Is Vice President Joe Biden going to be much help to President Obama in this fall’s election, in the crucial swing states? A U-S-A Today/Gallup Poll of more than a thousand adults showed 42% with a favorable opinion of Biden and 45% with an unfavorable opinion. It’s worse in the 12 swing states … 40% favorable and 54% unfavorable. In those same states, President Obama is seen favorably by 50% … and unfavorably by 49%.
Biden doesn’t get much love from Independent voters either; 50% viewing him unfavorably … and only 35% with a favorable view.
In a similar poll in July of 1992, Dan Quayle was viewed favorably by only 33% … and unfavorably by 58%. And in July of 2004, Dick Cheney pulled 46% favorable, against 42% unfavorable.
So do President Obama’s campaign people view Biden as a burden? Do they want to dump him from the ticket? I’d bet against it. Historically, sitting presidents don’t usually change running mates.
Our thought for today is from Vice President John Nance Garner:
“The vice-presidency ain’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.”
(He actually used another word in place of “spit”)
Proponents of the huge Kansas tax cut hope we citizens will spend the extra money … and small businesses will use it to expand and hire people. Opponents worry that whatever we do with that money, the state budget is headed for big deficits.
Sample tax cuts from the Kansas Department of Revenue show a savings of $570 a year for a married couple with one child filing jointly and earning $65,000. For a single parent with one child and an adjusted gross income of $20,000 the saving is $43 a year. For a single taxpayer making $17,000 the saving is $27 a year.
For higher Kansas wage earners, a tank or two of gas a month. For those earning less, a tank of gas a year.
I use the gas pump comparison because everybody has to pay about the same price. I think it presents a useful illustration of how the tax cuts will impact individual Kansans’ finances.
Our thought for today is from Arthur Godfrey:
“I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is I could be just as proud for half the money.”
The agonizingly-slow economic recovery means property values are not rising, and that’s a big factor in revenue for local government. Last week the Wichita City Council was told they face projected budget deficits of 2.4 million dollars in 2013 and 5.5 million dollars in 2014.
That means another round of belt-tightening. City Manager Robert Layton says city workers have already done that. He says they’ve been working hard the past couple of years, as fewer workers pick up the load.
Sedgwick County is looking at a ten million-dollar shortfall next year. So, more belt-tightening across Central Street.
Haven’t heard much yet from the Wichita Board of Education. The new state budget will boost the revenue flow from Topeka to school districts, but how much impact will that have?
This has been a tough recession for all Americans … and civic employees have not been immune. State and local governments have reduced services, cut jobs, and offered early retirement to public workers.
Our thought for today is from Maxwell Maltz:
“We find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve.”
It started as Decoration Day, an observation of those who died in our nation’s Civil War. It evolved into Memorial Day, honoring all who died in our nation’s wars. It evolved further into a day to decorate the graves and remember all our departed relatives.
My family often travels to Iola, Kansas on this day to decorate the graves of my grandparents, two aunts, and two uncles. We picnic in Iola’s city park.
My father and older brother are buried at Rest Haven in west Wichita. They both served in the military. Another brother is buried on a beautiful hillside in New Mexico. There are ceremonies and special observances scheduled today at many of the cemeteries around Wichita.
For many Americans, Memorial Day is simply an extra day off work with perhaps a picnic, a ball game, or a trip to the lake or pool. It’s the unofficial beginning of summer in the U-S-A.
Can it be that the United States is finally getting its energy situation under control?
This week I reported that some experts predict North American energy independence by 2020, as the U.S. leads the world in new oil and gas production. New technology is allowing us to exploit deeper reserves without creating big problems for the environment.
Earlier this week I spoke with Dwight Keen of Winfield, chair of the Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association. He told me drilling activity in southern Kansas has “become somewhat frenetic” … with most of the new activity in Comanche, Barber, and Harper Counties. He assured me the industry is “not under-taxed” … paying severance, property, and income taxes in Kansas.
A tornado damaged wind turbine blades in Harper County Saturday, reminding us of another source of clean, renewable energy that is just coming on line in Kansas.
Sure looks to me like the Sunflower State is in the middle of an energy boom.
Our thought for today is from Carl Sagan:
“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”
It looks like my wife and I will see a drop in our Kansas income tax obligation next year. That’s good news, of course, but we wonder how much cash it will actually put in our pockets. Will it be enough to finance a nice vacation … or buy a new car? I suspect the answer is “no”.
Businesses across the state will also see a tax cut in the bill the Kansas Legislature sent to Governor Brownback this week. Will it be enough to buy some new equipment or upgrade what they have? Will it stimulate those business people to hire more workers, even if demand for their products doesn’t increase?
