Text 27 Mar GOP Economic Plans

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After President Obama gave his State of the Union address in early 2012, the GOP candidates broke each and every piece of what was said to use in their own campaigns. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich all discussed how they would fix the economy and it was revealed that this issue was one where the four candidates were most similar. 

First I will explain the individual GOP candidates campaigns’ plans for the economy and how they are either similar or different from one another. Then I will briefly discuss some of the disputes that the candidates have had during their 2012 campaigns. To conclude, I will describe Obama’s reactions and responses to the claims that the Republican candidates have made during this primary season. (Also, being that this may be my last post for quite some time, it may be a bit lengthy as I really do want to present this final issue with plenty of information and insight, Enjoy!)

Ron Paul: The Plan to Restore America has been very popular among those who want a simple, yet somewhat radical, solution to the economy. This plan would revive the economy by reforming the current tax code as well as reducing government spending.

According to Accounting Web, Paul said his “plan would restore the federal government to ‘its former Constitutionally-limited, smaller-government and less-burdensome place’ through massive spending cuts over the first three years of his possible presidency.” 

Some of the main points that Paul makes include: extending all Bush-era tax cuts, abolishing death taxes, tackling Social Security benefits for senior citizens and lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent. 

Eide Bailly Tax Partner and Technical Resource Leader Larry Evans said that there are certain components of Paul’s plan that are definitely interesting. 

"If you could achieve all these components with all the controls in place, then there are ideas in here that people would definitely enjoy," said Evans. "The idea of America getting back in control of its financial house in very appealing to many people." 

Evans also believes that as of right now, Paul’s plan is not a flat or fair tax but it adjusts what we have right now and suggests that it’s the direction he may someday pursue. 

"He’s basically just laying out a realistic, basic plan on taxes," Evans said. 

To me, this plan sounds like a very old-fashioned approach to reform a society that now lives in a very different era than that of the society in the “Constitutional Age.” 

Rick Santorum: In an opinion piece written for The Wall Street Journal, Santorum explained his plans for the American economy if he takes office. He explained that our country needs “bold reforms and major restructuring,” as well as “a comprehensive pro-growth and pro-family Economic Freedom Agenda.” 

The main points of Santorum’s plan would create two income tax rates of 10 percent and 28 percent, triple the personal deduction for children as well as eliminate the marriage tax penalty. He also stated that he would cut the corporate tax rate in half to bring it to 17.5 percent, reduce government spending and cut the federal workforce. 

"Ill work with Congress and the American people to once again create an economic environment where hard work is rewarded, equal opportunity exists for all and families providing for their children can once again be optimistic about their future," Santorum wrote, according to The Huffington Post

The desire to cut the corporate tax rate has been a desire of both GOP candidates so far. Santorum’s approach at solving the economical issues seems very artificial to me for two reasons. First, not every aspect of a campaign should revolve around blue-collar families and their optimistic family life because this idea doesn’t apply to, or appeal to, a large enough audience. Second, I don’t think that Santorum has had enough experience with running a business or even a state to be qualified in economic solutions. 

Newt Gingrich: The plan that Gingrich has proposed is more radical and aggressive than those of Santorum and Paul. CNN Money explains the goals of Gingrich’s economic plan and also compares it to Romney’s ideas.

The main goals of Gingrich are as follows: adding to the current tax code by putting an additional 15% flat tax on income, eliminating the estate and capital gains taxes and reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 12.5 percent. 

His plan would also result in $850 billion less in revenue by 2015, but by reducing the corporate tax to 12.5, it would make it one of the lowest in the industrialized world. (We currently have one of the highest).

There are many other aspects of Gingrich’s plan that appear to be very aggressive, but overall, I have a really hard time believing anything he says. Over the span of his 2012 campaign, I have heard more lies and corruption than any other candidate. Not to say that the other candidates are flawless, but Gingrich has really given me reason not to trust the statements that he makes. 


Mitt Romney: This is one of the most complex and controversial plans that the GOP candidates have to offer. So naturally, I have saved the best discussion for last. 

Romney’s most recent approach has been to attack Obama for any and every issue that comes to mind. But Romney has also developed a pattern of saying whatever he can to appeal to crowds and gain support, even if he doesn’t really plan on going through with those ideas. 

The main points of Romney’s plan include…well…anything that opposes what Obama has done or wants to do. He does also want to bring down the corporate tax to 25 percent, the smallest decrease of any GOP candidate. His additional deficit to revenue by 2015 did come in much lower than Gingrich at an estimated $180 billion. 

"This administration thinks our economy is struggling because the stimulus was too small," Romney said. "The truth is this economy’s struggling because our government is too big, too intrusive, too invasive of our economic freedoms." 

But Obama’s Campaign Policy Director James Kvaal believes that “by getting government out of the way by cutting taxes, spending and regulations,” Romney’s plan would “spur job creation,” according to The LA Times

"Efforts to cut our way to prosperity have been tried in the past, and Gov. Romney’s vision represents a return to those policies that have failed before," said Kvaal. 

But why is Romney so opposed to the Obama administration? He believes that America’s economic freedoms are being assaulted and that’s the principal reason why the recovery has been so half-hearted. Romney also accused Obama of creating job-killing regulations and not empowering the American people. 

"Government does not create prosperity; free markets and free people create prosperity," Romney said. 

From watching Romney speak and reading what he has to say, I still have a hard time deciphering what it really is that he plans to do for the economy if he takes office. I know that he supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, as does Santorum, but other than that, his true intentions are not clear to me. 

Disputes, Rebuttals and Criticisms: I would now like to briefly introduce the attacks of the GOP candidates made toward one another as well as the statements made by Obama to defend the attacks made at his own re-election campaign and presidential term. 

