— RI Congress '10 —

September 6, 2012

Things We Read Today, 4

Justin Katz

Today, I touch briefly (for me) on long-term vs. short-term recovery, who's better off, RI's long spiral (and potential for quick resurgence), and the significance of different ballot types in Cicilline-Loughlin.

November 8, 2010

With the Journal's Hot Air in His Sails

Justin Katz

This paragraph, from a post-election article by Providence Journal staff writer Peter Lord deserves some reflection:

For much of the general election campaign, polls indicated there was no contest. Cicilline was running ahead by 20 points or more. And he raised and spent about $1 million more than Loughlin, though that included financing his primary campaign.

Any list of Cicilline's advantages should include the assistance that the Providence Journal offered — notably through its ostensibly neutral PolitiFact feature (as we noted several times, including here, here, here, here, here, and elsewhere). There's simply no denying the bias; the Projo's own handling of headlines shows some awareness of the fact. For the online version of the story — which will remain as a public record for people around the world to see — the title is "Cicilline holds off GOP's Loughlin." On the front page of last Wednesday's print edition, however, the headline jubilantly proclaims, "Cicilline sails past GOP's Loughlin."

Sorry, ye power brokers, given advantages of fundraising, name recognition, local partisan preferences, media adulation, presidential campaigning, and so on, Cicilline should have won by a much greater margin than 6% of the vote.

Let's hope that Loughlin continues to campaign over the next two years — including a dedicated effort to remain relevant and heard on issues in the news — and begins 2012 on a more equal footing for a race with a different outcome.

October 25, 2010

Does it Make Sense for Anyone Under Age 35 43 55 to Vote for David Cicilline, Part 3

Carroll Andrew Morse

There are multiple proposals for preventing the sudden Social Security benefit cut that is projected to be necessary around the time that people now in the mid 30s to early 40s are ready to retire, under the program’s current structure. This past July, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report where several of the options were analyzed.

One option the CBO analyzed was reducing initial benefits by 15% starting in 2017 (impacting individuals who are 55-63 now), preventing the next sudden change from being required until the 2070s. However, if a decision to cut benefits is not made by 2017, then the first cut will have to be larger in order to prevent second big cut from being required sooner...

If policymakers wanted to implement a benefit reduction in 2027 and still achieve the same improvement in the 75-year actuarial balance as a 15 percent reduction in 2017, the benefit cut in 2027 would need to be one-third larger: 20 percent, rather than 15 percent.
A similar cost-of-delay occurs in the payroll tax-increase scenarios analyzed by the CBO. The CBO looked at gradually increasing the payroll tax by 2 percentage points over 20 years beginning in 2012, ending at about 16% higher than it currently is, and preventing the next major benefit cut or tax increase from being needed until the 2080s. If the start of that same tax-increase schedule is delayed for 10 years, however, then the CBO estimates that the tax increase has to be 20%, instead of 16%, to put off the second tax increase or benefit cut for equally as long from now.

Whether the plan to "protect social security" is to raise taxes or cut benefits, the longer a decision is put off, the larger the tax-increases or benefit-cuts need to be. So all you need to believe that David Cicilline is the right choice for preventing large sudden changes to Social Security taxes and/or benefits is to believe that, once elected to Congress, he will act as quickly as possible to implement a long-range fiscal plan, and not wait until the program is on the verge of running out of money before acting (or moving on to another job).

As a final note, the CBO ran one scenario designed to make the Social Security program permanently solvent, indexing benefits to prices rather than earnings. The effect would be a 40%-45% lifetime benefit cut compared to the current baseline for individuals born around 2000 (i.e. those just starting to work), a 27%-33% lifetime benefit cut for those born around 1980, and a 12%-18% lifetime benefit cut for those born around 1960 -- but it will "protect social security", if all you mean by protecting social security is no structural changes to the program, not now, not ever.

Context Makes Opinions of Facts

Justin Katz

Perhaps the most helpful aspect of the Providence Journal's PolitiFact feature is the significant degree to which it illustrates how even basic discussions of facts become deeply muddled in subjective context. As I've previously pointed out, when Democrat David Cicilline makes a statement about Republican John Loughlin's position on Social Security that is substantively a misrepresentation, context gets him a rating of "half true," while a substantively true statement on Loughlin's part — that Social Security is structured like a Ponzi scheme — becomes snagged in "false" because such schemes are scams, while Social Security is operated by our benevolent government.

Now, reporter Cynthia Needham is back to leveraging the PolitiFact brand to assist Cicilline's campaign for Congress. Under scrutiny is his statement that "John Loughlin voted to let people accused of domestic violence keep their guns." Needham explains why she went with only a "mostly true" rating, as follows:

The problem with the Cicilline advertisement's claim is that it incorrectly says the bill applies to those "accused of domestic violence." A restraining order is actually a civil document that can be obtained without accusing the subject of a specific crime. ...

Nowhere does the 2005 bill suggest one must be accused of a crime to have the statute apply.

That's not just the minor adjustment that Needham's rating suggests. That's hugely significant in the context of Cicilline's claim that Loughlin is "extreme." In the Democrat's spin, Loughlin specifically voted to allow people accused of a particular violent crime keep guns. One must note, of course, that accusation isn't supposed to be guilt, in our system of justice, but that discussion isn't necessary, because Cicilline's claim is simply not true. Loughlin voted against a broad confiscatory law because it was broad and confiscatory.

It's not a crime, to be sure, but Needham's habitual judgment of facts could be called context abuse. Wouldn't it be interesting if some of PolitiFact's other contributors were to test their Truth-O-Meter on her?

Which City of Providence Accounts are the Reserve Accounts?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Philip Marcelo's story on Providence City Auditor James Lombardi's memo expressing "grave concern regarding the financial stability" of Providence is running in today's Projo. The memo addresses several issues, one of which concerns the reserve fund that the City is supposed to maintain. According to the memo, the balance in the “reserve contingency funds cash account” has gone from $14.4 million to minus-$187 thousand, and the balance in the “capital assets account” has gone from $22.2 million to a $4.6 million. The implication of Mr. Lombardi's memo is that these two accounts make up reserves which have gone from $36.6 million dollars at the end of fiscal 2009 to “approximately $4.6 million” at present, because the city has used them to pay operating expenses.

According to both Philip Marcelo's story, as well as Stephen Beale's story on the same subject in GoLocalProvidence, the Cicilline administration denies that the reserve fund is below the level it is supposed to be at. Here is the Projo version...

The city is also required to maintain a reserve equal to about 5 percent of the city budget, or about $30 million, he said. (Karen Watts, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said the city’s reserves are currently at about $30 million.)
Auditor Lombardi has provided detailed information in his memo, in the form of a set of general ledger reports, supporting his statements that the reserves are nearly tapped out. One report shows an end-balance of negative $187,736 in account, on October 6 of this year, in account 10101-0000 from accounting unit 657-900 (the “reserve contingency funds cash account”). The other report shows an end-balance of $4,661,904.14, on October 14 of this year, in account 10101-0000 from accounting unit 856-900 (the “capital assets account”).

If the Cicilline administration disputes that the sum of these two figures fully accounts for the city's required reserves, they should be able to make a straightforward refutation, by providing either 1) the account numbers and balances of other accounts that should be counted as part of the "reserves" and/or 2) details of other transactions (including source and amounts) that have replenished the balances in these two accounts since the reports were generated.

October 23, 2010

Numbers on District 1 from the NRCC

Carroll Andrew Morse

Former Projo reporter, now Congressional Quarterly reporter Steve Peoples has the numbers from the National Republican Congressional Committee internal poll showing the First District race tightening...

Many believed that Cicilline would have a relatively easy victory in the heavily Democratic Ocean State. But the Public Opinion Strategies poll found that the mayor has high negatives and earns just 41 percent support among 300 likely voters surveyed Oct. 20-21. Loughlin also earned 41 percent in the poll that had a 5.6-point margin of error.

Among those most likely to vote, Loughlin was ahead 45 percent to 41 percent, according to pollster Gene Ulm, who said the margin of error for this groups exceeds 6 points.

October 21, 2010

Does it Make Sense for Anyone Under Age 35 43 to Vote for David Cicilline, Part 2

Carroll Andrew Morse

As currently structured, Social Security benefits are projected to be cut by 25% in the year when people currently aged 35 will first become eligible to retire (age 62). And those who are 43-and-under right now and who don't retire until age 70 will find themselves in the same position -- every check received under the current program structure will be subject to the 25% cut, relative to benefit levels promised by the present benefits formula. Those figures come straight from the Social Security Trustees...

After 2014 deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation’s retirement causes the number of beneficiaries to grow substantially more rapidly than the number of covered workers. The annual deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets* in amounts less than interest earnings through 2024, and then by redeeming trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037, at which point tax income would be sufficient to pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits through 2084.
This means that, despite having dutifully paid for benefits of older retirees for 30-40-maybe 45 years, those who are young now will receive substantially less than the preceding generations, in return for their payments into the program.

This kind of imbalance is what progressives like to refer to as fair and equitable. Which is one reason that many have come to the conclusion that progressives are fiscally insane.

However, it is entirely fair to point out that the benefit cuts discussed above may impact all retirees collecting Social Security, in the year where current 35 year-olds can first begin to collect, ergo I still haven't really told you why it's a particularly bad idea for those 35 and under, and maybe those 43 and under, to vote to send a fiscally insane liberal like David Cicilline to Congress...

*Note: "Redeeming trust fund assets" is a euphemism for raising taxes, cutting programs or borrowing money to pay off government IOUs to itself.

October 20, 2010

Not Quite Liveblogging the Congressional District 1 Debate

Justin Katz

While doing some mindless paper-cutting tasks, I'm watching WPRI's online video of last night's Congressional district 1 debate between Republican John Loughlin and Democrat David Cicilline, and the first thing to catch my ear came right at the beginning, during discussion of Social Security.

Cicilline ran through his accusation that Loughlin wants to privatize the system and thinks it's a Ponzi scheme (no doubt, mentally thanking Providence Journal reporter Cynthia Needham for her free rhetorical research). Then, while explaining why allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in private retirement funds, he said:

We rely on current workers to pay into the system to pay people collecting Social Security.

Sounds like a Ponzi scheme to me.


