Abbreviated pundit round-up: Romneyomics + Ryanomics = Third World America

tracking polls this week, Obama up 4-5 points

Latest polls from pollster.com

Paul Krugman:

Should [Democrats] have tried to push through a major new economic program during that narrow window [when they briefly had 60 Senate votes]? In retrospect, yes — but that doesn’t change the reality that for most of Mr. Obama’s time in office U.S. fiscal policy has been defined not by the president’s plans but by Republican stonewalling.

The most important consequence of that stonewalling, I’d argue, has been the failure to extend much-needed aid to state and local governments. Lacking that aid, these governments have been forced to lay off hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers and other workers, and those layoffs are a major reason the job numbers have been disappointing. Since bottoming out a year after Mr. Obama took office, private-sector employment has risen by 4.6 million; but government employment, which normally rises more or less in line with population growth, has instead fallen by 571,000.

Thomas B. Edsall wonders why Team Obama and the Democrats haven’t capitalized on the key vote-killer in their opponents’ playbook:

What people have not been talking about enough is that the Ryan budget contains an $ 897 billion sinkhole: massive but unexplained cuts in such discretionary domestic programs as education, food and drug inspection, workplace safety, environmental protection and law enforcement.

The scope of the cuts—stunning in their breadth—is hidden.

Jeffrey Sachs, one-time economic “shock therapist” says both the Republicans and Democrats got it wrong on the economy:

The scary truth is that Obama’s budget plans call for a continuing cut of civilian government programs relative to GDP through 2021. If Romney is elected, taxes will be gutted further, so that spending cuts will be far deeper, enough to cripple the economy and create massive social unrest.

A true recovery should be investment led rather than consumption led. We need long-term investments in human capital (skills) and in key infrastructure such as low-carbon energy systems, smart grids for cities, cutting-edge information and management systems for low-cost integrated healthcare delivery, and inter-city fast rail. These investments are inevitably a mix of private investments and public investments, with the mix differing according to the sector in question.

Joe Firestone:

Just saw John Sununu, one of Republicans’ favorite Bushie junk yard attack dogs all up in arms about the debt subject to the limit (the so-called national debt) reaching $ 16 Trillion dollars, and going on to tell people that every man, woman, and child in the United States now owes $ 50,000 to pay that debt off. Now, I’m here to tell you that all that is bull shit.

Eliot Spitzer says he was left a bit empty by President Obama’s end-of-convention speech in Charlotte because there was no specific economic plan despite the still battered economy:

The singular success of the Obama administration on the economic front was the auto bailout and accompanying reform package. The lesson from it should be that bold investments can pay off: The political courage to go big will get the president re-elected, and saved an entire sector of our economy.  

We need more of those grand bets, not fewer. The crisis of 2008 may have been stopped, but the trends of declining middle-class incomes and a shrinking workforce have not.

Mark Hertsgaard was glad to hear President Obama use the “C” word at the Democratic convention, “climate change,” that is:

“It is nothing short of terrifying to imagine a party that openly mocks climate change taking back the White House,” the Obama campaign fired back via email. True enough. But the president’s own statements, before last night, have not been terribly reassuring either, if only because there have been so few of them. Ever since his cap-and-trade legislation crashed and burned under intense Republican fire in 2010, Obama has avoided the term climate change in public.

So does his convention speech signal that Obama will now champion the climate fight? Or was he merely punching back at Romney and telling the Democratic base what they wanted to hear?

Michael Moore explains why two words, “President Romney” should scare everyone into action this election:

Trust me, if [Republicans] believed that America was a right-wing country they’d be passing laws making it so easy to vote you could do it in the checkout line at Walmart.

But the voting on November 6th will not take place at Walmart or on any potato’s couch. It can only happen by going to a polling place — and, not to state the obvious, the side that gets the most people physically out to the polls that day, wins. We know the Republicans are spending tens of millions of dollars to make sure this very thing happens. They have built a colossal get-out-the-vote machine for election day, and the sheer force of their tsunami of hate stands ready to overwhelm us like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Those of us in the Midwest got a taste of it in 2008. Traditionally Democratic states — all of which voted for Obama — saw our state legislatures and governor seats hijacked by this well-oiled machine. We didn’t know what hit us, but these new Republicans wasted no time in dismantling some of the very basic thing we hold dear. Wisconsin fought back — but even that huge grassroots uprising was not enough to stop the governor bought and paid for by the Koch brothers. It was a wake up call, for sure — but have we really woken up?

Mitt Megaphone Jennifer Rubin says the Democratic Convention was “nothing else but the interest group beg-a-thon.”

E.J. Dionne sees the advantage out of both party conventions to Barack Obama:

Still, money does buy Romney additional options. The Republicans will have extra dollars to use in trying to make states currently solid or leaning to Obama — Wisconsin, and perhaps Michigan — more competitive. Obama can’t afford to be sucked into contests in states he should be able to count on.

Jonathan Zimmerman may be unaware that the GOP’s presidential candidate can change his mind from one bite of lunch to the next:

Mitt Romney has put forth a [voucher] plan that could completely transform the way Americans organize and fund public schools. And that’s why it has little chance of being implemented any time soon. [...]

For the first time, a major political candidate has suggested that kids in a poor public school district should be allowed to enroll in a wealthier one.

That would represent real and fundamental change, of a kind that we’ve never seen.




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