While the world's attention is focused on ISIS (and rightly so), two European leaders have been making some unexpected economic moves.
In 2012, Francois Hollande came sweeping into the French presidency with an "eat the rich" attitude. Upon immediately taking office, he proposed a 75 percent tax on top earners. He promised to provide the citizenry with the social programs and wages they demand by redistributing wealth. Now, things are looking different. Although Hollande's socialist views still remain in place, his government is cutting spending.
France's Socialist government has detailed a 21 billion-euro ($26.5 billion) cost-cutting plan, the biggest in the country's modern history, saying it will focus on trimming welfare benefits.
Presenting the 2015 budget on Wednesday, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the measures show the government is serious about reining in its budget deficit, which is above European Union limits.
Meanwhile over in the UK, which almost broke apart earlier this month, David Cameron is promising tax cuts. The move from Cameron isn't totally unexpected, but none-the-less a promising proposal.
Squeezed between insurgent anti-Europeans, a skittish party and suspicious voters, Britain's prime minister promised a tough stance on the EU and tax cuts for millions in a bid to bolster support for his Conservative Party before a national election next year.
David Cameron closed the Conservatives' fall conference in the central English city of Birmingham Wednesday by arguing that four years of austerity under his government had restored Britain to economic health after the Great Recession.
He said that if re-elected he would reduce income taxes for middle-income earners and eliminate them for minimum-wage workers. At the same time, he said, his government would continue to cut public spending, trimming 25 billion pounds ($40 billion) in the two years after the election.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked by Fox News' Ed Henry about the level of concern the White House had for Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi , who is being held in a Mexican prison under inhumane conditions and living with a severe case of untreated PTSD.
"There was another report and hearing today on Capitol Hill about Sgt. Tahmooressi, the U.S. Marine who's been in a Mexican jail. The reason why it's important among other reasons is that various lawmakers as well as various veterans have come forward and said he has PTSD which this president has said is a very serious issue that he cares deeply about. How concerned is this White House that he is still in a Mexican jail, had PTSD according to VA doctors and hasn't gotten treatment in several months," Henry asked.
"I can tell you that my colleagues at the State Department are very focused on this issue and so I'd refer you to them for their efforts to work with the Mexican government," Earnest said.
"Republican Ed Royce said today that he asked Vice President Joe Biden recently to ask Preident Obama to call the president of Mexico directly and get him [Tahmooressi] out of jail and he said that didn't happen. Why not?" Henry followed up.
"I don't believe it has and that's because this is an issue that is being handled by the State Department," Earnest said.
Clearly the White House is so concerned, they couldn't bother to comment or come up with a general statement showing they at least care about the situation. Pathetic. What happened to "no man left behind?" That concept must only apply to deserters and Taliban sympathizers named Bowe Bergdahl.
Earlier today Sgt. Tahmooressi's mother, Jill Tahmooressi, testified in front of Congress about the condition of her son and detailed the horrifying conditions in which he is being detained. She also said President Obama hasn't called her, despite media attention and a WhiteHouse.gov petition receiving 134,000 signatures asking for him to pursue her son's release.
The Yes on 91 campaign to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in Oregon has released a new video ad, depicting a 33-year police veteran detailing his rationale for legalizing the drug in the state:
Oregon, along with Alaska, is voting this November to join Washington and Colorado as states that have legalized marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
Tutmark makes very good points in the ad. Prison space and police time is a zero-sum game. Time and other resources spent arresting marijuana users is time and resources spent not solving other serious crimes.
In 2004, there were over 44,000 people in prison for marijuana-related drug-law violations. That number is more than double the population of my hometown, and that's a lot of people in jail for what is effectively a victimless crime.
This ad is right. It's about time that the police stop concerning themselves with the activities of adults.
Polling has shown narrow support for the passage of Measure 91.
Speaking from the White House Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest dodged questions about why flights from countries with Ebola outbreaks are still being accepted to the United States. He did not detail any future plans to stop flights from those countries, or to track connections through Europe to those countries, despite the first case of Ebola showing up in the U.S. after a Liberian man went to a funeral in West Africa and then returned home to Dallas.
In his justification of the administration continuing to allow flights, Earnest argued that because people carrying Ebola don't have symptoms when they get on planes, there isn't a need to limit travel.
