Friday, September 10, 2004

 

Kerry, Bush in Statistical Tie in New Ohio Poll

Ruy Teixeira has a brief mention here about this data from Likely Voters (less reliable at this point than Registered Voters). Full report here.

Okay Ohio newspapers - now is time to get off the Bush "big bounce" bandwagon?

 

Ha, ha, ha - oh, that's a good one Dick

That joker, Cheney! He's always good for a laugh! According to a story in today's Enquirer, Cheney told the following joke to Ohioans and the nation:

"Federal unemployment statistics fail to take into account the 400,000 Americans who make some money trading on the Internet auction site eBay, Vice President Richard B. Cheney told a Cincinnati audience Thursday.

'That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago,'"

Later, John Edwards responded, “If we only included bake sales and how much money kids make at lemonade stands, this economy would really be cooking.”

 

Someone give Toledo a break

The Blade reports that SBC is closing its 411 call center and eliminating 39 area jobs.

"Union leader Ron Honse, who represents SBC employees locally, said it will be the first time in memory that Toledo will have no operators dispensing telephone numbers on behalf of the company formerly known as Ohio Bell."

 

A lesson for those that want to play the Republican game in Ohio . . .

"I am both disappointed, less wealthy and tarnished for the journey. Although I do have some new friends, I fear they are only fair weather." - former broker and current felon, Frank Gruttadauria, Jan. 11, 2001.

See the Julie Carr Smyth and John Caniglia piece in the PD here, that also discusses how Gruttadauria's wilderness guide, Andy Futey, has refused to come clean.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

 

Problems in latest Gallup Ohio poll?

Gallup's most recent internal poll numbers about the matchup in Ohio are good news for Kerry. They reported that the convention bounce gave Bush only a 48-47 result among registered voters. A lot of experts, though were scratching their heads about Gallup's "likely voters" results that showed a sharply higher lead of 52-44.

Professor Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, a top academic political analysts, however says here that this could only happen if Gallup is assumming that 90 percent of Bush supporters will vote but only 78 percent of Kerry's.

"[T]his seems way out of line with evidence from previous elections and with other polls."

In fact, a 90 percent turnout of Kerry supporters and a 78 percent for Bush's feels about right, but that's just my opinion.

Abramowitz has more on the "turnout gap" here.

Will any Ohio reporters mention any of this?

 

Central Ohio discount airline problems?

Hypothetically speaking, is it possible that a discount airlines would start to cut safety corners in order to survive in an intense market, say one that particularly involves a state hit by a lot of hurricanes lately?

Let's say there was a very low-cost carrier flying to that state in central Ohio, and let's say there was a U.S. Labor Department administrative law proceedings against the young airline.

And, in these proceedings, again hypothetically speaking, some pilots and flight attendants complain of being told to work more hours than FAA regulations permit, and that some others allege the company is slow to fix mechanical problems, and pilots were told to avoid written notes about mechanical problems in their logs and maybe ordered to fly a plane with a possibly defective landing gear. And imagine, if you will, a situation in which some of the pilots complain of substandard training.

And, try to imagine an airline that has a little bit of a reputation for arriving at airports with no ground crews assigned to meet the planes, push up the stairs, unload the bags, or even unlock the doors to the terminal so that passengers could get in.

And, picture if you will, a frustrated airlines who, even after cutting every cost it knows still couldn't make money selling tickets so cheaply, and as a result recently lost 15 to 20 percent of its projected passengers to major airlines competitors.

Then maybe some enterprising reporters around central Ohio might want to be doing a little digging to see whether there is any systematic problems - financial or safety - or just a few growing pains and some disgruntled staff.

 

Scott Pullins' agony continues

In today's PD, Ted Wendling (this time without his co-partner, Sandy Theis) has more details about the charges that Speaker of the House Larry Household used campaign money to pay attorneys for embattled political "consultants" Brett Buerck, and fund-raiser Kyle Sisk.

