The kickoff of the general-election season has been marked by a series of inconsequential flaps—think caterpillars and hot mics, or the latest outrage over the fictional Julia (see the Daily Meme below). One might prefer more substance, but there's one issue that, thankfully, will be pushed off until after the election: raising the debt ceiling.
For a moment it looked like they may have miscalculated. Tax receipts continue to flow in at lower-than-expected levels as the recession lingers, inciting fear that the government will hit a spending roadblock while Barack Obama and Mitt Romney share a debate stage. Romney's general-election campaign remains beholden to the whims of his party's most conservative elements. Would he have the fortitude to stand against the voices in Congress bemoaning any more government borrowing? Luckily, we won't have to put him to the test. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that all was hunky-dory, with the cap settled in place until after the election but still expiring before the end of the year. That pushes the next debate into the lame-duck session of Congress. It’s bound to be another bout of anti-government posturing, but at least it won't be dictated by electoral gamesmanship.Last summer, congressional Republicans held the country hostage by refusing to pass a routine increase to the country's borrowing limit, which, lest we forget, resulted in Standard & Poor's first downgrade of the country's credit rating in history. The final agreement to intended to raise the debt ceiling high enough that Congress wouldn't need to touch the thing again until after the 2012 election. After all, if Republicans were willing to bring the country to the teetering edge of potential economic disaster during a sleepy summer, who knows what would happen on the eve of a major presidential election?
So They Say
"Every one of us has 'oops moments' every day ... America may not forgive you for it. But God will."
—Rick Perry at a National Prayer Day breakfast, discussing his campaign-stopping debate performance.
Daily Meme: GOP & Julia
- The Obama campaign released a new web feature detailing how his policies would benefit a fictional American, "Julia," over the course of her life.
- Conservatives were insulted, and Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. that Julia was "tethered to the Nanny state."
- But maybe the conservatives' reaction was just what the Obama campaign wanted?
- Ana Marie Cox: "Heated discussion over the impact of politics on the life of an imaginary person is something I thought we'd lose with the departure of Newt Gingrich from the race. Alt-histories are supposed to be more his thing. (In a Gingrich presidency, #Julia would have won the civil war.)"
- Elspeth Reeve: "But aside from the political message, it's hard not to cringe at the mom-ification of Julia."
What We're Writing
- Steve Erickson: Steve Erickson says goodbye to the political career of Newt Gingrich, but says that his legacy lives on in the Romney campaign
- Paul Waldman: "'Politics' is the only means we have to assess what each of these two men will bring to that moment when it comes. It might not be a particularly good guide, but it's all we've got."
What We're Reading
- Political ads have been 70 percent negative so far this presidential election. At the same point in 2008, only 9 percent were negative.
- Ayn Rand group Director of Advocacy: "I'd like to see Paul Ryan as president one day."
- Margaret Talbot discusses the essentials of insulting your political opponents.
- Primary votes won by Mike Gravel in 2008: 40,263. Total won by Michele Bachmann this year: 29,072
- The Democratic National Convention is having trouble footing the bill this year, having sworn off the corporations that provided most of their funding in 2008.
- Americans Elect isn't doing so hot.
- Is Ohio the most important swing state?
- Where'd the Republican moderates go?
Poll of the Day
In new swing state polls from Quinnipiac, Romney and Obama are now within a margin of error in Ohio and Florida, while Obama has widened his lead to 47-39 in Pennsylvania.