February 10th, 2012
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Obama will propose a budget on Monday that forecasts a $901 billion deficit in 2013, and includes plans to make targeted investments in areas like infrastructure while hiking taxes on the rich.
The White House bills the document as a "blueprint for how we can rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."
But given the intense acrimony in Washington, especially on budget issues, few provisions in the document are likely to ever become law.
The budget will project that the deficit for fiscal year 2012 will top $1.3 trillion, before falling in 2013 to $901 billion, or 5.5% of gross domestic product.
By 2022, the deficit is forecast to fall to $704 billion, or 2.8% of GDP, according to the White House.
Senior administration officials discussed details of the budget with reporters on Friday night. The full budget will be released Monday morning.
The administration officials said the budget is very much a continuation of two previous Obama keystones.
This first is a speech delivered last year in Kansas where he presented Americans with a choice: a "fair shot" with him, or a return to "you're on your own economics."
The second is last month's State of the Union address, which focused on the broad themes of income inequality.
The 2013 budget is somewhat limited in scope because the White House had to fit spending on discretionary accounts below the limits set in the Budget Control Act approved by Congress last summer.
Over a decade, the cuts enshrined in the Budget Control Act total in the neighborhood of $1 trillion in discretionary spending.
That means it's no easy feat to find room for additional spending on infrastructure, research and development and education -- investments Obama says are critical.
The White House said that in order to fit under the caps, it had to lower spending in certain areas. To that end, discretionary spending is projected to fall from 8.7% of GDP in 2011 to 5.0% in 2022.
The details on specific program cuts were not immediately available.
A few areas of reduction are known: Military spending will be reduced. The Pentagon plans to spend $487 billion less over ten years, a course that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has already laid out in some detail.
For example, Panetta has said the Army will save money by pulling two of its four brigades out of permanent bases in Europe to bases in the United States.
And the Navy will be getting rid of older ships that don't have the latest ballistic missile defense.
Of course, the budget doesn't just cut spending -- it also raises taxes.
The White House included $1.5 trillion in tax hikes, including a provision that will allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for high-income earners, a long-held Obama position.
The budget also incorporates the Buffett Rule, a guideline to ensure that the wealthiest do not pay a lower overall tax rate than those who earn substantially less money.
Specifically, no household making more than $1 million will be a allowed to pay less than 30% of its income in taxes.
In addition, the White House wants to reform the individual tax code in a way that "eliminates inefficient and unfair tax breaks for millionaires while making all tax breaks at least as good for the middle class as for the wealthy."
Later this month, the president will unveil a plan to reform corporate taxes, including lowering rates, administration officials said.
The budget to be released Monday will include many of the job creation provisions laid out in the American Jobs Act, a piece of legislation Obama delivered last year with great fanfare but was almost totally ignored by Congress.
The administration is also proposing a series of investments focused on infrastructure, education and domestic manufacturing, including old favorites like $30 billion to modernize schools and an additional $30 billion to retain and hire teachers and first responders.
The budget will also offer details on what the White House calls a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee. The tax will raise $61 billion over 10 years from large financial institutions to help offset the cost of the TARP bailout and Obama's mortgage refinance programs.
The release of Obama's budget comes just as both political parties are ramping up efforts to fundraise and compete in both the presidential contest and crucial down-ballot races that will shape the next Congress.
That spells dysfunction on Capitol Hill.
February 10th, 2012
UK Daily Mail
By Toby Harnden
Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union, has said that Republican turmoil might lead to a brokered convention in which Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, would emerge as a “possible alternative” party nominee.
Mr Cardenas, who is running this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a gathering in Washington of some 10,000 conservatives, told MailOnline that it was not certain that one of the four current Republican candidates would emerge victorious.
His comments came as Republicans fretted publicly about the perceived weaknesses of Mitt Romney, the establishment choice and frontrunner, Rick Santorum, surprise winner in three states on Tuesday, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Al Cardenas. Photo: Human Events.
Jeb Bush, former Florida governor and younger brother of President George W. Bush, has repeatedly said he will not run in 2012. He is one of a number of senior figures who disappointed activists and party officials alike by staying on the sidelines.
“We'll know more in the next few weeks,” said Mr Cardenas. “The pressure’s already been on Mitt Romney to close the sale... and he hasn’t.” A split verdict on “Super Tuesday” on March 6th, when 10 states vote, could lead to a surprise at the Republican convention in Tampa in August, he suggested.
Just over an hour after his interview with MailOnline, Mr Cardenas took to the CPAC stage to introduce Mr Romney, who sought to allay the fears of activists, who view him as a moderate or changeling, using the words “conservative” or “conservatism” some 24 times.