Talking about the Bush tax cuts, blaming Republicans for not allowing Democrats to put forward a proposal to keep the tax cuts for the middle class, Cicilline repeated again and again that it's "not the time to give another tax break to the millionaires and billionaires." Two things:

  • The solution that he suggests — expanding the group that would maintain the tax cuts so as to exclude only "millionaires and billionaires" — has never been on Congress's table. Heck, I don't think any proposal was ever risked on the floor.
  • It's flatly dishonest to call an extension "another tax break" —albeit entirely in keeping with the Democrats' mindset. Directly put, what Cicilline believes is that it represents an additional tax break not to increase taxes.

Does it Make Sense for Anyone Under Age 35 to Vote for David Cicilline, Part 1

Carroll Andrew Morse

As the Social Security program is currently constructed, a permanent 25% cut in benefits paid is projected to occur in 2037. Those figures are projected by the Social Security Trustees themselves.

I know people of my generation tend to view a date of 2037 as the far-future, when we will all be flying our jet-packs to work, but it is no longer that far away. One way to think of 2037 is as the year that citizens currently 35 years old become eligible to start collecting Social Security (at age 62). If no changes to the Social Security program are made, then before they ever receive their first check, the government will likely be announcing that benefits are permanently (as in not for just one year) being scaled back by 25% of the baseline paid out in previous years.

Those who may be prone to the Rhode Island mentality of "I got mine, and I'm vestaaaaahd, so all the problems are yours" should know that they are not immune to the impact of this cut. There is no such thing as "vested" in Social Security. All SS beneficiaries will be eligible to be impacted by the 25% reduction in outlays, whether they are in their first year of retirement, or they've been collecting benefits for 20 years prior.

But if everyone collecting Social Security may be impacted by a 25% benefit cut in 2037, then, you may ask, why should people aged 35 and under be singled out in the title...

October 15, 2010

Mark Zaccaria: An Extra Engine for the Joint Strike Fighter?

Engaged Citizen

With U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the federal budget deficit estimated at from $1.3 to $1.5 trillion and the economy in a deep downturn, the nation needs to get real value for every dollar that we spend on national defense.

Unfortunately, many members of the House and Senate, including Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), are pushing for continued funding for a program that the military says it doesn’t need, doesn’t want, and can’t afford: a multibillion dollar “alternate engine” that GE and Rolls Royce are building for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Supporters of the extra engine claim it would promote competition. But that’s like saying that Major League Baseball should keep replaying the 2004 World Series until the Red Sox lose. Nine years ago, during a competitive process, the Department of Defense selected the F135 engine, built by Pratt & Whitney, for the Joint Strike Fighter over the F136 engine, built by GE and Rolls Royce.

Competition concluded. Game over -- except in Washington, D.C., where Congress has spent $3 billion for GE and Rolls Royce to keep working on their alternate F136 engine. The program’s price-tag will be $450 million for Fiscal 2011 and a total of $2.9 billion to complete the engine within the next five years.

That’s a lot of money to spend on standby equipment. Not surprisingly, the extra engine’s opponents include the last two presidential administrations, taxpayer watchdogs, and, most tellingly of all, the military itself. They agree that there’s no need for two engines, two production lines, two supply chains, two management teams, and two teams of maintenance personnel.

President Obama and President Bush before him have both tried to kill the extra engine, as have the last two Defense Secretaries, Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates. In a recent report the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) declared that the alternative engine program is “no longer needed as a hedge against the failure of the main Joint Strike Fighter engine program” and eliminating it “will result in estimated near-term savings of over half a billion dollars.” Using blunter language, Citizens Against Government Waste gave the project its 2010 “Oinker Award,” calling it “the little engine that couldn’t.”

Meanwhile, leaders of the U.S. military agree that the money spent on the extra engine could be better used on programs that really do support the troops and defend the nation. Marine Corps Brigadier General David Heinz has said that the alternate engine costs as much as 50 to 80 aircraft. Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead warns that “its additional costs threaten our ability to fund currently planned aircraft procurement quantities, which would exacerbate our anticipated decrease in strike fighter capacity.”

These issues hit home with me. I earned my wings at the U.S. Air Force Flight School in Laredo, Texas, and served as an instructor pilot in the undergraduate pilot training program. My daughter is a fulltime member of the Rhode Island Army Guard and, in 2004, interrupted her studies at Roger Williams School of Law to be deployed to Iraq.

I know that our war-fighters don’t need unused engines gathering dust. Among other much more sensible investments, our servicemen and women do need more jet fighters, more and better armored vehicles, pay raises for themselves and their families, and better benefits for returning veterans. If the nation spends $2.9 billion more on engines that we don’t need, we won’t be able to afford the programs that our troops and our returning veterans really do need.

Defense programs should promote our national security, not local economies. But some supporters of the extra engine have claimed it will generate jobs. In fact, many of those jobs will go to Great Britain since Rolls Royce is manufacturing 40 percent of the engine. As it happens, Pratt & Whitney is a major presence in Southern New England, with its headquarters in East Hartford, Connecticut, and a plant in Middletown. Laser Fare Inc., in Smithfield, Rhode Island, which specializes in laser machining and research and development, is a supplier for Pratt & Whitney.

As a program that has long outlived its purported purposes, the extra engine has been called the earmark that wouldn’t die. It’s time to put the extra engine to rest, once and for all.

Mark Zaccaria is a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island’s Second District. A former instructor pilot in the U.S. Air Force, he now operates a consulting practice in business to business marketing, based in North Kingstown.

October 13, 2010

Breaking: President Obama Medicare Official Concedes that Health Care Reform Will Cost Seniors. The Mayor of Providence is a Fan of ObamaCare. So Who is the Real Threat to Senior Benefits?

Monique Chartier

Presumably operating on the belief that he cannot get a political promotion without resorting to slander, the mayor of Providence has stood in front of numerous senior gatherings in the last month and solemnly stated that if his opponent, John Loughlin, is elected, he would privatize (read: take away) social security for current recipients. This, of course, is completely false.

Conversely, the mayor is open about his support of health care reform ObamaCare despite the fact that, though it was ineffectively camoflaged by double counting, it was known from its inception that ObamaCare would gut $500 billion from Medicare. We may have all been hoping, however, that this would not hit for a decade, during which time it could be fixed. New developments have vanquished that hope.

A couple of weeks ago, citing concerns about the long term viability of such supplemental programs, Harvard Pilgrim dropped 22,000 seniors in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine from its Medicare Advantage coverage. [Emphasis added.]

The decision by Wellesley-based Harvard Pilgrim, the state’s second-largest health insurer, was prompted by a freeze in federal reimbursements and a new requirement that insurers offering the kind of product sold by Harvard Pilgrim — a Medicare Advantage private fee for service plan — form a contracted network of doctors who agree to participate for a negotiated amount of money. Under current rules, patients can seek care from any doctor.

Now, POLITICO is reporting that

The Obama administration A Medicare official concedes that some seniors will have to dig deeper into their wallets next year thanks to the health care law.

A new analysis obtained by POLITICO finds the health care overhaul will result in increased out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare Advantage plans.

[The original POLITICO post had attributed this announcement to President Obama.]

To review, John Loughlin, candidate for the First Congressional District, is no threat to the social security checks of current recipients. By contrast, his Democrat opponent supports health care reform, which is already impacting the wallets of some seniors and which the White House has admitted will adversely affect all seniors on Medicare.

So. In light of this new information, shall we revisit which of these candidates would do a better job for seniors in Congress?

October 10, 2010

Cynthia Needfacts and the Politiham Feature

Justin Katz

Frankly, if the folks behind the Providence Journal's PolitiFact feature wish not to lose entirely the salable premise thereof — its neutrality — mere months from its introduction, they should ban Cynthia Needham from touching the Truth-O-Meter. Monique made mention of Needham's take-down of Republican Congressional candidate John Loughlin, last week, but the matter deserves a little closer look, beginning with Needham's prior finding that Democrat David Cicilline was being "half true" when he said that "the Republican candidate has talked about privatizing Social Security... so we know where he stands on the issue."

Taking it point by point, Cicilline is correct when he says Loughlin has talked about privatization. It's important to note however that words matter. Had Cicilline made a more stringent accusation, we might have judged it differently.

It's important to note, too, that it would be entirely accurate, by this measure, to state that David Cicilline has "talked about privatization." It's a dumb measure that one would only apply if the objective was to assist the Cicilline spin. Note, especially, that the folks at Politifact chose the phrasing that they investigated. Alternately, they might have looked to a September 29 article in the Pawtucket Times, helpfully provided on Cicilline's campaign Web site:

Privatization, which Cicilline contends his Republican opponent, John Loughlin, has said might be appropriate for younger workers, would "eliminate Social Security the way we know it and make seniors take their savings, go into the stock market, and gamble your future."

Everything about this statement is false. Loughlin has suggested that partial privatization would be appropriate for younger workers, leaving Social Security "the way we know it" intact; the money being invested, rather than stored away in phony federal IOUs, would come from those young workers, not "seniors"; and the money would not come out of savings, but out of contributions already slated for Social Security taxation. Personally, I think Loughlin's view isn't nearly strong enough, but I'm not the one trying to claim an elective office. The point is that PolitiFact is supposed to investigate actual statements and facts, and in this case, Cynthia Needham chose a particular quotation from a field of lies that she found to be easier to spin in a positive way for the candidate whom she presumably prefers. She goes on:

He's also right that Loughlin voted against the resolution urging Washington to oppose it.

Again, Needham's parsing of language is entirely one-sided. The accusation in question is that Loughlin wishes to privatize Social Security. There's plenty of room between that position and thinking that a state legislature shouldn't pass a symbolic resolution in favor of not doing so.

On the third point, however, Cicilline misses the mark. He does not appear to know where his opponent stands on the issue. Loughlin himself says Cicilline is flat out misinterpreting his position. Yet that hasn't stopped Cicilline from criss-crossing the state using the accusation to scare elderly voters and win votes.

So, here at the end of an article that provides the quick-check device of a Truth-O-Meter to allow skimming readers to get the sense of the article, Needham acknowledges that the core substance of Cicilline's comment constituted a misrepresentation. She proceeds to give that an equal rating to an irrelevancy ("has talked about") and an insignificant vote made half a decade ago.

Now turn to Needham's subsequent attack on John Loughlin's veracity on the same issue, which is utterly absurd. The statement under investigation is that "Social Security is a Ponzi scheme" (click here for video of that answer). To which Needham finds:

There are similarities. As PolitiFact Wisconsin notes, Social Security uses taxes on current wage earners to finance the retirement checks of millions of Americans.

So, structurally, Needham acknowledges that Social Security operates in a way at least similar to Ponzi schemes. How does she weave a Truth-O-Meter "False" from a statement that is substantively accurate?