Earnest said Ebola will be handled through "rigorously applying medical procedures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control."
Everything is under control...
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has taken a firm 50 - 45 percent lead among likely voters over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll.
Walker's five-point lead in the latest Marquette poll, conducted September 25-28, is a marked improvement over the last Marquette poll, conducted September 11-14, which only showed Walker up by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent.
Voter opinions of Walker haven't budged over the past two weeks, with both Walker's job approval rating (51/47) and favorable rating (52/46) now at nearly identical levels (52/47 job approval, 52/46 favorable).
But voter perceptions of Burke have fallen sharply. Earlier this month Burke enjoyed a modest net favorability rating at 41/39. But now Burke is underwater with 44 percent of likely voters telling Marquette they have an unfavorable opinion of Burke, and just 40 percent saying they have a favorable opinion of her.
Burke's plagiarized jobs plan appears to be a big reason voters are abandoning her. More than 63 percent of respondents heard about Burke's plagiarized jobs plan, and almost a fifth of respondents said the incident made them less likely to vote for Burke.
The Marquette Law School Poll has a stellar reputation in Wisconsin, correctly predicting Walker's 2012 recall win.
Earlier this week, New Hampshire State Rep. Marilinda Garcia had a debate with incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster on the radio. Okay, Rep. Kuster declined, but her Republican opponent showed up. Kuster has yet to hold one town hall event since she her 2012 election win–and it seems she isn’t going to hold any in the last weeks of the the 2014 cycle.
Recently, the Garcia campaign has launched a timeline called “When Annie Met Obama,” which documents her greatest hits from announcing that she is one of the president’s strongest supporters in Congress to her recent snags over her property taxes.
Rep. Garcia also took a tour of Atlas PyroVision Productions, which makes fireworks (via The Keene Sentinel):
Atlas CEO Stephen D. Pelkey did most of the talking, showing Garcia the equipment and electronics the company uses to make the fireworks they display at venues from the Cheshire Fairgrounds in North Swanzey to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
About 10 of the company’s employees accompanied them on the tour.
Pelkey said he supports Garcia because he’s frustrated with Democratic lawmakers who he said ignore the interests of small businesses.
Several years ago, Atlas was at risk of losing its license to transport its fireworks over what Pelkey said were violations incorrectly cited under the federal Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Program.
At the time, Pelkey attempted to get help from Democratic Rep. Ann M. Kuster, the incumbent defending her 2nd Congressional District seat against Garcia in the Nov. 4 election.
Pelkey said he didn’t get an answer from Kuster, leading him to place his faith in Republican candidates.
“It was as if small business in New Hampshire didn’t exist, or wasn’t important.”
Well, Pelkey, and other New Hampshire voters in the second congressional district, will have their chance to voice their concerns about the issues that matter to them most with Rep. Garcia. She’s planning five town halls in five weeks, according to her communications director Ken Cunningham:
“In honoring a New Hampshire tradition and the expectations of integrity and openness from our candidates, Marilinda Garcia will host 5 townhall meetings in New Hampshire’s Second District before Election Day, starting on October 7th, in Littleton. These townhall meetings will offer voters an honest opportunity to interact one-on-one with Marilinda and discuss with her the important issues facing our state and our nation.”
“Although Ann Kuster has yet to respond to our request to participate in a townhall forum, we would like to renew our invitation to her, and urge her to attend any of the below townhall meetings. We see no reason for her to miss these valuable opportunities to meet with the people of New Hampshire, and thus we will be prepared for her participation in every forum.”
“Additionally, we have provided directions to each meeting for Ann Kuster, and we are more than willing to facilitate her travel arrangements so that she is finally able to participate in a townhall meeting. Ann Kuster has never held a townhall meeting and her constituents deserve the opportunity to share their concerns and views with their representative to Congress.”
The tour begins October 9 in Littleton, NH. The subject of this town hall will be health care.
On October 15, John Bolton, former U.N. Ambassador under the Bush Administration, will be a guest in a town hall devoted to national security in Hanover.
Taxes and regulations will be the focus for the Keene town hall on October 21, while Concord will delve into government spending on the 29th.
The last town hall event will be held in Nashua to discuss jobs and the economy on November 3, the day before Election Day.
