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Tags: Rove | Pegs | Obama | Enthusiasm-Gap | China Exports Smog to US | GOP | UNESCO

Rove Pegs Obama’s ‘Enthusiasm Gap’; China Exports Smog to US; GOP Hits Obama’s UNESCO Dodge

By    |   Sunday, 25 March 2012 03:39 PM EDT

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Rove: Obama's Fundraising Woes Show 'Enthusiasm Gap'
2. Tax Compliance Time Costs $227 Billion
3. GOP Attacks Obama's Move to Restore UNESCO Funding
4. Asia Blamed for California Smog
5. Organic Farming, Ethanol Threaten World's Food Supply
6. We Heard: George P. Bush, Scott Rasmussen, Joe Trippi, NRCC

1. Rove: Obama's Fundraising Woes Show 'Enthusiasm Gap'

President Obama's difficulty in raising money for his re-election campaign reflects Democrats' disappointment with his first-term performance, says political analyst Karl Rove.

The Obama campaign set a goal of amassing a $1 billion war chest for the 2012 race, which would require bringing in about $50 million a month beginning in early 2011. But through this past January, Obama had raised an average of just $24 million a month for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

The campaign is set to release its February fund-raising numbers, but "the president is on track to be hundreds of millions of dollars shy of his original goal" — even though he has already attended 103 fundraisers, Rove, who served as senior adviser to President George W. Bush, writes in The Wall Street Journal.

The problem: Many of Obama's 2008 donors are not contributing this time around — less than 7 percent of 2008 donors renewed their support in the first quarter of his re-election campaign, about one-quarter to one-third of a typical renewal rate. In the first quarter of George W. Bush's re-election campaign, about 20 percent of donors renewed their support of Bush.

At the end of January, the Obama campaign and the DNC had $91 million in cash at their disposal, while at the same point in 2004 the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee had $122 million.

The Obama's campaign's situation is so precarious that the White House has told congressional Democrats they won't be receiving any money for their campaigns from the DNC this year — all DNC funds will be needed for Obama's re-election.

In his article headlined "Obama's Money and the Enthusiasm Gap," Rove observes: "That virtually all Republicans and many independents consider Mr. Obama a failure is obvious. But many Democrats are disappointed with him, too. The president's difficulty in raising campaign cash is evidence of this."

A recent report in the Washington Post confirmed Rove's sentiments, detailing the Obama campaign's struggle to draw in large donations.

"Obama lags behind Republican front-runner Mitt Romney in finding donors willing to give $2,000 or more — a surprising development for a sitting president, and one that could signal more worrisome financial problems heading into the general election," the Post reported.

At this point in the last election cycle, more than 23,000 supporters had given Obama a contribution of $2,000 or more, while in the current campaign only 11,000 have done so.

One fundraiser who helped Obama in 2008 but is no longer working for the president told the Post: "There's a lot of disaffection and buyer's remorse among the people I know."

Editor's Note:

2. Tax Compliance Time Costs $227 Billion

With the April 15 federal income tax filing deadline just around the corner, Americans are once again wrestling with a horrendously complex tax code that costs them time and money, and damages economic growth.

The National Taxpayers Union reports that Americans spend some 7.6 billion hours a year complying with the tax code — the equivalent of 3.8 million full-time employees working all year long just on tax compliance.

If those workers were paid the average rate for a civilian employee, the total cost would be more than $227 billion.

Americans also pay $35 billion out of pocket for assistance in filing their taxes, with the average non-business individual filer spending $160 on tax assistance — professional help, software or other services, according to the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), a nonpartisan research and educational institution.

In 1980, 38 percent of Americans used a paid preparer to handle their tax forms. In 2007, the most recent year with available data, nearly 59 percent used paid assistance.

Tax compliance weighs heavily on corporations as well. The National Taxpayers Union estimated that in 2009 compliance expenses alone would cost U.S. corporations $159 billion.

"That's around half of what those companies had to pay in taxes, a startling statistic, attesting to the corporate tax code's incredible inefficiency," says IWF Managing Director Carrie Lukas.

