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President’s opponents reach out to voters as DNC gets under way

Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 @ 4:01 PM

The president's opponents want to make sure their message isn't lost to local voters as the Democratic National Convention kicks into high gear. 

Eyewitness News was there as buses rolled into Gastonia Tuesday on separate tours.  People on both hope to rally support for the president's challengers.

Locals cheered loudly during a political rally in the parking lot of Franklin Square this Tuesday morning.  Gastonia resident Terry Battles was among them. 

“I worked for a company for 23 years, and in 2009 I lost my job and had to start over.  So I want a bigger future,” he said.

Battles attended the Americans for Prosperity stop to support their cause.  AFP calls it the "Obama's Failing Agenda Tour."  

Jennifer Stepp, a tea party volunteer, brought her home-schooled children to meet the tour bus.  

"I see us at a fiscal cliff about to go over," she said.

The enormous images on the tour bus blame the president for issues important to the group. 

Organizers are touring the area to give their response to the DNC.  Dallas Woodhouse is the state director for AFP.  He told the crowd at a recent stop a man brought exotic animals for visitors.  When the man pulled out snakes, he joked it wouldn't be the only snake in Charlotte this week.

"There are a lot of snakes in Charlotte this weekend," he told the crowd of about 50 people. "And they are snakes that want to take your money, your liberty and your freedom."

Woodhouse later said, "We think we are going hear a lot of smoke and mirrors coming out of Charlotte this weekend." 

He said he wants the focus on issues posted on their tour bus: months of unemployment over 8 percent and trillions in debt. 

"We're having people sign petitions against that agenda,” he said.

The petition will be sent to the White House.  AFP is trying to mobilize volunteers to make calls and go door-to-door delivering their message.

Minutes after they left Gastonia, the tour bus that has taken challenger Mitt Romney around the Southeast pulled into the city.  There were no speakers on board, but organizers hope visitors get the message.

Victory campaign field director Margaret Beveridge said, "I would hope that they get energized about the Romney-Ryan ticket and that they come out and help to volunteer and do some door-to-door efforts."

The supporters who met the bus at City Hall, across the street from Republican headquarters, got to sit in Romney's favorite seat when he is on tour and see his favorite snack, a peanut butter sandwich with honey.

David Masters took a picture in the tour bus briefing room with leather seats and a hardwood table.  Masters said it was important that the bus stopped there. 

"It means that we mean something and that our votes do count,” he said.

The groups with the buses say they are not working together.  But they both want a change in the White House.

Trump presses tax reform as Senate begins debate on GOP budget outline

Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 @ 2:08 AM

President Donald Trump urged conservative activists on Tuesday night to help lobby Senators in favor of a GOP tax reform package, as despite some infighting, Republicans seemed like they would be able to approve a budget outline this week in the Senate, a plan which would allow for future legislative action on a tax bill – without the threat of a Senate filibuster.

“Let’s give our country the best Christmas present of all – massive tax relief,” the President said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, where his vow of big tax cuts drew large cheers from the audience.

“This is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to revive our economy,” Mr. Trump added, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t expect much support from Democrats in the Congress.

Before any tax bill can be brought up on the floor of the House and Senate, both chambers must approve a budget outline for 2018, which authorizes the use of the ‘budget reconciliation’ process for tax reform – helping the GOP to avoid a Senate filibuster. That was the same legislative tool used in a failed bid to overhaul the Obama health law.

In an important sign for the White House, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) – who had been absent for weeks with an illness, returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday – and then, GOP leaders won the support of another key Republican Senator, who has tangled repeatedly with the President.

“I support the Senate budget resolution because it provides a path forward on tax reform,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who still wants GOP leaders to add more money to the budget outline for military needs.

Still not ready to commit to the budget or tax plans was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who lobbed a series of pointed jabs at both McCain, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), accusing them of trying to use budget gimmicks to funnel more money to the Pentagon, instead of finding ways to restrain spending.

In a first test vote, the Senate voted 50-47 in favor of beginning debate on the budget framework for 2018, which would balance the budget by 2026. A House budget outline would achieve that a year later.

No Democrats joined with Republicans to begin the Senate debate, as right now, the White House faces a difficult task in getting any Democratic lawmakers to endorse the President’s budget or tax plans.

“It’s going to be hard to get the Democrats, because they’re obstructionists, and they vote in blocks,” the President said in his Tuesday night speech.

