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Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Jonathan Alter

When Obamacare Polls Are Accurate Without Being True

As Republicans form a circular firing squad, nervous Democrats continue to believe that this is a depressing time when the future of Obamacare is on the line. There is some reason for worry: the Koch brothers are spending millions trying to get young people to “opt out” of seeking health insurance at the state level, […]

September 23, 2013

Bush’s Long-Shot Campaign To Be Seen As Truman

April 26 (Bloomberg) — The dedication this week of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum was more than an opportunity for the five living U.S. presidents to compare notes on what Stefan Lorant called “the glorious burden” of the office. It also was the beginning of Bush’s campaign for rehabilitation. As Bill Clinton […]

April 26, 2013

Congress’s Notorious B.I.G. Agenda Just May Pass

April 12 (Bloomberg) — That sound you’re hearing may be the cracking of gridlock in Washington. Bipartisan bills on three of the big issues of 2013 — the budget, immigration and guns — could pass Congress this spring. If the B.I.G. agenda goes through, the public will cheer, providing incentives for politicians to do more. […]

April 12, 2013

Meet The Man Who Showed Us Romney’s Hidden Side

History sometimes has a way of tying itself up with a little bow. That’s the way I felt in January when I introduced Scott Prouty, the bartender-turned-videographer who helped sink Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, to Teddy Goff, the 28-year-old director of digital media for President Barack Obama’s re-election. Prouty was a new source. After scratching […]

March 15, 2013
Social Security, Taxpayers, Taxes, Safetynet, Retirement

Why Democrats Must Get Smart On ‘Entitlements’

In a season of depressing budget news, the worst may have been that a majority of U.S. House Democrats signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to oppose any benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlements. That’s the last thing we need. To hold the line on harmful cuts to discretionary spending, […]

March 1, 2013

‘They Deserve a Vote’ Can Be More Than Rhetoric

State of the Union addresses are traditionally laundry lists of policy proposals. President Barack Obama’s this week started that way, but it ended as the most emotional speech before a joint session of Congress in modern memory. The theatrics of the event also introduced a new approach to framing the public debate that could yield […]

February 15, 2013

Obama Replants Goalposts In Political Midfield

In the summer of 2011, when the “Grand Bargain” on deficit reduction failed, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner accused President Barack Obama of “moving the goalposts” — shifting his demands to the left. After Boehner objected, Obama quickly moved the goalposts back and said he wanted to keep talking. But the Speaker thought it was […]

February 1, 2013

Divining Obama’s Next Act From His First-Term Record

Presidential inaugurations are traditionally occasions for stroking one’s chin and offering sober assessments of what the president and the nation can accomplish in the next four years. This is bound to be an exercise in futility. Four years ago, as Barack Obama took the oath, no one had heard of the Tea Party, Obamacare, the […]

January 18, 2013

Liberals Nip Obama As He Battles Republicans

You can already hear the rumbling in the distance — a train of noisy liberal Democrats barreling straight for the White House. They should arrive just in time for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. The president already has his hands full dealing with angry and unrealistic Republicans. Now he’s getting reacquainted with their counterparts on […]

January 4, 2013

To Get Better Gun Control, Don’t Use The Phrase

We can now be confident that last week’s massacre of 26 women and children at an elementary school in Newtown, CT, will not be swept under the carpet like so many mass shootings of the past. President Barack Obama said Dec. 19 that he would act “without delay” after hearing from Vice President Joe Biden’s […]

December 21, 2012

Help Republicans Rescue Their Party From Itself

Cruelty, fear, cowardice, xenophobia and disrespect invaded the inner sanctum of the U.S. government this week, bringing embarrassment and dishonor to what was once the greatest deliberative body in the world: the U.S. Senate. On Dec. 4, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, an 89- year-old Republican whose right arm was shattered in combat during […]

December 7, 2012

Kerry Is the Right Choice To Lead U.S. Diplomacy

For all the talk of tax increases and debt-cutting, President Barack Obama’s biggest and most revealing decision this year may be which candidate he chooses to be his new secretary of state. It will tell us whether the president allows comfort to trump qualification. The two candidates are Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the […]

