The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

The myth of Romney’s fundraising advantage – updated

Looking at the campaign reports filed with the Federal Election Commission ( through this morning for both Romney and Obama, and what I found was that President Obama has, without exception, out-performed Romney in fundraising since January of this year through September.

The Obama campaign ended September with $99 million cash compared to Romney’s $63 million. During the month of September alone, Obama out-fundraised Romney by $50 million. The amazing thing about it is the great number of small donors contributing to Obama’s campaign.

The original of this post, from September, is here.


Written by Tom Fox

10/23/2012 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Welfare to work update

A year ago in July I compiled the caseload number of adults participating in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.  Blame it all on the 35 one-hundredths of one percent.  The numbers showed a steady decline in adult participation in the program from 2000 to 2008. Not surprisingly, those numbers also showed an uptick in adult participation when folks lost their jobs or could not find work in 2009 – 2010 during the Great Recession. Now that the caseload numbers for 2011 are available, it is time to update the chart.

As you can see, by the end of CY 2011, the numbers have begun to decline again. There are only a bit more than one million adults (parents or guardians of minor children) who are participating in the TANF program. Don’t blame Federal budget problems on imaginary “welfare queens.”


TANF caseload data

Written by Tom Fox

10/11/2012 at 8:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

U. S. Defense Spending and Income Tax Receipts

To put things into proper perspective, I gathered the annual data from the U.S. Department of Treasury, Financial Management Service, and graphed it. The easy and obvious conclusions are: (1) Defense and military spending has more than doubled during the period FY 1998 to FY 2011 (the most recent year with complete information), (2) Federal Income tax receipts have not increased nearly that fast, and (3) President Barack Obama has not reduced defense military spending during his first term, even though the rate of increase has slowed since the end of the Iraq war.















As you can see, as a percent of Federal Income Tax receipts, defense military spending has gone from about 30% to more than 60%, from 1998 to 2011.

Written by Tom Fox

10/10/2012 at 9:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

A Third-party Story

 A major party candidate doesn’t need 50% of the vote to win. Look at the success that 43% of the vote brought Bill Clinton in 1992. The reason was that Clinton won a plurality in a three way race. Sure, you say, but Ross Perot got almost 19% of the vote that year. He was a bona fide contender. Otherwise, as people keep telling me, third party candidates just don’t matter.But, it’s not true. They do matter.

This year there is the Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson on the ballot in 47 states for sure, with 3 more being disputed. Johnson will not draw as much as did Perot, but polls show him receiving between 3% and 7% of the vote. The question is, from which of the two major party candidates will Johnson take more of his votes? In a really close race, the answer to that question tells the tale and determines the outcome of the election. If between now and then Obama opens up a bigger lead, then Johnson will not make much difference. If the gap between Romney and Obama stays about 2% – 3%, Johnson could make a decisive difference.

There are only a few public polls that include Johnson, so far.

Written by Tom Fox

09/20/2012 at 1:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Panic Index – Gold Prices August – September, 2012


This graph is taken from, and it is of the U.S. gold spot market from near the end of August, 2012 to September 19, 2012. The obvious spikes in gold prices are on the following dates and correlated events:

August 31 – The end of the Republican National Convention

September 7, 2012 – The end of the Democratic National Convention

September 12, 2012 – Widespread protests and violence in the Middle East

What does it all mean? I don’t know. I have no inside knowledge of the U.S. gold market, except that people with money tend to buy gold when they get scared.

Written by Tom Fox

09/19/2012 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

White babies still the majority on WIC



The majority of babies, infants and toddlers who get fed via the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) are statistically listed as “white” by the Federal government.

Written by Tom Fox

08/26/2012 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Accumulated political wisdom – The Paul Ryan effect.

Abbreviated collected wisdom from

Erika Lovley – Moderator : “Is Ryan’s vice presidential candidacy doing more harm than good to GOP congressional candidates?