If no Democrats cross party lines on taxes, that makes it all the more important for the GOP to stick together in the Senate, or the GOP could face the same outcome as on health care reform.

No legislative language for a tax reform plan has been released as yet by the GOP. Lawmakers don’t expect to see all the details until next month.

With backing of Trump, key Senators reach deal to fund health subsidy payments

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 2:37 PM

Key Senators say they have reached a deal – backed by the President – which would fund payments to health insurance companies for two years, while also giving states more flexibility in how they deal with the underlying requirements of the Obama health law.

“Yes, we have been involved,” President Donald Trump told reporters when asked about the negotiations. “This is a short-term deal,” as the President again said he hopes to get Congress to approve a set of longer-term reforms which revolve around block grants to the states.

The plan, worked out by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), was discussed by Senators at their Tuesday lunch meetings in the U.S. Capitol; no legislative text was immediately available.

The deal would reverse a decision made last Thursday night by President Trump, who moved to stop payments to insurance companies known as “Cost Sharing Reduction” payments.

Republicans have claimed for several years – and federal courts have backed them up – that the payments were never directly approved by the Congress, and thus should never have been made by the federal government.

Mr. Trump authorized the payments from the start of his administration in January, but regularly threatened to end them – following through on that late last week.

Former Buckeye star could shake up race for Congress in Ohio

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 12:20 PM


            Anthony Gonzalez is running for Congress, and some of his friends from the NFL are helping.(Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press)
Anthony Gonzalez is running for Congress, and some of his friends from the NFL are helping.(Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press)

The 2018 races for governor and the U.S. Senate always figured to be expensive, but another big-money Ohio contest has emerged and promises to draw interest both from inside and outside the state.

Anthony Gonzalez, a former football standout for Ohio State University and the Indianapolis Colts, has raised more money than any other candidate — incumbent or otherwise — in his bid for Congress.

Gonzalez is running for the northeast Ohio seat being vacated by Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, who is running for governor.

Gonzalez, 33, joins State Rep. Tom Patton, R-Strongsville, and State Rep. Christina Hagan, R-Marlboro Twp., in a race that may prove expensive to fill.

RELATED: Competition lacking in Ohio congressional races Gonzalez raised $626,774 last quarter — including $526,774 in contributions. Among those contributing: Peyton Manning ($5,400), Gonzalez’s fellow Buckeye star A.J. Hawk ($1,000), former teammates Austin Collie from the Colts ($1,500)and LeCharles Bentley ($1,000) from the Buckeyes and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslem ($2,700 from him and $2,700 from his wife Dee).

Gonzalez also drew contributions from outside the sports world, including from various members of the Boich family, which runs coal companies and are active donors to Republican candidates.

Meanwhile, Patton raised $278,351 last quarter while Hagan pulled in $34,615. On the Democratic side, Aaron Godfrey raised $1,953.

RELATED: Fight over sex trafficking begins in Congress The filings from the Federal Election Commission provide an early glimpse at which congressional races — at least from a money standpoint — will be competitive next year.

By far the most expensive race is for the U.S. Senate. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is seeking a third term and leads all candidates in fundraising with $2.6 million raised in the quarter and $8.3 million in the bank.

Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who hopes to reverse the outcome of his 2012 losing contest against Brown, raised a little more than $1 million during the quarter and has about $4.1 million in the bank.

Republican Mike Gibbons will report bringing in $421,000 last quarter, according to a spokesman, bringing his total amount to $1.1 million since he entered the race at the end of May. Another Republican, Don Elijah Eckart, a Galloway theologian, contributed $250 of his own money last quarter, according to the filings.

RELATED: John Kasich wants Congress to work together on health care The other races for Congress show a huge money gap between incumbents and challengers.

In southwest Ohio, Citizens for Turner — the campaign committee for Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton — reported raising $142,401 between July 1 and Sept. 30. The committee has raised $444,437 to date this year.

No other candidate reported raising or spending $5,000 in that district during the quarter though Democrat Robert Klepinger has taken out petitions for the 10th congressional district, which includes all or parts of Montgomery, Greene and Fayette counties. Turner has $491,641 in the bank for his campaign.

In the adjacent 8th Congressional District, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, raised $86,183 last quarter and has $171,602 in the bank. Republican Edward Meer has also pulled petitions for the district but has yet to file a campaign finance report.

