Five Best Tuesday Columns

Ramesh Ponnuru on Romney's focus on gender, Leonard Burman on the Buffett Rule, Marc Thiessen on Romney's gaffes, Bret Stephens on Bo Xilai's scandal, and Michael Tomasky on Obama's swagger.

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Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg View on Romney's "gender gap" focus After Democratic allegations of a Republican "war on women," Mitt Romney's campaign promoted statistics showing that women disproportionately lost jobs under the Obama administration, and that his White House is a hostile workplace for them. "The evidence that Romney is lagging in the polls because voters are upset about a 'war on women' -- rather than because of a bruisingly negative primary campaign or the recovering economy -- is pretty thin. But Republicans are responding not just to the polls but to the persistent mythology of the gender gap," writes Ponnuru. Romney should ignore calls to close the "gender gap" because appealing to women who vote particularly on "women's issues" seems likely to fail. He should target women who vote on a variety of causes. "Republicans deserve credit for resisting the idea -- the lazy instinct, really -- that what female voters care most about are stereotypically 'women’s issues,'" and Romney should follow suit.

Leonard Burman in The New York Times on the Buffett Rule as bad policy The Fair Share tax, or the Buffett Rule, would require people making over $2 million a year to pay an income tax rate of at least 30 percent. "[H]eaven knows that the tax code needs an overhaul ... The Fair Share tax is not the right tool for this job. It is bad policy. If it became law, it would needlessly complicate taxes and create new inequities," writes Burman. The rule, like the "alternative minimum tax" that came before it, would eventually encompass the upper middle class in decades to come as incomes rise, and it would create bizarre loopholes that could, for instance, disincentivize people making just under $1 million a year to marry. Instead, we should eliminate loopholes focus on raising the capital gains tax rate to levels under the Reagan administration. That's the one that allows Warren Buffett to pay a lower rate than his secretary. "That approach would also make the tax system much simpler."

Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post on Romney's self-inflicted wounds The Obama campaign has openly stated they will make a theme out of asking "What's Mitt hiding?" in this election, in order to focus on his wealth. "Republicans need to ask themselves: Why does Romney seem to be going out of his way to help Obama raise such questions?" writes Thiessen. Most recently, two reporters overheard Romney sharing with rich donors his plans to eliminate government agencies. Romney noted he probably won't tell voters about these plans. Too often, Romney hands the Obama campaign ammo for their attacks with rich-guy comments. "On taxes, it is simply inexplicable why the Romney campaign still cannot get a handle on an issue they should have seen coming years ago," Thiessen says.

Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal on Bo Xilai and China's rise The intrigue that took down Bo Xilai, Communist party chief of Chongqing, and made his wife a murder suspect, shouldn't have caused such a ripple in the nation's political stability. But rumors of a coup and threats of another Cultural Revolution have abounded in the weeks since the affair erupted. "[T]he scandal wouldn't resonate among Chinese if it were an isolated case. In reality it's the norm." The preferred explanation -- that it's a face off between Bo's "leftism" and the party's orthodoxy -- doesn't hold, Stephens argues. Instead, he says, the Chinese are enraged by the way their political leaders run cities like fiefdoms and the lack of accountability in their form of government. This affair has big implications for China's future. "This is not a country on its way to global supremacy. The Bo scandal may pass soon enough, but what it has revealed will prove increasingly difficult to ignore."

Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast on Obama's cockiness Tomasky has long argued that Obama faces an easy path to reelection, but recently, the campaign and its supporters have grown too cocky even by Tomasky's standards. "There’s a line between swagger that keeps the other side on the defensive and swagger that just doesn’t quite sound credible, and I’m hearing a little too much of the latter," he says. The campaign is talking about making Arizona competitive when they still have to worry about swing states that Obama carried in 2008. The economic recovery could slow down. And finally, the media will want to portray the election as a tight race through the summer, and Romney will inevitably benefit from some turn in the news cycle. "Obama is only what I would call perilously ahead—a phrase his team would do well to remember."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.