Facts and opinions from the campaign

A few points to watch as Obama and Romney hit the home stretch

(KAL/Baltimore Sun )
September 09, 2012|Robert L. Ehrlich Jr

Fact: Photo identification is a necessary element of life in America today.

Opinion: Don't believe it? Try cashing an out-of-town check; visiting just about any office building in the country; getting on a commercial airplane; or, buying some types of non-prescription allergy medicines.

Of course, Attorney General Eric Holder possesses a more selective view of photo identification. For him, having to produce such proof of identity at the polls is somehow discriminatory against minorities. And this despite a recent voter analysis from Georgia that reflected increased African American and Hispanic turnout since that state passed mandatory voter identification five years ago.

Nevertheless, the Obama Justice Department has been busy suing states (more than 33 at last count) that have the temerity to pass such ballot security measures.

For anyone interested in visiting Washington to discuss this highly controversial issue with the AG, be aware: You will need to produce proper photo identification in order to board the plane, secure your room at the hotel, rent a car, and enter the Justice Department. That's right, all those closet racists at the front desk will require proper photo identification in order to visit the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. If you forget or misplace your wallet, you may find yourself out on the sidewalk with the remaining elements of the Occupy D.C. crowd.

Once outside, as you ponder the unfairness of it all, you might find solace in the knowledge that if this attorney general has his way, you will not need proof of identity when exercising the most sacred right possessed by an American citizen.

Fact: More white Americans are on welfare (including food stamps) than black Americans.

Opinion: Despite the foregoing, the race card is trotted out against Republicans whenever federal welfare reform is the topic of conversation.

A recent example is the response to Republican criticism of the administration's edict to provide governors with waivers to the job requirements under the 1996 Welfare to Work Act.

Immediately thereafter, Democratic pundits took to the airwaves in a coordinated counter-attack. The theme was hard to miss: Criticism of the president's initiative (including any mention of expanded welfare rolls during the Obama era) was simply racial code targeting disaffected working class white voters.

One major problem with this narrative: Taken to its logical conclusion, this means that any criticism of a growing social welfare program is inherently racist. Such a weak construction should not be allowed to stand. Message to GOPers everywhere: Any commentator, candidate or politician so easily intimidated should find another line of work.

Fact: Most pundits saw Mitt Romney's opposition to the General Motors bailout as eliminating any chance of a GOP victory in the critical swing state of Michigan.

Opinion: These pundits were sorely mistaken. The latest polls show the race in that state to be a dead heat. Such numbers have caused the Obama campaign to spend far more in Michigan than originally planned.

Mr. Romney's dad was a popular and well remembered Michigan governor. But there is another angle to this story. You see, while the union bosses were happy with the bailout, not so much the retired auto workers.

Many retirees are GM bondholders. These retirees have relied on their investment to help finance their retirement. And they understand liquidation under bankruptcy law requires bondholders to be repaid first. But the Obama restructuring changed everything. Bondholders received only about 10 percent of the shares in a new General Motors. The government and the union received the rest. No wonder so many are displeased with the union leadership. Look for a very close race in purple Michigan.

Fact: Politicians in Washington and elsewhere have passed massive stimulus plans to jumpstart their economies — to little avail.

Opinion: The Keynesian case for economic recovery has never been weaker. A major recent study showed what observers already suspected: Economies with the highest stimulus programs suffered from the lowest growth rates. In the U.S., a 7.3 percent increase in government spending generated negative growth (-8.4 percent) through the end of 2009. Seems that a $5 trillion spending spree by Presidents Obama and George W. Bush (auto bailout, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac bailout, mortgage subsidies, TARP, Obama stimulus) represented a monumental drag on a deficit ridden economy.

Stimulus failure and a weak recovery present themselves as major themes in the 2012 campaign. Expect the president's initial promise to get unemployment below 6 percent to be a point of great emphasis over the next 57 days. $5 trillion in new debt and anemic growth is just hard to explain under any circumstances.

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column appears Sundays. The former Maryland governor and member of Congress is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding, the author of "Turn this Car Around" — a book about national politics — and Maryland chairman for the Romney presidential campaign. His email is ehrlichcolumn@gmail.com.

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