Sharp readers like Jonathan Chait have seized on a telling exchange in Mark Halperin’s recent interview with Mitt Romney, in which Romney blatantly undercuts the anti-Keynesian line that he and other Republicans have been pushing for the past couple years. Halperin: You have a plan, as you said, over a number of years, to reduce spending dramatically. Why not in the first year, if you’re elected—why not in 2013, go all the way and propose the kind of budget with spending restraints, that you’d like to see after four years in office?
Reading Dan Gross’s new book, Better, Stronger, Faster, was a strange experience for me. Gross’s account of America’s recovery from the worst financial crisis 80 years is relentlessly upbeat (not to mention terrifically engaging—the guy’s prose really moves). Having written my own, decidedly less sanguine, book, I was curious to see the evidence Gross used to justify his optimism. But it turns out his data points mostly overlap with mine: We have similar takes on the effectiveness of the government’s response to the crisis and the recession that followed.
When JP Morgan announced its $2 billion trading loss a few weeks back, a handful of smart conservatives saw an opportunity for Romney to get to Obama’s left: Call for an end to too-big-to-fail. As AEI’s James Pethokoukis put it: In one fell swoop, Romney would undercut the charge that he’s a creature of Wall Street and the financial superelite. And given how many hedge fund managers and other investment pros dislike the mega-banks, Romney probably wouldn’t even take a fundraising hit.
Amid all of the commentary this week on what the mayor of the 68th biggest city in the country thinks of the Obama’s campaign attacks on Bain Capital (Democratic blowback!), I’ve seen little analysis of what Obama is actually up to with his critique of Romney. If you take a look at what Obama is actually saying, he’s not only attacking Romney for the infelicitous particulars of private equity, he is more broadly suggesting that Romney’s background as a businessman—the chief asset Romney is running on—does not necessarily translate into being a good president.
Politico went big with one of its conventional wisdom-setting 30,000-foot pieces today: “Obama Stumbles Out of The Gate.” As typical for this form, the piece is full of sniping quotes from anonymous consultants. The piece also manages to turn a smattering of voices speaking out against Obama’s anti-Bain Capital attacks—most notably Cory Booker, mayor of the 68th biggest city in the country—into a “Democratic blowback” against Obama. But what struck me most about it was its glaring internal contradiction. First, the article gives us this: Bain has turned into pain this week.
Rob Portman has been enjoying his moment of buzz for a couple weeks now. The aggressively unobtrusive Ohio senator—a former congressman and trade representative and budget director in George W. Bush’s administration—is the insiders’ top bet to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, and today he got his big Washington Post Style profile, a rather Seinfeldesque piece that was basically about the weird nothingness that is the state of being a veep short-lister.
I’m on record claiming that Team Obama is playing a tougher form of bean bag this time around than in 2008. But, even so, I agree with Jon Chait that this election won’t really be that nasty. I just think so for different reasons. Chait argues that it’s all about elites. As he puts it: The socially liberal, economically conservative sensibilities of the party elites are working in tandem to hold back Republicans from attacking Obama on cultural grounds, and to at least complicate Obama’s populist attacks on Romney’s business career. I’m not sure I agree, at least on the right.
I’m a day late to this, but I wanted to be sure to draw attention to an important article by Tom Hamburger and Brady Dennis that ran too far inside Tuesday’s Washington Post: looking at the gathering movement to rein in campaign contributions by corporations by coaxing them to disclose more of their political spending.
Since news broke about JP Morgan’s multi-billion dollar black eye a few weeks back, we’ve pretty thoroughly rehearsed the arguments against too big to fail and too big to manage, both of which apply to JP Morgan even more obviously now than they did beforehand. This morning, a former administration official well-versed in these matters suggested another indication of JP Morgan’s excessive girth: too big to hedge.
In what has become a regular ritual this spring, the punditocracy is cracking itself up tonight over Barack Obama's embarrassingly poor performance in Democratic primaries in Appalachia and the Upland South.