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.
Charles Blow: Shady money, voter suppression, shifting positions, murky details and widespread apathy.
If there is a road map for a Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan win in November, that’s it. Distasteful all.
…. America, this is the Republican ticket. Although most smart political observers currently have Romney losing the Electoral College, Romney, following this repulsive road map, is virtually tied with Obama in national polls of likely voters.
That is, in part, because of apathy. As USA Today reported, the 90 million people who are unlikely to vote in November prefer Obama over Romney by 2 to 1, and “they could turn a too-close-to-call race into a landslide for President Obama — but by definition they probably won’t.”
If this underhanded dirty dealing by the Republican ticket doesn’t jolt some of these unlikely voters into likely ones, I don’t know what will.
Steve Benen: Just this morning, I noted that Mitt Romney publicly gave his word, on camera, that he would “go back and look” to let us know what tax rates he paid over the last decade. The good news is, Romney really did “go back and look,” and elaborated on the findings today.
The bad news is, his answer was horrible:
“…I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year. Harry Reid’s charge is totally false. I’m sure waiting for Harry to put up who it was that told him what he says they told him. I don’t believe it for a minute, by the way. But every year I’ve paid at least 13 percent and if you add in addition the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent.”
Let’s walk through the top five reasons this answer is woefully unacceptable…..
David Simon: Can we stand back and pause a short minute to take in the spectacle of a man who wants to be President of The United States, who wants us to seriously regard him as a paragon of the American civic ideal, declaiming proudly and in public that he has paid his taxes at a third of the rate normally associated with gentlemen of his economic benefit.
Am I supposed to congratulate this man? Thank him for his good citizenship? Compliment him for being clever enough to arm himself with enough tax lawyers so that he could legally minimize his obligations?
Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college. If not, it was my first couple years as a newspaper reporter. Since then, the paychecks have been just fine, thanks, and I don’t see any reason not to pay at the rate appropriate to my earnings, given that I’m writing the check to the same government that provided the economic environment that allowed for such incomes.
I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly: Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent. I swear. And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail. But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits. I’m just not that kind of guy.
Charles Pierce: The president is angry. The president is an angry man. The president is black. The president is an angry black man …. That is the four-point plan on “the economy” on which Willard Romney apparently intends to run for president for a while…..
“If you look at the ads that have been described and the divisiveness based on income, age, ethnicity and so-forth, it’s designed to bring a sense of enmity and jealousy and anger and this is not in my view what the American people want to see,” Romney said.
Ethnicity? And so forth…. If he blows that dog-whistle any louder, Seamus may return from that great roof-rack in the sky.
This should surprise absolutely nobody, because, if there’s one thing candidate Romney has demonstrated, it is that he really is quite a remarkable liar…. Asking a Republican presidential candidate to abandon race-baiting entirely is to ask for an awful lot of 13-second Republican stump speeches. Asking Willard Romney to do it is to assume that there is muck so foul that he will not immerse himself in it to be president….
…. There was nothing Romney wouldn’t do in business to make a buck. Why should we be surprised that he campaigns the same way? ….
…. Since you can count on Rafalca’s hooves the number of times in his life that Willard Romney has been in a fair fight, it’s no great shock to discover that, since he can’t fight hard, he’ll fight dirty, because winning is not something you earn. Winning is something you inherit…..
McClatchy: …. Paul Ryan will leave sizable footprints on the 2012 presidential race. His controversial plan to overhaul the federal budget has been the chief talking point of the campaign since Mitt Romney put him on the GOP ticket last weekend.
…. According to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, “[Medicaid] Cutbacks might involve reduced eligibility … coverage of fewer services, lower payments to providers, or increased cost-sharing by beneficiaries – all of which would reduce access to care.”
Those cuts and the Ryan plan’s calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act would add tens of millions of low-income Americans to the ranks of the uninsured. It also would raise taxpayers’ bill for emergency room indigent care and cause an increase in private insurance rates.
…. Ryan’s plans for Medicare have caused a stir … In order to slow spending in the national health plan for seniors, Ryan would replace Medicare’s guarantee of coverage for new beneficiaries in 2023 with a flat payment to seniors known as a “voucher” or “premium support” ….
Ryan’s planned tax cuts favor the affluent. Those who earn more than $1 million annually would see an average tax cut of $265,000 and a 12.5 percent increase in after-tax income … But at the lower end of the scale, people earning between $20,000 and $30,000 would get no tax cut …
…. All told, the Tax Policy Center said, Ryan’s tax plans would increase the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years. His call to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for high-earning Americans would boost the deficit by an additional $5.4 trillion.
NYT Editorial: Three days after Paul Ryan became the presumptive Republican vice presidential candidate, he made a pilgrimage on Tuesday to the Las Vegas gambling palace of Sheldon Adelson, the casino tycoon who is spending more than any other donor to try to send Mr. Ryan and Mitt Romney to the White House. No reporters were allowed, perhaps because the campaign didn’t want them asking uncomfortable questions about the multiple federal investigations into the company behind Mr. Adelson’s wealth.
Those questions, though, aren’t going away, and neither are the ones about the judgment of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan in drawing ever closer to a man whose business background should lead them to back away — fast. By not repudiating Mr. Adelson’s vow to spend as much as $100 million on their behalf, the two candidates seem more eager to keep the “super PAC” dollars flowing than to preserve the integrity of their campaign.
The issues swirling about Mr. Adelson’s business practices are not new and can hardly come as a surprise to the Romney campaign…. A careful presidential campaign would put distance between itself and a businessman like Mr. Adelson … By allowing Mr. Adelson to have such an outsize role in their race, the candidates themselves are placing a very risky bet.
NYT: As Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan fanned out across the country this week, glad-handing voters and donors, a smaller but no less important gathering was taking place on Capitol Hill: Mr. Romney’s transition team met on Tuesday with more than a dozen loyalists from the private and public sectors in space borrowed from a law office.
Mr. Romney’s transition team …. offers a glimpse of what might be Mr. Romney’s approach to governing, functioning much like his old private equity firm, Bain Capital. The team is assessing the government and looking for ways to make it more efficient and streamlined…..