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Tuesday
Jun192012

House Dems Raised More Cash Than GOP in May

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- the group that oversees Democratic House races -- slightly out-raised their Republican counterparts, the National Republican Congressional Committee, for the month of May, according to figures released by both committees.

The DCCC raised just under $6.7 million for the reporting period, which covers the period from May 1 to May 31 -- a slight increase from April, when the committee reported taking in about $6.5 million. The NRCC raised $6 million in May, a drop from April’s roughly $6.9 million haul. The NRCC reports having more cash on hand than the DCCC, however -- $33.5 million to the DCCC’s $27.5 million.

As of the last reporting period, both committees reported owing no debts.

Democrats have been saying for several months now that they believe they can and will win back control of the House of Representatives in the fall.  They need a net gain of 25 seats in order to win a majority.

The DCCC has pulled in strong fundraising in the year and a half since Republicans won control of the House, raising $10.13 million more than their GOP counterparts, according to figures provided to ABC News by the DCCC.

The filing deadline for May financial disclosure reports is Wednesday, June 20.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Study: Republicans, Democrats Can't Even Agree on Coffee

Buyology, Inc.(WASHINGTON) -- Trying to escape the partisan bickering and political pandering that is dominating this election season?  Those party lines may extend much farther than you think.

From choosing where to get that morning coffee fix to which car you bought to get you there, your political party association may be driving those purchase decisions.

Republicans, for example, are more likely to head to Dunkin' Donuts for their daily cup of Joe, while Democrats are more inclined to get their caffeine fix from Starbucks, according to a study released this week by the neuro-insight firm Buyology.

When choosing a car, Democrats were more inclined to favor Jeep while Republicans preferred BMW, according to the online survey, which used responses timed to the millisecond to determine more than 4,000 respondents' gut reactions toward a brand.

Spokespeople for both BMW and Starbucks said their customer's political persuasions are not a factor when deciding how best to advertise to them.

"Politics never enters into our advertising decisions," said Kenn Sparks, a spokesman for BMW of North America.  "Our customers are as diverse as our global company and people from every demographic group tell us that BMW is the brand they aspire to own. We're delighted to have them all!"

While most mega brands, like Allstate or Progressive insurance, do not take a stand on political issues, they may make a play for people's emotions in much the same way politicians do, said Vanitha Swaminathan, an associate business administration professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

For example Allstate, which was favored by Republicans, has an advertising campaign that centers on fear, telling viewers "Mayhem is everywhere."

The Republican Party uses a similar fear-based tactic, telling voters that four more years of President Obama would be a disaster for the country.

It is a similar story for fast food restaurants. Subway was the chain of choice for Republicans, a party whose platform revolves around individual freedom. On the other hand, Democrats, favored Wendy's, which can be seen as more democratic because they offer pre-fixed solutions to your hunger.  

But not all brands divided down party lines. While Democrats and Republicans disagree on so much, they did agree on Google, Visa, Apple and Coca-cola, the study showed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Immigration Decision Puts Senate Candidates on the Spot

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Some Senate candidates are walking fine lines on immigration policy after Friday’s announcement by the Department of Homeland Security, which has highlighted near-rifts between those candidates and their parties.

In Massachusetts, Republican Sen. Scott Brown criticized Obama and the DREAM Act while expressing openness to the legislation’s most basic policy tenet. Brown is engaged in a competitive reelection battle against Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

“I opposed this policy in legislative form, and I oppose it today as an executive order,” Brown said, in a statement e-mailed in response to media requests. “While I’d be open to allowing young people who have chosen military service to obtain citizenship in recognition of the extraordinary sacrifice involved, I’m afraid that the administration’s policy is too broad and would set off a new wave of illegal immigration, making the problem worse, not better. … Rather than sidestepping Congress on this major policy shift, the president should work with us toward a bipartisan, long-term solution.”

Warren, meanwhile, offered unabashed support for the DHS move, which will halt deportations of young illegal immigrants.

