In the USA...The United States Is On Course To Be The World’s #1 Oil Producer In 8 Years
By: Ray Medeiros October 25th, 2012
Despite the absolutely ridiculous claims the GOP are making about American oil production, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the United States may soon be the world’s largest oil producing nation, overtaking Saudi Arabia.
The Department of Energy is forecasting that by 2020, U.S. production of oil could reach 15 million barrels a day, putting the nation’s production above Saudi Arabia.
Just next year the average will be 11.4 million barrels, just below what the output of Saudi Arabia is right now.
Here is a quick list on why oil production is so high right now.
Production in the Gulf of Mexico, which slowed after BP’s 2010 well disaster and oil spill, has begun to climb again. Huge recent finds there are expected to help growth continue.
A long period of high oil prices has given drillers the cash and the motivation to spend the large sums required to develop new techniques and search new places for oil. Over the past decade, oil has averaged $69 a barrel. During the previous decade, it averaged $21.
A natural gas glut forced drillers to dramatically slow natural gas exploration beginning about a year ago. Drillers suddenly had plenty of equipment and workers to shift to oil.
So the Republican claim that we aren’t drilling enough in this country is a flat out lie. Regardless of where the oil comes from, whether it may be offshore, federal land, state or private land, oil production in America is high.
Oil prices on the other hand are not coming down. This begs the question why isn’t Drill Baby Drill working to lower oil prices? I thought blaming Wall Street speculators was wrong and misguided.
It turns out that drilling our way to lower gas and oil just won’t work, so we need a new approach — and that is the approach of President Obama.
****************Bernie Sanders Exposes 18 CEOs who took Trillions in Bailouts, Evaded Taxes and Outsourced Jobs
By: Jason Easley October 25th, 2012
Sen. Bernie Sanders fired back at 80 CEOs who wrote a letter lecturing America about deficit reduction by released a report detailing how 18 of these CEOs have wrecked the economy by evading taxes and outsourcing jobs.
80 CEO’s raised the ire of Sen. Sanders by publishing a letter in the Wall Street Journal urging America to act on the deficit, and reform Medicare and Medicaid.
Sen. Sanders responded to the lecture from America’s CEO’s by releasing a report that detailed how 18 of them have helped blow up the deficit and wreck the economy by outsourcing jobs and evading US taxes.
There really is no shame. The Wall Street leaders whose recklessness and illegal behavior caused this terrible recession are now lecturing the American people on the need for courage to deal with the nation’s finances and deficit crisis. Before telling us why we should cut Social Security, Medicare and other vitally important programs, these CEOs might want to take a hard look at their responsibility for causing the deficit and this terrible recession.
Our Wall Street friends might also want to show some courage of their own by suggesting that the wealthiest people in this country, like them, start paying their fair share of taxes. They might work to end the outrageous corporate loopholes, tax havens and outsourcing provisions that their lobbyists have littered throughout the tax code – contributing greatly to our deficit.
Many of the CEO’s who signed the deficit-reduction letter run corporations that evaded at least $34.5 billion in taxes by setting up more than 600 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens since 2008. As a result, at least a dozen of the companies avoided paying any federal income taxes in recent years, and even received more than $6.4 billion in tax refunds from the IRS since 2008.
Several of the companies received a total taxpayer bailout of more than $2.5 trillion from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department.
Many of the companies also have outsourced hundreds of thousands of American jobs to China and other low wage countries, forcing their workers to receive unemployment insurance and other federal benefits. In other words, these are some of the same people who have significantly caused the deficit to explode over the last four years.
Here are the 18 CEO’s Sanders labeled job destroyers in his report. (All data from Top Corporate Dodgers report.)
1). 1. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $1.9 billion tax refund.
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? Over $1.3 trillion.
Amount of federal income taxes Bank of America would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.6 billion.
2). Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $278 million tax refund.
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $824 billion.
Amount of federal income taxes Goldman Sachs would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $2.7 billion
3). JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department? $416 billion.
