As you know, House Republicans said yesterday that they will move foward with a bill that would pay for an extension of low student loan rates with money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a portion of the health reform law. So what’s the next move for Dems?
This statement, released last night by Harry Reid’s office, suggests Dems are going to crank up the brinkmanship further:
“Democrats are opposed to shortchanging an important program that supports crucial efforts to prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies just so Republicans can continue protecting millionaire tax dodgers. The best way to pay for legislation that will keep student loan interest rates from doubling is to close a tax loophole that allows wealthy individuals to avoid paying the same income taxes that middle-class Americans pay.”
This is a reference to paying for the student loan extension by “preventing some business owners from sheltering their income from Medicare and Social Security taxes,” as the New York Times puts it today.
If the goal here is to demonstrate that Republicans prioritize low taxes for the rich over investing in the young, this may do the trick nicely. Obama is expected to continue his public pressure on Republicans to extend the low rates, and if he incorporates this new pay-for into his pitch, the stark contrast in priorities the Dem campaign is designed to heighten will only intensify.
* Biden to accuse Romney of banking on “collective amnesia”: From the excerpts of the speech Biden is set to deliver today:
If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive...
Governor Romney’s national security policy would return us to the past we have worked so hard to move beyond. In this regard, it is no different than what Governor Romney has proposed for our economy — taking us back to the failed policies that got us into the mess President Obama has dug us out of...
Governor Romney is counting on our collective amnesia.
As I’ve been saying (along with Steve Benen and Paul Krugman), Romney’s chances of defeating Obama depend heavily on whether he can seduce the American people into forgetting about the magnitude of the mess Obama inherited. It looks like Biden today will broaden the message about the scale of the challenges Obama took on beyond the economy and into the realm of foreign policy.
* Romney’s actual beliefs matter: A great column from E.J. Dionne on the real reason Romney wants the election to be only a referendum on Obama’s economic performance and nothing else: Romney’s actual vision of “free market utopianism” is deeply radical and will likely be rejected by voters, if Obama can persuade them to factor it into their decision.
This is the larger political context that’s key to understanding the student loan fight, and the reason Romney quickly embraced Obama’s call for an extension of low rates — even though he repeatedly expressed hostility towards government help with student debt during the primary.
* What a foreign policy election would look like: The Obama campaign has released a new Web video contrasting all the positions Romney falsely claims Obama has taken with the positions he actually has taken, on everything from Iran to the 1967 borders to the non-apology for America.
The video dramatizes what things might end up looking like if external events edge the election towards one about foreign policy, as some observers have suggested could happen.
* Question of the day: Alister Bull asks a good one: How will Romney mark the upcoming one-year anniversary of Bin Laden’s death?
* Republicans want Romney to act more like Reagan: Republican leaders go on record chiding Romney for showing too much negativity, and urge him to demonstrate a “positive vision” for the country, telling him he’s at risk of driving up his negative image further.
Romney’s entire campaign has been based on negative attacks, whether it’s the falsehood that Obama apologized for America, the claim that Romney will ”get rid of Obamacare” (without saying what he would do instead for those with preexisting conditions), or the suggestion that Obama has “run out of excuses,” even as Romney vows to do little more than return to deregulation and tax cuts for the rich. So one looks forward to this transition to “positive vision” mode.
* GOP postpones fight over Violence Against Women Act: Rosalind Helderman reports that Senate Republicans appear poised to support the VAWA reauthorization sought by Dems, and Republicans will instead fight for their version of the bill — one that doesn’t include provisions Dems added — in the GOP-controlled House.
This would appear to only postpone the fight, which will now shift to one over the competing Senate and House versions — one that’s unfolding as the battle for the female vote in the presidential race intensifies
* What Romney’s America would look like: Jonathan Cohn has an interesting riff on how Rick Scott’s cuts to rape crisis centers in Florida previews what the radical reduction in federal spending advocated by Romney and Paul Ryan would mean in the real world.
* Obama vows to make climate change a campaign issue: I missed this yesterday, but it’s worth a mention: Joe Romm catches Obama vowing to make a major issue out of climate change during the presidential race; Romm also explains why you should be skeptical.
* And the goal of Scott Brown’s “regular guy” routine: Caitlin Huey-Burns does more on-the-ground reporting on the voters that will decide the Massachusetts Senate race: The blue collar Dems and independents who are inclined to support Obama but are susceptible to Brown’s carefully cultivated “regular guy” persona.
The target here is the huge bloc of Massachusetts voters who didn’t come out in the 2010 special election that Brown won but are expected to turn out in a presidential year.