McConnell gets a win in Obamacare repeal opening round

McConnell gets a win in Obamacare repeal opening round

By John Bresnahan (Politico) – In a day filled with high drama, confusion and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Mitch McConnell got a key win on Tuesday as the Senate voted to begin debate on replacing Obamacare. Now the Kentucky Republican faces an even harder test — getting something passed. The Senate faces several days of heated debate and tough votes, with the final outcome in doubt. Can Republicans actually repeal and replace Obamacare? Or simply repeal it? Can they roll back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in millions of more enrollees? What about eliminating Obamacare taxes? And defunding Planned Parenthood? What about a “skinny repeal” bill that would get rid of the employer and individual mandates under Obamacare while leaving almost all the rest of the legislation in place? All this is still up in the air. Read more...
Alabama: A battle for second place

Alabama: A battle for second place

By Hastings Wyman – The Republican Primary to fill the three-year US Senate vacancy of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) will be held August 15, with a runoff on September 26. The likely winner in the first primary is Roy Moore, one of the three heavyweights in the race. Moore gained fame by being removed twice from Alabama’s Supreme Court for sticking with his religious/ conservative beliefs. But Moore almost surely will lack the majority necessary to avoid a runoff. Says former GOP state chairman Marty Connors, “Moore has a high floor and a low ceiling.” So essentially what Moore gets on August 15 may be about what he will get in the September 26 runoff. That means incumbent US Sen. Luther Strange and challenger US Rep. Mo Brooks are competing for second place and a spot in the runoff with Moore. (In the General Election on December 12, the GOP nominee will be a prohibitive favorite.) An average of recent polls cited by Alabama columnist Steve Flowers showed Moore in the lead with 30%, Strange second with 28% and Brooks third with 18%. The candidates are following different strategies, trying to emphasize their strengths. Moore is a popular figure with the state’s religious conservatives, having made his name by erecting a monument to the Ten Commandments at the state Supreme Court building and later ordering county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He was removed from the Court both times. But he does not have much fundraising ability, so he’s doing retail politics in rural areas, contacting his supporters in person. Moore’s fans are very...
Red, Purple and Blue: Racing to Lead Atlanta

Red, Purple and Blue: Racing to Lead Atlanta

In less than four short months, Atlanta will vote to elect itself a new mayor. Mayor Kasim Reed will leave behind large shoes to fill, as his bold leadership and forward-thinking vision for the city pulled it out of the recession and solidified Atlanta’s reputation as one of the best cities in the country to not only do business, but to live and raise a family as well.  Who will inherit that legacy in January? There is certainly no shortage of candidates for the job. The main contenders right now include Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood, Atlanta City Council President Caesar Mitchell, businessman and former Atlanta COO Peter Aman, former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard, Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, Councilman Kwanza Hall, Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves, and State Senator Vincent Fort. There are a few candidates who have pulled ahead already in terms of fundraising and name recognition. Though scientific polling has been light in this race so far, Norwood, who lost to Reed by just 714 votes in 2009, has polled ahead of all other candidates by double digits in almost all public and private polls. Her fundraising remains strong, having raised about $336,000 over the last three months, bringing her total amount raised to just over $1 million and leaving her with $653,000 in her campaign coffers. Her name recognition is among the best in the race as well, given her nail-biter run for mayor two cycles ago.  Mitchell enjoys similar advantages, having been on the citywide ballot four times in the last sixteen years. He is also the strongest fundraiser in the race by far – he raised $305,000 last quarter, which brings his total fundraising to $1.7 million with $529,000 in his war chest. Voters know who he...
Georgia Reps Help Pass Defense Authorization Act

Georgia Reps Help Pass Defense Authorization Act

By Baker Owens – On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (FY18 NDAA). The final bill included $695.9 billion in spending for base budget national defense funding and Overseas Contingency Operations. It passed the House by a vote of 344 to 81. All ten of Georgia’s Republican representatives voted for the bill, as well as Democrats Sanford Bishop (D- 2) and David Scott (D- 13). The only Georgia representatives to vote against the bill were John Lewis (D- 4) and Hank Johnson (D- 5). Rep. Austin Scott (R- 8), Georgia’s lone representative on the House Armed Services and whose district includes Robins and Moody Air Force Bases, was pleased with the outcome and optimistic about its impact in Georgia. “With nine major military installations, Georgia plays a key role in maintaining military readiness. That’s why effective representation of Robins and Moody Air Force Bases, in addition to all of Georgia’s military installations, is a top priority of mine,” said Scott. Scott also praised certain aspects of the Act. “This bill helps to correct the funding shortfalls that have led to a lack of readiness and to a heightened level of risk to our troops and our security. It reverses cuts to our Armed Forces, provides a 2.4% pay raise for our troops, and makes major reforms in several critical areas, including streamlining business practices of the Department of the Defense and the acquisition system of the military services. The legislation also prohibits a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) for FY18 2018.” The Trump administration issued a statement citing some problems...
It’s the economy, or is it?

It’s the economy, or is it?

By Hastings Wyman – Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, appearing on CNBC about a month ago, said that since the election last year, the stock market added $4 trillion in wealth. He noted that the Dow Jones industrial average had gained 16%, the S&P 500 gained 13% and the Nasdaq composite gained 18%. And in the month since then, despite the Russian news, the markets have only gotten higher. At the end of last week, all three major indices on the New York Stock exchange closed in record territory. Not so long ago, the stock markets’ wealth belonged to the rich. Today, however, 79% of wage-earners work for an employer offering a 401k retirement plan, and many keep an eye on it, especially those nearing retirement age. Moreover, the unemployment rate in May was 4.3%, the lowest since Barack Obama took office in 2009 It ticked up to 4.4% in June, due mainly to more people entering the job market. Wage increases are lower than might be expected, a year-to-year increase of 2.5%. That is higher, but not much higher, than the 1.6% inflation rate for the past 12 months. Traditionally, six months into a new administration, the parties squabble over who gets credit or blame for the economy. The Democrats, of course, credit the policies of President Obama for today’s prosperity, while Republicans, like Ross, attribute the gains to President Trump’s policies. Said Ross, “We’re lowering taxes, we’re cutting regulations… unleashing our energy resources and redoing our trade agreements.” The longer the prosperity lasts, however, it will be hard for observers not to give the Trump Administration at...
Gowdy fumes at Trump administration over latest Russia controversy

Gowdy fumes at Trump administration over latest Russia controversy

By Rachael Bade (Politico) – House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy lashed out at the Trump administration Tuesday over the “drip, drip” of the ongoing Russia controversy, sarcastically suggesting that officials get checked for amnesia about any contacts with Russia. The South Carolina Republican first appeared on Fox News on Tuesday night expressing concerns about email traffic showing that Donald Trump Jr. was not only aware that the Russian government was gathering intelligence on Hillary Clinton to help his father’s election, but that he also knowingly met with a Kremlin-backed lawyer claiming to want to share incriminating documents with the Trump campaign. “If you had a contact with Russia, tell the special counsel about it! Don’t wait until The New York Times figures it out!” an exasperated Gowdy said during a brief interview outside the Capitol after his Fox News appearance. Read...