Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Well, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve had some web site glitches for a few weeks. Apparently, we were a threat to the Chinese and a hacking virus was unleashed on us.

Now, we’re back with the new and improved www.talkbusiness.net. You’ll find a lot of the great features you loved on our old site, especially our breaking business and political news content. In our rotating banners, we’ll feature certain stories that we think have particular relevance.

We’d also point out our contributors’ section, which will evolve throughout the weeks. A number of our Talk Business content partners and contributors are featured in this mid-section of the web site. We’ve got several additional folks coming on board so be sure to frequently check for new faces. You may also want to check out our blog roll on the bottom right-hand side of the site for new Arkansas blogs that we find insightful for news and opinion.

I single out one partner in particular, Jason Tolbert of The Tolbert Report, for his help during the interim when our web site went down. Jason helped us set up a short-term blog (you're on it right now) to keep our daily news feed going while we constructed the new site. Jason, many thanks to you!

For now, enjoy the new site and keep your eyes open for new developments and features during the next few weeks. Also, we’d welcome your feedback – positive and negative – as we’ve held off on some changes until we hear from you. Drop me an email at roby@talkbusiness.net to share your comments or to ask questions, especially if you’re having trouble reading sections of the site.

Have a busy and productive week. We hope to hear from you soon!

Monday, April 5, 2010


For those hit hardest in the recession, federal unemployment benefits have come to a close, for now.

Congress recessed a week ago without extending jobless benefits, federal health insurance subsidies and certain tax breaks. The state of Arkansas is not in a financial condition to pick up the feds’ slack.

John Lyon with our content partner, the Arkansas News Bureau, reports:

The federal government’s contributions to COBRA, the program that allows laid-off workers to remain on their former employers’ insurance plans for a limited time, expired Wednesday.

“We can’t control what Congress does, and we can’t replace those benefits ourselves,” said Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe’s office.

“But we are telling people that are calling with concerns to keep those claims open. Congress comes back a week after these expire, so there is a possibility that additional action could be taken when they return on the 12th,” DeCample said.

You can read the full story at this link.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


This week on Talk Business, prolific bloggers Jason Tolbert and Blake Rutherford offered assessments on the U.S. Senate primaries heating up in Arkansas.

Rutherford, a Democrat, said that the epic battle between incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln and challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, still favors Lincoln. However, Rutherford proclaimed momentum on Halter’s side.

“I think what we’ve seen from public polls is that while he (Halter) maintains a deficit, he’s on an upward trajectory,” said Rutherford. “His favorables are growing at a remarkable rate. It seems that the more voters learn about him, the more that they like.”

Rutherford also thinks that this year’s Senate election is a referendum on Blanche Lincoln, whether she wants it to be or not.

“This election is in many ways a referendum on Blanche Lincoln and she’s trying to make it a referendum on Bill Halter,” he said. “The polls would tell you is that the people need to hear more from Blanche Lincoln about her voting record. They need to hear more from Blanche Lincoln about why health care was good for Arkansas. They need to hear more from her about why the stimulus bill was good for Arkansas.”

Tolbert, a Republican blogger, said he expects the heat to ratchet up in the GOP Senate primary, which boasts 8 candidates.

Tolbert contends that 3rd District Cong. John Boozman is the front-runner in large part due to his strength in northwest Arkansas, where as much as 50% of the Republican primary vote will emerge.

“The thing that Boozman has in his favor is just geography. He’s going to have the 3rd District as his home-field advantage,” said Tolbert.

Tolbert also sees the race for second place shaping up between State Sen. Gilbert Baker and Jim Holt. Both of those candidates and others are jockeying for position to take on Boozman in a run-off.

“You’ve seen Gilbert Baker engage Rep. Boozman particularly on his vote on TARP,” said Tolbert. “Will it work? I’m not sure.”

You can watch the full interview at this link to our YouTube Channel.


Talk Business contributor Suzi Parker wears a lot of writing hats around the nation. Her latest article for Politics Daily offers a fairly even assessment of the 2nd Congressional District at this juncture.

