Poor could lose out in states that reject Medicaid expansion
Two weeks ago the Supreme Court of the United States voted 5-4 to uphold key parts of the Affordable Care Act — effectively codifying the most ambitious overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the introduction of Medicare, and sealing President Barack Obama’s legacy as the president who took on the insurance industry and brought American health care policy closer in line with that of the rest of the developed world.
While the achievement represents a groundbreaking shift in U.S. domestic policy, what impact, if any, it will have on the general election in November is still anybody’s guess.
Some say the decision is a slam dunk victory for the president. Writing for the Daily Beast, conservative commentator David Frum remarked: “[The] Supreme Court decision will make it a lot harder to elect Mitt Romney. President Obama has just been handed a fearsome election weapon.”
Still other pundits say the Romney campaign could parlay the court’s ruling that the mandate requiring most Americans to own health insurance is a tax into a win at the polls. The presumptive GOP nominee has already begun using that distinction to accuse the president of raising taxes on the middle class, and is likely to carry that message into November.
But according to Frum, even if the Republicans were to miraculously win both the presidency and a majority in the Senate, it is now highly unlikely they could undo the law before it goes into effect in 2014, when state exchanges are scheduled to be up and running. Last week House Republicans staged a largely ceremonial vote to repeal the ACA (their thirty-third since January 2011); but getting rid of the law in its entirety is not going to be easy. That means opponents will be forced to take a piecemeal approach against individual provisions, some of which — such as a prohibition on denying care based on preexisting conditions and coverage of children up to the age of 26 — are wildly popular with most Americans.
In other words, in one form or another, Obamacare is here to stay. But don’t make an appointment for a checkup just yet, especially if you count yourself among the millions of impoverished and working-class Americans for whom a visit with a doctor usually means a trip to the emergency room.
While much of the media frenzy leading up to the court’s decision was focused on the controversial mandate — which is designed to support the privatized part of Obamacare — at least half of the roughly 30 million uninsured people who were estimated to receive health coverage under the ACA were slated to get it through expanded Medicaid benefits. Under the proposed expansion, uninsured people who currently fall above their state’s Medicaid coverage threshold and up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for coverage under state assistance programs. This includes able-bodied men and women without children, most of whom are currently locked out of Medicaid benefits.
For most adult Pennsylvanians, the threshold for eligibility is 47 percent of FPL, according to the Pennsylvania Health Law Project.
The federal government has committed to picking up 100 percent of the tab for the expanded services through 2020, after which states will be required to fund just 10 percent. But here’s the rub: As originally written, the law would have guaranteed this coverage by requiring states to institute the expansion or risk losing all federal Medicaid funding.
According to estimates reported by the Urban Institute, 22.3 million people – or nearly half of all uninsured Americans — would be potentially eligible for Medicaid if all states fully implemented the ACA. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like that’s not going to happen.
A coalition of 26 states — including Pennsylvania — filed a lawsuit challenging the Medicaid provision on the grounds that forcing states to accept more federal dollars or risk losing those it already gets is unconstitutional. In a 5-4 vote the Supreme Court agreed, ruling that while expanding Medicaid is a legitimate use of federal power, forcing states to accept it by threatening their existing funding is not.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts explained: “Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize states that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.”
Essentially the ruling gives states a backdoor out of a major provision of Obamacare, and to date six Republican governors — including New Jersey’s Chris Christie, who famously called the Medicaid provision “extortion” — have opted out. By some estimates, their decision could affect as many as 17 million of the poorest Americans, who would fail to benefit from a law designed specifically to protect them.
So far Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has been tight-lipped about whether he plans to opt out, with spokesperson Kelli Roberts saying earlier this month that the administration “need[s] to take the time to review the decision and see what our options are.”
Given the Keystone State’s participation in the original suit, an opt-out is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. If the governor did choose to follow the lead of his counterparts in New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas — all of whom have pledged to reject the Medicaid expansion — his decision could leave a majority of the estimated 680,000 Pennsylvanians who would be eligible for coverage under the provision without a leg to stand on.
That’s because roughly 60 percent of them earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty threshold, according to the Urban Institute, which means they would not be eligible to receive subsidies for private insurance under a separate provision of the ACA.
But that’s not all who would suffer. In an effort to cut costs and create revenue for ACA implementation, the Obama administration cut a deal with hospitals to give up the bulk of the federal payments they currently receive to treat uninsured emergency room patients — known as disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments. The expansion of Medicaid was designed to offset that loss by covering the lowest income uninsured.