The new conservative power in the Kansas Statehouse and the governor’s office believe that dramatic tax cuts will generate enough business activity to generate new revenue for the state. But there is plenty of skepticism that there will never be enough revenue to avoid some really big budget shortfalls down the road.
Like many Kansans, I have serious doubts about this big tax-cut package.
Our thought for today is from Abraham Lincoln:
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
The economy is rebounding very slowly from the Great Recession … and that continues to impact local governments. Sedgwick County begins its annual budget-writing process with a projected 10 million-dollar revenue deficit.
Last year the County’s shortfall was 7 million dollars. They closed the gap with spending cuts and early-retirement packages. For 2013, everything is on the table, including job cuts.
County Manager Bill Buchanan says revenue from sales and property taxes is not increasing fast enough to support county spending. County commissioners realize that any tax increase could mean the end of their service on the board. Local voters do not like tax increases.
In the business world, revenue problems often mean spending and job cuts, and consolidation of duties. Remaining employees take on more work. Sometimes the work simply does not get done.
Sedgwick County Commissioners have demonstrated their willingness to make tough calls in the past, in the name of fiscal responsibility. For the coming year, more of the same.
Our thought for today is from Harry S. Truman:
“All my life, whenever it comes time to make a decision, I make it and forget about it.”
A recent story in U-S Today quotes Citigroup analysts who are highly optimistic about the United States’ energy future. The story says “The U.S. is already the world’s fastest-growing oil and natural gas producer. Counting the output from Canada and Mexico, North America is ‘the new Middle East’, Citigroup analysts declared in a recent report.”
The U.S. Energy Information Agency says U.S. oil imports will drop 20% by 2025. Citigroup says the U.S. … or at least North America … can achieve energy independence by 2020. Citigroup says in practical terms, more energy independence could mean 3.6 million new jobs.
Here in south central Kansas … even as we begin to scratch the surface for wind energy … there’s a lot of new drilling for oil and gas. That should mean jobs and a generally stronger economy for the area. It should also mean better schools and civic services for all.
We cannot destroy the profit incentive for the risk-takers. But exploiting our state’s natural resources should not mean creating immense wealth for a very few … and nothing for the average citizen.
Our thought for today is from J. Paul Getty:
“The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights.”
Last week’s C-B-S News/New York Times opinion poll contained some interesting information. Here are the highlights:
Republican Mitt Romney now has a three-point lead over President Obama, despite positive movement on the economy.
32% say the economy is in good shape … the highest percentage since January 2008 … but 67% say it’s still bad. 36% say the economy is improving.
While most voters say the President’s support of same-sex marriage will not impact their vote, 25% say they are less likely to vote for him because of it.
Most Americans favor some type of legal recognition of same-sex relationships, including 38% who support marriage. When asked directly whether same-sex marriage should be legal, 42% said it should be, but 51% said it should not.
The presidential question has been asked six times by this survey since January. Romney has won twice, Obama twice, and there have been two ties.
Doesn’t look as if this will be a landslide for either candidate.
Our thought for today is from Paul “Bear” Bryant:
“It’s not the will to win that matters … everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”
They look to me like solutions looking for problems; similar to our new Kansas Voter I-D law.
This week our Kansas Legislature lurched into overtime at $35,000 a day because the conservative and moderate Republicans could not agree on several important issues. Last week they spent valuable time debating issues that have little or no impact on the citizens of this state. The Senate debated and passed legislation to purge Kansas courts of Shariah or other foreign legal codes. And the House debated and passed a resolution condemning a 20-year-old non-binding United Nations document.
Shariah is the moral code and religious law of Islam. I’ve never even considered how many Kansas judges and attorneys rely on Shariah to decide legal matters. I’ll bet you 10 Kansas Lottery tickets that it’s somewhere between none and zero.
And a 20-year-old non-binding U-N document, while Kansas school districts wait to see how much state revenue they can expect next year? Really?
Is this why we elected you people?
Our thought for today is from Anatole France:
“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.”
President Obama had already admitted that he is not proud of some of the things he did in high school. That was a matter of public record long before last week’s Washington Post story, alleging that Mitt Romney had participated in a high school incident involving the subduing and hair-trimming of a classmate.
We shared the story on the Steve & Ted Show last week … as did every news-oriented broadcast program in most of the world. We received a couple of calls saying we shouldn’t pick on Romney and why weren’t we talking about Obama’s past sins?
First of all … news is news, even if you don’t like what you hear. Secondly, the President’s past sins were old news.