Here’s the money quote from the article:

"This will be a very negative race, and I give Griffin a slight edge because he has a clearer path to a nomination over any of the Dems," says David Wasserman, an analyst at the Cook Political Report. "I think a Democrat could win a seat in Little Rock this year. The problem is, this district is more than just Little Rock. So far, Griffin has run a great campaign, but he hasn't had to take a real hit yet. And they're coming."

Personally, I still peg this general election race as a “toss-up” owing to the history of votes in the district (which lean Democrat). However, the shifting demographics in the district and current voter attitudes (which lean Republican) doesn’t allow me to chalk this race up to the historical outcome.

Wasserman is right. This general election race will be a very negative one. The front-runners on the Democratic side have voting histories and attachments to political establishments and candidates. The two Republicans bring their own baggage to the race. National and state Democratic and Republican operatives will make sure that all of the opposition research done on the ultimate primary winners is shared with all.

Click here to read the article in full.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Scott Wallace is touting a recently conducted internal poll which shows that he has a lead over his primary opponent, Tim Griffin, with a large number of voters undecided.

Wallace’s poll, conducted by his consultant’s polling firm, Diamond State Consulting Group, shows Wallace with a 31-18% lead over Griffin with 51% of GOP primary voters in the district undecided.

The poll clearly shows competition in this race as yard signs, direct mail, and retail politics have been all we’ve seen from the two candidates so far. Ultimately, this race becomes a paid media campaign for the 51% of undecided Republican voters in this battleground district.


The Arkansas revenue report for March could be categorized as “nothing to write home about.” It certainly didn’t bring good news of a rebound in process.

Net available general revenues totaled $285.2 million for the month, 4.8% below last year and virtually unchanged from forecast levels.

Gross receipts – a barometer of consumer spending – topped $161 million, 6.4% below last year and 0.9% below forecast.

Individual income taxes were down 1.6% to $194.9 million, 0.5% below forecast. Tax refunds were higher than normal levels, which was expected. Corporate income taxes were higher than predicted. Corporate taxes increased 5.2% to $51.6 million, 14% above projections.

March marks the end of the state’s third fiscal quarter. Year to date, net available general revenues were $3.15 billion. That’s 2% below last year’s levels, but 0.5% above the revised forecast made in January 2010.

What does this report tell us? In short, the economy remains groggy as consumer spending and personal incomes are bringing in slightly less than expected and considerably less than one year ago when the Arkansas economy began to take a full beating.


Although official reports are not due until April 15th, the top two Democratic candidates in the U.S. Senate primary reported a strong first quarter of fundraising.

Lt. Gov. Bill Halter outpaced Lincoln by nearly two-to-one, according to figures provided by both campaigns.

Halter’s camp disclosed that more than $2 million was raised in his bid to unseat the embattled incumbent. A Lincoln spokesman tells Talk Business that the two-term Senator raised more than $1 million in the first quarter, her fifth quarter in a row of raising more than $1 million.

What did they spend it on and how much money does each candidate have in the bank? Those numbers won’t be officially released until an April 15th FEC reporting deadline. FYI, Lincoln still has a fundraising advantage, but Halter has certainly raised enough to be competitive.

Other federal office-seekers, including GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate and all four Congressional races, have been tight-lipped on their fundraising prowess.

2nd District Democratic Congressional candidate David Boling revealed that he raised more than $250,000 during the quarter and has $200,000 cash on hand. His campaign did not answer the question as to how much, if any, the candidate had loaned to his effort.

There may only be a handful of other serious fundraising successes in the field. Talk Business sources suggest that the first quarter may show less-than-impressive figures for nearly every federal office-seeker. One candidate told me this week that he felt like he ought to be writing a check to some of the contributors he was calling on for money.

My picks for above-average performers relative to the other candidates in their races: Boozman (Senate), Causey (CD-1), Wills (CD-2), Griffin (CD-2), and Womack (CD-3). I hope others prove me wrong; it’ll certainly make for a more interesting election season.