In Nevada, Republican Sen. Dean Heller criticized Obama while offering the same critique Florida Sen. Marco Rubio lodged -- that the DHS decision is not a long-term solution. “However, the president has had three years to work with Congress to reform the immigration system and help undocumented children.  Unilateral action by the administration will not provide a long-term solution to this very serious issue,” Heller said. “Democrats and Republicans need to come together to solve this problem.”

In Nevada, 15 percent of 2008 voters were Hispanic, according to exit polls. They backed Barack Obama over John McCain 76 percent to 22 percent.

Like Warren, Heller’s opponent Shelly Berkley backed the new policy and called for passage of the DREAM Act, which would grant young illegals a pathway to citizenship if they join the military or complete some college education.

New Mexico Republican Heather Wilson, similarly sympathetic toward young illegal immigrants, offered hopeful remarks for Sen. Rubio’s DREAM-Act-like proposal, which does not include citizenship provisions.

"While I do not support amnesty, and never have, these are real lives at stake -- children who were brought to this country through no decision of their own -- and we owe it to them to find a long-term solution. Unfortunately, the decision today is temporary and leaves many questions unanswered,” Wilson said. “Senator Rubio is working on a bi-partisan, long-term solution, and I hope today’s action doesn’t stall efforts like his to solve this very important issue.”

New Mexico has the highest percent of Hispanic voters in the nation, with 41 percent. They backed Obama over McCain 69 percent to 30 percent.

Others said very little -- or nothing.

Asked what Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., thought about DHS’s decision, a spokeswoman emailed the following statement of general policy: “Sen. Nelson supports tough, fair, practical immigration laws that require people who want to become citizens to obey our laws, learn English, and get in line for citizenship.  He also supports the Dream Act, which says no law should punish children because their parents brought them here.  If a child of an immigrant has worked hard and graduated from high school, they should able to go into the military or attend college.”

The Senate and campaign offices of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., meanwhile, did not respond to inquiries.

Immigration’s political ambiguities did not extend to Virginia’s Senate race, where differences were partisan. Democrat Tim Kaine, the former governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, offered a full-throated backing of the DHS announcement, while former GOP senator George Allen offered up a scathing critique: “For blatant political purposes President Obama is ignoring the proper Constitutional responsibilities of elected representatives and making it more difficult to enact reasonable long-term immigration reforms. This short-term ploy is disappointing in that it disregards the proper role of case-by-case judgment in these individual matters,” Allen said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Maine Senate Race Scrambled by Strong Independent Candidate

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two candidates emerged victorious from a crowded field in Maine’s Senate primary on Tuesday. Republicans nominated Charlie Summers, Maine's secretary of state, from a group of six potential candidates, and Democrats nominated Cynthia Dill, a state senator from the South Portland area, from a group of four potential candidates.

But the front-runner is generally considered to be Angus King, a former governor who is running as an independent.

Republicans and Democrats have strong candidates in Summers and Dill. Summers, 52, is a commander in the U.S. Navy reserve who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has served as secretary of state since 2011, and he served as the state director for Olympia Snowe, the retiring Republican senator, whose seat he is looking to fill, for almost a decade. Snowe, however, has not yet committed to supporting her party’s nominee.

Dill, 47, is a lawyer and self-described progressive Democrat. She has served in the Maine legislature since 2006, and in the state Senate since 2011.

It is King, 68, who is viewed as having the advantage in the race. The two-term governor who is independently wealthy enjoys a significantly higher name recognition in the state and stronger finances.  King’s record does not fall squarely in line with either party -- he endorsed George W. Bush in 2000, backed Obama in 2008, and supported independent candidate Eliot Cutler in Maine’s gubernatorial race in 2010. But Maine is viewed as a more Democratic state, and therefore he is generally considered to be a more favorable candidate for Democrats.

Traditional congressional protocol dictates that if King wins the election, he will have to choose a party to caucus with in the Senate, or he’d have to forgo good committee assignments. King has refused to say which party he’d align himself with, and he’s even said that he’s considering the option of giving up committee assignments to maintain his independence. That middle ground has caused head-scratching in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have tried to tie King to the Democrats and paint Summers as a real independent, while Democrats have remained largely silent on the race. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which oversees Democratic Senate races, did not issue any statement congratulating Cynthia Dill on her victory like they usually do when a nominee emerges from a primary.

