Michael Steele (?-MD)

Remember how newly-minted RNC Chair Michael Steele spent his failed 2006 Senate campaign pretending to be a Democrat?

Case in point:

steelefail

And remember how the Steele campaign passed out a bunch of “Democratic Sample Ballots” with his name (and the name of Governor Rod Erlich, who Steele served under as Lieutenant Governor) on them instead of the actual Democratic candidates?

CAMPAIGN FLIERS

And how the Steele campaign hired a bunch of homeless people from out of state to hand them out:

Inaccurate sample ballots describing Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Senate candidate Michael S. Steele as Democrats were handed out to voters in at least four polling sites in Prince George’s County this morning.

The ballots were handed out by people who said they arrived by buses this morning from Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Erik Markle, one of the people handing out literature for Ehrlich, who is seeking reelection, and Steele, the current lieutenant governor who is campaigning to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D), said he was recruited at a homeless shelter in Philadelphia.

If you’re a Republican, you should probably be disturbed that the new chairman of your party spent his last campaign pretending to be a Democrat. If you’re anyone else, you should probably be disturbed that the Republican Party’s new chairman has a history of being completely dishonest and underhanded.


Bizarro Tax Cuts

In response to the Democratic economic stimulus package that passed through the House two nights ago, the GOP has proposed their own stimulus package–one they say will create 6 million jobs, more than twice the amount of jobs Obama’s plan would create.

Of course, that’s not exactly true:

But where did the Republicans get that number? By drawing some fuzzy conclusions from a 2007 paper by Dr. Christina Romer, chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

[…]

[T]he Romer analysis used by the GOP (linked to in the third paragraph of this page) never examined the effects of tax cuts on a deflationary economy — it looked at the effects of tax increases on the economy as a whole and found a negative effect of 2.2% – 3% on GDP.

The Republican analysis simply flipped those numbers to positive and applied them to the GOP-backed tax cuts then multiplied the result by a broad job creation estimate used in a recent paper from Romer and Jared Bernstein

In other words, the GOP used a nonsensical mish-mash of formulas and calculations to get a job creation figure that has no basis in economics, mathematics or reality.

Oh, and then there’s this:

According to Dems on the House Ways and Means Committee who have crunched the numbers, the GOP plan, which would reduce income taxes across the board, would as a result shove millions over on to the Alternative Income Tax rate, which would be higher for them.

That’s right–the GOP plan, designed to be a massive package of tax cuts, would actually raise taxes for millions of working Americans. That‘s how shoddy and hastily-put-together their stimulus plan is.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–the Republican Party isn’t a serious political party anymore.

RNC Chair Election (UPDATED X10)

[Bumped]

Right now, the members of the Republican National Committee are voting to decide who their next Chairman will be.

The results of the first ballot are:

Mike Duncan (Incumbent): 52

Michael Steele: 46

Katon Dawson: 28

Saul Anuzis: 22

Ken Blackwell: 20

More as it comes…

UPDATE: Second ballot:

Mike Duncan: 48

Michael Steele: 48

Katon Dawson: 29

Saul Anuzis: 24

Ken Blackwell: 19

UPDATE II: Ballot three:

Michael Steele: 51

Mike Duncan: 44

Katon Dawson: 34

Saul Anuzis: 24

Ken Blackwell: 15

UPDATE III: The fourth ballot is being counted, but Mike Duncan has announced that he is withdrawing from considering. Given that, it’s likely that Michael Steele will emerge the winner.

UPDATE IV: Fourth ballot:

Katon Dawson: 62

Michael Steele: 60

Saul Anuzis: 31

Ken Blackwell: 15

UPDATE V: Ken Blackwell has dropped out and has pledged his 15 votes to Steele. Now it’s down to Dawson and Steele, with Anuzis and his 31 votes playing the role of kingmaker.

UPDATE VI: Saul Anuzis is speaking.

UPDATE VII: Anuzis is out and gives no endorsement. Here are the results of the fifth ballot:

Michael Steele: 79

Katon Dawson: 69

Saul Anuzis: 20

UPDATE VIII: The new Chairman of the Republican National Committee is Michael Steele.

UPDATE IX: Clearly, the GOP is a lagging–not a leading–indicator. Barack Obama won a Senate seat in 2004, so the GOP ran Michael Steele in 2006. Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, so the GOP elected Michael Steele their chairman in 2009.

More importantly, though, what does Steele bring to the Party? Not very much. Steele failed in his 2006 bid to succeed Paul Sarbanes in the United States Senate, and his performance wasn’t particularly impressive. Steele’s campaign wasn’t innovative, it didn’t pioneer new technologies or fundraising methods, it didn’t build any kind of grassroots movement nor did it set any kind of high water mark for raising money.

Listening to Steele’s victory speech right now, he didn’t offer any kind of policy proposals or specifics; his speech had a lot of “we’re going to win again” but no indication of how, exactly, the GOP will go about doing that. Also, it doesn’t help that Steele is a bit of a serial liar.

UPDATE X: And don’t forget that 2006 incident where Steele, off the record, criticized George Bush and the Republican Party and went as far as describing the Republican ‘R’ next to his name as “a scarlet letter.”

