The Tea Party Express has endorsed Mike Rounds as a real conservative who can "get out-of-control spending under control."

HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha haHA HA HA ha ha ha ha!

O.K. Fine. Rounds is Tea Party. Black is white. War is peace.

Too bad for Mike and his Tea Party pals that the deficit is falling like a rock...

The final numbers for 2014 announced yesterday by the U.S. Treasury show the federal deficit for the fiscal year that just ended did indeed fall as precipitously as I previously reported. As the report shows, the actual 2014 deficit was $483 billion, $3 billion less than what the Congressional Budget Office estimated a week ago.

For the record, $483 billion is $197 billion below the almost $680 billion deficit recorded in 2013. It’s also $930 billion, that is, close to $1 trillion, less than the largely recession-caused $1.4 trillion deficit in 2009. (Attention trolls: the Congressional Budget Office projected in early 2009, that is, before the start of the Obama administration, that, because of the recession, the deficit that year would be $1.2 trillion.)

In dollar terms, 2014 was the lowest federal deficit since 2008. And in the category most important to economists – the deficit as a percent of Gross Domestic Product – the 2014 deficit was 2.8 percent of GDP, the smallest since 2007 [Stan Collender, "Stop and Smell the Roses: Final 2014 Federal Deficit Fell... Big Time," Forbes, 2014.10.16].

...thanks to Obamanomics:

"The President's balanced approach to deficit reduction has made our tax code more fair, reduced spending and made critical investments to help drive U.S. competitiveness and growth," said Treasury Secretary Lew. "The President's policies and a strengthening U.S. economy have resulted in a reduction of the U.S. budget deficit of approximately two-thirds – the fastest sustained deficit reduction since World War II" [U.S. Treasury, press release, 2014.10.15].

President Bush's Tea-flavored voodoo economics brought us to the brink of economic destruction. President Obama has pulled as back to "fiscal normalcy."

And all the Rounds campaign can do now is toss some wet Tea bags that taste like sour grapes and hypocrisy.

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The majority of South Dakotans don't want Mike Rounds to be their Senator. His failing campaign remains alive only because South Dakotans even more passionately don't want Barack Obama to be their President. Remind voters that Larry Pressler voted for Obama twice, and his hypothetical head-to-head advantage over Rick Weiland against Rounds would disappear.

It's probably a fool's errand to try reversing that deep-seated antipathy for our President in four weeks. But if voters want to honestly assess the impact of President Obama's policies and the wisdom of sending Mike Rounds to join a Republican majority that would obstruct the President, consider:

Mayday PAC and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee won't spend their money telling South Dakotans how awesome Barack Obama is. They'll focus on selling Weiland's awesomeness and Rounds's awfulness. But if you find a voter who's open to the conversation, remind them that voting for Rounds to check President Obama's policies is counterproductive.

5 comments

Former State Senator Stan Adelstein took U.S. Senate candidate Mike Rounds to Israel to rub elbows and burnish his foreign policy cred in May 2013. Now the moderate Rapid City Republican blows the conservative dog whistle and tries to save Rounds's failing campaign by shouting, Don't vote for Obama!:

A vote for anyone other than Mike Rounds for the U.S. Senate is a vote for President Obama. The Republican Party cannot control the majority in the U.S. Senate without Governor Rounds.

If you WANT Barack Obama to continue completely ignoring the needs American citizens then vote for one of the other candidates. If, like me, you want control your of government in your state, vote FOR Governor Rounds. Mike Rounds well understands the needs of this state—and, for that matter, any state [Stan Adelstein, "South Dakota Supports Obama???" A Way to Go, 2014.10.06].

Unlike Rep. Betty Olson, Adelstein at least avoids birtherism and sticks with policy:

Our foreign policy is in disarray and the vicious president of Russia is contemptuous of Obama’s inability to act firmly. He is absolutely convinced of our near impotence in influence abroad. All of the president’s attempts to change our economic situation at home have been a gross failure. Without a change in congressional control these problems, that are a result of inconsistent and contradictory policies, will continue [Adelstein, 2014.10.06].