Although Maine is viewed as generally leaning towards Democrats, a Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won the state since part-time Kennebunkport resident George H.W. Bush in 1988.  The governor, Paul LePage, is Republican, and the state’s two senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, are Republican, although widely considered to be very moderate. And the state’s two representatives in the House are Democrats.

Political independence is a point of pride in the state, and so it is likely that King will be able to make it through the Senate race without committing to either party, if he so chooses, which is sure to make for a very unique race.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

Republican Senator Criticizes Democrats for Comments on Supreme Court

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- On Thursday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, took to the Senate floor to warn his colleagues and President Obama about public comments about the Supreme Court as it deliberates the health care case.

“Attempts to manipulate or to bully the Supreme Court, especially during deliberations in a particular proceeding, are irresponsible and they tend to threaten the very fabric of our constitutional republic,” Lee said during a floor speech.

Lee was responding in part to a speech in May by Sen. Patrick Leahy. D-Vt. Leahy took to the Senate floor to warn the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, not to strike down the Affordable Care Act.

Leahy said that when he attended oral arguments in March he “was struck by how little respect some of the justices showed to Congress.” He said some of the justices seemed “dismissive” of the months of work -- including dozens of hearings -- on the part of both the House and the Senate to enact the law.

Leahy singled out Roberts, explaining why he had voted for him during the chief justice’s confirmation hearings: “I trusted he would act to fulfill his responsibilities in accordance with the testimony he gave to the United States Senate. I said then that if I thought he would easily reject precedent or use his position on the Supreme Court as a bulwark for activism, I would not have supported his confirmation.”

During a Rose Garden ceremony in April, President Obama said, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

Lee, who thinks the individual mandate should be struck down, said Thursday, “Criticisms of the well-established principle of judicial review grossly misrepresent how our constitutional republic functions.”

Lee said that the president “and some members of this body have suggested that the judiciary, which they sometimes denigrate as a group of unelected people, should simply defer to Congress.”

Lee is a former clerk to Justice Samuel Alito.

The health care case is expected to be decided sometime by the end of June.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

House Rejects Ban on Sex-Selection Abortions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House voted Thursday to reject a measure that would have banned sex-selection abortions in the United States, pitting Republicans and Democrats in a showdown over a woman’s right to choose, which opponents contended was “intended to chip away at woman’s right to obtain safe, legal medical care.”

The measure, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), was defeated 246-178. Under suspension of the House rules to permit consideration of the bill more quickly, approval of the measure was subject to a two-thirds majority, and with 414 members voting Republicans fell 30 votes short of passage.

The bill was perceived by Democrats as a political maneuver to coax liberal lawmakers into supporting the bill or face the prospect of an onslaught of campaign advertisements this fall highlighting a lawmaker’s vote to support sex-selection abortions.

Still, only 20 Democrats took the bait and broke from their party to vote with the majority of Republicans. Seven GOPers opposed the measure.

The House debated the bill Wednesday, but a vote was postponed until Thursday afternoon.

After the plight of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng captured international headlines this month, Republicans had hoped to capitalize on the momentum of that awareness to ensure that sex-selection abortions are not legal in the United States.

Many nations with staunchly pro-choice/pro-abortion rights laws and protections nevertheless ban sex-selection abortions. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands all have laws banning sex-selection abortions.

Earlier this week, a pro-life group released an undercover video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas assisting a woman seeking a sex-selection abortion. Gendercide, the practice of killing baby girls or terminating pregnancies solely because the fetus is female, is estimated to have produced a “gender imbalance” of more than 100 million girls around the world.

“For most of us, Mr. Speaker, ‘it’s a girl’ is cause for enormous joy, happiness and celebration,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said on the House floor Wednesday. ”But in many countries including our own, it could be a death sentence. Today the three most dangerous words in China and India are, ‘It’s a girl.’ We can’t let that happen here.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May302012

Sex-Selection Abortions Bill Pits Democrats Against Republicans in House

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Wednesday afternoon, the House debated a bill that would ban sex-selection abortions in the United States, pitting Republicans and Democrats in a showdown over a woman’s right to choose, which opponents contend is “intended to chip away at a woman’s right to obtain safe, legal medical care.”