“Hospitals agreed to give up this money on the theory that they would have more paying customers,” explained Ann Bacharach of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project. Bacharach says emergency health care facilities in Pennsylvania could lose 75 percent of DSH payments if the state opts out of the Medicaid provision.
“So I think you stand to jeopardize not only the health of individuals who have done nothing wrong beyond not earning enough money, but at the same time you’re putting the current health care system in jeopardy,” she said, echoing Families USA director Ron Pollack’s assertion that refusing to implement expanded Medicaid would be “fiscal malpractice.”
But Bacharach, for one, doesn’t think that will happen, and is banking on states to do the right thing — both politically and fiscally — when push comes to shove.
“It’s a political season, and what we hear from folks now may change after November,” she said. “I would be very surprised if Pennsylvania doesn’t take this up.”
Barring an unforeseen event of major proportions, Pennsylvania appears likely to back President Barack Obama on Nov. 6, according to an analysis of recent polls, which show the president with a widening margin of support at the local and state levels, echoes of a national trend.
“We are in that period where the race seems to settle,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College.
Unusually, Obama’s increasing margin among likely voters is, in many cases, the result of growing disapproval of his opponent Mitt Romney.
Real Clear Politics, which aggregates a number of prominent national polls, gave Obama a three-point lead, nationally. On Monday, Gallup gave Obama a three-point lead. Last week, a CBS/New York Times poll also gave Obama a three-point lead and an Esquire/Yahoo News poll gave the president a five-point lead. That represents a small, but politically significant, shift in voter sentiment, which had both men running neck-and-neck in most national polls as little as two weeks ago.
In the most recent local poll, Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania is widening, according to figures released this weekend by Philadelphia Inquirer.
The poll showed Obama with 50 percent of voters saying they’d vote for him, compared to 39 percent who said they’d choose Rommey. That represented a 1 point drop in the number of voters backing Obama from August when 51 percent of voters said they’d vote for Obama.
But, for Romney, the news was even worse.
In August, 42 percent of Pennsylvania voters said they’d vote for him.
The president enjoys growing support in Philadelphia and the five surrounding counties — where the number of voters who said they’d choose him rose from 59 percent to 61 percent in the Inquirer’s poll.
Romney’s numbers fell — going from 34 percent in August to 32 percent in most figures.
Those trends mirror national trends.
The shifting numbers represent a bounce in public perception after the recent Democratic convention, said pollsters, a typical feature of election year conventions that held this year for Democrats, but not for Republicans.
“Obama did get a modest bounce out of the Democratic convention,” said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup Poll, adding that Mitt Romney did not receive a similar bump after the Republican National Convention.
Not only did Romney not receive any increase in polling numbers from the convention, but he actually fell in Gallup’s poll as Obama rose.
“It’s minus one point for Romney,” Newport said.
A similar thing happened in the 2004 election.
“They were similar to what we saw in ’04,” Newport said, noting that President George Bush emerged from convention season ahead and stayed there.
So, if tradition holds, Obama seems poised to recapture the White House, agreed Newport and Madonna.
“Studies show, and our Gallup data shows that where we are now and the beginning of the debates could well predict who ends up winning the election,” said Newport.
Pennsylvanians are unlikely to change their minds in the 50 days between now and Nov. 6, Madonna said because neither side is campaigning much in the state, and the numbers here are unlikely to change.
“There is not a single television commercial in the state by either candidate, and no candidates [here],” he said.
And, Madonna cautioned that there are exceptions to the rule that whomever leads after the conventions wins — pointing to President Jimmy Carter’s lead in 1980, which evaporated in just a few weeks, and Sen. John McCain’s lead in 2008, which vanished after the collapse of investment banking giant Lehman Brothers.
“That settled the campaign,” Madonna said. “Obama never trailed after that point.”
Something like that could happen again, he warned, noting some historical examples: the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis adding, “And now we have what’s going in the Middle East.”
Both campaigns are focusing their efforts on undecided voters. It’s a crucial demographic, Madonna said, but with the country split by strong partisan feelings, the pool of undecideds is much smaller than usual.
“It’s smaller than we’ve had since 1996,” he said. “The polls are showing as few as 4 and as many as 10 or 12 percent undecided. So, if we just run to the middle it’s 7, 8 or 9. That’s half of what we would normally have.”
Overall, Madonna predicted that though Pennsylvania is often talked about as a battleground state — albeit one which has voted solidly Democratic since the election of President George Bush Sr. — would not be a swing state this year.
“Obama’s lead in Pennsylvania is bigger than the lead any of the other candidates have in any of the other states,” he said, adding that even if the state Supreme Court upheld the controversial new voter ID law that was unlikely to change.