"Think about it: For every dollar the government raised in revenue from corporations, companies had to pay out $1.50."

Companies pass on compliance costs to consumers, of course, by charging higher prices on goods and services.

Corporations lose time and money not just by complying with tax laws, but also by working to minimize their tax payments. That money could be used instead to hire workers and expand production, stimulating the economy instead of retarding growth.

And the complex tax code fosters political corruption as businesses hire lobbyists to seek special deals in Washington.

Lukas concludes: "Americans deserve a fair, transparent, simple tax code that's sole goal is to raise the money necessary to fund the legitimate functions of government."

Editor's Note:

3. GOP Attacks Obama's Move to Restore UNESCO Funding

Prominent Republicans are protesting the Obama administration's attempts to circumvent laws requiring the United States to defund the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

All American funding for UNESCO — which accounted for 22 percent of its budget, about $80 million a year — was cut off in November after the agency voted to approve the Palestinian Authority for full membership.

A law passed in 1990 states that "no funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states." Another law passed in 1994 imposes the same requirement.

But the White House is seeking a waiver to enable it to resume the funding in coming months. The administration requests $79 million for UNESCO in fiscal 2013.

At a Tuesday hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for foreign operations, Republican lawmakers asserted that the cutoff has been a success because the Palestinian Authority responded by suspending plans to seek membership in other U.N. agencies, CNS News reported.

Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, said: "Many members of Congress believe that cutting off these funds is the reason the P.A. stopped further recognition efforts."

Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the subcommittee that the cutoff hurts U.S. interests more than it does the Palestinians.

UNESCO, she said, does "essential work, from girls' education to tsunami warning, that serve U.S. interests."

But Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., said: "This subcommittee was pretty clear that if the Palestinians went to the U.N., UNESCO, that there would be consequences."

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., asked Rice: "Do you not understand that we discredit ourselves when we don't follow up on our commitments? Do you not see it, how it hurts our national interests, when we back away from our pre-existing, stated positions?"

Rice on Tuesday also met with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and an outspoken critic of the United Nations.

"The administration needs to leave U.S. law alone — it's working by deterring other U.N. bodies from following in UNESCO's footsteps and admitting 'Palestine,' and by ensuring that U.S. taxpayers don't foot the bill for UNESCO's bad behavior," she said after meeting with Rice.

"Instead of trying to weaken U.S. law, the administration should cut off funding to Ramallah and make clear that UNESCO will not get one red cent from the U.S. until it un-admits 'Palestine.'"

Editor's Note:

4. Asia Blamed for California Smog

While domestic emissions of ozone — the main constituent of smog — have been declining in recent years, as much as 20 percent of California's smog may now be coming from China and other Asian countries, according to new research.

"Rather than imposing enormously expensive new restrictions on American emissions of ozone, as the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed, perhaps it is time to look across the Pacific for more cost-effective ways to clear the air," say researchers at the Reason Foundation.

Since 1980, average levels of ozone have declined by 25 percent nationally and by more than 60 percent in Los Angeles, according to the EPA. Much of the decline is due to regulations limiting emissions of ozone-forming chemicals by vehicles and industry.

But a "significant" proportion of ozone on the West Coast now comes from Asia, researchers Julian Morris and Adam Peshek point out.

They cite a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research showing that in spring, low pressure systems in Asia can cause ozone produced there to rise two to six miles into the atmosphere. It is blown across the Pacific by strong winds, then pulled back down to ground level by high-pressure systems in the northeastern Pacific.

The study found that Asian emissions produced 8 to 15 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone in California in the spring of 2010, accounting for about half the days when the state was not in compliance with the EPA's threshold of 75 ppb.

The EPA had actually planned to lower the threshold to between 60 and 70 ppb. President Obama, under pressure from U.S. businesses, scrapped the plan. But the EPA is now conducting a review of ozone and could impose a lower level as early as next year.

Such a move would have a costly impact on manufacturing, construction, trucking, farming, electric utilities and other American industries, the researchers note.