... there is a second, critical component that defines a Ponzi scheme: fraud. To reach the level of this kind of scam, an investment setup must intentionally con investors, while making efforts to convince them that the finances are legitimate.

At best, this is a statement of opinion. As an investor in Social Security, I absolutely distrust the promises being made about the returns that I can expect on my investment. More importantly, whatever honesty the government is able to muster for its own scheme (whether Ponzi or some other variety) derives from the fact that the "investors" have no choice. Would Needham pick the "fraud" nit if an entity other than the federal government were offering the same investment opportunity and threatening to confiscate property and even imprison people who chose not to participate? To ask is to answer.

The article then moves from opinion to advocacy with this:

A Ponzi scheme is guaranteed to run aground when the pool of investors is tapped out, whereas the Social Security administration's troubles could be remedied by raising taxes or other restructuring, should the federal government choose to do so, [URI Economics Professor Rick McIntyre] said.

In other words, Social Security differs from a Ponzi scheme because the latter will inevitably fail, while the government can simply transform its own variation of the scam into a straight-up redistribution of wealth. When the "investors" in Social Security can no longer keep up with the recipients, the government has the power to unilaterally change the payouts and/or draw on resources (taxation) external to the program. Any Ponzi scheme could be resolved with that sort of power.

And for closing, Needham simply can't maintain the mask of objectivity:

But there's one more thing. Loughlin doesn't just compare Social Security to the Ponzi scheme concept, he takes it a step further and draws a parallel with the specific case of Madoff, who is believed to have run the largest fraud of this kind in history.

Publicly measuring a 75-year-old U.S. government program against such a massive crime is not only overstating the issue, it's bordering on irresponsible.

Deploying poor logic and a tautology, Needham illustrates her personal investment in the issue of which she's presenting herself (falsely) as a neutral arbiter. That the perpetrator of the scheme is the U.S. government does not make it less of a scam. That the program has lasted 75 years is merely a consequence of the fact that each wave of investors is a full generation or more removed from the beneficiaries, meaning that the demographic collapse is certain to be slow. And raising ire on the basis of comparing a federal program to a crime merely begs the question.

October 5, 2010

New New Media Opportunities to Clarify the Ideas Beneath the Headlines

Carroll Andrew Morse

OK, let's see if I can get with this whole socialist media thing...what's that...oh, you say it's social media. I feel more comfortable with it already.

On Saturday, First District Democratic Congressional Candidate David Cicilline tweeted this headline...

Loughlin Calls Social Security a 'Ponzi Scheme'
A minature link in the tweet takes you to a Facebook page which reprints a Golocal Providence article where a spokesman for the Cicilline campaign said they didn't like the comparison of Social Security to a Ponzi scheme, but didn't really say why.

To clarify the substance the comparison, and clarifying substance is always our primary objective here at Anchor Rising, {I made the following series of tweets? I offered the following series of tweets? I tweeted-back the following series of messages? Somebody help me out here}...

@davidcicilline Re: Ponzi; Could you explain your understanding of how revenue from this year's SS tax is being spent by the Federal Gov?

@davidcicilline Also, could you explain your understanding of where money used to pay this year's SS beneficiaries comes from?

@davidcicilline If you need more than 140 chars to respond, please e-mail camorse@anchorrising.com. Thanx.

Can We Trust David Cicilline's Style of Budgeting To Work For Social Security?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Social Security is a pay-as-you go program disguised by conceptual accounting gimmicks. Reporter Mary Williams Walsh of the New York Times described the primary gimmick this past March...

Although Social Security is often said to have a “trust fund,” the term really serves as an accounting device, to track the pay-as-you-go program’s revenue and outlays over time. Its so-called balance is, in fact, a history of its vast cash flows: the sum of all of its revenue in the past, minus all of its outlays.
Given this structure, when a political candidate like Democratic First District Congressional candidate David Cicilline promises to "protect social security", if by that he means that he will oppose any change in the basic structure of the program, questions of both short and long term fiscal responsibility are raised.

The short term issue relates to the Congressional Budget Office's March projection that about 60 billion dollars more will be needed to pay benefits than will be collected from Social Security taxes over the next 5-6 years. Since there is no "trust fund", the 60 billion dollars will have to be raised through taxes, debt or Federal program cuts. Does Mayor Cicilline believe that making up this 60 billion dollars is a concern, or perhaps a warning signaling that some kind of future changes will be necessary, or does he think that this is simply a problem for someone in the future to worry about?

And speaking of the future, on the longer term issues, the liberal wing of the within-government Democratic party seems to be coalescing around a position that also opposes just about any change to Social Security. Here is CBS news' report on the Dem position...

A group of Democrats today pressed President Obama's bipartisan fiscal commission, which is will be putting fourth recommendations on December 1st to reduce the deficit, not to include any cuts to Social Security when they do.

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform "should keep their paws off" Social Security, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said on a phone call with reporters, calling for "no benefit cuts, no raising the retirement age, no privatization."

The general long-term question is identical to the short-term question: with the options listed above off of the table, what methods do Mayor Cicilline (and other Dems) propose for paying for Social Security's future shortfalls?

Finally, beyond the long-term outlook of Social Security alone and relevant to the issue of retirement security in the US in general is Mayor Cicilline's statement reported by Randal Edgar of the Projo that one source of his opposition to Social Security reform is that income taken from younger workers is needed to keep the current system "stable"...

Cicilline, the acknowledged front-runner in the race, also said allowing younger workers to put some of their contributions into private accounts would “destabilize the system” because some of that money is needed to pay current benefits.
Actually, with Social Security currently running a deficit and no "trust fund" in existence, all of that money collected annually is needed to pay current benefits; nothing is saved for the future. More to the point, two years ago the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor held hearings on retirement security that included discussion of a proposal to replace the tax-breaks allowing 401(k)s with mandatory government accounts instead...
Going forward, I propose Congress establish universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts and the federal government deposit $600 (inflation indexed) in those Guaranteed Retirement Accounts every year for every worker.

Every worker (not in an equivalent defined benefit plan) would save 5% of their pay into their Guaranteed Retirement Account to which the government pays a 3% inflation-indexed guaranteed return. Workers would earn pension credits based on these accumulations...

[W]orkers’ contributions would be mitigated by a $600 a year contribution from the federal government indexed for inflation which will be paid for by scaling back substantially the tax breaks for 401(k) type accounts.

The question is, when the next set of Congressional hearings on retirement security are being held, and decisions on whether to scale back or even end private retirement savings incentives are being made, do you want a Congressman who believes 1) that no change to Social Security is possible and 2) that income from younger workers is needed to "stabilize" the system to be the Congressman representing you?

October 2, 2010

The Standard Weighting in RI

Justin Katz

I'm not sure if surprise is justified, but I have to say that I would have thought that Congressman Jim Langevin would have been doing better as compared with Candidate David Cicilline in their respective Congressional races:

The survey of 250 likely voters in Rhode Island's 1st Congressional District finds 48 percent supporting Democrat Cicilline, giving him a 19-point lead over Republican Loughlin, who is backed by 29 percent of the electorate. ...

In Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District, our poll shows more than half of voters (54 percent) back incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. James Langevin over his Republican challenger, Mark Zaccaria, who's at 24 percent.

Of course, the encouraging news is that 22% of voters in both districts are undecided, and Republican John Loughlin is faring better than Langevin's opponent, Mark Zaccaria among undecideds.

September 28, 2010

Coming Soon to Your Highrise: the Cicilline Lie-Apalooza

Monique Chartier

Kicked off at a senior center in Pawtucket, Hot Air calls it the "Let’s Scare Grandma Tour".

[Mayor David] Cicilline’s presentation to seniors was false in numerous respects. There is no threat to the checks to be received by seniors now in the system either under the present system or with any reforms now in the early stages of discussion. None, yet Cicilline cynically suggests to the elderly that their checks are in jeopardy.

Cicilline’s fear mongering about ”privatization” also was misleading because the types of changes proposed by people like Paul Ryan would not affect anyone currently receiving social security, or even people a decade or more away, and would not require people to invest in the stock market.

Yet Cicilline raises the bogeyman of privatization to scare the elderly at senior centers.

Know the real name of this campaign tour?

"Fighting for Social Security"

Fighting for social security?? What does that have to do with the targeted demographic??? Not a single social security check in the audience is in jeopardy!!!

This is despicable. Clearly, the mayor of Providence believes that he can win the first Congressional district only by 1.) brazenly lying and 2.) needlessly terrifying seniors.

September 13, 2010

Thursday's District 2 Republican Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

For those still looking for information on the candidates in the Republican Primary in the Second Congressional District, here is a report on a portion of the debate held last week in Warwick where moderator Russell Moore of the Warwick Beacon asked candidates Bill Clegg, Michael Gardiner and Mark Zaccaria about their positions on the basic issues that a Congressman will have to deal with. The links next to the summaries take you to the audio of the candidates' answers. [Disclaimer: I arrived to the debate a few minutes late, so I missed the first few questions]

Question: What is your position on health insurance reform and specifically the reform that was passed earlier this year?

Gardiner: Obamacare is intended to move people to a 'public option'. The US needs to create a nationwide market in health insurance through something like the uniform commercial code. Tort reform is necessary, but at the state level.

Zaccaria: Obamacare will crush the healthcare system as we know it. US needs to create a legislative environment where a marketplace in healthcare can operate. The ultimate goal should be some kind of health savings account, plus insurance that is available nationwide.

Clegg: Obamacare will send costs through the roof and uses bogus accounting. Solutions at the state and regional level need to be tried, before nationalizing healthcare. Insurance should be available across state lines.

Question: The Federal government deficit is approximately 1.3 trillion dollars. How would you address this problem, and can this problem be addressed without curbing entitlements or raising taxes?

Zaccaria: The deficit has to be managed without increasing taxes. Federal managers have to be asked to manage and deal with smaller budgets. Certain kinds of entitlement relief are necessary, including changes to social security where individuals retain control of their contributions.

Gardiner: Social Security is a foundation element of our lives. Improve the economy and raise payroll taxes so more money can be contributed to SS. Quit wasting 5% of GNP on healthcare spending.

Clegg: Social Security is a sound system, if not looted by Congress. Opposes privatization of Social Security. Raising retirement age by one year and reducing the annual cost-of-living increases would solve the shortfall.

Question: What is your position on immigration reform, and should the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment be modified?
Gardiner: Fence the border. "Comprehensive" immigration reform is code for not doing anything. Can't round-up 12 million people, so grant amnesty instead. Birthright citizenship is a wrong interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, but it can be changed through Congress.

