By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Mitt Romney brought his presidential campaign to Alabama in a big way with a visit to Thompson Tractor’s Tarrant area location. Over 450 people supporters packed a bulldozer barn to hear the former Governor of Massachusetts share his vision for the country.
Gov. Romney standing in front of a Caterpillar off road dump truck and a Caterpillar track hoe said that “It is great to be among everyday Americans.” Gov. Romney said that his journey across the country and all the people he has met in his campaign travels have given him “greater confidence” about the future of the country. “We love this country. We love the principles on which this country was founded.” I can take you through all the policies and the list of concerns that the media asks about but it is not about that. It is about our kids and our grandkids.”
Gov. Romney said that the country is on a balance right now and warned that with four more years of Obama the nation will be something we would not recognize. “He (President Barack H. Obama) is leading this country in a way that is not creating greatness and not helping the American people like he could and that is why we are going to replace him in 2012.” We have a real choice in this country in what kind of America we are going to have. Are we going to be Like Europe with a bigger and bigger government taking more and more from us?” Gov. Romney said that Obama was leading the nation down the same liberal course that other nations have followed. “That is not the course I want.” “I want to Keep America as the land of opportunity.”
“This President is comfortable with trillion dollar deficits. Gov. Romney said that Obama has passed a $15 trillion national debt on to our kids and grandkids. “We are going to cut federal spending. We are going to cap federal spending and we are finally going to have a balanced budget but politicians always say that.” Gov. Romney said that his heart is the heart of a conservative business man. “Businessmen have to be fiscally conservative” or they won’t be in business for long. “I learned in 25 years of business how to balance budgets and how to cut back to things that are important so that you can grow and be successful.
Presidential Candidate Romney said his administration will prioritize spending. “We have to ask ourselves if a program is so critical that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it and on that basis we are going to get rid of some programs.” Gov. Romney said that a lot of necessary programs needed to be handed over to the states along with the funding. “I appreciate the federal workers and what they do but I want to link the pay and compensation of federal workers to that of the private sector. The people who are working for us should not be getting paid more than the people they are working for do.”
Gov. Romney said, “The President wants to raise our taxes a lot.” “This President (Obama) wants to raise the marginal rate from 35% to 40%. I want to cut the marginal rates for everyone by 20% and create more jobs.” Gov. Romney said that 24 million Americans are either unemployed or are underemployed. “Most businesses are not taxed at the corporate rate that is usually for the big corporations. They are taxed at the individual rate.”
Governor Romney said that President Obama has proposed about a trillion of cuts to the nation’s defense. “Let me tell you the state of our military. Our Navy is smaller than at any time since 1917. Our Air Force is older in the fleet and smaller in the fleet than it has ever been at any time since it was formed in 1947. Our troops have been stretched to the breaking point by multiple rotations to Afghanistan and formerly to Iraq and now the President wants to cut over 50,000 active duty personnel.” Romney said that the president is proposing hurting our soldiers and our veterans by cuts to their Tricare, the Military’s healthcare. Presidential candidate Romney said that he wants to increase the number of ships constructed from 9 a year to 15 ships a year, add more aircraft, add an additional 100,000 active duty personnel and “I want to give our veterans the care they deserve.” “This is important. Romney said, “It is not just about winning wars this is also about preventing wars. America’s strength is the greatest ally of peace the world has ever known.” “We must keep our military second to none and I will do that.”
