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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Dec. 4

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 8:07 AM

At least one Republican is seeking to renew a proposal to divide up Pennsylvania's electoral votes proportionally, replacing the winner-take-all system used here and in most other states. So while polling guru Nate Silver may think Pennsylvania is ripe for Republican conquest, it seems that some Pennsylvania Republicans may not be so sure. And once you've been trounced in a Presidential contest and a series of statewide elections, it probably does make sense to try to carve the state up a bit.

In other "election tactics we might want to rethink" news, campaign strategists are rethinking the unfettered spending of millions of dollars on campaign ads. No doubt a return of the Lincoln-Douglas debates is just around the corner.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl allows the city's billboard tax to become law without his signature. Will this be enough to prevent his face from appearing on billboards? We'll have to see. In any case, it's on to the lawsuit!

As we bask in another round of holiday-season advertising from the state Lottery ("Five Cash F-i-i-i-i-i-ives! ... and best wishes from the lot-ter-y!") Democrats are sounding alarms about moves to privatize the system. Only one bidder has expressed interest in taking it over, and has pledged to double revenues ... if the state agrees to deploy keno machines. Democrats wonder why we need to pay someone else to do that work. No one seems to be asking if -- what with all the horsetracks and casinos and whatnot we've been building -- there isn't some saturation point when it comes to people pissing away their money.

Since it is the holiday season, here's a timely reminder that, thanks to cuts at the federal and state level, Pennsylvania charities could really use some help.

I've largely avoided "fiscal cliff" clippings here, because so much of the debate seems like shadow-theater that is totally immune to whatever you or I or any reasonable person thinks about it. Anyway, you'll be happy to hear that Sen. Pat Toomey has all the answers! Amazingly, the solution is remarkably similar to a plan he proposed last year: Tweak some loopholes enjoyed by the wealthy -- while preserving their historically low, low tax rates -- while cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Seems like we've really learned a lot since 2011. (And just in case, like me, you've gotten distracted from what's at stake with all this kabuki, Jon Delano reminds us of the impact this fiscal chaos could have on home-heating-assistance programs.) Meanwhile, as part of his commitment to bipartisanship, Democratic Senator Bob Casey has found a proposal neither party seems all that enthusiastic about: extending a cut to the payroll tax that supports Social Security.

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