Jamelle Bouie

The Endless Arrogance of Wall Street

(Creative Commons/Flickr)
Greg Sargent is rightfully stunned by the entitled petulance of Wall Street bankers who are shocked— shocked —that President Obama would do anything other than praise their indispensable brilliance: Wall Streeters are so upset about Obama’s harsh populist rhetoric that they privately called on him to make amends with a big speech — like his oration on race — designed to heal the wounds of class warfare in this country. […] Of course, their exaggerated weariness notwithstanding, the “wounds of class warfare” haven’t been borne by Wall Streeters, who remain fabulously wealthy even after causing the worst downturn since the Great Depression. If there’s anyone waging class warfare, it’s the radicalized representatives of the rich, who have successfully engineered government to enhance their wealth at the cost of our shared responsibilities. As such, the actual victims of class warfare are the ordinary Americans who face stagnant wages, rising costs, and a tattered safety net. After going...

Game's the Same, Just More Fierce

(The Miscegenation Ball/Abraham Lincoln's Classroom)
In today’s New York Times , David Brooks writes that—for him—most presidential campaigns are some combination of reality show, romantic courtship, and a straightforward job application. This year, however, is different. Rather than try to appeal to the best of the public, Brooks says that both Romney and Obama have gone for the jugular in a ruthless effort to destroy each other. It suffices to say that the Times columnist is very disappointed in this development: [B]oth President Obama and Mitt Romney seem more passionate about denying the other side victory than about any plank in their own agendas. Both campaigns have developed contempt for their opponent, justifying their belief that everything, then, is permitted. In both campaigns, you can see the war-room mentality developing early. Attention spans shrink to a point. Gone is much awareness of the world outside the campaign. All focus is on the news blip of the moment — answering volley for volley. If they bring a knife, you...

The Beginning of the End in Afghanistan

(White House/Flickr)
If anyone was expecting President Obama to spike the proverbial football during his address this evening from Afghanistan, they were sorely disappointed. In a sober, 11 minute message, Obama retraced the path that brought the United States to Afghanistan, and outlined the next two years of American policy in the country. First, he noted the extent to which the United States had mostly achieved its military goals in the country—“One year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden,” the president said. “The goal I set—to defeat Al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.” From there, he announced a strategic partnership with Afghan President Hamid Karzai that would begin the process of withdrawal for American troops, leading to their complete departure in 2014. Between now and then, the United States—with the help of its NATO allies—would transition responsibility for security to Afghan troops, and step back...

Apparently, You Can't be Gay and Work for Romney

(WEBN-TV/Flickr)
Two weeks ago, the Romney campaign hired Richard Grenell—a long-time Republican and former staffer for the Bush White House—to act as a spokesperson on foreign policy and national security. Grenell received tough criticism from Democrats for a series of sexist tweets, but that wasn’t enough to spark reticience from the Romney team. What was, however, were attacks from religious conservatives on Grenell’s sexuality. Conservative activists hammered Romney for hiring an openly gay spokesperson, and questioned Grenell’s commitment to the conservative cause. “Suppose Barack Obama comes out — as Grenell wishes he would — in favor of same-sex marriage in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention,“ wrote Matthew J. Franck at the National Review , ”How fast and how publicly will Richard Grenell decamp from Romney to Obama?" This afternoon, Grenell announced his resignation from the Romney campaign, citing the relentless attacks on his sexuality: I have decided to resign from...

Virginia Is Still Obama Territory, For Now

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
A new Public Policy Polling survey for Virginia shows President Obama in good shape ahead of his visit on Saturday. He has an approval rating of 50 percent with 46 percent of voters disapproving of him, and in a head-to-head matchup with Mitt Romney, he leads 51 percent to Romney’s 43 percent. Unlike most other swing states, Obama has held a consistently strong position in the Old Dominion since he was elected: Part of the issue for Romney is that he only takes 84 percent of the Republican vote, compared to 92 percent for Obama. But even if that changes, and Romney reaches parity with Obama, he’s still behind. In addition to losing young voters in Virginia, 33–57, Romney is also losing middle-aged voters, 37–56. When you combine that with Obama’s huge margins among African Americans in the state, you have the recipe for a steady lead. It’s worth noting that Romney doesn’t gain a boost if he chooses Governor Bob McDonnell for the vice presidential spot. With or without McDonnell on the...

