While cash flow and logistical issues plague Rick Santorum’s campaign, which broke through with his tie in Iowa, Mitt Romney’s Republican presidential rivals repeatedly attack him as a candidate and attempt to close the gap in the New Hampshire polls, where he runs as a near native son.
** JERRY-RIGGING: THE BEST-LAID PLANS … Well, that didn’t go as planned. To the extent it had been planned, as yet.
Thanks to a classic snafu — someone inadvertently posted his California state budget proposal, scheduled to be unveiled in five days, online — Governor Jerry Brown was forced to scramble and hold a hastily called press conference this afternoon in the State Capitol.
It doesn’t seem to have any major surprises in it, relying as it does on anticipated revenues from Brown’s November tax initiative. If the initiative is defeated, it contains trigger cuts which will hit education pretty damn hard.
In the meantime, Brown is calling for more big cuts to welfare and human service programs, which legislative Democrats will balk at in hopes that more revenues emerge. My, doesn’t that sound familiar?
Brown also calls for the elimination of another 3000 or so state jobs, mostly in corrections.
And his plan would consolidate various state agencies, eliminating some departments and commissions outright.
Rather than my re-typing all of it, you can see it for yourself by clicking on Brown’s e-budget link above, going to the Budget Summary and then the section entitled “Making Government More Efficient,” which is page 27 of the document.
The California Republican Party attacked Brown, for “supposedly devastating trigger cuts that mask his inability to make tough, reform-minded decisions. Brown is doubling down on the same ineffective strategies that pushed California into this mess. Californians have no reason to believe his budget is sincere; it lacks innovation as well as any meaningful structural reforms.”
And this is all too familiar, too, as is the lack of any Republican alternative beyond invocation of the word “reform.”
Here’s Brown’s message (Note the date, and a typo or two is included.):
January 10, 2012
To the Senate and the Assembly of the California Legislature:
I hereby submit to you my proposed Budget for 2012‑13.
When I came into office, California was facing an immediate $26.6 billion budget gap and future budget deficits of $20 billion a year. In January of 2011, I proposed a budget that combined deep cuts with a temporary extension of some existing taxes. It was a balanced approach that would have finally closed our budget gap. In the end, the taxes were not extended and massive cuts — totalling $16 billion — were enacted.
The 2011 budget did, however, lay the foundation for fiscal stability. It cut the annual budget shortfall by three‑quarters — from $20 billion to $5 billion or less. It shrunk state government, reduced our borrowing costs and gave local governments more authority to make decisions.
he budget that I am submitting today keeps the cuts made last year and adds new ones. The stark truth is that without some new taxes, damaging cuts to schools, universities, public safety and our courts will only increase.
That is why I will ask the voters to approve a temporary tax increase on the wealthy, a modest and temporary increase in the sales tax and to guarantee that the new revenues be spent only on education. I am also asking that the voters guarantee ongoing funding for local public safety programs. This ballot measure will not solve all of our fiscal problems, but it will stop further cuts to education and public safety and halt the trend of double‑digit tuition increases.
My budget plan also includes important reforms. It improves government efficiency and pays down debt. It reorganizes state government to make it more efficient and saves tax dollars by consolidating or eliminating functions. It restructures social service programs to better support working families. It gives substantially more flexibility and decision‑making to local school districts.
The plan also calls for bold investments in our future: to assure a reliable water supply, build high speed rail and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As California’s economy continues to slowly recover — and recover it will — our plan will provide fiscal stability and make California government more transparent and responsive to the people.
I look forward to working with you in the coming year.
Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Prior to this screwed-up roll-out — in which the rhetoric was unfinished and the supporting cast un-prepped — Brown had a good day.
In an in-person appearance this morning, he persuaded the California State Association of Counties to hold off on their prospective initiative on realigning services.
Brown is largely in tune with these county officials, who are members of elected county boards of supervisors and administrators, but wants to avoid a lot of fiscal clutter on the November ballot.
** 1:10 PM Pacific … SUDDEN JERRY BROWN UPDATE: Governor Jerry Brown will introduce his state budget proposal TODAY at 2:30 PM in a State Capitol news conference.
His unveiling of the budget had been scheduled to take place next week, on Tuesday, January 10th.
Press secretary Gil Duran says that the budget was inadvertently posted online earlier today.
So the governor’s hand is forced, and scramble mode is invoked.
** NEW SURVEY: UNEMPLOYMENT HOLDING AT 8.5% FOR DECEMBER. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that, despite some signs of increased hiring in the private sector — but not in the public sector, where state and local governments are in dire straits — the unemployment rate for December held at 8.5%.
That’s the same as it was in November.
But it is down from the year-ago unemployment rate of 9.6%.
The sharp drop in the government-reported unemployment rate for November has combined with slightly better economic data to create the perception that the job market may be improving. However, Gallup’s mid-December tracking of the unemployment situation showed little improvement and the government’s December unemployment rate is based on mid-month conditions. As such, it seems likely that Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics announcement will show little or no change in the seasonally adjusted U.S. unemployment rate for December.