Adelstein does tailor the generic down-with-Obama talking points with specifics on the South Dakota contest. "None of the other candidates show the vaguest sign" of Rounds's leadership... although all I've seen Rounds lead us into is failure and scandal. Adelstein dismisses Weiland as beholden to the wealthy folks bankrolling him (no mention of Rounds's donors) and bringing no public-office experience or understanding of the process (never mind Weiland's leadership at FEMA, AARP, or the International Code Council, in all of which he had to work with the political process). Adelstein contends his friend Larry Pressler got into the race as a Democratic chicanerer, while his friend Gordon Howie is earnest, caring, and hopeless.

Of course, now that Adelstein endorses Rounds, Pat Powers will have to abandon Rounds, since an endorsement from Adelstein is nothing but bad news, right, Pat?

77 comments

I can only take so much Betty Olson. That's why I missed Republican Representative's September 9 column. Rep. Olson, who is seeking to switch from House to Senate for District 28, reaches far above her pay grade and tries to talk foreign policy. She chants some thoughtless slogans about the so-called "Islamic State" terrorists (press her for a real solution, and I'm sure she'll prescribe requiring every American to carry a gun). She then tells a racist joke... which the Rapid City Journal has the poor taste not to reject:

A second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, was beheaded by ISIS this week. The terrorist group has taken over most of Iraq and formed an Islamic State. ISIS still has more Americans in its blood-stained hands and is willing to butcher more innocents in the name of its perverted cause. The world can no longer turn a blind eye. Whether or not the Commander-in-Chief leaves these terrorists alone, it is high time that a strategy is formed to defeat them.

On a lighter note, Dave Kurth sent me a copy of the threat the Islamic terrorists released before they started beheading Americans:

This morning ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood warned the United States that if the United States continued meddling in Iraq, Libya, and other potential hot spots in the Middle East, they intend to cut off America's supply of 7-11 and Motel 6 managers.

If this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell, AT&T and AOL customer service reps.

Finally, if all else fails, they have threatened not to send us any more presidents either.

It's gonna get ugly, people [Rep. Betty Olson, "Grand River Roundup," Rapid City Journal, 2014.09.09].

Rep. Olson's birther outburst is bringing South Dakota more embarrassment in the national press. But I have a bad feeling that such press will only reinforce Olson's hatefulness.

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Hey, Democrats! Do we get a 2014 electoral boost from steadily improving job numbers? Consider:

1. Ever since President Barack Obama's first budget kicked in, unemployment has trended steadily downward:

BLS: U.S. Unemployment 2004-2014

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, Gallup's Job Creation Index (percentage of firms hiring minus percentage of firms downsizing) has steadily increased:

Gallup Job Creation Index 2008-2014

3. Sandbagging those gains have been Republican resistance to government hiring. More public employers were firing rather than hiring during President Obama's first term:

Gallup Job Creation Index 2008-2014: Private vs. Public

President Obama has overseen steady recovery in the labor market since averting an economic depression. We'd be recovering faster if President Obama really had increased the size of government as Republicans have accused him of doing, as more teachers, police, case workers, park rangers, and researchers would provide more public services and boost GDP by buying more Cheetos, chain saws, and Jeep Cherokees.

Republican recalcitrance has kept every one of the curves above shallower than it could have been. Sending more Republicans to Washington on their vow to block or sue President Obama's every move will further brake economic recovery. Sending more Democrats to Washington will get the job done... and get more jobs.

8 comments

Let's see: can't fix the Highway Trust Fund, can't fully fund a veterans health care bill, can't provide child immigrants with basic due process... but with the five-week summer recess just hours away, our Congresswoman Kristi Noem finds time to vote for a coup.

Yesterday, Rep. Noem joined 224 of her Republican colleagues in voting to sue the President of the United States of America. Noem and friends are hoping to find some activist judge who will usurp executive power and hand it to the legislative branch. That's a coup.

The House wants a judge to rescind the President's one-year delay of the large-business insurance mandate and tax penalties under the Affordable Care Act and force the President to immediately implement and enforce those provisions. Of course, Noem and her fellow Republicans have tried to repeal that law fifty times, but she'll make a federal case of the President's exercise of his authority to implement that law more slowly than planned.