Davidson is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which was founded by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana. Jordan has $1.39 million in the bank for his re-election bid after raising $115,586 in the quarter. Democrats Andrew Mackey and Janet Garrett also filed campaign finance reports; they raised $229 and $6,646 to date, respectively.

RELATED: Brown has twice what Mandel has for Senate run In the Cincinnati area, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, raised $125,270 during the quarter and has $1.15 million in the bank. He faces Democrat Laura Ann Weaver, who reported raising $9,810 in the quarter, and has $8,233 in the bank.

All told, Ohio incumbent House members raised $2.75 million this quarter — more than three times the amount raised by their challengers.

And if that isn’t advantage enough, those running for re-election to Congress have $19 million in the bank, including cash from prior election cycles.

Challengers, meanwhile, reported having less than $1 million on hand for their races.

ONLINE VOTERS GUIDE

Learn more about these candidates and hundreds of others running for office around the region in our interactive online voters guide at vote.daytondailynews.com

ONLINE VOTERS GUIDE

Learn more about these candidates and hundreds of others running for office around the region in our interactive online voters guide at vote.springfieldnewssun.com

ONLINE VOTERS GUIDE

Learn more about these candidates and hundreds of others running for office around the region in our interactive online voters guide at vote.journal-news.com

Trump move to end health insurer payments may cost feds billions more

Published: Monday, October 16, 2017 @ 8:41 PM

Even as President Donald Trump urged Senators on Monday to find a bipartisan deal on short-term fixes to the Obama health law, the consensus among health insurance experts is that Mr. Trump’s decision last week to no longer make payments to insurance companies to cover the health-related costs of some Americans might actually cost the federal government billions more in the years ahead.

At issue is the “Cost Sharing Reduction” payments that had been made by the Obama and Trump Administrations – that money helps subsidize insurance costs of some consumers in the Obamacare exchanges.

Those payments were never expressly approved by the Congress, leading many Republicans to charge that the spending had been illegal, and spurring the President to block the payments.

And that’s where the subject gets a bit complicated.

“The Congressional Budget Office estimated that not funding CSR would lead to a net increase of $194 billion in more spending over the next decade,” said health care researcher David Anderson of Duke University.

But wait – how would halting an expected $10 billion in payments in 2018, a move that would save Uncle Sam money – how would that lead to such a big cost for the feds over the next decade?

“While the federal government would save money by not making CSR payments, it would face increased costs for tax credits that subsidize premiums for marketplace enrollees with incomes 100-400% of the poverty level,” wrote officials of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on health care policy matters.

In other words, different subsidies doled out under the Obama health law would go up as insurance companies raise premiums to deal with the loss of the CSR federal payments – those are known as “Advance Premium Tax Credits,” which can go to families of four with a yearly income of up to $97,000.

“The biggest effect from the termination of cost-sharing subsidy payments is that premiums are going up to offset the loss,” said Larry Levitt of Kaiser, who labeled the impact of the Trump CSR decision, “confusing and complicated.”

One example of that started to appear on Monday in in Pennsylvania, as state officials said health coverage “rates will increase by an average 30.6 percent in the individual market ,” instead of by 7.6 percent.

One recent story from the Miami Herald found that the Trump move on CSR payments would mean a big increase for Florida in the amount of federal dollars spent to subsidize those who get their health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges in that state.

Some experts argue that Mr. Trump’s decision will have the biggest negative impact on insurance rates in states that are normally in the Republican column – especially if those states did not move to expand the Medicaid program during the Obama Administration.

In recent months, a bipartisan group of Senators had been working to figure out a way to tinker with the Obama health law, and make sure the CSR payments were made by Congress, led by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who told reporters on Monday evening that he had already spoken with the President about his CSR decision.

Some GOP Senators have grumbled in recent weeks about the talks between Alexander and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), worried that it will contain little in the way of concessions by Democrats on the operations of the Obama health law.

That’s a concern for Republicans in the House as well, and could lead to a stalemate in Congress on any short-term effort to deal with the Obama health law.

“At this time, in my opinion, doing nothing is an acceptable outcome for liberal policy preferences while doing nothing moves policy further away from stated conservative policy preferences,” said Anderson of Duke University.

“I want to get healthcare that’s much more affordable and much better healthcare, and that’s what we’re doing,” the President said on Monday when asked about the CSR payments decision.

What that exactly means for the President is still not clear.