Amount of federal income taxes JP Morgan Chase would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.9 billion.
4). General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $3.3 billion tax refund.
Taxpayer Bailout from the Federal Reserve? $16 billion.
Jobs Shipped Overseas? At least 25,000 since 2001.
5). Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $705 million tax refund.
American Jobs Cut in 2010? In 2010, Verizon announced 13,000 job cuts, the third highest corporate layoff total that year.
6). Boeing CEO James McNerney, Jr.
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? None. $124 million tax refund.
American Jobs Shipped overseas? Over 57,000.
Amount of Corporate Welfare? At least $58 billion.
7). Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
Amount of federal income taxes Microsoft would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $19.4 billion.
. Honeywell International CEO David Cote
Amount of federal income taxes paid from 2008-2010? Zero. $34 million tax refund.
9). Corning CEO Wendell Weeks
Amount of federal income taxes paid from 2008-2010? Zero. $4 million tax refund.
10). Time Warner CEO Glenn Britt
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $74 million tax refund.
11). Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2009? Zero. $55 million tax refund.
12). Deere & Company CEO Samuel Allen
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2009? Zero. $1 million tax refund.
13). Marsh & McLennan Companies CEO Brian Duperreault
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2010? Zero. $90 million refund.
14). Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs
Amount of federal income taxes Qualcomm would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $4.7 billion.
15). Tenneco CEO Gregg Sherill
Amount of federal income taxes Tenneco would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $269 million.
16). Express Scripts CEO George Paz
Amount of federal income taxes Express Scripts would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $20 million.
17). Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman
Amount of federal income taxes Caesars Entertainment would have owed if offshore tax havens were eliminated? $9 million.
18). R.R. Donnelly & Sons CEO Thomas Quinlan III
Amount of federal income taxes paid in 2008? Zero. $49 million tax refund.
Eighteen of the 80 CEOs who signed the call for deficit action are actually some of the biggest outsourcers and tax cheats in America. First, they crashed the economy in 2008. They followed that up by taking billions in taxpayer bailout dollars. Their next step was to outsource jobs and evade taxes. Now they are calling for action on a deficit that they helped create over the past four years.
Bernie Sanders is exposing the hypocrisy of these CEOs, and every American should understand that if Mitt Romney is elected president, these pigs see potential for unlimited feeding from the taxpayer trough. Only by standing together can we tell these CEOs that the bill has come due, and it is time for them to pay.
We can tell these gluttons of our dollars that the all you can eat taxpayer buffet is now closed.
October 25, 2012Panetta Says Risk Impeded Deployment to Benghazi
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Thursday that he and top military commanders “felt very strongly” that deploying American forces to defend against the fatal attack last month on the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was too risky because they did not have a clear picture of what was happening on the ground.
“There’s a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking going on here,” Mr. Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that “the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on, without having some real-time information about what’s taking place.”
As a result, Mr. Panetta said, he and two top commanders “felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation.” The commanders are Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Carter F. Ham of Africa Command, which oversees American military operations in Africa, including Libya.
Mr. Panetta was at the White House for a regular meeting on the afternoon of Sept. 11 as the first reports of the attack unfolded, an American official said. By that evening Mr. Panetta had consulted with General Dempsey and General Ham and had ordered a number of American military forces in the region to move closer to Libya.
Defense officials say they did not receive a request for military support from the State Department as the attack unfolded.
In response to Mr. Panetta’s decision, a small Special Operations “strike force” team moved from Central Europe to the Sigonella Air Base in Sicily while two Navy destroyers already in the Mediterranean were moved off the Libyan coast. A rapid-reaction team of elite Marines left Rota, Spain, and arrived to protect the American Embassy in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, the next day.
But a senior military official said that uncertainty about what was happening on the ground in Libya delayed the decision about where to send the Special Operations forces until about 9 p.m. in Washington, or 3 a.m. on Sept. 12, in Libya.
