Joseph E. Stiglitz (NYT): This election has rightly been characterized as one that will deeply affect the future direction of the country: Americans are being given a choice with potentially large consequences. One arena in which there are profound differences that has not been adequately debated is the future course of inequality.
…. Every other advanced country has recognized the right of everyone to access to health care, and extending access was central to President Obama’s health care reform. Romney and Ryan have criticized that reform, but have said nothing about how or whether they would ensure universal access. Most important, the macroeconomic consequences of the Romney-Ryan economic program would be devastating: growth would slow, unemployment would increase, and just as Americans would need the social protection of government more, the safety net would be weakened.
…. let no one be deceived: their tax policies will lead to even more inequality at the top, the continued hollowing out of the middle, and more poverty at the bottom. Worst of all, they will lead to a more divided society that endangers our future – our economy, our democracy and our sense of identity as a nation.
(Joseph E. Stiglitz, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and a former chief economist of the World Bank, is University Professor at Columbia University)
Paul Krugman: Mitt Romney has been barnstorming the country, telling voters that he has a five-point plan to restore prosperity …. Mr. Romney’s “plan” is a sham. It’s a list of things he claims will happen, with no description of the policies he would follow to make those things happen…..
Actually, if describing what you want to see happen without providing any specific policies to get us there constitutes a “plan,” I can easily come up with a one-point plan that trumps Mr. Romney any day. Here it is: Every American will have a good job with good wages. Also, a blissfully happy marriage. And a pony.
So Mr. Romney is faking it. His real plan seems to be to foster economic recovery through magic, inspiring business confidence through his personal awesomeness. But what about the man he wants to kick out of the White House?
…. Mr. Obama may not have an exciting economic plan, but, if he is re-elected, he will get to implement a health reform that is the biggest improvement in America’s safety net since Medicare. Mr. Romney doesn’t have an economic plan at all, but he is determined not just to repeal Obamacare but to impose savage cuts in Medicaid. So never mind all those bullet points. Think instead about the 45 million Americans who either will or won’t receive essential health care, depending on who wins on Nov. 6.
President Obama has his drivers license checked prior to casting his vote in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago
President Obama has a laugh when an election official’s cell phone rings …
Greeting people as he leaves a campaign office in Chicago (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune)
Eugene Robinson (Washington Post): This election is only tangentially a fight over policy. It is also a fight about meaning and identity – and that’s one reason voters are so polarized. It’s about who we are and who we aspire to be.
President Obama enters the final days of the campaign with a substantial lead among women – about 11 points, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll – and enormous leads among Latinos and African Americans, the nation’s two largest minority groups. Mitt Romney leads among white voters, with an incredible 2-to-1 advantage among white men … it would be disingenuous to pretend not to notice the obvious cleavage between those who have long held power in this society and those who are beginning to attain it.
When Republicans vow to “take back our country,” they never say from whom. But we can guess.
…. Some of Obama’s opponents have tried to delegitimize his presidency because he doesn’t embody the America they once knew. He embodies the America of now.
Paul Krugman: …. If you’re new to this, there are two basic approaches to election analysis at this point. One is the campaign reporter style, full of impressionist reporting about who won the news cycle and who has “momentum”, whatever that means ….. The other is poll-based. And that mostly means state-level polls at this point: there are more of them, and we have an electoral-college system, not a popular-vote system.
The impressionistic style has been all about Romney on the rise, a narrative that is to a large part being fed by the Romney campaign itself. But the state-level polling doesn’t show it…..
NYT Editorial: …. For Mr. Romney, Mr. Obama’s decision to bail out the auto industry and his own rejection of it is proving to be an Electoral College challenge. Several states are also feeling the benefits of an improved economy. Obama campaign officials say that to win, Mr. Romney would have to pick off voters already committed to the president in states where Mr. Romney has never been ahead. “We think we maintain a lot more plausible pathways to 270 than Governor Romney, who we think has to essentially pull an inside straight,” said David Plouffe, the president’s chief strategist.
Those pathways exist because millions of voters still harbor doubts about Mitt Romney. He has apparently decided that in the final days of the campaign, he will do little to dispel them.