After Romney won the Florida primary, he was bombarded with positive support. But the support was for Obama and the improvements on unemployment. According to the National Journal, the day of Romney’s win, newspaper headings read, “U.S. job creation best since September 2008.” The unemployment rate had dropped to 8.3 percent, making it the lowest since February 2009. 

This was detrimental to Romney because “the stagnant Obama economy” was a drive for his campaign. But now that the issue was improving, Romney had to find a new component of Obama’s presidency that could harm his re-election. 

Rising gas and oil prices. But Obama continued to remain confident as he disputed the jabs in a recent speech. 

"They start acting like we’ve got a magic wand, and we will give you cheap gas forever if you just elect us," Obama said. "Been the same script for 30 years. It’s like a bad rerun." 

Romney got in his final word when he spoke to an audience of college students and told them how he would get the country back on track if the government gets out of the way, according to USA Today

"You have not failed," Romney said. "You have a president who has failed you—and that is going to change." 

But the Obama vs. Romney scuffle is not the only recent clash that Romney has been involved in. Santorum has been under recent fire as Romney made an ad that said “Rick Santorum’s economic plan is ‘the worst idea of any GOP candidate.’”

"Who can turn around the economy and beat Barack Obama? Not Rick Santorum," the ad narrates. Surprisingly, Romney makes an accurate point by exposing Santorum’s weakness; lack of experience with economic management. According to The Huffington Post, Santorum has never run a business or a state, something that I have found to be a large flaw in his campaign. 

What Republican GOP Candidates SHOULD Be Focusing On: As my final platform to present all aspects of the large ordeal that is the economic plan reformation, I want to present three statements and ideas that offer suggestion to the direction that the GOP campaigns should move toward. 

According to New York Magazine Staff Writer Jonathan Chait, the “GOP economic agenda is way more radical than its social plan.” Basically, they stated that the Republican party is now placing higher priority to social issues, such as contraception, and less on pocket-book issues, such as job development or the economy. 

"Ideological centrism in the United States comes in two basic forms. You have voters who lean right on economic issues and left on social issues," said Chait, "and voters who lean left on economics and right on social questions."

Referring back to the LA Times article, Obama’s Campaign Spokesman Ben Labolt believes that the GOP has failed to offer detailed job plans to help the middle class. 

"I think you’ve seen them rush to embrace the tea party economic policies that led us into the economic crisis in the first place," Labolt directed specifically at Romney’s lack of elaboration. 

Mary Kate Cary, former speechwriter of George H.W. Bush, explained the three reasons why GOP candidates need to focus more on economy in a US News article.

First, every “candidate should be making a case for long-term debt reduction because it would unify fiscal and social conservatives.” Seconds, pro-growth messages will draw independent voters because people are more concerned with economy and jobs than same-sex marriage and homeschooling. Third, women in current society have a large impact on the vote; 53 percent of the 2008 electorate being female.

Cary explained that women make the majority of day-to-day financial and healthcare decisions for the family.

"There’s a reason ‘pocket-book’ issues are called that," Cary said, "because so many women respond to a message of fiscal responsibility." 

Final Words: Although this was a very detailed description of the projected economic reformation that is currently taking place through the 2012 GOP campaigns, I feel as though it was a necessary note to end on. As of right now, I believe that Romney will be the Republican candidate who runs against Obama for the 2012 election. Ultimately, it is evident who I would like to see in office. I said in my very first post that I do not belong to a certain political party or belief system, but rather, I choose the ideas, and in this case the candidate, that I believe to be the most logical and trustworthy. Obama has made valiant efforts on a range of initiatives and continues to show progress as he campaigns for re-election. Hopefully this will not be my last post just because the assignment for the class has concluded, as I really enjoy examining and discussing the varying aspects of the United States political system. 

Until next time…

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Text 27 Mar American Economy: Past, Present and Future

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The economy in the United States has been a focal point of Americans over the past decade as the trend of recession continues. But President Obama has taken many steps in the forward direction to try and resolve, or at least chip away at, the large blocks of issues that cause our economy to stay in poor condition. 

In this post, I will simply present what Obama has done during his term as well as what he has been projecting to do if he is re-elected. My next post will compare and contrast the GOP candidates with Obama as far as what they have campaigned to do if they take office. 

Obama’s administration has broken the economy issue down into five sub-categories on The White House website; jobsAmerican jobs actreform & fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class and supporting business

There is then a list of “Five Things You Should Know” in the jobs section that explains Obama’s achievements for employment growth over the past four years. To summarize, I think that the statistics are an important part of the message his administration is trying to convey with this list. 

1. Nearly 3.7 million private sector jobs have been created for businesses in the past 23 months. 

2. The U.S. auto industry has added almost 160,000 jobs, “the fastest pace of job growth in the industry since 1998.” 

3. American manufacturers have added 334,000 jobs over the past two years.

4. The Small Business Administration has distributed more than $70 billion in loans for more than 150,000 small businesses since 2009. 

5. Middle-class tax cuts provide tax relief for 160 million workers. “For the typical family, that’s $40 extra with each pay check.” 

Before moving onto the connection that this has with the current re-election campaign, I would like to add a statistic that I find to be pretty stellar. Out of the 28 commitments that Obama has made for the Startup America Plan, 22 have already been launched and have made substantial progress. These initiatives span from creating a national platform for healthcare innovation and funding innovation ecosystems for clean energy to faster patent applications and advancing youth entrepreneurship education. Two of the commitments are at the status of “Calling on Congress,” three are “Ongoing” and the final commitment says “Coming Soon.” 

So in the current campaigning for re-election, how is Obama using these accomplishments to gain his support? What are the GOP candidates saying about a president who has been successful in keeping his promises? Who are the other critics of Obama during the re-election and why don’t they believe that his plans are working? 

