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Wonkbook dashboard

RCP Obama vs. Romney: Obama +0.7%; 7-day change: Obama +1.5%.

RCP Obama approval: 50.0%; 7-day change: +0.3%.

Intrade percent chance of Obama win: 67.8%; 7-day change: +3.9%.

Wonkbook's Numbers of the Day: .7%, 50%, and 67.8%. That's Obama's lead in the national polls, his approval rating, and his chances of winning a second term on InTrade, respectively. If you've been paying attention, you'll notice those are just the numbers from our dashboard. But today, they matter. Our election dashboard is meant to give a snapshot of the race: What the polls say, and what the betting markets say. And today, on the final day of the election, they all say the same thing: Obama is ahead, and likely -- which is not the same thing as certain -- to win.

Top story: Election Day 2012

On Election Day, President Obama has a slim edge in polls. "President Obama held a slim advantage in national and battleground polls going into Election Day as the candidates made their last mad dashes across swing-state America and their campaigns braced for a day of intense battle — and the legal fights that may follow. A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll showed Obama at 50 percent to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s 47 percent. That is Obama’s best showing since July and a reversal of the three-percentage-point edge Romney held last month. Elsewhere, new polls showed the president up by small margins in Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire, three swing states that could give Obama the last electoral votes he needs to win." David A. Fahrenthold and Robert Barnes in The Washington Post.

@DLeonhardt: For all the economy's weakness, and all the talk about it, Romney will do something remarkable if he wins tomorrow...

What to watch. "If exit polling indicates that Mr. Romney is substantially exceeding the share of the white vote that went to Senator John McCain four years ago, that will be a sign that he is replicating the coalition that gave President George W. Bush a second term. If Mr. Obama can win Virginia, a battleground with an early poll-closing time, Mr. Romney’s options for getting an Electoral College majority will be substantially reduced. And in Ohio, the vote in Hamilton County, which Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush both won, could signal who takes the state." Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny in The New York Times.

Can't follow the action without a program: The Fix's election-night viewer's guide.

@fivethirtyeight: Obama gained an average of 1.5 points between 12 national polls published today. Big sample sizes. That's a pretty big deal.

Wonkblog at your service: Pundit accountability: The official 2012 election prediction thread.

Ezra's prediction: The polls will be right and Obama will win with 290 electoral votes.

There's no such thing as 'Election Day.' Now it's 'Election Month.' "More than 30 million people have already cast ballots, a record in the early-voting sweepstakes. What’s more, we have a good idea of how they voted, through scrutiny of the party identification of those who showed up in person or returned absentee ballots...Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia offer a full buffet of options for balloting before Election Day." Ann Gerhart in The Washington Post.

Early voting data: Final early vote numbers suggest a very close race.

Romney's campaign stops tomorrow. "Mitt Romney struck a valedictory note Monday as he rallied supporters at back-to-back events in the crucial state of Virginia -- but with two more election-eve rallies to go, in addition to two newly added Election Day events in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the GOP presidential nominee still had miles to go before his 17-month campaign journey ends...Romney is now set to make a final swing-state trip Tuesday to Cleveland and Pittsburgh." Felicia Sonmez in The Washington Post.

@grossdm: any journalists *not* on Murdoch payroll detecting Romney momentum/poll victory?

The Post's Philip Rucker followed Romney on his last full day of campaigning. "The final day of Mitt Romney’s six-year quest for the presidency began like so many others. Another bowl of cereal in another Marriott hotel. Another conference call with the same senior aides. Another motorcade to another rally in another swing state. But all around Romney on Monday were reminders of the weight of destiny and the gravity of having arrived, finally, at the moment of judgment." Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.

@TheStalwart: Romney looks much more pumped and happy than Obama.

The campaign math. "For all of the numbers swirling around the presidential campaign as the nominating conventions approach, each side’s equation for success can be succinctly expressed. For President Obama, the winning formula can be reduced to 80/40. In 2008, Obama won a combined 80 percent of the votes of all minority voters, including not only African-Americans but also Hispanics, Asians, and others. If Obama matches that performance this year, he can squeak out a national majority with support from about 40 percent of whites—so long as minorities at least match the 26 percent of the vote they cast last time. Obama’s strategic equation defines Mitt Romney’s formula: 61/74. Romney’s camp is focused intently on capturing at least 61 percent of white voters. That would provide him a slim national majority—so long as whites constitute at least 74 percent of the vote, as they did last time, and Obama doesn’t improve on his 80 percent showing with minorities." Ronald Brownstein in National Journal.

