What's Up With Chuck Todd All Of a Sudden?
Now this.He seems to have misplaced his copy of the Media Field Guide To Republican Bigotry.
Mitt Romney Will Take Away Your Health Insurance. Twice!
On the campaign trail in Iowa today, the President made an impressive accusation.
Governor Romney promised that some time between taking the oath of office and going to the inaugural ball, he'd sit right down, grab a pen, and kick seven million people off their parents' plan by repealing health reform.
This is particularly astonishing, given that the White House website tells us that "thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 3.1 million more young adults have health insurance on their parent’s plan."
Consumers Throw In the Towel
Consumer confidence took an unexpected dip to a 2012 low.
FWIW, that's still better than most of 2011. And the remalaisement is somewhat offset by news that home prices rose year-over-year for the first time since 2010.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had improved in July, declined in August. The Index now stands at 60.6 (1985=100), down from 65.4 in July. The Expectations Index decreased to 70.5 from 78.4. The Present Situation Index, however, was virtually unchanged, at 45.8 versus 45.9 a month ago.
I Have Many Leather-Bound Books and the West Wing Smells Of Rich Mahogany
This guy's kind of a big deal.
“It is very rare I come to an event where I’m like the fifth or sixth most interesting person. Usually the folks want to take a picture with me, sit next to me, talk to me..."
Update: Only too late did the below, far more apt allusion occur to me.
It Looked Right In the Mirror
No, the image isn't flipped. Obama wears his watch on his left hand.
Hillary Rebuffed VP Offer
So says Ed Klein on Kudlow, citing sources in the Clinton camp.
"Hillary had lunch in the White House a couple of weeks ago with Valerie Jarrett — Michelle [Obama]’s best friend, senior adviser to both the first lady and the president … and she told Valerie that she would not accept the vice president’s spot."
“She felt that if she were on the ticket with Obama and he lost, she would be tarred as a loser when she tried to run in 2016,” Klein said. “On the other hand, if she was on the ticket and he won, and he continued his far left-wing socialistic policies, she’d have to defend those policies when she ran in 2016."
That's probably sound reasoning by Hillary. Still, if Romney-Ryan's numbers continue to improve (and if the economy continues not to), the Golden Switcheroo will begin to look like the incumbent's only way to salvage his reelection bid.
Klein's sources claim Bill was urging Hillary to accept the offer. If Obama's prospects dim to the point that he's forced to step out from behind Jarrett's human shield of deniability and make the offer himself, swallowing his pride and recruiting Bill to help make the case, I still think this winds up happening.
Guarding herself against the downside of winning (having to defend Obama's "far left-wing socialistic policies ... when she ran in 2016"), she'd likely demand a particularly influential policy role in the second term, perhaps even sketching out a few deal-breakers in advance. We know Bill (and presumably Hillary) favor, for instance, extending the Bush tax cuts for all income levels.
If a second Obama term (or even the late-2012 lame duck period) were kicked off with a sudden wave of popular, bipartisan measures that helped mitigate the fiscal cliff, fueled actual economic growth, and generally recast the administration as more moderate, that would go a long way toward not only shielding Hillary from the "socialistic" taint, but elevating her as the moderating force ushering in a (how could it not be) more successful second term.
That's a pathway to a far more compelling 2016 story. And it's an angle that presumably won't go unnoticed by a camp as calculating as Clinton's.
Axelrod Eases Biden Under the Bus, As Ouster Grows Ever Inevitabler
If you peruse the top several headlines on Drudge, have listened to the recent taunting advice of John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, or Sarah Palin, or consider today's official White House schedule, this unthinkable (yet ultimately foreseeable) eventuality seems finally to be drawing nigh. Whether he will be replaced with Hillary Clinton is now likely just a matter of whether she's inclined to accept the assignment of replacing the first mate on a sinking ship. If she's not, Biden's prospects probably aren't any brighter (but perhaps the likes of Andrew Cuomo's are).
But one way or another, the incumbent President has got to find a way to steer the national conversation away from the economic record of the last four years. Ideally, in a far more enduring way than has been achieved with the lesser distractions of high school hair cuts, rooftop dogs, and imagined tax evasion and murder.
