Jan 31, 2012, 11:11 pm EDT
Mitt Romney finally secured a huge win in a major state, winning the Florida Republican primary by an impressive 14 percentage points. His victory speech signaled that he is beginning the all-important pivot to general election politics. As ugly and vicious as this GOP nomination has become, the commentariat has speculated that the negativity will poison the eventual Republican nominee. Romney tried to assure voters that this process “would not divide us, but would prepare us” for the general election. Despite Romney’s large margin of victory, all three of his rivals vowed to soldier on.
Here are three takeaways from the Florida Primary:
Romney’s Win Was Costly
First, although Romney won the Sunshine State handily, it came at a big cost. Romney outspent Newt Gingrich in Florida on television ads by a 5 to 1 margin. The vast majority of his monies were spent on negative advertising. In fact, according to some analyses, this was the most negative campaign ever, with 92% of all ads being negative. Romney was right to try and assure the electorate that the GOP was not self-destructing. Read
Jan 31, 2012, 12:52 pm EDT
One of the policies President Barack Obama pushed for in his State of the Union address was further tightening the restrictions on insider trading among members of Congress. It appears that Congress has taken notice, and Obama seems to approve of their efforts thus far.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., introduced a bill last Thursday, the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act. The bill would prohibit federal lawmakers from trading stocks based on nonpublic information on companies they learn in the course of their Congressional duties. The bill, which recently advanced past debate in the Senate, would also require all stock transactions by members of Congress to be reported within 30 days.
Not surprisingly, Obama indicated in a press release from his Office of Budget and Management, that he “strongly supports” the bill. More interestingly, he noted that the bill would also lead to a report on the role of political intelligence in financial markets, including the sale of political information, the ethical and legal concerns of such sales, and the merits of imposing disclosure agreements on people involved with political intelligence activities. Read
Jan 31, 2012, 10:41 am EDT
The news may be fake, and he may not actually be running for president, but there’s no denying that Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC has raised a lot of money.
As part of necessary filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Super PAC, which has gone by the names “Colbert Super PAC” and “The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC”, announced that it had received just over $1 million in donations.
Officially known as “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” Colbert created the Super PAC for his TV show The Colbert Report to highlight the absurdity of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. This decision paved the way for the creation of political action committees (commonly called Super PACs) who could spend unlimited funds supporting a candidate for office, as long as they didn’t coordinate with said candidate. Read
Jan 31, 2012, 9:46 am EDT
Stopping food stamp recipients from spending their aid on soda, potato chips, and cookies may seem like a no-brainer, but states have had a hard time making such rules work. That hasn’t stopped Florida, though, from becoming the next state to try it.
A Florida state senator recently introduced a bill in the state’s legislature that would prevent recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a. SNAP, a.k.a. food stamps) from using the assistance to purchase “nonstaple, unhealthy foods.”
It’s an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. It’s common knowledge that junk food leads to obesity, which is a serious issue in the United States, but attempts to cut overly sugary, salty, and fatty foods from SNAP are also designed to cut program costs. Currently, 46 million Americans receive SNAP assistance. Read
Jan 31, 2012, 6:45 am EDT
Last Wednesday, the Fed announced after its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting that it’s now forecasting just 2.2% to 2.7% GDP growth for 2012. The FOMC also forecasts an unemployment rate of 8.2% to 8.5% for 2012. Finally, the Fed provided its first-ever interest rate forecast, predicting that long-term rates will eventually rise to 4% to 5% — up substantially from current 10-year Treasury bond yields of 1.93%.
The biggest news coming out of the Fed’s unprecedented series of announcements last week was that the central banks pledged to extend its current 0% interest rate policy through at least late 2014. This shocking news is essentially an 18-month extension from the Fed’s previous guidance of low rates through mid-2013. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s official reason for extending 0% short-term rates for six years (i.e., from late 2008 to late 2014) is that the U.S. economy remains “fragile.” He said the weak housing market is deterring economic growth.
Without saying so, what the Fed is really doing is protecting the banking system. Many banks have made “workout mortgages” with only 2% interest rates for homeowners who fell behind in their mortgage payments. Since banks are underwater on many of these low interest rate mortgages, the Fed can’t raise key interest rates because that would further strain the U.S. banking system’s Tier-3 (i.e., mortgage) capital. Read
Jan 30, 2012, 1:33 pm EDT
With Mitt Romney drubbing Newt Gingrich in both the Florida polls and TV ad spending in the Sunshine State, news that Gingrich won an endorsement from another former presidential candidate would seem welcome.
How welcome, of course, depends on your view of Herman Cain.
Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and the National Restaurant Association, offered his endorsement to Gingrich during a surprise visit to a Lincoln Day Dinner event with Gingrich and the West Palm Beach County Republican Party (the Lincoln Day Dinner is a traditional celebration and fundraiser for state and county Republican Party organizations.). Cain is the second former presidential candidate from the 2012 election to endorse Gingrich, after Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Read