Clegg: Proper border security will reduce the problem, but Congress so far hasn't given the necessary funding. Rewarding people for breaking the law undermines the rule of law and shouldn't happen. Previous amnesty did not solve the problem. Fourteenth Amendment has been misinterpreted, judges that understand this need to be appointed to the court.

Zaccaria: "Comprehensive" immigration reform is an attempt to institutionalize the current lack of immigration law enforcement. Problem is economic in nature and a combination of border security and employer enforcement will reduce it. Supports taking a lawsuit to the Supreme Court to clarify the Fourteenth Amendment, but immigration needs to be solved in a shorter amount of time than amending the Constitution will take.

Question: Do you think free-trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA are good for the U.S., or is free-trade a bad thing that sends our jobs overseas?
Zaccaria: Free-trade works on a level-playing field, but NAFTA and CAFTA give advantages to businesses outside of the U.S., that don't have to meet our OSHA or minimum wage requirements.

Gardiner: Free-trade does lower prices and helps raise the standard of living, but current system is not fair; other nations do not have the same environment and workplace safety regulations that the U.S. does.

Clegg: U.S. was built on free-trade and should keep trying to build a real free-trade system. However, current free-trade agreements have resulted in things like the World Trade Organization ordering the U.S. to pay cotton subsidies to Brazil. Congress should be working to correct this, but isn't.

Question: Are we on the right path in Afghanistan, or is Republican National Chairman Michael Steele correct when he says the war is unwinnable.
Clegg: Afghanistan is not unwinnable, but what is our national objective there? Trying to make Afghanistan into a modern democracy is going down the wrong path. Mission should be training, and keeping enough of a presence to be effective against al-Qaeda in the region.

Gardiner: Fighting in Afghanistan is very expensive. We're spending money in appropriations bills for costs related to the Vietnam war. We have got to have less war, and put the money to a different use, like building nuclear power plants.

Zaccaria: Mission creep is degrading our ability to do what we say were are going to do and contributing to a pattern of endless war. National command authority needs to be revised, to be more focused on what the military can and cannot do.

Question: Public pension plans are severely underfunded all over the country. Do you agree with the op-ed written by John Loughlin last year, who suggested a Federal bailout of state and local pension plans?
Clegg: We shouldn't depend on others, including the Federal government to bail us out for our own errors. We need to elect officials who will say "no" to unrealistic spending demands.

Gardiner: Federal government should offer "bridge loans" to the states, for instance to help with pension reform or regionalization.

Zaccaria: Bailing out the states is not a Federal function. Previous bail-outs have failed to produce any long-term reform.

Question: In the interests of government transparency and freedom of the press, would you support a Federal shield law?
Clegg: No to a shield law. Journalists don't need any special protections different from what others have.

Gardiner: Thinks that Jim Taricani's stand was courageous, but hasn't taken a definite position on a shield law.

Zaccaria: Gives credit to Jim Taricani for not revealing his source, but that is part of the risk that goes with the job of being a journalist. No to a shield law.

September 3, 2010

When Democrats Sound Like Democrats

Justin Katz

With the surfeit of debates, this election cycle, there's certainly plenty of opportunity to observe the differences large and small between candidates in the Democrat congressional primaries. One instance has to do with Anthony Gemma, in the First District race. Gemma had piqued my interest with a press release that he intends to forgo his salary, should he win the seat, and use it to create four jobs, instead. (Naturally, those jobs would be within his staff, working on a jobs plan.)

But Randal Edgar's coverage of an ABC6 debate suggests Gemma's still way too far within Democrat territory:

Asked what is more important, stimulating the economy or cutting the national deficit, the candidates responded with the familiar words that have marked their campaigns.

Segal said the priority needs to be stimulating the economy, with money going to areas such as public transit.

Lynch said his priority is putting Rhode Islanders back to work, and cutting spending for bridges and roads in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gemma said the government has to spend more wisely, giving money directly to private companies that will create jobs that will still be there when the government money is gone. Cicilline said the country needs to do both — stimulate the economy and pare down the debt.

More public spending will not stimulate the economy. It will supplant spending already planned, change little more than timing, create dependency, and increase worries about debt and taxes. Any candidate who states belief that government spending is the route out of our economic slump is not fit for public office.

This example is even more egregious:

Gemma said the state needs to expand preschool programs to make sure students know their letters and numbers when they get to kindergarten and to spend more time teaching reading and math.

Even government reports have shown that early childhood education isn't likely to be core to an education remedy. It does not make up for poor instruction in subsequent grades or for disengaged parents. When implemented by the state, however it does create a wave of new union members and begin government control of children at even earlier. My expectation is that such a program would only reinforce parents' understanding that educating their children is the responsibility of the government and will do nothing to change the structural mentality that binds our public schools in stagnating labor rules and unhealthy institutional incentives that leave students and parents little influence in policy.

By contrast, Ernest Greco, running in the Second District race, actually gives Democrat voters a substantive choice, and this is what he gets:

... Greco stuck to such conservative positions, that Scott MacKay, political correspondent at WRNI radio, asked him outright: "Why are you a Democrat? Every position you take is right from the Republican platform."

August 25, 2010

Steven Wright of the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Answers My Questions About William Lynch's Principled Advocacy for Debates

Carroll Andrew Morse

Democrat David Cicilline did not attend the First District Congressional debate conducted last week by WPRO radio (630AM). His Democratic rival for the nomination, former Democratic Party Chairman William Lynch, criticized him for this. According to Philip Marcelo of the Projo, Mr. Lynch was also questioning at the end of last week whether Mayor Cicilline was going to show up at this Monday's Newport Chamber of Commerce debate (he did).

While at the Tenth Amendment rally at the Rhode Island Statehouse on Saturday, I had the chance to ask Steven Wright of the Rhode Island Voter Coalition what he thought of the Mr. Lynch's recently taken position on the importance of debates, in light of events that had occurred earlier in the year...

"...I thought that was pretty funny, seeing how [William Lynch] sent a letter...encouraging Democratic candidates not to show up to the Rhode Island Voter Coalition forums, which is a shame really, because we're non-partisan, we're not a fundraising tool, we don't offer any endorsement. Our only purpose is to get people involved and educated on the people that want to represent them."Audio: 39 sec

"And for him to have sent out a letter telling people not to go, and then him complaining this week about Cicilline not showing up -- and then he said that he's shown up to everything that he's been asked to go to -- it was just kind of funny..."Audio: 15 sec

August 20, 2010

Mark Zaccaria on Federal Money and a Federal Rep's Role in Telling You When It Will Impact Your Neighborhood

Carroll Andrew Morse

Second District Congressional Candidate Mark Zaccaria held a press conference yesterday, where he questioned why incumbent Congressman James Langevin had "ignored the concerns of his constituents, by not communicating with local residents and business owners about locating an ACI (Adult Correctional Institution) out-processing center in the Silver Lake District of Providence". According to Mr. Zaccaria, many local residents and business owners did not learn about the project until ground was broken earlier this summer.

The permanent supportive housing facility is being funded, in part, by Federal stimulus money. Mr. Zaccaria believes that Congressman Langevin should have taken a more active role in presenting the project to the community, in his role as the Congressman representing the neighborhood where the facility is being built,

According to Karen Lee Ziner of the Projo, Congressman Langevin's office had this response to the issues raised by Mr. Zaccaria...

As with many federally assisted projects, this was a collaboration between a federal agency and various state and local entities. While Congressman Langevin had no direct involvement in this project, he supports the goals behind it.
Mr. Zaccaria explains his concerns in the audio segments below...
"Mr. Langevin, the current incumbent, has basically ignored the concerns of his constituents by not communicating with local residents and business owners about locating an ACI outplacement facility, a processing center and halfway house, here in the Silver Lake district..." (Audio 1 min 4 sec)

"It has been said that Langevin is completely unaware of the 1.8 million dollar grant that was made to Rhode Island Housing in order to [transition] through to Open doors, which is the non-profit in charge of this development project. If that's true, that itself is an indictment..." (Audio 1 min 1 sec)

"Open doors does wonderful things with the prison population and those who are leaving prison. This facility needs to be put someplace. It may very well need to be put here. Even if that's the case, it has now been delayed..." (Audio 0 min 53 sec)

"There's a daycare center for children on the other side of the property. There are old age facilities. There's a public pool down the street. This is in the middle of a working neighborhood, and it's a nice vibrant neighborhood..." (Audio 0 min 36 sec)

I also asked Mr. Zaccaria about the challenges of representing a city, where even the lowest level of government encompass a large number of people...
"Well, first of all, you decide you're going to do it. I come from a manufacturing background. The first and foremost thing that anyone in manufacturing does is customer service. When the phone rings, everything stops...That's one of the circuit breakers that we see with Mr. Langevin, who obviously comes from a culture of government, where he decides what can and cannot be done and then proceeds..."(Audio 1 min 59 sec)

July 19, 2010

Should We Even Try to Take Politicians Seriously?

Justin Katz

Tim White's been doing a great job moderating debates for the various political races of the season, and the Congressional District 1 debate was no different. I'll confess, though, that I find it difficult to take answers seriously or to expect that debates will provide a reliable impression of who candidates are. In that respect, this answer from Bill Lynch is a classic of the genre:

White asked Lynch why voters should trust him to "get anything done" in Congress, given his "hyper-partisan" role as state Democratic Party chairman for more than a decade.

"That was my job, and I was proud of the job I did," Lynch responded. "I was never afraid to stand up and speak my mind. And frankly, I think that that's something that the people of Rhode Island want and need ... now in Washington."

"That was my job" implies that people shouldn't hold him but so accountable, as if he really is "hyper-partisan," which is a spin he's tried previously on WPRO. But that he would characterize his performance at that job as "speak[ing] my mind" suggests that he was a natural fit for the role.

The answer, in other words, is clearly that voters cannot trust him to be anything other than hyper-partisan, but he wants to claim to be some sort of an independent outsider while assuring his fellow Democrats that he'll always and ever be their boy.

July 12, 2010

Signature Coverage of John Loughlin

Carroll Andrew Morse

I caught up with First District Congressional Candidate John Loughlin at a signature party last evening in Lincoln. After complaining to the candidate about his habit of not using a microphone wherever he can avoid it, sometimes leading to poor-quality audio in large-group settings, I asked Mr. Loughlin a few questions about his campaign...

Anchor Rising: If you were to be elected Congressmen from the First District of Rhode Island, how would the relationship between the Federal Government and the people of the First District of Rhode Island change?

