Following the "This Week" roundtable today, we asked our roundtable participants to expand on their discussion of the 2012 presidential race and the economy. Here are their views.
|David Chalian: Taxes and Women Will Dominate Campaign Trail This Week|
As Jake Tapper mentioned this morning in kicking off the roundtable discussion about Augusta National's "no women" policy, both President Obama and Mitt Romney made clear this week that they believe women should be admitted to the club.
But that doesn't mean the gender gap on display in the presidential contest is going away anytime soon.
The USA Today-Gallup swing states poll out last Monday showed a 17-point gender gap in the president's favor (women support Obama by 18 points over Gov. Romney, men support Romney by a 1 point margin), which is unsustainable for the Massachusetts Republican if he hopes to be elected president.
The Romney team in Boston is well aware that the conversation about contraception and invasive ultrasounds during the heat of the GOP nomination season made the traditional hill Republicans have to climb with female voters even more steep. That's why you will see Gov. Romney on the campaign trail this week talking with female entrepreneurs about the economy.
But the Obama campaign intends to make Romney's planned rehabilitation with women as difficult as possible by utilizing his own words – albeit not necessarily in their full context – about getting rid of Planned Parenthood funding and supporting a "personhood" amendment. As one Obama aide put it to me, "this is not going away."
But, as we head into the final week before Americans must file their income taxes with the IRS, it will likely be taxes and the debate around fairness in the tax code that will dominate the campaign trail chatter this week. Obama plans to be in Florida Tuesday to promote his proposed "Buffett Rule," named after investor Warren Buffett, aimed at ensuring that every American who earns more than $1 million per year pays an effective tax rate of at least 30 percent.
And later in the week, Vice President Joe Biden will be campaigning in New Hampshire where he will deliver his fourth major framing speech of the campaign, where he will focus on the tax code and rail against Republican plans to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
There is also the thorny issue of Mitt Romney's wealth. The presumptive Republican nominee will once again face pressure from his Democratic opponents to release more of his tax returns than he did in January, which only consisted of his 2010 return and an estimate for his 2011 taxes. A Romney spokesman said Friday that his boss will be sure to publicly release his full 2011 return when it is filed, but there will be a deafening drumbeat from the Democrats – and likely the media – for more disclosure.
Gov. Romney and his campaign team awkwardly mishandled the release of his 2010 returns during the heat of his South Carolina primary battle with Newt Gingrich. It will be worth watching to see whether hey have formulated a tighter and more polished response to the pressure this week.
David Chalian is the Washington bureau chief of Yahoo! News.
|Chrystia Freeland: A Deeper Dive Into the March Jobs Report|
I had fun with Jake and the roundtable gang this morning – I was especially intrigued by Michael Dyson's view that President Obama's race has shaped and constrained his leadership style. But the frustrating truth about television talk shows is that you (at least if you're me!) always walk off the set regretting the issues you didn't have a chance to discuss.
For me, the big missed opportunity this Easter Sunday was the chance to dive into the March jobs report more and try to surface what it says about long-term trends in the economy. The good news is manufacturing. As I wrote in my weekly Reuters column last week, this administration is betting on manufacturing jobs as being central to middle class prosperity and to U.S. international competitiveness. The jobs data suggests the White House's support for manufacturing, particularly the car industry, may be working. The sector added 37,000 jobs in March.
By contrast, a worrying data-point came from the retail sector. Even though sales are up, retail jobs fell by 34,000. It is always unwise to try to read too much into a single month's numbers. Even so, a powerful explanation of the fall in retail jobs is that we are seeing the e-commerce effect.
Thanks to the Internet revolution, we can indulge in retail therapy without the intercession of sales clerks. In our lives as consumers, that is a good thing. I find it hard to imagine a world without Amazon, Zappos and Netflix.
But in our lives as citizens, we should be concerned about the effect on jobs. In the past decade, even after the economy recovered from the 2001 downturn, employment never rebounded to its pre-recession highs. Today, some Wall Street economists are predicting that even after a full economic recovery, unemployment could remain as high as 7 percent.
Thanks to the combined effect of the technology revolution and globalization, the shape of the 21st century economy may be very different from that of the post-war era, when middle-class consumption and high-paying, middle-class jobs went together. That structural shift is the biggest issue all Western industrialized countries, including the United States, face today. I wish we had talked about it on "This Week" today, and I wish we were hearing more about it on the campaign trail.
Chrystia Freeland is the editor of Thomson Reuters Digital.