Presidential candidates’ high school days become fair game the minute they decide to seek the most important government office in the world. As the Romney story and the same-sex story fade, we realize they are not the most important issues of the political season.
One caller said we ought to be fired for even bringing up the Romney story.
Wow! Talk about ‘shooting the messenger’!
Last week the Kansas House passed by a mere six votes a tax change package that could have a sizable impact on the state. The bill called for cutting individual income tax rates, exempting 191,000 businesses from income taxes, and reducing the state sales tax from 6.3% to 5.7%.
The idea is to provide tax relief for Kansans and make the state more attractive to businesses who may consider moving here, or leaving here.
Fine. But the legislature’s staff projected the plan would create a budget shortfall of more than $2.7 billion by July 2017.
Proponents will say the tax cuts will result in job and wealth creation, which will actually generate more state revenue … and the budget will be balanced.
I believe in fiscal responsibility in government. I think we should spend what’s necessary and finance it with sufficient tax dollars. The so-called “trickle down” economics never seemed to quite trickle down far enough to reach my house.
Shall we roll the dice?
Our thought for today is from Laurence J. Peter:
“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.”
Vice President Biden dragged President Obama into this. Obama would certainly have preferred to wait until after the election to deal with the discussion of same-sex marriage.
I can’t see where same-sex marriage would have any impact whatever on my life, but I realize that many Americans think it’s creepy, ungodly, and just plain wrong. They don’t believe gay couples should enjoy the same legal status as straight couples.
31 states have added amendments banning same-sex unions to their constitutions. There are currently eight states that recognize or soon will recognize same-sex marriages. Six states plus the District of Columbia recognize some form of same-sex unions or domestic partnerships.
I’ll wager same-sex marriage is not a hot topic at family gatherings. There’s a good chance that somebody at your Memorial Day picnic will be gay, whether you know it or not.
This is definitely not an issue that will sway me in the voting booth. But for many Americans, it could be the biggest issue of all.
Our thought for today is from Arthur Schopenhauer:
According to an A-P/G-f-K poll released last week, 66% of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan. Support for the war has reached a new low of 27%. The poll also found that 27% … far less than last year … think the killing of Osama bin Laden by U-S troops increased the threat of terrorism against Americans.
Opposition to the war would have been overwhelming years ago, if more than a very small percentage of Americans either served in Afghanistan or had a close relative serve there. Opposition would have been overwhelming if our politicians had had the spine to raise a tax to pay for the war. For most Americans, Afghanistan and Iraq are distant, completely impersonal concepts.
Apparently, we Americans are so dumb that we don’t realize the war debt will need to be paid some time, by future generations.
The leadership of this mission has been inept and dishonest from the beginning. Apathetic, ignorant citizens share the blame with cowardly politicians.
A new study released this week at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Weight of the Nation” meeting predicts 42% of Americans may be obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese. As of 2010, about 36% of adults were obese, which is roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight. 6% were severely obese, which is 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight.
The study is published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The increase in the obesity rate would mean 32 million more obese people within two decades … on top of 78 million people who were obese in 2010.
Extra weight takes a huge toll on health … increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many types of cancer, sleep apnea, and other debilitating and chronic illnesses.
Obesity is a major contributor to the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years.
Truth is, all Americans are paying for increasing health care costs for our heavier fellow citizens.
Our thought for today is from Paul Dudley White:
“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.”
The story brings joy to many Kansans. Others may find it disturbing … maybe even appalling. The National Journal ranked U-S Representatives based on their votes in 2011, with 100 being the top of the conservative scale.
The Kansas delegation got the top conservative score of 85.3. It wasn’t even close. Wyoming’s lone representative scored 73.5 for second place. Most conservative among Kansas’ four representatives: Mike Pompeo of Wichita with a score of 91.1.
The most conservative Kansans may celebrate this as a great victory … an indication that no state in the union is more conservative than ours. Kansas voters like to send the most conservative people they can find to represent them in Washington.
It will be difficult for any candidate to out-conservative Pompeo, Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder, or Tim Huelskamp. The political song we sing in Kansas has only one verse … and perhaps only one note.
I find the lack of political diversity in my home state alarming. Is there really only one “right” way to think in Kansas politics?
Our thought for today is from Thomas Jefferson:
“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
Can a bankruptcy ever be good news? In the case of Wichita-based airplane maker Hawker Beechcraft, last week’s Chapter 11 filing may save the company. Part of the deal includes $400 million to continue paying workers and vendors while the company deals with its creditors. Hawker has $2.3 billion in debt to clear up. No doubt it was good news last week when Rubbermaid announced it was expanding its operation in Winfield. The company plans to add at least 250 jobs over the next few months. Rubbermaid has manufactured its products in Winfield for years.