“There is something else this President (Obama) is doing. I call it crony capitalism.” A practice where “the government rewards its friends: Solyndra, Tesla, and interone. This is businesses where some Democratic fundraisers needed some money so he (Pres. Obama) gave them $500 million. Now they have gone bankrupt,” Romney said. He is also helping his friends the union bosses. He is taking care of them in a big way. President Obama passed an executive order that if you want to work on a federal project you have to use union labor. He put “union stooges on the National Labor Relations Board.” Romney said, “We need to stand up for the freedom of American workers.” “We need to put the market to work.” Gov. Romney displayed a chart showing the decline of American manufacturing jobs since 1975. In 1975 we had ~18 million manufacturing jobs today we have 1~3 million. In 1975 we had ~6 million union manufacturing jobs now down to ~1 million union manufacturing jobs. “You can see that the total number of manufacturing workers have come down a lot and that decrease was mostly union workers.” “In many cases Unions have asked too much and have killed the businesses that they used to work for.” Gov. Romney said we should not force unions on the American workers. He promised to end the favoritism for union workers for federal jobs. The former Mass. Governor also said, “I don’t want the unions to be able to make money out of their workers’ paychecks in dues and give it to the candidates chosen by the union bosses. People should have the freedom to give their money to the candidate they want.”
Gov. Romney said that in a Romney Presidency, “We are not going to have these trillion dollar deficit that are taking us potentially toward a wall like Greece did. We are going to get energy again by Drilling off shore, by drilling in ANWAR, by drilling in North Dakota, and by building the Keystone Pipeline.”
Governor Romney said that President wants to make us more like Europe. “I don’t think we want to be more like Europe. Europe doesn’t work in Europe. America needs to become more like America, the America that was the dream of our founders.”
Governor Romney was introduced by Fort Payne native Randy Owens who is the lead singer for the popular Country music group, ‘Alabama.’ The popular musician and cattleman said, “We have an opportunity to show Alabama and the rest of the United States who we want to be President of the United States I have never done this before (endorsed a candidate for President), but this is important.” “We need a president who is not ashamed that America is the greatest nation in the world.”
Co-Chairman of Romney’s Alabama Campaign, Congressman Mike Rogers said, “Four years ago me and Kay Ivey were co-chairs of the Romney Committee when Gov. Romney dropped out of the race for the good of the party. I told Mitt Romney then that it took Ronald Reagan to turn the country around after Jimmy Carter. I was convinced then that he (Obama) was another Jimmy Carter. I just did not realize that he was Jimmy Carter on Steroids.” Rep. Rogers said that Gov. Mitt Romney is who we need to turn the country around “after our long national nightmare.”
Co-Chairwoman and Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey said, “We in Alabama know that Mitt Romney can beat Barack Obama.”
The Friday event was hosted by Thompson Tractor Company. Mike Thompson welcomed everyone to his facility and said, “Caterpillar makes the best equipment in the world.” “We are a worldwide company.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Gov. Mitt Romney currently has 454 delegates. Senator Rick Santorum has 217 delegates, Speaker Newt Gingrich has 107, and Rep. Ron Paul has 47. It takes 1144 delegates for a candidate to secure the Republican nomination for President.
The Republican Primary will be on Tuesday, March 13th. Alabama has a combined Primary this year. Local offices, congressional races, and state wide offices will all be on the same ballot as the Presidential race. The Democratic Primary is also on March 13th. Incumbent President Barack Obama is unopposed in the Democratic Primary. He will face the Republican nominee in the November 6th General Election.
Study: COVID-19 infection rates more than double without lockdowns
Infection and fatality rates would have been higher without stay-at-home orders, a new UAB study found.
New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham says that if there had been no stay-at-home orders issued in the U.S. in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the country would have experienced a 220 percent higher rate of infection and a 22 percent higher fatality rate than if such orders were implemented nationwide.
Seven states never imposed stay-at-home orders, or SAHOs. The study analyzed daily positive case rates by state against the presence or absence of statewide SAHOs between March 1 and May 4, the period when such orders began to be implemented. Twelve states lifted their SAHOs before May 4.
The researchers defined SAHOs as being in effect when a state’s governor issued an order for residents of the entire state to leave home only for essential activities and when schools and nonessential businesses were closed.
“During March and April, most states in the United States imposed shutdowns and enacted SAHOs in an effort to control the disease,” said Bisakha Sen, the study’s senior author. “However, mixed messages from political authorities on the usefulness of SAHOs, popular pressure and concerns about the economic fallout led some states to lift the restrictions before public health experts considered it advisable.”