First District Congressional Candidate John Loughlin: "It enhances it significantly. One of the things that we saw recently is that it's a significant disadvantage to having one party control the entire Congressional delegation. We had this horrific flooding, it was actually in the Second Congressional District. Our delegation went out there. The President of the United States came and flew over the top of Rhode Island, went to a fundraiser in Boston, and got back into his plane and flew back over the top of Rhode Island and went back to Washington, largely because he knows he's got four safe votes, two safe votes in the Senate, two safe votes in the House, why pay any attention to Rhode Island..." (Audio: 0 min 37 sec)

AR: Do you think that the Congress that we have right now should try to do anything big between now and November, or should they wait until the people speak...

JL: "I would prefer that they try not to do anything big, period. I think that cap-and-trade which passed the House and healthcare which passed the House and the Senate and was signed by the President are two examples of big things that should not have been done..." (Audio: 0 min 30 sec)

Anchor Rising: And if you were elected, after November, what would be your top agenda items as a Freshman Congressman?

JL: "Controlling spending, getting Rhode Island and America back to work." (Audio: 0 min 8 sec)

July 6, 2010

Not Imposing a Preference Against Killing

Justin Katz

I've liked a good deal of what I've read and heard from Republican Congressional Candidate William Clegg, so it's regrettable to find him taking the same horrible position as his primary competition (and Republican nominee) Mark Zaccaria. Here's Clegg:

While my own beliefs are pro-life, I do not believe that the government should be intervening in what should be a choice between a woman, her doctor, and God. I do not seek to impose my views on another in such a private area. I believe that we can best reduce the prevalence of abortion through awareness and appeals to conscience and that religion can take a prominent role in this effort. In line with my belief in the limits of government, I do not believe that federal funds should be used for abortions. I am also a proponent of parental consent where appropriate, as well as waiting periods. Last, I do not subscribe to the view that there is a Constitutional right to an abortion as originally set out by the plurality in Roe v. Wade, and continued in the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The name for this political position used to be "pro-choice," in direct opposition to "pro-life." I've contacted Clegg and his campaign for clarification, but having not heard back in a substantive way, I can only pose my questions here:

  • In what sense can one have "pro-life beliefs" and still believe that killing an unborn child is a legitimate "choice"? The determining belief of the pro-life side is that a human being at the earliest stages of development is indeed a human being, with a right to life.
  • What significance could there be to disagreeing with Roe v. Wade, et al., if one sees government proscriptions against abortion as an inappropriate imposition of a pro-life view? From that stance, does Congressman Clegg side with those who would undo Roe v. Wade or oppose them? The latter sounds more likely.

As with Zaccaria, one gets the distinct impression that, having determined to take an untenable position, Clegg attempts to season his pro-choice mush with a few kernels of conservative principles. The attempted message is that such candidates will be better than their pro-abortion opposition, but pro-lifers shouldn't expect any support from them.

For me, the politics are a secondary consideration. It's a tricky business predicting what candidates will do when they actually face the pressures and compromises of national policy battles. We therefore should weigh heavily their intellectual and philosophical coherency and look for indications of their approach to constructing their positions. As I've said before, the attempt to acknowledge reality and credit the unborn with being distinct human beings while still characterizing their killing as the choice of the mother is monstrous.

Even for all that, though, voters must choose candidates from among those available, making decisions within the context of an array of issues. The politics may be secondary, but sometimes they're all that's left.

June 21, 2010

Ernie Greco Announces His Campaign for Congress in the Second District

Carroll Andrew Morse

Saturday afternoon, I was able to drop by Ernie Greco's fair-to-label-it surprise announcement of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Second District Congressional seat currently held by incumbent Democrat James Langevin...

"My name is Ernie Greco and today I am announcing my candidacy for the Democratic nomination to represent the Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives..." (Audio: 1 min 8sec)

"This campaign is based, in my judgment, on a few common sense principles. One principle of this campaign is that fiscal responsibility and social responsibility can and should be compatible..." (Audio: 1 min 23 sec)

"We are also going to see that politicians who break their promises need to be held accountable...When a Congressman says that he is committed to the defense of innocent human life, and he solicits support from other people who share those values and share those beliefs, we expect him to fight for those principles and not abandon them or trade them off for some type of other political purpose." (Audio: 1 min 15 sec)

"What I like to call common sense Democrats and independents know [is] that neither politicians nor judges have the authority to decide when human life should begin or when human life should end, they don't have the authority to redefine marriage and the family, and they don't have the authority to take our 1st Amendment religious liberty in the public square and subordinate it that to concerns of political correctness and multiculturalism..." (Audio: 0 min 40 sec)

"Common sense tells us that no sovereign nation can survive, if it allows foreign governments or foreign nations to dictate its immigration policy..." (Audio: 0 min 23 sec)

[Candidate Greco addresses the public in Spanish] (Audio: 0 min 43 sec)

While our public schools need reform and will always need reform...and I will certainly fight to protect and defend our public schools, the next Federal education reform that's passed, from my point of view, has to include a provision for tuition tax-credits and tuition vouchers to keep schools like this one, the Holy Ghost school here on Federal Hill open..." (Audio: 1 min 23 sec)

"This campaign is going to be a labor-intensive, grass-roots campaign..." (Audio: 1 min 40 sec)

After the formal announcement was completed, I asked Mr. Greco if he had any other goals, beyond an outright win, that he was entering a Congressional race as a Democrat to achieve...
"I have no other goal. I wouldn't devote this time and effort simply to send a message to anybody..." (Audio: 1 min 29 sec)

June 18, 2010

Third Democrat in the Second District Race

Carroll Andrew Morse

I just received a press release saying that Ernie Greco, currently a Professor of Political Science at Roger Williams University, will formally announce tomorrow his campaign for Rhode Island's Second District Congressional seat. He will run in the Democratic primary against incumbent James Langevin and former state Representative Elizabeth Dennigan...

The formal announcement will take place, Saturday, June 19, 2010 at noon at St. John's park which is at the corner of Atwells and Sutton st. on Federal Hill.
A quick perusal of the platform on the Greco for Congress campaign website shows that he probably won't be splitting the disaffected progressive vote with the Dennigan campaign.

June 16, 2010

Mark Zaccaria at the Rhode Island Republican Assembly Endorsement Convention

Carroll Andrew Morse

This past Saturday, the Rhode Island Republican Assembly held its endorsement convention for statewide candidates. Candidates were allowed to make a short statement, then took questions from the audience. As always, RI-RA members asked direct and pointed questions of the candidates.

Mark Zaccaria spoke to the convention about his campaign for Congress in Rhode Island's Second Congressional District, and received the endorsement made later in the day.

Opening statement:

"I was born and raised as an American by proud Americans. My parents fought the Second World War and taught me to have those kinds of values...I began my service to my country in uniform, like many of the rest of us in this room, and what I learned there was that the ideals I had been taught were worth my life, if it came to that..." (Audio: 1 min 6 sec)

"...we have each gone out there and participated in the raising of our kids and we have worked together to use our self-sufficiency and our self-reliance to make a life here in America. Today, that possibility is the thing that is most under threat." (Audio: 0 min 48 sec)

"...but while many have been asleep, the forces that are always nibbling away and trying to get something for nothing have nibbled and gotten fat, and we are way down the wrong path...So I am asking you here today, for us to get together, so that we can take back our government..." (Audio: 1 min 54 sec)

Audience Question: Is there any company in America that's too big to fail?

Answer: "Absolutely not. The thing we have to watch out for is that America is not too big to fail, so we've got to manage it, if we want it to be there for our children and our grandchildren." (Audio: 0 min 10 sec)

Audience Question: What's your position on gay marriage and don't-ask-don't-tell?

Answer: "My opinion is that marriage is a sacrament, and it should be conferred by ordained clergy. The job of government is to manage civil/judicial systems so that contracts can be enforced..." (Audio: 0 min 34 sec)

Answer: "As for gays in the military, it's a much more complicated situation. The fact of the matter is that, in all of our professional lives, we've always had to work side-by-side with people who under other circumstances, we might be sexually attracted to, and we all do it because we're professionals, and you don't have a lot of problems with that. What you do have problems with is that the military is a large, integrated small-town that goes all over the world..." (Audio: 1 min 22 sec)

Audience Question: Would you support legislation to audit the Federal Reserve?

Answer: "Absolutely yes. My fear with that is that the Fed, being a private organization that has no responsibility to maintain bookkeeping standards as we might understand elsewhere, you can audit them all you want, but you won't find anything....My problem with the Fed is that allows the kind elasticity of money that allows weak politicians to have some anytime they want and to defer the day of reckoning..." (Audio: 0 min 58 sec)

Audience Question: What kind of proposals would you support to protect Americans from the impending disaster of Obamacare?

Answer: "That's pretty easy. Repeal it. Get rid of it. It is not care in any way, shape or form, it's just another layer of overhead being put on an already strained business model..." (Audio: 0 min 29 sec)

Audience Question: What's your position on illegal immigration?

Answer: "Illegal immigration is pretty simple, it's right in the title. It's illegal. Certain things that are said in Washington these days go right up my left nostril, and one of them is that we have to have a comprehensive review of our immigration laws. No we don't. We have to enforce the darn things..." (Audio: 0 min 59 sec)

Bill Clegg at the Rhode Island Republican Assembly Endorsement Convention

Carroll Andrew Morse

This past Saturday, the Rhode Island Republican Assembly held its endorsement convention for statewide candidates. Candidates were allowed to make a short statement, then took questions from the audience. As always, RI-RA members asked direct and pointed questions of the candidates.

Bill Clegg spoke to the convention about his campaign for Congress in Rhode Island's Second Congressional District.

Opening statement:

"America is a great and wondrous country, but America is in mortal danger right now. America is being besieged on all sides, internally which is the most dismaying thing of all..." (Audio: 0 min 50 sec)

"But let me talk about Jim Langevin for a minute. Jim Langevin is a follower, and he's an incompetent follower at that....Jim Langevin has not earned your trust. In fact, he has abused your trust in a critical vote only 3 or 4 months ago..." (Audio: 1 min 25 sec)

"So let me tick off the necessary qualifications real quick for you. New face, no political baggage that can be attacked, meaningful real-world experience, solid record of significant achievement, more money coming into the campaign everyday and a positive checking account balance in the campaign which is a huge plus, and last, energy and commitment to take on Jim Langevin..." (Audio: 1 min 46 sec)

Audience Question: What's your view on gay marriage?

