04/02/15 State Roundup
"EPA wants to regulate . . . the family BBQ."
Allen West, former U.S. representative, March 19 on his website
West — now the president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based free-market think tank — recently leapt to the defense of home-cooked meat.
The article was headlined, "Two things the EPA wants to regulate in your life," and referred to alleged interest by the Environmental Protection Agency in backyard barbecues and hotel shower water. Here's an excerpt of West's post:...
03/29/15 State Roundup
More and more, critics are making the case that keeping killer whales in captivity is harmful to the animals and dangerous for the people who train them. SeaWorld, the theme park that showcases the trained whales, is now fighting back.
A new ad, part of a multimedia blitz for the company, is headlined, "Fact: Whales live as long at SeaWorld," and it is written in the voice of Chris Dold, a SeaWorld veterinarian. The ad, which has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, takes specific aim at criticism leveled by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights group that has been among the theme park company's biggest critics. Here's a portion of the ad's text:...
"The stock market has almost tripled since April of 2009."
Former Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., March 15 on ABC's This Week
Many Americans believe that the economic recovery has only recently picked up steam. But one group that is widely seen as benefiting in recent years are investors in the stock market. This is a point that former Sen. James Webb, D-Va. — a potential 2016 candidate for president — made during an interview on ABC's This Week....
During a major policy address intended to increase his profile as a 2016 presidential hopeful, former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush criticized the economic performance of President Barack Obama.
"Six years after the recession ended, median incomes are down, households are, on average, poorer and millions of people have given up looking for work altogether," Bush said to the Detroit Economic Club on Feb. 4....
The Affordable Care Act "basically puts a penalty or a tax on employers for every new job they create."
House Speaker John Boehner, Jan. 25 on CBS' 60 Minutes
Boehner's concern stems from a provision in the law known as the employer mandate, which levies a penalty on employers if they fail to offer their workers health insurance. The provision — twice delayed by the Obama administration — applies to workers who are on the job for at least 30 hours per week. The penalty is calculated on a formula that takes into account the number of uninsured workers....
"Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis."
President Barack Obama, Tuesday in his State of the Union address
The most recent reported monthly unemployment rate was 5.6 percent for December. The last time it was that low was in June 2008, when it was also 5.6 percent.
The financial crisis occurred after June 2008 — it's generally dated to the implosion of the Wall Street firm Lehman Bros. in September 2008. So Obama clearly has a point....
In remarks from the Senate floor, newly elevated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested that his party's takeover of Senate control "appears to coincide" with recent good economic news.
"After so many years of sluggish growth, we're finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope," McConnell said. "The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration's long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress."...
At PolitiFact, one of our most frequent sources of checkable claims is on our readers' social media feeds. And in this regard, 2014 did not disappoint. We checked chain emails, shareable Facebook memes and other Internet detritus, often submitted by readers who ask us: "Is this really true?"
Most of the time the answer is no: Since PolitiFact began in 2007, we've rated 47 percent of shareable Facebook memes as either False or Pants on Fire, compared with just 20 percent that were either True or Mostly True. The track record of chain emails is even more dismal. A full 83 percent of chain emails have been False or Pants on Fire, compared with just 7 percent that were either True or Mostly True....
Sen. Marco Rubio has taken the lead opposing President Barack Obama's overhaul of U.S.-Cuba relations. His main complaint: The United States isn't getting enough out of the deal, especially when it comes to democratic reforms.
"The White House has conceded everything and gained little. They gained no commitment on the part of the Cuban regime to freedom of press or freedom of speech or elections," he said. "No commitment was made to allowing the establishment of political parties or to even begin the semblance of a transition to a democracy."...
Former Vice President Dick Cheney has had a relatively quiet couple of years since leaving the White House. But with the release of a Senate report on alleged torture by the CIA, it was inevitable that Cheney — who is closely associated with the post-9/11 policy of "enhanced interrogations" for captured terrorists — would return to television screens.
The report concluded that techniques signed off on by Cheney and President George W. Bush were not an effective way to gain intelligence from detainees, and that the CIA misled Congress and the White House. The report detailed such techniques as "rectal rehydration" and the use of coffin-size confinement boxes....
11/09/14 State Roundup
With the 2014 elections in the rear-view mirror and 2016 coming up fast, the political world has begun speculating about whether former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — son of one president and brother of a second — could seek the White House himself.
In a recent fundraising letter sent on behalf of the Excellence in Education Foundation, Bush discusses one of his signature issues.
"In order to have any lasting success, we must first transform our failing education system and have no tolerance for the adult-centered K-12 system that exists today....
Most political analysts expected that Election Night 2014 wouldn't be a happy one for the Democrats. But the scope of the carnage was still something of a surprise.
Not only did the Democrats lose their majority in the U.S. Senate and fall further behind in the U.S. House, but they also performed miserably in the closest gubernatorial races.
Before the election, we offered 10 yardsticks to use when judging the scale of the Republican wave. Now that the ballot-counting is (mostly) finished, we can see what these metrics show....
Will the Republican Party enjoy a wave election in 2014? Here are some metrics that can help you determine the answer as you follow the returns Tuesday night.
The GOP has the upper hand in this midterm election cycle because it's the sixth year of a presidency — and a pretty unpopular one at that. Historically, parties that don't control the White House tend to chalk up a lot of gains in midterm elections such as this one....
"When I took office, the deficit was nearly 10 percent of our economy. Today, it's approaching 3 percent."
President Barack Obama, Oct. 2, in a speech at Northwestern University
We looked at data from the Office of Management and Budget that tracks the federal deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product. Calculating it this way shows not the absolute level of the deficit, but rather how big it is in relation to the size of the broader economy....
Countries with a higher minimum wage than the United States' $7.25 an hour include Denmark at $21, Australia at $15.81, Germany at $11 and France at $12.35.
There are two major methods for comparing minimum wages between countries. The meme uses the most basic way — using exchange rates to convert the wage amount from the foreign country's currency to U.S. dollars. ...