputed that Gingrich was "fined" by the ethics committee. The lawyer said Gingrich had paid a "cost assessment." We decided to take a second look at the issue and decided to change the ruling to Mostly True. *** A pro-Mitt Romney "Super PAC" is flexing its muscles in the Republican race for president, telling conservative voters not to fall for Barack Obama’s plan to hand ...>> More
Critics of congressional “earmarking” maintain that it’s a mechanism used to haul a lot of pork-barrel spending home to the representatives’ districts. Defenders of the practice counter with the argument that putting a stop to earmarks would place too much authority over spending in the hands of the executive.
An amendment to eliminate earmarks was proposed for the STOCK Act, which is intended to restore public faith in Congress by cracking down on methods for using congressional power for personal enrichment. The amendment was defeated, but the controversy surrounding earmarks continues.
The Washington Post added some fuel to the fire Monday, as it published the results of what it bills as “the first systematic effort to examine the alignment of earmarks with lawmakers’ private interests.” Specifically, the Post discovered that some congressional earmarks have been used to fund public improvements located suspiciously close to property owned by the sponsoring representative:
A U.S. senator from Alabama directed more than $100 million in federal earmarks to renovate downtown Tuscaloosa near his own commercial office building. A congressman from Georgia secured $6.3 million in taxpayer funds to replenish the beach about 900 feet from his island vacation cottage. A representative from Michigan earmarked $486,000 to add a bike lane to a bridge within walking distance of her home.
Thirty-three members of Congress have directed more than $300 million in earmarks and other spending provisions to dozens of public projects that are next to or within about two miles of the lawmakers’ own property, according to a Washington Post investigation.
Under the ethics rules Congress has written for itself, this is both legal and undisclosed.
The Post put its discoveries into context:
Earmarks are a fraction of the federal budget, and the numbers uncovered by The Post are relatively small in the scheme of the overall Congress, but the behavior by lawmakers from both parties points to a larger issue at a time when confidence in Capitol Hill is at an all-time low.
The congressional financial disclosure system obscures certain relationships. Lawmakers are not required to disclose the addresses of their personal residences or the employment of their children and parents. The lawmakers are also allowed to put properties in holding companies without disclosing the properties’ locations. Current versions of the Stock Act would not change that. To provide a fuller portrait of congressional connections, The Post compared the financial disclosure forms with the public record to track spending on projects near legislators’ properties or on programs employing their relatives.
As the article goes on to note, there isn’t necessarily rank corruption involved in locating a public-works project close to a representative’s home. Would it make any sense to forbid the expenditure of federal money on any project located near property owned by the local congressperson?
In a similar vein, it’s not always corruption when a federal contract goes to a company that employs relatives of a representative. What if Congressman Bedfellow’s cousin just happens to work at the best company for the job? Would it make sense to forbid corporations with even the slightest personal connection to Congress, or the Administration, from accepting government contracts? Besides putting illogical limits on the pool of contractors available to the government, that would be brutally unfair to the highly-qualified relatives of elected officials (and, if we were to apply this standard vigorously enough, their high-ranking staffers) as they would suddenly find themselves about as welcome as bird flu at large corporations.
What the Post investigation highlights is the intrinsic corruption of Big Government. As it becomes larger and more remote, the shadow of corruption falls across more of its actions, and infuses a greater portion of the overall economy.
There would be considerably less suspicion surrounding the decision to construct a particular public-works project if the funds were raised locally, and allocated by local government. You would still have such, suspicions, of course. The history of my own town is riddled with some epic tales of good-old-boy networking. Your hometown probably has a few such tales as well.
But when the size, and distance, of government is elevated to the level of Congress parceling out billions of dollars, you end up with people all over the country paying for earmarked projects they have absolutely no control over, and derive no personal benefit from. There is little chance that individual representatives will be held accountable at the ballot box for particular spending decisions. In fact, if a voter in Colorado doesn’t like the way a representative from Tennessee is spending federal money for his own personal benefit, or to please his big contributors, the Colorado voter has no electoral recourse at all.
That sense of lost control, and electoral helplessness, probably has more to do with public distrust of Congress than representatives using earmarks to build up the airports located closest to their summer homes. Who knows what they’re up to on Capitol Hill? The folks in “flyover country” just know it’s costing them, and their children, a whole lot of money.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Roseanne Barr's name is on California's primary ballot as a Green Party candidate for president.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Monday that Barr is among 24 candidates she intends to place on the June 5 ballot. An officially certified list will be released on March 29.
A news release says Barr is among three candidates for the Green Party presidential nomination.
The actress-comedian released a statement last week saying she's a longtime supporter of the Green Party and she looks forward to working with people who share her values. She says the two major parties aren't serving the American people.
The Green Party will select a presidential nominee at a convention in Baltimore in July.
MIAMI -- Univision and Disney are in talks to create a 24-hour news channel for Latinos in English, two sources close to the negotiations said Monday.
Both sources declined to go on the record because they were not authorized to speak.
The goal would be to begin broadcasting before the November presidential election. That would give the network plenty of time to provide political coverage geared toward Hispanics, who are considered influential swing voters in states like Florida, New Mexico and Colorado.
Univision is the nation's largest Spanish-language media company, and it has long prided itself on its Spanish-language content. In recent years, officials have quietly acknowledged that in order to maintain and expand viewership, they also need to provide content to second- and third-generation Latinos who speak English as their first language.
Univision officials and ABC News spokesman Jeff Schneider declined to comment on Monday.
The move comes in response to the 2010 census, which showed U.S. born Latinos made up nearly 60 percent of the growth in the nation's Hispanic population over the last decade.