It was a busy, newsworthy year, as 2012 presented a series of local stories that either put Philadelphia in the local spotlight or burnished the city’s reputation and stereotypes. From the fierce presidential campaign that transformed Philadelphia into a major operations base for Obama’s reelection, to the scandals that has enveloped the city’s police and traffic court department, there was no lack of compelling issues. Here’s a look at nine of 2012’s top stories:
When former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed the controversial Voter ID law last March, the governor couldn’t have foreseen the epic battle that would ensue, pitting proponents – mostly Republican politicians and their supporters, versus numerous grassroots organizations that viewed the new law as a GOP-orchestrated plot to subvert and suppress the vote – against one another in a series of tense lawsuits and counterclaims. Last October, Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson ruled the Voter ID law would not be enacted before the 2012 presidential election, in which President Barack Obama easily won re-election over challenger Mitt Romney.
Dr. William Hite Jr. arrives
The School District of Philadelphia searched for a superintendent ever since the embarrassing 2011 departure of former leader Dr. Arlene Ackerman. In comes Dr. Hite, who served as Superintendent of the Prince Georges County Public Schools system before taking the helm here. Hite becomes the first African-American male superintendent in the school district’s history, and is immediately confronted by a slew of pressing issues, none greater than defending and explaining to irate parents the validity of his proposal to close 37 public schools and convert the grades of several others as the district continues to look for way to balance its budget. Hite recently released those findings in the “Live, Learn and Teach in Philadelphia” proposal.
The idea to close dozens of public schools developed long before Hite’s arrival, however. The suggestions were first mentioned in the findings and suggestions included in the analysis by Boston Consulting Group of the district’s finances and operations. District Chief Recovery Officer Thomas Knudsen also alluded to those findings in district documents, including the Facilities Master Plan, the Five Year Blueprint for Transforming Public Schools, the Proposed Five-Year Fiscal Plan and FY 2012-2013 Budget. Originally, more than 40 schools were scheduled for closure.
Jay-Z’s ‘Made in America’ event
Rapper-turned-mogul/professional sports team owner Jay-Z continued his infatuation with Philadelphia when he was announced curator of the massive “Made in America” event in September. As curator, Jay-Z booked himself, along with Kanye West, Pearl Jam, Run DMC, Odd Future and Drake, Pusha T, Big Sean and Philly rappers Freeway, Chris and Neef and many other acts for the two-day bonanza, held on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Mayor Michael Nutter joined Jay-Z in making the announcement, and along with the international attention, the city earned an estimated $500,000 for hosting the event.
Philadelphia cops arrested
Many now former Philadelphia police officers found themselves on the other side of the law, as 2012 witnessed the high-profile arrests of former officers, including the May 3 arrest of 37-year-old Anthony D. Dattilo for several charges, including indecent assault, aggravated indecent assault with a minor and illegal contact with a minor for allegedly having sex with a teenager in a Bensalem-area motel.
In March, former cop Aisha Pleasant was arrested by the Atlantic County, NJ Police Department for resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a policeman, and in May, Bridgette Paris, a 14-year department veteran, was arrested on several theft charges; interestingly, another former officer, Deborah Gore, was also arrested in May for stealing from Kohl’s.
In June, 23-year-old former officer Jonathan Garcia was arrested for allegedly selling heroin to an undercover agent while still in uniform.
In August, 42-year-old former officer John Hoesle for operating a multi-million dollar cable theft ring, while Keith Corley was arrested during the same month for rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault, indecent exposure and official oppression.
Andre Daniels, a 15-year veteran of the department, was arrested in September for illegally obtaining painkillers.
One of the more sensational arrests was that of 19-year veteran Lt. Jonathan Josey, who is shown on tape sucker-punching a woman during the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Philadelphia Traffic Court scandals
The traffic court system suffered numerous black eyes in 2012 and became a symbol of East Coast graft when in September Assistant US attorney Paul Gray arrested Traffic Court Judge Robert Mulgrew, his wife Elizabeth, and Pennsylvania legislative aide Lorraine Dispaldo for a scheme that involved bilking money from Department of Community and Economic Development.
Traffic Court Judge Christine Solomon made national headlines in November when she confessed to knowing – and participating – in a long-running ticket-fixing scandal, going as far to admit to fixing tickets for at least two decades from her perch as democratic ward leader.
Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary was removed from his chair last month for allegedly showing lewd pictures to a female court clerk; Singletary initially announced his resignation in March.
