Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Who Benefits From Paul Ryan's Tax Cuts?

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
Via Ezra Klein, here are handful of charts from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that perfectly captures how Paul Ryan's budget would essentially wipe out all government services for those in need in order to fund a massive redistribution of wealth back up to those at the top of the income scale. Ryan's budget goes beyond the GOP regressive standard of turning all of the Bush tax cuts permanent and includes a number of other tax reductions that would benefit the wealthy. According to the Tax Policy Center that adds up to an extra $265,000 average windfall in fewer taxes that people earning over $1 million wouldn't have to pay each year. The total distribution of those tax cuts would tilt sharply toward the country's highest income bracket. It'd be one thing if this plan just represented the views of a lone congressman from Wisconsin, but the Ryan plan has become accepted dogma in the GOP. Only 10 House members broke ranks to vote against it last week, and the plan has a seal...

Paul Ryan No Longer Thinks the Military Is Lying

(Flickr/SpeakerBoehner)
Last Friday I noted Paul Ryan’s comments where he, in essence, accused the top military brass of lying to Congress to cover-up potential harm to the nation’s security in Obama’s proposed budget. To Ryan’s credit, he went on the Sunday shows to retract the claims. Per TPM : “I really misspoke,” he said on CNN’s State of the Union . “And I did not mean to impugn the integrity of the military in any way.” Asked whether he has apologized to Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ryan said, “Yeah, I called him and told him that.” It was not the impression I meant to give,” Ryan added on ABC’s This Week . “I talked to General Dempsey on it, and expressed that sentiment.” Calling his words “clumsy,” Ryan doubled down on his broader point that the Pentagon is conforming to adjusted military spending levels in President Obama’s budget, when he argues they should have put out their plan first. Good on Ryan for stepping back rather than going for the typical politician...

Women Flee the GOP

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
It’s always an open question as to whether Beltway-based controversies spread out to the public at large. Etch A Sketch is an incredibly apt way of describing Mitt Romney’s persona, but so far, the comment has gone unnoticed by those who don’t follow politics for entertainment or for a living (two overlapping spheres). By contrast, the controversy over contraception has definitely made its way onto the political landscape. At the very least, ordinary Americans know that the Obama administration mandated “free” birth control for women, Republicans spoke out in opposition, and—most important—conservative figures like Rush Limbaugh denounced supporters of the administration as “sluts.” And together with the previous fight over the Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, the proposed bill in Virginia that forced transvaginal ultrasounds (read: penetration) on women who received abortions, this knowledge grew into something more dangerous for Republicans—a...

A Grand Unified Theory of Romney

Flickr/DonkeyHotey
In advance of Tuesday's primary in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel gave a tepid endorsement to Mitt Romney, worrying that "Romney's finger-to-the-wind tacking across the political sea leaves us to wonder if he is anchored anywhere," but also citing his "moderate inclinations" and saying, "it's those moderate impulses that make Romney the best candidate. His challengers don't share the same sense of pragmatism or were woefully shortchanged on the temperament gene." But here's the question: What, exactly, is the evidence that Mitt Romney has moderate inclinations? Here's what we actually know. When Romney ran for Senate and then governor, he was a fairly liberal, pro-choice, pro-gay Republican—in other words, the only kind of Republican who would have had a chance to win in Massachusetts. Then when he ran for president, he became a fire-breathing conservative—the only kind of Republican with a chance to win his party's nomination. The only way you can conclude that he's a...

The Prodigal Son Returns

AP Photo
Barack Obama’s visit to Burlington today was a welcome surprise for Vermonters, who haven’t hosted a president since 1995. There’s a political reason for the visit: If there’s a state for liberals to call home, it’s Vermont. So why did Obama take a pit stop in the Green Mountain State instead of scavenging for swing votes? It comes down to money. Tickets for the luncheon Obama spoke at today started at $7,500 , and about 100 supporters showed up. Around 5,000 supporters paid $40-100 to attend a rally at the University of Vermont campus, enthusiastically chanting, “Four more years!” Tonight, Obama will speak to about 130 supporters at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, a state in which he is currently leading in the polls 58-35. Tickets for that event start at $5,000 a head. Today’s excited fans, which translate into plentiful donations, have a hopey-changey glow circa 2008 about them, but the fact that Obama needed to go to Vermont and Maine to find them is a reminder that this isn'...