Answer: "...I'm OK with the civil union concept, equalizing tax laws. I think marriage should be the province of religion and is reserved for men and women." (Audio: 0 min 19 sec)

Audience Question: How come you haven't been recently active in Republican politics until now?

Answer: "When I first moved to Rhode Island after law school and took a job, I became active in Republican Party politics. I became City Chair in Warwick...and I actually ran for office in the early '90s..." (Audio: 1 min 9 sec)

Audience Question: Will you support repealing the parts of the Patriot Act the violate the Bill of Rights?

Answer: "The Patriot Act has done some good things as well for us. It has given us great transparency into the accounts of terrorists...and while there are some parts that concern privacy, I'm more concerned with the issues of terrorism..." (Audio: 0 min 38 sec)

Audience Question: Would you support making English the official language of the country?

Answer: "I hope we never become like Quebec, where you have to have every sign in French and English. I think the first thing as an obligation as American citizens is to learn the language, so you can function in the country..." (Audio: 0 min 13 sec)

Audience Question: What is your position on gays in the military?

Answer: "There's no issue with gays in the military...I think the military can be integrated, just like it was with race back in the 50s..." (Audio: 0 min 22 sec)

Audience Question: What is your position on closing up the borders and stopping illegal immigration into the United States?

Answer: "We should have done it yesterday. Not only tightening up Federal borders, but the issue, as we know, is the enforcement of Federal immigration laws which are on the books but not enforced at all..." (Audio: 0 min 49 sec)

June 4, 2010

Mark Zaccaria on James Langevin's Official Entry into the Second District Race

Carroll Andrew Morse

Second District Congressional Candidate Mark Zaccaria was in attendance at the announcement of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung's campaign for reelection on Wednesday evening. By coincidence, Wednesday also happened to be the evening that Second District Congressman James Langevin announced his reelection bid, giving me the opportunity to ask candidate Zaccaria if he had any reaction to the incumbent's announcement in his own race...

Mark Zaccaria: I need to go to the people of the Second District in this upcoming general election and say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the guy that did this to you, and I'm the guy that's going to undo it for you", which one do you want to choose....The grotesque overspending has essentially eroded the foundations financially of the Republic, and it seems like people aren't thinking when they simply borrow more money from the Federal Reserve, so that they can put it to a blowtorch, which is what we are doing with programs that do not have any sustainability or long term impact to the nation..." (Full audio, 1 min 14 sec)

April 5, 2010

Moakley Says Loughlin Has "Informally Conceded" in the First District Race

Carroll Andrew Morse


John Loughlin's campaign manager Cara Cromwell says, direct quote...

"He's running this campaign one time, and he's going to win".
She also adds that Rep. Loughlin and Prof. Moakley have not spoken directly, and that she suspects that some conventional political wisdom about running against entrenched incumbents, not originating from any source related to the Loughlin campaign, erroneously appears in the article as if it had come from the campaign.

An article from Dartmouth College's campus newspaper contained the excerpt below, regarding the Congressional race in Rhode Island's First District...

Maureen Moakley, a professor of political science at University of Rhode Island, said the main contest for the seat will likely be between Cicilline and Lynch.

“This is a district that is solidly Democratic and unlikely to change in the short term,” she said.

Moakley also said that Loughlin had “informally conceded” he would not win the congressional seat on the first try and would have to run several times.

(The Dartmouth was covering the story because another rumored Republican candidate who has apparently decided not to run, Eric Pfeiffer, is a Dartmouth grad).

According to Prof. Moakley's analysis, the general election is already over: In Rhode Island, the "Kennedy seat" stays Democratic, with a conventional Democratic pol moving up the ranks in order to claim it.

If this is ultimately how the campaign plays out, whether the winner is Cicilline or Lynch, the First District is on track to be represented by a Congressman who can be expected to represent the positions of the national Democratic leadership back to Rhode Island, rather than one who represents the interests of all Rhode Islanders to Washington.

I've contacted the Loughlin campaign, to get their reaction to the idea than an informal concession has already occurred.

April 3, 2010

Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 3, 2nd Congressional District Candidates

Justin Katz

The candidates for the second Congressional district had a lively time at Wednesday's Rhode Island Voter Coalition Meet the Candidates event. The more contentious segments is the third in this post. (Click the "continue reading" link for more video.)

Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, North Kingston, Part 3, 2nd Congressional District Candidates"

March 24, 2010

The GOP 2nd Congressional Candidates

Marc Comtois

So you don't have to, here is the "Marc's Notes" version of where the three announced GOP candidates (Mark Zaccaria, Michael Gardiner and Bill Clegg) for RI's Second Congressional District Seat stand on various issues. This is compiled directly from the "Issues" pages on each candidate's websites--I paraphrased and used direct quotes to try to get to the nut of their stance on each issue. If a candidate didn't address a topic, I simply left them out of that category.


The Economy:

Mark Zaccarria: Create a "self-sustaining fund for capital investment" for small business. "No company is too big to fail. The US Government isn’t structured to manage for-profit enterprises, so it should butt out."

Michael Gardiner: "Jobs could come from a recovery of demand if consumers and employers suddenly had more money to spend." Cut taxes where feasible, but focus on reducing spending. "Stabilize regulation."

Bill Clegg: Reduce government spending, simplify the tax code, shrink government.


Zaccaria: Supports "lifetime Health Savings Account (HSA) for individuals that they and their employers could contribute to pre-tax" and "nationwide availability of low cost – high deductable insurance policies to cover you in the event of catastrophic health problems".

Gardiner: Creating a national market in Health Care will cause savings and lead to more money in people's pockets (ties it to the Economy).

Clegg: Try "the simplest and most efficient solutions first. Regional pooling, reasonable caps on tort awards, better coordination among states to foster competition, and more consumer–driven health plans..."

Energy and the Environment:

Zaccaria: "Government should spur research into improving the use of traditional fuels and accelerating the development of the green energy technologies that are our future. Drill Here, Drill Now for our immediate needs."

Gardiner: Intrigued by wind farm idea, "but the government should not subsidize projects unless the numbers make sense. The demand is for cheaper power. Insulation and energy efficient appliances and furnaces provide attainable and durable reduction in consumption." Seems wary of nuclear power, but willing to expand it. "Respect for the environment should not lead to absolutism, but rather prudence and caution."

Foreign Policy:

Clegg: "The world is simply not getting any safer or less complex and we must maintain a strong and modern military in order to be prepared for an uncertain future."


Zaccaria: "Government can also craft an environment where competition lowers the cost of education and where performance, both of students and their institutions, is highlighted, celebrated, and made a factor in achieving our goals."


Zaccaria: "I favor an easy-to-apply-for Guest Worker program that permits 9 months of legal residence and W-2 wages followed by 3 months back in the country of origin." Favors use of E-Verify.


Zaccaria: "We must end abortion in the US. The question is how?" Wants to "begin a comprehensive program of leadership where we educate all Americans on the alternatives to abortion and their benefit. Patterned after the 40 Stop Smoking campaign, this initiative would have much more immediate effect since it’s not about personal addiction. No one wants to have an abortion."

Gardiner: "Save as many as possible without offending individual freedom....I accept Roe v. Wade, but would like to see it modified to protect more life by expanding the definition of life. I would be open to the states states and the people acting in the field by constitutional amendment. I think this is uniquely a woman's' issue that that will always be heavily influenced by women."


Zaccaria: Supports The Defense of Marriage Act, which "squarely puts the question right back where 250 years of American jurisprudence has always placed it: As a right of States to decide for themselves."

Gardiner: Opposes The Defense of Marriage Act. "I do not believe that the state may choose the gender of your family."

Gun Issues:

Zaccaria: Supports the 2nd Amendment.

Death Penalty:

Zaccaria: "I believe that there are certain crimes that are so abhorrent that the government will need to sanction a perpetrator with the loss of their very life. Our government should have the ability to use this penalty in cases where it is appropriate."


Editorial aside: Since Zaccaria is the veteran in this race, his platform is more robust. Overall, his position on each of the issues is about where you'd expect a mainstream Republican to stand. Gardiner seems to be carrying the Moderate Republican mantle: conservative/pragmatic about the economy and the environment and socially liberal. Clegg seems most comfortable talking about the economy and was the only of the three to mention foreign policy/military. He didn't specifically address some of the cultural hot-button issues, but he talks about encouraging self-reliance and personal responsibility. He also has a slogan prepared, "Raise Trust, Not Taxes."

Setting aside the questionable wisdom of having three apparently able members of the thin RI GOP bench embarking on the same (probably) quixotic quest to oust a comfortably situated incumbent, I'll find it interesting to hear Gardiner and Clegg flesh out their positions in contrast to the more established Zaccaria.

Hope they're all self-funding!

March 22, 2010

Three-Way Republican Primary Race for Second District

Justin Katz

Well, there's no shortage of Republicans interested in replacing Jim Langevin in Congress. Joining Mark Zaccaria and Michael Gardner in the Republican race is Bill Clegg:

"Federal spending is simply not sustainable. Congress must get into the game and examine every program, every entitlement, and every priority they have created".

Clegg also intends to focus on restoring trust in government, and reducing the overall role of the federal government. "Government is once again exceeding its constitutional grasp and I am very concerned with the direction we are heading. I do not think fostering dependency and bureaucracy is what America is all about."

A quick look reveals Clegg's Web site to be devoid of social issues. In the current environment, of course, that could indicate opinions in either direction, or neither. Of course, Langevin's own ostensible pro-life position is now a nullity, for political purposes, so Republicans' positions only matter in the primary.

March 1, 2010

Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 3

Justin Katz

Additional video from the Rhode Island Voter Coalition Burrillville "meet the candidates" Congressional Q&A may be found in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Rhode Island Voter Coalition, Burrillville, Video Part 3"

February 20, 2010

Two Notes on the Ultrapartisan Non-Partisan

Justin Katz

On the reflective claim that I'm as partisan as Bill Lynch: First, I'm not a partisan; I'm an ideologue. I call the Democrat Party the Party of Death because it is gladly the political home of advocates for the abortion industry and related causes (e.g., embryonic stem-cell research and right to die). Certain current candidates might be willing to testify that pro-abortion Republicans don't get a pass. Second, were I to run for Congress, my first declaration would definitely not be a call for an end to bipartisan rancor.

On the question of whether Lynch was kidding when he told school children that Democrats are the good guys and Republicans are the bad guys: The anecdote isn't relevant because Lynch was corrupting the minds of young Rhode Islanders; the anecdote is relevant because it so directly conforms with his comportment as Democrat Party chairman. The air has hardly settled around the lips of a local Republican who has chosen a word poorly when my emailbox has a statement from Lynch exaggerating that word to vicious degree.