Philly murder rate
That six murders were committed on the first day of 2012 should have served to portend the bloodshed to come. Although the city’s murder/homicide count reached 329 as of Dec. 28 — which actually represents a 16 percent year-over-year drop from 2011 — the epidemic of young black men shooting and killing each other continues to manifest itself in the city’s most depressed neighborhoods, as data provided by the Philadelphia Police Department shows that minorities were responsible 66 percent of the homicides during a three-month sampling completed earlier this year.
New City Council members
A new generation of city council members was sworn in last year, including freshmen Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla, Bobby Henon, Cindy Bass and David Oh – who became the first Asian-American elected to political office in Philadelphia.
New Attorney General Kathleen Kane
Tough-on-crime Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane shocked political watchers when she not only defeated former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in last November’s general election, but when she then went on to soundly beat republican challenger David J. Freed. Harris became the first woman to be elected Attorney General of Pennsylvania – and also became the first Democrat to win that office since it became an electable position in 1980.
Vice President Joe Biden sparked controversy for telling an audience in southern Virginia that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to put them “back in chains,” by deregulating Wall Street.
Romney criticized Biden, saying the remarks were part of a pattern of “reckless” comments by the Obama campaign and his surrogates “that disgrace the office of the presidency.”
Biden’s comments drew a rebuke from conservative media and leaders as well as from L. Douglas Wilder, a former Democratic governor of Virginia and Artur Davis a former Democratic congressman from Alabama who is now a Republican.
Wilder and Davis, who are both African Americans, said Biden’s remarks were inappropriate appeals to race.
“Biden’s remarks brought race into the campaign and they were not necessary,” said Wilder, who served as governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994 and later served as Richmond’s mayor.
Others including President Barack Obama, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Newark Mayor Cory Booker, said the remarks were not appeals to race.
The evidence suggests that Biden’s remarks were not an appeal to race and not an allusion to slavery.
Biden was not speaking to audience composed of only African Americans or at an African American-sponsored event. His comments were made during a speech to a racially mixed crowd of nearly 900 at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
Biden was not speaking about civil rights or some other issue commonly associated with African Americans. He was speaking about Wall Street.
“Romney … said in the first 100 days he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules — unchain Wall Street,” Biden. “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains.”
Obama defended Biden in an interview with People magazine. The president said Biden meant consumers would be worse off if Republicans were able to eliminate new restraints on financial institutions.
“In no sense was he trying to connote something other than that,” Obama said.
Based on the audience Biden was addressing and the context of the speech, Obama is right to conclude that the vice president was not making a racial appeal.
At their worst, Biden’s remarks were poorly phrased.
He conceded he meant to use different words. He said he meant to say “shackle” to counter Republicans who say they want to unshackle Wall Street.
The irony of the so-called controversy is that there have been clearly inappropriate appeals to race and loaded code words that have largely gone unchallenged.
During the primary campaign, Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum accused Obama of actively seeking to put more people on food stamps rather than proposing policies that would help create more jobs.
Gingrich frequently referred to Obama as the “food stamp” president.
Journalist Juan Williams questioned Gingrich on his race-baiting remarks during a presidential debate.
Romney recently accused Obama of seeking to undermine welfare reform legislation passed in the 1990s.
Conservative media repeatedly bring up the New Black Panther Party, as if the small fringe group has any relevance to the presidential race.
Beyond real or perceived racial remarks there are serious issues of concern where race and ethnicity is a factor. Many African-American and Hispanic voters see efforts to clamp down on voter fraud such as new photo ID laws and purging non-citizens from the voter rolls really efforts by Republicans to suppress votes.
The U.S. Justice Department is looking into voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and suing Florida over the purge.
These are the real issues that voters should be outraged about.
President Barack Obama will tour western Pennsylvania and portions of Ohio later this week, urging voters in the two key states to compare his record with that of his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“He’ll lay out the choice facing voters in November — two contrasting economic visions,” said Ben LaBolt, press secretary for the campaign. “Throughout the trip he’ll talk with voters about what he’s done to bring the economy back from the brink.”
It will be the president’s first bus tour — dubbed “Betting on America” — of the campaign.
LaBolt announced details of Obama’s bus tour on Tuesday in a teleconference with reporters. During the course of the two-day tour, the president will make three stops in Ohio — at Maumee, near Toledo, in Sandusky and Parma, a suburb of Cleveland, on Thursday and one in Pennsylvania on Friday with a visit to Pittsburgh.
Voters in both areas are crucial to an Obama victory. Ohio and Pennsylvania have 38 electoral votes between them. Pennsylvania has 20 and Ohio has 18.