Wendling (and Theis) are tough cookies and their stories about the misadventures of Brett and Kyle have been unrelenting this summer. I can't imagine what nightmares these two have given that they not only have the IRS and the FBI on the trail, but day after day have to see what Wendling and Theis have in store each week.

Personnally, the most intriguing part of Wendling's piece is this:

"[Secretary of State Ken] Blackwell's office also issued a subpoena on Wednesday to Scott Pullins, chairman of the Ohio Taxpayers Association. It demands bank records and documentation of campaign activities since 2000. Pullins' critics contend that he and the OTA acted as an issue-advocacy front for Householder until the men had a recent falling out. Pullins said he would not provide the records because "they've been constitutionally protected since 1958," the year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the NAACP did not have to turn over membership lists and other records to the attorney general of Alabama."

Now, I don't know if Pullins has a leg to stand on given some of the criminal aspects of this investigation. He always seemed to me to be a dispicable toady besides being the self-crowned king of the taxpayer, but I don't like the idea of other political goofballs like Blackwell forcing open the records of advocacy groups.

However, I have to admit that the thought of seeing who and what might be in those records makes me (and probably a lot of others) drool.

Now, if only Blackwell would subpoena the Buckeye Institute, too . . .

 

Ohio hate site targetting Kerry, dems

Stumbled across a frightening forum today. Despite the innocous name "Columbus Town Hall," this site is apparently the internet headquarters for the Cheney Young Brownshirts Brigade. This sickening poll on the home page tells you everything you need to know about where they are coming from:

"Why do Terrorists Prefer Democrats? ( Minimum Choices: 1, Maximum Choices: 4 )
• Weak response to attacks
• Liberals hate America as much as terrorists do
• Kerry has stated he will dismantle military
• Liberals want to destroy Israel too
• Liberals want Christianity wiped out too
• Democrats and terrorists share many common goals
• GOP is a threat to terrorist activity
• Freedom in Mid-East threatens liberals and Al-Qaeda
• Move-On is a political tool of Bin Laden"

I don't want to boost their google ratings, so I'm not going to provide a link. The curious and the concerned will know how to find it. But will somebody ask Bob Bennett and the Ohio Republican Party if they support this crap?

 

PD falls for poll spinning . . .

Bill Sloat piece in today's PD covers Kerry's appearance in Cincinnati Wednesday and his speech on the war. In an otherwise decent story, Sloat stumbles with this:

"Now, most polls have shown Bush with a lead of between seven and 12 percentage points - though a few show the race remaining tight."

I know Sloat and the PD editors have the same access to the Internet and Lexis/Nexis that everyone else does, so this is inexcusable. Sure, Time and Newsweek showed that kind of lead. Some observers have looked at some of their polling methodology and feel there are some problems with these two. But even so, that's only two.

But Sloat is flat out wrong that "most polls have shown . . ." Looking at apples-to-apples (e.g., being consistent about looking at either "registered voters" or "likely voters"), most recent polls, in fact, show a tiny "lead."

A poll conducted September 1-5 by International Communications Research, has a 48-47 lead for Kerry among RVs.

A poll conducted entirely after the RNC by Gallup has a 49-48 lead for Bush among RVs.

Ditto for a polls by Zogby -- Bush 46 percent to Kerry 44 percent and Rasmussen -- Bush 47.6 percent to Kerry 45.5 percent.

Let it be known that the term "lead" is actually wrong in all of these examples since one has to look at the margins of error and state all projections as percentages of certainty.

But unless Sloat is looking at a bunch of secret PD polling data, his statement is flat out wrong. The only truthful comment could have been something to the effect that SOME polls showed a larger lead but more recent surveys indicate that Bush only received the same small convention bounce that Kerry did.

This is a classic example of how some media get stampeded in a certain direction and assume the conventional wisdom is true - without looking for themselves.

