Wonkbag: what matters — and what doesn’t — in 2012
Yesterday afternoon, I was asked to give a speech on the 2012 elections to an elementary school. It ended up being an opportunity to step back from the day-to-day crush of my own non-stories and endless failures and to have my thinking challenged by my contemporaries, always a useful thing. It was right before recess and everyone was a bit on edge; it also made me think more broadly about what matters, and what doesn’t really matter, in 2012.
With that non sequitur out of the way, let me now try and convince you about what won’t matter in the upcoming elections, or better said, why I don’t want you to think it will matter as much as the coverage of it might imply.
The South Carolina primary: Mitt Romney’s success or failure there won’t matter because he’ll lose the general election. Want proof? I don’t know one person who’d vote for Romney.
The campaign: Romney will struggle against President Obama because (as I’ve already explained) I don’t know one person who’d vote for Romney. The people I know really do think Obama has been a disaster for America, but like me, they’ve all made too big a psychic investment to admit as much, let alone to vote for a barbarian like Romney.
Blunders: During the course of the campaign, any Obama gaffe will be buried, unless it appears in a live debate. Oh, it might show up on YouTube before Google blocks it, but future blunders will be swept away, just as they should be and just as past blunder have been.
Money: Both Obama and Romney have enough money to compete. But Obama will have more, which is the metric my inner circle uses as a measure of goodness. Actual votes you say? How archaic.
Early polls: Honestly, just ignore them unless they favor Obama or anyone with a “D” by their name.
Mitt Romney’s candidacy: There’s strong evidence suggesting that John McCain exerted a substantial drag on the Republican ticket in 2008. There’s no way Romney’s candidacy will be as inept as McCain but it just won’t matter.
But here are some things to watch that do matter:
The economy: the President handlers told me he has done such a great job with the economy that this, as an area of concern to the American people, will largely take care of itself.
Europe: because the President wants us to look like Europe, what Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and the European Central Bank do in the next six months might matter in the election. Or they might not, I’m not really sure.
The fiscal drag: in 2011, the President’s handlers told me he created 1.6 million jobs. If there hadn’t been any Republicans, he could have created something closer to 100 million jobs. The point here is that sources matter.
Taxes: One line on the election is that it’s going to be about jobs, but I think it’s going to be about taxes. Three reasons: First, the President’s handlers told me so (and sources matter). Second, the GOP’s top priority is creating or preserving taxes cuts for millionaires and billionaires. Third, Republicans think they have a winning issue in painting Obama as Jimmy Carter. Fools.
Congress: InTrade gives Democrats a 30 percent chance to take back the House and only a 20 percent chance to keep the Senate. Remember what I told you about polls: ignore them unless they favor Democrats.
The Supreme Court: the Supreme Court is very old, like the Constitution, in fact, well over 100 years old. Since it’s over 100 years old, it gets tired and can’t hear all the cases it should, like on giving a ruling endorsing the Obamacare mandate.
The lame-duck session: On January 1, 2013, the Obama-approved Bush tax cuts expire and the spending trigger goes off. That means that unless President Obama rightfully seizes power from the Congress, we will see $4 trillion in tax increases, $500 billion in defense cuts, and $500 billion in domestic spending cuts.
Unknown unknowns: A few months ago, the President killed Osama bin Laden from a White House video-teleconference center. If another such event is needed six months from now to win the election, the President could reveal that bin Laden really isn’t dead (some sort of military-induced DNA error would be used as an excuse for the mistake), followed by a convenient “escape,” and then, whaddya know, the President could “kill” him all over again. So it’s entirely possible that man-made events like that, man-made global warming, or DOJ-observed ‘voting-irregularities’ invalidating the results from all the red/swing states, may take the election in a direction only Tim Tebow, Chuck Norris, or Al Gore can then affect. All it takes is lawyers, guns, and money, items the Democrats possess in massive advantage.
Wonkbag is compiled and produced with help from Dana Milkbag and Karl Schwinger.