Both areas are part of what is called the Rust Belt, areas that were once thriving centers of manufacturing that have declined with loss of manufacturing jobs.
“Four years ago, then Sen. Obama came to Pittsburgh and promised strengthened American manufacturing — and once we elected him, he kept that promise,” said Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
Last month, Romney made a similar tour.
And two Pennsylvania Republicans were quick to jump on the president this week as news that he would be touring hit the press.
Senators Pat Toomey and Rob Portman accused Obama of a “promise gap.”
“A promise gap: a clear and demonstrable difference between what the president promised to voters and what he actually delivered,” said the two senators in an open letter distributed by the Romney campaign. “He made a promise on nearly every critical issue of the day — employment, energy, healthcare, housing, and the deficit — that our lives would be better off today if his policies were enacted.”
As the two presidential candidates swing through the two states, a new Quinnipiac Poll gave Obama an edge over Romney in both. In Pennsylvania, Obama leads Romney 45 percent to 39 percent; and in Ohio, the president is ahead 47 percent to 38 percent, according to the poll.
“If he can keep those leads in these key swing states through Election Day, he would be virtually assured of re-election,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
According to the Associated Press, Obama aides consider Ohio a toss-up state, but believe Pennsylvania is leaning in the president's favor.
Though Romney’s tour did reach into southeastern Pennsylvania, Obama will not be touring the eastern part of the state during this tour. However, his campaign was opening a new campaign office in West Philadelphia Tuesday evening with Mayor Michael Nutter and Councilman Curtis Jones on hand for an official ribbon cutting.
Here’s a prediction: Mitt Romney will become the 40th Republican nominee for president. Although mathematically he cannot become the nominee until early spring at best, this primary race is his to lose. With tens of millions of dollars raised, a well-oiled machine in place and a crackerjack staff, the Romney campaign appears to be a runaway train with the final destination being the White House.
Romney’s biggest obstacle is himself. In many ways he reminds me of Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004. Romney, like Kerry, is philosophically moderate, wealthy, smart and well-intentioned, and from Massachusetts. They’re intellectuals who do not see the messy world of politics and policy in black and white, rather in shades of gray. In the era of red state versus blue state and were sound bites trump a reasoned, balanced, thoughtful conversation, sadly, this type of politician has become a rare breed.
Romney’s recent comment about liking to fire people, along with his earlier comment of “corporations are people too” will be used by the president and by national Democrats repeatedly, once Romney officially becomes the nominee. Yes, he said it, and even Romney’s foes will admit that the latter comment was taken out of context. In truth, I think that’s the least of Romney’s worries. There is no doubt, that he is a better candidate today than he was four years ago when he ran against John McCain for the GOP nod. There is also little doubt that throughout this bruising primary fight, Romney is becoming an even better candidate. I have heard many people say he is only benefiting because there is a weak field. Wrong. Romney’s tenacity and hard work have made the rest of the field weak. We must remember that Romney essentially has never stopped running for president, and like any person who has been training for a long marathon, he has been practicing over and over again. His problem is that although no one will ever demonize him for his success — hell, that would be un-American — he will be criticized for not being authentic.
Not being authentic? I know, I know, and I really can’t put my finger on it, but Romney oftentimes just does not seem like one of us. He tries. Really hard, but it’s not natural. It’s not that he can’t empathize with people who are struggling to make ends meet, I just get the feeling that he simply cannot relate, and his way of dealing with the situation is to speak in platitudes about how he is going to fix the economy.
For the independents out there who will decide this election come November that may be enough, but something tells me that in order to win the White House, Romney has to do a better job of actually relating to average Americans. Understanding that they are being forced to do more with less, understanding that they are fed up with the 1 percent — not the 1 percent that are successful because they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps; we love the stories of an Oprah Winfrey, who was born into poverty and who became the 1 percent through her talents, or the Steve Jobs’ or the Bill Clintons of the world — but upset with the 1 percent who are out for pure greed and whose only objective is to make money off of money and have no interest in helping those who are less fortunate.
And that will be the real test for Mitt Romney: to connect with average independent-minded Americans and to convince them to rally to his cause. Can he do it? Election Day will be the day when we all find out.
Fox News, the unofficial arm of the Republican Party that claims to be fair and balanced, is conducting an all-out assault on President Obama, doing everything from letting Mitt Romney advisers masquerade as objective commentators to ignoring facts when a high-profile Obama critic or Fox News commentator makes unfounded charges.
MediaMatters.org, the watchdog group, has cataloged numerous instances of Fox’s one-sided and unethical behavior.