Washington Post: …. this is an interesting case in which Mitt Romney has taken two moments from the third presidential debate – both of which were faulted by fact checkers – and turned them into television ads. In both cases, Romney also misspoke, making his statements even less accurate. The campaign commercial for the “apology tour” selectively snips out Romney’s errors, but apparently it was impossible to clean up Romney’s error on the size of the Navy.
…. The net effect is to suggest Obama made those supposed apologies to Arabs, without actually saying so, because that would be incorrect. But even careful editing still does not fix the basic problem in the first place – there was no apology tour.
This ad also repeats the criticism that Obama has never visited Israel. As we have noted, only four of the last 11 presidents visited Israel during their presidency — and only two visited in their first term…
For doubling down on claims that have been repeatedly called out by fact checkers, even to the point of editing out the candidate’s misstatements, the Romney campaign earns Four Pinocchios.
Adam Serwer (Mother Jones): GOP’s Benghazi Smoking Gun Goes Up in Smoke …. When a set of State Department emails were released Wednesday, one reporting that a local Islamist militia had claimed responsibility for the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya, conservatives thought they had the smoking gun that the Obama administration had lied about what had occurred.
…. There’s only one problem — well, actually, there are many, but one big one: The email appears to have been incorrect…..
….. in the future it’s a good idea to remember that just because someone posts something on Facebook, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Even better: Just because someone said someone posted something on Facebook doesn’t mean it’s true. Even if you really, really want it to be.
Greg Sargent: ….. anyone who comes out against the proposal Obama outlined today will be asked a simple question: Are you saying that employers should dictate to female employees whether they should or shouldn’t have access to birth control coverage?
…. What kind of impact do you think GOP opposition to free contraception for female employees of these institutions will have on that gender gap?
….. a new poll came out just today illustrating how perilous this position may be ….. It found that a big majority, 61%, approve of “requiring employer health plans to cover birth control for women.” Only 34% disapproved. Independents approve 58-34; women, 67-29 …. The polling organization that published these findings? Fox News.
Amanda Marcotte (Slate): …. The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception, which is what this has always been about.
…. what most people will remember is that Republicans picked a fight with Obama over contraception coverage and lost. This also gave Obama a chance to highlight this benefit and take full credit for it.
…. hijacking two weeks of the news cycle to send the message that he’s going to get you your birth control for free is a big win for him in that department … It’s all so perfect that I’m inclined to think this was Obama’s plan all along.
Ed Kilgore: …. make no mistake: it just got an awful lot harder for conservatives to frame the mandate (as now formulated) as an assault on religious liberty that will drive Catholics back into the catacombs – or even affect the operations of Catholic hospitals and charities. Indeed, it will look a lot like one of those interminable disputes between “modern” and “traditionalist” Catholics – with the latter backing a church hierarchy with a rather notably reduced credibility these days – in which Catholic lay opinion is decisively, if often quietly, with people like Sister Keehan who actually do the charitable work of the church.
The Economist: …..For the past three years America has been walking softly, and it’s working very, very well. Ten years back, America often found itself isolated, struggling to pull together “coalitions of the willing” packed with small client states. Lately, we have been finding ourselves in the majority, along with the democratic world, while Russia and China front a dwindling coalition of the unwilling …. this reflects a smart, subtle foreign-policy presence in which we have done a vastly better job of looking at what other countries actually want, and seeing where our interests align, rather than trying to bully other countries into supporting our goals…
And to some extent, there’s a personal factor. Look through the Pew Global Attitudes project data on confidence in the US president. In almost every country, you’ll see a dramatic or startling increase in confidence between 2008 and 2011.
…. When Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice try to win backing for American positions at the UN, the exceptional popularity of the president they represent in other countries is obviously a factor ….
Protesters from the Occupy movement and labor unions gather with an inflatable ‘fat cat’ outside the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference prior to an address by Mitt Romney
TPM: The awkward elements of Mitt Romney’s speech at CPAC Friday began even before the flailing GOP frontrunner opened his mouth.
….. he stood behind a pair of teleprompters and in front of a pair of fake Grecian columns … Just the other night, when he was giving his address amid the defeats in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, Romney took a shot at the man he’s trying to oust from the White House for – well – using teleprompters and standing in front of fake columns.