Quote of the day

Via Andrew Sullivan (might as well be the Onion):

“That’s one of the things that I like about him — because he’s been consistent since he changed his mind,” – Christine O’Donnell (notorious non-witch), on her endorsement of Mitt Romney.

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Romney and taxes

Nice piece from Chait taking a look at Romney’s position on taxes.  It’s stuff like this that makes many liberals think he knows better and is just pandering to the conservative base (and I think they are right about this)

Romney proposes only to eliminate capital gains taxes on income under $200,000 a year. That would cover just a tiny portion of capital gains, making it essentially a symbolic measure. A few months ago, The Wall Street Journaleditorial page railed against Romney’s plan. The problem, the editorial noted, was not just that Romney wasn’t offering any new tax breaks for the rich. It was that the retreat “suggests that he’s afraid of Mr. Obama’s class warfare rhetoric” – that, in general, he will shrink from the task of advocating for policies that increase income inequality.

Any conservatives liable to worry about this would be positively alarmed after hearing Romney defend his position on Saturday night. During one portion of the debate, Romney mentioned that he, unlike Newt Gingrich, would restrict his capital gains tax cut to those under the $200,000 annual threshold. Gingrich replied, accurately, that households under that ceiling have barely any capital gains. Romney replied:

And — and in my view, the place that we could spend our precious tax dollars for a tax cut is on the middle class, that’s been most hurt by the Obama economy. That’s where I wanna eliminate taxes on interest dividends and capital gains.

“Spend our precious tax dollars” — that is a phrase to strike terror in right-wing hearts. For twenty years, the basis for Republican budgeting has been to refuse to acknowledge any tradeoff between cutting taxes for the rich and other governmental priorities. The Democratic position is to insist that tax cuts for the rich be measured against other possible choices — lower taxes for the rich mean higher taxes for the middle class, or lower social spending, or higher deficits. Here, Romney is actually employing the Democratic formulation.

Of course, I also think that, as Drum frequently argues, Romney is so desperate to win over the base, that even if elected, he’ll go with what the Tea Party wants, rather than that which is actually good policy.  Still, it is quite interesting to see him not only being more sensible than the rest of the Republican field on taxes, but actually borrowing the (more intellectually honest) Democratic frame.  Even if conservatives don’t consciously process his choice of language such as this, I think it is surely part of the reason that they seem to instinctively distrust Romney.

More Plan B

Well, my commenters seemed a little harsh on me on the whole Plan B thing, so it was nice to find Kevin Drum writing basically the same post yesterday (plus, seems like he’s always writing what I want to write before me– felt good to beat him to the punch).

The Obama administration ought to do the same here. There’s a perfectly reasonable case to be made that even if Plan B is safe, the Obama administration doesn’t believe it’s appropriate to make it available to young children without their parents’ knowledge. That’s a policy decision, and everyone accepts that policy doesn’t have to be dictated solely by science.

Sebelius would be well advised to give up on trying to twist the science and simply admit that there were other considerations at work. It might not make Plan B fans any happier, but at least it would be more honest.

Photo of the day

No, it’s not Lost, it’s for real (from National Geographic’s top 10 photos of the year):

Paul Nicklen
Spirit Bear

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia

AUGUST ISSUE

In a moss-draped rain forest in British Columbia, towering red cedars live a thousand years, and black bears are born with white fur.

Newt and the GOP Establishment

Nice piece from Ed Kilgore arguing that despite the total opposition of the GOP establishment, Newt nonetheless may very well win the nomination.  Personally, I’m more convinced by arguments that he can win that those that he cannot.  Anyway:

As the 2012 invisible primary lurches to a close, the Republican Party looks more likely than ever to be in the process of presenting its caucus and primary voters with the choice between one candidate they don’t want to nominate and another their fellow-Americans don’t want to elect. Mitt Romney simply hasn’t grown on primary voters; if anything, in recent weeks, he’s soured. And Newt Gingrich, for his part, would enter the general election as the weakest GOP nominee since Barry Goldwater. But owing to the present weakness of the GOP establishment, the bullishness of the base, and the fact that someonemust win, my money is currently on Gingrich pulling off a repeat of 1964.

It would normally go without saying that the Republican Party establishment would find a way to ensure that Romney receives the nomination. But even the most robust assessment of establishment power within the GOP must take into account the simple fact that the rank-and-file will have the final say; the establishment, for all its money and access to the airwaves, can only succeed via its influence with actual voters who elect actual delegates to the actual convention.  And such voters simply aren’t taking to him. Romney has now failed to benefit in any tangible way from the crashing and burning of no less than three candidates who have serially led him in national polls…

But even more importantly, Romney’s shocking weakness against Gingrich suggests that his supposed trump card, “electability,” doesn’t really matter all that much to Republican voters…

But those pundits willing to entertain “anything’s possible” scenarios to thwart a Gingrich nomination might want to be more open to the possibility of the establishment simply losing, which is not unprecedented. Indeed, it happened in 1964, when the power of the rank-and-file to elect delegates in primaries was extremely limited, and very nearly happened again in 1976, when Ronald Reagan came within an eyelash of denying renomination to a sitting president. In both cases, a very large number of Republican voters showed themselves to be more interested in defeating the Republican establishment than in defeating Democrats.

Okay, but here’s one thing I haven’t seen anybody write about.  What’s going to be the role of Fox News in all of this?  It seems to me that if Fox News turns on Gingrich (or anybody, for that matter) they are simply toast as far as conservative voters are concerned.  Doesn’t the GOP “establishment” just need to subtly– or not so subtly– direct Fox in this regard?  Heck, isn’t Roger Ailes part of the GOP establishment?  I honestly don’t know enough about how Fox News actually works to really know the answer to this, but it strikes me as somewhat of an elephant in the room in all these discussions about Gingrich’s prospects.

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