Romney Accuses Obama of Being Romney

(mediafury/Flickr)
Most independent experts agree that the various Republican budget plans—from Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and others—would have a disasterous effect on lower-income Americans. By slashing programs like Medicaid and food stamps, and cutting taxes on the richest Americans, they would precipitate a massive amount of upwards redistribution; taking from the poor to give to the rich. But it seems that facts like this aren’t actually relevant to the day-to-day of campaigning. To wit, in a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for his (apparent) disregard for the least well-off: At a campaign stop today in Portsmouth, NH, Mitt Romney portrayed President Obama as a foe — and himself a champion — of the poor, noting the “greater and greater gap between those that have the most and those that have the least” and accusing President Obama of being “focused on taking away from those that have the least.” [Emphasis mine] Mind you, this is the same Barack Obama who expanded...

The Case for Just Giving Money to People, Part Infinity

(401K/Flickr)
In a few weeks, tens of thousands of students will graduate from college or university, and attempt to make their way in the economy. During better times, these former students would find jobs, rent apartments, and almost immediately begin to pump money into the economy. But—three years after the nadir of the economic crisis—the job market for young people is still terrible, and many have opted to live with their parents in order to save money. This, you can probably imagine, has only made the economy worse. Here’s The Washington Post : More than one in five adults between ages 25 and 34 live with their parents or in other “multi-generational” living arrangements, the highest level since the 1950s, according to the Pew Research Center. Analysts estimate that there are more than 2 million fewer occupied homes than there would have been had Americans continued moving into new homes and apartments at the rate they did before the recession. Not only are young people returning to the nest...

Obama Jabs Romney on Outsourcing and Swiss Bank Accounts

(Barack Obama/Flickr)
Barack Obama won’t officially kick off his reelection until this weekend—with dual rallies in Ohio and Virginia—but that hasn’t stopped his campaign from beginning its negative attack on Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Yesterday, the campaign questioned Romney’s ability to make critical military decisions, and today, it goes after his ability to make smart economic decisions, with an ad that will air in Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia: The point—which harkens back to Rick Perry’s attack on Romney for “vulture capitalism”—is that Romney’s brand of capitalism empowers corporations at the expense of ordinary people, and that Romney himself is so detached from average lives that he doesn’t realize it. The implicit contrast is that Obama will stand up for the economic interests of ordinary people. As Greg Sargent points out , this is “designed to sow doubts among swing voters about whether a President Romney would truly have the economic security of middle class Americans at heart.” Where the...

The Bin Laden Question

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As Washington debates the (not particularly vital) question of whether it’s fair that President Obama claims credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden, it’s worth asking a single question—if the shoe were on the other foot, and President John McCain had issued the order to kill bin Laden, would Republicans hold to their current position, and insist that it wasn’t fair game for an election? Would Democrats continue tout its place on the president’s resume? I think the answer is obvious; if the situation were reversed, the places would change too. The same Republicans who decry Obama’s use of bin Laden would loudly trumpet his death if a GOP president were on the line. Indeed, national security-based campaigns aren’t new to the Republican Party. In 2002, Georgia Democratic senator Max Cleland was defeated with the help of an ad that tied his reelection to bin Laden’s success. In 2004, the Bush White House hammered John Kerry for his suggestion that terrorism was a law enforcement...

How Will Mitt Govern?

(Jamelle Bouie/The American Prospect)
Now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee, The Washington Post ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, believes that the paper should focus more on how he’ll govern, rather than how he’ll campaign. For guidance to the former question, he writes that we should look to his tenure as governor: To me, the best predictor of Romney as president is not as the former Bain Capital chief executive, but as the former governor of Massachusetts. […] As governor, Romney cut spending, and, as promised, didn’t raise income taxes, but he did close tax “loopholes” on corporations — and he dramatically raised state fees, such as tuition at state universities. He also won unprecedented powers to cut state aid to cities and towns, and then he angered mayors by assigning his lieutenant governor and underlings to meet and explain the plan to municipal leaders. At most, Romney’s tenure as governor can give us a sense of his method; how he governs, how he approaches the press, and how he’ll try to fulfill...