The measure, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), was perceived by Democrats as a dimwitted ploy to coax liberal lawmakers to support the bill or be faced with the prospect of an onslaught of campaign advertisements this fall highlighting a lawmaker’s vote to essentially support sex-selection abortions.

“Somebody decided politically that it was a difficult place to put people in,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters Wednesday afternoon at his pen-and-pad briefing. “It’s a political effort, not a substantive effort.”

But after the plight of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who spoke out against forced abortions in his native China, captured international headlines this month, GOP aides said the leadership hoped to capitalize on the momentum of that awareness to ensure that sex-selection abortions are not legal in the U.S.

“For most of us, Mr. Speaker, ‘It’s a girl’ is cause for enormous joy, happiness and celebration,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said on the House floor. “But in many countries including our own, it could be a death sentence. Today the three most dangerous words in China and India are, ‘It’s a girl.’ We can’t let that happen here.”

Earlier this week, a pro-life group released an undercover video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas assisting a woman seeking a sex-selection abortion.

Many nations with staunchly pro-choice/pro-abortion rights laws and protections nevertheless ban sex-selection abortions. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and the Netherlands all have laws banning sex-selection abortions.

A vote on the measure was postponed until Thursday. Approval of the measure is subject to a two-thirds majority, which may be difficult to attain given the Democrats’ general opposition to what they perceive as another Republican attempt to engage Democrats in the so-called War on Women. The House Democratic leadership does not whip the Democratic caucus on votes dealing with choice or war.

“The Republican majority continues its War on Women in a new and creative way: by attempting to couch legislation that would destroy women’s fundamental constitutional rights as a woman’s rights law. It is cynical, but creative,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said. “The preference for male children is a real, if limited, phenomenon in the United States. Some women face familial and community preference to have male children, and that pressure can increase with each subsequent birth. But this does nothing to help those women.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

Dueling Student Loan Bills Rejected in Senate

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate made one last gesture this month to work on the Student Loan bill, but Democratic and Republican versions both failed in a last-minute, and half-hearted, attempt Thursday before lawmakers leave for a week-long Memorial Day holiday.

The Democratic bill failed by a 51-43 vote. The Republican alternative failed by a 34-62 vote. Both bills needed 60 votes for passage.

Both Republicans and Democrats believe the subsidized Stafford loan rates should not be doubled from the current 3.4 percent to 7.6 percent. Leaders of both parties say the current rates should be extended for at least another year.

But they cannot agree to how to pay for the $6 billion bill.

The Democratic plan proposes paying for the bill by raising the Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes on high-earning stock holders of some privately owned companies. Republicans oppose the measure.

“They’ve known for months that we won’t support this tax hike and that it couldn’t pass this chamber or the House of Representatives,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Thursday morning of the Democratic proposal. “It has already failed, but they’re proposing it anyway a second time.”

The Republicans propose to pay for the bill by getting rid of a preventative health fund that was created in the health care bill. Democrats oppose this and the proposal has no chance of getting though a Democratically-controlled Senate.

“It would be a shame to use that,” Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “Taking more from it would really hurt the health of America.”

The Senate will be out of session next week for Memorial Day, and will have to move fast when it returns in June to prevent the student loan rates from doubling July 1. Senate Minority Leader McConnell called on President Obama to be more engaged in working toward a solution.

“If the president has got time to run around to late-night comedy shows and college campuses talking about this issue, then he can pick up the phone and work out a solution with Democrats here in the Senate,” McConnell said, “if the president really wants to pass this bill so badly, then why on Earth hasn’t he picked up the phone and spoken to the chairman or ranking member of the committee? He’s campaigned on it but not actually fixed it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May232012

President Obama Denounces GOP ‘Wild Debts’: I’m Not an Over-Spender

Alex Wong/Getty Images(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- At a fundraiser for his re-election campaign in Denver Wednesday night, President Obama set out to upend conventional Republican wisdom that his administration has been defined by excessive government spending.

