— RI Senate '12 —

October 31, 2012

Whitehouse and Langevin Maintain their Leads in the WPRI Poll

Carroll Andrew Morse

In the other two Federal races in Rhode Island this year, both polled by WPRI-TV (CBS 12), incumbent James Langevin leads challenger Michael Riley 48%-31% (and independent Abel Collins receiving 9% of the vote), and incumbent Senator Sheldon Whitehouse leads challenger Barry Hinckley 55%-33%.

October 23, 2012

Liveblogging Tonight's WPRI Senate Debate

Carroll Andrew Morse

[7:55] Whitehouse closing: Will fight against privatizing SS and for Medicare benefits and for the middle class.

[7:54] Hinckley closing: wipe away the labels, send a job creator to Washington.

[7:53] Whitehouse tries to drive home the idea that the Ryan budget would end Medicare.

[7:52] Hinckley says there are parts of Obamacare he would save.

[7:50] Whitehouse tries very hard to get in the fact he'd raise the earnings cap to save SS.

[7:49] Hinckley: Actuaries can put together a plan to save SS; it might mean some people collecting benefits later, means testing is a possibility.

[7:48] Hinckley: Dems have no plan to save social security. It will go broke, before people in their 30s and 40s begin to collect.

[7:46] Nesi forwards an email Q: Is it hypocritical for you to run on not changing Social Security, when you didn't intervene to stop pension reform. Whitehouse: Pension solution was necessary; pension crisis informs my position on SS

[7:44] Hinckley likes Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan; Whitehouse doesn't (Ed Fitzpatrick question).

[7:42] Term limits? Whitehouse, not any less than 36 years (Claiborne Pell's time in office); Hinckley, yes.

[7:41] Trade embargo on Cuba? Hinckley, not a priority; Whitehouse, I could go either way.

[7:41] Same-sex marriage? Yes and yes.

[7:40] End filibusters? Hinckley no; Whitehouse, yes.

[7:39] Oh, no -- lightning round. I'll try to keep up. No promises.

[7:37] Whitehouse cites Chinese currency manipulation as a place where he agrees with Romney.

[7:36] Answering a Ted Nesi Q, Hinckley says his pro-choice and pro-gay marriage positions align more with Ds than Rs.

[7:35] Hinckey: More than just people with money should have the choice to send their kids to good schools.

[7:34] Hinckley cites religious nature, as a reason for sending his kids to private schools.

[7:33] Whitehouse wants to extend Race to the Top to middle schools.

[7:32] Whitehouse sends his kids to private schools, because he wants them to have the best education they can get.

[7:31] Fitzpatrick asks why do you send your kids to private schools, and what would you do for education in RI.

[7:30] Whitehouse rather aggressively defends foreign aid to Egypt.

[7:29] White asks if Whitehouse supports hearings on Libya. Whitehouse responds that the Intelligence committee will be holding them.

[7:28] Hinckley: We shouldn't be spending on nation building, when we can't afford to maintain our own bridges at home.

[7:27] White to Hinckley: How would cutting foreign aid help with the problem of terrorism?

[7:26] Hinckley says he would support fewer deductions as part of a simpler tax code.

[7:25] Hinckley says Whitehouse's rigid partisan attitudes make resolving the deficit problem impossible.

[7:24] Whitehouse says Dems have put 2T of cuts on the table, but he seems to be defining tax increases as spending cuts in his examples.

[7:24] Whitehouse says we need to eliminate 4T dollars in a 10 year budget plan. 2T should be cuts, 2T should be revenue.

[7:23] Whitehouse cites conference of Catholic bishops opposition to the Ryan plan.

[7:22] I lost the question, but Whitehouse says he opposes the Ryan budget. Hinckley says he supports Simpson-Bowles, but not necessarily Ryan's budget.

[7:21] In a dive towards the middle, Hinckley says he might not support Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority leader.

