Everything you need to know about Day 2 of the Republican National Convention
Ezra Klein's Wonkbook
Welcome to Wonkbook, Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas’s morning policy news primer. Send comments, criticism, or ideas to Wonkbook at Gmail dot com. To read more by Ezra and his team, go to Wonkblog.
RCP Obama vs. Romney: Obama +1.1%; 7-day change: Obama -0.4%.
RCP Obama approval: 47.7%; 7-day change: -0.6%.
Intrade percent chance of Obama win: 55.8%; 7-day change: -1.7%.
Top story: Day 2 of the Republican National Convention
Paul Ryan spoke to the Republican Party last night as its newly-anointed candidate for vice president. “Paul Ryan on Wednesday night accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination here with a message of urgency for his party: Now is the time to tackle America's most pressing challenges, including the country's mounting debt and federal entitlement programs that are en route to bankruptcy within the coming decades.” Felicia Sonmez, Karen Tumulty and William Branigin in The Washington Post.
Excerpts:“In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the left isn't going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program [Medicare], and raiding it. Ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate…The present administration has made its choices. And Mitt Romney and I have made ours: Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation's economic problems…So here is our pledge. We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead. We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility. We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles.”
@davidfrum: Ryan’s mission: not to convince, but to animate base and reassure swing voters.
Fact-checkers are not in love with Paul Ryan. For example: “In his acceptance speech, GOP Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan appeared to suggest that President Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wisc. That's not true. The plant was closed in December, 2008, before Obama was sworn in.” Glenn Kessler in The Washington Post.
@mattyglesias: Core truth of Ryan’s speech — the recovery has been unacceptably weak. The rest? Basically BS.
@pourmecoffee: Ryan: Our rights come from nature and God, but I pull my facts from out of thin air.
Wonkbookmark: The convention speaking schedule.
Romney is obsessing over his convention speech. “When it comes to writing speeches, the Republican who would be president of the United States is a tinkerer. And not just a tinkerer. Mitt Romney is a deadline-pushing tinkerer whose mantra is that no speech is finished until after it's delivered. Romney takes extensive notes in his journal, peppers his aides with questions about specifics and transmits speech versions back and forth to his advisers late into the night. It's become a joke among some of Romney's senior aides that the worst job on the campaign is to be Romney's speechwriter. In a campaign organization that has grown exponentially, it's speechwriting in which Romney's inner micro-manager reveals itself. An English major in college, Romney is a voracious reader and is particular about the words he utters, advisers say. He obsesses and fine-tunes, for speeches consequential and trivial, on airplanes and in hotel suites. ” Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.
What to expect for tomorrow: Here’s how all Republican and Democratic presidential candidates have accepted the nomination since 1984.
Romney’s biggest liability in 2008 was his religion. In 2012, it’s his wealth. “Mitt Romney used to be the Mormon guy. Now, he's the rich guy.
A new poll from the Washington Post and Pew Research Center shows that Mormonism -- which was closely associated with Romney's early presidential candidacy -- has slipped from voters' minds. It's replacement as the No. 1 defining characteristic of the GOP nominee? What else? His wealth.” Aaron Blake in The Washington Post.
@TobinCommentary: Huckabee is making up for his attacks on Romney’s Mormonism 4 yrs ago right now & doing a good job of it. #gop2012
Wonkbook’s guide to the other convention speeches
Condoleeza Rice on American leadership in the world. “[T]hat is the question of the moment -- "Where does America stand?" When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question -- clearly and unambiguously -- the world is a chaotic and dangerous place. The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer -- we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them -- we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom…And I know too that there is weariness -- a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough. But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen -- no one will lead and that will foster chaos -- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead -- and one cannot lead from behind.” The Washington Post.
@TobinCommentary: Condi Rice’s speech is best of evening. Actually best of #gop2012 so far.
KELLER: What should Republicans do about Rice? “If you're organizing the nominating convention of a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, she presents you with a dilemma. On the one hand the former secretary of state is an accomplished, proudly Republican black woman… She is an icon of opportunity (a Republican mantra) and diversity (a Republican shortcoming)…On the other hand, she is a reminder of the Recent Republican President Who Shall Scarcely Be Mentioned at This Convention…She is also an out-of-Republican-fashion moderate on social issues like abortion…Rice has the pedigree and the chastening experience to present a more sophisticated and more temperate Republican take on the world. And Wednesday night she did so.” Bill Keller in The New York Times.
