Cigarette and Coffee Breakfast, 2/26/2014

– Terrible news out of the Senate for those in favor of raising the minimum wage- Majority Leader Harry Reid is stalling a vote on the measure in the Senate because he is unsure if he has the votes. With Democrats basing their election year message on populist themes such as raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits, it will difficult to get much traction with that message if they are unwilling to even vote on it themselves. Voters would see the Democrats as frauds if they tried to make that argument, and they would be right. The current wavering Senators include mostly the usual suspects: Landrieu (La), Pryor (Ark), Warner (Va), and Hagan (NC), but one interesting addition to the list, Tom Carper of Deleware, is neither up for re-election, or in a conservative state.

Rand Paul must really consider himself the Republican frontrunner in ’16 at this point, he’s acting as if the primary is already over and he is about to meet Hillary Clinton in the general election. Here goes Paul again, telling reporters, “I think the Democrats mistake Bill Clinton’s popularity,” Paul told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We have a lot of conservative Democrats in our state who go to church each week and really don’t approve of his behavior, what he’s done with women, with sexual harassment in the workplace. A lot of Democrats in our state don’t approve of that kind of behavior.”

I don’t know, maybe Rand Paul is mistaking his own obsession with the former first family? This is what, the third week in a row now that Paul has made headlines trashing the Clinton’s, who currently hold no public offices between them. If they’re so unpopular, Rand, why are you already trying to trash Hillary Clinton by talking about her husband’s sex life every week?

– Republicans are throwing in the towel on tax reform. Many may be surprised by this, because they never realized Republicans had ever actually been trying to pass anything this congress, but here’s Mitch McConnell, regretfully informing us that he doesn’t think it’s going to get done:

“I think we will not be able to finish the job, regretfully,” McConnell told reporters after Senate Republicans regular Tuesday lunch. “I don’t see how we can.” McConnell blamed his pessimism on the refusal by Democrats to consider any tax reform plan that doesn’t raise significant new cash for deficit reduction.

Yea, Republicans don’t want to do tax reform, because they’re afraid it would lower the deficit too much, and Democrats demand that it lower the deficit more.

– The mud has started flying in the Georgia Republican Primary for U.S. Senate, and the guy Democrats should be rooting for, Paul Broun, is up with his first ad. In the spot, from a seated position in the back of a pickup truck (obviously), Broun states that he’s the choice Democrats fear most, and that’s why Republican voters should pick him over his conservative rivals. Democrats will be excused for finding this hilarious, because Broun is actually in the number one spot on the list of candidates Democrats would MOST like to face, in the entire nation:

“[t]he Democratic Party is attacking me for one reason: I’m the strongest conservative running for the U.S. Senate. Liberals fear a genuine conservative candidate.”

Unfortunately, the spot is only backed by a paltry $50k, which won’t go very far in the Georgia market. You see, Broun is crazy, and, unfortunately for Democrats, he has trouble convincing people to give him large sums of money to say crazy things, at least so far.

– The Republican tax plan, which Mitch McConnell says is dead, actually does some really interesting thing that makes me wonder if Republican Dave Camp was paying attention when he made it, or just throwing darts at a board filled with policies because he knew Mitch McConnell would kill it as part of his “let’s see what happens if we don’t govern at all” strategy.

For example, under the Michigan Republican’s plan, many argue that he would establish a new top tax bracket paying marginal rates as high as 44.6% and large banking institutions like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, Citi, Goldman, and Morgan Stanley would all have to pay a 3.5 basis point tax on assets over $500 billion, raising an estimated $86.4 billion for the Federal Government over the next decade. It’s hard to imagine Camp meant to include those taxes in his plan. At the same time,though, Camp’s plan eliminates the long term 20% tax rate on capital gains and dividends, effectively a massive tax break for America’s wealthiest citizens, which is just the type of pro-rich people only policy Republicans love.

– Despite the millions being poured into North Carolina by Koch Brother associated PAC’s, Democratic Senator Kay Hagan seems to be holding up all right. According to David Nir, Hagan has a lead over all Republican challengers, “38-35… over Thom Tillis; 39-35 over Mark Harris; and 38-36 over Greg Brannon.”

– Wendy Davis (D) is behind in the money race for the Texas Governorship. Davis took in $2.85 million last month between her campaign and her related PAC’s, whereas Republican candidate Greg Abbott took in $2.45 million. Looks good right? Except Abbot already had $30 million in his account, versus only $11.3 million for Davis.

– Obamacare has reached 4 million. Through state level and Federal exchanges, now more than 4 million people have gained access to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. To have reached the number, 700,000 new enrolees joined the program so far in February nationally. Additionally, another 3 million Americans have been able to remain on their parent’s employer provided plans, thanks to the provision in Obamacare allowing dependents to stay on a plan until they are 26 years old. Add on top of those the the millions of people who have gained access through the Federal Medicaid expansion, and you’ve got nearly 10 million people that have gained access to health insurance since January first of this year.

 

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