When asked about the possibility of dropping Biden from the ticket today, David Axelrod wouldn't rule it out, instead making a crack about the soundness of McCain's runningmate selection insights. What he did say about the VP, though, to my ears tees up a secondary benefit the campaign may be hoping to score from such a shakeup.
"Listen, I have a great affection and respect for Joe Biden," Axelrod said, according to a rush transcript. "I think he's been a great vice president. He's taken on a lot of tough assignments for our administration. ... from administering the recovery act -- and he did it very, very well -- through being the point person on the Iraq war and getting our troops home and doing that -- the politics of that over there. he's done a great job for us."
Ah yes, the trillion dollar adventure that would keep unemployment from ever reaching 8% (thus far, it has indeed failed to reach 8%, remaining stubbornly on the wrong side ever since). If Professor Biden can take credit/blame for the program, then it ceases to be a hugely expensive policy blunder and becomes a mere maladministration of what would otherwise have worked splendidly.
Happy retirement, Joe.
Vous le Faites Mal: Part Deux
First, fiscally imperiled France's newly seated socialist leader saw fit to lower the retirement age, from 62 to a spry 60.
With the crisis thus nearly quashed, President Hollande will now squelch any lingering worries about its finances by jacking the country's top income tax rate to 75%.
What could go wrong?
[B]ecause there are relatively few people in France whose income would incur such a tax — an estimated 7,000 to 30,000 in a country of 65 million — the gains might contribute but a small fraction of the 33 billion euros in new revenue the government wants to raise next year to help balance the budget.
Many companies are studying contingency plans to move high-paid executives outside of France, according to consultants, lawyers, accountants and real estate agents — who are highly protective of their clients and decline to identify them by name. They say some executives and wealthy people have already packed up for destinations like Britain, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States, taking their taxable income with them.
They also know of companies — start-ups and multinationals alike — that are delaying plans to invest in France or to move employees or new hires here.
Pop Quiz: Which Has Tanked More Since Its IPO: GM or Facebook?
The answer is below the fold...
The winner loser is...
But not by much (-47% to -44%).
If GM sheds another dollar or so from its share price, it'll overtake the social network in terms of post-IPO flop enormity.
General Motors' profits fell 41% in the second quarter as troubles in Europe undercut strong sales in North America.
America's largest automaker made $1.5bn in the second quarter of 2012, compared with $2.5bn for the same period last year. Revenue fell to $37.6bn from $39.4bn in the second quarter of 2011. The results exceeded analysts' estimates, but further underlined Europe's drag on the US economy.
Its government-backed bailout has become a political hot topic. Mitt Romney has been a persistent critic of the bailout and is running ads that highlight the plight of auto dealerships closed as a condition of the government-managed bankruptcies.
In turn, president Barack Obama has consistently championed the bailouts for saving over a million US jobs and criticised Romney for his 2008 New York Times editorial entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
Draghi: ECB To Intervene and Drive Down Sovereign Borrowing Costs; Spanish Yields Jump 10%
Just when you think the world markets have finally tired of sequels to the "Plan To Come Up With a Plan" movie, they greenlight another. It feels like just days ago that Mario Draghi calmed global jitters with his latest empty pronouncement. And now that he's been forced to flesh it out a bit, markets are dutifully shocked to learn the bazooka still doesn't exist.
FRANKFURT, Germany — European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday the bank would make a new effort to buy government bonds to drive down the high borrowing rates squeezing the continent’s indebted governments. And he urged leaders of the 17 countries that use the euro to use their bailout fund to do the same.
However markets were disappointed that, while Draghi had committed the ECB to action, the plan was too short on detail. Markets across Europe fell, while borrowing costs for countries such as Spain and Italy rose. Those costs are at the heart of the crisis, threatening indebted governments with a financial disaster that could rock the global economy.
The Spanish 10-year promptly rocketed from 6.6% to nearly 7.3%, back above the dreaded 7% level.
As for stocks, well, don't look.