Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Phony Hawkery

Definitely not Paul Ryan. (Flickr/contemplicity)
This is something that other people have mentioned, and Jamelle brings up in his extremely helpful post about Paul Ryan, but it really needs to be emphasized: Paul Ryan is not a "deficit hawk." No matter how many times the news media tell us, it doesn't make it true. As I've said before , you can't call yourself a deficit hawk if the only programs you want to cut are the ones you don't like anyway. Show me someone who's willing to cut programs he favors (Ryan isn't), and would actually take potentially painful measures to balance the budget (Ryan wouldn't), and that's a deficit hawk. Ryan, on the other hand, is a conservative ideologue who couches what Newt Gingrich appropriately called "right-wing social engineering" in a lot of talk about making tough choices. But I've never actually seen Paul Ryan make a "tough" choice, at least one that was tough for him. There's nothing "tough" about a conservative Republican who tells you he wants to slash Medicare and Medicaid, increase defense...

How to Get Out the Vote in a Voter ID World

(AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Mike Ransdell)
Voter ID laws create an unnecessary barrier to voting that disproportionately affects poor and nonwhite voters. If you’re going to have them, you should at least tell people that they're going into effect. But given the impetus of these laws—to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters—it's no surprise that few of the states that have passed them have made any effort to educate voters. Since 2010, 12 states have passed laws requiring voters to show government-issued identification in order to vote. One such law is Pennsylvania's, where studies estimate anywhere from 780,000 to 1.2 million could be turned away at the polls on Election Day because of new ID requirements. A state court is expected to rule this week on whether the law can go forward, but in the meantime, many have blasted Pennsylvania's anemic efforts to inform voters. Because the state originally estimated that far fewer voters would be affected, the plan was simply to remind those who turned out for the April primaries...

Five Things to Know about Paul Ryan's Plan

(AP Photo)
Long before he won the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney had enthusiastically endorsed the budget of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as the template for his own proposals. As I detailed in the Prospect 's print magazine, Romney promises to extend the Bush tax cuts, cut income-tax and capital-gains rates, and reduce corporate taxes. Now that Romney has selected Ryan as his running mate—and the former Massachusetts governor says he'll play a key part in his administration—odds are even higher that this plan will be implemented by the Romney administration. Both candidates envision a rearrangement of the federal government and its responsibilities, but Romney has always been responsive to the needs of a presidential election. Not Ryan. As someone responsible to congressional Republicans, his proposals had room to be far-reaching and radical. Here are five charts that illustrate his proposals and give a sense of his true priorities. Ryan wants to end most taxes on the top...

Paul Ryan, Culture Warrior

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan to be his running mate, as the Prospect 's Jamelle Bouie points out , leaves no doubt that if elected Romney will pursue Ryan's agenda of savage cuts to the already threadbare American safety net in order to finance upper-class tax cuts and additional defense spending that even the Pentagon doesn't want. The Ryan choice does not merely reveal, however, Romney's commitment to 19th-century fiscal policy. It also demonstrates Romney's commitment to a 19th-century view of women and gays and lesbians. Not only would Medicare be unlikely to survive a Republican administration, Roe v. Wade would almost certainly be gone as well. Because Romney had to express pro-choice views in order to secure the governorship of Massachusetts, some pundits are sure to suggest that Ryan pick reflects a focus on fiscal issues but a moderation on cultural issues. But, in fact, there's no reason to believe that Romney's opportunistic support for abortion rights reflects his "...

Paul Ryan: The Next President of the United States?

Flickr/Gage Skidmore
Democrats seem nearly unanimous that Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan to be his running mate is a good thing, since it will make winning substantially more difficult for Romney (Jamelle explains why here ). I agree, and I continue to believe that the odds remain substantially in favor of Barack Obama winning re-election. But I thought I'd take the opportunity of an outbreak of hope on the left side of the aisle to offer a little vision of horror. As of Sunday morning, Paul Ryan may indeed be the person most likely to be, in the words of Romney's slip of the tongue , the next president of the United States. The reason I say this is that while we don't yet know the conditions under which the 2016 presidential campaign will take place, the GOP will begin with a substantial advantage. Winning three consecutive presidential terms is very hard. It has only happened once since 1948, when George H.W. Bush beat Michael Dukakis in 1988. No matter how well things are going, the public eventually...