This prediction, however, assumes that the labor force doesn’t continue to shrink, or change direction and grow at so rapid a pace that it produces another unexpected, major shift in the size of the workforce and in the government’s unemployment rate, as it did in November. The BLS has announced that it will change its seasonal adjustments — another factor that potentially complicates any projection of the December unemployment rate. …
In a rare appearance at the Pentagon this morning, President Barack Obama announced a new military strategy shifting away from longstanding doctrine demanding a force capable of fighting two simultaneous Korean War-scale conflicts.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Virginia.
Obama received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 7:50 AM Pacific, Obama delivered remarks on the Defense Strategic Review at the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia.
His remarks led off a discussion by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey on the basis for coming reductions in military spending. The US is moving away from its longstanding doctrine of being able to fight two Korean War-scale engagements at the same time in different parts of the world.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
Obama received some good economic news this morning. Weekly jobless claims fell in the past week, and private sector hiring in December was up somewhat.
An odd day in the Republican presidential race yesterday. I know, that’s so unusual.
Following his dramatic showing in Iowa, where he battled to a draw at the top with Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum was mostly off the radar.
For his part, Romney — who some call the winner in Iowa, where he trailed until the end, with an announcement by party officials that he had ended up a mere eight votes ahead but there would be, nonetheless, no recount — had a semi-disastrous town hall meeting in New Hampshire featuring the endorsement of John McCain.
McCain looked bored during the proceedings, and Romney was peppered with tough questions about his pro-corporate, pro-wealthy attitudes.
Even his supporters reacted tepidly to the putative frontrunner’s appearance.
Perhaps the most significant development, and this may help Romney, is that Rick Perry did not withdraw from the race, as he had intimated he would do when he announced he was returning to Texas to “reassess.” Even Perry’s people were surprised. He has a lot of money left, and could muddy the waters further, divide the most conservative vote, and distract from efforts to attack Romney.
But Romney is going to get attacked. Newt Gingrich, out for some payback after Romney’s super PAC knocked out his Iowa lead without Romney getting any blame for the negativity due to his largely unchallenged stance that he had nothing to do with it, went after him in earnest yesterday and the rest of the field doesn’t look to be far behind.
It’s one of the oddities of this race that Romney has never come under any sustained attack or scrutiny, either from his opponents or from the media. It certainly wasn’t like that for Hillary Clinton.
The European Union has agreed to ban oil imports from Iran, pending a final decision to be made at the end of the month. Despite Iran’s rejection of accusations by Western nations that its nuclear program is in fact a weapons program, the EU aims to cut off funding to it. Oil prices have risen on news of the possible EU embargo. But as Libyan oil is starting to flow again it could offset any shortages.
Iran’s massive saber rattling over its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, and its warning to the US Navy to keep its aircraft carriers out of the area, may have had a major backfire that will make the sanctions against its nuclear weapons program worse.
The European Union has agreed to ban the import of Iranian crude. EU nations are the second largest buyers behind China.
China is against the sanctions, and may be Iran’s most important backer now.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Time: Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN 2.0 AT 1.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento.
At 10:15 AM, he addresses the board of directors of the California Association of Counties at the CSAC Conference Center in downtown Sacramento.
Brown is working on his new state budget, the upcoming State of the State address, and various political plans for 2012, including his big revenue initiative to couple with additional cuts in order to bring the budget into balance.
As was previously reported would be the case, Brown will unveil his new California state budget proposal on January 10th. And with the legislature reconvened yesterday, state Senate Republicans picked conservative Bob Huff as the new minority leader. He replaces the equivalently conservative Bob Dutton, who is also from Southern California’s Inland Empire.
** IOWA THEN AND NOW. The chaotic jumble of holding the Iowa presidential caucuses on January 3rd is now fully apparent. With rampant confusion about who will actually participate, and yoyo-ing swings in support — all playing out against a bizarre backdrop of the holidays, millions in disembodied attack ads, and Barack Obama pondering a US-Iran showdown in the Strait of Hormuz — the folly of the accelerated nomination calendar is clear. … From my December 30th essay.
** IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD CAST IN THE GOP’S RACE TO CASA BLANCA. The Republican presidential race was a reality TV show. But now that the primaries and caucuses are coming right up, it’s a road picture. Here’s how each candidate, a distinct type, is doing right now. … From my December 24th essay.
** KEYSTONE PIPELINE: SMALL PART OF A VERY BIG PICTURE. … From my December 21st essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: THE BIG TALK CAMPAIGN. … From my December 17th column.
** JERRY BROWN PULLS A TRIGGER, INVOKES ROME, AND FOCUSES ON CLIMATE AND INITIATIVES. … From my December 14th feature.
** TOP DOG IN THE BIG DES MOINES DOGPILE? IT’S NEWT! … From my December 11th column.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: ACTION BEGETS FLAWED REACTION. … From my December 10th column.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION: IN IOWA, A LOT CAN HAPPEN IN FOUR WEEKS. … From my December 6th column.
** JERRY BROWN AND THE 2012 INITIATIVE WARS. … From my December 3rd feature.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $103 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $69 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity, and down about $11 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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