The political parlor game of the moment: Trying to figure out the GOP position on taxes in the wake of a sizable Obama victory in an election that turned heavily on whether to raise or cut taxes on the rich.
With the “fiscal cliff” talks set to heat up, John Boehner says that Republicans are “willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions.” But it’s unclear whether this is actually a concession. Either Republicans are open only to new revenues generated by the economic growth triggered by tax reform, or they are open to raising new revenues via closing loopholes. The first of those is obviously not a concession at all. The second of those, as Suzy Khimm notes, is something Boehner has been open to before, during the 2011 debt limit negotiations. Either way, there is no sign Republicans are open to raising high end tax rates.
What is the Republican argument for responding to the election result in this fashion? Cue up Grover Norquist, who claims the election gave Republicans a mandate to hold the line against any tax increases:
Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist said Wednesday said the election delivered a warning against raising taxes, with voters endorsing a strong Republican majority in the House and enough Republican senators to filibuster any legislation calling for new revenue.
This is an interesting way to interpret what happened on Tuesday. Republicans lost seats in the Senate, including one that went to the most prominent and eloquent advocate in the country for more progressive taxation via tax increases on the rich, Elizabeth Warren. The question of whether high end tax increases should be part of the country’s fiscal solution was absolutely central to the presidential race for months.
The argument over one of the biggest flashpoints in the campaign — Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comments — was all about the true nature of individual success and about the moral responsibility of the wealthy to give a bit more back to the society that helped enable their success. And as Jonathan Cohn points out, that “was a theme of all the big convention speeches, a regular staple of Obama’s campaign appearances, and a point Obama invoked at every one of the debates.” Cohn adds that the election “altered the political environment for the deficit debate, in a way that should make Obama and the Democrats much stronger.”
The question of whether Obama and Dems have a “mandate” is a rabbit hole; it’s hard to judge whether such a thing is true, if electoral “mandates” even exist at all. But it does seem awfully clear that a majority of voters, in reelecting Obama, chose an approach to our fiscal problems that includes a bit more sacrifice from the wealthy — and rejected the argument that raising taxes on the rich will hurt the economy.
The Norquist take on things is interesting and noteworthy, however, because it demonstrates how intense the pressure may be on Republicans to interpret the election results rather differently.
* How Obama might make voting easier: In his victory speech, Obama offhandedly referred to doing something about long voting lines and other difficulties. Scott Wilson and David Nakamura report on what that might look like:
A package of legislation could include bills to make voting easier across the country and a constitutional amendment to invalidate the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations, labor unions and other interest groups to spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates.
If a push for a constitutional amendment to invalidate Citizens United is really in the works, that would be real news.
* Obama voters faced significantly longer lines: Relatedly, a Hart Research study sponsored by the AFL-CIO has found that 16 percent of Obama voters waited more than 30 minutes to vote, versus only 9 percent of Romney voters. Strikingly, 24 percent of Latino voters, and 22 percent of African Americans, waited longer than 30 minutes, while only 9 percent of whites did.
Maybe we should do something about this.
* A lot of super PAC money went up in flames: Some striking Bloomberg reporting on just how much money Karl Rove and his investors wasted this cycle:
The Republican strategist who created the model for the outside money groups that raised and spent more than $1 billion on the Nov. 6 elections saw almost no return for their money. Rove, through his two political groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, backed unsuccessful Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney with $127 million on more than 82,000 television spots....Ten of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates they supported also lost their races.
I’d like to see some real research on this, but it does seem clear that all that super PAC spending ended up having a diminishing returns effect .
* Republicans grapple with their demographic problems: Michael Shear has a look at the debate within Republican circles about the lesson of this election: The party isn’t keeping up with the changing face of America, which one Republican describes as an “existential” threat. This, from another GOPer, sums it up well: “There just are not enough middle-aged white guys that we can scrape together to win.”
To reiterate, the case for a Romney victory always rested on the hope that demographic trends would reverse themselves from 2008 — not a good bet to be making.
* Obama likely to win Florida: The Tampa Bay Times crunches the high turnout numbers and concludes:
Florida is still counting votes, but in the end Obama probably will again win Florida, though his slim 237,000-vote margin in 2008 will be even slimmer, around 50,000 votes.
* What went wrong for Romney: Buried in today’s epic Washington Post piece about brutal recriminations being directed at Romney’s top advisers is this explanation:
Some of his top donors immediately pointed to the campaign’s early strategic decision to frame the race as a referendum on Obama rather than a choice between two different governing philosophies and leadership styles.
As you regulars know, this has long been my view of the Romney camp’s theory of the race. The Romney camp convinced itself, wrongly, that Obama is so widely viewed as an abject failure that voters would opt for any alternative that cleared a minimum threshold of acceptability.
* But Romney was extremely confident of victory: Great catch by Taegan Goddard: His campaign had created a transition site designed to inform readers about his upcoming inauguration and to tell them what his transition team is doing “to put together his administration to ensure a smooth transfer of power on January 20, 2013.”