UPDATE: New national polls are starting to flood out and show the same problem with Sloat's comment. There simply is no 7-11 point lead and that for every one that shows a probable Bush lead, another shows a probable dead heat.
- Rasmussen Bush +1 (3-day rolling average)
- CBS Bush +7 (Registered voters, Sept 6-8)
- ABC Bush +6 (Registered voters,Sept 6-8)
- Fox Bush +4% (Likely voters, Sept 7-8)
- Gallup Bush +1% (Registered voters,Sept 3-5)
- ICR Kerry +1% (Registered voters,Sept 1-5)

 

Sixty minutes transcript . . .

For anyone who missed it, Josh Marshall has a long section of transcript of the Wednesday's Sixty Minutes piece on Bush's military service and related developments. Link here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

 

Torrent of new questions on Bush's service

Kevin Drum has a round-up of today's numerous developments here.

 

Bush's Anti Labor day . . .

From a "must read" from a new site called New Donkey.com by Ed Kilgore:

". . . George W. Bush spoke to union audiences on the last three Labor Days, but instead spent yesterday regaling a partisan crowd in rural Missouri with his stump speech.

"Now perhaps BC04 simply couldn't find a friendly union audience this time around. . .

"But the attitude of this president towards labor is worth thinking about in some depth.

"And I'm not just talking about the labor movement . . .

"On a more fundamental level, however, Bush's policies represent the most profound disrespecting of the value of labor and the contributions of working families to our economy in a long, long time.

"The most obvious example of this attitude is the administration's tax strategy . . .
. . . eliminating federal taxation of inherited wealth . . .
. . . 'flattening' personal income tax rates, and is reportedly flirting with a full-fledged "flat tax" assault on the principle of progressive taxation. . .
. . . Everywhere you look, the federal tax base is getting narrower, and where it's broadest is in the taxation of work.

". . . Bush's borrowing binge means that this narrow tax base will have to sustain an even-larger share of today's spending and tomorrow's interest costs. Add in the strong possibility that the GOP's raids on the Social Security trust fund will likely mean either (a) cuts in benefits or (b) increases in the most regressive tax on labor, the payroll tax, and you've got one of the most profound tax shifts from wealth to work in history. And that's without even considering the reverse-Robin-Hood tilt of Bush's spending policies....

"But it gets worse. Bush's economic strategy, such as it is, increasingly focuses on the atavistic premise that lowering the cost of doing business is the sole key to economic growth . . ."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

 

Bush by numbers: Ouch . . .

Here.

And its not a short list. Maybe W should invoke softball's mercy rule.

 

W has some explaining to do . . .

New video from Texans for Truth.

 

Good job Enquirer

I almost missed it, but Jim Siegel, covered in Sunday's Cincy Enquirer Policy Matters Ohio's "State of Working Ohio 2004" report (see below.)

Siegel interviews a PMO staffer and several other experts and politicians.

Telling comment from George Vredeveld, director of the Economics Center for Education and Research at the University of Cincinnati, about Ohio's loss of manufacturing jobs:

"'You have to look to other sectors to pick up those losses,' he said. 'What's happening in Ohio that is different from the rest of the nation is when we are picking up from other sectors, we are not picking up in higher-income areas.'"

 

State of Working Ohio

Policy Matters just issued its new State of Working Ohio 2004 report and, gee whiz, there are apparently a few problems with the economic work Bush, Taft and the Republican-led Ohio General Assembly have been doing. Some highlights from PMO:

• Ohio lost 234,000 jobs between 2000 and 2003. This percentage job loss was the third worst in the nation.

• The state has only added 19,700 net jobs since the end of 2003.

• Ohio's 2003 underemployment rate was 10.4%, the highest since the statistic began being measured, and up from a low of 6.8% in 2000.

• African-American unemployment in Ohio jumped 63% in two years, from 7.4% in 2001 to 12.1% in 2003.

• Ohio's median wage fell in 2003. It had been more than $1.00 an hour above the national median wage in 1979, in inflation-adjusted 2003 dollars. By 2003, Ohio's $13.14 median wage was below the national median ($13.62).