Politico is thinking ahead: The fallout from an Obama loss or a Romney loss.

So is the NYT: Imagining the next inaugural address.

The Dems are likely to keep the Senate. "Coming out of the final weekend of the campaign, the GOP is still widely expected to fall short Tuesday night. The three- or four-seat gain it needs to make Harry Reid minority leader no longer looks to be in the cards." David Catanese in Politico.

Republicans are likely to keep the (even more polarized) House. "The House is almost certain to remain in Republican control after Tuesday. Yet, even without a change in power, it’s going to look like a very different place in 2013 as a result of once-in-a-decade redistricting, defeats and a surge of retirements. When the dust is settled and the next Congress takes office, there will be more than 60 new faces — at a bare minimum. It’s likely to be a more polarized chamber because of an erosion of centrists and a more inexperienced place, thanks to the departure of a number of senior legislators." Charles Mahtesian in Politico.

What kind of president would Obama be in his second term? "How would the experience of his first term inform and shape a second?...Would he become what he promised in 2008 but was not in his first term, a leader with the talents to guide a divided political system to a consensus on the country’s most intractable problems? Would the scars from a series of bitter fights with Republicans make him more or less inclined to make compromises he might have made in his first term? What would animate him in a second term? What would he pursue for his legacy?" Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

Polls would have to be wrong by 3-4 points for Romney to win. "[I]f you flipped a coin to determine who won different battleground states, Obama would still have an 83.9 percent chance of winning. The geography is just more favorable to him. But what happens if the polls are wrong, and biased (in the statistical sense, not the ideological sense) in Obama’s favor? If they’re two points too favorable to Obama, Erikson and Sigman estimate that there’s still an 65.9 percent chance Obama wins; if they’re four points off, there’s a 1.7 percent chance he wins, making a Romney win a near certainty." Dylan Matthews in The Washington Post.

@AndyHarless: Why do I keep seeing stories that the election is deadlocked? It's possible the polls are wrong, but if not, it's a clear EC win for Obama.

Voting issues continue to surface. "Even before voters head to the polls on Tuesday, issues with early and in-person absentee voting and disputes over provisional ballots and voting equipment have popped up in several key swing states." Sean Sullivan in The Washington Post.

@TPCarney: Obama may win by enough to tamp down 90% of GOP "voter fraud" cries. But Romney probably can't win by enough to tamp down D "stolen" cries.

Wonkblog explains: 50 million people won't be voting today. Here's why.

Wonkbook's swing state roundup

NYT INTERACTIVE: The 512 paths to the White House.

IA: Campaigns still pushing early voting in Iowa. "[A]s of Saturday, more than 30 percent of registered voters had done so...The Secretary of State’s office reported on Saturday that it has received a historic 640,248 ballots...At this point, the campaigns of President Obama and Mitt Romney seem to be fully focused on making sure that their voters are not stopped by anything as they head to the polls." Jenna Johnson in The Washington Post.

CO: And they're practically carpet-bombing the phone lines in Colorado. "With nearly 70 percent of Coloradans having already cast their ballots and the number of undecideds down to decimal points, the last full day of campaigning was like ringing out a dry rag. Campaigns on both sides downloaded the latest lists of not-yet-voteds from the Secretary of State and bombarded a dwindling number of targets." Steve Hendrix inThe Washington Post.

FL: Why Florida's decision could be one for the ages. "Susan MacManus, a professor at the University of South Florida and one of the state’s most high-profile political scientists, believes the race could turn less on ethnicity or geography and more on age. “It really looks like it’s going to be a generational thing,” MacManus said in an interview. 'The 50 and over vote is leaning Romney, and the 50 and under vote is leaning Obama.'" Brady Dennis in The Washington Post.

