The following article from U.K-based The Guardian examines the slow recovery in Indiana’s Elkhart County and the area’s significance in President Barack Obama’s bid to secure a second term. To read the entire article click here.
For the past three years Ed Neufeldt has been wearing the same green rubber bracelets stamped “Jobs for America”. He plans to take them off when unemployment in his home town of Elkhart, Indiana, falls below 8%. That day appears, finally, to be approaching – albeit achingly slowly. “The whole United States is not doing that good,” Neufeldt says. “But here we’re better off than we were three years ago.”
Few towns hold as much history for Barack Obama’s presidency as Elkhart. This was the city where he fought to establish himself as the candidate of hope and change, first in a bruising encounter with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and then for the presidency. On his road to victory, Obama visited here four times in 15 months, and in February 2009 he chose Elkhart for his first trip outside Washington since his inauguration.
Neufeldt, then an unemployed recreational vehicle worker, was thrust into the national spotlight when he was chosen to introduce the newly inaugurated president of the United States at a local rally. “I am hoping and praying that president Obama will put the people of Elkhart County back to work. The stakes are high,” Neufeldt said then.
“I promised you back then if I was elected, I would do everything I could to help this community recover, and that’s why I’m back here today,” said Obama as he pushed the American Recovery Act, an $800bn stimulus plan he hoped would get America back to work.
Back then unemployment in the area was 18%. Obama charmed the locals, playing basketball with children in the streets and dipping into local diners to the shock and delight of proprietors and patrons alike. And he made big promises.
Four years on, Elkhart has gone from a symbol of Obama’s message of hope to a perfect example of the biggest hurdle the president faces in his bid for re-election: the gap between empirical measures that show economic recovery, and the pain people continue to feel. That is why Obama will have one clear goal when he delivers his acceptance speech to the Democratic national convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday night: spelling out a compelling economic case for giving him four more years.
“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Ronald Reagan famously asked voters in the 1980 campaign. It is the question that looms over the 2012 presidential election, and one which has dogged the Obama campaign this week as they have struggled to come up with a convincing answer.
To read the entire article click here.
A sharply divided Supreme Court on Thursday (June 28) upheld the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul law that requires that most Americans get insurance by 2014 or pay a financial penalty, according to a Reuters report.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s majority in the opinion.
“Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” he concluded. The vote was 5-4.
The 2010 law, which constitutes the $2.6 trillion U.S. health care system’s biggest overhaul in nearly 50 years, sought to provide health insurance to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans and to slow down soaring medical costs.
Critics of the law have said it meddles too much in the lives of individuals and in the business of the states.
Twenty-six of the 50 U.S. states and a small business trade group challenged the law in court. The Supreme Court in March heard three days of historic arguments over the law’s fate.
The court’s ruling on the law could figure prominently in the run-up to the Nov. 6 election in which Obama seeks a second four-year term against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who opposed the law.
As President Barack Obama traveled to the first of two “town hall” stops in western Illinois today, top national and state Republicans criticized his campaign-style visit and criticized his use of a taxpayer-funded Canadian-manufactured bus as part of a jobs tour.
But, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, no mention was made by Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus or Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady that a re-election seeking President George W. Bush used a bus from the same manufacturer, Quebec-based Prevost, for a spring 2004 “Yes, America Can” campaign tour through the Midwest.
Obama ends a three-day Midwest bus tour today, traveling aboard one of two $1.1 million Prevost buses purchased by the Secret Service. Previously, the Secret Service said, it leased buses and fitted them with security and communications gear, then stripped them of the equipment afterward. Bush’s 2004 opponent, Democratic Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., also campaigned in a bus from the same firm.
“We think this is an outrage that taxpayers of this country would have to foot the bill so the campaigner in chief can run around in his Canadian bus and act as if he’s interested in creating jobs in our country that needed them, when he’s been ignoring the issue while he’s been in the White House,” Priebus said in a conference call to reporters.
“I think he should spend a little bit more time in the White House and doing his job as opposed to running around in Canadian buses and planning his next vacation in Martha’s Vineyard,” he said.
Obama is holding a town hall meeting at Wyffels Hybrids Production Facility in Atkinson and then travels to Alpha for a town meeting at Country Corner Farm before departing via Air Force One from Peoria to Washington.
Barack Obama received the most votes for president of the United States, but he was the runner-up in a recent survey of RV owners by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) who were asked, “What living, famous person would you like to take with you on an RV trip?”
