* What’s at stake today in Ohio: The stakes are high for organized labor — and for progressives and Dems, too — as Ohio voters go to the polls for today’s referendum on Governor John Kasich’s law rolling back public employee bargaining rights. A union victory here is essential in order to counter the conventional narrative that labor is on the defensive against GOP governors across the country and can’t even halt its decline in the middle of the industrial heartland.
What’s more, as labor and Dem officials argue, an Ohio victory would also help establish an important storyline heading into 2012: That Republicans over-read their Tea Party-infused 2010 mandate, provoking a voter backlash. That voters want genuine shared sacrifice, not the brand of right-wing fiscal hawkery that’s better understood as thinly disguised class warfare from the top down. And more broadly, that when working-class and ordinary middle-class voters grasp how the conservative/austerity/Tea Party fiscal worldview will actually impact them and their neighbors in specific terms, they’ll reject it as an unacceptable alternative to the embattled liberal vision.
And of course, all of this is unfolding in a key industrial swing state — where labor and Dems have built an on-the-ground network that will be pressed into service for Obama next year — reinforcing the sense among labor and Dem officials that today’s election is an important dress rehearsal for 2012.
* Today in supercommittee follies: GOPers on the supercommittee are offering what they are calling a deal: They will agree to limit certain itemized deductions that impact the wealthy in exchange for making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
Again: If Republicans don’t agree to tax rate increases on the wealthy as part of the deficit solution, there won’t be any grand bargain. And the fact that this latest offer is being presented by Republicans as a “major concession” suggests again that for them, all tax rate increases on the rich are off the table.
* GOP to Dems: Would you please give up your negotiating leverage? Relatedly, as Steve Benen explains, Republicans are basically asking Dems to give up not only massive entitlements cuts, but all of the leverage that flows from the simple fact that the Bush tax cuts are already set to expire.
* Tax increases on rich would impact one percent of small businesses — at most: Important reading: Glenn Kessler uses a new study to take a detailed look at the ubiquitous GOP claim that increasing taxes on millionaires would impact hundreds of thousands of businesses. He finds that this is true by one broad definition of “small businesses,” but even if you accept that definition, only one percent of small businesses would be impacted.
And if you use the narrower definition, which seems more apt, the impact is even more negligible.
* Auto bailout will be central to Obama reelection push: As the GOP candidates return to Michigan for tomorrow’s debate, the DNC is out with a new Web ad that trains all its fire on Mitt Romney and his infamous “let Detroit go bankrupt” quote, another sign that Romney is now seen as the likely GOP nominee.
With Obama advisers bracing for unemployment to remain high, their best hope will be to aggressively highlight isolated successes, such as the rescue of the auto industry, and contrast them sharply with quotes they’ll cast as proof of Romney’s indifference to economic suffering (let Detroit go bankrupt, let the foreclosure market bottom out, etc.).
* Civics lesson of the day: Ezra Klein challenges unreasonable expectations of what presidential power can accomplish, and debunks the liberal critique that Obama failed to be another FDR:
This is not a defense of Obama, nor an attack on FDR. It is simply the reality of the American presidency. Congress can write legislation and pass it over the president’s veto. The president cannot write legislation nor pass it without congressional assent. The president comes after the Congress in the Constitution and is indisputably less powerful. Yet we understand American politics primarily through the office of the president ... But Congress is always there, and so is the economic context that’s driving the agenda. We’d do well to pay more attention to both.
* Demographic deep dive of the day: Ron Brownstein on a key fault line in the 2012 election: Between whites who are comfortable about demographic changes underway in America, and whites who are uneasy about it. And check out Brownstein’s analysis of a recent Pew poll:
Whites who consider the demographic change a threat prefer Romney over Obama by a crushing three-to-one: 72 percent to 24 percent. In stark contrast, among whites comfortable with the change, Obama led Romney 52 percent to 44 percent.
Key takeaway: Attitudes about the changing racial complexion of America are slowly assuming a more central role in driving voter behavior.
* Republicans debate whether they can accept Mitt Romney: This is a fun and illuminating exercise: First read David Brooks pleading with conservatives to understand that Romney is the only “serious” candidate in the race who can mount a serious challenge to Obama.
Then read Erick Erickson’s long primal scream about how the ideologically malleable Romney as the 2012 nominee will ensure an Obama second term and the agonizing death of conservatism.
* Romney really, really wants to win this thing: Don’t miss Philip Rucker’s interesting look at Romney’s intensely deliberated and carefully choreographed strategy in Iowa, which opens a window on how badly Romney wants to win the presidency this time around and how fearful he is of making any strategic missteps.
* And Herman Cain’s victimization narrative continues its collapse: With Cain suggesting he’s the victim of a media conspiracy, Pew finds that 49 percent of Republicans and GOP leaners think media coverage of him has been fair or too easy, while only 37 percent say it’s been too tough.
Also: 39 percent of GOPers and leaners think the allegations are false, versus 29 percent who say they’re true — and another 32 percent won’t say, which means they’re not prepared to rule the veracity of the charges out.