* Mitt Romney would be targeted by the “Buffett Rule”: Start your morning off with this must read from Michael Scherer about one of Mitt Romney’s potential vulnerabilities: He is exactly the sort of wealthy individual who has personally benefitted from the unfair tax rates that Obama is seeking to overhaul with the “Buffett Rule.”
Key takeaway: If Romney were to argue as the GOP nominee against Obama’s push for tax fairness, the President (or his surrogates) would have a pretty clear rejoinder: Romney is one of the people who is personally benefitting from the current system. Romney’s personal wealth from investments would seem to render him a less than ideal messenger on this issue — and tax fairness is likely to be central to Campaign 2012.
* Obama to rely on social issues, national security for reelection: An interesting point from John Harwood: Obama’s reelection campaign will go on offense on issues like abortion, gay rights, the environment and his success battling terrorists to drive a wedge between the GOP and swing voters, just as George Bush did in 2004.
It’s another sign that Obama’s reelection chances may turn on whether he can find other narratives to trump the bad economy as a motivator of voters. Also: Obama’s team is betting heavily on shifting demographics and his appeal to high-income suburbanites who care about those issues.
* Obama campaign launches attack on GOP frontrunners: Relatedly, the Obama campaign is out with a new memo this morning slamming Romney and Rick Perry as out of step with the American mainstream on Social Security and immigration, another reminder that Obama’s hopes hinge on the degree to which the election becomes a choice between two candidates, ideologies, and world views, rather than a referendum on the economy.
* Fact check of the day: CNN takes apart the ubiquitous GOP claim that tax hikes on the rich would be damaging to small businesses and the nation’s “job creators”:
In sharp contrast to the rhetoric, current data suggests small businesses don’t create an outsized number of jobs, very few small business owners fall into the top two tax brackets, and tax cuts for small businesses are ineffective stimulus measures.
Relatively few small businesses would be affected: Extending the tax cuts for top earners for another decade would come at a significant cost — nearly $1 trillion in added debt over a decade. But small businesses wouldn’t see much of that cash. Only 2.5% to 3.5% of small businesses would be affected by an increase in those two rates.
* On China, the right is placing antitax fanaticism before the national interest: With the Senate set to vote this week on the bill to punish China for currency manipulation, Paul Krugman makes the economist’s case for the measure, arguing that anything that might reduce our disastrous unemployment rate must be tried. Also:
In the last few days a new objection to action on the China issue has surfaced: right-wing pressure groups, notably the influential Club for Growth, oppose tariffs on Chinese goods because, you guessed it, they’re a form of taxation — and we must never, ever raise taxes under any circumstances. All I can say is that Democrats should welcome this demonstration that antitax fanaticism has reached the point where it trumps standing up for our national interests.
* Rick Perry and “Niggerhead”: The Perry campaign is insisting that his father painted over the large rock bearing that word shortly after he leased the Perry family hunting camp in question, but the Perry camp’s recollections are contradicted by a number of people who were interviewed by the Post.
Look for Perry’s GOP rivals to use this latest revelation to argue against Perry’s unelectability in a general election. Also: GOP establishment figures may worry that Perry’s past may contain other potential bombshells that render him an extremely risky bet.
* Chris Christie seriously considering a presidential run? So reports The Times, but one thing that jumps out from the account is that many of the people advising Christie on a possible run are “veterans of Rudolph W. Giuliani’s 2008 campaign.”
Rudy, you’ll recall, was also supposed to overcome his too-liberal views with his allegedly blunt and straight-shooting style. And that didn’t work out too well.
* Elizabeth Warren in dead heat with Scott Brown: A striking new poll in Massachusetts finds that Warren is running away in the Democratic primary and is already in a statistical dead heat with the current GOP incumbent — despite having launched her campaign only several weeks ago.
Key nugget: Forty eight percent say Brown isn’t doing enough to help the middle class, suggesting that Warren’s unabashed populism may prove effective. Also: Dems are hoping to boost turnout and appeal to Dem-leaning swing voters by arguing that a Warren victory is the last hope for averting GOP control of the Senate.
* Maybe we should call it the “Reagan Rule”? With conservatives still screaming “class warfare” about Obama’s invocation of Warren Buffett and his secretary, Pat Garofalo posts video of none other than Ronald Reagan arguing that tax loopholes should be closed because they enabled “millionaires to pay nothing while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary, and that’s crazy.”
While the parallel isn’t perfect, CAP makes the amusing suggestion that we should call the drive for tax fairness the “Reagan Rule.”
* When will the GOP candidates stand up for Stephen Hill? Steve Benen makes a good point: The leading 2012 GOPers still have yet to condemn the booing of a soldier at the recent GOP debate.
* Occupy Wall Street picking up steam: As Ezra Klein notes, it really does seem to be catching the attention of the national media, and the challenge now is whether this nacent movement can begin to coalesce around a specific agenda.
* And can the left stage its own Tea Party? With the Campaign for America’s Future convening a conference in Washington today, E.J. Dionne has the key takeaway: An organized, energized left would help demonstrate how centrist Obama’s presidency really is — and highlight how far to the right the national debate has shifted.
One additional point. The left faces an institutional barrier: The attention to Occupy Wall Street notwithstanding, news orgs tend to find right wing demonstrations of popular unrest inherently more newsworthy and deserving of sustained coverage than left wing ones. And the Tea Party had its very own network in Fox News.
What else is happening?