The last time a Republican nomination battle went to the party convention was in 1976, when President Gerald Ford assembled a coalition of delegates to defeat Ronald Reagan at the first ballot.
There has not been a brokered Republican convention, where no candidate wins the first ballot, since 1948, when Thomas Dewey came out on top in the third ballot.
“March 6th is really the telling date as to whether we have a chance of a brokered convention or not,” said Mr Cardenas. “If Mitt wins Arizona and Michigan at the end of February and runs with the vast majority of delegates on March 6th, I still think he could end it early.
“If there's a mixed bag, if he loses Michigan or Arizona and he wins one or two [on March 6th] and the other states are spread around you might just as well get into a convention where nobody has a majority of delegates.
“And then you might see the possibility of two of the four candidates making a deal, a ticket, things of that nature. It starts getting exciting.” If no deal could be struck then a dark horse could step in on a second ballot, when delegates pledged to candidates would be free to vote as they wished.
“That’s when you start thinking of a Jeb Bush or someone like that could maybe come in as a possible alternative,” said Mr Cardenas, who also hails from Florida.
Mitt Romney embraces Al Cardenas before his CPAC speech today.
Mr Cardenas said that there were other names that might also be in the frame if no one could amass the 1,144 delegates needed. “Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels, there’s a slew of potential candidates. Mike Huckabee. There are five or six candidates that will always be in the conversation if that [a brokered convention] were the case.”
Any possible dark horse would, he said, remain silent until the summer. “There’s no one of reputation that would even want to talk about an issue like that at this time.
“A. They consider it destructive, they think the process should be given every chance to work itself out, that’s the honourable thing to do. People would only start jockeying around that come June if this is unsettled.”
A number of activists at CPAC said they were disappointed by the current field and would have liked to have had other choices.
“I’m looking for anyone who will beat Barack Obama,” said Tim Finn, 52, a mental health therapist from Orangeburg, New York, who was sporting a red baseball cap with the words “Fire Obama” on it.
“Each candidate has his own baggage and you’ve got to weigh which one is the least heavy. That keeps me juggling. I would have liked to see Christie in it. Or even Marco Rubio. But no one can make them.”
Maggie Phelan, 48, of Alexandria, Virginia said that “the party’s already selected the guy they want – Romney” but it was out of touch with Republican activists.
“Maybe somebody will come out of left field and throw the whole game off track. An unknown factor, maybe somebody comes out of the blue. I don’t know who that would be. Maybe Sarah Palin. Maybe Jeb Bush.”
The Romney campaign pooh-poohed the notion of a brokered convention at which a dark horse would come forward. “Fantasy,” said Stuart Stevens, Mr Romney’s chief strategist. “All my life I've heard that. Pigs will fly. Total fantasy.
“It’s the same way that I could have sex with some supermodel tonight. It could happen. We could be on a plane, we could crash...No, it's not going to happen. It never has.”
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February 10th, 2012
Green Mountain Scribes
Conservative activists are planning to “take back the park” on Monday, February 13th when they will hold a rally that kicks off five weeks of noontime events in the eastern section of Washington, D.C.’s Freedom Plaza. The rest of the park’s space is home to an Occupy D.C. encampment.
We have the same First Amendment rights as the Occupiers and any legitimate petitioner has for access to our nation’s public sites. This is what makes America great,” said National Center Executive Director David W. Almasi, who is organizing Monday’s rally. “We will be making the case for economic freedom and American exceptionalism from Monday through the ides of March, sayings things that have not been uttered in that park for some time but should resonate with every American — even the Occupiers.”
This is the first known occurrence anywhere in America where conservatives have successfully applied for and received a permit that rolls back the sprawl of an Occupy encampment.
The ‘Occupiers’ are fundamentally undemocratic,” said National Center Chairman Amy Ridenour. “They want the public to agree to whatever it is they want, even though they can’t or won’t articulate it, or else they’ll commit crimes, infest cities with rats, cost police overtime and refuse to go away. Blackmail, essentially. We are standing up for liberty and free speech within the law. We’ll make our point, go home to beds we paid for ourselves every night, pick up our own trash, follow the law and be content that in a democratic republic such as our own, voters make the ultimate decisions, not a bunch of blackmailers.”
FreedomWorks. The event will be emceed by National Center media fellow and nationally-touring comedian Steven Crowder.
The National Center for Public Policy Research,founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank with over 100,000 recent supporters. Contributions to it are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.
AFS/GMS Via the National Center for Public Policy Research.
February 10th, 2012
CNet / Charles Cooper
C'mon, Google, admit it: You're getting into hardware, and you're gunning for Apple.
