Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pay Checks, Walker and Chicken Little

The Senate will vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act today; a bill intended to give woman more legal tools to press for equal pay for equal work.  The bill is expected to fail along party lines.  Women are currently paid on average 77 cents on the dollar compared to men performing the same job.  This seems like a no brainer for Republicans who need to find a way to attract women voters.  But Republicans find themselves torn between their desire to attract women voters and their aversion to giving Democrats a win this close to the election.  Republicans see the timing of this vote as little more than a ploy by Democrats to get a “No” vote on the record that Democrats can campaign on in the upcoming months.  Lost in the politics is the fact that women get paid less for doing the same job as a man.  That’s wrong and it needs to be fixed.  Just another example of why the approval rating for congress is below 10%.
All eyes are on Wisconsin today where embattled GOP Governor Scott Walker faces a historic recall vote.  Walker is only the third governor in US history to face a recall.  Walker gained national attention when shortly after his inauguration he succeeded in eliminating collective bargaining rights for government employees.  This set off a firestorm of opposition that set in motion a petition drive to call for Walker’s removal.  More than 900,000 signatures were gathered…360,000 more than needed to trigger a recall election.  The events in Wisconsin attracted national attention and outside money poured into the state.  The governor pulled in over $30 million; two thirds of which came from anonymous donors outside the state of Wisconsin.  Walker’s opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett raised $4.2 million; most of which came from within Wisconsin’s boarders.  Polls show a very close race with Walker in the lead heading into today’s vote.  This race has national implications.  If a polarizing candidate like Walker can win re-election in a typically blue state it will be seen by many as an affirmation that you can govern conservatively in today’s economy and still win.  While traditionally blue Wisconsin will still in all probability go for Obama in November, a Walker win may force Team Obama to spend time and money in a state believed to be safely in their corner.  Obama did not campaign for Barrett choosing instead to send Bill Clinton to the stump.  We are troubled by the amount of outside money and outside influence pouring into this race; over $60 million when you include outside PACS and national organizations like the Republican Governors Association and the NRA.  Thanks to the Supreme Court and their dumbfounding decision on Citizens United, democracy is up for sale.  May the highest bidder prevail!
We have spent a lot of time recently criticizing the Obama Campaign’s re-election strategy. In particular we found their response to Friday’s weak job numbers and the DOW’s plummeting response to be a bit “tepid.”  In fairness it should be noted that many notable economists and pundits disagree with our assessment.  Their counter argument lies along two paths.  One group believes that even with three straight months of weak job numbers there is nothing for Obama to be concerned about.  They point to a booming auto industry which will produce 14 million cars this year…up from 11 million last year.  They point to a housing market that is growing and retail sales which are steadily increasing.  “It’s only a blip” they say.  "No, chicken little...the sky is not falling."  There is another group who believe that all of these economic indicators and the ongoing political infighting mean nothing.  They believe that the respective ideological bases have already made up their minds and will not be swayed; no matter how persuasive the argument against their position.  These folks make up 93-94% of the electorate.  The remaining 6-7% are the independent swing voters who will decide this very close election.  This group believes that these swing voters will base their decision on five separate events:  three debate performances plus two convention acceptance speeches.  That’s it.  All the rest of the stuff coming from the parties and through the media is just white noise.  Perhaps these folks are right.  Perhaps the recent economic indicators are just inconsequential “blips.”  Perhaps performance will play  a more important part than policy or substance.  We’ll see.                            

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