NV: For both sides, ground game on in Nev. "With the election down to the wire, the ground game for both campaigns was full-on in the swing state of Nevada. The Romney campaign has had 600 volunteers -- many from out of state -- deployed in the Las Vegas region since Friday, and another 300 in Reno, officials said, in what they called the biggest ground deployment of the campaign in Nevada. The aim: turning out supporters to cast votes Tuesday...The Obama campaign had its army of volunteers at work in Nevada, too, many arriving from California and elsewhere out-of-state. The campaign tallied 1,213 volunteer shifts of three to four hours for its Monday get-out-the-vote effort. For Tuesday, another 1,621 shifts were scheduled." Donna St. George in The Washington Post.

OH: The auto bailout has worked to Obama's benefit in Ohio. "If the polls are correct, and President Obama wins a narrow Electoral College victory on Tuesday, the pivotal moment of the 2012 presidential race may have actually occurred in 2009. About two months after taking office, Mr. Obama set the terms of the government’s rescue of General Motors and Chrysler, a move that eventually helped to resurrect the American automobile industry, and, in turn, bolster the economy of the king of swing states: Ohio. Historically, Ohio has been slightly Republican-leaning relative to the nation. But this year polls suggest that Ohio is slightly Democratic-leaning...The auto rescue’s impact on Ohio’s political preferences, though modest, has been decisive." Micah Cohen in The New York Times.

@DLeonhardt: For now, Obama's weakness among non-college whites *except in Ohio* is one of the biggest stories of election. (Per @jeffzeleny & Sussman.)

OH: What to watch for as Ohio counts votes. "For all the expectations about a late and possibly nail-biting night Tuesday, one key question about the presidential election should be clear early in the evening: just how well President Obama performed among early voters in the swing state of Ohio. Polls in the Buckeye State will close at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, and the Ohio secretary of state’s office said counties are prepared to quickly post tallies from absentee and in-person early voting. A spokesman said those numbers should be available as early as 7:45 p.m. to 8 p.m...Public polling leading up to Election Day has indicated that early voters in Ohio broke for Obama by large margins." Rosalind S. Helderman in The Washington Post.

OH: Ohio's nightmare scenario. It has to do with provisional ballots. "Election Day in Ohio is Tuesday, as in every other state in the union. But if the margin in the presidential contest is narrow here, as many polls predict, the winner may not be known until well into December. Ohio, like several of the other battleground states that are expected to determine the outcome of the election, has a labyrinthine recount procedure that ensures weeks of delay and the likelihood of a mountain of lawsuits...What sets Ohio apart is the large number of provisional ballots -- those that election officials could not verify on Election Day for any number of reasons: because the voter had a new address, did not provide proper identification, did not appear in the state’s computerized voter registry or had requested an absentee ballot and turned up at the polls on Election Day." John M. Broder in The New York Times.

Wonkbook's Election Day opinion roundup

KLEIN: 'First, assume a Democratic Senate...' "There’s an old economics joke that goes something like this: A physicist, a chemist and an economist are stranded on an island, with nothing to eat. A can of soup washes ashore. The physicist says, 'Let’s smash the can open with a rock.' The chemist says, 'Let’s build a fire and heat the can first.' The economist says, 'Let’s assume that we have a can-opener...' Moderate Republicans endorsing Romney have been doing something similar. They all work off of a similar premise. 'Let’s assume we have a Democratic Senate,' they begin...All of these endorsements are dealing with the same problem: They want to endorse Mitt Romney, the moderate governor of Massachusetts. But over the past few years, we’ve mainly seen Mitt Romney, the 'severely conservative' champion of the Tea Party. The only way to ensure we don’t get that guy is to give Democrats the Senate...It’s a strange kind of endorsement that only works as long as the presidential candidate being endorsed isn’t able to govern alongside members of his own party. More to the point, it’s a self-nullifying kind of endorsement." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

@ezraklein: These Romney endorsements that rely on a Democratic Senate to check Romney are weird. What if R's take the Senate in 2014? Or 2016? Or 2018?