Paul Ryan: Behind Blue Eyes

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan touts his 2012 federal budget. Today, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his running mate. As the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan gives Romney a link to Capitol Hill leadership and underscores Romney's effort to make the election a referendum on the nation's economic course. After a campaign spent pandering slavishly to the right, Mitt Romney has finally inspired a giddy burst of bipartisan consensus: On the right and left, everyone’s jumping for joy about his new running mate. For conservatives who’ve always regarded the former “Massachusetts moderate” with cold suspicion, it wasn’t enough for Romney to endorse and effusively praise Paul Ryan’s infamous budget—a plan that would give the richest Americans an average tax cut of at least $150,000 a year and cap Medicare benefits , meaning that seniors would fall further and further behind over time. They didn’t believe Romney...

Lipstick on a Wonk

(AP/Scott Applewhite)
I t’s official : Mitt Romney has picked Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan to join him as his running mate. I’ve already written why I think Ryan is a terrible choice . In short, his plan to cut taxes on the rich and gut the welfare state is one of the most unpopular proposals in American politics. Conservatives love Ryan, but seniors, young people, women, nonwhites, veterans, the disabled, and the poor might feel differently about a man who wants to make the federal government an ATM for the wealthy. In terms of the election, it’s hard to see how Romney gains from this choice. Because of its large population of working-class whites, Wisconsin has the potential to become a swing state, but for now, Obama has a solid lead . Yes, vice presidential nominees provide a home-state boost, but it’s small— on average, two points . Barring a major change in the race, the most Ryan will do is help Romney lose Wisconsin by a somewhat smaller margin than he would have otherwise. With that said, a...

Paul Ryan: Obama's Dream Opponent

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
UPDATED : Mitt Romney has selected Paul Ryan as his running mate. As Beltway anticipation builds for Mitt Romney’s vice presidential announcement, conservative pundits have re-upped their calls for a “bold” and adventurous choice. This morning, the Wall Street Journal editorial page took the lead with a plea to add House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to the ticket. The Journal acknowledges the appeal of VP frontrunners Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman—working-class roots and high-level experience, respectively—but says that Ryan is the only politician with the gravitas and vision to campaign on a presidential level. Here’s the op-ed: Too risky, goes the Beltway chorus. His selection would make Medicare and the House budget the issue, not the economy. The 42-year-old is too young, too wonky, too, you know, serious. Beneath it all you can hear the murmurs of the ultimate Washington insult—that Mr. Ryan is too dangerous because he thinks politics is about things that matter. That dude really...

Romney's Health Care Dilemma Returns

One of these things is...not like the other?
Mitt Romney has been so busy securing his Republican base that he hasn't had time to court independent voters, the ones who will actually decide this election. But now, probably by accident, he has an opportunity to show them that he's something other than a slave to his party's right wing. Will he take it? When Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul committed the apparently unpardonable sin of praising the health care law Mitt Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts, was she making a horrible mistake that made everyone in Romney headquarters gasp in horror, or was she just reflecting what her candidate actually believes? The answer to that question would tell us where Romney is going to go from here on health care, and whether he may at long last try to find some issue on which he can convince voters he's something more than a vessel for whatever his party's right wing wants to do to the country. Most everyone, myself included, initially assumed that Saul just spoke out of turn. After...

Why Mitt Romney Can't Help But Flounder

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Romney’s task for this summer was to reintroduce himself to the public as a competent moderate—someone who could get the economy back into shape by sheer dint of his business experience. But since Team Obama began its savage attacks on Bain Capital, the Romney campaign has been on the defensive. Revelations about Bain-led outsourcing, his “shadow years” at the company, and his opaque tax returns have wreaked havoc with his favorability ratings. Romney’s unfavorability is higher now than it’s been since the GOP primaries. Romney’s 40 percent favorability is the lowest mid-summer rating for a presidential nominee since 1948. This, to put it lightly, is a big problem for Team Romney. Contrary to what the campaign seems to think, the economy isn’t bad enough to guarantee a defeat for President Obama. As Nate Cohn points out at The New Republic , Obama’s disapproval rating has hovered at 47 percent—the same as his approval rating. Americans are divided on the president’s tenure, but aren’t...