To dismiss Lynch's quip on the grounds that it was a joke applies in only one of two ways: Either his parallel behavior as chairman has been wickedly cynical and evident of a deep contempt of the people whom his party claims to represent, or the joke was, as Don Roach suggests in the comments, "sarcasm laced with truth - or rather his belief that Republicans are the bad guys," in which case it wasn't the sort of joke that absolves the speaker of blame.

February 19, 2010

Re: Ultrapartisan Non-Partisan

Carroll Andrew Morse

Democratic First District Congressional Candidate William Lynch, who as Chairman of the State Democratic Party successfully discouraged his party’s gubernatorial candidates from appearing at a Rhode Island Voter Coalition candidates forum in January, has scheduled his own appearance at a “Drinking Liberally” public forum to be held on February 24 (h/t Meg Grady).

According to Steve Wright of the RIVC, Mr. Lynch has yet to respond to the Voter Coalition's invitation to attend their February forum (scheduled for the same evening as the Drinking Liberally event). Republican John Robitaille and independent Lincoln Chafee, candidates for governor, are scheduled to appear at the RIVC forum; Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frank Caprio and Congressional candiate David Cicilline declined the RIVC invitation, citing scheduling conflicts.

In announcing his candidacy, William Lynch said that it was necessary to “come together and govern from the middle”. It appears that to him, governing from the middle means doing issue-oriented public interaction in front of ideologically progressive groups, while completely ignoring other citizen groups. It makes you wonder where exactly Mr. Lynch thinks the middle is.

Ultrapartisan Non-Partisan

Justin Katz

Does Bill Lynch really think he's got a shot at the 1st district congressional seat? I'm with Steven Artigas of Westerly:

So William Lynch, Rhode Island state Democratic Party chairman and announced candidate for Congress, instructed an 8th-grade class that to tell Democrats from Republicans is easy: "The Democrats are the good guys and the Republicans are the bad guys."

Not only does he showcase his own mindless partisanship, but to display this biased view in a class of impressionable students who are hopefully learning the beginnings of critical thinking is especially repugnant.

Lynch: Giving shamelessness a face.

February 17, 2010

Who's the Goliath?

Justin Katz

The political landscape has been changing so rapidly, of late, that it's tempting to refigure the narrative over and over again, but it seems to me that the story of the upcoming election is pretty consistent, no matter who the players are. Consider a recent Ed Fitzpatrick column on John Loughlin:

For one thing, [Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman] said, "A lot of [Loughlin's] appeal is built on running as David to Kennedy's Goliath. Now, he can't take advantage of running against Washington."

Loughlin begs to differ. "I think it's always been David vs. Goliath, and it's still David vs. Goliath," he said. "The Goliath is the Congress of the United States and an administration that is spending our country into oblivion."

Former Brown University Prof. Darrell M. West, now at the Brookings Institution, said it is easier to run for an open seat than to take on an incumbent. But he said it will probably prove more difficult to raise out-of-state money without Kennedy as an opponent.

"Goliath is no longer going to be on the ballot," West said. "It's going to be a bunch of Davids at this point."

I'd agree that one can include the Republican Congress of the early '00s in the Goliath characterization, which is probably what restrained Loughlin from partisanship. And it's understandable that establishment, even Democrat-leaning commentators, such as Fitzpatrick and his sources, would see all non-incumbents as Davids. But I don't think it's excessively partisan, on the other side, to suspect that the Congressional Goliath at least overlaps with the Democrat Goliath, if the two are not synonymous.

In other words, the Democrat primary is mainly to choose the face that Goliath will wear locally. The dynamic has only changed to the extent that Patrick Kennedy's own foibles were a factor.

February 14, 2010

Lynch Bids for Congress, Depends on Voter Amnesia

Marc Comtois

As the usual and unusual suspects emerge out of the woodwork, we can be sure that we're going to see and hear some things that should induce a chuckle amongst the politically astute. And there's no better example than now-Former RI Democratic Party chair Bill Lynch:

The partisan politics of Washington are no longer providing solutions for the taxpayers of Rhode Island. I share the sentiments of voters who are angry and upset with the divisive debate that has ground Washington to a halt.

I want Rhode Island families to know I will not participate in the rhetoric that has left all of us discouraged and disillusioned these past few years...I believe the vast majority of Rhode Islanders want the Republicans and Democrats who represent them to move to the center.

It is time to stop the bitter debate driven by the extreme left and right. We need to come together and govern from the middle in a manner that makes sense for working families here in Rhode Island....I admit to a growing sense of frustration and disappointment with the lack of civility and progress in Washington that has left the American people out in the cold...Washington needs leaders who are dedicated to producing a new way forward and I plan on being a part of that process.

He just can't be serious, can he? As the ProJo article reminds, this is the same guy who told 8th graders, ""The Democrats are the good guys and the Republicans are the bad guys and that's all you have to remember.'' Now he says he was just kidding. To quote Noah in Bill Cosby's famous skit, "Riiiiiight...."

February 11, 2010

Rhode Island's Own People's Seat

Justin Katz

It's encouraging to see the national conservative movement, specifically Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online, taking notice of John Loughlin's run for Rhode Island's First Congressional seat:

No seat belongs to the Kennedys, not even in the House of Representatives. Announcing his candidacy on the same day that Sen. Scott Brown took his oath as successor to Edward M. Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, John Loughlin, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve who was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina and trained troops for Operation Iraqi Freedom, hoped to surprise the establishment in a similar way: succeeding Senator Kennedy's son, Patrick, in the House. Loughlin has even picked up Brown's advisers to help him pull it off. ...

Of congressman Kennedy, Loughlin says: "He was the only member of Rhode Island's delegation to refuse to hold a public town-hall meeting with his constituents. It's clear that he's not interested in the views of the people of Rhode Island." In short, it's the people's seat. And Loughlin's hoping the people will see it to be in their best interests to send him to Washington to fill it.

Lopez offers some review of Loughlin's chances and includes her full interview with him. Perhaps with such national attention, the people of Rhode Island can begin to believe that it is possible — permissible — to change our representatives from time to time. The apathy that grows from a contrary view is arguably among the state's biggest problems, and it would be magnificent if Loughlin's run for Congress could help to repair that attitude.

February 5, 2010

For Those Who Couldn't Make the Announcement

Justin Katz

A reader has posted video of John Loughlin's candidacy announcement on YouTube:

Kennedy Down - Inside the Numbers

Marc Comtois

The WPRI poll Monique mentioned highlights the poor favorability ratings for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (apparently because he has the lowest approval numbers of RI's Federal delegation). Yet, Senator Whitehouse isn't up for reelection for a couple more years, so the more immediate--and actionable--item is the news that Congressman Patrick Kennedy has a high unfavorability rating.

First, for what it's worth, he has a 29/58 Favorable/Unfavorable rating in the 2nd Congressional District (not his own) and WPRI published some overall breakdowns, but the important numbers are those solely from the First District (note, the poll was conducted prior to Rep. John Loughlin officially entered the race):

If the election were held today, would you vote to re-elect Congressman Kennedy?

Re-Elect - 35%
Consider Another - 31%
Replace - 28%

18-39 - Re-elect - 31%; Consider another - 29%; Replace - 20%
40-59 - Re-elect - 34%; Consider another - 30%; Replace - 31%
60+ - Re-elect - 31%; Consider another - 36%; Replace - 29%

Male - Re-elect - 33%; Consider another - 32%; Replace - 30%
Female - Re-elect - 37%; Consider another - 31%; Replace - 26%

Union Member in Household
Yes - Re-elect - 49%; Consider another - 26%; Replace - 23%
No - Re-elect - 32%; Consider another - 33%; Replace - 30%

Political Leanings
Democrat - Re-elect - 61%; Consider another - 20%; Replace - 12%
Republican - Re-elect - 8%; Consider another - 33%; Replace - 57%
Independent - Re-elect - 26%; Consider another - 42%; Replace - 25%

Kennedy is still strong among Democrats, but the Independents are the key. It looks like those over 60 may finally be getting over Camelot, too. Kennedy's strongest support comes from Democrat women between 40-59 years old who live in union households. His strongest opponents are Republican men of the same age who don't live in a union household.

NOTE: While I won't go so far as to agree with the contention that these polls are poorly designed, I do think the real problem is that those who conduct and report on these polls need to do a better job with the way they phrase the results. This particularly true with the way the lump Favorable/Unfavorable by putting "Fair" in the latter category. "Fair" is the ultimate "meh" answer in polling, and doesn't indicate anything. Someone who says a politician is doing "Fair" could still very well vote for them--and in RI, it would probably take someone else knocking the socks off a voter to get them to change their ballot box habits. That being said, the results I've replicated here are a bit more clear.

February 4, 2010

Loughlin Makes it Official

Marc Comtois

State Rep. John Loughlin formally announced his run against Patrick Kennedy for the 1st Congressional District seat. From the ProJo report:

"When we should have been focused on jobs, Congressman Patrick Kennedy was voting for a massive government takeover of our health care system that would have raised taxes, increased spending and cut Medicare for our seniors,'' he said.

"When we should have been focused on jobs, my opponent was voting for a ... trade energy tax that would impose huge new costs on businesses and families in this state. Instead of extending a helping hand, my opponent has teamed up with Nancy Pelosi and her friends in Washington to throw us one anchor after another, making matters worse, not better.''

Contending "it's time for a new start,'' Loughlin ticked off his own views, including: "The best social program is a good job that pays a decent wage...Money and resources are best used when they remain in the hands of the people.''

That the announcement is garnering some national attention is understandable given Loughlin is running against the only currently elected Kennedy in the wake of the Scott Brown victory. Meanwhile, Patrick Kennedy thinks the Brown victory is "way overblown" because Coakley was such a bad candidate....heh. Can history repeat?

January 20, 2010

Patrick Kennedy on Notice

Marc Comtois

If it can happen in Massachusetts, why not here, right? For years we've wondered what it would take for Patrick Kennedy to actually be challenged. Yesterday we learned that not only does it look like Kennedy will be forced to run in a primary against Woonsocket Rep. John Brien, but that Republican John Loughlin is looking to hire the Brown team to take on Kennedy in the general election. People are rarin' to go.