We recently had news that Cessna is hiring in Wichita.
There are signs of recovery here in the Wichita area, but it’s troubling that the unemployment rate remains above 7%.
The Great Recession has been awful for many Americans. If Republicans can convince voters that President Obama is responsible for these bad economic times, they may have a shot at the White House. But if the stock market is strong and unemployment dips below 8%, Obama will likely get a second term.
Our thought for today is from Josh Billings:
“The happiest time in any man’s life is when he is in red-hot pursuit of a dollar with a reasonable prospect of overtaking it.”
Power out by Steve McIntosh,posted May 8 2012 1:03AM
Electric power went out Thursday morning around five o’clock at the shopping center that houses these studios. Our six Entercom radio stations were up and running on a back-up power system within a short time. But we lost several information sources and internet connection … and our stations were limited in the songs and commercials they could play on the air.
In addition, the lights were out and computers down all over the building for several hours. Any work was accomplished with a great deal of diligence and stress. It was a nightmare for anyone here who had a deadline or a time-sensitive task.
It pointed out to me just how vulnerable we are in this country. If an enemy can take down our power grid, or somehow knock out the internet, radio, and television, we are in deep doo doo.
Not to frighten you, but I’m sure there are people in the world trying to figure out how they can do such nasty things. I’m sure someone on our side is taking steps to prevent such an attack.
Our thought for today is from Aldous Huxley:
“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.”
I’ll bet the fire chief and his top administrators did not enjoy hearing about a huge “no confidence” vote from members of the firefighters’ union. Obviously, Wichita firefighters don’t have a lot of love for their leaders.
I once worked at a company that surveyed all its employees on their perceptions of their supervisors. They responded anonymously and the human resources people shared that feed-back with those of us in supervisory positions, as well as our supervisors. I was not pleased with my people’s responses.
An old friend once told me never to ask for criticism because it invites people to look for the worst, which they always do. Some will insist that criticism is necessary for growth … that in order to improve we need to know our perceived weaknesses.
While I have answered such help by trying to get better over the years, I still don’t enjoy it. I believe about 99% of the criticism I receive is unhelpful. I try to avoid it, if possible.
Our thought for today is from Franklin P. Jones:
“Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.”
Some polls indicate that President Obama and presumed Republican candidate Mitt Romney are tied in their race for the presidency. Rueters reports both men have made subtle changes in their campaigns.
Obama’s been painting Romney as a man who has often changed positions for political reasons. Now it appears the Obama campaign will portray Romney as a far-right conservative. His ads will also attack Republicans in Congress for saying “no” to Obama’s plans.
Romney is trying to sound a more positive note … talking about his vision for governing if he wins in November.
An Obama ad about the killing of Osama bin Laden questions whether Mitt Romney would have made the decision to kill the terrorist.
I don’t like that. I think a president can highlight his administration’s accomplishments without unfairly questioning what a political opponent may have done under similar circumstances.
I’d like to see all political candidates take the high road.
Our thought for today is from Robert Byrne:
“Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.”
According to a recent Gallop Poll, the average non-retired American now expects to retire at age 67 … up from age 63 a decade ago and 60 in the mid 1990s.
26% of the non-retired respondents to the survey said they expect to retire before age 65 … 27% at age 65 … and 39% after 65. That last percentage is up from 21% in 2002 and 12% in 1995.
Gallup also finds a steady increase in the average age at which respondents actuallyretired … from age 57 in 1991 to age 60 today.
The same poll finds a new low of 38% of non-retirees saying they will have enough money to live comfortably in retirement, down slightly from 42% last year. When Gallup first asked the question in 2002, 59% said they would have enough. The percentage dipped below 50% during the recession and has remained below since.
Our thought for today is from George Burns:
“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.”
Ray McGovern was a top analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency for 27 years, and also served as chairman of the National Intelligence Estimates … pulling together the intelligence from all U.S. Government intelligence agencies. McGovern was in Wichita last week for several appearances on the topic: “The C-I-A and Iran: The Good and the Bad”. I interviewed McGovern on Steve & Ted in the Morning.
His take on Iran: reports of their nuclear capability are overblown and Israel is guiding American policy regarding Iran. McGovern told me our president and other political leaders do and say pretty much whatever the Israeli government tells them. That prompted a call from an angry listener demanding that we “get that anti-Semite off the air”.
Ray McGovern also told me that water boarding or “enhanced interrogation” can be very effective … if you want the target to tell you what you want to hear. If you’re after accurate intelligence, that’s another matter.