KLEIN: And look, if the other guy wins -- whoever it is for you -- it's not the end of the world. "We’re at the end of a long and bitter election, and so perhaps it’s worth taking a deep breath and admitting something that typically doesn’t get said until one candidate or the other delivers his concession speech: America will survive either way. Which isn’t to say the policy differences between the candidates aren’t real, and large. They are. But it’s not the end-times showdown that the two sides often suggest...Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are well within the American consensus. In fact, they’re well within the Acela Quiet Car’s consensus. They’re blue state, Harvard-educated technocrats who like their information in chart form and their advisers sporting PhDs. They both believe in the genius of free markets, the necessity of a federal safety net, and the importance of a strong military. They don’t question the wisdom of the drug war, drone strikes or even most of the Bush tax cuts. Their records show they govern prudently, analytically, and honorably."Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

PONNURU: 2012 is over; long live 2012. "It’s hard to believe that neither the cliff nor the ceiling was much of an issue in the presidential race. Nor was the crisis in Europe, which seems to have been deferred but not solved. Some campaign years are dumb...This year has seen a pretty stark contrast between the stakes for the country and the topics of the campaign. The economy is producing jobs at a rate that will get us back to normal in about 20 years -- yet neither candidate had much to say about how he would speed it up." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg.

YGLESIAS: Why this is a great year to be elected president. "Partisans always prefer victory to defeat, but in retrospect some elections look like poisoned chalices...While anything’s possible, 2012 is shaping up to be the reverse kind of election: Whoever wins is poised to preside over a return to economic normalcy that’s bound to make any kind of basically competent governance look fantastic compared to the last decade of misery...[I]t’s overwhelmingly likely that the next four or five years will look a lot better than the past four or five. That means whoever wins the election is likely to get a similar halo, and our understanding of Obama’s legacy will hang in the balance." Matthew Yglesias in Slate.

MILBANK: Romney changing his tune in final hours. "As he made his closing appeal to voters on the final day before the election...[t]here was something new and unusual about this Romney...In the waning days of the campaign, Romney was uplifting, optimistic and inspirational -- in other words, almost entirely different from the man we saw and heard these past many months...Jettisoned from the 'closing argument' he has made on the stump the last four days of the campaign are the harshest attacks and the most mendacious of his accusations against President Obama. Gone is the charge that Obama is leading the nation into European socialism, his false claims that Obama took an 'apology tour' of the country, his insinuations that Obama doesn’t understand the United States, that he’s in over his head -- and other lines that identified Obama as un-American, as alien. In place of those lines, Romney substituted tough but reasonable criticism of Obama, coupled with an appeal for Americans to come together." Dana Milbank in The Washington Post.

FELDMAN: 2012, the cleanest fight in history. " This was the cleanest presidential campaign in recent memory, perhaps in American history...[O]ne focused overwhelmingly on the issues and informed by the fundamentally decent competitive impulses of the candidates. Both wanted very much to win, but neither was willing to ride dirty to get there. Start with character. For the first time in decades, no candidate insinuated or allowed his supporters to insinuate that the other candidate was fundamentally fraudulent...A much more probable explanation is that Romney and Obama, both buffeted in the past by illegitimate religious sentiments, were genuinely unwilling to use bigotry as a weapon." Noah Feldman in Bloomberg.

WILKINSON: Or maybe not: Why the Republicans do voter suppression. "The Washington Post’s David Beard is maintaining a 'roundup of vote irregularities.' If you had no other information about U.S. politics but Beard’s list, you would know quite a lot about the state of the nation’s two major political parties in 2012...When one party is trying to restrict the franchise and the other is trying to expand it, you have a contest of past vs. future. The age of white dominance is coming to an end. A multiracial future beckons. Regardless of how race colors their personal views, more than a few Republican officials and operatives are seeking to stem this demographic tide, hoping to squeeze another victory, perhaps the last, out of a monoracial coalition...[W]ith Republicans seeking to turn back the demographic tide rather than accommodate it, voter suppression is gaining a distinctly Republican signature." Francis Wilkinson in Bloomberg.

WOLFERS AND STEVENSON: Why voters should fear Romney's tax plan. "Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been strategically slippery about his tax plan, largely refusing to explain how he would pay for the sweeping tax cuts that represent his primary promise to voters...If you’re poor or worried about the state of the U.S. government’s finances, the picture is not pretty...The first course in Romney’s plan is dessert: Tax breaks for everyone!...How would he pay for this? Mainly by limiting the amount people can deduct from their taxable income...Romney’s plan is most striking in its distributional implications..About half of the spoils would go directly to the top 1 percent, which would get an average net tax cut of $100,000 a year." Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson in Bloomberg.

