Over at the New York Times, Ross Douthat has a mostly excellent take on the Wisconsin recall and what it means for American politics. The short story is that economic distress will result in a zero-sum politics, where both sides vie for the greatest gains while doing as much as possible to block their opponents. He exaggerates the extent to which this is true on the Democratic side—Democrats haven’t pushed laws to keep Republicans from voting, nor have they used legislation to attack core GOP constituencies—but the point is well taken.
Over at Talking Points Memo, Sahil Kapur reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pulled the “sabotage” card on his House counterpart, Eric Cantor:
“You have heard, as I’ve heard, that there’s a battle going on between Cantor and [House Speaker John] Boehner as to whether or not there should be a [highway] bill,” Reid told reporters. “Cantor, of course — I’m told by others that he wants to not do a bill to make the economy worse, because he feels that’s better for them. I hope that’s not true.”
The results of the Wisconsin recall election weren’t surprising; for the last month, polls had shown Walker with a solid lead over his Democratic opponent. What was interesting—and a little surprising—was the extent to which President Barack Obama has maintained a strong position in the Badger State. Among the 2.4 million people who voted in last night’s election—a slight decrease from presidential turnout—52 percent support Obama. Obama’s performance is down from 2008, when he captured 56 percent of the vote, but Mitt Romney hasn’t captured the difference.
The latest survey from the Pew Research Center is a comprehensive look at Obama’s performance with the electorate over the past month, with good and bad news. On the good end, Obama is leading Romney among all voters, 49 percent to 42 percent. He’s maintained his 2008 strength among Latinos and African Americans, and is only losing white voters by 12 percent–a good sign for the incumbent. Indeed, his strong performance among white college graduates–48 percent to Romney’s 47 percent–makes up for his weak support among white without a college degree.
In today’s New York Times, David Brooks has an extended meditation on debt that relies on one giant omission:
Recently, life has become better and more secure. But the aversion to debt has diminished amid the progress. Credit card companies seduced people into borrowing more. Politicians found that they could buy votes with borrowed money. People became more comfortable with red ink.
Today we are living in an era of indebtedness. Over the past several years, society has oscillated ever more wildly though three debt-fueled bubbles. First, there was the dot-com bubble. Then, in 2008, the mortgage-finance bubble. Now, we are living in the fiscal bubble.
At National Journal, Ron Brownstein marshals evidence to show that, despite the large benefits they’ll reap from the Affordable Care Act, white working class voters are convinced that the program will hurt their prospects:
As others have noted, it’s not hard to see the Keynesian case for Mitt Romney’s presidency. Because of Republican opposition, there’s little chance that President Obama could pass stimulus in his second term. Instead, it’s more likely that we’ll stay on the current path of deficit reduction and inaction with regards to the employment crisis.
I try not to pay as much attention to politics over the weekend—it’s how I keep my sanity—but I couldn’t help but notice this when it popped in my inbox yesterday morning:
[Eric] Fehnrstrom, pressed by George Will on Romney’s view of House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget: ‘He’s for the Ryan plan. He believes it goes in the right direction. … At least the Paul Ryan plan puts us on a path toward a balanced budget. It gets those annual deficits down, in a way that this president has been unable to do.’
For the last month, Elizabeth Warren has been stuck in controversy over her Native American heritage, specifically the fact that she received benefits for it while at Harvard. Republican Scott Brown has made this a major campaign issue, using it to assail Warren’s integrity and ability to honestly serve the people of Massachusetts. At TheWashington Post, David Fahrenthold and Chris Cillizza adopt this frame, and present the controversy as a real problem for Warren’s Senate bid:
Despite the fact that most Democrats are enthusiastic about the Obama campaign’s attacks on Bain Capital, the news media has run with the “narrative” that Democrats are bucking the Obama message in favor of more conciliatory rhetoric toward private equity. According to CNN, the latest Democrat to go off the reservation is Bill Clinton, who praised Romney’s business record in a press conference yesterday:
In another hard-hitting investiation, POLITICOreports that right-wing billionaires are shocked—shocked!—that people are opposed to their lavish support for politicians who promise to slash services and cut taxes for said billionaires. I mean, who knew that people would have a problem with plutocratic efforts to take the country back to the Gilded Age?:
In their view, cutting a million-dollar check to try to sway the presidential race should be just another way to do their part for democracy, not a fast-track to the front page. And now some are pushing back hard against the attention, asking: Why us?
For the past two years, there has been a pattern to the country’s job growth: the economy speeds up in the winter, cruises through the spring, and slows down as summer approaches. For 2012, it seems that we’re on track for the same ride. The strong gains of January and February gave way to the moderate gains of March and April, which have completely dissipated with the latest jobs report. In May, the economy created 69,000 jobs, and unemployment rose slightly to 8.2 percent.