But the difference is that Kennedy has a heads up. Though "how" is a mystery to many of us, he has been an effective campaigner in his advantageously drawn Congressional district. He has perfected his "good little boy" act for the seniors and has the unflinching support of the urban core and he has time to get his ground game in order and all that. But then again, likening the electorate to a bunch of blood-thirsty Romans may not be helpful:

The son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy says a Republican victory in the race for his father's Senate seat is a sign that the American public is out for "blood."

As election returns came in Tuesday night, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) said it's clear that voters wanted “a whipping boy” for all the lost jobs and foreclosed homes.

“It’s like in Roman times, they’d be trotted out to the coliseum and the lions would be brought out,” Kennedy told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday night. “I mean, they’re wanting blood and they’re not getting it so they want to protest, and, you know, you can’t blame them. But frankly, the fact is we inherited this mess and it’s becoming ours.”

Yes, those poor Democrats, martyred for the sins of the GOP. Right.

It will be interesting to see if Brien can gain traction amongst the traditional and union Democrats to counter Kennedy. If he does--if Brien actually wins in the primary--it will indeed signal a sea change if there will be no Kennedy in Washington for the first time since.....when?

I wonder if Betsy Dennigan wishes she hadn't changed Congressional districts.

January 19, 2010

The Template?

Marc Comtois

It looks like Rep. John Loughlin likes what he sees from the Brown campaign. From NBC 10's Bill Rappleye (emphasis mine):

The horrifying performance of Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley could be equalled by the supreme campaign run by Scott Brown…no matter who wins tonite. RI State Rep. John Loughlin (R), has noticed. He figures if a state legislator can win a former Kennedy seat in Massachusetts, or at least erase a double digit poll lead during the campaign, then the same team can take on the last elected Kennedy in the Rhode Island 1st District race. The Rapp Session has learned Loughlin will be hiring Beth Myers, Peter Flaherty and Eric Fehrnstrom, all veterans of the Romney Presidential bid, as soon as their race with Scott Brown is finished.

November 24, 2009

John Loughlin on the Civil Trial of Terrorists

Monique Chartier

Candidate for the First Congressional District John Loughlin appeared Sunday on NBC 10's 10 News Conference with Jim Taricani and Bill Rappley. Below is the discussion between Loughlin and Taricani on the decision by the Obama Administration to try five terrorists in a United States federal court.

Illegal immigration was the topic of another interesting moment. Starting at minute 7:00, Bill Rappleye, as devils advocate, makes a case against e-verify by relaying assertions on the part of hospitality and tourist businesses in Newport that they would cease operation were they deprived of illegal (i.e., cheap) labor. Loughlin, a proponent of e-verify, cannot seem to muster any sympathy for business plans built upon "false economics" and the breaking of the law.

[Minute 15:15]

Taricani: There is a trial that is going to take place. The decision was made by the Obama administration, or the Justice Department, for the five terrorists, one who claims to be the mastermind for 911, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Do you think that trial should be held in New York?

Loughlin: Well, I think that that should be a military tribunal and for a variety of reasons. First of all, a lot of the evidence that will be exposed during the discovery process of this trial, which is constitutionally safe-guarded, is going to be made public and ...

Taricani: Don't you think that, regardless of how you feel about the Justice Department, they know all that? And you don't think that they've had a phone call or two with the CIA and the FBI about this?

Loughlin: But during the discovery process in an actual trial, that information ...

Taricani: Yes, but don't you think they've considered all this?

Loughlin: Well, apparently they haven't.

Taricani: Are you kidding me? You really think that they haven't considered this? The Attorney General of the United States of America ...

Loughlin: If they have considered it, they've come to the wrong conclusion. The correct way to try KSM, I think, is with a military tribunal.

Taricani: What about the statement that Senator Jack Reed from this state made? When he was interviewed about this, he said this sends a strong message to the rest of the world that this is America. When people are charged with a crime in America, they get a shot in a courtroom.

Loughlin: And it basically says, do you believe that an act of war committed against the United States America is a crime or is it an act of war? I think clearly in this case, it's an act of war. And if you look, the Obama Administration actually tried the folks involved in the bombing of the Cole in a military tribunal because they said it was a military target. Well, last time I checked, the Pentagon was a military target as well and I believe this belongs in a military tribunal.

October 2, 2009

Simple Combinatorics Say Congressman Kennedy Should Debate Now!

Carroll Andrew Morse

In the final stage of his 2008 Congressional campaign, Rhode Island First District Congressman Patrick Kennedy had this to say about the possibility of debating his opponent…

Debates at this stage are usually theatre and gotcha games.
This past weekend, the Projo's Steve Peoples got the Congressman's thoughts on appearing by himself in front of the public, for a discussion of issues in what is the early stage of the 2010 Congressional campaign…
Seizing on Kennedy’s reluctance to host a public forum, his likely Republican opponent in next year’s election, state Rep. John J. Loughlin II, has scheduled a health-care town hall of his own in Tiverton this Wednesday….Kennedy on Saturday dismissed the move as a political stunt, and said he would not host a town hall, largely because they fail to produce real discussion.

“Unfortunately, these town hall meetings have been hijacked by these Tea Party folks and extremists who really take away from the honest dialogue on the facts of the debate and end up seeing this issue devolve into fear mongering and the peddling of misconceptions,” he said, referring again to the sign that referenced his father’s death.

Combinatorics fans will note that Congressman Kennedy's closing off of two possibilities; appearing in debates to discuss issues in the late stages of a campaign and meeting directly with the public to discuss issues in the early stages of a campaign, still leaves open a third possibility: appearing in debates to discuss issues in the early stages of a campaign.

Will Congressman Kennedy make himself available for debates in the early stages of his 2010 Congressional campaign, or will he ultimately take the position that there is no time when the job of United States Representative involves appearing in front of the general public, for an extended discussion of issues?

August 4, 2009

Elizabeth Dennigan on Running in the Second District and on Reading Bills Before Voting on Them

Carroll Andrew Morse

Earlier this evening, State Representative Elizabeth Dennigan formally announced her Democratic primary challenge to Second District incumbent Congressman James Langevin. Normally, we don't devote too much attention to Democratic v. Democratic battles here at Anchor Rising, but since I posted a question a couple of weeks ago regarding Rep. Dennigan's decision to run in the Second District though she currently resides in the First, I thought I should take the opportunity to ask her about this directly…

Anchor Rising: You've mentioned the residency issue. Does that fact that you're moving out of the district that you currently represent mean that you think that Congressman Langevin is less suited to represent the people of Rhode Island than is Congressman Kennedy?

State Representative Elizabeth Dennigan: Let me say first of all that I'm not moving, I have both residences [in East Providence and Narragansett] and I'm just changing my primary residence, and that's where I'll be staying.

AR: So you could run against either then…

ED: I'm running in the Second Congressional District. I think Congressman Kennedy has been an effective Congressman, and Congressman Langevin has been less effective as our Congressman.

AR: My second question is about a debate going on in the blogosphere right now, about whether our representatives in Congress should be expected to read bills before they vote on them, which sounds ridiculous to some people…

ED: I know!

AR: Do you have an opinion on this?

ED: Yes I do, in fact. Because it was hard to read online, I just downloaded the 1,000-plus page health care reform bill because I do take things seriously. I won't say I've read every word, but I've marked it up and I have read every section. I think it's important to know what you are voting on.

It's important to study policy and the things that might be missing. I don't think we've had a conversation about some of the intricate details in that bill that need more awareness. I'm happy to say that I do my homework.

July 20, 2009

Is Elizabeth Dennigan Implying that She Believes Patrick Kennedy is a Better Representative than James Langevin?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Today's Political Scene column in the Projo reports on speculation that state representative Elizabeth Dennigan (D - East Providence/Pawtucket), is considering a run in the Democratic primary for Rhode Island's second Congressional District…

Despite rampant speculation, state Rep. Elizabeth M. Dennigan is refusing to say if she will run for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District seat occupied by fellow Democrat James R. Langevin.

But she is interested.

That’s according to Langevin’s office, which confirmed that Dennigan requested a private meeting with the congressman late last month.

“All she told him was that she was thinking about running,” Langevin spokeswoman Joy Fox told Political Scene, declining to discuss the meeting in detail. “The congressman takes every challenge seriously. He looks forward to a good-spirited campaign."

If Representative Dennigan is considering taking the unusual (though legal) step of running for a seat outside of her legal residence, a question worth putting to her is why she believes that Congressman Langevin is less qualified to represent the state of Rhode Island than is current First District Congressman Patrick Kennedy, whom she could also run against.

June 11, 2009

John Loughlin Declares for District One

Monique Chartier

The Ocean State Republican has the press release.

Rep. Loughlin's solution for Rhode Island's substantial public pension liability is here.

Check out his profile on Project Vote Smart. (H'mm, he voted in favor of voter i.d.)

Visit his page on the Rhode Island House of Representatives web site which includes "latest initiatives and legislative activities".

This post is presented in the spirit of a public service announcement with the goal of informing voters and despite the somewhat insulting circumstance of this blog's omission from the recipient list of the aforementioned press release.

February 24, 2009

The Representative for the First Congressional District Will Probably Not Lack an Opponent Next Year

Monique Chartier

Yesterday afternoon, the RI Republican Party sent out this slightly coy e-mail.

Some Questions for Rhode Islanders in the First Congressional District

Do you think its time we replace Patrick Kennedy in Washington?

Would you like to see a real challenger emerge who has a proven track record fighting for Rhode Island?

A leader who was elected to three terms in the General Assembly?

A politician who is so effective and so good at building consensus that he has run unopposed by the majority party twice in a row?

Is serving in the Army Reserve for 26 years and retiring as a senior officer (lieutenant colonel) and helicopter pilot important experience to bring to Washington?

Would you like to have a successful small business owner, with real world experience represent you in Washington?

Is it time for the First Congressional District to have a Congressman we can all be proud of again?

If you answered yes to these questions, then I encourage you to send an e-mail to State Representative John Loughlin at rep-john@cox.net and tell him, "Run John, Run!!!"

John served 26 years in the Army Reserve and is serving his 3rd term in the Rhode Island House, he is a successful small businessman. An Eagle Scout from Pawtucket, a graduate of Lincoln Sr. High School and a leader who reaches across the aisle to build consensus and get things done for his district.

If this is the kind of Rhode Islander you would like to represent you, e-mail him today. In fact, you may want to invite him to your next Republican town committee meeting and see for yourself.

You can learn more about John at http://www.johnloughlin.org

Run John, Run!

Following upon Rep Loughlin's letter in Sunday's ProJo critical of Congressman Kennedy's support of the pork-laden stimulus bill, we can probably put two and two together without reaching for a calculator.