Top op-eds

ZUCKERMAN: Part-time, low-wage, and disastrous. "As Americans head to the polls, they face a disastrous new normal: For the first time, the U.S. economy has shifted in the direction of a part-time, low-wage workforce...America's narrow unemployment rate is 7.9%, but it is 14.6% when accounting for involuntary part-time workers. The number of Americans working full time has declined by 5.9 million since September 2007, while the number working part time has jumped by 2.6 million. Over the same period, according to the National Employment Law Project, low-wage occupations have grown nearly three times as fast as mid-wage and higher-wage ones. Whereas lower-wage jobs were 21% of losses during the recession, they have accounted for 58% of new jobs since." Mortimer Zuckerman in The Wall Street Journal.

SOLTAS: Climate change is a "tail risk" problem. "Sandy illustrates a major reason economists see climate change as dangerous: its 'tail risk.' Tail risks, or small probabilities of extreme outcomes, have become a major focus of recent research and discussion on the environment. Sandy was the quintessential 'tail event.'...The combination of risk aversion and tail uncertainties strengthen the case for action, as many economists now contend. The more in the dark we are about climate-change tail risk, the more prudent we should be, and the more pre-emptory our policy response should be. Any policy that can reduce the probability or cost of catastrophe is disproportionately valuable because of risk aversion." Evan Soltas in Bloomberg.

BARNETT: How the Libertarian Party hurts the libertarian cause. "I have come to believe that the Libertarian Party was a mistake. The reason is simple. Unlike a parliamentary system in which governments are formed by coalitions of large and small parties, our electoral system is a first-past-the-post, winner-take-all one in which a winning presidential candidate just needs to get more than 50% of the vote...To the extent that a third party is successful, it will drain votes from the coalition party to which it is closest and help elect the coalition party that is further removed from its interests. The Libertarian Party's effort will, if effective, attract more libertarian voters away from the candidate who is marginally less hostile to liberty, and help hand the election to the candidate who is more hostile to liberty." Randy Barnett in The Wall Street Journal.

Top long reads

Alex Ross examines gay community’s political progress -- and its future.: "I am forty-four years old, and I have lived through a startling transformation in the status of gay men and women in the United States. Around the time I was born, homosexual acts were illegal in every state but Illinois. Lesbians and gays were barred from serving in the federal government. There were no openly gay politicians. A few closeted homosexuals occupied positions of power, but they tended to make things more miserable for their kind...Gay life in America is hardly carefree, especially outside certain Zip Codes in the big cities. Although the religious right has a weaker grip on politics than it once did, it can still chill the air...Still, gay rights have made such rapid progress that there is an urge to look back and assess what has happened."

Food math interlude: 3D printed vegan Kosher bacon in Mobius strip form.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come: mixed news for the economy's service sector; how Mass. is planning to shrink health spending; jockeying for tax-writing spots; fossil fuel watch; and how does Hurricane Sandy measure up?


Mixed news for economy's service sector. "The rate of growth in the nation’s services sector slowed modestly in October, though a measure of employment improved to its highest in seven months, underscoring expectations the economic recovery will remain modest. The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its services index eased to 54.2 last month from 55.1 in September, shy of forecasts for 54.5, according to a Reuters survey. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector. The forward-looking new orders gauge fell to 54.8 from 57.7, but the measure of employment rose to its highest since March, at 54.9 from 51.1...Taken together, the two reports point to an economy that is growing at a rate of about 2 percent, analysts said, maintaining the third quarter’s rate of growth and reinforcing the view that the United States is holding on to a modest recovery." Reuters.

Gov't. crackdown on money laundering to cost banks billions. "Banks are facing heightened investigation and steeper penalties from federal regulators and prosecutors for failure to comply with anti-money-laundering laws, an enforcement trend that may shave billions of dollars off bank balance sheets." Danielle Douglas in The Washington Post.

Economy to young workers: "A retirement someday? Dream on!" "The economic downturn is pressing more employers to reduce pension benefits and significantly delaying when people launch their careers, darkening the already bleak picture that young workers face in saving for retirement." Michael A. Fletcher in The Washington Post.