@mattyglesias: Here you are thinking the Obama jobs record is pretty bad, then along comes Rice to remind you of the Bush foreign policy.
DEYOUNG: Rice stole the show on Day 2. “Condoleezza Rice added a dollop of star power to the evening's proceedings with a call to tell the world ‘where America stands’ that mixed the exceptionalism rhetoric of the Bush administration, some soaring reminders of the country's immigrant past and civil rights obligations, an academic lecture about trade agreements and a reminder about the obligations of leadership…Delegates stopped roaming the aisles and chatting with their neighbors to pay attention as Rice brought them to their feet..Rice was eloquent on the burdens of leadership and the need to pay attention to the rest of the world at a time of deep domestic concern.” Karen DeYoung in The Washington Post.
OH Sen. Rob Portman on the economy and policy “So, you have one candidate who understands that success comes from working hard, competing and taking risks. And you have another candidate who believes success comes from government. Which one do you think knows how to turn this economy around? Which one would you choose to invest your life's savings? Should it be any different for safeguarding our nation's economy?…In business, if you don't move rapidly, you are out of business. You are finished. We want a president who operates at business speed not government speed…President Obama has been so driven to advance his big government ideology that he has abandoned the daily economic work that a government must do to open markets, restore business confidence and create the climate for job growth. This is the work President Romney would begin on day one.” Politico.
@sahilkapur: Rob Portman’s speech is a good reminder of why he’s not the VP nominee.
Mike Huckabee on religion. “Let me clear the air about whether guys like me would only support an evangelical…The attack on my Catholic brothers and sisters is an attack on me…This isn’t a battle about contraceptives and Catholics, but of conscience and the Creator. I care far less as to where Mitt Romney takes his family to church than I do about where he takes this country…Mitt Romney has given over 16% of his income to his church and charity, and I’d feel better about having a leader who gives more of his own money instead of mine.” Politico.
@bdomenech: As I said: Huckabee could’ve beaten Romney. Just gained the weight, made more money, decided not to run.
NM Gov. Susana Martinez. “Growing up, I never imagined a girl from a border town could one day become a governor. But this is America. Y, en America todo es posible…My parents also taught me about having the courage to stand for something. So, I went to law school and became a prosecutor…I took on a specialty that very few choose to pursue – I prosecuted child abuse and child homicide cases. Cases that were truly gut-wrenching…I fear some of our leaders today have lost the courage to stand up. What we have now are politicians. They won’t offer real plans, and only stand up when they want to blame someone else…I’ll be damned, we’re Republicans.” Politico.
@JimPethokoukis: Martinez showing real potential here; can deliver a line
MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty on Obama “Ah, the Obama White House, one bad decision follows another. Hard to say exactly just what his worst mistake has been. There's so many to choose from: The stimulus. His energy policy. Obamacare. Taxes. Joe Biden…I've come to realize that Barack Obama is the tattoo president. Like a big tattoo, it seemed cool when you were young. But later on, that decision doesn't look so good, and you wonder: what was I thinking?…Actually, Barack Obama is the first president to create more excuses than jobs!…Barack Obama's failed us. But look, it's understandable. A lot of people fail at their first job.” Politico.
@jbarro: Tim Pawlenty just made a golf joke so lame it didn’t even get a laugh in the convention hall.
KY Sen. Mitch McConnell on leadership. “We’re here this week for the simple reason that our nation is in desperate need of leadership.
And we believe Mitt Romney is the man for the moment…Mitt Romney has spent his entire life finding ways to solve problems. Mitt Romney has never been resigned to what someone else said was possible. He cut his own path. That’s why he believes in his heart that America has a future full of opportunity and hope. And that’s why when Mitt Romney looks down the road, he sees a country that’s ready for a comeback. I firmly believe he’s the man to lead it.” Politico.
@TobinCommentary: Mitch McConnell’s a smart guy but he’s just set the standard for boring political speeches.
KY Sen. Rand Paul on Obamacare and the American ethos. “When the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, the first words out of my mouth were: I still think it is unconstitutional!…So, how do we fix this travesty of justice? There's only one option left. We have to have — a new President!…Republicans and Democrats alike must slay their sacred cows. Republicans must acknowledge that not every dollar spent on the military is necessary or well-spent, and Democrats must admit that domestic welfare and entitlements must be reformed.” The Washington Post.
