Mitt Romney’s second go-round at a presidential run is not going so well.
Nine states have voted so far, and in six of them the former Massachusetts governor has shed supporters who voted for him in 2008, winning fewer votes in each of those states than he did last time.
“Romney doesn’t seem to have a cause,” said John J. Pitney Jr., a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California. “There’s no Romney faction in the Republican Party. John McCain was able to present himself as the champion of political reform. [Ronald] Reagan was the champion of conservatives. Romney is trying to portray himself as a generic Republican, and I think a lot of Republicans regard him as a resident alien in the conservative movement, not as a full-fledged citizen.”
The Republican Party has had an affinity for nominating do-over candidates. Five of the past six non-incumbent nominees were repeat contenders: Richard M. Nixon, Reagan, Bob Dole, Mr. McCain and George H.W. Bush. The only exception in the past 50 years was Mr. Bush’s son, George W. Bush, in 2000.
Each of those previous do-overs did much better in their final campaigns: Reagan in 1980 and the elder Mr. Bush in 1988 improved their counts over their previous runs in every one of the first eight states to vote. Mr. Dole did better in all but one of the first eight, and Mr. McCain did better in six of the first eight races in 2008.
Mr. Romney has done worse in caucuses in Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota and Maine, and also in Missouri’s primary — though that contest was nonbinding. In Minnesota, Mr. Romney won less than a third of the votes he won there in 2008, while in Colorado he won 30 percent fewer votes.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber, who also devised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s statewide health care reforms, is backtracking on an analysis he provided the White House in support of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, informing officials in three states that the price of insurance premiums will dramatically increase under the reforms.
“It is true that even after tax credits some individuals are ‘losers,’” Gruber conceded, “in that they pay more than before [Obama's] reform.”
Gruber, whom the Obama administration hired to provide an independent analysis of reforms, was widely criticized for failing to disclose the conflict of interest created by $392,600 in no-bid contracts the Department of Health and Human Services awarded him while he was advising the president’s policy advisers.
Gruber also received $566,310 during 2008 and 2009 from the National Institutes of Health to conduct a study on the Medicare Part D plan.
In 2011, officials in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Colorado ordered reports from Gruber which offer a drastically different portrait in 2012 from the one Obama painted just 17 months ago.
“As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act,” the president said in September 2010, ”premiums are going to be lower than they would be otherwise; health care costs overall are going to be lower than they would be otherwise.”
Gruber’s new reports are in direct contrast Obama’s words — and with claims Gruber himself made in 2009. Then, the economics professor said that based on figures provided by the independent Congressional Budget Office, “[health care] reform will significantly reduce, not increase, non-group premiums.”
During his presentation to Wisconsin officials in August 2011, Gruber revealed that while about 57 percent of those who get their insurance through the individual market will benefit in one way or another from the law’s subsides, an even larger majority of the individual market will end up paying drastically more overall.
“After the application of tax subsidies, 59 percent of the individual market will experience an average premium increase of 31 percent,” Gruber reported.
The reason for this is that an estimated 40 percent of Wisconsin residents who are covered by individual market insurance don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum coverage requirements. Under the Affordable Care Act, they will be required to purchase more expensive plans.
Some politicians and pundits seem to think that President Obama is vulnerable politically because of the economy in the doldrums. “It’s the economy, stupid,” has become one of the many mindless mantras of our time.
What Obama seems to understand that Republicans and many in the media do not, is that dependency on the government in hard times can translate into votes for the White House incumbent.
Growing numbers of Americans on food stamps, jobs preserved by bailouts, people living on extended unemployment payments and people behind in their mortgage payments being helped by government interventions are all potential voters for those who rescued them — even if their rescuers are the reason for hard times, in the first place.
The economy was far worse during the first term of Franklin D. Roosevelt than it has been under Obama. Unemployment rates under FDR were more than double what they have been under Obama. Yet FDR was reelected in a landslide. Dependency pays off for politicians, even when it damages an economy or ruins a society.
Mitt Romney’s statement about not worrying about the poor has been treated as a gaffe in much of the media, and those in the Republican establishment who have been rushing toward endorsing his coronation as the GOP’s nominee for president — with 90% of the delegates still not yet chosen — have been trying to sweep his statement under the rug.
But Romney’s statement about not worrying about the poor — because they “have a very ample safety net” — was followed by a statement that was not just a slip of the tongue, and should be a defining moment in telling us about this man’s qualifications as a conservative and, more important, as a potential president of the United States.
Romney has come out in support of indexing the minimum wage law, to have it rise automatically to keep pace with inflation. To many people, that would seem like a small thing that can be left for economists or statisticians to deal with.
But to people who call themselves conservatives, and aspire to public office, there is no excuse for not being aware of what a major social disaster the minimum wage law has been for the young, the poor and especially for young and poor blacks.
Republicans are pounding Barack Obama on Solyndra, but it may be a complicated argument for their front-runner to maintain: While Mitt Romney was governor, Massachusetts also picked some winners and losers with energy subsidies.
And like Obama, some of the companies Romney’s state invested in came out on the losing end.
The scale is dramatically different: While the Obama administration dumped $535 million alone into Solyndra — the California solar panel company that subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection — the energy loans, grants and other financial help Romney distributed during four years as governor add up to just a fraction of that amount.
But Democrats — and even some Republicans — say the core issue is the same: If the federal government shouldn’t be betting on one company rather than the other, then neither should the state of Massachusetts.
“It’s exactly the kind of thing he’d say you invest in, that you win some, you lose some,” said Sonia Hamel, a former special assistant who handled climate issues for Romney in the Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development. “It does seem hypocritical.”
EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has renewed his support for automatic increases in the federal minimum wage to keep pace with inflation. That position puts the former Massachusetts governor sharply at odds with traditional GOP business allies, conservatives and the party’s senior lawmakers.
He says he’s supported the change for more than a decade.
But Romney did not tell reporters aboard his chartered campaign plane whether he would ask Congress to approve the change if he wins the White House this fall.
Congress first enacted federal minimum wage legislation in 1938 and has raised it sporadically since. The last increase took effect in three installments and reached $7.25 an hour for covered workers, effective July 24, 2009.
It has never been allowed to rise automatically, as Romney envisions.