G20 eases push for deficit cutting. "Group of 20 nations have acknowledged the need for flexibility in cutting budget deficits to avoid suffocating economic growth prospects in the coming months. The plans, agreed on Monday by finance ministers and central bank governors attending the Group of 20 meeting in Mexico City, in effect scale back ambitious targets to cut deficits set out two years ago during a summit in Toronto."Adam Thomson in the Financial Times.

Housing policy after the election. "Don't fix what isn't broken. Whatever the outcome of Tuesday's elections, that is likely to be one view of the housing market, especially given its nascent rebound. Home prices continue to rise, as shown by the latest S&P/Case-Shiller data; sales activity is strengthening, while delinquency trends improve. That argues against attempts at a housing-market overhaul for fear of sending activity, and prices, into a tailspin. Plus, housing finance has become a political third rail since attempts at change could endanger the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage as it currently exists...Meanwhile, a recent report from their overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said the net amount of assistance Fannie and Freddie have drawn from the government, currently at about $142 billion, could drop to between $67 billion and $132 billion by the end of 2015." David Reilly in The Wall Street Journal.

Education interlude: Record number completing high school and college.

Health Care

Meet the man Massachusetts thinks can crack its health spending problem. "Massachusetts passed a law months ago that put a global cap on how much its state would spend on health care -- not just Medicaid, but all spending on doctors and hospitals by all patients. That law takes effect today. That makes Massachusetts the only state in the country that, as of this morning, limits how much its residents will pay on medical services. The goal of the Massachusetts law is to get health-care costs to grow no faster than the rest of the economy, between 2013 and 2017. After that, the law dictates that health care spending will grow 0.5 percent slower than the rest of the economy...[T]he state of Massachusetts has turned to Stuart Altman, a Brandeis professor who has spent decades working on controlling health-care costs." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Medicare to seniors: Drop your low-rated plans. "Medicare officials are trying a novel approach during this open enrollment season to gently nudge a half million beneficiaries out of 26 private drug and medical plans that have performed poorly over the past three years. It begins with letters informing seniors they are enrolled in a plan that received low ratings...The effort marks the first time that Medicare officials have tried to steer beneficiaries away from some private drug and medical plans, while still allowing them to operate. Officials have also warned the plans that they may be cancelled in the future...In addition to the letters, Medicare is making it harder for people to sign up for one of the 26 plans. If they search for plans on Medicare’s plan finder website, they can access and join other, better performing plans electronically but to join one of the 26, they must contact that insurance company directly. Those plans also have a special warning symbol next to their names to highlight their low ratings." Susan Jaffe in Kaiser Health News and USA Today.

Swing-state ballot measures take aim at 'Obamacare,' abortion rights. "President Obama’s healthcare law isn’t just a big issue in the 2012 presidential campaign -- it’s on the ballot directly in a handful of key states...In some states where attacks on the law have been strongest, voters will have a chance to weigh in on healthcare apart from those races. Swing-state Florida is one of four states where voters will be asked to formally register their disapproval of the Affordable Care Act’s least popular provision -- the mandate requiring most taxpayers to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty...Anti-mandate measures are also on the ballot in Alabama, Wyoming and Montana...The most substantive healthcare ballot measure comes in another state with a high-profile Senate race: Missouri. Voters there will decide on a proposal that would bar the governor from creating an insurance exchange without approval from the state legislature or another ballot initiative." Sam Baker and Elise Viebeck in The Hill.

The definitely permanent parts of Obamacare. "No matter who wins the presidential election, most workers who get health insurance through their jobs won't see a lot of immediate changes in their health benefits. Many employers have also embraced some of the more popular rules in the federal health law, such as no copays for certain cancer screenings and preventive care, and allowing parents to keep their adult children on their policies until age 26." Julie Appleby in Kaiser Health News.

Heart issues hit employers' bottom lines, study finds. "Employers lose thousands of dollars in productivity when an employee experiences heart problems, according to a new study. Robert Page, an associate professor with the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, found that lost productivity costs from acute coronary syndrome range from about $7,943 for short-term disability claims to about $52,473 for long-term ones...His report recommended that employers invest in preventative measures to reduce the risk of employee heart problems." Elise Viebeck in The Hill.

