Jamelle Bouie

Obama on Immigration: "There Are Solutions, and Republicans are Blocking Them"

The core of Mitt Romney’s attack on President Obama’s immigration policy is process-related. “For two years, this President had huge majorities in the House and Senate—he was free to pursue any policy he pleased. But he did nothing to advance a permanent fix for our broken immigration system,” said the Republican nominee in his speech yesterday to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Today, before the same group, Obama offered a response to Romney’s accusation–blame Republicans. “The problem is not the lack of technical solutions,” Obama told the crowd, “We know what the solutions are to this challenge.” Rather, he explained, the problem is that congressional Republicans have blocked every effort to pursue immigration reform. “When it came up for a vote year and a half ago, Republicans in Congress blocked it,” he said, “The bill hadn’t changed. The need had not changed. The only thing that changed was politics” Obama even reached back to the failed comprehensive...

Bain Returns to the Campaign

The core weakness in Barack Obama’s reelection effort is his poor standing with working-class whites. Obama won only 40 percent of whites without a college degree in 2008, but his strong standing with college-educated whites made up for the deficiency. This time around, the picture is much worse. He’s at 35 percent support with white voters without a college degree, and down with white voters generally. According to the latest survey from Pew, Obama wins 41 percent of white voters—a 2 point decline from 2008 . If Obama can sustain high support from non-whites, then he doesn’t need to match his 2008 performance among whites; 41 percent support is exactly where he needs to be. The challenge is in maintaining that support, which is where Bain Capital comes in. The goal isn’t to win over white voters, it’s to keep them–and particularly working-class whites—from coalescing around Romney. If Obama can keep Romney from reaching George W. Bush-levels of support among white voters, then he has...

In Swing States, Obama Wins Big with Latinos

The latest poll from Latino Decisions—which surveys five Latino-heavy swing states—suggests that President Obama has gained in a big way from his immigration order. Fifty-four percent of Latino voters are now more enthusiastic about voting for Obama than they were before the order, with a particular increase in Arizona and Nevada, where 62 percent and 60 percent of Latinos say they are more enthusiastic about voting for Obama in November. Overall, according to Latino Decisions, Obama holds strong support among Latinos in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, and Florida: Compared to 2008 , this is a mixed picture. In Virginia, the president's support has dropped from 65 percent; in Florida it’s dropped from 57 percent; and in Nevada it’s dropped from 76 percent. On the other hand, Obama is winning like gangbusters in Arizona; his support has increased by 18 percentage points. That’s certainly enough to make the state a possible win for the Obama campaign, even if he loses white voters...

Romney Dodges on Immigration, Again

Fittingly, the only thing that distinguished Mitt Romney’s speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials from his usual stump address was the slight focus on Latino unemployment, and a fairly a brief mention of immigration. He offered a few ideas—prioritizing green cards for families, eliminating “bureaucratic red tape,” completing a high tech fence, creating an easier path to citizenship for service-members, and implementing an “improved exit verification system.” He didn’t say whether he would rescind Obama’s immigration order, but he pledge to put in place a “long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure.” Overall, his take on immigration was vague and platitudinous. He promised to address the problem of illegal immigration in a “civil but resolute manner,” and pledged to find a bipartisan agreement for the immigration reform that he refuses to detail. And in a sharp difference with the Mitt Romney of January...

Romney to Governors, "Your Optimism is Not Helping"

Mitt Romney has a problem. His campaign is centered on the notion that President Obama has been uniquely disastrous for the economy. In his telling, Obama’s policies—including the stimulus and the Affordable Care Act—were responsible for the rapid job losses that marked 2009, and the sluggish growth we’ve seen since then. Indeed, the Romney team routinely hits Obama for losing more than 500,000 jobs over the course of his term. This isn’t true, but that hasn’t stopped Romney from running with the figure. Of course, the problem with running on a lie is that, occasionally, reality intrudes. Growth isn’t as high as it needs to be, and economic conditions are improving, especially in states disproportionately hit by the recession. What’s more, many of those states have Republican governors who are eager to tout economic growth. For example, in Florida, embattled Governor Rick Scott has been eager to tout the state’s recovery. Florida was among the states that suffered most from the...

