Archive for the ‘2012 Tuesday’ Category

2012 Tuesday: Obama gives ‘tax the rich’ one more heave

We learned a few things yesterday with President Obama’s announcement that he wants to extend the current individual income tax rates for one more year, but only for those making less than $250,000 a year:

  • The current rates — commonly described as the “Bush tax cuts” even though they have been in full force for nine years, two years of which required Obama’s signature — apply to more than just “the rich.” Otherwise, how could they be extended for everyone who isn’t rich?
  • Even Obama understands that the economy is still too weak to withstand a major tax hike during the next presidential administration (his second, or Mitt Romney’s first). That is a pretty strong, if tacit, admission that his entire first term has failed to see a middle-class recovery of any consequence, just a stop to the bleeding — at most. Once upon a time, he theorized that such a result would lead to a “one-term proposition” for himself.
  • This move has nothing to do with being serious about the deficit, …

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2012 Tuesday: Romney’s Obamacare missteps

I previously wrote that the effect of the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling on the presidential race would depend on how each campaign reacted to it. So far, not so good for Mitt Romney.

Romney’s initial statement made clear that he, and only he, would sign a repeal of Obamacare as president. A good start. Since then, however, it’s either been silence or an unforced error.

The unforced error, of course, was his spokesman’s televised comment that Romney doesn’t believe Obamacare’s mandate is a tax. The Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes has a good summary:

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom appeared [Monday] on MSNBC’s Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd, where he agreed with the host’s assertion that Romney “believes that you should not call the penalty a tax.”

Fehrnstrom explained: “The governor disagreed with the ruling of the Court. He agreed with the dissent written by Justice Scalia, which very clearly stated that the mandate is not a tax.” Later, Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg …

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2012 Tuesday: Obama’s failing to out-raise the GOP this time

A little over a year ago, independent analysts were projecting that Barack Obama’s re-election campaign could raise an unprecedented $1 billion. Now, the president’s team is lamenting he may be the first incumbent outspent by his opponent and has taken to asking supporters to forgo wedding gifts and ask their friends to donate to his campaign instead:

Obama Registry

How the mighty have fallen.

We can get into the reasons for this drop-off, which includes fewer contributions from donors both large and small, but let’s also get ahead of an emerging meme in the election: that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are trying to “buy” the presidency.

Most of the people making these complaints didn’t have much to say four years ago, when Obama was the first major-party presidential candidate to forgo public campaign financing and outspent John McCain by half a billion dollars, or more than 3-to-1. And few of them will rue the fact that Obama will end up spending about as much money this time, just that …

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2012 Tuesday: After the Obamacare ruling

The Supreme Court is due to rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate in Obamacare before the end of the month. If the mandate stands, the rest of the law will, too. If it falls, however, there will also be the question of how much of the rest of the law must go with it — and, of course, what to do next.

Along the way, the issue will have an impact on the re-election chances of the man for whom the law was nicknamed. But what kind of impact, and how much?

Up to a point, I think the results have been baked into existing opinion about President Obama and Mitt Romney. The law’s supporters are largely on Obama’s side, and most of its critics are on Romney’s side. There may be some crossover voting for Obama by independents who dislike the law, and vice versa, but if so they’ll be making their decisions for reasons beyond Obamacare — which means the court’s ruling is unlikely to sway them. There may be some change in enthusiasm, but I wouldn’t expect it to be very …

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2012 Tuesday: The one thing both sides agree on

There has been one consistent message from both President Obama and Mitt Romney (and, before him, the other GOP candidates) about what’s at the heart of this 2012 election. Everything else revolves around that one thing: the size and scope of government.

In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib put the difference between the two men’s plans — Obama’s for Washington to spend 22.5 percent of GDP in the coming years, vs. Romney’s to reduce spending levels to 20 percent — at $6 trillion over 10 years:

In the view of Obama partisans, it’s the difference between a government that keeps its promise to senior citizens counting on Medicare and one that doesn’t, and the difference between a country that invests in the education, infrastructure and basic research needed to be competitive, and one that falls behind the Chinese and the other roaring new economic powers.