According to About.com, Obama’s plan for the US economy is not working for a few reasons. The first reason is that the Economic Stimulus Bill, passed by Congress in 2009, will only provide temporary benefits. It is also believed that Obamacare needs to be removed because it “raised taxes and regulations, created uncertainty and stifled business expansion.” The final point that weakens Obama’s re-election, as far as the economic issues go, is that he fails to address looming deficits, national debt, unfunded entitlement liabilities and a couple other forms of “liabilities.” 

Molly Brogan, vice president of Public Affairs for the National Small Business Association, believes that the newest promises from Obama during the 2012 re-election are not the right steps to take, according to Medill on the Hill

"The entire tax system should go and a new system should be put in place," Brogan said. She believes that, "although the administration is trying to ‘address where there are deficiencies’ she suspects the plan would simply create ‘winners and losers’ without assisting the economy overall." 

There are many more criticisms of the newest changes that Obama made to his economic plan, but there is also a large support toward his initiatives. This post has touched upon some points but barely scratches the surface of the large economic plan that Obama has been working on during his presidential term and the re-election campaign. 

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Text 27 Mar Keystone XL: Reality or Rhetoric?

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It can be hard to keep politics out of projects such as the Keystone XL Pipeline but for this post, I will present the positive aspects and promises from TransCanada to the American oil market without involving the direct opinions of Democrats and Republicans. Considering that this project, as well as the Gulf Coast Project, will have very large impacts on the environment, I will focus on the environmental groups and the oil companies instead. 

This being said, I have to first give some background information on how this next development in the project was started, which involves a small bit of politics. During a congressional hearing in December, TransCanada President for Energy and Oil Pipelines, Alex Pourbaix, spoke about what the results of the pipeline would be for the U.S.

"Keystone will bring many benefits to the United States, but I believe the most important role that Keystone will play in to bring energy security to the United States during what has been recently some very unsettling times overseas," Pourbaix said. 

In rebuttle to this statement, Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey (D) asked Pourbaix how this security could be promised.

"So, would TransCanada support US legislation requiring Canadian oil and products refined from it, such as diesel, to be sold only in the United States?" Markey asked. "So that this country realizes all of the energy security benefits your company and others have promised?" 

Pourbaix’s response? “No, I can’t do that.” Well, not to delve into the politics, but that doesn’t really sound like much of a secure promise if you ask me. But according to The Christian Science Monitor, TransCanada Spokesman Terry Cunha stepped in to present some statistics based on the US Department of Energy (DOE) study conducted in 2010. 

"The Keystone XL could help cut the US reliance on Mideast and Venezuelan imports ‘by up to 40 percent,’" Cunha said. So this seems to be the biggest point that TransCanada wants to make to Americans; they can offer security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

Some statistics from the same DOE study say that even without the Keystone XL being built, “the Canadian import growth will go on at ‘almost identical’ levels through 2030 using existing and new pipeline capacity as well as rail shipments. The projected rise would be 1.7 million barrels a day by the time 2030 arrives, but this is the “almost identical” amount that the DOE study also projected without the Keystone XL. 

Now for some input from environmental groups. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded the results of what they project will happen with the Keystone XL by citing “numerous TransCanada studies and the transcripts of Canadian federal hearings.” 

According to MSNBC, the NRDC is a New York-based environmental advocacy non-profit group. They believe that the energy supply in the US will be decreased and the prices of oil will increase in certain areas of the country if the Keystone XL is implemented.

“Rather than providing the US with more Canadian oil, Keystone XL will simply shift oil from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, where much of it can be exported to international buyers – decreasing US energy supply and increasing the cost of oil in the American Midwest,” NRDC said. 

I do believe that presenting both sides is crucial, especially in this large confusion of a dispute. NRDC member Susan Casey-Lefkowitz said that “it was ‘downright foolhardy to cut corners on safety reviews for permitting’ the Texas-to-Oklahoma line, ‘especially when the industry has a history of oil spills,’” according to Associated Press

So NRDC is happy that Obama is taking the time with Keystone XL but doesn’t agree with his action toward the Gulf Coast Project just yet. But in agreement with the halting of Keystone XL, the PKVerleger LLC President, Philip K. Verleger, said that his Colorado consulting firm specialized in research on oil market economics has projected an additional $4 billion added to the US fuel bill if the Keystone XL is built.

*Video gathers Texas residents from all political parties and beliefs as they protest the Keystone XL Pipeline*

"Millions of Americans will spend 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel as tribute to our ‘friendly’ neighbors to the north,” Verleger wrote. “The Keystone XL pipeline will move production from Canadian oil sands to a deepwater port from where it can be exported.”

My final point deals with the aspect of job creation and I will tie all of these issues back together. Republican National Committee Spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said that Americans can’t afford anymore of Obama’s “half-measures on energy.”

"No matter what he says, the reality is he killed the Keystone pipeline and the energy production and 20,000 jobs that went with it," Kukowski said. But according to CNN Money, there needs to be “separation between reality from rhetoric.” 

The reality being that TransCanada estimated a cost of $2.3 billion to build the pipeline and a creation of 4,000 jobs. There’s a large difference between 20,000 and 4,000 jobs, for those of us who understand that not everything that involve politics. Especially during a time where Republicans are trying to tear Obama down in the hopes that one of their GOP candidates will take office after the 2012 elections. 

So, is this the best time to be starting a large project such as the Keystone XL? Probably not. But Obama is trying to take things one step at a time while continuing to implement more dependency growth with his own initiatives. Politics has managed to blind many Americans of the real statistics and facts that go along with the project. As of right now, the Gulf Coast Project will continue and the Obama administration will chip away at the large issues that surround the implementation of the Keystone XL Pipeline. 