November 22, 2012

How Obama Can Heal His Rift With Business

U.S. presidents’ second terms often turn out to be failures in domestic policy, largely because lame ducks are almost by definition political figures of the past. Yet President Barack Obama’s winning coalition is aligned with the future of the country, giving him a fresh chance to lead. To do so, he must repair his badly […]

November 9, 2012

If Elected, Moderate Mitt Will Disappear

You have to hand it to Mitt Romney and his team. Starting in the first debate, he pivoted almost effortlessly to the center, which is where elections are won. If he beats President Barack Obama, it will be because he Etch-A- Sketched his earlier positions and convinced enough people that he would be a moderate […]

October 26, 2012

Rubio Breaks With Romney On China

Florida Senator Marco Rubio appeared this morning for coffee at Bloomberg View in New York and made a good impression, if you don’t count his failure to identify even one tax loophole or deduction he would eliminate to help pay for a 20-percent reduction in tax rates. But he didn’t make any news until he […]

October 19, 2012

Could Biden Be Obama’s Improbable Henry Higgins?

Who woulda thunk that Joe Biden, of all people, would drag a onetime rockstar president over the finish line? Only a few months ago, plenty of Democrats wanted the vice president dumped from the ticket in favor of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Now he is saving Barack Obama’s bacon. Historically, vice-presidential debates have had […]

October 14, 2012

How Small Money Can Matter Again In Politics

A funny thing’s happening on the way to Nov. 6. The billionaires trying to buy the U.S. election with contributions of $1 million, $10 million or even $100 million aren’t succeeding. If trends continue and the Democrats have a good year (still a big if), the notion that in order to win candidates must accept […]

September 28, 2012

To Be Presidential, Romney Must First Be Truthful

Presidential campaigns sometimes turn on big moments that help voters ponder the central question they have about every challenger: What would this person actually be like as president? These aren’t the same as gaffes, which are slips of the tongue that may be politically damaging but say little about the candidates except that they misspoke. […]

September 14, 2012

Romney Campaign Mutes The Dog Whistles For Tampa

Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) — Mitt Romney delivered a good acceptance speech that will help him in the polls. But it won’t fundamentally change the contours of his campaign, which now depends on compensating for his deficits with women and Hispanics by maximizing the white working-class male vote. This means emitting a series of “dog whistles” […]

August 31, 2012

Will Ryan Pick Tip The House Back To Democrats?

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) — If Barack Obama’s campaign officials were happy over the weekend about Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, they’re ecstatic now. The Obama camp is guarding against overconfidence and still betting the U.S. presidential race will be close. But aides traveling with Obama pointed with glee to headlines […]

August 17, 2012

Ghosts Of Elections Past Won’t Call This One

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) — For generations, political operatives have revisited past presidential elections to try to predict the outcome of their present-day campaigns. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme, as Mark Twain supposedly quipped. This year, Republicans are pointing to 1992, when a Democratic challenger won, and Democrats favor 2004, when a Republican […]

August 10, 2012

We Did ‘Build That,’ And Our Government Helped

The flap over President Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe — playing endlessly in TV ads and sure to be a major theme of the Republican National Convention in late August — is at once sillier and more significant than it seems. It’s sillier because fair-minded observers — including neutral fact-checking referees — agree […]

July 28, 2012

Pennsylvania Is Key To Republican Vote-Blocking

July 13 (Bloomberg) — Other than the candidates, the most important person in the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign so far might be the billionaire Sheldon Adelson, or maybe one of the Koch brothers. But now it looks like it could be Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson. If he upholds a new Pennsylvania election law […]

July 13, 2012

Republicans’ Voter Suppression Project Grinds On

June 22 (Bloomberg) — Mitt Romney was in Michigan this week trying to make it competitive in the presidential election. It’s a steep climb for the native Michigander because President Barack Obama’s auto bailout, which Romney opposed, has helped bring the state’s unemployment rate down by 5.7 points since 2009. But Romney has a strong […]

June 22, 2012

Obama Should Forget About Dogs And Focus On Jobs

Stuart Stevens, who is Mitt Romney’s chief strategist, is also a novelist and memoirist, and last week he offered me a couple of bon mots that help frame the challenge President Barack Obama faces as the economy sputters. “They think this campaign is ‘Travels with Charley,’ Stevens says. “We think it’s more ‘The Grapes of […]

June 8, 2012