One might say we saw this coming.
Moments ago, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned:
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday, a day after bitingly critical questioning by Congress about a White House security breach. There had been increasing calls for her departure during the day.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said she offered her resignation and he accepted it.
BREAKING: From DHS Director Jeh Johnson: "Today Julia Pierson...offered her resignation, and I accepted it."— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) October 1, 2014
Julia Pierson has resigned, per DHS— Justin Sink (@JTSTheHill) October 1, 2014
BREAKING: Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 1, 2014
Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: “Director Pierson offered her resignation because she believed it was in the best interest of the agency which she had dedicated her career,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said shortly after the news broke. “In light of recent and accumulating reports I think there were legitimate questions [raised] in the minds of the secretary [DHS] and the president.”
UPDATE: The following is Secretary Johnson's full statement about the shake-up at the Secret Service:
Today Julia Pierson, the Director of the United States Secret Service, offered her resignation, and I accepted it. I salute her 30 years of distinguished service to the Secret Service and the Nation.
As an interim Acting Director of the Secret Service, I am appointing Joseph Clancy, formerly Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protective Division of the Secret Service. Mr. Clancy retired from the Secret Service in 2011. I appreciate his willingness to leave his position in the private sector on very short notice and return to public service for a period.
Today, I have also asked the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, aided by this Department’s General Counsel, to assume control and direction of the ongoing inquiry by the Secret Service of the fence jumping incident at the White House on September 19. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas should complete that review and submit findings to me by November 1, 2014.
Finally, I have also determined that scrutiny by a distinguished panel of independent experts of the September 19 incident and related issues concerning the Secret Service is warranted. The Panelists will be named shortly. By December 15, 2014, this panel will submit to me its own assessment and recommendations concerning security of the White House compound. I will also invite the panel to submit to me recommendations for potential new directors of the Secret Service, to include recommendations of individuals who come from outside the Secret Service. I will also request that the panel advise me about whether it believes, given the series of recent events, there should be a review of broader issues concerning the Secret Service. The security of the White House compound should be the panel’s primary and immediate priority.
It is worth repeating that the Secret Service is one of the finest official protection services in the world, consisting of men and women who are highly trained and skilled professionals prepared to put their own lives on the line in a second’s notice for the people they protect. Last week, the Secret Service was responsible for the protection of the President as well as 140 visiting heads of state or government as they convened at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. Likewise, in August the Secret Service handled the protection of 60 world leaders as they convened in Washington, D.C. for the African Summit. As usual, the Secret Service executed these highly complex and demanding assignments without incident. There is no other protection service in the world that could have done this.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president "retains full confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do their very important work." If so, why did the Secretary Johnson (presumably at the behest of his boss) accept Pierson's resignation today?
Editor's note: This post has been updated.
On October 1, 2013, the 'Affordable' Care Act opened for business. What played out over the ensuing months will go down as one of the most catastrophic Washington failures in US history. The program's buggy, broken website crashed repeatedly. Obamacare's under-vetted navigators turned customers away in droves. Consumers were sent to nonexistent brick-and-mortar enrollment locations. Millions of Americans' existing plans have been canceled, as required by the law's new coverage mandates (with millions more in the pipeline). Costs, both in terms of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, have soared for many. Major pieces of the law have since been unilaterally altered and delayed, while multiple states have abandoned their proprietary exchanges, flushing away hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars in the process. In spite of the administration's triumphal spin, enrollment figures have fallen far short of expectations, with risk pools looking older and sicker than projected. The nation's healthcare tab is still growing. Access to preferred doctors and hospitals has been curtailed. And Healthcare.gov, dogged by data security concerns, remains under construction and won't be fully functional for November's second open enrollment period.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. President Obama and Democratic acolytes insisted that Obamacare would be an effective legislative panacea. Tens of millions would be welcomed into the ranks of the insured, costs would fall across the board, healthcare-related deficits would be reduced, Medicare's benefits would be untouched and its solvency strengthened, lives would be saved -- and every single person who was satisfied with his or her healthcare arrangement would be entirely unaffected. The law would produce no losers and contain no trade-offs -- and its critics were heartless, ideological liars. The NRSC is out with a new video reminding the American people who really lied:
Thousands of Americans will see their health plans cancelled before the November elections in a development that could boost critics of ObamaCare. The Morning Consult, a Washington-based policy publication, reported that nearly 50,000 people will lose their current health coverage in the coming weeks. Further cancellations this fall will arrive because state regulators only allowed the "keep your plan" fix to last one year or because insurers decided to stop offering the old policies on their own.