The proposed deal also reflects the stepped up efforts of mainstream media companies to target Latinos. Fox News added its Fox News Latino website in 2010 and Huffington Post now has an online Huffpost LatinoVoices site. Meanwhile, NBC Universal has increased the cross-pollination between its NBC News division and that of its Spanish language network, Telemundo.
Top Telemundo news anchor Jose Diaz-Balart has anchored NBC News and MSNBC programs. NBC also recently unveiled its NBC Latino tumblr website in English. Univision News also has a tumblr English site, and a small but growing social media presence.
Jorge Plasencia, vice chair of the National Council of La Raza and CEO of the Hispanic marketing firm Republica, which includes Univision among its clients, said he believes that a news channel in English would fulfill a niche.
"There's nearly 50 million Latinos in the U.S. They do want to know what's going on in Mexico, Puerto Rico and all over Latin America. The major networks don't cover that news," he said. "It's hard for those networks to go into those issues in depth because they're trying reach all of America."
Univision and other Spanish-language networks have provided significant coverage of Latin America for their viewers. Plasencia believes second- and third-generation Latinos are still interested in that coverage, but they want it in English.
For Latinos who live in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Miami that have large Hispanic populations, local broadcasts often have Latino anchors and cover stories that are particularly relevant to the Hispanic community. But the national broadcasts are lagging in that type of coverage, he added.
"That's why I think this and Huffpost LatinoVoices exist, because there's an appetite," Plasencia said.
Last month, SiriusXM's Cristina Radio channel launched a new all-English political show, hosted by top Democratic and Republican Latina analysts, as well as a bilingual foreign affairs program out of Washington. Other online news sites are continuing to pop up.
Voxxi, a new Hispanic online news magazine, was throwing its launch party Tuesday at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Plasencia noted that the controversy regarding Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, over his aggressive efforts to seek out illegal immigrants, has received significant coverage on Spanish-language networks but not so much in English.
"This network will take our issues and make them mainstream because many other people besides Latinos may be watching," he said.
Roberto Suro, a professor of journalism and public policy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, says finding the right audience may be tricky.
"There are several assumptions here. Is there room for another all-news channel? And within the Hispanic market, is there enough demand for an all-news channel?" Suro said.
Already CNN, Fox and MSNB compete in English. CNN en Espanol provides 24 hour coverage in Spanish.
The new channel would reflect the growing trend toward more niche audiences, but he added that the English-speaking Latino market is much more diverse than the Spanish-language market.
"There's a longstanding effort to try and create content for English speaking Latinos," Suro said. "This is a very broad population segment, and the question is, "what is the identity? Is it heavily Hispanic, all about news about Latinos? Or is it who delivers the news? It's an elusive brand."
AP Television Writer Lynn Elber and AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
UPDATE: This item prompted debate about whether we correctly interpreted the Guttmacher study. We explored that criticism, and are confident in our original analysis. The White House, defending a decision requiring many Catholic hospitals, schools and charities to offer contraception coverage to employees, argues that most women — including most Catholic women — use birth control. Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, marshaled this statistic in a Feb. 1, 2012, blog post: "According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, most women, including 98 percent of Catholic ...>> More
On Feb. 5, 2012, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra -- a Republican seeking to unseat Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. -- released an ad titled "Debbie-Spend-It-Now." The ad quickly attracted public attention for its use of a young Asian woman thanking Americans, in broken English, for helping to boost the Chinese economy. The ad directed viewers to a website that provided additional statistical details. One of the claims on the site is that "since ObamaCare and the stimulus passed, the unemployment rate in the U.S. has increased." We decided to see whether that claim ...>> More
Here’s a roundup of this morning’s must-read budget and economic stories:
The Hill previews the upcoming battle over the fiscal year 2013 budget resolution.
Fox News says the prospect of automatic cuts to defense spending is “test[ing] lawmakers’ resolve” when it comes to reducing the budget deficit.
Meanwhile, according to The Hill, Democrats are divided on how to cut the U.S. Postal Service.
The Hill reports lawmakers are also split on a $260 billion transportation funding bill that will be voted on this year.
On the opinion pages: Robert Samuelson says the size of U.S. budget deficit has shaken the world’s confidence in America.
This turns out to have been the best week Planned Parenthood has had in years. The bad news that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation was pulling its grants for breast cancer screening was quickly replaced by a flood of donations - including $250,000 from New York’s Republican mayor, Michael Bloomberg - and an outcry so huge that, by Friday, Komen had reversed its decision entirely.And in the meantime, in those three days of fury, Planned Parenthood got precisely the publicity it needs. Indeed, even in the midst of the crisis, some Planned Parenthood officials could see the...
Rick Santorum came in last in the Nevada caucuses on Tuesday evening. He brushed off the loss in an interview with Fox News, saying that his campaign didn't focus on and actively campaign in the state.
"I think you'll see very different numbers coming forth on Tuesday, where we've spent a little bit more time and a little bit more money. ... In fact, I'm the person who's best able to win this election," he said.
Santorum was more optimistic about Tuesday, when there will be caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado and a non-binding primary in Missouri. (That state will also hold a caucus on March 17.) The former senator said that Missouri, in particular, was a key state for him because it would show whether he can go head to head with frontrunner Mitt Romney:
On Tuesday, I think we are going to do very well in Missouri. It's going to be interesting because it's a head-to-head between Gov. Romney myself. Speaker Gingrich is not on the ballot. Ron Paul is. We'll wait and see whether the idea that the one conservative who can actually go up against Mitt Romney head to head and win.
Speaker Gingrich had his shot in Florida, by and large. We didn't play in Florida. He had his chance to go head to head and didn't do well. We're going to go head to head in Missouri, and we'll see what happens.
I think we'll also do pretty well in Minnesota and here in Colorado. I am not predicting wins, but I think we'll do well. We'll do certainly better than we did in Nevada.