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*This is a great depiction of the Keystone XL, the continuation plan to the already existent pipeline that the DOE referred to earlier in this post.

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Text 27 Mar Obama Halts Keystone XL Pipeline

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President Obama’s efforts to sway the Senate Democrats away from the Keystone XL Pipeline Amendment was successful after the vote resulted in a rejection that was four votes short. Fifty-six senators were in favor of this amendment but the necessary 60 votes were not achieved. 

Those who were in favor believe that this pipeline will create jobs that lessen our dependence on foreign oil- a vital move toward the freedom from volatile regions, according to CNN Politics. The other part of this that the Republicans are not giving much credit for is that Obama IS working toward the Gulf Coast Project, another initiative that will achieve similar goals as the Keystone XL with less initial review. But I’ll explain that in more depth as we progress. 

Republican critics have said that Obama is trying to “block a job-creating energy project at a time of high gas prices,” according to Politico. Obama wanted to stop this amendment being passed so that there would be less fuel added to this fire. But why does the Keystone XL really bother Obama so much and what does he think about the Gulf Coast Project? 

He believes that Republicans have started playing politics with this pipeline project and that’s not what the whole project should be about. Obama would like to conduct further studies on what the environmental impact would be before we just go and implement the 1,179 mile and 485 mile oil lines that would span our country. 

As always, Obama is not really one to just throw an idea away and leave it in the trash. His administration has made it clear that Obama will make a valiant effort to find a way that makes the Keystone XL environmentally acceptable and will still create all of the new employment opportunities. 

"As the President has made clear, we will ensure any project receives the important assessment it deserves, and the Administration will base a decision to provide a permit on the completion of that review, a process that was unfortunately blocked by Republicans in December," White House spokesman Clark Stevens said in a statement. "Meanwhile we continue to take steps to support American-made energy, including doing all we can to expedite construction of a pipeline from Cushing, Okla., to refineries along the Gulf Coast." 

The project that Stevens is referring to is the Gulf Coast Project, the 485 mile pipeline that would extend from the Keystone XL Pipeline. It will be constructed as a stand-alone project and gives “independent value to the marketplace,” just as the Republicans wanted. According to TransCanada, the Gulf Coast Project is undergoing regulation approvals and is scheduled to start construction in late 2013. 

Exxon Mobil Oil Sands Commercial

Many oil companies are in favor of Obama choosing to also start the process with the Keystone XL but they also agree with his current decision to halt the process. Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson said that politics are the reason to the proposal being “thwarted.”

"The unfortunate decision to halt progress on the pipeline was a product of political calculations in Washington," Tillerson said at a major energy industry conference in Houston, according to The Hill.

But Tillerson also believes that the Obama administration made a decision that “negated thousands of hours aimed at regulatory compliance” and “tens of thousands of pages of study that confirmed the pipeline would pose no undue risks to citizens or the environment.” According to an environmental analysis done by The State Department last August, if the project is properly done, it would pose a small environmental risk. 

"Political considerations based on two- and four-year electoral cycles are a significant hindrance to long-term planning and investment, which can affect jobs and competitiveness to decades," Tillerson said, denouncing what he alleges has become a burdensome regulatory process that impedes development.

Ultimately, Obama wants more time to assess the environmental liabilities such as greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction and burning oil sands and the forest damage from the large pipelines. He also has a fear of spillage along the pipeline route and wants to make sure that we don’t just rush into a project that could be detrimental.

So if so many people are for this amendment, what are the benefits really going to be? How many jobs will it create? What are the positive aspects to implementing this plan without further review? Until next time…  

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Text 10 Mar Gas “Given-At-A-Lower-Cost” Obama

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After deflecting the Republican’s criticisms of the rising gas prices, President Obama decided to give his weekly address from a factory in Petersburg, VA, where an increasing amount of employees will create jet engines for the new, fuel-efficient future of airplanes. 

He explained that this industry alone has provided 233,000 jobs in the last month and a total of 4 million over 2 years. This is because the companies are bringing jobs back and investing in America. Obama also summarizes why this is important for Americans, why we can’t just drill in our own country and what his administration will be doing to implement a long-term fix to the rising gas prices. 

"Whether you’re paying for a plane ticket or filling up your gas tank, technology that helps us get more miles to the gallon is one of the easiest ways to save money and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Obama explains. He later gives the statistic that when cars and planes (transportation in general) reaches the 55 mpg mark, people will be able to fill up less often and save "the typical family over $8,000 at the pump." 

"The recent spike in gas prices has been another painful reminder of why we have to invest in this technology," Obama said.  

So now I am hooked because I want to know why this is taking so long and what else he would do with his re-election. Mind you, he has ALREADY started and accomplished the initiatives toward fuel-efficiency and lowering-gas prices. He then breaks down the campaigns of “politicians who have been rolling out their three-point plans for two dollar gas.” Obama explains that those politicians want to “drill, drill and drill some more.”

"Well my response is, we have been drilling," Obama said. "Under my administration, oil production in America is at an eight year high. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs and opened up millions of acres for drilling." So there it is! Another example of something that he’s already done that many people choose to ignore. And my favorite part? The explanation of why we can’t just drill in America like Romney loves to campaign so much. 

"But you and I both know, that with only two percent of the world’s oil reserves, we can’t  just drill our way to lower gas prices. Not when we consume 20 percent of the world’s oil,” Obama said. ”We need an ‘all of the above’ strategy that relies less on foreign oil and more on American- made energy. Solar, wind, natural gas, bio fuels and more.”

