Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

100 Days, 50 Different Schedules

This week, Mitt Romney joined the pantheon of presidential candidates who have vowed to show up Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 100-day marathon legislation-passing session. But those first 100 days look pretty different depending on which swing state you're in. In ads in North Carolina, Iowa, and Virginia, Romney announces that his first priority is repealing Obamacare—no surprise given that 46 percent of North Carolina residents think Congress was wrong to pass it. No mention of Obamacare in Ohio, though. In this ad, Romney’s first priority is getting the Rust Belt rocking and rolling again. The Virginia ad makes a passing reference to offshore drilling and the Iowa ad mentions the deficit. Taken together, Romney’s different promises fill up the first few weeks of his hypothetical presidency pretty quickly. And given past presidents’ poor track record of following up on their 100 days campaign promises, the likelihood that Romney would cross off even a fraction of his to-do list is...

The Benefits of Medicaid

The Affordable Care Act
In tomorrow's New York Times , Annie Lowrey has an interesting story about a study researchers were able to do in Oregon when the state had to hold a lottery to give people Medicaid coverage, leading to the perfect conditions for a randomized field experiment on what effect obtaining insurance could have. The results were pretty encouraging: In a continuing study, an all-star group of researchers following Ms. Parris and tens of thousands of other Oregonians has found that gaining insurance makes people healthier, happier and more financially stable. The insured also spend more on health care, dashing some hopes of preventive-medicine advocates who have argued that coverage can save money — by keeping people out of emergency rooms, for instance. In Oregon, the newly insured spent an average of $778 a year, or 25 percent, more on health care than those who did not win insurance. For the nation, the lesson appears to be a mixed one. Expanded coverage brings large benefits to many people...

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...

What the Romney Outsourcing Story Doesn't Tell Us About the Romney Presidency

A call center in India (Sonamsaxena)
One mark of a skilled pundit is the ability to take the day's news and mold it to shape his or her own pre-existing interests, beliefs, prejudices, and hobbyhorses. In that spirit, let me offer my thoughts on an interesting article today in The Washington Post , revealing that while Mitt Romney was the head of Bain Capital, the firm invested in companies that specialized in outsourcing jobs overseas. What does this tell us about a potential Romney presidency? Let's look at the facts first, keeping in mind that Romney was at Bain until 1999: Bain’s foray into outsourcing began in 1993 when the private equity firm took a stake in Corporate Software Inc., or CSI, after helping to finance a $93 million buyout of the firm. CSI, which catered to technology companies like Microsoft, provided a range of services including outsourcing of customer support. Initially, CSI employed U.S. workers to provide these services but by the mid-1990s was setting up call centers outside the country. Two...

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...

Mitt Romney Pretends Congress Doesn't Exist

Trust me, this'll be easy. (Flickr/DonkeyHotey)
Mitt Romney went before a group of Latino public officials today to offer some remarks on immigration. Calling it a "plan" would be too generous, although there were a couple of details, some of them perfectly reasonable, like giving green cards to people who get an advanced degree at an American university. But the part everyone has been waiting for—his reaction to President Obama's recently-announced mini-DREAM Act—was pretty disappointing, because it engaged in a kind of magical thinking that has become increasingly untenable: Some people have asked if I will let stand the President's executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President's temporary measure. As President, I won't settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution. I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal...

What Will Conservatives Say If Only the Mandate Is Struck Down?

Looking forward to the FreedomLibertyCare plan. (Flickr/Speaker John Boehner)
There seems to be a consensus building that the most likely outcome from the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act is that it will strike down the individual mandate but leave most of the law in place. Just how disruptive this will be to the near future of health care in America is open to debate (see Sarah Kliff for the optimistic take), but there's another question I'm wondering about: How are conservatives going to react? Obviously, they'd prefer it if the law was struck down in its entirety. At the same time, they've centered their criticism on the mandate. This started as a purely opportunistic move, since the mandate was not only unpopular, but it offerend the most likely legal vehicle to undo the ACA. But once that decision was made, they spend the next couple of years talking about how that mandate is the very essence of tyranny. That process of arguing almost certainly convinced them that what they were saying was true. The other provisions in the law range from things...

Romney, 2012's Trojan Horse

(Flickr / mac9001)
Mitt Romney is running as the Trojan Horse candidate of 2012, the big empty gift to America who will be wheeled into the gates of Election Night only for the bottom to pop out the next morning and whatever lurks inside to reveal itself. Watching his small disaster of an interview on Face the Nation this past weekend, we can only conclude he believes he will win the presidency by answering and offering nothing in the most calculatedly vacuous campaign since Richard Nixon’s in 1968. The difference is that in 1968 the American public knew Nixon all too well and, compared with the specifics of Nixon that people had understood for years, a vague Nixon was considered a step in the right direction. The more vague he got, the more people talked about a “New Nixon,” and whatever the New Nixon might possibly be could only be better than the old one. Raging among flackdom and the commentariat is an argument as to whether the election will be a referendum on Barack Obama’s first term or a choice...

Losing on Health Reform

An anti-Obamacare ad, in which a D-Day veteran explains how universal health insurance is as great a threat to our freedom as Nazism was.
When the Supreme Court issues its ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, we'll begin a new chapter in this saga, one that will probably (well, maybe) involve sorting through how the law's implementation will work once the individual mandate is struck down. But we've reached the point where there's no denying that the fight over public opinion has been lost, and that ground may never be regained no matter how hard the Obama administration or progressives might try. Perhaps it was inevitable. The administration passed an extraordinarily complex piece of legislation that sought simultaneously to solve a multitude of problems, each in its own way. At its heart was a compromise, an idea taken from conservatives to solve a problem created by the very fact that everyone was so insistent that we maintain the patchwork of private, employer-provided insurance, and this conservative idea provided conservatives the vehicle to get their allies on the Court to strike down the...

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...

Lifestyles of the Rich and Republican

If you are looking for this weekend’s hottest party, look no further than Park City, Utah, where Mitt Romney is meeting with all the bundlers who raised over $100,000 for his campaign. This weekend, they’ll hatch plans for the rest of the election season and raise more money for the Republican nominee. Romney may not have George Clooney or Sarah Jessica Parker, but really, who needs them when you have GOP rock stars like Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Bill Kristol showing up? It’s not all fun and games, despite the planned dinner, dancing, and golf. Woody Johnson—one of Romney’s sports-team-owning friends—called the retreat “very, very important” for the campaign. However, the Romney retreat is only a preamble to the blockbuster fundraiser that will happen at the end of the month. The Koch brothers are holding their annual convention in San Diego, and with the $250 million POLITICO ’s Kenneth Vogel estimates they’ve raised this election cycle, one of America’s scariest political...

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...

Context Is Everything

President Obama, about to get yelled at. (White House video)
In the wake of Daily Caller reporter Neil Munro's heckling of President Obama the other day (I called him an "asshat," a judgment I'll stand by), many people argued that we should be respecting "the office of the presidency," even if you don't like the person who occupies it. Jonathan Chait says this is wrong: This wave of fretting over respect for the institution implies that we owe the president more respect than we owe other Americans — a common belief, but one at odds with the democratic spirit. In his farewell address, Jimmy Carter (or his speechwriter, Hendrik Hertzberg) summed up that spirit quite pithily when he said that he "will lay down my official responsibilities in this office to take up once more the only title in our democracy superior to that of president, the title of citizen." The problem with Munro's heckling of Obama is that heckling is wrong, whether the speaker is president or a candidate for the PTA. You don’t start screaming at somebody in the middle of...

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...

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