• Union membership has plunged in Ohio and the nation over the past twenty years. In 2003, just one in six of Ohio's workers were unionized (16.7 percent), down from one in four (25.1 percent) in 1983. The unionization rates were still well above the national average.

• Non-unionized workers made less than three-fourths of what unionized workers earned hourly in 2003. For African Americans and women, benefits of unionization were even greater. Black workers not in a union earned 69.4 percent of what unionized black workers earned each hour. Women without unions earned 72.6 percent of what unionized women earned in 2003.

 

Montgomery County as a microcosm

Bill Sloat at the PD seems to me to have gotten it about right in a piece on the political situation in the Dayton area: economically hard hit in the last four years, but a surprisingly stable politically with a pretty even Democrat/Republican split.

Also concerning the same region, Benjamin Kline, a reporter with the Dayton Daily News did a very interesting piece that follows up on a local woman who was featured in what was a groundbreaking book from 1970, "The Real Majority," by political demographers Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg.

The book focused on Bette Jane Lowrey, the wife of a machinist, whom Scammon and Wattenberg identified as THE "average American voter." The DDN went back to catch up with Lowrey.

Kline reports that Lowery, now 80, still likes to speak out:

"This year's politics? 'I'm sick of it,' Lowrey said. 'They're slamming, badmouthing each other. I'm not going to vote for anybody who does that. What they're saying about Kerry and his war record and that he didn't tell the truth, I just don't buy that.'"

"She admits not paying close attention at the time to the Vietnam War, 'it seemed so far away,' but opposes today's war in Iraq. In the '70s, she said, the Watergate scandal upset her less than the steep food and gasoline prices."

"Regarding Iraq: 'Everybody's gonna be hurt one way or another, especially the people they are shooting at. I don't like it. I don't think we should be there. Thank God none of my grandchildren is in the military.'"

Lowrey might suggest some good news for Kerry.

Monday, September 06, 2004

 

Dispatch bungles tax comparison story . . .

In "On the Waterfront," Terry Malloy (Brando) says: "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am." Will the Dispatch's Mark Niquette say the same thing at the end of his career?

Niquette is a young, seemingly earnest writer who puts a lot of effort into his stories - only to get lost somewhere before he reaches the end. His story in today's paper, a head-to-head comparison of the Kerry-Bush tax stances looked like it could of been a champ. Head-to-headers are sorely missing in this campaign, so I had a lot of hope as I started to read it.

Rather than quickly and directly going to the unargueable facts (namely that the middle class - at least the middle 40% of the population - got fully screwed and had their federal tax burden actually increase, and that the lowest 40% had their tax burden reduced by a miniscule amount compared to the wealthiest 20%), Niquette digressed into the vile "one-side-says-this-and-the-other-side-says-that" crap that passes for reporting in Ohio.

Actually, Niquette didn't even get that right. The holy grail in his story was to determine what is "fair" when it comes to taxes.

After two predictable "man in the street" quotes that took different sides on the issue, Niquette then moves to report on where the "experts" and politicians stand on both sides the issue.

Well, not exactly. Niquette consults with three CPAs, the conservative Tax Foundation, the U.S. Treasury Department, the policy director for Bush-Cheney, and ultra conservative OU professor Richard Vedder. Niquette also throws in a paraphrased comment from the respected economist Mark Zandi of economy.com. Did Niquette and his editors really think that a Zandi opinion (it isn't even clear if Niquette asked Zandi to comment for this story of just lifted it from his web site) is fair coverage of the other side?

Zandi, by the way (assuming Niquette got it right), pointed out the obvious: cutting taxes for the wealthy doesn't help to boost the economy as much as when the cuts are given to the middle class. Consumers continue to drive the economy - right? Likewise, wealthy individuals (versus corporations - remember, this story is just about individual income tax not business taxes) are few in number and don't directly create many jobs unless they hire more housekeepers, gardeners and CPAs.

In fairness, it should be noted that Niquette sprinkles the story with unsubstantiated assertions about Kerry's position on taxes. Now, I have no idea if Kerry would approve of Niquette's characterizations and priorities or not, but how lazy (or amateurish) do you have to be to not even pick up the phone and ask someone from his campaign to comment?