In the eyes of Romney partisans, it’s the difference between a country that trims spending close to the …

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2012 Tuesday: Wisconsin recall won’t tell us too much about November

All eyes will be on Wisconsin tonight as the results of that state’s gubernatorial recall election are tabulated. Every major poll since March has Gov. Scott Walker in front, most of them by more than the poll’s margin of error. Among recent polls, he leads by an average of 6.7 percentage points. There has been a last-minute infusion of money by Walker’s labor-union opponents, which may help with get-out-the-vote efforts. That may narrow the final margin and help to dampen the prospects for labor-union reforms in other states, and that just might be their only goal. In any case, it would be very surprising at this point if he were not able to hang on and finish his first term as governor.

Should Walker win, the commentary will immediately turn to the potential impact on Mitt Romney’s chances of pulling off a Badger State upset against President Obama come November. I’ve alluded before to the prospect of a Walker springboard for Romney in Wisconsin. But as we’ve approached …

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2012 Tuesday: Obama officially ditches Hope for Fear

New York Magazine has a revealing and worthwhile look at the Obama campaign’s approach to this year’s election and GOP opponent Mitt Romney. Here is the crux of it:

Though the Obamans certainly hit John McCain hard four years ago — running more negative ads than any campaign in history — what they intend to do to Romney is more savage. They will pummel him for being a vulture-vampire capitalist at Bain Capital. They will pound him for being a miserable failure as the governor of Massachusetts. They will mash him for being a water-carrier for Paul Ryan’s Social Darwinist fiscal program. They will maul him for being a combination of Jerry Falwell, Joe Arpaio, and John Galt on a range of issues that strike deep chords with the Obama coalition. “We’re gonna say, ‘Let’s be clear what he would do as president,’ ” [senior White House adviser David] Plouffe explains. “Potentially abortion will be criminalized. Women will be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on …

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2012 Tuesday: Obama wants the election to be about a topic he doesn’t understand

In Chicago yesterday, President Obama described the essence of his campaign against Mitt Romney. Asked during a press conference about his campaign ads criticizing Romney’s record at Bain Capital in the 1980s and ’90s, Obama disagreed with fellow Democrats’ advice to focus on other issues:

[T]his is not a distraction. This is what this campaign is going to be about — is what is a strategy for us to move this country forward in a way where everybody can succeed?

Well, now. That’s just completely different from every other presidential campaign in history…

Some commentary has focused on what Obama said just before that: his description of the job of president vs. the job of a private equity CEO. And with good reason. There is plenty to address: from his assertion that the president should be involved in helping individual communities plan their economic development, to the obvious conclusion that the job, as he’s described it, is not one he’s done particularly well given the …

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2012 Tuesday: Seeking trendlines for Obama and Romney

Opinion polls have value — and limits. The value in the new CBS News/New York Times poll isn’t the headline result showing Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama 46-43. The top-line, national result in a poll conducted almost six months before Election Day is pretty worthless.

But there is value in some of the underlying data, and what they tell us about the direction the election may be taking. There’s some good and bad for each candidate.

First, a quick note about why these data mean anything. Because this poll is taken regularly, with consistency in the wording of questions over time, we can get a decent idea of trend lines. Even better, the people surveyed last Friday to Sunday (May 11-13) are the very same people surveyed last month, giving us an idea of how particular people’s opinions are shifting. However, not all of the people from the April poll chose to participate in May; again, there are limits.

Now to the data. We’ll start with the good for Obama because, frankly, it …

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2012 Tuesday: Should we worry about the primary losses of moderates?

For all the talk of how America is following in the footsteps of debt-riddled Greece, here is one way our politics is charting a very different course: We are not waiting to reach the very edge of the abyss before moving our parties away from the center.

One of the big stories from today’s primaries, which for the most part have been rendered less than front-page news outside the states holding them any given day, will be whether longtime Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar survives a challenge from tea-party favorite and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. A recent poll (there haven’t been many of them) suggests Lugar’s time is up.

The headlines will be about the tea party throwing out a respected member of the D.C. establishment in a fit of ideologically pure pique. Yet, increasingly this kind of result is dog-bites-man news — for both parties.

Last month, Pennsylvania Democrats threw out a pair of “Blue Dog Democrats” from the U.S. House. The Blue Dogs, who tried to push laws such as …

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