Paul Ryan's "Smoke and Mirrors"

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
Paul Ryan, the supposed champion of fiscal restraint among right-wing Republicans, has put his colleagues in an awkward bind. His budget includes a host of unpopular provisions, and if implemented, would eviscerate almost every part of the government except defense, health care, and Social Security by 2050 according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yesterday, all but 10 House Republicans entered their name in the congressional record as supporters of the bill, providing Democrats with ample material for negative campaigning this fall. Ryan's proposal shows a reckless disregard for the country's less fortunate. Any social safety net for non-senior citizens would disappear, and while the plan would largely maintain Medicare for current retirees, the move to premium support would rob future generations of needed health care coverage, all to achieve lower taxes It might seem like Ryan has never run across a federal program he would like to destroy, but he debunked that...

Senate Dems in Trouble?

(Flickr/jacqueline.poggi)
Presidential elections tend to suck up all the air in an election season, and the (probable) Romney-Obama race is already the dominant plotline seven months away from Election Day. But as the tribulations of Obama's first three years and office made evident, the fate of Congressional races often dictate the direction of policy. Republicans' gains in the 2010 midterms paired with a year of redistricting has likely entrenched their House majority for at least another term. And Democrats entered the year with an uphill battle in the Senate. The party must defend 23 seats compared to just 10 for Republicans. Emory University political scientist and all-around smart dude Alan Abramowitz is out with a model predicting the upcoming Congressional elections that offers grim news for Democrats. Abramowitz predicts that Democrats will gain only a few seats in the House—two or three he says—but are on track to possibly lose the Senate majority. Abramowitz's model has Republicans with an "expected...

Paul Ryan Endorses Mitt Romney

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Now that Mitt Romney has effectively won the Republican presidential nomination, major figures within the party have come out to endorse him and push the other candidates out of the race. Romney’s latest endorsement comes from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who—on Fox and Friends this morning—warned that the GOP primary could become “counterproductive” if it doesn’t end soon: “We need to coalesce as conservatives” around a nominee, Ryan said. “The longer we drag it out the harder it is to win in November. … I am convinced that Mitt Romney has the skills, the tenacity, the principles and the courage to put America back on track." Even given the degree to which Ryan has convinced “official” Washington that he’s a wholesome defender of fiscal sustainability, I’m positive that Romney will walk away from this endorsement with his moderate reputation intact. But he shouldn’t. Two things lie behind Ryan’s endorsement. The first, as you can see above, is political expediency. The second,...

Waiting for the Real Romney

Flickr/DonkeyHotey
Apparently, Mitt Romney's supporters are concerned that the real Mitt isn't coming through, and some of them are practically begging him to show us the true heart beating beneath the finely tailored suits and presidential hair: YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The voters were pleading with Mitt Romney to share personal details of his life. They stood at town-hall-style meetings and chatted before rallies, clamoring for a story or an anecdote that would help them connect with the real Mitt Romney. "I wish that you would speak more to a lot of the things that I think you should speak about — the fact that you were pastor at your church, the fact that you were a missionary, the fact that you do speak about helping with the Olympics," Mary Toepfer, 40, of Warren, Ohio, said at a recent event. Without these kinds of stories, she added, "it's hard for us, who are trying to support you, to address them when trying to explain to them why you would be the better candidate." I feel bad for them, and I...

Goodbye To All That?

(Flickr / akosikenet)
The GOP primary has been as long as a Wagner opera, but we might finally be at the curtain call. We’ve heard for ages that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee, but the other candidates and the party’s base have doggedly challenged this from the start. But this week, Romney collected some of the final puzzle pieces that he needs to quash his remaining opponents. He won a long-awaited endorsement from Florida Senator and Republican darling Marco Rubio yesterday, a move the potential vice-presidential candidate said he wouldn’t make until the race was over . Gingrich downsized his cash-strapped campaign this week, and Karl Rove and Sheldon Adelson have both said that the former speaker has no chance of winning. The last six Ron Paul groupies have run out of money and are heading home. Santorum’s campaign infrastructure is incredibly small , and he's being outspent by Romney in every state. The Republican National Committee has already started prepping for the general...