[7:18] Nesi asks Hinckley if Medicare should be converted to a premium support system? Hinckley says he supports choice, and that legislators should discuss a wide range of options.

[7:18] Whitehouse: We have to control overall healthcare costs. Mentions US system is less efficient than most other countries.

[7:17] Paraphrasing Ted Nesi: Can we continue with unlimited growth of spending on medicare?

[7:16] Tim White asks about favorite justice (cribbing a question from the Brown/Warren debates). Hinckley, Clarence Thomas; Whitehouse, Sandra Sotomayor

[7:15] Whitehouse: "We have a court that has turned to the extreme right". Cites Citizens United as the decision that needs to be overturned.

[7:14] Hinckley cites the Roberts healthcare ruling.

[7:13] Ed Fitzpatrick asks about SCTOUS justices, and what rulings should be overturned?

[7:12] Hinckley says we should lower the corporate tax rate. White notes that the Prez would lower it to 28%, and asks if Whitehouse would support the same. Whitehouse says yes, but in the context of moving towards a balanced budget.

[7:11] Hinckley: Our Federal delegation has to work, to push Smith Hill to act more reasonably to help economic growth.

[7:10] Hinckley basically answers growth. White asks about the 60,000; will growth happen fast enough to help them?

[7:09] White to Barry Hinckley: How would you pay for the programs you've advocated for your in your campaign.

[7:08] In response to a Tim White question, Whitehouse says 6% unemplyment would be reasonable 6 yrs for now.

[7:07] Whitehouse cites infrastructure projects going on in RI. White asks if the 60,000 people unemployed in RI. Whitehouse: There's lots of infrastructure work to be done.

[7:05] First question from White on unemployment. Whitehouse blames Bush. We need manufacturing, innovation and infrastructure to rebound.

[7:04] Whitehouse actually complemented Hinckley's point pretty well.

[7:03] Sheldon Whitehouse: We have to press from the middle class out, and its basic mainstays, medicare, social security and Pell grants.

[7:02] Barry Hinckley goes first. He runs short on time, after saying Whitehouse's plan for RI is more taxes and more government.

[7:01] Edward Fitzpatrick is 3rd man in, with Tim White and Ted Nesi.

[6:57] We had a earthquake during last week's Cicilline/Doherty debate, and there's a possible tropical storm/hurricane heading for this region for next week. I'd just like to let Mother Nature know there's no reason to keep the streak alive this week.

[6:55] For tonight's debate event, we have a conventional liveblog of the WPRI-TV (CBS 12) debate between Sheldon Whitehouse and Barry Hinckley. There is also a debate between Brendan Doherty and David Cicilline being boradcast on WLNE-TV (ABC 6) at the same time.

July 24, 2012

How Whitehouse Serves Rhode Islanders

Marc Comtois

WPRI uncovered a 2009 speech made by Republican Senate Candidate Barry Hinckley in which he told the audience that running for political office will also garner "tons of free PR" for your business. In reaction, Tony Simon, the campaign manager for Hinckley's opponent, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sought to make a distinction between his boss and Hinckley, telling WPRI, "Sheldon has always seen public office as a way to serve Rhode Islanders...That's the only motivation he's ever needed."

Indeed. Remember that news from last fall about Senator Whitehouse and his incredibly fortuitous trading record? It was explained in Throw Them All Out by Peter Schweizer.

In May 2007, a government agency called the Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services was looking at two drugs that were used to treat anemia in cancer patients. The agency had to decide: Did Johnson & Johnson’s Procrit and Amgen’s Aranesp warrant reimbursement under Medicare? Johnson & Johnson was a large, diversified company with lots of products, so rejection of its drug would not be critical. But for Amgen, losing Medicare reimbursement would be a disaster. The drug was commonly given to elderly cancer patients, many of whom could afford it only under Medicare.

