* Battle over Bain forces great debate about capitalism: My pick for read of the morning is E.J. Dionne’s piece on the sudden new bipartisan debate about the good, bad, and ugly sides of capitalism that has now been set in motion by the Democratic and Republican criticism of Mitt Romney’s years at Bain Capital:
Thanks to Mitt Romney and such well-known socialist intellectuals as Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, the United States is about to have the big debate on the nature of modern capitalism that should have started back in 2008. The focus will be on whether some kinds of capitalism are bad for the system as a whole...
What if a certain class of capitalist makes scads of money not by building up companies but by tearing them down? What if there is a distinction between the capitalist we typically honor who comes up with a good product and hires people to make and market it; and another kind who takes over a company, pulls out all the cash he can, and then abandons it to die?...
Yes, there are different kinds of capitalism. Romney’s victory speech suggested that he hopes that the campaign will be about whether President Obama wants to turn the United States into Europe. A more relevant discussion would be over what American capitalism is — and should be. Thanks to Gingrich and Perry, this debate is now unavoidable.
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and other forces, the national conversation had already been more focused on inequality, economic unfairness and government’s proper role in shoring up the shrinking middle class than at any time in recent memory. As I noted here yesterday, David Axelrod is now casting this set of issues as “the central challenge of our time,” and claiming that Romney is unable to come to terms with the true nature and magnitude of this challenge.
The fact that the GOP appears set to nominate a candidate who embodies free market capitalism in its rawest form — and Romney’s claim that his practice of it is synonymous with the American way — is amping up the debate further still. This campaign will force the American people to choose between two starkly different moral visions of capitalism itself, of the underpinnings of our whole society.
* Lines getting blurred in debate over capitalism: Relatedly, don’t miss John Harwood’s excellent analysis of the Romney-Obama clash of visions over capitalism, and why shifts in the political landscape have made this argument harder for free-market Republicans to win.
* Are Bain attacks coming too early? Jackie Calmes on the debate that’s underway among Republicans, and even some Dems, over whether Romney is now being given an early chance to innoculate himself against attacks on his Bain years, well in advance of the general election.
David Axelrod doesn’t buy it: “Rather than immunizing him, this will likely just open the floodgates.”
* Gingrich forces turn up Bain volume: Keep an eye out for this today: The pro-Newt Gingrich Super PAC is set to go up on the air with 30-second and one-minute ads based on that hard-hitting Bain documentary the PAC released yesterday.
* Romney and the white working class id: Ed Kilgore aptly describes the Newt PAC documentary attack on Bain as “one of the most devilishly effective attack communications I’ve personally ever seen — a heat-seeking missile aimed directly at the white working class id.”
* Romney plans Bain counterattack: Romney is planning to roll out his own ads featuring workers speaking to Romney’s successful “job creation” efforts at Bain. This strategic shift is basically an acknowledgment that his previous pushback — all attacks on Bain are “anti-capitalist” — was insufficient.
Still, it seems plausible that the Romney camp may figure out an effective rebuttal of these attacks, particularly among GOP primary voters.
* Romney Super PAC hits back at Newt: The pro-Romney Super PAC is up with a spot hitting back at Newt’s Bain attacks, but curiously, it only calls the attacks desperate and doesn’t rebut them in any substantive way.
* Dems pounce on GOP criticism of Romney’s Bain years: The DNC is out with a new Web video featuring the 2012 GOP hopefuls attacking Romney as a predatory capitalist with the sort of scalding populist language that is identical to what Dems have been saying.
It’s another sign that Republicans have given bipartisan legitimacy to the Dem critique of Romney’s brand of capitalism, and provides a hint of what you’ll see in Dem attack ads during the general election.
* Pressure will mount on Romney to release tax returns: A hard-hitting Post editorial gives us a tates of the media pressure we’ll be seeing on Romney to disclose his tax returns and the names of his wealthiest bundlers:
Mr. Romney’s determined lack of transparency on these two fronts — the candidate and his campaign have said he has no plans to release either — represents a striking and disturbing departure from the past practice of presidential candidates of both parties.
* Coinage of the day: Paul Krugman on Romney’s insistence on only discussing inequality in “quiet rooms”:
Trickle-down economics has now become shut-your-trap economics.
* Right wing group targets Occupy Wall Street: A good Justin Elliott scoop: Citizens United — the group behind the Supreme Court decision — is set to spend valuable time and money producing a documentary revealing the alleged irrelevance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
* And the fake right wing blogospheric outrage of the day: The conservative blogosphere is aflame with charges that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz blamed the Tea Party for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, when she did absolutely nothing of the sort. It’s almost as if some righty bloggers wish she had done this.