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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:41 AM ET, 11/28/2011

The Morning Plum

* Mitt Romney’s serial equivocations: This one will be a big deal today. Remember when Romney attacked Newt Gingrich last week for taking the humane position that longtime illegal immigrants shouldn’t be deported, even as the Romney campaign refused to say whether he thought they should be removed?

It now turns out that Romney took an almost identical position to Gingrich’s in a 2006 interview with Bloomberg, claiming that millions of immigrants “are not going to be rounded up and box-carred out,” and that they should be allowed to “get in line” for citizenship.

Dems and conservatives alike will seize on this, and it looks like it will prove yet another instance in which Romney abandoned a previously held sensible and humane position in order to make himself more palatable to GOP primary voters.

So, a question: At what point will major national political reporters and commentators begin to treat Romney’s serial equivocations and flip flops and outright falsehoods as a character issue, as part of a broader pattern? It didn’t take much for this to happen in the cases of Al Gore and John Kerry. To date, these Romney episodes have mostly been treated as individual flip flops and distortions, and have mostly been analyzed in terms of what they tell us about Romney’s campain strategy, rather than what they tell us about Romney himself. (Update: Edited slightly for clarity.)

* DNC launches ad campaign against Mitt Romney: The DNC is going up with this new ad in six swing states painting Romney as a flip flopper on health reform and abortion, the latest reminder that Dems view Romney as the all but certain nominee, despite Newt Gingrich’s surge:

The footage of Romney previously claiming that he’s happy Obama modeled health reform on his Massachusetts seems partly designed to sow more doubts among Republicans about Romney. The idea is to remind them he won’t exactly be well suited to attacking “Obamacare” as the GOP nominee and that his inconsistencies constitute a major weakness in a general election, giving Dems plenty of fodder for attack ads.

* Conservative groups dominating the airwaves: Another reason for the ad is that Republican candidates and conservative groups are pretty much owning the airwaves right now. They have already spent a combined $13 million on ads attacking Obama — and Dems recognize that they can’t allow conservatives to monopolize the airwaves, even this early in the campaign.

* Newt-mentum!!! The New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich prompts this interesting concession from a leading Romney adviser:

“I don’t think it changes Romney’s status, but it consolidates Newt’s status as his primary challenger.”

Coming in a state that’s central to Romney’s hopes, the endorsement does seem to confirm that the Gingrich comeback is real and that conservatives are beginning to coalesce around him.

* Inequality will be a major issue in 2012: I’m glad to see that Dem messaging chief Chuck Schumer is now stating flatly that inequality will be a major issue in the 2012 campaign and that Dems should seize on it to draw a sharp contrast with the GOP:

“Jobs and income inequality are going to be the No. 1 issue” in 2012, he said. “Simply cutting government isn’t going to work.”

* Next big fight: The payroll tax cut extension: One key outstanding question right now is whether House Republicans will agree to hold a vote on extending the payroll tax cut.Obama is set to mount a public campaign pressuring Republicans to extend it, with a stop scheduled for Scranton, PA, on Wednesday.

* Dems planning to use payroll tax cut fight as political weapon: Steven Dennis has an interesting behind the scenes look at how Dems are planning to use the likely failure of the payroll tax cut extension against Republicans who oppose extending the Bush tax cuts on the rich at all costs.

* Occupy Wall Street’s lack of a message is really puzzling (not): Others linked this already, but Floyd Norris’s charts demonstrating that corporate profits are high, wages are low, and taxes are below average are a must-see.

* Only one party is treating this as a problem: Also, don’t miss good posts from Andrew Sullivan and Steve Benen saying what must not be said: Only one party is making a serious contribution to the debate over what to do about the above disparities.

I’d add one bit of context, though: Even if Dems are far more serious about addressing these trends, Occupy Wall Street is founded on the idea that both parties are in some measure part of the problem.

* Dems also pushed for austerity: Relatedly, as Paul Krugman reminds us, top Dems in Congress also agreed to prioritize austerity” at a critical moment for the recovery.

* No more “third party” nonsense: E.J. Dionne does a nice job knocking down the calls from “centrist” columnists for a third party, and makes one of my favorite points: Dems already inhabit the ideological center, as those centrists themselves define it.

* And the stimulus fact check of the day: Glenn Kessler demolishes a whole series of GOP talking points about economic growth, taxation, and the stimulus. Kessler also debunks the ubiquitous claim that the fact that there are fewer jobs today than when Obama took office proves the stimulus was a failure:

that assumes the full force of the stimulus took effect immediately, which is absurd. The recession had not ended yet and job losses continued for several months before the stimulus kicked in. While different studies disagree on the impact of the stimulus, most conclude it had some impact.— and none say it “killed jobs.”

We clear on this now?

By  |  08:41 AM ET, 11/28/2011

 
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