Indeed, when the word went out that the government might end the reimbursements, Amgen shares plunged.... But at least one investor avoided those losses with two nearly perfectly timed trades. On May 4, the [Senator John Kerry & his wife] sold between $250,000 and $500,000 in Amgen stock. Three days later, they sold the balance of their stock in the company, another $250,000 to $500,000, when it closed at $63.76 per share. If they had waited two weeks, these sales would have been worth between $50,000 and $100,000 less, because on May 15 it was publicly announced that Medicare would sharply limit reimbursements for treatment with Aranesp. The price dropped to $54.01, or down 15%.

Joining Senator Kerry in dumping Amgen shares just in time were two senators who sat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which did not have direct oversight of Medicare but was involved in health and pharmaceutical policies in general. Senators Johnny Isakson and Sheldon Whitehouse both sold between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of Amgen stock on the same day, May 9, also avoiding large losses. Did Senator Kerry know the news was coming? Did Senators Isakson and Whitehouse know anything? We cannot be sure. If they had worked in the private sector, their access and timing would almost certainly have demanded an SEC investigation. Short of sworn testimony, we cannot rule out that they simply guessed right, or were lucky. Even in the private sector, they might not be proven guilty. But the timing seems far too good to be true. {p.13,15 Throw Them All Out }

Amgen has a considerable presence in Rhode Island and employs many Rhode Islanders. One wonders if, given any information he may or may not have had concerning the pending FDA ruling, how strenuously Senator Whitehouse championed approval for Amgen's drug, since so many Rhode Islanders would have been better served if it was approved. Well, at least he was lucky enough to divest himself of the sinking shares of a Rhode Island business (and--presumably--turn a profit, too).

He was also pretty lucky in 2008. You remember that time, when the financial services market died?

On Tuesday, September 16, 2008, when Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke held another of their terrifying closed-door meetings with congressional leaders…the stock market had dipped only a few percentage points, and most people assumed that the financial crisis was a disruption that would have just a limited effect on the broader economy. But what Paulson and Bernanke told lawmakers on September 16 made it clear that the public’s perception was wrong. Paulson, in his memoir, explains that during the meeting he outlined that the federal government was going to bail out the insurance giant AIG and that the markets were in deep trouble. “There was an almost surreal quality to the meeting,” he recounts. “The stunned lawmakers looked at us as if not quite believing what they were hearing.”

The next day, Congressman Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginina, a member of the Appropriations Committee, dumped his shares in ninety different companies….Moran was just one of many. At least ten U.S. senators, including John Kerry, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Dick Durbin, traded stock or mutual funds related to the financial industry the following day. {p.32-33, Throw Them All Out }

As the Providence Journal reported:
Over nine days in September 2008, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse reported stock sales totaling as much as $1.15 million in an apparent effort to shield his investments from what soon proved a historic decline in the financial markets....Whitehouse says he does not remember the transactions because "I virtually never have a conversation" with the financial adviser who made trades on his behalf. In an interview with The Providence Journal's John E. Mulligan, he called Schweizer's premise "completely bogus," adding: "I did not trade on any insider information."
See, he was just lucky. Twice (at least). Nonetheless, he's technically correct. As a Rhode Islander, Senator Whitehouse has surely served himself well.

July 12, 2012

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: "I don’t know a single small business in Rhode Island that is going to be made or broken by tax rates"

Monique Chartier

How'd I miss this gem? Spoken by the junior senator from Rhode Island during a panel of Van Jones' "2012 Take Back the American Dream" conference last month. Reported by The Blaze.

Democratic Senator Whitehouse from Rhode Island chimed in, adding that he did not know a “single small business” that would be effected by tax rates:
“What works well for me at home, I don’t have this, you know, poll-tested…I say, look I don’t know a single small business in Rhode Island that is going to be made or broken by tax rates. What’s going to make or break small business is whether people are actually coming through the door to spend money, whether they have customers.”

Thanks to the Barry Hinckley campaign for the heads-up.

Undoubtedly small businesses around Rhode Island will be relieved to hear this news, especially in light of the latest - but very far from unprecedented - ranking of the state for business.