State and Local Spending at Lowest Level Since the 1980s

To a large degree, the stimulus was hampered by budget cuts on the state and local level. States have to balance their budgets, and in a recession, this means deep cuts to payrolls and existing services. Economists estimate that if public employment had stayed steady through the recession and into the recovery, the joblessness rate would be at or below 7 percent. As it stands, states are on a cutting spree—state and local spending is at its lowest point since the 1980s—and as USA Today reports , this is exacerbated by receding aid from the federal government: The tight budget controls represent a sharp reversal from several years ago when states struggled to control spending, despite a drop in tax collections, and got a $250 billion bailout from the federal government. Today, both Republicans and Democrats are rejecting spending requests even from traditional allies — police, businesses, teachers, doctors and others — and keeping budgets balanced as federal aid recedes. “We’re seeing...

So Far, No One is Winning the 2012 Election

On Monday, I did a Bloggingheads with Religion Dispatches’ Sarah Posner discussing my recent piece on Democrats and demographics, as well as Latino evangelicals, and the questionable existence of a “Catholic vote”. We had a great discussion, and you should check it out: We talked a bit about President Obama’s move on immigration, the implications of which are beginning to become apparent. One possibility, as Matt Taylor points out at Slate , is that this both increases Obama’s support among Latino voters, and drives up turnout. In which case, the electorate in November is browner than it otherwise would have been. This puts Romney in a difficult bind. If he isn’t going to capture a significant percentage of the Latino vote, then he needs to win a larger share of the white vote. In particular, he needs to reach Ronald Reagan levels of support among white voters. This isn’t impossible , but if economic conditions stay the same–or get slightly better—it isn’t likely either. Which...

Welfare for the Wealthy

When conservatives rail against redistribution, it’s important to understand what they mean by the term. It’s not that they are opposed to removing resources from one sector of the economy and moving them to another, but that they’re opposed to taxing funds from rich people, and directing them toward the poor. If you go from the other direction, taxing money from ordinary Americans and giving it to the rich, then there isn’t a problem. To wit, the budget of GOP wunderkind Paul Ryan—which calls for big tax cuts, small deductions, and severe spending cuts—would raise middle-class taxes, and give a huge break to the wealthiest Americans. The Washington Post reports : The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday. […] The net result: Married couples in that income range would pay an additional $2,700...

Journos Complain that Journos Aren't Taking 2012 Seriously

(Rex Features via AP Images)
The headline story at Politico is a look at the frustrations of journalists and other observers as they pertain to the 2012 presidential election. In short, they are frustrated with the “small scale” of the election, and the degree to which the campaigns are engaged in constant warfare over trivial concerns. Here’s Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns: Dating to the beginning of the cycle, 2012 has unfolded so far as a grinding, joyless slog, falling short in every respect of the larger-than-life personalities and debates of the 2008 campaign. There have been small-ball presidential campaigns before, but veteran strategists and observers agree this race is reaching a record degree of triviality. Nothing previously can compare with a race being fought hour by hour in 140-character Twitter increments and blink-and-you-miss-it cable segments. Not to mention an endless flood of caustic television ads. […] At the same time, the media bemoans the small campaign but is enduring its own...

The Public Feels Better Off Under Obama

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
It’s obvious that the top line result from the new Bloomberg poll of the presidential race is an outlier. According to most pollsters, this is an even race, with neither candidate at a particular advantage. By contrast, Bloomberg gives Obama a 13-point lead over Romney, who only receives 40-percent support. When you consider that partisans have already chosen sides, and that Obama has lost significant support from white voters, there’s no way that this result is accurate (though it falls within the statistical range). That said, in addition to polling the presidential race, Bloomberg also asked respondents to describe their economic situation, and it’s there the Obama campaign has reason for optimism. 45 percent of those surveyed say they are better off than at the beginning of 2009 compared with 36 percent who say they are worse off. In March, the last time this poll was conducted, that number was an even split. 28 percent of respondents say that their household income is higher than...

