There’s Always News Coming Out of D.C.

A few Washington-related items that came across my radar screen in recent reading:

  • Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman says he never considered running for president while in his service as U.S. ambassador to China. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that. But Huntsman notes that he never intended to stay in the previous role for more than two years — and admits that he failed to tell that to President Obama. Oops!
  • While many are criticizing the federal health care reform effort for what it tries to do, a former administration official is blasting it for its failure to address a related subject. Former OMB Director Peter Orszag says that as long as doctors follow evidence-based protocols, they should be exempted from medical malpractice suits. "His quote: "Unfortunately, in the health act, this was one of the largest missed opportunities." Anything to help curb the lawsuit mania that grips our country would be a good thing. Can we start over on that reform thing?
  • News flash! The U.S. Postal Service is a broken system — and Congress wants to fix it. Ending Saturday delivery and closing more branches are part of the plan, as well as renegotiating collective bargaining agreements. I don’t know the answer, but something must be done sooner rather than later to fix an uncompetitive, costly government-run program.

Poll: GOP Faithful ‘Still Waiting’

The news that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would not run for president further muddied a GOP race that has been described by some as "mired in mediocrity." Minus a Daniels entry, we asked a poll question regarding your favorite for the GOP nomination.

We offered five individual choices, but the overwhelming winner was "none of the above/still waiting" with 58% of the vote. Three of our individual options are already in the race, one (Jon Huntsman) is ready to make it official and one (Sarah Palin) remains a mystery. We posed the question before Texas Gov. Rick Perry became the object of speculation. A follow-up in a few months could reveal dramatically different sentiments.

The results of your votes:

  • None/still waiting: 58%
  • Mitt Romney: 13%
  • Sarah Palin: 10%
  • Tim Pawlenty: 10%
  • Jon Huntsman: 6%
  • Newt Gingrich (before his mass staff exodus): 2%

We move away from policy and politics with our current question: Do you consider Indiana a leading location for starting or growing a business? Provide your input at the top right corner of this page.

GOP Hopefuls Have a Long Road to Travel

There’s always a little skepticism when the latest poll numbers come out. Not that there isn’t value, but you typically need to closely consider the source, the questions and how they were asked. An exception, however, was a recent New York Times/CBS News survey on 2012 Republican presidential candidates.

The bottom line from the story I read: Whoever is going to mount a challenge to President Obama has a long road ahead of him/her. The public doesn’t have much of an opinion of the potential candidates at this point. A few highlights:

  • Nearly 60% of Republicans in the poll "cannot point to a single candidate about whom they are enthusiastic."
  • Percentage of Republicans who say they don’t know enough about these candidates to judge them favorably or unfavorably: Tim Pawlenty, 77%; Haley Barbour, 85%; Jon Huntsman, Jr., 94%; Mitch Daniels, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum fall in a similar range as Huntsman.
  • Even the "repeaters" have some challenges: Sarah Palin, 55% of all polled have an unfavorable view compared to 26% favorable; Mitt Romney, 28% favorable and 24% unfavorable; and Donald Trump, 60% of Republicans said they did not believe he was a serious candidate.
  • Mike Huckabee got the most support, viewed favorably by a third of all voters and more than half of Republicans. Still, asked who they were most enthusiastic about, 9% said Romney, 8% Huckabee and 57% did not name anyone.

But on the positive side, I’m sure all these candidates and their advisors will say there’s plenty of time to form that favorable impression. And four years ago at this time the leading candidate in this poll (most widely known and with a favorable ranking) was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who never became a serious contender.

It will be interesting to see how these numbers evolve and how they stack up later this year.

Utah First to Move to Four-Day Work Week

The land of pioneers, Sundance, and enough salt to callously murder millions of slugs has now become the first state government to move to a 10-hour, four-day work week (to take effect in August).

Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr. recently made the declaration as an effort to cut heating and cooling costs and to reduce gas consumption.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Huntsman says 16,000 to 17,000 state employees will be affected when the change is implemented. He acknowledges some of those workers will have problems because of child care or transportation issues, but agency heads will be asked to spend the month of July working through those issues. 

"The energy efficiencies are significant that we can achieve," Huntsman said. "When you look at the totality of the needs, this is a good policy moving forward."