Get ready to whip out your credit card before you are wheeled into the operating room or undergo an MRI. Hospitals are increasingly asking patients to pay for procedures either upfront or before they are discharged. That's because Americans are shouldering a greater portion of their health care bills, and medical centers don't want to get stuck with patients that can't pay...Starting the cost conversation early is especially important now because patients are facing higher deductibles and larger payments for services. Some are surprised to find out that they have to fork over thousands of dollars before their insurance even kicks in, hospital administrators said. The policies available on the Obamacare exchanges are hastening this trend. Many enrollees are opting for the bronze and silver plans, which often carry deductibles upwards of $5,000 and $2,000, respectively. "The bronze plans are scaring a lot of administrators because the patient liability is so large," said Debra Lowe, administrative director of revenue cycle at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. "Patients are unaware they have this high deductible."
Hundreds of thousands of Americans face a Tuesday deadline to verify their income and are at risk of losing or having to pay back their federal health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. The need for people to pay back the government could become a headache during next year's tax season, when Americans are expected to pay back any subsidies they weren't eligible for. The Obama administration has told more than 300,000 individuals who obtained coverage through the federal HealthCare.gov site that they may lose some or all of the subsidies if they don't provide additional income information that jibes with Internal Revenue Service data. That information includes tax returns, wages and tax statements, pay stubs and letters from employers. Hundreds of thousands of people who obtained health coverage through state exchanges also have documentation issues and could potentially be getting subsidies they aren't eligible for.
A federal judge has sided with Oklahoma in its lawsuit challenging some subsidies offered to people who buy insurance under the health care law. U.S. District Judge Ronald White is the latest to weigh in on regulations that allow health insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act in all 50 states...Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sued in 2011, claiming that the law didn't explicitly allow subsidies for people who bought insurance in states, like Oklahoma, that didn't set up their own insurance exchanges. In a ruling Tuesday, White agreed, saying the regulation was "an abuse of discretion."
A recent ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee slammed Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) for his nonchalant attitude towards the national security threat of ISIS (or, as Obama prefers to call it, ISIL).
“I said last week that ISIL does not present an imminent threat to this nation and it doesn't,” Udall is shown saying in the ad.
“Really?” the narrator responds in disbelief, “Can we take that risk?”
Not only did Udall claim ISIS was not an imminent threat, he alleged that beheaded American journalists Steve Sotloff and James Foley would have encouraged America to use caution when dealing with ISIS:
“I can tell you Steve Sotloff and James Foley would tell us, don’t be impulsive. Horrible and barbarous as those executions were, don’t be impulsive, come up with a plan to knock ISIL back.”
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is challenging first-term incumbent Udall for his Senate seat, derided Udall for the comment:
“Americans have watched in horror in recent weeks as two of our fellow countrymen have been brutally executed by terrorists, and it’s outrageous that Senator Udall would put words into the mouths of dead Americans. Furthermore, it’s deeply troubling that he views a terrorist organization like ISIL as not an imminent threat to America.”
Polls show that Gardner has closed the gap and is now pulling into the lead over Udall.
If cable television ratings are any indication, and recent elections show that they are, President Obama's base is tuning out the 2014 elections.
While Fox News again dominated primetime this summer, MSNBC's ratings plummeted, barely edging out CNN for second place among all viewers (555,000 to 557,000), and falling to third among they key 25-54 demographic (186,000 to 150,000).
MSNBC's 2014 ratings woes stand in stark contrast to the network's 2012 success. With Obama's presidential campaign spending more than $1 billion to energize Democratic voters, MSNBC soared into second place in 2012, and MSNBC President Phil Griffin boldly predicted his network would eventually beat Fox.
But now that Obama's approval ratings are stuck in the low-40s, and his Organizing for Action campaign is all but dead, MSNBC, which The New York Times describes as "the voice of Mr. Obama’s America," is dying too. This summer, reruns of ABC's Shark Tank, which run on CNBC, beat every single MSNBC primetime show.