But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round… as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
The incoming Republican majority has proposed “strict” new rules for the U.S. House of Representatives:
On the spending front, Republicans plan to implement a series of rules called CUT/GO — a conservative answer to the PAY/GO rules instituted by Democrats. Under CUT/GO, increases in mandatory spending would have to be offset by spending cuts in other programs.
Under CUT/GO, offsets could not be achieved by raising taxes, according to the summary.
Jonathan Chait breaks it down:
The old rules, created under the highly successful 1990 deficit reduction deal between George Bush and (mostly) Democrats in Congress, any new entitlement spending or tax cuts had to be offset with entitlement cuts or higher taxes.
[T]he GOP new rules mean that new tax cuts do not require any offsets at all. Which is to say, they are replacing a rule that prevented policies that add to the deficit with a rule that enables policies that add to the deficit. They may call that “strict,” but it is the opposite.
After the maddening 2008 presidential primary schedule that kicked off with the Iowa caucuses on January 3 and the New Hampshire primary on January 8, party leaders have worked to fashion a primary schedule for 2012 that doesn’t get rolling until February. But their efforts may be for naught.
Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee approved a schedule that begins on February 6, 2012 with the Iowa caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary on February 14, the Nevada caucus on February 18, and the South Carolina primary on February 28. Republicans followed with a similar schedule.
[New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill] Gardner told the Granite Status this week that if the Nevada date holds, for either party, he would not set the date of the primary for Feb. 14. He would have to instead set it for no later than Feb. 11.
But that’s a Saturday. The previous Tuesday is Feb. 7, just a single day after the date envisioned for the Iowa caucuses in both the DNC and RNC rules. Iowa traditionally gets an eight-day window pre-New Hampshire, although in 2008, it was held only five days earlier.
And that means the Iowa caucuses would be held on Monday, January 30 — if not earlier. Party activists may be ringing in the 2012 New Year in Des Moines after all.
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released the official 2010 population count for New Hampshire. The Granite State, with 6.9% population growth, was the fastest growing state in New England over the last decade. However, the state’s growth slowed significantly from 2000 and trailed the 9.7% growth measured for rest of the country.
New Hampshire 2010 Population (including Military Overseas): 1,321,445
New Hampshire 2010 Population (excluding Military Overseas): 1,316,470
Ideal New Hampshire Congressional district size (two seats): 658,235
Ideal New Hampshire Senate district size (24 seats): 54,853
Ideal New Hampshire House district size (400 seats): 3,291
In February and March, the Census Bureau will release demographic data to the states and New Hampshire lawmakers will begin the redistricting process. They will have until the June 2012 filing period opens to create the new voting districts for Congress, Executive Council, State Senate, and State House.
Based on the county population estimates from the 2009 American Community Survey Data, Grant Bosse projects Coos county will lose two House seats and Cheshire county will lose one, while Belknap, Merrimack, and Rockingham counties will each gain a seat. He also projects Manchester and Nashua will each lose two House seats.
The conventional wisdom says the 2012 presidential race is off to a slow start.
The old lament that presidential campaigns just keep growing longer is being turned on its head this time around.
At this point in 2006, five Republicans had made early filings to run for the White House in 2008. Today, none have declared for the 2012 contest.
And by all appearances, none plan to jump in until at least February. Some may wait until late spring or even summer.
Not so, says outgoing GOP state chairman John H. Sununu, who points to numerous visits to the Granite State from potential candidates.
“There are new rules and new roles,” said Sununu about the 2012 candidates. “They’re all spending time with their accountants and lawyers figuring out how to do this. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not showing themselves up here.”
“Romney’s been here dozens of times, Pawlenty’s been here almost a dozen times. What’s so late about that?” said Sununu. “They have been here since the day after Obama was elected.”
Earlier this month, a Washington Post piece highlighed the controversy over Rep.-elect Frank Guinta’s mystery bank account and his campaign finances. But the piece also raised the possibility the new Republican leadership might attempt to get rid of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics:
The incoming House speaker, John Boehner (R-Ohio), has not taken a position on the issue, but he fought creation of the office. The body must be included in the House rules passed at the beginning of each Congress, a process that lawmakers could use to scuttle the panel.
Well, we have the answer — and it’s not good news for Guinta.
House Republicans have left untouched rules governing the controversial Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog agency that has the power to investigate lawmakers and refer cases to the internal House ethics committee.
In an interview with ABC News, outgoing 1st District Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, along with three other retiring representatives, took a look back on her time serving in Congress. Shea-Porter said her biggest disappointment was seeing the impact that special interests have on the process.
“It’s been just awful watching this over the past four years. I think it’s strangling us. I think that when the American public feels cynical about that, they’re right. The special interests — you see them — they’re in the halls of Congress everywhere. We need to clean Washington up. We desperately need to clean them out.
The roundtable discussion begins at 4:48.
A new division is emerging in America between those who have moved on from the recession and those still caught in its grip.
Though economists declared the recession officially over last summer, the pace of recovery has been uneven across income levels. The rebound in the stock market and record low mortgage interest rates have mostly benefited affluent households, buoying their confidence in the economy along with their ability - and their desire - to spend. Meanwhile, progress largely has bypassed poorer families who remain hamstrung by anemic wage growth and a higher unemployment rate.