The research also sought to determine if the proportion of a state’s Black residents was associated with its number of positive cases. It found that there was.
“This finding adds to evidence from existing studies using county-level data on racial disparities in COVID-19 infection rates and underlines the urgency of better understanding and addressing these disparities,” said study co-author Vidya Sagar Hanumanthu.
The research can help advance a greater understanding of racial disparities in the health care system as a whole, and help leaders make future decisions about shutdowns as the virus continues to spread, Sen said.
“While the high economic cost makes SAHOs unsustainable as a long-term policy, our findings could help inform federal, state and local policymakers in weighing the costs and benefits of different short-term options to combat the pandemic,” she said.
The study was published Friday in JAMA Network Open.
Jones to attend Auburn student forum, Tuberville hasn’t yet responded to invitation
Jones has agreed to attend the forum, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend.
The College Democrats at Auburn University and the College Republicans at Auburn University have asked U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, to attend a student forum on Wednesday.
“We are excited to invite the candidates running for our U.S. Senate seat and provide this opportunity for any Auburn student to hear directly from them, and we hope it will inform our student bodies’ decisions with the November 3rd election only days away,” said Carsten Grove, president of the College Democrats at Auburn University, in a statement.
Jones has agreed to attend the forum, Auburn University College Democrats confirmed for APR on Sunday, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend. The student organization was still awaiting a response from Tuberville’s campaign.
Jones has for months requested Tuberville join him in a debate, but Tuberville has declined.
“AUCR takes great pleasure in coming together with AUCD to co-host the Alabama Senate candidates in this forum. We are looking forward to a very informative and constructive event,” said Lydia Maxwell, president of the College Republicans at Auburn University.
Dr. Ryan Williamson, assistant professor of political science, is to emcee the forum, which will be open to all Auburn University students in the Mell Classroom Building at 6 p.m., according to a press release from the College Democrats at Auburn University.
Students will be permitted 30 seconds to ask a question of either candidate, and each candidate will have two minutes to answer, according to the release.
Capacity at the forum will be limited and precautions taken due to COVID-19. Any student with an Auburn ID is welcome and attendance will be first come, first served.
122,000 Alabamians could lose health coverage if ACA is overturned, study finds
President Donald Trump’s administration and 18 states, including Alabama, are asking the country’s highest court to strike down the law.
At least 122,000 Alabamians and 21.1 million in the U.S. overall would lose health coverage if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent study.
The Washington D.C.-based think tank Urban Institute’s analysis found that Alabama’s uninsured rate would increase by 25 percent if the court strikes down the Affordable Care Act. Oral arguments in a case against the landmark health care law are to begin on Nov. 10.
President Donald Trump’s administration and 18 states, including Alabama, are asking the country’s highest court to strike down the entire ACA.
Trump, speaking to CBS News’s Lesley Stahl in a recent interview, said he would like the Supreme Court to end the ACA. There’s concern among many that Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court, conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett, could be a deciding factor in the repeal of the ACA when the Supreme Court hears the case just after the Nov. 3 election.
“I hope that they end it. It’ll be so good if they end it,” Trump told Stahl.
“Repealing the ACA would throw our health care system into chaos in the middle of a pandemic and a deep recession,” Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden said in a statement. “Tens of thousands of Alabamians would lose health coverage when they need it most. And hundreds of thousands would pay more for coverage or lose protections for their preexisting conditions.”
Health care coverage losses could be even larger next year, as the COVID-19 pandemic and recession likely still will be ongoing, according to the study.
“The ACA has been a health lifeline for many Alabamians during the pandemic,” Hyden said. “It provides coverage options for people who have lost their jobs or seen sharp reductions in their income. And it ensures people aren’t denied insurance just because they got sick.”
