Tales from the Trail

Perry says stimulus didn’t create jobs; CBO says it did

Texas Governor Rick Perry, front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said on Monday President Barack Obama’s  economic stimulus program  created “zero” jobs.

Not so, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the non-partisan budget arbiter for lawmakers.

Congress in 2009 passed the $830 billion economic stimulus, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included both spending measures and tax cuts.

According to the CBO:

    As of June, between 1 million and 2.9 million Americans owed their jobs to the recovery act. In the second quarter of 2011 the recovery act added or preserved 550,000 full-time jobs. The recovery act brought down the unemployment rate by between 0.5 and 1.6 percentage points in the second quarter of 2011.

The Texas governor, who has touted his jobs creation record, gave his assessment of the U.S. economic stimulus program during Monday’s CNN/Tea Party sponsored Republican candidates debate in Tampa, Florida.

Perry shared the stage with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, business executive Herman Cain, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

2012 candidates woo voters on Labor Day

Labor Day is no day off for President Barack Obama and the Republicans who want his job. The holiday to pay tribute to American workers traditionally marks the start of the general election campaign. And although 15 months remain before the 2012 election, you’ll find the 2012 White House hopefuls on the road Monday hoping to score points with voters.

Democrat Obama travels to Detroit on Labor Day to talk about how to create jobs and strengthen the economy, the White House said. With U.S. unemployment steady at 9.1 percent, Reuters’ Jeff Mason writes  Obama’s on the spot to boost hiring and economic growth as he campaigns for a second term in the White House.

Obama also spoke in Detroit on Labor Day 2008 as his general election race heated up against Republican presidential rival Senator John McCain.

What Powell wants in a 2012 presidential candidate

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race.

But the former top U.S. military officer, who once considered a presidential run of his own, tells NPR’s “Morning Edition” he’s undecided about which candidate to vote for in the 2012 election.

“I’m always undecided in every election,” he said in excerpts of an interview taped for Friday. “I always measure each candidate against what I think the country needs at that time and I will vote for the person I think who is most qualified to serve the nation at that time.”

Big campaign bucks don’t always spell victory

Expectations for massive fund-raising in the 2012 election may obscure one point — big bucks don’t always lead to victory. And in fact, too much spending — especially in the form of too many advertisements — can turn off voters.

There have been several notable examples of heavy, but ultimately fruitless, outspending in recent elections.

In the 2010 midterms, Republican Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, spent $140 million of her own money, or about $43 per vote,to campaign for governor against Democrat Jerry Brown.  Brown spent $7.50 per vote to defeat her by 12 percentage points, in a race that was a rare bright spot for Democrats in elections that saw most Republicans sweep to victory.

Tea party boosts Perry to top of GOP polls

Texas Governor Rick Perry has vaulted into the lead among Republicans vying for the nomination to oppose  President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election bid, according to several new  polls. And he may have the Tea Party to thank for it.

A CNN/ORC International poll released  Monday showed Perry strongly favored by Republicans and independent voters who lean Republican. Among the declared candidates, Perry has 32 percent support, followed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 18 percent, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann at 12 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 7 percent, Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 6 percent and the rest of the field in the low single digits.

This could reflect shifting allegiances among Tea Party supporters, according to Gallup, which released its own poll last week also showing that Perry had replaced Romney as the early front-runner.

Romney targeted over plans for growth — of his house

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney,  who has criticized President Barack Obama for taking a nine-day vacation at a time of high unemployment, filed for permits to almost quadruple the size of his oceanfront home in La Jolla, California.

The former Massachusetts governor and his wife bought the house three years ago for $12 million. They want to knock down the one-story, 3,009-square-foot home overlooking the Pacific Ocean and replace it with an 11,062-square foot place in its stead, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

Romney says he needs a bigger place to have room for his five sons, their wives and his 16 grandchildren. The Union Tribune said the plans would keep the house’s existing pool and spa.

Huntsman in the ‘middle’ in 2012 Republican field

Jon Huntsman is counting on right-of-center politics to give him an advantage  in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,   despite polls showing him trailing far behind  the favorites in a crowded field.

He says Democrat Barack Obama is too far to the left and the president’s other Republican opponents are too far to the right.

“This country is crying out for a sensible middle ground. This is a center-right country; I am a center-right candidate,” the former Utah governor said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

Haley not ready to pick 2012 Republican favorite

An endorsement from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, could give a boost to the  Republican presidential candidate of her choice.

But in an interview with CNN on Thursday she said it’s too soon to pick a favorite in the campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

“What I have told everybody is now is the time where we need to weigh in on asking them the hard questions,” she said. “This is the time we really need to be doing a lot of the listening to what their details are and what their specifics are and waiting to weigh in until we can really see what the full platform looks like.”

Perry, Bachmann shine star power at Iowa dinner

Newly-minted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry (and his black campaign bus)  rolled into Waterloo Sunday, where the Texas governor made a  campaign pitch to Iowa voters.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann showed up at the same event. They weren’t on stage together but Perry ending up sharing the spotlight.

Perry spoke first at the Black Hawk County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner and acknowledged another Republican presidential hopeful in the room, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum .

Stark realities of U.S. life without credit

Amid the political fingerpointing over which party will catch the blame if Congress fails to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit, comes the stark reality of what bills get paid after Aug. 2, if the U.S. government can’t borrow more money.

A group of House Republicans wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday to say there would be plenty of money from tax receipts to make interest payments to creditors, pay Social Security retirement benefits, cover Medicare health payments and pay U.S. military troops.

Senate Democrats at a news conference made clear that once those bills were paid, little would be left for anything else.