So in the span of two minutes, Obama has faced the problem, shown his progress, explained the conflicts and presented a plan that moves forward in a modest, yet highly effective, way. Why do people want to take him out of office? I can’t honestly understand it, but hey, that’s just me!&nbsp

This would conclude the gas price portion of this post as I would like to introduce a small glimpse of Obama’s other activity from this past week. The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline; a 1179 mile pipeline that would stretch from Hardisty, Alberta (that’s in Canada!) to Cushing, Oklahoma. The Gulf Coast Project goes hand-in-hand with the Keystone as it would continue another pipeline from Cushing, OK to Nederland, TX. 

Obama and his administration lobbied hard to Democrats so the amendment that would permit this pipeline would not be approved when Senate voted on March 8th. 

TransCanada would be placing the pipeline and believes that the projects will bring “independent value to the marketplace to increase the access of domestic oil,” according to their proposal. But how much would this REALLY affect the U.S? What did The Senate decide? And why is Obama so against it?

Until next time…  

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Text 7 Mar Gas “Guzzling” Obama

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On Super Tuesday, President Obama spoke during a White House news conference about a rising concern of not only the American nation but the GOP candidates as well. Gas prices and foreign oil. Obama was under fire by some Republicans saying that “Obama supports increased gas prices,” but he deflected the jabs by making some critical points.

1. No president that is going through re-election would actually want to see the rise in gas prices 2. Mideast worries would be bad for any president facing re-election 3. He is working toward the expansion of America’s energy base and 4. The oil markets have a key role in the increased gas prices, which is something that he cannot necessarily control. 

Part of the reason that Obama personally felt the inclination to address the issues of gasoline were related to the burnings of the Qurans in Afghanistan as well as the recent killings of U.S. troops. Although this was more a topic of the war coming to and end, Obama said, “I think that it is an indication of the challenges in that environment, and it’s an indication that now is the time for us to transition.” 

But this transition unfortunately cannot be a quick one, as those with common sense would understand. Obama had to explain this multiple times after Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Republican lawmakers all tried to hit him with the “failed energy policy” and “wants higher prices-so less people will drive-because he wants to keep the environment-clean” jabs.

Although Romney DID recognize that Obama can’t be directly held responsible for the rising prices…he bashes him, then defends him and then bashes him some more? I tell ya, Romney really does keep me on my toes with the things that come out of his mouth sometimes! Unfortunately, none of the videos that I found with Romney’s support statement will embed in this post (conspiracy? Nahh) but it can be found at this link.

But I digress…

Obama responded, “We are not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices,” while speaking to a group of workers at Daimler Trucks North America, a factory where the vehicles are made to run on natural gas.

And as far as those Republicans who said, “we can lower the prices faster,” Obama is calling their bluff. “Anyone who says it can be done faster either doesn’t know what they are talking about or isn’t telling the truth.”


Obama Silences Fox News on Super Tuesday

Being president requires a lot of responsibilities so not every thing can be done at once. And Obama HAS accomplished a great deal of initiatives since he was put into office. According to the Chicago Tribune, Obama admits, “We may not get there in one presidential term, it is going to take us a while to wean ourselves off of the old and grab the new. But we’re going to meet this challenge.”

So what has Obama done or set in place for the gas price challenge? Increases in domestic oil production, raising fuel economy standards, incentives for alternate energy products and research for increased fuel-efficient vehicle technology. He also provides insight on how the gas price market REALLY works when we aren’t just considering it as a domestic issue and what he will do if he is re-elected to try and change how the world market impacts America. 

In my next post, I will explain all of these plans that Obama has already started as well as what he will do upon re-election to overcome the challenge of rising gas prices. Also, I just want to add this little throwback video in of Romney discussing Israel, Iran and how HE WOULD RAISE GAS PRICES 

"I know it’s going to make gasoline more expensive…" 

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Text 4 Mar 1 note Higher Education, Lower Standards?

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After finishing my previous post, my mind was exhausted from all of the possibilities and questions that arise when considering President Obama’s college plans for America. I was for it, I was against it, I was unsure about how it was all going to come together and what would miserably fail. But I took a break and have decided to look into some of the largest concerns and supports that go along with the higher education plan. 

One main concern that has been expressed by many people/organizations is that Obama’s plan will raise federal government subsidies from $1 billion a year to $8 billion a year. The Restore America Project discussed the alternate options or revisions that could be made to Obama’s plan so that this increase may not be as drastic.

In their review, they discussed how GOP candidate Ron Paul wanted to eventually “phase out” student loans and create a free market for colleges instead of a government program. This would mean that student loans would not be available for anyone so if you couldn’t afford college before, now you’re DEFINITELY not getting a degree! Okay, so I don’t really agree with Paul, but that’s not REALLY what he was striving toward.

He believes that this will put pressure on colleges to lower tuitions. The colleges that can still offer a “quality education” as well as low prices and will be flooded with applicants. And the institutions that don’t offer a high education and low prices? “Devastating decreases in student enrollment.”

This will be a better alternative to allow all, or in the words of Paul “even poorer,” Americans to get a degree. So there’s the first concern…more government subsidies. But I’d just like to rewind for a second. This would tie into the list of questions that I made in my last post. If a huge flood of students are all rushing to a school simply because it’s cheaper, then how can I be assured that my level of education will still be at an ultimate high? It seems that the competitve nature or factors such as a higher tuition may allow for colleges to offer a higher level of education. 

So does this mean Obama wants to lower the standards at the colleges so that more people can get a degree? No, it doesn’t. 

Now, understand that there is no official list of schools that are being targeted for this plan as of right now. But Obama makes a very important point; the career colleges in America cost taxpayers less money AND offer sufficient job training that employers are demanding.

What does he mean by “career colleges?” According a press release by The Coalition for Educational Success (TCES), the term career colleges simply applies to schools that are of a lower cost but offer innovative and high standard programs that will prepare students for the skills that employers are desperately in need of. Fancy term for trade school? Eh, yes and no. 