They conclude: "To the extent that the ozone problem is now being imported from Asia, instead of focusing exclusively on domestic emissions, it might make sense to look at ways of encouraging China, Thailand, Vietnam, and other culprit countries to reduce their emissions."

Editor's Note:

5. Organic Farming, Ethanol Threaten World's Food Supply

With the growing world population putting ever-increasing pressure on food supplies, two modern developments favored by environmentalists and politicians are threatening to undermine food production — organic farming and ethanol production.

Agricultural productivity increased greatly during the second half of the 20th century, thanks to hybrid seeds, synthetic fertilizers and improved farming techniques.

The Manhattan Institute's City Journal cites an estimate that if agriculture had remained at its early-1960s level of productivity, feeding the world's population in 1998 would have required almost 8 billion acres of farmland, instead of the 3.7 billion acres that were actually under cultivation.

That extra needed farmland — 4.3 billion acres — is nearly the size of South America.

"There is an important exception to the historical trend of [increased productivity], however: the production of organic food, which doesn't use many fertilizers and pesticides," observes Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute.

He cites recent studies showing that land devoted to organic farming produces 50 percent less wheat, 55 percent less asparagus and lettuce, and 23 percent less corn than conventionally farmed land of the same acreage.

He adds that the growing global population over the next four decades will require farmers to grow at least 70 percent more food than produced today, so agriculture will have to produce "still more food from the available land. Organic farming would do the reverse."

Yet global sales of organic food and beverages doubled between 2003 and 2008.

A "related crusade" is the push for biofuels — particularly corn ethanol — which are supposed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions but will "divert huge blocks of arable land away from food production and into the manufacture of tiny amounts of motor fuel," Bryce writes.

He notes that in 2011, U.S. ethanol production equaled just 0.6 percent of global oil consumption, but required 4.9 billion bushels of grain for conversion into fuel — 40 percent of all U.S. corn and more than the combined outputs of the European Union, Mexico, Argentina, and India.

President Obama has said Americans "can break our dependence on oil with biofuels."

But Bryce is critical of "the beliefs of many environmental activists and politicians, whose 'organic' and 'renewable' policies, as nature-friendly as they sound, squander land."

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard…

THAT former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's son George P. Bush is reportedly mulling a campaign for Texas land commissioner in 2014 but says he has "no firm plans" to run.

Bush, 35, is national co-chairman of Maverick PAC, a Republican group that supports conservative candidates, and founding co-chairman of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas.

"I am flattered that my name keeps surfacing for public office but I have no firm plans to run this election year or in 2014," he told the Austin American-Statesman.

The current land commissioner, Jerry Patterson, is eyeing a run for lieutenant governor in 2014.

THAT pollster and political analyst Scott Rasmussen's new book "The People's Money" has hit the top of the best-seller lists.

Rasmussen's book, published on Jan. 31, is on the New York Times list of best-selling hardcover nonfiction books, and the Washington Post now lists the book as the nation's No. 1 political best-seller.

"The People's Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the National Debt" maintains that the real federal debt is $120 trillion, and offers proposals that could save the government more than $100 trillion over the coming decade.

Rasmussen is founder and president of Rasmussen Reports and co-founder of the sports network ESPN. He has been an independent public opinion pollster for more than a decade.

He told Newsmax.TV in a recent interview that "The People's Money" is "totally based on our polling data. We probably interviewed a million people to gather the surveys for this."

THAT veteran political consultant and Fox News commentator Joe Trippi had a terse comment on the GOP presidential race on Friday, when he appeared on "Fox and Friends." Trippi said: "Donald Trump helped put Mitt Romney over the top."

Trump endorsed Romney in February, calling him "tough, smart, and sharp."

THAT the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual dinner on Tuesday raised a record $12 million for GOP House candidates.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the keynote address at the dinner, which topped last year's haul of $10 million.

"I am proud to announce that the NRCC's March Dinner raised a record-breaking $12 million to strengthen the Republican majority in the House," NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas said.

"With these unparalleled fundraising efforts the NRCC will be able to stay on the offense and destroy Nancy Pelosi's dream of reclaiming the speaker's gavel."

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Sunday, 25 March 2012 03:39 PM
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