After the debate: Romney's busy first day

There was considerable discussion during last night’s debate about what Mitt Romney would or would not do on Day 1 of his presidency, and whether Day 1 would be Inauguration Day or the day after the election on November 6th. It remains a mystery why the President would cede this rhetorical possibility to his opponent (Obama: “Well, first of all, I think Governor Romney's going to have a busy first day,”) but it is in fact an important consideration to ponder. Presidential transitions are fraught with the complexity of changing the leadership of a massive federal government and the secrecy imposed by Washington superstitions. So what do we know about what occur on that Day 1?


From reigning to campaigning: Beauty Queen political candidates

We talk a lot about politicians’ appearances. President Obama’s suits, Mitt Romney’s perfect hair, Paul Ryan’s abs, and Hillary Clinton’s make-up. Even their spouses’ dresses got tongues wagging at the recent political conventions.
While conversation about politicians’ appearances can distract from discussion of their policies, both aspects are important. Economist Daniel Hamermesh has found that voters favor politicians who they find better-looking than their opponents. A polished appearance projects confidence - that even in a stressful situation you can hold yourself together.  And no candidate knows this better than the beauty queen.
This fall, three Miss America contestants will face their toughest competitions yet: runs for political office. There’s Shelli Yoder, Miss Indiana 1992 and second runner-up to Miss America, who secured the Democratic nomination to run for U.S. Congress in the Ninth District of Indiana.


Sequestration cuts could seriously impair medical research

Federal sequestration cuts are expected to dramatically affect funding for all areas of health care research. But nowhere, perhaps, would the effect be more chilling than in  the still-fledgling field of lupus research.

The automatic cuts would become effective January 2, 2013, unless Congress intervenes, and would sharply curtail the pipeline of research funds flowing to scientists through the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. As physicians who have devoted our careers to biomedical/clinical research, we are worried about the effect the cuts will have on the very recent but hopeful progress that has been made in lupus research, and also on the viability of our academic institutions and others like them around the United States. 


Though deeply divided, Wisconsin is still a blue state

It has been a tumultuous couple of years in Wisconsin politics. Starting with the election of Scott Walker and his elimination of public worker collective bargaining, Wisconsin has been deeply — and very evenly — divided. Through recall, the Democrats managed to take back control of the state senate (a significant but largely symbolic victory, given that the legislative session had already ended and much of the Walker agenda had already been enacted), but they failed in winning back the governor’s seat. Whether this is because people are uncomfortable with the concept of the recall, as some have said, or they are supportive of Scott Walker’s policies, as others have said, I don’t think this tell us much of anything about what Wisconsin will do in November. In addition, I doubt Wisconsin will provide the deciding Electoral College vote for the upcoming election. Look to larger states for that—Florida, Ohio, or Pennsylvania.


Republican war on the environment

It isn’t your fault if you tune into the House of Representatives floor proceedings this week and mistakenly think you’re watching “Groundhog Day.” During the last week Republicans will call the House into session before the November elections, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor have chosen to bypass the important issues that the American public is asking for action on – a comprehensive jobs package, a bipartisan farm bill, dealing with the looming fiscal cliff and sequestration – in order to once again consider several extreme anti-environment and anti-public health bills that have already passed the House before but which will never pass the Senate or be signed into law by President Obama.


Yes, we are better off than four years ago

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As the Democratic convention gets under way, here in Charlotte and across the nation, there’s only one question that counts for voters: Are you better off today than you were four years ago?


Congress should follow Delaware's lead on disclosure

The rest of the country followed Delaware’s lead in ratifying the Constitution. Congress, too, should take its cue from Delaware for its leadership in passing legislation addressing anonymous spending in elections.


California's Prop. 32 would be Citizens United on steroids

Conservative activists in California are promoting a deceptive ballot proposition that would increase the ability of business groups and billionaires to dominate state elections. The measure, Proposition 32, claims to be an even-handed effort at campaign finance reform – but nothing could be further from the truth. Prop. 32 (or “Stop Special Interest Money Now,” as its big money supporters prefer to call it) would cripple the ability of unions to participate in politics, but have little or no impact on unlimited spending by corporate executives and other wealthy individuals.


Barry and the Tea Party

“Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be constitutional does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.” 
—Tea Party favorite Rand Paul on the Supreme Court decision on the healthcare case 6/28/12

Translated: La Constitution, c’est moi. Call it the Tea Party credo, otherwise reflected by Texas GOP primary winner Ted Cruz’s notion that the only way to get things done in Washington — or in his words, “Take our country back” — is for everyone to adopt his point of view.


Secrecy is not a small business value. Transparency is

I’ve been a small business owner for more than 25 years. So it’s fair to say I’ve been around the block. I also happen to live in the Chicago metro area, so I know a thing or two about hard-nosed politics.