Managing Director of TCES, Penny Lee, says that Obama is on the right track and she encourages all higher education institutions to get on board. By setting a single standard for what is expected, a student can choose to go to any college and still be assured of a high level of education as well as a lowered tuition.

So there’s one of my concerns checked off the list. Lee adds, “one set of measurement across all of higher education will help ensure that students and taxpayers get the best return on their investment.” Because in reality, a college education really can be considered an investment at this point.  

There are so many sides to this whole discussion that it can become very hard not to skip around, but work with me here. I have decided to present one final opposition and support to this ordeal because they are relevant, important and I don’t think that I’m allowed to make this blog post more than 100 pages. So here it goes.

"President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college…what a snob." These would be the wise words of GOP candidate Rick Santorum. He believes that not everyone is “gifted” in the same way and that Obama wants America to be remade in his image. His image, implied by Santorum, being that of a “student taught by a liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them.” 

So wait, this guy thinks that colleges are “indoctrination mills?” Oh so that must mean he doesn’t have a college degree! Hold please, I’m receiving an urgent message from the Washington Post…a bachelor’s degree, a law degree AND an MBA? Hmm…well if that doesn’t define a hypocrite then I don’t know what does! 

Getting to the real issue at hand, why does Santorum seem to be so opposed to Obama’s idea? Largely because the candidate image of the “working-class guy who’s on your team” seems to appeal to audiences in small towns that have steel-mills as the main source of employment. But also because “elites” are a target of Santorum’s campaign; a strategy he is using to connect with the people. 

So is there real logic or support for Santorum’s statements? Well, no. But some people do agree with him! Look! Eric Maynard, pastor from Michigan, said that “I think the president is an elitist, and he thinks he knows what’s best for everyone.” Well…he probably knows better than you do, Mister Maynard, but please, continue. “In Michigan, we have a large blue-collar population, and what senator Santorum said is right. Not everybody can go to college.”

Yes, you’re right about one thing, sir. There aren’t NEARLY enough dorm rooms for all these Americans to go to college! But what these supporters are failing to grasp is that Obama is simply trying to make the availability an option for those who want the degree; he isn’t FORCING every American to attend college or get a degree. So you can relax now Michigan blue-collar population, you can still work in steel-mills. (I go to college, so I’m clearly a snob which means I completely look down upon those who work in such a shameful industry…please note the unequivocal sarcasm.)

I’d like to end with a few final points. 1. Yes, this post criticizes the GOP more than usual, I’m just over the hypocrisy. But that’s politics for ya. 2. I know that Obama is not the unflawed leader of the Universe and he can do no wrong. But as of right now, I don’t see anyone else who stacks up on any level. And 3….

"Rick Santorum calls it snobbery to suggest that students ought to go to college. On Monday, several of his fellow Republicans- and President Obama- begged to differ." (Washington Post, this lead really hooked me! So let’s keep reading…) 

"When you look at what’s going on in other countries, China, India, the premium they put on higher education- we’ve got to do better if we still want to be the global leader we are." Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell, I couldn’t have said it any better if I tried! 

Wait, sorry. I just have to throw in the kicker. *Flashback 2006*

"Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable." 

But I digress. Obama’s higher education plan has been discussed in full and I am off to examine other issues in the campaigns. 

Santorum 2006 Ad… An absolute must-see!


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Text 3 Mar College Education: Getting More Bang For Your Buck

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During President Obama’s State of the Union Address (links to full length video of the address) in January, he spoke of the initiatives aimed at making higher education accessible to all Americans. Among many points that Obama made, the main focus was on students getting an education that will secure them a job after graduation. 

Some establishments criticized this idea because they believe that college isn’t just about securing a job in the industry, but to gain knowledge on a vast array of concepts. In a Huffington Post article that presented the education portion of the address, the opinions of these higher education establishments was discussed. 

According to Anthony Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, “college isn’t just to create foot soldiers for industry…the outcomes would hurt the humanities, meaning fewer students will turn to Shakespeare and instead study engineering.” An understandable statement, but I do think that the pros certainly outweigh the cons in Obama’s plan.

In a nutshell, college is very expensive and a decreasing amount of students can actually afford to attend a four-year institution without some type of loan. The article states that on average, graduates who took out loans find themselves in over $25,000 of debt. These loans come from the $140 billion that the federal government gives out every year. 

But employers in high-tech companies have claimed that their workers are inadequately trained for the tasks. So this led me to question a couple of ideas. Where does all of that loan money go to? If so many students rely on these loans, should the unemployment rate be lower?

Before considering the outlying factors, I just thought that any student taking out a college loan would also be 1. attending a four-year school 2. graduating from that school and 3. immediately landing a job after graduation. Well obviously this is not the unflawed world that my mind sometimes resorts to so I delved further into the issues at hand. 



Fox Business Discusses Cost of the College Dropout


Recent studies by College Measures, an analysis group, about 40 percent of four-year college students don’t graduate, and at two-year schools, only 40 percent graduate or transfer. American Institutes of Research found that a fifth of those who attend community colleges are unlikely to return for a second year. 

So if students aren’t actually attending school, what does this mean for taxpayers? Well millions of dollars every year are wasted (harsh, but sorry, it’s true) by students receiving loans and not completing their education. But let’s not blame the students here. There has to be a legitimate reason that so many are unable to graduate. 

(*Another study shows that $4.5 billion in earnings and taxes were lost in 2011 due to college dropouts…yikes!)

College is expensive! Obama believes that higher education institutions should control their tuitions and keep an eye on the graduation success rate. He directed a statement to these institutions in the address: “If you can’t stop the tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.” He then continued to back this statement up by saying that every family should be able to have college educations and that a degree shouldn’t be a luxury. Agreed. (Degrees shouldn’t just be handed out to anyone who wants it, though).

