Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8th, 2012 Edition

Dick Lugar: A Washington insider on his way out?
by Stephanie Condon
May 8, 2012

How does a senator once described as "the George Washington of modern Indiana" find himself so unpopular he might get kicked out of office?

That's the question Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana is asking right about now as he faces the political fight of his life against state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in today's primary.

The longest serving senator in Indiana's history, Lugar blames his weakened standing on the influence of money in modern politics.

"Thank goodness the founder of our country did not face millions of dollars of negative advertising," he told CBS affiliate WISH-TV last week.

First elected to the Senate in 1976, the 80-year-old former Indianapolis mayor became a prime target for conservative groups this year seeking to extend the Tea Party's influence in Congress and purge the Repubilcan party of its moderates. They argue the senator simply doesn't represent his constituents anymore.

Pain now or pain later? Europeans prefer putting it off

May 8, 2012

With more than half of the 17 Eurozone countries slipping back into recession in recent months and popular discontent reaching a crescendo, overseers of the European common currency may be more likely to heed the hurting countries' calls for stimulus spending now in hopes of generating growth to pay down debts later.

Elections in Greece and France that gave a resounding rebuff to painful austerity measures imposed by the European Union to protect the euro have raised concerns that citizens of countries with bloated government budgets may still be in denial about what needs to be done to bolster the euro.

The two Eurozone nations that voted out leaders supportive of the painful belt-tightening that has driven up unemployment and cut deep into public benefits did so for different reasons and with glaringly disparate prospects for success, say economists and political scientists who study Europe.

"Austerity measures are needed in most of these countries, especially Greece, Portugal, Ireland, because these countries have been living far beyond their means. There has been totally irresponsible spending by both the governments and the populations," said Ivan T. Berend, a Hungarian-born professor of European economic and political history at UCLA.

Berend blames the debt crises in the Eurozone on the easy credit extended to new members of Europe's powerful political and economic bloc, where financial markets treated states with deficits two or three times larger than their GDP "as if they were Germany."

Santorum's underwhelming endorsement of Romney

by Joel Roberts
May 8, 2012

Rick Santorum finally offered a formal endorsement for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney late on Monday night. But it was hardly a ringing proclamation of approval for his former rival.

From its timing (after 11 pm on the East Coast) to its form ( an email to supporters posted on his campaign website) to its language (more pointing out his differences with Romney than extolling Romney's virtues) it's a decidedly underwhelming nod to the man who bested him in the Republican primaries.

In his statement, he returns to some of the issues that troubled him about Romney during the campaign — doubts about Romney's "commitment to addressing the issues most important to conservatives," concerns about his ability to make "a case as a candidate about fighting against Obamacare" — before stating that he's more satisfied now with the governor's positions.

Like Newt Gingrich's similarly tepid endorsement, Santorum offers little praise for the party's standard bearer, beyond the belief that he's preferable to four more years of President Obama.

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