@petersuderman: Good for Rand Paul for going after defense spending, especially given that Romney is running on setting a defense pork minimum.
The 2008 GOP presidential candidate and AZ Sen. John McCain on foreign policy. “[A]cross the world, people are seizing control of their own destinies. They’re liberating themselves from oppressive rulers and they want America’s support. They want America’s assistance as they struggle to live in peace and security, to expand opportunity for themselves and their children, to replace the injustices of despots with the institutions of democracy and freedom. America must be on the right side of history…I trust Mitt Romney to know that good can triumph over evil, that justice can vanquish tyranny, that love can conquer hate, that the desire for freedom is eternal and universal and that America is still the best hope of mankind.” Fox News.
@ezraklein: John McCain’s foreign policy sounds very expensive.
SD Sen. John Thune on rural America. “I hate to say it, but that dream is in serious jeopardy. We have a sluggish economy, burdened by Obama administration policies that are weighing down our job creators. Middle-class Americans, in cities and on farms, are bearing the brunt…The big-government bureaucrats of the Obama administration have set their sights on our way of life. Instead of preserving family farms and ranches, President Obama's policies are effectively regulating them out of business.” Transcript.
@MattZeitlin: Excuse me while I objectify John Thune. He’s just an amazingly good-looking man.
Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno on statehood. “Over 200,000 Puerto Ricans have served in uniform to defend our nation and the freedom we hold so dear…Like in your home states, we raise and salute the American flag. Just like our fellow citizens in Florida or Virginia, we share the same undying spirit that all Americans have.” Politico (video).
@bdomenech: Fortuno has approached the Puerto Rico budget crisis responsibly, but the unemployment picture is still very bad.
Republican strategists are watching the other speeches closely for talent. “For all the typical cult-of-personality fuss this week about Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, there are secondary and tertiary agendas at work at the Republican National Convention, including the appraisal of the party's bench. The convention functions a bit like a reality show, a singing competition, only with speechifying…There is a belief in the hall that the Republicans have a deeper bench than the Democrats.” Joel Achenbach in The New York Times.
KLEIN: Why the GOP platform matters a lot.“Americans say they are more interested in the party platforms released during the conventions than the speeches. That is to say, forget the pageantry; voters want the cold, hard pdf documents…[T]he quadrennial party platform is a useful document, reflecting the compromises hammered out among relevant players: activists, interest groups and the presidential campaign. After spending weeks haggling over language, they emerge with a political vision that all can live, and govern, with….[I]f you want to know what the Republican Party really thinks, as opposed to what the Republican Party believes will win votes, take some time away from this week's convention. Read the platform.”
Why the speeches on Days 1 and 2 has been discordant with Romney’s message. “The first two nights of the Republican National Convention ended with stirring, rousing speeches. They just weren't stirring, rousing speeches that made much sense as endorsements of Mitt Romney…Chris Christie and Paul Ryan hit the same themes. We have hard choices facing us. We need leaders who won't flinch before those choices…That description arguably works for Christie and Ryan. That's their brand, even if it's selectively applied. But whether you love Romney or you hate him, do these lines really sound like a description of him? Is his political history really that of a bold, poll-defying, truth-talker?…[I]f you're looking for a guy who doesn't duck the tough issues, who never obscures the hard truths, who tells you the unpleasant facts you don't want to hear, who isn't deterred by the polls, Romney isn't your guy.” Ezra Klein in Bloomberg and The Washington Post.
BARRO: Hypocrisy in Paul Ryan’s speech. “Paul Ryan forcefully attacked the Obama Administration tonight. But many of the criticisms he leveled against Barack Obama apply equally to his and Mitt Romney's own records…Ryan is right that Barack Obama has been, in many ways, an underwhelming leader. But he failed to make a case that he and Mitt Romney would do any better.” Josh Barro in Bloomberg.
COLLINS: Renovating Mitt Romney. “So, about Mitt Romney…[T]he party's mission this week is to construct an entirely new, improved, warmer, more lovable version. They built this Romney!…This wasn't going to be one of those quickie home makeovers you see on TV, where a couple goes away for the weekend and comes back to discover that they have a large, new picture window and a totally open kitchen floor plan. The folks who spoke during the first two days of the three-day convention were supposed to do foundation work, preparing the public to regard the presidential candidate who emerged on Thursday night as a kindly dad or a favored sibling who's always such great company when you're feeling down. They failed completely.” Gail Collins in The New York Times.