This is something that could greatly re-stimulate our economy. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, said that those who earn a bachelor’s degree earn a million dollars more in their lifetime than students with only a high school diploma. That should be incentive for anyone to want to go to school, but again, not too many families can fully afford to send their children to college for the entire four-years. 




Obama did focus a lot on “gainful employment,” the idea that if a student pays all this money to get a degree, they should be able to get a job after graduation. Many oppose this idea because they think that he is just standardizing college. But his ultimate idea consists of slightly lowering the federal aid given to schools who won’t lower tuitions and shifting that margin over to schools who will offer a lower tuition. This way, students will be able to afford college and be well equipped for the job world once they graduate. 

After conversing with a peer, we decided to make a list of the top 10 concerns/responses to Obama’s higher education initiative. Here was the general consensus of the conversation: 

1. If more people can access a higher education, will this lower the value of a bachelor’s degree or strengthen it?

2. If more people have this level of degree, what types of jobs are they qualified for and are there enough jobs to employ all these people as well as those who already hold a bachelor’s? 

3. Nowadays, many jobs require a master’s degree on top of bachelor’s degree. The competitive nature of the job market means that now you’ve gotten a bachelor’s but someone who has their master’s will get the job over you. Will Obama’s plan make it so that more jobs will consider a bachelor’s to be sufficient and a master’s degree won’t be as necessary? 

4. This being said, should there be/is there a written requirement that states which types of jobs or industries can demand a degree that’s higher than a bachelor’s? Example: Do you HAVE to get your master’s degree to be a teacher by law or is that just the expectation? 

5. If programs become more standardized in the notion of “gainful employment,” will my bachelor’s degree be equal to a Harvard graduate’s degree? 

6. The government obviously can’t GUARANTEE every college graduate a job, but would this initiative create a better chance of landing a job with my bachelor’s degree? How can this be assured?

7. How will students be able to access the “scorecard" and "shopping sheet" that Obama and the administration plan to make for each school to show the statistics such as graduation rate or average student debt after graduation? 

8. Hypothetically speaking, a school lowers its tuition, then it receives some more federal aid and implements programs to fully equip students with skills that will ensure them ready to work. What industry of work are these students specifically being trained for?

9. Will Obama be creating or expanding certain industries more than others to make room for the graduates who were trained through the new programs? 

10. This last point/question is a multi-thought process, so stick with me here. I’m basing this whole point off of the idea of a four-year institution. If college is more accessible, then anyone who can get a loan and get average scores on the SATs can get in. This being said, the doors are now open to a much wider variety of students. A school that once required an entering student to have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a certain range of SAT scores now has to broaden those standards. Why? Because there are more applicants who want to go to the school now that the tuition is more affordable and the likelihood of receiving a loan is higher. But say a student who skated by in high school and didn’t get remarkable SAT scores does get accepted to the same school as a student who busted their butt for good grades and scores. Despite the fact that the integrity of the second student to succeed in college is higher than the first, the degree they receive will be the exact same. Now, I understand that this clearly applies to current four-year schools as well. By no means am I trying to say that someone who couldn’t afford school before a lowered tuition would be less motivated or less qualified than someone who was fortunate enough with college funds. I understand that there are students who just skate by and graduate colleges all over the place, a degree is a degree. So in reality, referring to #5 of this sequence, what is the point of attending a school like Harvard versus a school where anyone can get in? A degree is a degree right? What types of schools will be lowering their tuitions and giving out more aid? Will more students be able to enter Ivy Leagues? Are the standards of colleges going to broaden to a point where there are no schools that are “hard to get into?” And also, if more students are able to access college education, doesn’t this mean if anything, that the standards that a college has for entry should be stricter? If a school has high expectations for its entering students ie. high SAT scores, etc, then the classes will be more challenging, and the course work will be completely different from a school with less rigorous entry standards. This all being common sense, where does Obama plan to bring this higher education standard? Will it only apply to state schools, community colleges… what schools will he target to make the switch? And as far as reputation such as Yale or Princeton, will they remain in the “upper-class elite” of four-year institutions or will they lower tuition and entry standards? This all being said, I know that with Obama’s plan, it is not directly stating that schools must require lower standards. But I believe these two go hand in hand. Even in the article from before, the challenges that may come with this new project are the basic skills such as math and English. According to some experts, there’s too many students who are accepted to schools and don’t even have these skills. By being accepted, this just lowers the overall level of learning that the institution can offer. And a final thought, how does this effectiveness or level of skill become measured when more people are able to access college?  

Clearly, this is a very multi-dimensional issue that can be pulled apart and examined many, many times. I will end this post by saying that I would like to see a stratified sample of schools implement Obama’s higher education plan and track the results over a span of time. Then, the group of four-year, two-year and community colleges could report their progress after a two semester year and the plan could be either adjusted or applied to more schools in the nation.

I understand that this post has been lengthy and perhaps a bit dense. But the issue at hand is something that I personally believe to be very important (and interesting too!). My follow-up post will be much shorter (I promise) and will address/ answer the questions that my peer and I created. I will also present some more objections/support that various people have with Obama’s higher education plan. 

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Text 19 Feb Contraception Compromise

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President Obama has been successful in his efforts to pass a standard that would provide a nominal fee to women for birth control. After many Catholic, and other faith-based institutions, lashed out at Obama for his initial rule, he and the administration took the plan back to the drawing board and revised it. 

The plan first required that all employers, including religious organizations, pay for and provide the contraception coverage for their women employees. Obama soon realized that many Catholic institutions would argue that this was against their faith and the law would interfere state with religion. 

