With the recovery going so poorly, why does Obama still hold a narrow lead? One reason, some observers think, is that Obama has successfully used the presidency to seize the political initiative on issues such as student loans and immigration.
Today Obama will try to go on offense on what Dems hope will be a defining issue of the campaign: Taxes on the rich. He will announce in a Rose Garden speech that he wants Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for those under $250,000.
Republicans are already bashing the move as a threatened tax hike on “small businesses.” (They said the same thing about proposed tax hikes on those over $1 million; they’ll make this claim no matter what the cutoff is.) But this is a fight the Obama camp wants. It goes directly to the way the Obama team hopes swing voters will perceive this election: As a battle over which side really has the middle class’s interests at heart.
Obama has said the single greatest obstacle to bipartisan compromise on how to move the country forward is the GOP refusal to entertain even a penny more in taxes from the rich, and has called on voters to break that “stalemate.” This move is designed to highlight the cause of this stalemate — to deepen this contrast with Republicans, by putting them in the position of opposing the middle class tax cut extension unless it’s paired with an extension of tax cuts for the rich, revealing whose interests the GOP is protecting.
But ultimately, this move will be all about Mitt Romney. Obama’s GOP challenger has called for more across the board tax cuts that would disproportionately benefit the wealthy — on top of the Bush tax cuts. Dems believe tax fairness is a particularly potent issue against Romney. He personally benefits to an untold degree from low tax rates on investments; questions are mounting about Romney’s offshore accounts in tax havens; and despite those questions, he is refusing to release his own tax returns. As Paul Krugman points out today, Romney’s refusal to be transparent about his own finances suggests he doesn’t want to reveal the extent to which he would personally benefit from the policies he’s advocating, because so doing would be deeply damaging.
Obama’s move may mean Romney will now have to take the position that the middle class cuts should not be extended in isolation, without extending those of the rich — to the degree, of course, that he feels pressure to take any position on today’s announcement at all.
* Obama campaign, Dems hit Romney offshore accounts: Even as Obama is trying to shift the subject to tax fairness, the Obama campaign is out with a new video arguing that Romney is refusing to answer multiple questions about his offshore accounts. Meanwhile, multiple top Dems on the Sunday shows amplified the same attacks.
* Obama the “clear winner” in the swing-state ad wars? An interesting finding over the weekend from USA Today/Gallup:
At this point, Obama is the clear winner in the ad wars. Among swing-state voters who say the ads have changed their minds about a candidate, rather than just confirmed what they already thought, 76% now support the president, vs. 16% favoring Romney.
* Obama leads in swing states? That same USA/Today Gallup poll finds Obama leading Romney in a dozen swing states by 47-45.
The Obama campaign argues that their ads have given swing state voters “new information” in ads about Romney’s Bain years, outsourcing, and offshore accounts. I still think it’s way premature to say these ads are working to the degree the Obama campaign needs them to.
* House GOP to vote to repeal Obamacare: Erin McPike sets the stage for the vote set for this week: It’s purely symbolic, but House Republicans are holding it in order to dramatize the stakes of this fall’s elections, by driving home to voters that only by electing Republicans to Congress can we ever see Obamacare repealed entirely.
We keep reading that this vote is about exciting the GOP base. But will independents and moderates — even ones who are skeptical of Obamacare — really react well to seeing this battle fought a third time?
* The battle for control of Senate is toss-up: Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake game it out: Republicans need to win four or five seats on top of holding their seats in Massachusetts and Nevada. No matter what happens, the victor will end up with a razor-thin majority.
* Warren on offense over health reform: This op ed in the Metro West Daily News shows Elizabeth Warren staying on offense over health reform by listing out in detail all the things that Scott Brown and the GOP would be taking away from people by fully repealing the law. The Massachusetts law — backed by Mitt Romney and Brown — was of course the model for national reform, making the case for repeal a particularly awkward one for the Senator to continue to make.
* DCCC hits House GOPers over repeal vote: Relatedly, the DCCC is running online ads — one example is here — targeting seven House Republicans for moving to deprive their own constituents of preventive screenings, protections against discrimination with preexisting conditions and other provisions in the law.
* Pet peeve of the day: Stories like this one in USA Today, which quotes “Democratic strategist” Doug Schoen criticizing the Obama campaign without noting that he has called on Obama not to run for reelection, are misleading readers, pure and simple.
* And the hand-wringing about Romney campaign continues: Niall Stanage on a question that’s prompting new rounds of worry among Romney supporters: With the economy doing so badly, does the fact that Obama is still ahead in polls suggest that the Romney campaign is getting badly outworked by the Obama team in ways that bode badly for the fall?