Weak fields

Amidst the hundreds of pre-post-mortems going for Romney's campaign, Washington Post's Richard "Liberal" Cohen --sniff-- misses Ron:

In 1980 Ronald Reagan won the Republican nomination. He beat a future president, George H.W. Bush; two future Senate majority leaders, Howard Baker and Bob Dole; and two lesser-known congressmen. This year Mitt Romney won the GOP nomination. He beat a radio host, a disgraced former House speaker, a defeated Senate candidate, a former appointee of the Obama administration, a tongue-tied Texas governor, a prevaricating religious zealot who happens to serve in the House of Representatives and a cranky libertarian doctor. Where did all the talent go?

Cohen longs for the intellectual heavy-weights of yore (George W. Bush and Reagan?) and concludes that the only solution, as is all things, infinity is more moderates voting for more trickle-down Republicans, more NeoCon foreign policy Republicans and more top-end tax cut Republicans.  In short, more of everything Romney is running on, but spoken moderately?  Or something. 

Pretending the trend this cycle is a full rejection of GOP ideas (just like the opposite in 2010) is a miss, but even further off the mark is pretending Obama is winning this election merely because the Republican field was weak.  It was weak.  So weak it was fun


  • Agree with Cohen, George W. Bush and Reagan did, indeed, win their elections.  But neither were particularly strong candidates on the trail. 
  • The overall not-sucking-enough economy kept a few Republicans stronger than, say, Herman Cain out of the race, sure, but even with them in Romney would've probably been the favorite. 
  • Romney was never that electable to begin with.
  • House Republicans tarnished the brand.  Extreme ideas like redefining rape scare many voters.  Probably more than one independent voter out there still wondering how the hell Planned Parenthood fits into the GOP recovery plan, for sure.
  • The Romney campaign has been a disaster, and campaigns matter some.

All true, but none are a good way to understand Obama's lead.  Jonathan Bernstein:

[...]the easiest interpretation of what’s going on right now is that, if Obama leads by 3 to 4 points, only a point or two needs to be explained beyond the fundamentals. At best, we’re talking about maybe 5 or 6 percent who would otherwise be voting for Romney but currently appear to be supporting the president.  That’s still worth studying, of course — but it’s a relatively small effect overall.

The basic story here is that, after all, it is the economy.

The economy, and incumbency.  Romney's campaign follies, GOP vs. Pollsters, and the (inevitable) Fox News meltdown are just the icing on the cake.





Today, Republicans will indulge in a torrent of Reagan worship. That's OK. A likable man, Mr. Reagan did a number of good things as our President.

But let us not forget that, in addition to Iran Contra, he took a minor action that may well have had a  far reaching effect. Mr. Reagan had removed from the White House the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed. Thus, Ronald Reagan played a role in the Republican denial of the facts of climate change and their continuing opposition to measures that are needed to save our planet.

homer   www.altara.blogspot.com


Tax cuts have become a sick joke

(Cross-posted from Think it Through.)

Did you hear the joke about the president who wants to reduce the deficit and cut taxes?  Depending on your level of cynicism, you are either amused or annoyed that our lawmakers in Washington simultaneously pay homage to special commissions on the federal budget deficit and debate the size of the tax cuts they will enact.

But you cannot place all the blame on our politicians.

Ever since Ronald Reagan made tax cuts the engine of his drive for smaller government, the American voters have acted like spoiled children holding out their hands for more candy even when Halloween is long past.  The tea party members have built an entire political movement based on such childish selfishness.

Before Ronald Reagan, Americans seemed to understand the income tax was a necessary price to pay for the functions of government that benefit society as a whole and each of us as individuals.  This may be why, prior to Ronald Reagan, no candidate had run for president on a platform of cutting taxes.

It is true that President Kennedy, once in office, decided to try a Keynesian approach to stimulate a sluggish economy by lowering taxes and increasing government spending temporarily, but he did not campaign on tax cuts.

In the last century, Americans managed to build a strong economy and a broad middle class with top tax rates ranging from 70 to 90% of income.  By the time Reagan left office in 1988, he had cut the top tax rate to 28%.

The lost income for the government, mixed with Reagan’s huge military build-up, left the country deeply in debt.  Nonetheless, Reagan’s legacy has been that Americans feel entitled to tax cuts and, ever since, political candidates of both parties have made sure some type of tax cut played prominently in their campaigns.

George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton both campaigned on tax cuts – Bush promised a cut in the capital gains tax and Clinton called for reduced taxes for middle- and low-income workers.  Once in office, however, both of these presidents raised rates on upper-income households in order to recover from the deficit-spending Reagan years.  Clinton’s tax and budget policies gave the country eight years of economic prosperity, and he handed his successor a budget surplus.

George W. Bush reverted to the Reagan lesson.  He promised and delivered a massive tax cut with virtually no rationale other than “It’s your money, I want to give it back to you.”  Democrats in Congress were not willing to buck the Reagan legacy, so they essentially went along.

Even Barack Obama, the self-described agent of change, followed suit and ran for president on a platform of a middle class tax cut.  Now he is shadow-boxing with himself about how many of the Bush tax cuts installed in 1981 he wants to let stand.

The Pew Research Center reported this year that a majority of nearly six in ten voters would choose to either repeal all of the tax cuts (31%) or just repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy (27%), while only one in three (30%) wanted to keep all of the tax cuts.

In extensive research on taxes over the years, we have found that when people are informed of things such as the budget deficit, the national debt, and the billions of dollars the government spends every month simply to pay the interest on the national debt, tax cuts are placed on a much lower priority.

Yet, President Obama has not explained the choices between tax cuts and what else can be done with the money.  He, like most other politicians, has accepted as truth that you cannot oppose all tax cuts.

Why not inform people of the payoffs – for jobs, for the economy, for programs they care about – if we repeal all of the Bush tax cuts?  You can make a compelling case that the benefits to repeal are far greater than those of letting the tax cuts continue.

Is there no public official with the skill and courage to help the country break its adolescent dependency on tax cuts?

John Russonello is a partner with Belden Russonello & Stewart: Public Opinion Research and Strategic Communications in Washington, DC. He writes the blog Think it Through.

Political Spectrum Moves Right

Host of The Young Turks Cenk Uygur guest hosting on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show explains how the political spectrum has shifted far to the right in the last 30 years.



Political Spectrum Moves Right

Host of The Young Turks Cenk Uygur guest hosting on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show explains how the political spectrum has shifted far to the right in the last 30 years.




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