Rep. John Tierney Congressman (D-Mass.) : “The Ryan budget would have a devastating effect on my district”

Former Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.) : “One thing I learned campaigning is that most voters cast their ballot based on the individual member of Congress. They do not follow strict party ideological paradigms. ”

Former Rep. Martin Frost : “They can run but they can’t hide. The Ryan plan will sink some GOP Congressional candidates.”

Brad Schneider – Democrat for Congress :”My opponent has voted twice for the Ryan plan”

Aaron David Miller : “Ryan’s presence was supposed to simplify and reflect clear principled positions, not open the door to squishy weasel wording.”

Roger Pilon : “Today’s Arena question boils down to this: Are Americans able to handle the truth – that we’re going broke, as Paul Ryan puts it, plainly”

Tom McMahon : “Congressional Republicans might be putting on a brave face, but they have every reason to be nervous about Paul Ryan’s pick to be the party’s vice presidential nominee.”(note: McMahon coined the term “coupon care” as a reference to Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program)

Jason Stanford : “Romney’s choice of Ryan could cement Barack Obama’s lead in the presidential race, but the real danger for Republicans is that Ryan’s presence on the ticket will lose them the House. Paul Ryan is to 2012 voters as Nancy Pelosi was to 2010. Republicans, welcome to a nightmare of your own making.”

Peter Mirijanian : “The Romney campaign is experiencing what happens when you throw the equivalent of a political ‘Hail Mary’ pass: unintended consequences.”

Peter Fenn : “Yes, and Ryan will continue to hurt Republicans in close races until November. The more you are explaining, the more you are losing. No amount of word-smithing or obfuscating can detract from their voting for, and embracing, the Ryan plan – more tax breaks for the super wealthy, tax increases for the middle class, not to mention vouchers for Medicare and privatizing Social Security.”

Celinda Lake : “His budget is the biggest noose around their necks. The combination of refusing to make millionaires pay their fair share and gutting Medicare is a huge negative with women, seniors, and pre-retirement voters.”

Peter Ubertaccio : “Ryan himself demonstrates that a Republican can win a Democratic district by defending the Ryan budget. They might look to him for assistance in that regard rather than reflexively separating themselves from one of the few people in Washington who actually has a plan.”

Darrell M. West : “Ryan creates many complications for GOP congressional candidates because they are going to have to defend his Medicare proposal (which most Republicans voted for).”

John Anzalone : “When we look back in November 2012, the biggest effect of the Ryan pick may have been putting the House in play. Just ask Ron Barber (AZ-8) or Kathy Hochul (NY-26) how the Romney-Ryan plans play in a congressional race.”

David Boaz : “Our politicians have made promises that our taxpayers can’t keep. Putting Paul Ryan on the ticket is a bet that voters are willing to face up to that problem. Are they?”

Mark Hannah : “No amount of NRCC wordsmithing is going to change the fact that Paul Ryan’s budget is the most ideologically driven budget we’ve seen in recent memory. It’s reverse Robin Hood-ism (take from the poor and give to the rich) and class warfare at its worst.”

Christine Pelosi : “There is your Medicare choice: a Democratic guaranteed health services benefit to seniors or a Republican guaranteed payment voucher coupon to insurance companies vendors.”

Gloria Feldt : “No amount of snake oil and Band-Aids can cover up the mortal wounds Paul Ryan aims to inflict on Medicare. And by the way, Medicare is not an entitlement. We earned it and we paid for it.”

Garry South : “That’s what happens when you drink the Koolaid.”

Steven G. Calabresi : “The question for voters is why does Barack Obama want to make such brutal cuts in Medicare instead of reforming Medicare by expanding health care choices?”

Jeffrey Taylor : “Will the “Paul Ryan” budget be problematic for a handful of Republican candidates in Democratic leaning districts or states in 2012? Sure.”

Cliff Schecter : “There is no doubt that by tying his insane budget – one whose numbers seem to ignore those arcane principles of addition and subtraction – around the necks of GOP House and Senate candidates.”

Dewey Clayton : “The choice of Paul Ryan is a mixed blessing. In Democratic-leaning districts it will more likely do more harm than good. However, in Republican districts Ryan’s selection may do more good.”

Written by Tom Fox

08/14/2012 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Uncategorized