HENNINGER: How to fix Mitt Romney’s flawed image. “Can Mitt connect? If he can, he should win. If he can’t, Barack Obama wins. Given the stakes, it seems absurd that the outcome should depend on this man’s ability to output empathy in public. It’s the one skill the average school-board member can manufacture on cue but U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney cannot…And now, as at no other time since the Depression, that beautiful act of private mutual commitment between an owner and those he asks to work with him is dormant. Mitt Romney, businessman, should be the right candidate for this desperate year. He’s not quite there. What’s the problem?…Mitt Romney has to make the transition in voters’ eyes from Mr. Fixit’s world to the blood, sweat and tears world of owners and their workers. That’s where his voters live. That’s the world they want to hear Mitt Romney talk to them about.” Daniel Henninger in The Wall Street Journal.
MILLER: What an honest Romney might have said. “My fellow Republicans — boy, you sure make it tough on a guy! I knew it would be hard to run the gauntlet of a Republican primary process. But knowing you'll have to twist yourself into a pretzel and actually doing it are two very different things…In other words, through my leadership of a small state, I've already had a major influence on national policy that will make every American's life more secure. In a sane world, this bipartisan accomplishment would have been my major credential for the presidency…Then I had to deal with you people. And I'll be honest — you're crazy!…But I've done everything you've asked. And you've rewarded me for telling you what you wanted to hear. Why did I say a bunch of stuff I don't believe? Matt Miller in The Washington Post.
DIONNE: Ryan’s fascination with fiscal sadomasochism. “Something odd is happening in Mitt Romney's Republican Party. The GOP is marketing the concept that a great many Americans need to suffer before they can prosper. The government needs the equivalent of a P90X regimen — and never mind checking first whether it will actually be good for the country. This approach is ingenious because it dismisses all challenges to P90X government as soft and lacking in courage…[But w]here is the courage in giving the wealthy people who are financing your campaigns all they want while accusing those who might vote against you of wishing to spend life in a hammock? P90X economics, apparently, is for everyone except the wealthy.” E. J. Dionne in The washington Post.
Wonkblog explains: The ten oddest items in the GOP platform.
WESSEL: Serious talk about Medicare. “Barack Obama and Mitt Romney shout that the other would ‘cut’ the health insurance program for the elderly. What they don’t talk about: In the quite-different budgets they have embraced, Messrs. Obama and Romney propose similar size ‘cuts’ to Medicare…The difference--and it is huge--isn’t how much they would spend on Medicare, but how they spend it…Mr. Obama’s approach has been to try to force the health-care system to be more efficient by paying providers less. For the longer term, his Affordable Care Act, known to some as Obamacare, creates an Independent Payment Advisory Board to find money-saving changes to keep the cost per Medicare beneficiary from rising after 2018 faster than the overall growth of the economy plus 1%…The Romney-Ryan alternative would harness competition to restrain costs. It would give future Medicare beneficiaries, those under age 55 today, a voucher of fixed value and let seniors pick among competing private insurance plans and the government-run one.” David Wessel in The Wall Street Journal.
WHITMAN: America needs better natural security against chemical attack. “[M]ore than a decade later, a major flaw in our national security remains, leaving millions of Americans at risk…Hundreds of chemical plants and other facilities maintain large stockpiles of dangerous substances and are in or near major American cities…According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a deliberate release of these chemicals at just one of these plants could threaten the health and lives of hundreds of thousands of people…It's both good policy and good politics for the Obama administration to act to secure the nation's chemical plants now.” Christine Todd Whitman in The New York Times.
LIPSKY: Why the GOP is right to embrace the gold standard. “An under-reported development of this campaign season is the Republican Party’s decision this week to send Gov. Mitt Romney into the presidential race on a platform effectively calling for a new gold commission. The realization that America’s system of fiat money is part of its economic problem is moving from the fringes of political discussion to the center…In the ferment within today’s Republican Party, the gold standard has become almost the centrist position.” Seth Lipsky in The Wall Street Journal.
FIRESTONE: Thank government for rebuilding the New Orleans levees post-Katrina. “Someone from the Louisiana delegation ought to steal the ‘We Built It’ sign from the convention hall and hang it on one of the giant flood-control pumps now protecting New Orleans, because that's where it belongs. ‘We’ - the taxpayers of the United States - built those pumps and gates and storm walls and concrete-and-steel levees after Hurricane Katrina, at a cost of $14 billion. ‘We’ may have collectively saved the city, now and in the future, and every business in the region that claims they exist solely on their own is leaving something big out of the equation.” David Firestone in The New York Times.
