wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share
ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 09:06 AM ET, 10/26/2011

The Morning Plum

* America: A nation of populists and class warriors: So here’s where we are. In the new New York Times poll, trust in government is in the single digits. Disapproval of Obama’s performance on the economy is soaring. A majority thinks the economy is staying the same or getting worse. A small minority thinks its getting better.

Yet at the same time, solid majorities favor the actual policies Obama has advanced to fix the problem — ones that Republicans have blocked. A plurality of Americans agrees with Occupy Wall Street’s diagnosis of what’s wrong. Despite a relentless effort from the right to portray the movement as radical and extreme, a plurality say it reflects the views of mainstream America.

In the poll, only 38 percent say Obama has a clear plan for creating jobs. But when Americans are asked about his actual policies, without any mention of his name, 51 percent favor payroll tax cuts for workers; 53 percent favor federal aid to states to avert public employee layoffs; 80 percent support spending on the nation’s infrastructure; and 65 percent say taxes on those over $1 million should be increased — all policies Republicans have blocked.

Yes, 50 percent favor reducing regulations, but only 27 percent back lowering taxes for corporations — and 69 percent say GOP policies favor the rich. The big picture here is that Obama’s vision for the economy has solid to overwhelming support — at least when his name isn’t attached to it. But he may not get credit for having a mere vision, and his approval may well continue to tank, even if he’s not to blame for the failure to get his popular policy prescriptions passed. Again: The GOP benefits politically from blocking policies the public supports.

Americans also seem to be tentatively embracing Occupy Wall Street and its basic critique. Though this could change, right now a plurality of 43 percent generally agree with the movement, versus only 27 percent who disagree. And 46 percent say the views of people involved in Occupy Wall Street generally reflect the views of most Americans, versus only 34 percent who say they don’t. Finally: Sixty six percent of Americans think income and wealth distribution in this country should be more even. A nation of class warriors!

Taken together, all these numbers suggest a broader challenge for Obama. Can he leverage the resurgence of economic populism — and the public’s agreement with Democratic ideas — to break an overall political dynamic that ultimately does favor the GOP? One thing is clear: You can’t overstate how volatile and in flux public opinion is right now — and how unpredictable the consequences of this will be.

* Could Occupy Wall Street help Democrats? Relatedly, don’t miss this look at the numbers from Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza, who conclude (with appropriate caveats) that the seeming mainstreaming of Occupy Wall Street could lend energy and support to the Dem narrative in 2012.

* Breaking: News org compares the Obama and GOP jobs plans: The Los Angeles Times’ Michael Hiltzik does what must not be done in polite company: He compares the two plans to see if they actually — get this — create jobs! His conclusion: The Senate GOP jobs plan is “all smoke” and will do little more than protect corporate profits.

What’s striking is how rare this kind of analysis is, given that so many news orgs widely and credulously blared the news that the Senate GOP had offered a “jobs plan.”

* Challenging the Obama “tsunami of regulations” myth: Via Taegan Goddard, Bloomberg does the honors:

President Barack Obama’s “tsunami” of new government regulations looks more like a summer swell.
Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News.

* Obama reelect reality check of the day: William Galston on how the Obama team’s hopes for turning the election into a choice between two candidates, rather a referendum on his performance, may prove to be a pipe dream. Galston says it all turns on whether GOP primary voters pick the electable Republican:

Unless the economic environment changes a lot during the next twelve months, skepticism about Obama’s performance as president should be enough to propel Romney to victory, if not one of landslide proportions.

* Romney adviser vouches for Obama mortgage plan: Nice catch by Pat Garofalo: A senior Romney adviser, Glenn Hubbard, is now essentially vouching for Obama’s new home mortgage plan. Romney, you may recall, thinks the foreclosure market should bottom out, but he does think the idea of helping homeowners is worth considering.

Garofalo asks: “will he follow Hubbard into supporting Obama’s plan?”

* Romney’s Ohio screw-up is getting worse: Steve Benen pinpoints why Romney’s waffling on the Ohio labor fight will definitely “leave a mark”:

After all, what’s the knock on the former governor? He’s an unprincipled flip-flopper, who cares about polls than convictions, and will say literally anything to advance his political ambitions. And in one swing through Ohio, Romney confirmed that his critics are right.

* Paul Ryan to amplify right’s failing “class warfare” message: In a speech, Ryan is set to accuse Obama of “sowing social unrest” and of “pitting one group against another.” Luckily, the American people completely reject this interpretation of what Obama is doing.

* Students have a legitimate grievance: Kevin Carey has an interesting look at why students protesting predatory loans and the failures of the education system have a valid point.

* What Occupy Wall Street is really about: I mentioned this yesterday in passing, but this Congressional Budget Office report detailing the explosion in inequality is worth dwelling on in detail. From 1979-2007, that top one percent saw its average after-tax income soar by 275 percent; the middle 60 percent saw income jump by under 40 percent; and the bottom 20 percent only rose 18 percent.

My handy Plum Line calculator indicates to me that this means inequality got far, far worse over that time period. And of course, even the most modest efforts to slow this trend are derided by the likes of Ryan as “class warfare.”

* And one victory that Occupy Wall Street has already achieved: Whatever ends up happening to the protests, it’s now undeniable that it has had one success: It has broken the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop and shifted the media conversation to one about the economy and jobs. And that’s not a small thing.

What else is happening?

By  |  09:06 AM ET, 10/26/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company