All That Obstructionism And Negativity... Coming Home To Roost?
Yesterday I read that the bottom has been falling out of Mitt Romney's popularity among white males-- his main audience. I think some see him as a wimp who can't stand up to Gingrich, while others see him as some kind of an alien being with lots of ill-gotten money he has stashed away in tax havens and Swiss bank accounts. Either way, he's looking very toasty and there are probably a lot of frantic calls to various big-name corporate shills-- from Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan to Mitch Daniels and even Bobby Jindal-- from the likes of Karl Rove, kind of the Republican version of the Elder of Zion.
Even more delectable, at least for me, with my obsessive interest in Congress, is the newest generic House poll showing Democrats up over the GOP by a startling 11 points. It shouldn't be startling for anyone who has paid close attention to the antics of characters like John Boehner and Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan and Fred Upton over the past two years. This is huge! When asked if they would "rather see the Republicans keep control" of the House or see "the Democrats win enough seats to take over control of the House," 48 percent of registered voters chose the Democrats, and 37 percent chose the GOP.
Obama also has an eight-point generic ballot lead in the poll, but House Democrats stretched that advantage by playing close to equal or even ahead of House Republicans among some key groups that are cool to the president. Where Obama loses whites to a generic GOP presidential candidate 49-38, the GOP advantage among whites shrinks to just two points, 43-41, in the House generic ballot.
In particular, House Democrats managed to beat the GOP among white men. Obama loses white, college-educated men by 16 points and white non-college men by 11. House Democrats run even with House Republicans among college-educated white men, 45-45, and actually beat the GOP 44-41 among non-college white men. That couldn't be more different than 2010, when House Republicans won 62 percent of the white male vote, according to exit polls.
That improvement explains why the poll shows Democrats even pressing an advantage in the South, 47 percent to 38 percent. By contrast, Obama loses to a generic Republican by five points, 46 percent to 41 percent, in the South.
Last night President Obama's State of the Union address, sandwiched between a spate of raucous, hateful Republican debates that saw Romney and Gingrich desperately tear each other apart, spoke to the better nature and most optimistic nature of Americans already sick of right-wing fractiousness and knee-jerk negativity.
Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded... The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.
...As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last-– an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values... Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that does the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.
I wonder if Romney took it personally. His Richie Rich persona exposed and bleeding all over the national consciousness, he's watching his last glimmer of hope to capture the White House for the Mormons fade away... rapidly. As Steve Benen reminded everyone after going through Romney's tax returns, there were good reasons for him to keep them away from the public-- even if he's too weak to even defend himself with any passion or vigor.
By any fair estimate, over $42 million in income over two years isn’t bad for a guy who jokes about being “unemployed.” Indeed, Romney would be in the top 1% based solely on the income he makes in one week.
Romney said last week that his rate was “closer to 15%,” but as it turns out, despite his vast wealth, he actually only paid a 13.9% rate last year-- lower than his political rivals who aren’t nearly as wealthy, and lower than most middle-class American workers.
And what about those overseas investments?His 2010 return also showed that he had a financial account in Switzerland that was closed in 2010 and that he generated income from overseas investments. He also reported financial accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
...Why did Romney set up $100 million trust funds for his sons without paying any gift taxes? Were his accounts in the Caymans and in Switzerland created to avoid paying taxes? Was the closing of the Swiss account related to this IRS investigation? And given all of the questions surrounding Romney’s Bain-era work, why does the Republican candidate continue to insist he won’t disclose returns from previous years?
What’s more, following up on a point from last week, even if Romney argues that he’s simply playing by the rules-- taking advantage of existing tax loopholes to pay lower rates than much of the middle class-- this doesn’t explain why Romney is eager to exacerbate issues on tax fairness with his tax plan that makes the problem worse.
In a debate over tax fairness and income inequality, Romney is practically a case study for What’s Gone Wrong, but he can at least plausibly argue that this is a mess he benefits from, but didn’t create. Romney, however, prefers to believe the problem doesn’t exist.
Greg Sargent did a nice job capturing the larger political context:I’m not sure the Obama campaign could have scripted this more perfectly. In a remarkable bit of good timing, President Obama is set to deliver a State of the Union speech focused on income inequality and tax unfairness on exactly the same day that Mitt Romney will reveal that he made over $40 million in the last two years — all of it taxed at a lower rate than that paid by middle class taxpayers. […]
Romney doesn’t just disagree with Obama on these fundamental issues; he personally symbolizes virtually the entire 2012 Democratic message. He is the walking embodiment of everything Dems allege is wrong with our system and the ways it’s rigged in favor of the wealthy and against the middle class. Yet this is the standard bearer the GOP seems set to pick.
I've been glum about the chances of the Democrats to hold the Senate. It;s going to be a stretch, but it's at least possible. As for the House... if only Steve Israel wasn't such a corporate shill and a conservative bonehead, it would be a complete lock. And the Democrats might pull it off despite him; the grassroots is aroused, and the zeitgeist, thankfully, never heard of Steve Israel.