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Newt Watch: With Gingrich leading in the Republican primary polls, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) threatened to release a thousand pages of material from Gingrich's 90's ethics investigation. Unfortunately for Mrs. Pelosi, Gingrich quickly pointed out that it would be a violation of House ethics rules were Pelosi to release that information. Oops. How ironic. Caught with her pants down, Pelosi is now backtracking, and trying to say she didn't say what she said.
I mentioned before on this blog that Gingrich pled to one House ethics violation in the 90's, though Gingrich contended he didn't do anything wrong. There was a question about funding for a class Gingrich taught being a violation of that organization's tax-exempt status. The House ethics investigation was widely reported. What I didn't report before, and what was not widely reported, was that the IRS subsequently cleared the organization, and thus Gingrich, of all wrongdoing. From the Washington Post:
The Internal Revenue Service has cleared an organization of charges that it violated its tax-exempt status when it helped fund a college course taught by former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the organization said yesterday.
The IRS, concluding a three-year investigation, ruled that the Progress and Freedom Foundation's donations to Gingrich were "consistent with its stated exempt purposes," and Gingrich's course and course book "were educational in content."
In its ruling, the IRS said the content of Gingrich's course "was educational and never favored or opposed a candidate for public office."
It said the foundation "did not intervene on behalf of candidates of the Republican Party merely by promoting" themes in the course.
Funny how Pelosi didn't mention that. Must have slipped her mind.
Presidential Polling: With Ohio being a key election swing state, a new Quinnipiac poll is pretty interesting. Quinnipiac has Gingrich leading Romney in the Ohio GOP primary, but both Gingrich and Romney lead Obama in Ohio, though the numbers are very close. The swing state poll also included Florida and Pennsylvania:
Florida: Romney with 45 percent to Obama's 42 percent; Obama at 46 percent to Gingrich's 44 percent.
Ohio: Romney at 43 percent to Obama's 42 percent; Gingrich with 43 percent to Obama's 42 percent.
Pennsylvania: Obama edging Romney 46 - 43 percent; Obama tops Gingrich 48 - 40 percent
As of today, the presidency is in play.
The Class Warfare Speech: President Obama gave his class warfare speech a couple days ago in Kansas. The speech included Obama's recurrent theme that everything is the Republicans fault. Same old, same old. Basically, Obama said America was losing it's middle class, and that Republicans think "we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules". I always thought fending for yourself was a basic requirement in life, but I guess not, according to Obama. The President gave us a brief history lesson on the decline of the American middle class, which he attributed to "inequality"...and the Republicans, of course:
Inequality also distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder. And it leaves everyone else rightly suspicious that the system in Washington is rigged against them – that our elected representatives aren’t looking out for the interests of most Americans.
More fundamentally, this kind of gaping inequality gives lie to the promise at the very heart of America: that this is the place where you can make it if you try. We tell people that in this country, even if you’re born with nothing, hard work can get you into the middle class; and that your children will have the chance to do even better than you. That’s why immigrants from around the world flocked to our shores.
And yet, over the last few decades, the rungs on the ladder of opportunity have grown farther and farther apart, and the middle class has shrunk. A few years after World War II, a child who was born into poverty had a slightly better than 50-50 chance of becoming middle class as an adult. By 1980, that chance fell to around 40%. And if the trend of rising inequality over the last few decades continues, it’s estimated that a child born today will only have a 1 in 3 chance of making it to the middle class.
So, from the 50's until today, the middle class has been steadily slipping away, along with opportunity in America, according to Obama. He contends this has happened because we haven't had ENOUGH government, that the Republicans' "on your own" economic philosophy is the culprit. Does this strike anyone else as being extremely disingenuous, and exactly the opposite of what has really happened over the last 50 years ? Over the last half-century, there has been an unprecedented explosion in government spending, anti-poverty programs, and entitlements. The number of government subsidy programs has been soaring. There hasn't been any "on your own" philosophy in play at all. It's been just the opposite. Bigger and bigger government has been the trend. The size of the federal government has doubled every ten years. That sure doesn't sound like "on your own" to me. If Obama wants to equate a disappearing middle class with the activities of the government, that sure isn't an indictment of small government. It's an indictment of big government, the kind Obama promotes.
What policies would Obama pursue to rid ourselves of this inequality and foundering middle class ? More government, of course. He'd return tax rates to Clintonian levels for the wealthy (which would barely make a dent in the deficit much less end income inequality). He'd have the government invest (spend) more on education, infrastructure, and new technology (I guess this is supposed to stand in opposition to all those crazy right-wingers who are against education, infrastructure, and new technology, though I don't know any of those people, because they don't exist outside Obama's imagination). And he'd create more regulations and more entitlements. That's his entire plan. More of the very same things we've been doing for the last 50 years, the very same things that are bankrupting us. Brilliant.