Austerity in the US!

(401K/Flickr)
The defining feature of Republican economic policy for the short-term is immediate austerity—big spending cuts to social programs, coupled with tax increases on lower-income people, and a reduction in the size of the federal workforce. Conservatives claim that this will lead to immediate job growth and a more robust recovery. The problem, of course, is that all available evidence points to the opposite. In Europe, austerity has renewed the economic crisis—the United Kingdom, for example, is growing at a rate slower than it saw during the Great Depression. At home, austerity at the state and local level—by way of balanced budget requirements—has led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, and a significantly weaker economy. Writing for the Washington Post , Zachary A. Goldfarb gives the details : Since the beginning of his term, state and local governments have shed 611,000 employees — including 196,000 educators — according to government statistics. Unlike the recovery in...

How Paul Ryan Escapes Scrutiny

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House Budget chairman Paul Ryan inhabits two, mutually exclusive spaces in Washington politics. He’s both a crusader for deficit reduction—the recipient of praise and accolades from the Beltway’s collection of deficit hawks—and a pure right-wing ideologue, whose budgets would gut the social safety net, slash taxes on the rich, and load the United States with trillions of dollars in debt. That he’s managed to do this without backlash from the Right or incredulity from the mainstream is a remarkable achievement, and as Jonathan Chait describes for New York Magazine , a product of his studied earnestness and ostentatious love of “wonkery”: Seeming genuine is something Ryan does extraordinarily well. And here is where something deeper is at play, more than Ryan’s charm and winning personality, something that gets at the intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary Washington. The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his...

All Good Ideas Belong to Mitt Romney

(White House/Flickr)
Back in 2009, when the newly elected President Barack Obama was contemplating a bailout of the auto-industry, Mitt Romney emerged from his temporary hiatus to push policymakers in the other direction. “Let Detroit go bankrupt,” he urged in an op-ed for New York Times . For Romney, a managed bankrupcy of the kind he had pioneered at Bain Capital was the only way to “save” the American auto industry. As for Obama’s approach, Romney warned that “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.” A few months later, Romney repeated his warning: If Obama continued on his path, “it would make GM the living dead.” Three years later, Romney’s prediction hasn’t come to pass. The American auto industry is thriving even as conservatives run with the idea that government is categorically ineffective. In February, during the Republican primary in Michigan, Romney further disparaged the auto...

What's the Matter with Wall Street?

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Brad DeLong looks at the degree to which Wall Street has bounced back from the collapse under Obama, and wonders why bankers have turned completely against the president: Why? It is not as though Wall Street has done badly under Obama. Stock prices are up and interest rates are down, so leveraged financial institutions long assets–as Wall Street inevitably is–have done very, very well indeed. The standard bargain that the Democrats offer Wall Street has held. It is: We will try to tax you (and, given the power of your lobbying operation in Congress, probably fail to do so), but we will give you competent economic management in striking contrast to that offered by the ideologically-blinded wingnuts who are the Republicans. That has been the bargain that the Democrats have offered Wall Street from the days of Hoover to Bush II, and when Wall Street has had a sense of its own long-run interests, it has taken the Democrats up on it. And it has been happy. This, to me, is a variation on...

Trying Too Hard

(Pete Souza/White House)
I understand that reporters want to hold the Obama campaign accountable for its rhetoric and tactics, but there’s a point where that goes from sensible to absurd. In the latter column is a “ gotcha ” from ABC News: The Obama campaign opened up a new line of attack on Mitt Romney Friday, suggesting that as commander-in-chief Romney might not have made the same decision to order an attack by U.S. forces to kill terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden that President Obama did. In a new web video titled “One Chance,” the Obama team features former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for deciding to launch the strike last year. “Why path would Mitt Romney have taken?” the clip asks. But four years ago this April, the Obama campaign criticized Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using Osama bin Laden in a political ad. On the eve of the 2008 Pennsylvania primary, Clinton’s campaign released a television commercial featuring an image of bin Laden and invoking President Harry S. Truman’s...

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