Jamelle Bouie

The GOP Wants to Make this Todd Akin's World

Yesterday morning, before the GOP completely turned its back on Todd Akin, I noted that—despite their harumphing—few Republicans disagreed with the substance of Akin’s remarks. In Congress and across the country, GOP lawmakers have supported a raft of bills designed to restrict or end abortion, as well as most forms of contraception. Look no further than the Republican platform, which—as CNN reports—will include radical and restrictive language on abortion:

The Radicalism of Akin and Romney

Since yesterday morning, political conversation has been dominated by the comments of Todd Akin, a (formerly) obscure Missouri congressman and Republican candidate for Senate. "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin told local reporters, explaining his absolute opposition to abortion, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

And if these natural defenses fail? “Let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something,” Akin said. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Romney's Taxes Return to the Campaign

This afternoon, during an event with the press, Romney answered questions about his taxes with a declaration that he has never paid less than 13 percent:

He says that, for the most recent year, he paid 13.6 percent in taxes. There’s an obvious problem here: Unless Romney answers calls for more tax returns—which have come from Democrats as well as top supporters—it’s impossible to prove that he’s paid that tax rate.

Romney Is Stuck Between Two Terrible Messages on Medicare

It’s hard to overstate the muddled message Republicans have had on Medicare since Paul Ryan joined the ticket last weekend. As soon as the announcement was official, Team Romney issued talking points distancing their nominee from Ryan’s budget, including his plan for Medicare. On Monday, however, Romnney took the opposite approach, telling crowds in Miami he was on the “same page” as Ryan.

The Worst-Ever Attempt at Swiftboating

(White House/Flickr)

The “swift boat” attacks in the 2004 presidential election were effective, in part, because they played on real public anxiety: “We’re fighting two wars, is now a good time to change leaders?” For a critical number of Americans, the answer was no, and John Kerry couldn’t overcome the sense that we shouldn't change horses in midstream (to use a cliché).

Don't Hold Your Breath for a Romney Budget that Makes Sense

If you missed it, Mitt Romney gave a long interview to CNN Money in which he explained his plans for dealing with taxes, cutting the budget, and juicing the economy. The interview is boilerplate Romney—vague declarations about policies he won’t detail—but he does comment on the recent analysis from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC). In short, the Center found that Romney’s goal—across-the-board tax cuts that don’t affect revenue—is impossible without raising taxes on most Americans. Romney calls this a “garbage conclusion”:

Crocodile Tears from the Koch Brothers

The latest campaign from Americans for Prosperity—the Koch-funded conservative group—is a $7 million ad buy meant to highlight the disappointment of various Obama supporters. The commercial, which runs for one minute, will air on broadcast and cable in 11 battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. CNN has a few excerpts:

“I had hoped that the new president would bring new jobs–not major layoffs, not people going through major foreclosures on their homes,” one woman says in the ad.

Mitt Romney's Implausible Bid for the High Road

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)

Politics is tough, and most politicians—including President Obama—are willing to bend the truth to win an election. But there’s a difference between the small distortions of all campaigns, and the brazen dishonesty we’re seeing from Romney. In a 48-hour period, Mitt Romney has doubled-down on the false charge that Obama has ended work requirements for welfare, lied about the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare cost savings, and kicked up a storm over comments made by Vice President Joe Biden.

Romney Pivots from Welfare to Lie about Medicare

I have a feeling that I’ll be writing this with some regularity over the next three months, but the Romney campaign has released a new, shamelessly dishonest ad attacking President Obama for the Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act:

Romney’s ad paints the Medicare cuts as some kind of theft—the money was meant for seniors, but Obama took it away to fund his “government takeover of health care.”

The Coming Obama Landslide

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

In terms of demographics, Mitt Romney has one path to victory: overwhelming support from white voters. At the least, he’ll have to outperform every Republican since Ronald Reagan, and win 60 percent of their votes. And this is if minority turnout is at its 2008 levels. If it increases, he needs even more whites to make up the difference.

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. 

Lipstick on a Wonk

(AP/Scott Applewhite)

It’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.

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.

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.

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.