“Fox News has repeatedly hosted advisers to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney without disclosing that they are helping his campaign. Media Matters examined recent appearances by advisers John Bolton, Jay Sekulow and Walid Phares, who have all appeared on Fox News and criticized the Obama administration. Bolton and Phares are Fox News contributors, while Sekulow is a frequent Fox News guest,” the group stated.
“Bolton, a Romney foreign policy adviser, said on Fox News that Obama’s foreign policy is ‘confused and incoherent and incompetent’ and defended Romney’s foreign policy experience. Sekulow, a Romney legal adviser, has repeatedly appeared on Fox to attack the Obama administration on a variety of legal issues. And Phares, a member of Romney’s foreign policy and national security advisory team, has criticized the Obama administration’s handling of Syria and Afghanistan on Fox.”
Greta Van Susteren, host of “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren,” said on May 3: “One year after the killing of bin Laden, Republicans are blasting President Obama for spiking the football. And now, a veterans’ group is slamming the president for taking the credit instead of giving it to the special forces.”
She aired part of the ad and said, “What I take away from that ad is that the veterans are deeply disturbed — this group of veterans, maybe not all veterans, but this one — and they were saying that he was arrogant and taking credit, that he was not humble and had no humility …it’s very boorish to take credit away from those brave men … at the scene, who did actually execute this unbelievable killing of Osama bin Laden.”
Fox also allowed guests get away with a similar line of attack.
During the Fox News Special Report on May 3, guest host John Roberts announced that a group called Veterans for a Strong America had released an ad “accusing President Obama of spiking the football over Osama bin Laden.” Fox aired part of the ad that claimed “heroes don’t spike the football.”
Fox contributor and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said on the program: “It isn’t just that Obama has managed to turn a positive, something he did well, into a negative by attacking, using it as a partisan weapon which diminishes him, also it diminishes the solemnity of the event, which was a national event, and he used it, he appropriated it for himself. It is the narcissism, and that is the deeper issue here, how they quote Obama again and again, using the first personal pronoun in his announcement of the event. It’s all about me, I, commander-in-chief, I ordered, I did this. What about the guys out there who did it and who risked their lives?”
As Media Matters points out, the personal references by Obama were taken out of context and the president has often given credit to field operatives. In his May 2, 2011, announcement that Bin Laden had been killed, the president said, “A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”
He also stated, “We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.”
In a rare dissent from Fox News orthodoxy, host Megyn Kelly said in an interview with the founder of the veterans’ group, “He [Obama] did give thanks to the others, and of course had to mention the first person in discussing how things went down.”
Neither Kelly nor anyone else at Fox News disclosed that Joel Arends, whose group created the veterans’ ad, is a longtime Republican operative. He worked on the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain and is chairman of the Lincoln County, S.D. Republican Party.
Fox News was created by Roger Ailes, a former media adviser to Richard Nixon, and other Republican figures. He supported the 1988 scheme to link Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis to Willie Horton, a Black convicted felon. Ailes told the New York Times, “The only question is whether we depict Willie Horton with a knife in his hand or without it.”
There is no question that Ailes’ network is using a knife this time — to stab Obama in the back. — (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his website, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
Mitt Romney may have moved closer to wrapping up the Republican nomination for president, but he can’t seem to move his foot away from his mouth whenever he goes off script. Throughout this campaign, the former Massachusetts governor has been his worst enemy as he struggles to connect with average voters.
Here are some examples:
April 25, 2011 – In an op-ed in the Manchester Union Leader, Romney accused President Obama of going on “one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.”
Simultaneously fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan hardly qualifies as “peacetime.”
April 30 – Speaking at an Americans for Prosperity dinner in Manchester, N.H., Romney said: “Reagan came up with this great thing about the ‘misery index’ and he hung that around Jimmy Carter’s neck. Well, we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around his neck.” He continued, “…We’re going to hang him…” After stopping mid-sentence, Romney added, “So to speak — metaphorically. You have to be careful these days.”
Yes, Mitt, you do have to be careful these days. And saying even metaphorically that you want to hang a Black man, in this case the president of the United States, shows appalling insensitivity to this country’s long and ugly history of lynching.
June 16 – Speaking to unemployed workers in Tampa, Fla., Romney said, “I am also unemployed.”
When you are worth between $190 million and $250 million and receive more than $20 million a year from investments, you don’t have to work.
Aug. 11 – At the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Romney said: “Corporations are people, my friend.”
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the comment was “one more indication that Romney and the Republicans on the campaign trail and in Washington have misplaced priorities.”
Dec. 10 – During the Sioux City GOP debate: “Rick, I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet?”