With more signs pointing to a Google entertainment device of some sort somewhere over the horizon, the company's recent FCC filing offers the latest hint of what's become an inescapable conclusion. The document echoes what Google has hinted, announcing in black and white that the company iis developing a prototype "entertainment device" of some sort.
As to the details:
Testing will include functional testing of all subsystems, including WiFi and Bluetooth radio. Users will connect their device to home WiFi networks and use Bluetooth to connect to other home electronics equipment. This line of testing will reveal real world engineering issues and reliability of networks. The device utilizes a standard WiFi/Bluetooth module, and the planned testing is not directed at evaluating the radio frequency characteristics of the module (which are known), but rather at the throughput and stability of the home WiFi networks that will support the device, as well as the basic functionality of the device.
A couple of other clues:last spring Google gave developers at the Google I/O conference a peek at Android@Home devices playing music. And of course, there's that $12.5 billion deal to buy Motorola Mobility which is just about to close.
- Google wants Android to be the device hub
- Google uncloaks once-secret server
- More bad news for Google TV
Still, there's no shortage of doubters. Matt Rosoff has an interesting post at Business Insider listing all the reasons Google's foray into hardware is destined to fail. He revisits all the right points about why Apple's been so successful transforming itself from a PC maker to a broad supplier of products and services for consumers. But he takes a dim view of Google's chances, based on its mediocre record up to date.
Fair enough. Google TV, unveiled in 2010, was supposed to be a unique way of bring the World Wide Web into the living room. Outside of the folks living in the Googleplex, it's hard to find anyone who doesn't believe the service has been a big disappointment. (It got a redesign last fall.)
But let's not be too quick to count Google out. Check out what my colleague Larry Dignan has to say about the import of the Motorola deal where he notes that while Google may not know hardware, Motorola surely does.
Motorola is bringing a large installed base of cable set-top boxes to the party. There are two set-top box players--Cisco and Motorola. Motorola Mobility brings home IP video, home digital video and home networking tools. In other words, Google will already have a big footprint in your living room as soon as the Motorola deal closes.
It remains unclear whether Google and Motorola can get the idiot proof integration done that the living room requires. But Google will have hardware expertise via Motorola. If Google's home entertainment foray works the Motorola purchase--and the profit margin pressure that comes with it--may be justified.
It's worth the gamble. Just this week Kodak reminded the world what happens when a super-dominant company clings too long to a fading business model.
There's nothing remotely bad about milking the search advertising business for all it's worth--and it's worth a lot. But nobody can guarantee it will remain as lucrative a decade or two from now. One thing you can bank on: People will still be watching entertainment in their living rooms in the year 2022--probably in 2032 as well.
Unlike most companies contemplating this sharp a change, Google has the resources to roll with it. If it fails, it's a one-time writeoff. If it succeeds, Google sheds the one-trick pony label and broadens its business beyond search in a big way. What's not to like?
February 10th, 2012
USA Today / By Catalina Camia and Jackie Kucinich
Newt Gingrich stressed his "bold solutions" to challenge the Republican establishment and defeat President Obama in November.
In his remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Gingrich touted a long list of ideas -- from ending "Obamacare" to revamping job training programs -- that he says will revive the economy and bring fundamental change to Washington.
BLOG: Santorum at CPAC
The former House speaker, who is dropping in national polls on the GOP presidential race, sought to re-establish himself as the candidate with bold ideas for change.
He took aim at the "establishment," a criticism that he has leveled at times to government and the news media. This time, Gingrich made clear he is taking on a Republican establishment that "wants to manage decay."
"The establishment America is tied up in red tape, tied up in incompetence, tied up in interest groups," he said. "There is a mortal grip on the establishment. ... We intend to change Washington, not accommodate it."
Gingrich was the last of three GOP presidential candidates to address the Washington gathering, made up of more than 10,000 activists who are often the backbone of political campaigns.
The speech gave him an opportunity to revive interest in his campaign, which has been overshadowed this week by Rick Santorum's victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.
Gingrich now is third in Gallup's daily tracking poll, garnering 18% support from registered Republican voters. He was at the top of the GOP field shortly after his decisive victory over Romney in the South Carolina primary just a few weeks ago.
Romney leads in the national survey, with 34%, followed by Santorum at 22%.
In his remarks, Gingrich touted his plan for an optional 15% flat tax, no taxes on capital gains and a 12.5% corporate income tax.
Gingrich also called for a new Environmental Solutions Agency to replace the Environmental Protection Agency, and personal savings accounts in Social Security for young workers.
See photos of: Newt Gingrich
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