This tale of two Christmases is being played out from the shopping mall to the kitchen table.
—Ylan Q. Mui, Washington Post staff writer
I have utmost respect for the members of New Hampshire’s citizen legislature, who donate their time in the name of public service, while juggling day jobs and family commitments, but still…
Yes, the most popular committee of choice for House members was the Fish and Game panel.
There are two good reasons for this.
First, it’s an obvious favorite for gun and sports enthusiasts; second, few issues are politically partisan and the lifting isn’t heavy.
Since Lynch, a centrist Democrat who initially opposed marriage equality, signed the bill into law, more than 1,000 committed gay and lesbian couples have been legally married [in New Hampshire].
And since that time? The sky has not fallen. Clocks have not stopped. Straight couples’ marriages have not been threatened. In fact, same-sex marriage here has been a non-event.
One of those first couples to wed was Linda Murphy and Donna Swartwout, together for 19 years. At the time, Murphy said their marriage “was a reaffirmation of our love and our commitment, and a legal acknowledgment from our home state. Some day this will not even be a news story. It will just be a part of life.”
—Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign
“When I was a kid, we were all led to believe that the first couple was Adam and Eve, not two Adams and two Eves. To me, it’s not normal” for gays and lesbians to marry.
—New Hampshire State Rep. Leo Pepino (R-Manchester) on why he is supports repeal of New Hampshire’s same-sex marriage law.
Unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party activist Jack Kimball says he is “strongly considering” a run for chairman of the New Hampshire GOP.
Kimball said he views himself as a “bridge-maker,” adding, “I come right out of the Tea Party so most of the Tea Parety [sic] and 9/12 folks know and suport [sic] me. They think I can be a unifier.”
Here’s how Kimball builds bridges and unifies:
During the Obama-McCain election, he put up “mild things, like ‘Obama’s endorsed by Hamas,’ Louis Farrakhan, stuff like that,” he deadpans.
“We have a cross-section of America standing out here right now,” Kimball said. “When they criticize you, they’re criticizing themselves. They’re fools.”
“I don’t mind paying my fair share, folks,” he said. “I don’t think any of us do. But I do mind when I’m raped. It’s awful.”
In an interview with ABC News’ Rick Klein, outgoing Nw Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg left the door open to a 2012 presidential run.
Klein: “As you know, the 2012 field is already beginning to take shape. There are debates already being announced in your home state of New Hampshire. Is there any chance, any chance at all, that you’ll be on any of those debates stages in your home state or elsewhere in 2012?”
Gregg: “You mean as a candidate? In New Hampshire we like to have a variety of candidates, so I would seriously doubt that. I expect to be actively involved in the presidential primary. That’s’ the fun on coming from New Hampshire and being in office.”
Klein: ”But wait a minute. you didn’t just rule it out. You didn’t rule out a Judd Gregg for President campaign.”
Gregg: “I don’t rule out anything in my future. Let’s face it — that’s not likely and I wouldn’t expect to be doing that.”
“As my kids say, NHD: Not happening dude. … This is a total NHD. Now why, it’s for the same reasons as Clinton. First and most importantly talent matters. Bill Clinton is the most talented politician in my life. Look it up, Barack Obama is the first black guy to win this thing. He is a colossal talent and talent matters. Who the hell wants to take him on? I don’t care if he is weakened up or down. He is only going to be more talented the more he does this.
“You know, I’m not an Obama Kool-Aid drinker. But who in the world would want to climb in the ring with this guy?”
—Paul Begala, on the likelihood of a serious primary challenge to President Obama.
The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has taken the first step in an investigation of Rep.-elect Frank Guinta and his mystery bank account.
Guinta, the former Manchester mayor who defeated Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in November, amended a disclosure form in July to add a previously unreported bank account worth up to $500,000, raising questions about how he had been able to loan his campaign $355,000.
When Guinta is officially notified, he will have 15 days to respond. A formal investigation will commence if the FEC staffer recommends in favor of an investigation and four commissioners agree. During an investigation, the commission would have the power to subpoena documents and individuals.
A survey by Republican pollster Magellan Strategies indicates President Obama continues to maintain high popularity among New Hampshire Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents. 84% of Granite Sate Democrats have a favorable view of President Obama compared to 13% who view him unfavorably.
President Obama maintains his high popularity despite disapproval of his compromise with Congressional Republican leaders to extend the Bush‐era tax cuts. Granite State Democrats and Independents disapprove of the compromise by a 44% - 42% margin.
Magellan surveyed 1,002 likely Democrat primary voters, and independent voters likely to vote in the New Hampshire Democrat Presidential primary. The autodial survey took place December 14-15, 2010 and has a margin of error of +/‐ 3.09% at the 95 percent confidence interval.
The reason why senators have found the tax deal (and also the deficit commission’s proposal) easier to swallow, and why House members haven’t, hits at the essence of the two chambers. The Senate, whose members represent entire states and which needs 60 votes to pass almost anything, is all about compromise and deal making; the House, whose members represent mostly safe congressional districts, is much more polarized.
—First Read, on the tax cut compromise vote