Obama finished second in the poll to Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams, who starred in the hilarious film “RV.”
“I saw the movie and thought Robin would be the ultimate travel partner,” says James Hennington, an RV owner from Wesson, Miss. “He was extremely funny.”
Other vote-getters included George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet and Rachael Ray.
With all the pressure confronting Obama in these tough economic times, it would be no surprise if he wished he could escape in an RV — like he did after the 2004 Democratic National Convention — and join the millions of RVers planning to hit the road for fun this spring/summer.
In other questions asked in the latest biannual Campfire Canvass survey of RV owners, conducted by the RVIA, 55% of survey respondents intend to use their RVs more this spring/summer than last year, and 45% are considering another purchase.
Only 4% say they’ll use their RVs less this year. Three-fourths said they planned to take more mini-vacations so they could escape stress, spend more quality time with family, and enjoy nature and other outdoor activities.
A primary reason why so many RVers will be traveling — and even buying in this economy — this spring/summer is that they appreciate the value they get compared to flying, driving and staying in hotels. Eighty-six percent say RVing is an affordable way to travel. Three-fourths save at least 25% when they travel in an RV — more than a quarter save 35% to 50%. These results echo the findings of a study by international travel and tourism experts PKF Consulting, which found family RV trips are 27% to 61% less expensive than other types of vacations.
“RV travel continues to appeal to people looking to save money and cut costs,” says Richard Coon, RVIA president. “By having their homes-on-wheels with them, RV owners receive a bigger bang for their buck than other types of vacations offer.”
In what has to be a positive sign for the economy, 68% of RV owners said they believe this is good time to buy an RV, with 94% of those respondents saying great deals are available. Buyers who meet income requirements also will be able to take advantage of the new federal stimulus plan that provides for a deduction of sales and excise taxes on the first $49,500 of a new motorhome purchase.
According to the survey, 45% of RVers are considering another RV purchase. Twenty-four percent are looking to buy in the next year; another 48% within two years.
RVers plan to be on the move during major holidays, with 58% planning to travel over Memorial Day weekend and 60% over July 4.
Caught between rising fuel costs and tight economic times, many avid RV devotees feel they can no longer enjoy their passion for camping and the open road. In his new crime novel, “Towed in a Hole,” Hollywood writer and director Lawrence Chance offers both RV enthusiasts and mystery-lovers alike a way to drive vicariously and in luxury with the savviest RV owner around-protagonist, detective and knight-errant of the American road, Raymond Cid, according to a news release.
The world of the RV aficionado is a unique and important part of Chance’s new mystery. As a gumshoe for the 21st century, Cid powers up his super-charged RV and hits the road with his Cockney ex-financier sidekick to find a vanished RV lawyer, confront deadly villains and even find romance.
As Cid battles the bad guys and courts a blonde bombshell deputy, he begins to uncover a conspiracy that goes beyond the case he is investigating, exposing corrupt forces that are willing to kill to keep their dark deeds secret. While Cid and his deluxe land yacht navigate America’s highways from his base outside Las Vegas, they travel by way of Missoula, Mont. to visit the RV manufacturing capitol of Elkhart, Ind., (where President Barack Obama recently highlighted the RV industry’s current economic issues).
With a nod to the first-person, hard-boiled private eye mysteries of the 1930s and ’40s and a wry, observational sense of humor, Chance works to revive the genre by setting it on 10 big wheels and in modern times. Chance wrote “Towed in a Hole” to entertainingly introduce the RV world to neophytes and reveal a fresh side to those already hooked.
“I wrote the book as a fun mystery, pure and simple, but the ‘therapeutic’ aspects for RV’ers in financially-imposed ‘withdrawal’ are very real. RV owners who’ve read the book are writing to me to thank me for giving them their RV ‘fix’ in print for a lot less than a tank full of diesel,” states Chance.
For more information or to request a free review copy, members of the press can contact the author’s representative at Dan@VictoryVillage.com. “Towed in a Hole” is available for sale online at Amazon.com in both print and Kindle versions, at BookSurge.com and through additional wholesale and retail channels worldwide.
Chance has written and directed books, plays, musicals, movies and network television sitcoms. He has written for both Hollywood and the food, wine and hospitality industries. Currently, he is working on a sequel to “Towed in a Hole” and is running a family publishing company, Chance Books.