Michigan GOP Nomination Down to the Wire; Top GOP Candidates’ Tax Plans Would Increase Federal Debt; New Name Option for Southern Baptists; Companies Try to Keep Workers Fit: Today on Here and Now

by Laura Ellis on February 27, 2012

1:06pm: The latest polls in Michigan show Mitt Romney’s momentum has stopped in his home state of Michigan, where he’s been chipping away at Rick Santorum’s lead in the polls over the past week. The conventional wisdom is that if Romney can’t win the state he won four years ago, the nomination will be a long, drawn-out battle with Santorum, perhaps until the party nominating convention this summer. We’ll talk with Bill Ballenger, editor of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics, who says “it’s gonna be a real dogfight” tomorrow.

1:12pm: U.S. Budget Watch, a project of the bi-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says tax and spending plans proposed by Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich would significantly increase the national debt. The exception is Ron Paul‘s proposal, which includes major spending cuts with reductions in taxes and would actually bring down the federal deficit. And the tax reform included in President Barack Obama‘s budget? Independent analysis by the Tax Policy Center says it’s ‘long on principles,’ but ‘woefully short on specifics.’ Howard Gleckman of the Tax Policy Center says despite all the fuzziness in most of the proposals, there’s enough to understand that basic ideas each candidate is working with, and no matter who wins, the stage is set for an “epic battle” over tax reform. He joins us to explain the proposals.

1:35pm: The Southern Baptist Convention is in the process of undergoing a name change. Congregations may soon have the option to call themselves either South Baptist or Great Commission Baptists. While the move is seen by some as a way to distance the church from the stigma of the Civil War, slavery and segregation, church officials say the name change will allow more people to identify with their message. Albert Mohler is President of Louisvilleā€™s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and was a member of the church review committee that unanimously voted for the new name. He spoke with WFPL’s Devin Katayama about the change.

1:40pm: The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2018 about a quarter of the labor force will be 55 or older. And a number of companies are trying to find ways to keep older employees working for longer, to avoid the expense of hiring and retraining new workers. At Harley Davidson, trainers hand out ice packs to workers who are coming off the manufacturing line, while Duke Energy Corp has instituted a special stretching program for linemen, who work repairing power lines. Duke Energy says that from a business standpoint, the stretching program, along with a focus on ergonomics, has paid off; they’ve seen fewer workers’ compensation claims and insurance payouts, and the company just completed their second-best safety year.

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