Oct. 18 – In the GOP debate in Las Vegas, recalling a conversation he had with his lawn-care service that had employed illegal immigrants: “We went to the company and we said, Look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.”
Would it be all right if Romney wasn’t running for office?
Jan. 9 – Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce function in Nashua, N.H.: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
Jan. 17 – In Greenville, S.C., Romney called the $370,000 he earned in speaking fees in 2011 “not very much money.” According to the Census Bureau, that’s more than seven times the average household income of $49,445.
Feb. 1 – CNN interview: “I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
Romney made it very clear that he is no John F. Kennedy. And although he professed not to be concerned for the very rich, independent analyses of his tax plan show that’s the group that would most benefit under his proposal.
Comedian Jon Stewart said on his “Daily Show”: “It’s like a doctor going, ‘I’m not concerned about the very healthy, because they’re doing fine, or the very sick because, you know, morphine.’”
Feb. 24 – Speaking in Detroit: “I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.”
Way to go, Mitt. Remind the audience that your wife drives two vehicles that sell for $35,485-$54,525 each and that you have two homes, each with its own Cadillac. Working-class people can really relate to that.
Feb. 26 – When asked by a reporter at the Daytona 500 if he followed racing, Romney replied: “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
One blogger said Romney saying he had friends that were NASCAR owners was akin to saying you enjoy football because you hang out with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a skybox at the Super Bowl.
But Romney didn’t stop there. He told a group of racing fans wearing plastic ponchos: “I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks.” Describing ponchos as “fancy raincoats” shows that Romney needs to get out of his mansions more often.
Despite Romney’s effort to put his best foot forward, he usually sticks it in his mouth. – (NNPA)
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine and the NNPA News Service, is a keynote speaker, moderato, and media coach. He can be reached through his website, www.georgecurry.com You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.
Philadelphians are giving less to President Barack Obama this time around than they did in 2008, according to new campaign finance reports filed with Federal Elections Commission.
According to new filings, Obama has collected $2.8 million from donors in Philadelphia zip codes. That’s far less than the $4 million he collected from the same area at a similar point during the 2008 campaign. In 2008, Obama ran against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Primary, while he is unopposed this year for the Democratic nomination.
But, said one local political consultant, the numbers will rise when the president starts to campaign in the city and across the state.
“As we start to close in on the election, and he starts to put out the effort — I think that the fundraising will start to rise,” said Maurice Floyd.
He added that because of the historic nature of Obama’s 2008 campaign, it was difficult to compare donations this time around with those from the previous presidential campaign cycle.
“It may not hit where it hit last time, but if you look at those numbers, they were very incredible numbers,” he said.
By the completion of the 2008 campaign, Obama had collected $14.8 million from Pennsylvanians. That compared to $5.2 million for then-candidate Sen. John McCain.
It’s a trend that is being repeated — at this point — again.
In terms of donations to his campaign from within Pennsylvania, Obama has managed to stay ahead of Mitt Romney — they brought in $4.3 million and $3.2 million respectively.
The finance reports back up recent polling that shows Obama with a lead in three swing states, Pennsylvania among them. A Quinnipiac poll released last week showed Obama leading in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.
In Pennsylvania — where Democrats have carried the last five presidential elections — Obama leads Romney, 45 percent to 39 percent. He also enjoys a similar lead in Ohio, where numbers showed him with the support of 48 percent of voters to Romney’s 36 percent.
However, mirroring national trends, Republicans in the Keystone State have amassed a significantly larger war chest, which, in the wake of the Citizens’ United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that allows private groups and corporations to fund political ads, gives the GOP a formidable financial advantage. Republican fundraising was reported at $6.3 million for Romney and the party, compared to $4.3 million for Obama and the party.
The president was in the area last month on a fundraising trip, and Floyd was confident that Democrats from the city, region and state would open their wallets as Election Day nears.
“The tighter it gets and the closer it gets to the election, those resources will start to come in,” he said.
That doesn’t mean the president is poised to sweep Pennsylvania. The same Quinnipiac poll that gave Obama an edge showed that voters are evenly split on the question of who would do a better job on the economy.
Both candidates have been busy pitching their economic message to voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The president kicked off a two-state bus tour Thursday, visiting Ohio and western Pennsylvania with three stops in northern Ohio on Thursday, and a visit to Pittsburgh today. It’s his first bus tour of this campaign cycle, and comes close on the heels of a bus tour by Romney that made several stops in Pennsylvania last month.
At a national level, the Obama campaign has far more cash on hand than Romney.
