First Thoughts: Tax Reform Lands with a Thud

Image: Capitol Hill Event Marks 50th Anniversary On War On Poverty

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) participates in a news conference on the 50th anniversary of the start of the War on Poverty at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center January 8, 2014 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

GOP tax-reform proposal lands with a thud -- among fellow Republicans… Why is Brewer waiting?... Bill Clinton, Alison Grimes follow the Obama/Dem 2014 playbook by emphasizing raising the minimum wage, reducing inequality... Hillary gives speech in Miami at 8:30 pm ET… Gray’s precarious lead in D.C. Dem primary, per new NBC4/WAMU/Washington Informer/Marist poll… Meet Tom Wolf, your new Dem front-runner for PA GOV… And the limits of TV advertising.

GOP tax-reform proposal lands with a thud -- among fellow Republicans

If you want another example of how hard it is to get big things done in Washington right now, just look at the reaction House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-MI) tax-reform proposal is getting -- from his fellow Republicans. Camp’s plan would lower the top income rate from 39.6% to 25%, simplify the tax code, but also impose a 10% surtax on some income over $450,000 a year. And it’s that last part that has Republicans and GOP-leaning interest groups giving the proposal a less-than-welcome reception. Indeed, Camp is essentially on an island here, and GOP leaders are giving it the cold shoulder. We are currently living in a political age where -- thanks to the power of interest groups and partisan media -- it’s easier than ever before to kill big legislation (which was always difficult to pass into law given the government’s checks and balances). Nowadays, there are two ways to get big things done: 1) When your party has unilateral control of the government (see the stimulus, health-care law, financial reform), or 2) When the price of inaction is worse than the price of action (see the expiring Bush tax cuts, the debt ceiling).


Why is Brewer waiting?

Turning to the controversial measure in Arizona that could allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the state, we have one question: What good is coming from Gov. Jan Brewer (R) seeming to delay her decision whether to veto the bill as long as possible? Just hours ago, she tweeted, “I assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the State of Arizona #SB1062.” Yet as NBC News has already reported, Brewer is likely to veto the measure, according to three close associates familiar with her thinking. If that’s the case, why delay? Don’t forget, it took a very long time for Arizona to officially recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day; there was the anti-illegal-immigration legislation that Brewer signed into law in 2010; and now there’s this anti-gay measure. It’s the power of threes, and the longer this debate goes on, the bigger dent it makes in Arizona’s reputation -- regardless if the legislation gets vetoed or not. Remember, the state already lost one Super Bowl.

Bill Clinton, Alison Grimes follow the Obama/Dem 2014 playbook

The coverage of Bill Clinton’s campaign event yesterday for Alison Grimes in Kentucky’s competitive Senate race focused so much on who wasn’t there (President Obama) and what Grimes really didn’t talk about (the health-care law). But what WAS said was pretty interesting -- both Clinton and Grimes followed the Obama/Dem playbook for 2014 by emphasizing the need to raise the minimum wage and reduce income inequality. "Americans don't resent people who make money, but what we do resent is the unfairness of a system that depends on holding people's incomes down," Clinton said, per the Washington Post. The former president added, "What this is about is whether you want somebody who puts people first, who cares about rebuilding the middle class, who wants poor people to have a chance to work their way into the middle class.” For her part, Grimes seemed to spend almost five minutes of her remarks extolling the need for a minimum wage. Grimes may not want to appear with Obama, but she’s running on the agenda he laid out in his 2014 State of the Union address. Indeed, both parties right now are very comfortable with their economic messaging. Where there is discomfort, especially on the right, is on social issues (see Arizona).


Hillary gives speech in Miami

Going from one Clinton to another, Hillary Clinton delivers a speech at 8:30 pm ET tonight at the University of Miami. The local press sets the stage: “The former secretary of state and New York senator will address students, faculty and guests at the University of Miami Wednesday. While the school did not specify what Clinton will talk about, she has spoken about her time as the nation's top diplomat in recent appearances… Wednesday's speech raises her visibility in a key swing state and reunites her with an old friend. University of Miami President Donna Shalala served in Bill Clinton's presidential cabinet.”

Gray’s precarious lead in D.C. Dem primary

A new NBC4/WAMU/Washington Informer/Marist poll on the Democratic primary for D.C. mayor (which takes place on April 1) has some good news for incumbent Mayor Vince Gray. A whopping 74% of D.C. Democrats (and 71% of overall residents) believe the city is headed in the right direction; 56% approve of the mayor’s job; and he leads the crowded Dem field in a trial heat. But here is the bad news for Gray: He gets just 28% among likely Democratic voters in the trial heat, followed by Muriel Bowser (who recently won the Washington Post’s endorsement) at 20%, Jack Evans at 13%, and Tommy Wells at 12%. What’s more, a whopping 63% of Democrats say Gray DOES NOT deserve re-election, and 53% of Democrats say the campaign-finance investigation into Gray makes them less likely to vote for the mayor. Bottom line: You’d have to call Gray the favorite to win the Democratic primary, but if the anti-Gray vote consolidates around another challenger, watch out. The poll was conducted Feb. 17-23.

Meet Tom Wolf, your new Dem front-runner for PA GOV

If you want to see the power of TV advertising, check out this new Franklin & Marshall poll on the Democratic gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania: Tom Wolf -- thanks to his ads (see this example) -- gets 36%, while Allyson Schwartz (who was one time considered to be the favorite) gets 9%. In addition, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Wolf crushing incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in a hypothetical match up, 52%-33%, versus Schwartz’s 6-point lead over Corbett, 44%-38%.

The limits of TV advertising

But if you also want to see the LIMITS of TV advertising, check out this new poll result: Outside of live sports, nearly 30% of voters didn’t watch live TV in the past week. Let that sink in for a moment: Almost 3 in 10 voters are no longer watching TV -- and are fast-forwarding through TV ads. So if you’re a campaign or advertiser wanting to reach these folks, you have to do so through other means (social media, internet ads).

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