My real-time notes on the presidential debate last night, followed by some cleanup and linking this morning. I listened to much of it on the radio instead of watching. It's nice. You don't have to see the candidates' forced smiles and condescending smirks. See also my notes on the first debate and the VP debate.
What does "middle class" mean if it somehow applies to most of the country? And if we are all middle class now, what are the implications?
Much has been said about Pulpit Freedom Sunday already, but there's still a thing or two to add. First, let's talk about the political and legal aspects of the story. Reuters says it's "not entirely clear" why the IRS hasn't gone after churches making endorsements in recent years. I’d say the reason is actually pretty clear: the U.S. House of Representatives.
I didn't post anything during the presidential debate last night, because I watched it without the benefit of an internet connection. Also because bona fide live-blogging can be seriously annoying to read. But if you want it in digest form, here's how I reacted in front of the TV.
Kudos to Mitt Romney for suggesting a concrete and sensible income-tax reform: capping deductions at $17,000. Now, it's not clear whether he means tax liability or taxable income. As Dylan Matthews explains, that's the difference between a highly progressive (in the technical sense, not the euphemism-for-liberal sense) proposal and one that would affect a lot of middle-class households.
The question isn't who gives more and who receives more at a given moment. It's whether the use of tax dollars serves the common good.
Molly Worthen's call for a stronger liberal Catholic voice in the public square is a good and thoughtful read. But it's hard to let this go by: Allowing Republicans to claim the mantle of Catholicism might cost the Democrats the election. As commentators have noted, Catholics may be the nation’s most numerous swing voters.
The primary problem with American political culture is that almost all of our scrutiny goes to the human beings running for president.
So you've probably already heard that Mother Jones has video of Governor Romney saying, among other things, this: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. . . . These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. . . . My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. As is often the case, Wonkblog has heaps of great commentary.