According an article in The Huffington Post, the director of Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, Stephen Schneck, was initially opposed to this new rule. The Wednesday before Obama released the reform to his federal rule, Schneck was doing all that he could to gain attention of the administration because he believed that this was so detrimental to Catholic employers. 

But Friday came along and Obama announced the revisions to the federal rule; religious-based organizations could opt out of this coverage and the cost of contraceptives for these employers and their employees would be shifted to the insurance companies. Not only does Obama and his administration agree that this has certainly resolved the disputes, but many Catholics are also in favor of the revision.

Obama Presents the Revisions

Schneck said, “I feel completely satisfied,” as he agrees that the distance between the Catholic institution and contraception should be increased as much as possible. 

Sister Anne Curtis, a spokeswoman for the religious order Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, said that her and those of her organization are happy with the new requirements. 

The Catholic Health Association also considered Obama’s efforts to “fix” the rule as satisfactory.

"We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished," said Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association according to the Huffington Post. 

As a journalism student, I understand that there are two sides to every issue and it is only fair that I present them when discussing the actions of our president. Some organizations or individuals still may not approve of this federal rule claiming that although the employers do not directly have to pay for the birth control, they must pay for employee insurance which is now allowing their employees to receive co-pay contraceptives. 

Catholic Leader Disagrees with Revisions (AD will play first, couldn’t find version without it).

It is an understandable view, but I will say that I think Obama has done an amazing job with the prompt and relevant action he has made toward revisions. Besides, he has won over the 750,000 plus employees from the Catholic Health Association alone. Despite those who will not be happy until the rule is completely abolished, I think that it is safe to say that the majority of those that were in uproar a couple of weeks ago are now at peace with Obama and the administration

Side Note: My own personal interests have led me to EMILY’s List, the Democratic pro-choice women’s organization. I don’t usually associate myself with one party or the other, but when something catches my eye, I will certainly pay attention to the message and organization behind it. Recently, EMILY has released a video that discusses their problem with the birth control rule and this time, it doesn’t have anything to do with religion. 

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Text 7 Feb 1 note Contraception Controversy

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As an addition to President Obama’s March 2010 healthcare reform, access to cost-free birth control for American women was presented in The Affordable Care Act. To many women, “the idea of birth control being covered by insurance companies is popular across the political spectrum,” according to an article from the New York Times. But the part of the new rule that requires certain religious schools and hospitals to also provide preventative care for their employees has stirred up plenty of controversy.

According to David Axlerod, top advisor to Obama’s re-election campaign, the president has said that he is “looking for a way to address the opposition from Catholic groups and that he doesn’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms.”


MSNBC VIDEO-Axelrod Discusses Contraception Policy

Will the White House back down on birth control?


Certainly, the president of the United States of America is familiar with the First Amendment as he now carefully searches for a way to please our population without crossing any unconstitutional boundaries. 

This controversy has surely given the Republican candidates some fuel towards their campaigns against Obama in the current 2012 election, as both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich used this new rule toward their own benefit. 

Romney has used this tactic to gain supporters by urging them to sign a petition to “stop the attacks on religious liberty.” When first introducing his petition, he claimed that the Obama administration is “now using Obamacare to impose a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedoms taken away.”

Gingrich, who uses his Catholic faith for his campaign, claimed that this new rule is a “complete violation of First Amendment rights and it’s a direct assault of freedom of religion,” in a recent speech he made in Jacksonville, Florida just before the Florida primary. He also believes the the Obama administration, “would impose on every Catholic institution, every Jewish institution, every Protestant institution.” Gingrich concludes by stating, “the Obamacare standard of what you have to buy as insurance is a direct violation of freedom and religion.”


CNN VIDEO-Gingrich to Obama “Respect our Religion”


No, you heard him correctly. He is “tired of respecting every other religion on the planet.” Luckily, the United States has no interaction with any countries outside of our own, so the respect for other countries and what they choose to believe certainly doesn’t matter. Maybe I’m the crazy one for thinking that Obama’s “secular attempt” of providing free birth control is a good idea. Then again, I’d rather support a secular society than a country where Gingrich is forcing Catholicism, or in his terms “our religion,” down my throat. (Sounds familiar…oh yes, I knew there was a reason behind the creation of the Declaration of Independence). Besides, you heard the man, “This government needs to respect OUR religions.” Because in the United States of America, we don’t practice Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any other religion that all those other countries have! We have OUR religion; the religion of America. Now if that isn’t a scary concept then I don’t know what is.



It is clear that the Republican party is not only using this new rule to their advantage, but they are in an agreement about why this act may pose certain violations toward religions. This new rule will not be effective until August 1, 2012 and clearly has a little more work on the drawing table before it is put into effect.

But according to the Times,”the rule is popular across the political spectrum, even among Catholics.” It is then explained that this decision has been made so that millions of women will be able to access birth control for a much cheaper fee.The intent being that “employees of the religiously-affiliated institutions with access to the same package that every other woman in the country has, the same right and access to basic preventative care,” according to Axelrod. 

Although many accusations have been made toward Obama and his administration about this new rule (or “war on religion" as Gingrich recently called it), senior White House officials have defended this decision. "The policy balances the rights of religious organizations with the interests of their female employees to receive affordable contraception," according to the Times. 

Whether or not this controversial new rule will steer voters away from Obama is hard to tell at this point of the current elections. It is understandable why people with strong religious belief would question this law. But shouldn’t all American women be allowed to have free access to birth control, regardless of their faith? Wouldn’t it be more controversial if only a small portion of women were allowed to have this access depending on what religion they practiced? 

This has certainly been a topic to catch my eye and as I follow Obama through his re-election campaign, I will certainly be looking out for progress on how he handles the oppositions. Ultimately, I will say that I can definitely appreciate free birth control through my employer, considering that every penny counts to a college student and that’s one less hole in my wallet. 

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