FDA to speak out on meningitis outbreak in Congress. "Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is scheduled to testify before lawmakers on the outbreak of fungal meningitis that has killed 30 nationwide." Elise Viebeck in The Hill.

Domestic Policy

2012's winner has a deficit problem to address. "President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have hammered at each other's plan for tackling the nation's growing debt. They are similar, though, in one key regard: Both offer prescriptions that largely exempt the vast middle class from the bitterest medicine. Mr. Obama's proposal makes mostly small changes to Medicare and doesn't include major cuts to benefits, even though the health-care program is the biggest driver of the U.S.'s future debt. Mr. Romney says he won't raise taxes as part of a deficit-shrinking deal. He instead wants to cut taxes sharply on the assumption that lower rates will juice economic growth and government revenue, an idea that divides economists, who debate the size of such an effect." Damian Paletta in The Wall Street Journal.

But Boehner says read my lips, no new taxes. "He’s not willing to even consider hiking taxes on people making more than $1 million -- something that’s been floated in the past as a possible compromise by members of both parties...Tuesday’s congressional elections are certain to give Boehner a stronger hand -- at least on Capitol Hill -- as Republicans are expected to lose only a handful of seats and maintain an iron hold on the House majority. Boehner sees this election as a validation of his no-tax-hike approach -- and doesn’t view an Obama victory as a mandate to raise taxes on upper-income Americans." Jake Sherman in Politico.

Meanwhile, lawmakers jockey for tax-writing spots. "It’s becoming the congressional equivalent of a spot at the cool kids’ table: a seat on the House or Senate tax-writing committee. Lawmakers are vying for positions on panels that could take on the first major overhauls of tax and entitlement laws in decades -- the kind of legislation that builds both legacies and reelection coffers for years to come...The panels have always been a premier perch for lawmakers, but with fiscal issues coming to a head, intense lobbying efforts to win a place at the table are well under way." Steven Sloan and Kelsey Snell in Politico.

Two cases on class actions head to the Supreme Court. "The Supreme Court on Monday considered a pair of cases about how much evidence courts must demand before allowing plaintiffs to band together in class actions. One case concerned securities fraud, the other antitrust. But both were in a way sequels to the court’s 2011 decision in Wal-Mart Stores v. Dukes, which threw out an enormous employment discrimination class action on the ground that the plaintiffs did not have enough in common to pursue their claims in a single lawsuit. Business groups welcomed the Wal-Mart decision and said its reasoning could be extended to shut down other kinds of class actions at an early stage. Monday’s cases were the first tests of those predictions in the Supreme Court." Adam Liptak in The New York Times.

Hurricane interlude: Is Sandy the second-most destructive U.S. hurricane ever? Or not even top 10?


Report: Fossil fuels could raise global temperatures 10 degrees by century's end. "The continued use of fossil fuels could push global temperatures 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) higher by the end of the century, according a report released Monday...From 2010 until 2011, carbon intensity fell 0.7 percent worldwide, the report said." Zack Colman in The Hill.

Fuel economy of U.S. car fleet at all-time high. "The average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in October was 24.1 miles per gallon -- the highest level yet, and up 4.0 miles per gallon from October 2007 (the first month of our monitoring). This 20-percent improvement in fuel economy corresponds to a 17-percent reduction in fuel consumption (gallons per mile)." Andrew C. Revkin in The New York Times.

ALEC takes aim at state green power standards. "The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is launching an effort to repeal state-based laws that require utilities to provide escalating amounts of power from renewable sources like wind and solar energy. The corporate-backed group of state lawmakers has developed so-called model legislation called the 'Electricity Freedom Act,' which it hopes to advance in several of the roughly 30 states that have renewable electricity standards." Ben German in The Hill.

House members offer new bill easing rules for energy-saving appliances. "A bipartisan group of House members has reintroduced legislation aimed at easing federal regulations for manufacturers of home appliances...Among other things, the bill would ease federal rules that require manufacturers of walk-in coolers to use specific technologies even though more energy-efficient technologies exist." Pete Kasperowicz inThe Hill.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.