Ending the ACA would also reverse gains made in reducing racial disparities in health care coverage, researchers in the study found, noting that overturning the ACA would strip health coverage from nearly one in 10 Black and Latino Americans under age 65, and more than one in 10 Native Americans nationwide would lose health insurance.
People with pre-existing conditions would be charged higher insurance rates, or have their coverage dropped altogether, if the ACA is struck down, according to the study, which also found that the law’s repeal would harm people who have health insurance through their jobs.
Those who have health insurance from an employer could see their plans reintroduce annual and lifetime coverage limits, and requirements for plans to cover essential benefits and provide free preventive services would disappear, according to the study, as would the requirement for insurers to allow young adults to be covered through their parents’ plans.
While millions would lose health care if the law is repealed, the country’s top earners would receive tax cuts, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which found that the highest-income 0.1 percent of households, which earn more than $3 million annually, would receive tax cuts averaging about $198,000 per year.
“A portion of these tax cuts — about $10 billion per year — would come at the direct expense of the Medicare Trust Fund, since the additional Medicare tax the ACA instituted for couples with earnings over $250,000 flows to the fund,” the Center of Budget and Policy Priority study reads.
Pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes each year, according to the study, while millions of seniors would pay billions more for prescription drugs due to the gap in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit if the ACA is repealed.
“The ACA has left Alabama better equipped to fight COVID-19 and rebuild our economy after the recession,” Hyden said. “And those benefits would be even greater if Alabama would adopt Medicaid expansion.
“Striking down the ACA would harm the Alabamians who have suffered the most during the pandemic and the recession. It would deprive our state of the opportunity to save lives and strengthen our health care system by expanding Medicaid,” Hyden continued. “And it would shower huge tax cuts on rich people while making life harder for everyone else. Alabama officials should stop seeking to undermine the ACA and start investing in a healthier future for our entire state.”
Two military pilots killed in plane crash in Foley
The plane crashed around 5 p.m. A house and two cars on the ground were hit in the crash.
A Navy pilot and a Coast Guard student pilot were killed on Friday when their Navy T-6B Texan II training airplane crashed into a home in Foley. No one in the house was killed.
Commander Zach Harrell, a public affairs officer with Naval Air Forces, said that the plane crashed around 5 p.m. A house and two cars on the ground were hit in the crash.
“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn two of our pilots who lost their lives during an aircraft crash in Alabama today,” the chief of naval air training said in a Twitter post. “Our deepest sympathy goes to their family and friends at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Shipmates. We have the watch.”
Navy Lt. Rhiannon Ross, age 30, of Wixom, Michigan, died when her T-6B Texan II trainer aircraft crashed. She was a Navy instructor pilot, officials announced on Sunday. Also killed was Coast Guard Ensign Morgan Garrett, a 24-year-old student aviator.
Ross earned her commission in April 2012. Before joining the Florida-based Training Squadron Two in February 2018, she served three years with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26 out of Norfolk, Virginia.
Garrett was from Weddington, North Carolina, and was a 2019 Coast Guard Academy graduate.
“Their spirit, friendship, and devotion to their country will not be forgotten,” Navy officials said in a Sunday news release.
Ross was a member of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor’s Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps, according to her Navy career bio. Her personal awards include a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
Friday’s accident marked the Navy’s first aviation-related fatality in more than a year.
“The incident is currently under investigation,” Harrell said. “The Navy is cooperating fully with local authorities.”
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said on Twitter, “Very sad to hear about the Navy trainer aircraft that crashed in Foley. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two service members who lost their live.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, said, “As we await additional information, I hope you will join me in praying for the victims and their families. According to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s office, the plane was a US Navy aircraft.”
A home caught fire after the plane crashed but the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office also said no one on the ground was injured.
The T-6B Texan II is a tandem-seat, turboprop aircraft primarily used to train Navy and Marine Corps pilots, according to the Navy.
There are 245 T-6Bs based at the Navy’s two aviation training bases, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, outside of Pensacola and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. The airfield is about 45 miles from the crash site.