“I’m running to pay down our debt in a way that’s balanced and responsible. After inheriting a $1 trillion deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law,” he told a crowd of donors at the Hyatt Regency. “My opponent won’t admit it, but it’s starting to appear in places, like real liberal outlets, like the Wall Street Journal: Since I’ve been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years. Think about that.”

Obama was referring to an analysis released this week by Rex Nutting, a reporter for CBS MarketWatch who is also affiliated with the Wall Street Journal. Nutting concluded that Obama has presided over the slowest growth in federal spending in decades.

“Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4 percent annualized pace -- slower than at any time in nearly 60 years,” Nutting wrote, citing data from the Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget and an independent financial firm.

“The big surge in federal spending happened in fiscal 2009, before Obama took office. Since then, spending growth has been relatively flat,” he wrote. “Over Obama’s four budget years, federal spending is on track to rise from $3.52 trillion to $3.58 trillion, an annualized increase of just 0.4 percent. There has been no huge increase in spending under the current president, despite what you hear.”

The Obama campaign circulated Nutting’s article by email and posted it on its website Tuesday.  The president picked up on the theme again Wednesday to hammer the point home.

“I just point out it always goes up least under Democratic presidents. This other side, I don’t know how they’ve been bamboozling folks into thinking that they are the responsible, fiscally-disciplined party. They run up these wild debts and then when we take over, we’ve got to clean it up.

“They point and say look how irresponsible they are. Look at the facts, look at the numbers. And now I want to finish the job -- in a balanced way,” he said, referring to his plan to reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.

The Romney campaign noted that more than $5 trillion has been added to the debt during Obama’s first term, though in 2008 Obama called the $4 trillion added under Bush ”unpatriotic.”

The Republican National Committee pointed out that while growth of spending and debt may have slowed, Obama has overseen the three largest deficits in U.S. history.  (They also pass along fact-checker Politifact’s 2011 designation of Obama as the “undisputed debt king” of the last five presidents.)

Obama spoke in Denver following his appearance at the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs earlier in the day.  He then headed to California and Iowa for four more money events.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

Even with Calculators, Senate Still Comes Up with Zero on the Budget

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite beginning the day with a vote permitting the use of calculators on the Senate floor, Wednesday turned out to be less than productive for the U.S. senators.

The Senate spent the whole day Wednesday, with over six hours of straight floor speeches, debating five non-binding budget resolutions that everyone knew in advance would not pass. And, no surprise, none of them passed -- not by a mile.

For Republicans, it was about making a point that the Democrat-led Senate has not produced a budget. So they brought five of their own budget proposals to the floor to offer a direct comparison.

“If you’re looking for a simple three-word description of the Democrats’ approach to the problems we face, it’s this: duck and cover,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday on the floor of the Senate. “By the end of the day, we’ll know whether there is a budget that Washington Democrats support, and the American people will know without a doubt who is voting for solutions in this town and who isn’t. They will know who has got a plan to fix the mess we’re in and who doesn’t.”

Senate Democrats cast the day as a display “to waste a day with political show votes on stunt budgets.” Democrats say they already have a legally binding budget, the Budget Control Act, that is sufficient.

“They don’t mind wasting a day of the Senate’s time on useless political showboats. Republicans can say over and over they are only forcing votes on Republican budgets today because Democrats failed to pass their own budget. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., rebutted Wednesday. “In August, Congress passed and President Obama signed a budget that reduces the deficit by more than $2 trillion...28 Republican senators, including my friend, the Minority Leader, voted for the last legally binding budget.”

Five versions of the Republicans’ proposals were voted on, all far from passing in the Democratically controlled Senate.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., based his proposal on an interpretation of President Obama’s budget, which failed badly, not receiving a single vote at 0-99.  Republicans immediately jumped on this as unanimous rejection to the president’s own budget.

And the House of Representatives’ Paul Ryan’s budget failed by a vote of 41-58.

The back and forth over the existence or non-existence of a budget is nothing new around Capitol Hill. But in an election year, the votes Wednesday will provide both sides with fresh political ammunition in the key fight over deficits, debt, and which party has the upper hand in the economic recovery of the nation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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