As Republicans have ramped up on their attack on Barack Obama as a wannabe socialist who doesn’t believe that successful businessmen are responsible for their own fortunes, I’ve been struck by an odd and little-noticed countervailing push: the desire by some conservative writers to disassociate their side from triumphant capitalists. I spotted it a few weeks ago in Nick Lemann’s New Yorker review of several books on inequality, including my colleague Tim Noah’s The Great Divergence and Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens t
My colleague Tim Noah and many others are rightly lampooning the aborted effort to resuscitate Jeremiah Wright for another go-round. But it’s worth noting that this trial balloon did accomplish something for Republicans, intended or not—it drew scrutiny away from the anti-Obama attack ad that is running, a minute-long broadside from Crossroads GPS, the group co-founded by Karl Rove, that went up this week in all the big swing states with a $25 million buy. Folks, that is a lot of dough, even in this day and age. And who’s behind that money?
Who is the real Mitt Romney? Richard Grenell, the openly gay conservative who abruptly resigned as a Romney campaign spokesman, has answered that question for us. The latest media accounts of Grenell’s departure suggest that neither Romney nor his campaign advisers had a problem with Grenell’s homosexuality or even his support for gay marriage.
If I were forced to choose after the election between extending the Bush tax cuts in total and letting them all lapse, I would join Tim Noah in opting for the latter. But I'm reluctant to assume that's the best we can do. Indeed, as frustrating as the gridlock in Washington is, we should use it as an opportunity to strip down the tax debate to its basics, and reflect on where we want to go. Then we can determine the path that gets us closest to our goal. In my judgment, the tax code we should aim for should have four key features.
Two topics have dominated economic discussion in recent months—income inequality and tax fairness. The Piketty-Saez chart demonstrating the dramatic rise in the income share of top earners since 1980 is this decade’s Laffer Curve, and the super-rich who pay taxes at lower rates than their secretaries are liberals’ riposte to the Reagan-era welfare queens. It’s natural to assume that these two tropes are connected: Surely changes in the tax code since Ronald Reagan took office have contributed substantially to post-tax income gaps between the top and the rest of us.
My colleague Tim Noah must be a happy man today: the Romney campaign has produced a whole new figure of speech to replace the overused "pivot" for which Noah recently declared his linguistic scorn. On CNN this morning, Romney's chief spokesman and longtime aide Eric Fehrnstrom was asked this: "Is there a concern that the pressure from Santorum and Gingrich might force the governor to tack so far to the right that it might hurt him with moderate voters in the general election?" And here is how Fehrnstrom answered: “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign.
Forgive the slow blogging: I'm battling a head cold and recovering from the Michigan primary. If you haven't already, read what my colleagues Alec MacGillis and Tim Noah have to say about the contraception controversy. When you're done with that, head over to the website for "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." It's "Springsteen week" on the show, in honor of a new album, "Wrecking Ball," out next week. Springsteen was a guest on the show Monday: You can see part of his performance in the video above.
Have a question you've been dying to ask Tim Noah? Tim Noah is doing a live Q&A on Reddit today, starting now. You can find it here.