WILL: The Democrats’ patronage politics. “[T]he party has succumbed to "clientelism," the process of purchasing cohorts of voters with federal favors. This has turned the party into the servant of the strong…Under FDR, liberalism became the politics of creating an electoral majority from a mosaic of client groups. Labor unions got special legal standing, farmers got crop supports, business people got tariff protection and other subsidies, the elderly got pensions, and so on and on. Government no longer existed to protect natural rights but to confer special rights on favored cohorts…Republicans also practice clientelism, but with a (sometimes) uneasy conscience. Both parties have narrowed their appeals as they have broadened their search for clients to cosset. Today's Democratic Party does not understand what one of its saints understood — that big government is generally a patron of the privileged, a partner of rent-seekers.” George F. Will in The Washington Post.
Top long reads
Mark Leibovich writes on the campaign trail:“Sometime early last May, I began to have this goofy notion, which turned into a daydream and eventually became a recurring fantasy. It went like this: One morning, I would wake up to the news that the previous evening, with no advance warning to the media, Mitt and Ann Romney stopped by the White House at the invitation of Barack and Michelle Obama…Everyone ate hot dogs loaded with toppings, which inspired a cable christening of the ‘Sauerkraut Summit.’…I knew this would never happen. It was dumb, naive, unsophisticated and frankly out of character for me, someone with little patience for the Kabuki pleasantries of politics. It wasn't immediately clear what drove the fantasy -- a desire for less free-floating hostility in the campaign, I suppose, but that seemed too easy. Whatever the case, I was yearning for something that felt big, or at least different, even if it was just a social visit. Something that messed with what the political know-it-alls refer to as the Narrative. This spring, for the first time since I started writing about politics a decade ago, I found myself completely depressed by a campaign. ‘How am I ever going to get through it?’ is not the question you want to be asking yourself as you enter what are supposed to be the pinnacle few months of your profession.”
Matt Taibbi examines the greed and the debt behind Bain Capital:“Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He’s closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist — they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big…[W]hat most voters don’t know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back.”
Unfunny interlude: The jokes of the Republican National Convention.
Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.
Still to come:monetary policy makers jostling for action; how Congress creates the doctor shortage; Florida judge blocks voting law; gas price hikes may hurt Obama; and a map of the Republican National Convention floor.
A Fed report noted gradual economic gains. “The U.S. economy inched ahead in July and early August, as the jobs picture improved slightly in some areas and the housing market continued to mend, the Federal Reserve said in a report Wednesday…The economic snapshot was prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston based on information gathered on or before Aug. 20 and will be used for discussions at the Fed’s next policy meeting, Sept. 12 and 13…The beige book showed a mixed picture of the U.S. economy, at a time when Fed officials have cited unusual levels of uncertainty about the recovery’s progress.” Kristina Peterson and Eric Morath in The Wall Street Journal.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke finds himself in a corner in terms of policy options. “This is not the situation Ben S. Bernanke wanted to be in…[H]e returns to the yearly economic conference still facing huge economic challenges, but now he's far more constrained by both politics and limitations on what the Fed can do to help the economy…Although the recent minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting suggest that the Fed is strongly considering undertaking new measures to gin up growth, the Fed chairman has been remarkably careful about telegraphing fresh action ahead of time.” Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.
The State of Illinois took another cut to its credit rating. “Pension problems and government gridlock earned Illinois another reduction in its credit rating on Wednesday. Standard & Poor's said it lowered the rating a notch because of ‘weak pension funding levels and lack of action on reform measures.’…The downgrade, from A+ to A, leaves Illinois with the nation's second-lowest rating from S&P.” Associated Press.
Household debt fell in the second quarter. “Total U.S. household debt fell by 0.5% in the April-to-June period from the previous quarter to $11.38 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Wednesday. The drop was due almost entirely to falling mortgage balances, as some households paid down home loans while others erased their debts and lost their homes by completing the foreclosure process.” Josh Mitchell in The Wall Street Journal.