And yes, the President has that authority:

In fact, applicable judicial precedent places such timing adjustments well within the Executive Branch's lawful discretion. To be sure, the federal Administrative Procedure Act authorizes federal courts to compel agencies to initiate statutorily required actions that have been "unreasonably delayed." But courts have found delays to be unreasonable only in rare cases where, unlike this one, inaction had lasted for several years, and the recalcitrant agency could offer neither a persuasive excuse nor a credible end to its dithering. In deciding whether a given agency delay is reasonable, current law tells courts to consider whether expedited action could adversely affect "higher or competing" agency priorities, and whether other interests could be "prejudiced by the delay." Even in cases where an agency outright refuses to enforce a policy in specified types of cases -- not the case here -- the Supreme Court has declined to intervene. As held by former Chief Justice William Rehnquist in a leading case on this subject, Heckler v. Chaney, courts must respect an agency's presumptively superior grasp of "the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities." Chief Justice Rehnquist suggested that courts could lose their deference to Executive Branch judgment if an "agency has consciously and expressly adopted a general policy that is so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities." The Obama Administration has not and is not about to abdicate its responsibility to implement the statute on whose success his historical legacy will most centrally depend [Simon Lazarus, "Delaying Parts of Obamacare: 'Blatantly Illegal' or Routine Adjustment?" The Atlantic, 2013.07.17].

Question #1 for Kristi at her upcoming debates with Corinna Robinson: "Tell us, Congresswoman, how does suing the President to force implementation of a law that you want repealed and that you say will increase costs for businesses practically benefit South Dakota?"

Question #2: "How much will your lawsuit cost the taxpayers?"

Question #3: "Barack Obama won two Presidential elections and is in the sixth year of his Presidency. Are you willing to acknowledge this fact and move on?"

Voters, feel free to bring these questions up at all of the constituent service events and town halls that I'm sure Rep. Noem will be filling her recess calendar with. But don't take too long to ask: along with frivolous litigation, Noem is busy organizing a pheasant hunt for her big donors September 14–16. Suggested donations: $1,500 for individuals, $2,500 for PACs. (I'd like to see what kind of shotgun a PAC packs.)

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Hey, remember how South Dakota Republicans embarrassed our great state again in June by passing a resolution calling on the U.S. House to impeach President Obama? Oh, the shame! The perversion of political discourse! I wish they'd never—

Wait a minute. Cue the silver lining:

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said Tuesday that the impeachment push has “misfired” on Republicans.

“Look, I understand their strategy is intended to gin up their base, but it’s having the unintended consequence of moving our base in a midterm election and also moving persuadable voters, swing voters to us in a midterm election," Israel said.

Israel said that on Monday alone, the committee raised $1 million online over a 24-hour period... [Alexandra Jaffe, Abby Smith and Cameron Joseph, "SHOCKING: Dems Profiting from Impeachment Hyperbole," The Hill: Ballot Box, 2014.07.29].

Oh. Well-done, South Dakota Republicans! Carry on.

By the way, perhaps as a thank-you, President Obama signed a disaster declaration Monday  for 12 South Dakota counties, meaning South Dakota can get lots of nice federal government handouts to clean up storm debris, fix damaged buildings and infrastructure, and prepare for future tornadoes and floods. Thank you, Mr. President.

16 comments

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Rounds is telling the press that federal stimulus dollars made South Dakota highways better. Rounds is emphasizing that South Dakota needs big government because it depends on nearly $300 million dollars every year to maintain its roads. And the Republican is saying he wants more big government help for South Dakota in the form of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund... because when he was governor, he knew darn well that depletion of the Highway Trust Fund would mean South Dakota would have to spend more of its own money, and Rounds never supported that kind of self-reliance.

Alas, Rounds says, Congress is struggling to pass that vital legislation because "nobody" trusts President Obama:

You can't give 'em more money until you know how they're going to spend it, and I think that's the biggest problem we've got in D.C. is, is nobody trusts that the Administration will spend the money the way they say that they will [Marion Michael Rounds, audio interview, "Rounds Supports Highway Funding Bill," KJAM Radio, 2014.07.24].

Hold on, Mike—I think you're projecting. You don't trust President Obama. You took stimulus dollars that President Obama and Congress intended for education and then spent those dollars on other budget items.

But hey, suppose Rounds is right. Suppose the problem with highway funding is that Senators don't trust President Obama.

Since President Obama isn't on the 2014 ballot, there's one obvious solution: elect Senators who trust President Obama. Elect Rick Weiland.

Thanks for the advice, Mike!

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