A Good Old-Fashioned Campaign

Don't you people get it? (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
In 2008, Barack Obama ran what was in some ways a revolutionary campaign. He took advantage of the possibilities of social media more than any candidate before him, allowing supporters to connect with each other without (too much) involvement or guidance from the campaign itself. They could design their own signs, set up their own meetings, figure out how to connect with the people they knew on their own. As a result, Obama volunteers felt a sense of ownership over the campaign in a way volunteers seldom do, leading them to work all the harder. But as far as I remember, Obama didn't go around saying, "This campaign is revolutionary" all that often. He may have talked about the campaign in lofty, poetic terms as something unique, but he didn't spend too much time talking about how special the campaign was specifically as an organizational effort. In fact, when a candidate starts saying how unique his campaign is, it's usually because he's failing at the traditional measures by which...

Get Ready for Iowa 2016

(Flickr/Talk Radio News Service)
I'm of the same mindset as Salon 's Alex Pareene: it's far, far too early to begin 2016 speculation. Political prognosticating is a dangerous game; it's hard to know what lies on the horizon several months from now, let alone several years. A few years ago a star governor of South Carolina seemed like a probable Republican candidate until he took a few too many hikes on the Appalachian trail. Or six years back, when the junior Illinois senator seemed like a far more likely Democratic candidate in 2012 or even 2016. Hell, we don't even know if the Republicans will have a competitive primary in 2016 or if Mitt Romney will gather the forces for a reelection bid. I'm not sure every politician shares my wariness of long-term political forecasts. I received a pair of emails in my inbox yesterday afternoon alerting me of scheduled appearances by two hotshot Republicans in that harbinger of presidential campaigns, the Hawkeye State. Senator Rand Paul will headline the Iowa Faith and Freedom...

In Fact, Obama is Stronger Than He Looks

(White House/Flickr)
Lately, whenever I note a poll showing good results for President Barack Obama, I feel compelled to include a note about the reliability of polls this far out from the election—they're not particularly reliable—and the fact that other presidents who have been polling well have nonetheless gone down in defeat come November. The most salient example for this is President George H.W. Bush, who rode high in public opinion after the Gulf War, but was brought down by a rapidly deteriorating economy. It has never been hard to imagine a similar trajectory for Obama; the post-Osama bump, followed by a prolonged slide. On the other side of things, and to make another analogy to the 1992 election, Mitt Romney isn’t the only presidential candidate to finish a divisive primary with high unfavorability ratings, nor is he the only one to inspire distrust among his base. Bill Clinton faced a similar scenario, and he went on to defeat the first President Bush in the fall. Both sets of facts are...

Obama Rallies the Planned Parenthood Troops

(Photo: screenshot from Planned Parenthood video)
Republicans haven't been quite as eager to moralize against contraception after Rush Limbaugh gave voice to their true feelings, but Democrats aren't ready to let their argument that the GOP is waging a war on women slip by the wayside. Mitt Romney, a candidate who rarely seems comfortable when the discussion strays from the economy, is hoping that the issue will become a non-factor once he officially dismisses Rick Santorum and heads to the general election. Barack Obama clearly has a different view. The president issued a new subtle attack yesterday in a video where he directly addresses supporters of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "For you and for most Americans protecting women's health is a mission that stands above politics," Obama says in the two-minute video. "And yet over the past year you've had to stand up to politicians who want to deny millions of women the care they rely on, and inject themselves into decisions that are best made between a woman and her doctor." The...

Superfan Snoozefest

(Flickr / sethdickens)
Joe McCutchen isn’t your average Mitt Romney supporter. When it comes to the Republican front-runner, the seventy-two-year-old former carpet mill owner “is just so fired up, [he] can’t even sleep at night,” and makes sure to wear a campaign sticker on his lapel every day. McCutchen is what The Washington Post called one of the “sasquatches of American politics: rumored, hoped-for, so elusive that they can seem imaginary … Mitt Romney’s superfans”—of which only 346 have been found in the wild. Most Romney supporters are a bit more tepid. According to a Gallup poll from March 8-11, only 35 percent of Republicans would vote enthusiastically for Romney. The halfhearted approval for the former Massachusetts governor continues as you move up the echelons of the party—the candidate has only won the endorsement of 91 GOP members of Congress so far. As a result, primary turnout has lagged, a trend that some Republicans fear will translate to the general election. But things aren’t looking too...

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