ICYMI Tumblr fans, the October 25th issue of The New Republic is out, with pieces by Nicholas Lemann on the inscrutable Barack Obama, Cass Sunstein on law, economics, and psychology in consumer markets, Helen Vendler on the poems of Dante, and Jonathan Chait on the future of conservatism. Check it out and subscribe http://bit.ly/R9TWOZ
Eric Andrew-Gee digs into the consequences of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law
THE VOTER ID law, which was passed by a Republican statehouse and will be enforced starting in September, requires voters to show valid photo ID every time they vote. The claim is that stringent rules will prevent voter fraud, particularly voter impersonation—basically, a voter pretending to be another voter.
But in a state where the last recorded case of voter impersonation happened ten years ago, what explains Republicans’ ardor for the cause? In late June, Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania’s Republican House Majority Leader, gaffed his way toward revealing the truth. In the course of listing his party’s recent achievements, Turzai said the voter ID law was “going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”
He couldn’t have been clearer: fighting voter fraud is a fig leaf. The real goal is stealing Pennsylvania’s presidential contest from Barack Obama by suppressing the votes of his supporters. And the scary thing is, they might succeed.
— Eric Andrew-Gee, “Will Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Cost Obama the Election?”
The Obama campaign resumes the tax fight. Can it persuade the electorate?
Obama campaign surrogates launched coordinated attacks on Romney’s investments in foreign tax havens, a Swiss bank account, and unwillingness to release more than one year of tax returns, while President Obama called for a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people making less than $250,000.
The two-pronged tax offensive places Romney in a delicate position. He will be forced to oppose extending tax cuts for the middle class and defend tax cuts for affluent Americans immediately after a relentless effort to define Romney as a self-interested plutocrat who prioritizes personal wealth over middle class job security.
— Nate Cohn, “Obama Transitions to Taxes”
Timothy Noah on the GOP’s misdirected Obamacare anger
“Republicans would rather kick up a fuss about a pipsqueak tax on health-insurance-shirkers, most of them probably lower-income, which means they’re an unlikely bet to vote Republican. Maybe it’s because they don’t really think of payroll taxes as taxes. (Grover Norquist has said he has no problem with raising them.) Maybe it’s because they got burned fighting with Obama over his payroll (i.e., OASDI) tax cut late last year, which possibly left them never wanting to speak the words “payroll tax” ever again, even if it’s to point out that Obama is now raising them (albeit only on people in the top 5 percent of incomes nationwide; but it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Republicans to leave that part out). For whatever reason, the GOP is spending remarkably little effort on fighting Obamacare’s most significant tax hike. As a liberal, I find this pleasing. As a journalist, I find it puzzling.”
–– Timothy Noah, “The Real Obamacare Tax Increase”
Why the Obamacare decision was terrible for Romney
Judging this the better outcome for Romney means seriously understating just how brutal the law’s rejection would have been for Obama. It would have allowed Romney to argue—to crow to the skies, surely—that Obama’s entire first term had been a giant zero: not only had he been unable to bring the economy back to full strength, but the issue he chose to focus on for the first two years of his term, when the economy was at its worst, had been proven a fool’s errand.
-Alec MacGillis, “No, This Was Not The Better Outcome For Mitt”
Mitt Romney’s Throwback Verbal Stylings
"It’s the G-words. ‘This was back, oh gosh, probably in the late ’70s,’ he reminisced to a radio host about a steak house. Or, Romney surmised how his Mormonism would play out during his campaign with, ‘Oh, I think initially, some people would say, ‘Gosh, I don’t know much about your faith, tell me about it,’ ’ as if his G-word fetish were the way just anyone talks these days. Or: Chris Wallace asked whether said faith might be a disadvantage in voter perceptions of him, and Romney exclaimed, ‘Gee, I hope not!’ Then, Romney on carried interest—one is to ‘say, gosh, is this a true capital investment with a risk of loss?’"
- John McWhorter, “Gosh, Golly, Gee”
Should Obama run as a populist?
"Obama is nobody’s idea of “just folks.” He’s too cosmopolitan, multiracial, professorial, self-controlled, and physically fit to present himself as an incarnation of the American common man. His otherness has always inclined him toward an E Pluribus Unum approach rather than Us Against Them."
- Geoffrey Kabaservice, Should Obama Run as a Populist? Part One of a TNR Symposium
Photo courtesy of The Moderate Voice
"What Romney would do: Cut taxes and regulations, shrink government, undo pretty much the entire Obama agenda, and stick it to labor.
The Good: Using independent boards of experts to assign federal research dollars. Allowing more highly skilled immigrants to work and stay in the country. Getting tough with China, assuming it’s done right.
The Bad: Requiring congressional approval of all “major” regulations, apparent reductions in funding of productive investments like education and infrastructure.
The Ugly: Capping total federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, with 4 percent reserved for defense—a potentially devastating reduction in government services that, if implemented swiftly, could also deal a serious economic blow. Then again, his numbers don’t really add up, so who knows what he’d really do?
The Verdict: The focus on lower taxes and regulation will appeal to conservatives who see those as major impediments to long-term growth. The lack of investment in education, infrastructure, and technology will worry everybody else. In some ways, the real story is what’s not here: Proposals designed specifically to boost growth in the short run, despite still-high unemployment.
They Said It: “Our best hope—and not an entirely implausible one—is that presumptive-nominee Romney has a secret plan for the economy. If he doesn’t, we may be in for years’ more stagnation.” - Josh Barro, in the Guardian”
- Jonathan Cohn, The Blind Spot in Romney’s Economic Plan
Photo courtesy of Business Insider
Is climate change a wedge issue versus Romney?
"Looked at another way, though, climate change might not be a bad thing for Obama to talk about—as a wedge issue, with certain audiences. Specifically, the well-educated swing voters who backed him last time around but may be taking a look at Romney, who showed strength with upscale voters in the Republican primary. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar recently argued that this is a real vulnerability for Obama:
It’s easy to forget, now that Obama is preaching a populist message on the campaign trail, that a major part of his support came from the very 1 percent that he’s now calling on to pay their fair share in taxes. Obama carried the super-wealthy—those making $200,000 or more a year—with 52 percent of the vote, 17 points more thanJohn Kerry won in 2004. But now surveys show Obama losing significant ground with affluent voters, trailing Romney 49 percent to 43 percent among those making $100,000 or more in the latest Quinnipiac poll—his worst showing among any economic demographic.”
- Alec MacGillis (and a quote from Josh Kraushaar), Is Climate Change A Wedge Issue vs Romney?
Photo courtesy of Earth beat Radio
Should Obama attack Romney for being hollow or extreme?
"Left without a manufactured scandal or over-hyped gaffe to talk about these past few days, the media circus has turned its attention to matters of a higher order: campaign semiotics. Specifically, the apparent shift in the framing of the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney, from casting him as a hollow man who “lacks a core” to casting him as someone who’s been sticking to a conservative, even extreme line for a while now on, among other issues, immigration, women’s health care, and the Ryan budget plan, which he recently declared “marvelous.” Monday, Politico went so far as to divine the big dog’s footprints in this messaging transformation, tracing it back to a meeting that Bill Clinton held with Obama’s top strategists back in November—“A more effective strategy, Clinton has told anyone who would listen, would be to focus almost exclusively on Romney’s description of himself as a ‘severe conservative,’ to deny him any chance to tack back to the center, according to three Democrats close to the situation.””
- Alec MacGillis, A False Choice For Obama’s Anti-Romney Message
Photo courtesy of seattlepi