April 4, 2012

Loughlin Resigns from Hinckley Campaign

Carroll Andrew Morse

John E. Mulligan of the Projo is reporting that John Loughlin has resigned as the campaign spokesman for GOP Senate Candidate Barry Hinckley...

John J. Loughlin II has resigned as spokesman for Republican Barry Hinckley's Senate campaign, after taking responsibility for an erroneous charge leveled against a tax proposal by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
The "erroneous charge" refers to a press release put out by the Hinckley campaign which claimed that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's so-called "Buffett Rule" bill would cause property taxes to rise due to an impact on municipal bond investment, despite the fact that "the Whitehouse legislation would not affect the tax treatment of municipal bonds" (also reported on by Mulligan).

Lesson #1 from this: Rhode Islanders, even well-meaning ones, need to get over their obsession that all taxation issues can be reduced to how they impact the property tax, and that the property tax is a bad tax while other taxes are good taxes.

Lesson #2 from this: The country needs to get over its obsession that "how will this impact bondholders" is the primary question for evaluating any public policy change.

March 18, 2012

Keystone Pipeline Vote Reveals Sheldon Whitehouse's Highly Questionable Priorities

Monique Chartier

Remarkably (did the sun rise in the east this morning?), PolitiFact today ruled as "True" a statement by an R (Barry Hinckley) to the apparent detriment of a D (Senator Sheldon Whitehouse).

Benjamin "Barry" Hinckley III, the Republican candidate challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, recently criticized Whitehouse's vote in support of President Obama's decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and Texas. ...

"According to Hinckley, the impact is not just on Mid-Western construction jobs but also on jobs right here in Rhode Island," the news release said. "More than 27,000 Rhode Island jobs depend on trade with Canada, and Rhode Island sells more to Canada than to the state’s next six largest export markets combined."

The debate over the Keystone pipeline extends from Alberta to Washington, D.C. But one question hits close to home: Does Rhode Island really have 27,000 jobs that depend on trade with Canada?

More importantly, it affords the opportunity to highlight the completely misguided actions of Senator Whitehouse (and President Obama and other democrats) in opposing the project.

Let's dispense, first of all, with the assertion by its opponents that there has not been enough time to review the environmental implications of the pipeline. In fact, contrary to President Obama's statement that Republicans were trying to "rush" him into approval, a review of the pipeline on the federal, state and local level had been ongoing for years until

the [Obama State Department] backed away from signing off on the plan last year after environmentalists and local lawmakers complained.

Secondly, larger environmental concerns. Barry Hinckley summarizes nicely.

"Because Senator Whitehouse voted against the Keystone pipeline, oil from US producers in the midwest must be shipped by rail and truck, creating more carbon emissions – and the Canadian oil will most likely be shipped by oil tankers to China,” Hinckley continued. “That means greater risks to our oceans from oil spills and increased carbon emissions from tankers -- not to mention the fact that this Canadian oil will be refined and burned in China where environmental regulations are nowhere near as strict as in the US.”

Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that, in terms of both refinery and transportation processes, China and the US are on opposite ends of the environmental spectrum.

Now we're down to the core of the issue: why shouldn't the United States encourage the oil production and economy of its neighbor and strong ally, especially when it means the creation in the US of 20,000 new, private sector jobs? It has become abundantly clear that not all energy related jobs can be in the fast shrinking field of the heavily-government-subsidized green "industry".

More specific to the junior senator from Rhode Island, why is he discouraging the oil production and economy of a neighbor and strong ally from whom the state that he purportedly represents derives 27,000+ precious jobs?

February 29, 2012

"Are You Better Off Today Than Five Years Ago?"

Patrick Laverty

Economics for five year olds, by a five year old.

January 31, 2012

Barry Hinkley's Intriguing New Campaign Manager Executive Director

Monique Chartier

Smart move, Barry. (What IS the difference between the "Executive Director" of a campaign and a "Campaign Manager"???)