Further, to get a different opinion on the effects of the tax cuts, Niquette didn't even have to go out of state. Had he simply given Policy Matters Ohio a call (see also post below), he would have found that they have already done quite a bit of research on the subject and can back up their arguments about "fairness" (or lack thereof) with some cold, hard facts about which Ohioans win and which lose under the new tax set up.

Niquette's charts are problematic, too. One contains data from a recent Congressional Budget Office study. When the study was released on Aug. 13, the Dispatch got the headline right: "President's Tax Cuts Help Rich, Study Finds." Remarkably, though, Niquette or his editors labeled the chart "Impact of tax cuts." Buried in the text accompanying the chart is the following comment: ". . . only the middle class is paying a larger share of all federal taxes." Only! That's at least two-fifths of the population. Editors - doesn't that conclusion, by itself, essentially make 90% of this story irrelevant?

The largest chart, at least in the print edition of the paper, purports to show the tax effects if one takes into account both federal income tax cuts and also state income tax increases. The chart presents what seems to show five (typical?) examples of how individuals in different income brackets fair.

Now the first problem with this chart is that it only includes income tax effects. Any researcher, however, would quickly point out that this is problematic, especially for lower incomes, because it excludes the effects of payroll taxes. The CBO study, for example, measure both income tax effects and total tax effects.

Second, the first two examples (incomes of $25,000 and $50,000) really apply to 60% of the population. The other three examples (incomes of $100,000, $500,000 and $1,000,000) are about the wealthies 20%.

Finally, the example of the $100,000 income is bogus. It is based on it being "composed of $93,000 in wages, $2,000 in dividends and $5,000 in capital gains." The Bush administration has used a similar example of how its cuts might affect a "typical" family. But there is a problem. How representative is this really? Although roughly half of the population owns equities either directly or indirectly, the vast majority own them in retirement accounts where access is very limited. So, even though a household may have $93,000 in wages, it is VERY doubtful that it would annually receive $2,000 in dividends and realize $5,000 in capital gains.

Overall, this story ended up being a real stinker. Maybe Niquette just gave up with a Labor Day deadline approaching, but the Dispatch really does readers a disservice when it produces these "on one hand and on the other" types of stories. As the CBO study shows, the bottom line is that the middle class got screwed to the benefit of the wealthiest 20%. Any thing else is a lie and when the Bush-Cheney spiners try to claim otherwise Niquette and the Dispatch's first duty should be to cut through the crap and point out the lie.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

 

Do enterprise zones help?

It appears that after presiding over the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in Ohio, the Bush administration wants Ohioans to forget all that. Bush wants a "do-over" for what he is going to do for Ohio and - ta dah - its Enterprise Zones.

The problem is that Enterprise Zones have been pretty well documented as mainly benefiting the higher income communities and delivering little or no benefits to lower-income areas. In other words, if the point is to create jobs where there is high unemployment, Enterprise Zones ain't the way to go.

For example, the non-partisan, non-profit Policy Matters Ohio think tank studied the effects of Enterprise Zones in Ohio and found that:
• With population, race, and urbanization effects accounted for, higher-income districts are likely to have more new jobs associated with the program than lower-income districts.
• Higher-income districts are likely to have more real property investment associated with EZP than their lower-income counterparts, controlling for population, racial composition, and degree of urbanization.
• More urban districts are likely to have less personal property investment associated with the program than districts with fewer urban residents.
• Racial composition of a district was not related to any of the EZ-related benefits.
• Very high-income districts were likely to receive twice as many new EZ-related jobs than very low-income school districts.
• Very high-income districts were likely to receive nearly five times as much EZrelated real property investment as very low-income school districts.

Hopefully, the folks over at the Ohio Kerry campaign offices and the Ohio Democratic Party have read it already. Hey guys - Policy Matters also has a nifty one-page crib sheet on Enterprise zones here.

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