However, when money from Republican political action groups is factored in, Romney has the cash advantage with $266.7 million given to the party and its allies. That compares to $255.2 million to Obama and Democratic PACs.
Again, Floyd. while acknowledging the president’s position, said he felt the Democrats would still be able to run an effective campaign.
“He’s still going to have what he needs,” Floyd said of Obama. “He’s not going to be lacking in any way from running a good, successful campaign for lack of money.”
Nationally, the largest share of Obama’s campaign donations – approximately $154.7 million, has come from donors giving less than $200. The reverse is true for Romney, with donors giving more than $1,000 contributing a larger share at $89.5 million.
Colin Powell, retired four-star general and secretary of state in President George W. Bush’s administration, has for the second time endorsed President Barack Obama, sending shockwaves through the political landscape.
Powell officially announced his endorsement of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday during a segment on "CBS This Morning."
After alluding to his support for Obama’s reelection, host Charlie Rose asked Powell directly if this was Powell’s way of saying he endorses the president.
“Yes, And let me say why. When he took over, the country was in very, very difficult straits; we were in one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos. We had 800,000 jobs lost in that first month of the Obama administration and unemployment would peak a few months later at 10 percent. So we were in real trouble,” said Powell, who also served as commander of the U.S. Armed Forces Command and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The auto industry was collapsing. The housing industry was starting to collapse, and we were in very difficult straits. And I saw over the next several years stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it's starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising. So I think generally we've come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude. It doesn't mean we are problem-solved; there are lots of problems still out there.
“The unemployment rate is too high. People are still hurting in housing. But I see that we are starting to rise up. I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war and did not get us into any new wars,” Powell continued. “And finally, I think that the actions he's taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid. And so I think we ought to keep on the track that we are on.”
Powell also questioned the economic proposals put forth by Republican challenger and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, saying Romney’s plan essentially boils down to ‘Let's cut taxes and compensate for that with other things.’ But that compensation does not cover all of the cuts intended or the new expenses associated with defense.”
Powell reiterated his endorsement of Obama to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
While Democrats celebrated Powell’s endorsement – White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said the president did not have previous knowledge of tit - GOP stalwarts weren’t so convinced of its impact.
“The endorsement came as no surprise, as Powell obviously endorsed then-Senator Barack Obama in 2007,” said Tribune correspondent and longtime Republican insider Robert Traynham. “Powell is a moderate Republican who has openly talked about the virtues of the Republican and Democratic parties. So this is not a surprise in any way, shape or form.
“Historically, endorsements really don’t matter that much, and usually do not sway voters one way or the other. It’s more symbolic than anything else,” Traynham continued. “This race is highly partisan, so I just don’t see it having an effect.”
Phone calls to former Pennsylvania Republican State Committee Chairwoman Renee Amoore, the Republican Party of Pennsylvania headquarters in Harrisburg and to Mitt Romney’s state campaign headquarters were unreturned as of Tribune press time.
According to conservative outlet Politico, Republican former White House challenger Sen. John McCain, blasted Powell’s endorsement. Powell endorsed Obama over McCain in 2008.
“All I can say is: General Powell, you disappoint us,” McCain said Thursday on Fox News radio, Politico reported. “And you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly been the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime… I think one of the sad aspects of his career is going to the United Nations Security Council and telling them things about Iraq that were absolutely false.” Powell has since apologized for that ill-advised speech at the UN.
McCain wasn’t the only conservative disappointed by Powell’s endorsement.
“Saddened and disappointed,” former ambassador, consultant and Republican strategist Tom Korologos told Politico. “But not surprised.” Republican lobbyist and strategist Peter Madigan sounded a more neutral tone, saying that Powell was hung out by the Republican Party before.
“General Powell is a good man and has given great service to our country. He has decided that he will not be left on the sidelines in this campaign, and that he can help put Obama over the top. So we have ‘Meet the Press’ do a segment on the Colin Powell endorsement - by the way, this would not have been a segment had he come out for McCain,” Madigan wrote at Politico. “The last time General Powell stood up for something he was not totally sure about was going to Iraq. He got burned, set up, trusted the intelligence, but did what he thought was right.
“Colin Powell's standing as a general officer and great public servant will not be diminished or enhanced by this endorsement,” Madigan continued. “It's just kind of too bad he felt so compelled to get back in the game and make news that he got set up again – this time by the news media and the Obama campaign.”
Still, the endorsement of Powell – the first and only African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and one of only several dozen servicemen to attain the rank of four-star general – can be seen as a boost to Obama’s military and foreign policy agendas.
Politico and The Associated Press contributed to this story.