Lies Are the New Truth

Newt Gingrich explores new frontiers of truthiness.
Being a campaign surrogate isn't easy. You have no say in what the candidate you favor or his campaign decides to say or do, yet you're called upon to defend their words and actions. That can put you in an extremely uncomfortable position, unless you're Newt Gingrich. Yesterday, Newt went on Anderson Cooper 360 to talk about Mitt Romney's new welfare attack ad, which falsely accuses Obama of ending work requirements in welfare, and what he said was truly remarkable, even for him. Now, let me be absolutely clear about something. I've been paying very, very close attention to political ads for a long time. In my former career as an academic I did a lot of research on political ads. I've watched literally every single presidential general election campaign ad ever aired since the first ones in 1952. I've seen ads that were more inflammatory than this one, and ads that were in various ways more reprehensible than this one (not many, but some). But I cannot recall a single presidential...

The Point of Super PACs: Looking Rich and Impressing the Ladies

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)
Super PACs seem to be this election cycle's must-have accessory, on par with jelly bands and jeggings; not having one is clear sign that you're not hip with the times. For some election groupies, there is nothing much hotter than seeing the Federal Election Commission paperwork pile up in the wake of a Sheldon Adelson money tsunami, which is the only logical reason 593 of these committees raising unlimited amounts of dough for their candidate or issue of choice have been formed in the first presidential election since 2010's Citizens United decision. That, or the fact that being able to raise unlimited amounts of money— $318,988,070 so far —has been found to be an exceptionally potent and dangerous weapon in an election where just about every race, from the presidency to control of Congress, is nerve-wrackingly close. Not all super PACs are quite so terrifying, though. Take Joe Six PAC, which hasn't raised a cent since it was formed in February, and whose leaders are crossing their...

Dancing with The Mitt That Brung Ya

Afraid? I'm not afraid! What makes you say that? (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
In the early days of the 2012 Republican primaries, many thoughtful commentators took the position that it was simply impossible for Mitt Romney to win his party's nomination. Despite all his evident strengths as a candidate—money, the most professionally run campaign in the group, the endorsement of many establishment figures—Romney simply would not find a way to get past the fact that as governor of Massachusetts he had passed a health care plan that became the model for the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans had come to see as the very embodiment of evil in the modern world. The party's base would never abide it. Yet he did. Without all that much trouble too. And he didn't deal with the health care issue through some brilliant strategy, either. He made no dramatic mea culpa, and never repudiated Romneycare, at least not directly. Whenever he was asked about it he would give a convoluted and utterly unconvincing argument about how what he did in Massachusetts was great, though...

The Return of "Welfare Queens"

Yesterday, Mitt Romney unveiled a new attack that—even by the standards of his campaign—was incredible in its dishonesty. First, a little background. A few weeks ago, after urging from both Republican and Democratic govenors, the administration allowed states more flexibility when it came to fulfilling welfare work requirements. The memo , issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, stipulates that states can receive a waiver as long as their programs achieve the same work goals as the original program. The hope is that, with flexibility to try new approaches, more recipients can be placed into jobs. This, it should be said, was a reform pushed by Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. Rather than praise the change, or ignore it, the Romney campaign went on the attack, accusing Obama of “ending the work requirement” and turning welfare into a cash grant. Here’s the ad: Today, the Obama campaign released its rebuttal, which hits Romney for flagrantly distorting the...

What's the Matter in Colorado?

This morning, The New York Times and CBS News, with Quinnipiac University, released their latest set of swing state polls, for Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado. In the Old Dominion, Obama leads Romney by four points—49 to 45—and in the Badger State, he leads the Republican nominee by six, 51 to 45. These numbers are in line with previous surveys; in both states, Obama has led in ten of the last 11 polls, with an average lead of 2.8 points for Virginia, and 5.8 points for Wisconsin. Colorado is a little different. According to the NYT , CBS News and Quinnipiac University, Romney leads there by 5 points, 50 to 45. This is out of line with previous surveys; for most of the summer, Obama has maintained a narrow but persistent lead in the state. Today marks the first time Romney has ever been ahead in Colorado: This should make us suspicious. If the race in Colorado were truly a toss-up, then Romney should be ahead as much as he is behind. Moreover, it’s unusual for a candidate to gain...

Pages