The Barry Hinckley for Senate campaign has announced that John Loughlin, former Republican candidate for U.S. Representative in 2010 against David Cicilline will assume the position of executive director.

“I think Barry is the guy who is going to create jobs and frankly Rhode Island is dying right now, and we need a senator who will lead our congressional delegation with real business experience,” said Loughlin. Loughlin said Hinckley, a Republican, has the resume necessary to help turn the economy around.

"I am very excited that John will be joining our team to defeat Sheldon Whitehouse," said Hinckley. "John shares my values of private sector job growth and a government that doesn't continue to spend our children's future."

Check out Hinckley's website here.

November 20, 2011

Sheldon Whitehouse, Born with a Silver Spoon Horseshoe

Marc Comtois

I mentioned reports that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had apparently benefited from rules that make it OK for our Washington politicians to engage in what, in any other arena, would be considered insider trading. While Whitehouse continues to deny that he made the trades (instead, it was his financial adviser who did it for him), More details are coming out that reveal a remarkable sense of timing to the benefit of RI's junior senator (h/t Prof. Jacobson):

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island also made a flurry of trades in the days after the Paulson-Bernanke meeting with legislators.

At minimum, Whitehouse sold $250,000 in the stocks below between September 18-24, 2008. He may have sold as much as $600,000 in the stock below according to disclosures.

As Whitehouse's 2012 Senatorial opponent Republican Barry Hinckley told WPRO:
Look at these trades and the timing of them and the massive volume. He is trading between 5 and 20 percent of his net worth I find it implausible that much of someone’s net worth would be traded without someone’s knowledge....It appears there are two sets of rules for people like Sheldon Whitehouse, who are career politicians, who apparently are trading their own accounts when they should be working for us...whether it is exclusive health care they have for themselves or opting out of Obama care and apparently now they are allowed to inside trade which of course is illegal for the rest of Americans....Rhode Islanders are working hard just to make ends meet and it seems like no matter what they do they can’t get ahead but rich career politicians like Sheldon Whitehouse seem to be getting ahead at our cost.

March 24, 2011

Candidate Hinckley Staffs Up

Carroll Andrew Morse

Scott McKay of WRNI (1290AM) reports that Benjamin "Barry" Hinckley, who has filed the paperwork to begin a run for Senate against incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse, has attracted some experienced political operatives to his campaign staff...

[Darcie Johnston] is a Montpelier, Vermont-based fund raising consultant who worked on then-Republican U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee’s 2006 Senate race. [Paul Hatch], who is based in Washington, D.C. is a former executive director of the Republican Governors Association. Both Johnston and Hatch were consultants on the unsuccessful GOP attempt to defeat Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank in 2010.
At least in its early stages, this is appearing to be a serious and not idiosyncratic campaign attempt.

March 19, 2011

Believe it or Not, Mister Hinckley is Running For Senate...

Carroll Andrew Morse

Dan McGowan at GoLocalProv has the initial scoop on a potential Republican challenger to Rhode Island junior Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Benjamin “Barry” Hinckley (who, as McGowan notes, has already got his campaign website up).

A quick rundown of Banjamin Hinckley's issue positions, based on the bio on his website, is that he favors repeal of Obamacare, favors reducing government spending by "by eliminating earmarks, cutting all redundant programs, and fighting for a constitutionally-sound Balanced Budget Amendment", favors tax-code reform, and that he believes something ambiguous about Social Security, that "the federal government must stop looting the Social Security Trust Fund and treating it like its own personal petty cash drawer...our citizens contribute much of their hard earned income to Social Security and those funds deserve to be respected and used for their intended purpose". Richard C. Dujardin of the Projo adds a couple of liberal positions on social issues, support for gay marriage and for the right to abortion.

McGowan also notes that the two Federal candidates that Mr. Hinckley has contributed to in recent election cycles are Scott Brown (good, from a Republican perspective) and Kristen Gillibrand (huh?).