Voting for the Party and Not the Candidate

This, from Gary Wills at the New Yorker , is one the most important realities of contemporary American politics: [T]he man being voted for, no matter what he says, dances with the party that brought him, dependent on its support, resources, and clientele. That is why one should always vote on the party, instead of the candidate. The party has some continuity of commitment, no matter how compromised. What you are really voting for is the party’s constituency. That will determine priorities when it comes to appointments, legislative pressure, and things like nominating Supreme Court justices. Even among political reporters, there’s a tendency to separate the candidate from the party, as if a president is somehow separate from the constituencies that he represents. But the truth of the matter, as Wills points out, is that in most instances, the president works to fulfill the priorities and demands of the groups who elected him. Mitt Romney may or may not be a moderate—it doesn’t matter...

Latinos, Linked Fate, and the DREAM Act

At Real Clear Politics, Sean Trende doesn’t think that President Obama will benefit politically from his decision to unilaterally implement a lite version of the DREAM Act. In addition to the potential for backlash, there’s the fact that Latinos aren’t a major demographic in most swing states: While the Latino vote is frequently portrayed as a critical voting bloc, in truth it is concentrated in only a few swing states with just a handful of electoral votes. The only states where Latinos make up more than 10 percent of the electorate are: Arizona (16 percent of the electorate in 2008), California (18 percent), Colorado (13 percent), Florida (14 percent), Nevada (15 percent), New Mexico (41 percent), and Texas (20 percent). Of these, only Colorado, Florida, and Nevada are swing states; New Mexico and Arizona are at best borderline swing states. In Florida, the Latino vote largely (though decreasingly) comprises voters of Cuban descent and is therefore atypical of other Latino...

The Corporatization of U.Va.

(tkelly7029/Flickr)
Last week, two years into her term, Teresa Sullivan was removed as president of the University of Virginia. Helen Dragas, rector of the University’s Board of Visitors—what most states call a Board of Regents— explained the situation with a brief statement, “The Board believes that in the rapidly changing and highly pressurized external environment in both health care and in academia, the University needs to remain at the forefront of change.” Of course, this explained nothing about the decision to remove Sullivan, who by all accounts was succeeding as president of the university. Questions about her dismissal turned to outrage when it was revealed that Dragas had pushed this under the cover of darkness, with little deliberation, false pretenses, and the exclusion of other board members. Indeed, the Board never actually met to dismiss Sullivan. Rather, Dragas forced her to resign with the message that she had enough votes to oust her. This weekend, outrage grew louder when a mistaken e...

Romney Tries the Etch-A-Sketch on Obama's DREAM Act Record

Of all the answers Mitt Romney gave in his interview with Bob Schieffer—which aired yesterday—this stood out the most: ROMNEY: “[M]y anticipation is I’d come into office and say we need to get this done, on a long-term basis, not this kind of stop-gap measure. What the president did, he should have worked on this years ago, if he felt seriously about this he should have taken action when he had a Democrat House and Senate, but he didn’t. He saves these sort of things until four and a half months before the general election.” … SCHIEFFER: “So he did it for politics.” ROMNEY: “Well, that’s certainly a big part of the equation.” It’s obvious that this is an Etch-A-Sketch moment; six months ago, Romney pledged to Republican audiences that he would veto the DREAM Act if it came to his desk. Now that he’s running for president—and needs to improve his performance with Latinos—his position has moderated somewhat. But my concern for the flip-flop is far less than my concern for the...

Obama: Romney Equals Bush

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Back in April, President Obama gave a speech to the American Society of News Editors, where he excoriated Mitt Romney—and the Republican Party—for its adherence to the “roadmap” devised by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. In the speech, Obama presented the Ryan roadmap as modern Republicanism, distilled to its essence. He attacked the plan for its large, across-the-board tax cuts, its complete extension of the Bush tax cuts, and its plan to privatize Medicare. More importantly, he spelled out the implications of Ryan’s budget: to pay for his tax cuts, the federal government would have to suck the marrow from its social services. Everything from food stamps to Pell Grants would see the chopping block, and the federal government would be reduced to a mechanism for upward redistribution, defended by a standing army. Since then, Obama has adjusted his message with attacks on Bain Capital and Romney’s time as governor of Massachusetts, in an attempt to present the Republican nominee as...

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