'This Week' Extra: The Roundtable's Pre-Show Thoughts

PHOTO: Matt Dowd
ABC News

Before "This Week" on Sunday, we asked our roundtable participants to tell us what they are looking forward to discussing. Here are their pre-show thoughts.

Matthew Dowd: Has Either Candidate Settled on a Consistent Message?

As Sunday approaches, wishing Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. It will be interesting to have a conversation tomorrow around what it means to be a dad at this time with changes in the family, profound changes in the economy and the world, and changes in male and female roles in the workplace and family structure. And we have two major candidates for president this year that have taken their role as dads very seriously, and they have done very well at it.

In this very tight election, which looks to be decided by a few percentage points, what is it that will give an advantage to one side or the other? Will their campaign tactics really matter or will it be events in the world or unexpected moments which finally determine the outcome? And are President Obama and Mitt Romney prepared to deal with those unforeseen events? Will the financial crisis in Europe impact this election more than the deficits here?

Has either candidate really settled on a consistent message that will be effective in swaying the limited swing voters this year, as well as motivating their base? Has President Obama been too inconsistent in his messaging about Romney and has he been seemingly out of touch on voters' perception of the economy and his leadership? Doesn't Mitt Romney at some point need to come up with a positive economic message that provides voters a vision of where he wants to go and not just rely on "vote against Obama?"

All this and maybe a little sports-related conversation about the NBA Finals and the U.S. Open.

Matt Dowd is a political strategist and ABC News political analyst.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Stark Choice Between Obama and Romney

I'm looking forward to being part of a spirited roundtable discussion tomorrow. There's no shortage of topics, but the economy is certain to be a major focus. I suspect there will be talk of "dueling" plans, but for me what's important is that this election is a choice, not a referendum – and certainly not a duel. As President Obama said, "This is not another trivial Washington argument."

I believe the choice is a stark one: a return to the failed George W. Bush policies of unregulated markets and anti-tax fundamentalism that drove our economy off the rails, or concerted government action to rebuild the middle class as the foundation for sustained economic growth.

Mitt Romney is not, whatever large parts of the media might have you believe, a Massachusetts moderate. He is honestly proposing that we enact massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, while slashing basic services and programs for working families. He is honestly proposing that the very financial institutions that arrogantly sank our global economy and destroyed people's lives be left free of any and all regulation. In short, he is honestly proposing that we turn this car around and drive off the same cliff again. (At least Romney is being honest about something. He spends most of his time telling outrageous lies about the president and his policies.)

Congressional Republicans, who seem to think that our national crisis is that millionaires don't get enough tax breaks, have been roadblocks in the way of almost all of Obama's efforts to create more jobs, invest in the future and reduce the deficit. They are holding our nation's economic recovery hostage on the premise that if the president fails, and the economy fails, then Romney will win. So what if the middle class implodes?

In spite of the GOP's cynical grand strategy, President Obama still managed to make progress in restoring our economy. He made investments in education, put more money into the pockets of working Americans, ended two wars, extended human and civil rights to gay Americans, gave undocumented students a way out of a legal limbo, moved health care and banking reform forward and promoted a new energy economy. And thanks to the energy of the 99 Percent and Occupy Wall Street movements, he made the alarming growth in income inequality a central national issue.

Now, President Obama must continue hammering home the choice we face in this election, and the narrative of his vision for our future, even as the trends and tweets and George Wills, Matthew Dowds, Tim Pawlentys, and the talk of the modern media try to drown him out.

In his speech this past week, President Obama argued that America is being held back by a stalemate in Washington between two competing visions of our nation's future. "The only thing that can break the stalemate," he told the cheering crowd, "is you." But breaking the stalemate isn't enough. We need a re-elected President Obama to fight for a future where a strong working class and middle class drives economic growth, where children in every neighborhood have equal opportunities, where corporations play by the rules, where millionaires pay their fair share, and where a government of all people makes the investments in the future of our nation.

I'm looking forward to our roundtable this Sunday.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor and publisher of "The Nation."

Austan Goolsbee: Can We Avoid the Fiscal Cliff?

I'd like to discuss the fast-approaching fiscal cliff on the roundtable tomorrow. All the Bush and Obama tax cuts expiring and $100-plus billion in cuts from the sequester add up to something on the order of $700 billion. No matter what type of economist you are, that's a stiff hit. The Congressional Budget Office says that going off this cliff would lead to GDP growth of below -2 percent to start next year.

It's terrible, but I fear that the same forces on the extremes that blew apart the "Grand Bargain" last year will be back with a vengeance here and that it might not work. Certainly nothing much is happening before November, but the market will be flipping out in the run-up to that since they won't have resolution on a really important matter. That, combined with the fears over Europe, will not help us get out of our situation.

Austan Goolsbee is a former Obama economic adviser and an ABC News consultant.

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