Germany and Italy still don’t see eye-to-eye on Eurozone agenda. “[E]ven though the German and Italian leaders sought to present a united front on Tuesday, Ms. Merkel ruled out a proposal that Mr. Monti and some other European leaders have advocated as a way to increase the financial clout of Europe's permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism…Both leaders, who were meeting as part of round-robin European talks being held in recent weeks, face the two-pronged challenge of having to appeal to their own domestic audiences, weary of the crisis, while also trying to win back trust from markets more eager to see immediate results than long-term structural solutions.” Melissa Eddy and Jack Ewing in The New York Times.
The head of the European Central Bank is calling for action. “The European Central Bank may need to adopt exceptional measures to carry out its mandate of maintaining price stability, Mario Draghi, the bank’s president, wrote in an article published Wednesday aimed at reassuring Germany ahead of a meeting of ECB policy makers next week. ‘It should be understood that fulfilling our mandate sometimes requires us to go beyond standard monetary policy tools,’ Mr. Draghi wrote in the German weekly magazine Die Zeit…Mr. Draghi said after the ECB Governing Council’s August meeting that the ECB was considering buying sovereign debt of some euro-zone governments--a program implemented before--but this time, in tandem with purchases by European bailout funds and only if the affected governments agree to strict conditions.” Margit Feher in The Wall Street Journal.
Counterprogramming interlude: President Obama did an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit today.
How Congress causes and could stop causing the doctor shortage. “The solution to the doc-fix is staring us in the face. The residency program to train doctors has, for decades, largely been financed by Medicare. Back in 1997, when Medicare costs were skyrocketing, Congress passed the Balanced Budget Amendment. Among its many provisions to control Medicare cost growth, it included a hard cap on how many residencies it would fund. That residency cap remains in place right now. It is a lot of the explanation for why we have too few doctors.” Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.
US tops list in number of preventable deaths. “Americans younger than 65 are more likely to die from a lack of timely healthcare than their peers in France, Germany or the United Kingdom, according to a new study. Research published in Health Affairs looked at the rate of “potentially preventable” deaths — deaths before age 75 that could be avoided with timely and effective healthcare — and found that the United States lags behind its U.K. and European peers.” Elise Viebeck in The Hill.
Florida judge blocks change to voter law. “A federal judge said on Wednesday that he planned to block provisions of a Florida measure that made it harder for organizations to register voters in the state…The measure, part of a broad and contentious 2011 election law in Florida, had a serious impact on third-party voter groups…Voter registration, particularly among Democratic voters, declined significantly in the past year. The Florida Times-Union reported this week that the number of registered Democrats had increased by only 11,365 from July 1, 2011, to Aug. 1, 2012, a sharply lower figure than in the same periods during the past two presidential races. In 2004, nearly 159,000 new Democrats were registered in that period. In 2008, the number was nearly 260,000.” Lizette Alvarez in The New York Times.
What ever happened to Obama’s pledge on Internet access? “Does anyone remember when the Obama administration promised to bring ‘true broadband [to] every community in America’? The Republican Party definitely does, and its 2012 platform criticizes the president for not making any progress on this pledge…In one sense, the Republican critics are right. Universal broadband is still far from a reality. According to the Federal Communications Commission's annual broadband report, released in August, there are still 19 million Americans who lack access to wired broadband. Only about 94 percent of households have broadband access. Obama hasn't achieved his goal…Aside from the stimulus, the Obama administration has taken a number of additional steps on broadband, from trying to reform the Universal Service Fund to unveiling a plan to auction off wireless spectrum owned by the government.” Brad Plumer in The Washington Post.
Democrats push for increase in minimum wage. “Advocates pushing for a minimum wage increase are looking to turn it into an election-year issue as the campaign season heats up this fall. Such a hike is expected to be included in the Democrats’ 2012 platform…Democrats included a minimum wage hike in their 2008 party platform. But once President Obama took office, the issue has gotten little notice despite the fact that the rate has been stagnant for more than three years.” Mike Lillis and Kevin Bogardus in The Hill.
Rising gas price is political risk. “Average U.S. gasoline prices have shot up by five cents per gallon in the last day as Hurricane Isaac stifles Gulf of Mexico energy supplies. It's an unwelcome political development for President Obama, regardless of the cause, at a time when Republicans are hammering his energy policies at their national convention in Tampa, Fla. Regular gasoline is averaging $3.80 per gallon nationwide, according to AAA…Analysts this week told E2-Wire that they expect gas price increases in the range of 5 to 15 cents as a result of the storm.” Ben German in The Hill.
Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.