But when it was revealed that Steele was the person being quoted in that article, Steele disingenuously backpedaled by trying to play his comments off as a joke, finally claiming that Bush was his “homeboy.”

Hey, maybe that can be the RNC’s new slogan–“Bush is my homeboy.”

Stupid Republican Tricks: Stimulus Support Edition

Is the economic stimulus package losing support?

Conservatives are pointing to a Rasmussen Reports poll–released yesterday–saying that 42% approve of the stimulus while 39% are opposed; that’s a drop from their prior poll–released on January 21–showing 45% approval and 34% disapproval.

That’s a drop, yes, but not a very big drop–3% in one direction and 5% in the other doesn’t really tell us very much. It’s just as likely that those shifts are due to statistical noise than to any actual shift in public opinion.

Plus, the Rasmussen polls aren’t aligning with other polls on this issue. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released on the 15th shows 58% support and 40% opposition. A Diageo/Hotline poll released on the 24th shows 54% support and 34% opposition. And a Gallup poll released on the 27th shows 52% support and 37% opposition.

So, we can take two points away from this: first, one poll doesn’t make a trend and right now there is no statistically significant evidence showing that public support for the stimulus is dropping. Second, Rasmussen doesn’t appear to be in line with other polls on this issue–their January 21st poll had support for the stimulus in the mid-40% range, while nearly every other survey from around that same time showed support somewhere in the mid-50% range, therefore making the results of their latest poll similarly questionable.

Don’t get me wrong, maybe there is a trend emerging here. But it’s really to early to tell, and seeing so many Republicans jump all over one poll–while ignoring a host of others–reeks of desperation to me.

The Stimulus Vote: Who’s Playing Who?

I’ve been thinking about the vote on the stimulus package and I’m wondering if President Obama is playing the Republicans.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Obama’s plan A was to get bipartisan support and pass the bill with both Democrats and Republicans on board. That way the stimulus couldn’t really become politicized as a Democrats vs. Republicans issue.

But this has made me wonder about plan B:

Pushing back against the unanimous House Republican vote against President Obama’s stimulus plan, the White House plans to release state-by-state job figures “so we can put a number on what folks voted for and against,” an administration aide said.

“It’s clear the Republicans who voted against the stimulus represent constituents who will be stunned to learn their member of Congress voted against [saving or] creating 4 million jobs,” the aide said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the lawmakers will have to answer to their constituents. And a Democratic official added: “We will run campaigns in their districts.”

So, let’s walk through this–Obama’s plan A is to win Republican support. So he makes concessions. He bends over backwards. He has high-profile meetings with Congressional Republicans. He ends up drafting a bill with a lot of Republican-friendly policies in it.

But the GOP opposes the bill en masse, killing plan A.  They think they beat Obama, getting a ton of giveaways without having to pay a political price by voting for the stimulus. The GOP celebrates, thinking they just got something for nothing.

But Obama has a plan B. Once the bill passes, the White House is going to keep track of the effects of the stimulus district by district. Come the 2010 elections, there will be solid data available on how the stimulus package helped people in nearly every Congressional district. Democratic candidates across the country will run against the GOP, waving economic reports from the White House and accusing them of voting against a bill that created jobs in their district.

Now the Republicans are afraid. They wanted to avoid the political repercussions  of supporting the stimulus, but they never stopped to think about the consequences of opposing it. Now the White House has signaled their intention to make sure there are consequences of opposing it, and the GOP is suddenly rethinking their strategy.

Behold:

House Republicans are reacting strongly to reports that the White House plans a political onslaught to pressure Republicans into supporting the stimulus package and to punish those who don’t.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) will soon issue a statement contending that Obama’s promise to “put an end to petty politics” is “threatened” as the White House and their allies “are making political threats rather than crafting a bipartisan economic stimulus plan.”

It looks like Obama might have just started running circles around the Republicans.  The stimulus package isn’t an abstract–it’s a piece of legislation designed to create jobs.  Even if the economy is still bad in 2010, who is going to vote for a Republican who opposed a bill that ended up creating a few thousand new jobs in their district?

The GOP thought they would spend this weekend celebrating, but now they’re worrying if Wednesday’s vote–which seemed like such a good idea at the time–will cost them come 2010.

Commerce Secretary Judd Gregg?

This is an interesting development:

The Obama administration has been floating the idea of naming Republican Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.) to be Commerce Secretary, several Senate sources said Thursday.

If Gregg accepts and is confirmed, New Hampshire’s Democratic Governor, John Lynch, would appoint his replacement; this would give the Democrats their 60th seat in the Senate, pending the results of the fiasco up in Minnesota.

Right now it’s only a possibility, but this could be a shrewd move that gives Obama a backdoor to a filibuster-proof majority.

BREAKING: Blago Out (UPDATED)

The Illinois Senate just voted to remove Governor Rod Blagojevich from office, 59-0.

Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn will now be sworn in as the 41st Governor of Illinois.

UPDATE: They also voted 59-0 to bar Blagojevich from ever holding elected office in Illinois again.