Ultimately, the decision relayed from the military’s Joint Staff in Washington was “to get close but not into Libya,” the official said. The task force then deployed over the next 24 hours to Sigonella, which is about an hour by plane from Benghazi. But by that time the shooting was over and the Americans were eventually evacuated.
As Mr. Panetta told reporters on Thursday, “This happened within a few hours, and it was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.”
Republicans, in the meantime, continue to question the Obama administration about its handling of an event that has become a source of sharp debate in the presidential campaign.
On Thursday, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio released a letter asking the president to answer a number of questions about Libya publicly, including what military options he had been offered or had considered during the attack and its immediate aftermath.
Mr. Boehner also said in his letter that “information now in the public domain contradicts how you and senior administration officials consistently described the cause and nature of the terrorist attack in the day and weeks immediately following.”
Why, Mr. Boehner asked, “did the administration fail to account for facts that were known at the time?”
Mr. Boehner sent his letter after a series of three leaked e-mails sent by State Department officials shortly after the attack began — including one that alerted the White House Situation Room that a militant group had claimed responsibility for it — stirred new debate on Wednesday about the Obama administration’s shifting accounts.
The first e-mail, sent about a half-hour after the assault began, said the State Department’s regional security officer in Tripoli had reported that the mission in Benghazi was under attack, and that “20 armed people fired shots.” A second said the firing at the mission had stopped. In the third, the embassy in Tripoli reported that a local militant group, Ansar al-Shariah, had claimed responsibility through postings on Facebook and Twitter.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.
October 25, 2012Michigan Vote a Test Case on Enshrining the Rights of Unions
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
DETROIT — Tired of battling legislative efforts to roll back union rights in state after state, organized labor is trying a new strategy: going on the offense. The first target is Michigan, the cradle of the United Automobile Workers and a bastion of union power.
Michigan’s unions are asking voters to approve a referendum on the ballot this November, known as Proposal 2, that would lock a series of labor protections into the state Constitution, including the right of public sector unions to bargain collectively and a prohibition against the legislature’s enacting a “right to work” law.
The ballot campaign represents an attempt by unions and their Democratic allies to slow or stop the wave of Republican-backed measures adopted in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and other states in the last two years to curb collective bargaining and weaken unions, especially those representing government workers.
“Besides the presidential race, Proposal 2 is probably going to be the most significant thing on the ballot nationally,” said F. Vincent Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center, a conservative research center based in Midland, Mich. “Michigan is surrounded by Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio — states that have taken wildly different views of private and public sector unions. The nation is on a teeter right now on union matters, and Michigan will give momentum to one side or the other depending on how this plays out.”
Business groups and Michigan’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, say that if the referendum to enshrine labor rights in the Constitution is approved, it will cast a major cloud over the state’s business climate — broadcasting to the world that organized labor, whenever it deems fit, can use its muscle to go to the voters to trump the legislature and governor.
“Michigan’s union bosses are field-testing a new weapon,” said Rich Studley, president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “If this weapon is successful in banning legislation, we’ll see it deployed in the 21 other states that allow initiatives and referendums.”
Further flexing their muscles, unions are sponsoring two other proposals on the Michigan ballot. One would repeal a law that allows emergency managers appointed to oversee financially distressed communities to void union contracts. Another would amend the Constitution to guarantee home health aides the right to unionize.
Both sides are flooding the airwaves with ads about Proposal 2, with each side accusing the other of using misleading scare tactics.
In one union-backed commercial, for example, a firefighter is wearing an elaborate fireproof apparatus over his head. “This air pack I’m wearing gives me 30 minutes to look inside your burning house and find you,” he says. “Having the most modern dependable equipment when the clock is ticking, that counts. If it comes from collective bargaining, the politicians can’t cut it without our say-so.”
Opponents are broadcasting an ad that begins with a child leaving for school. “When we send them off in the morning, we should be certain they’re safe in school,” the voice-over says. “If Proposal 2 passes, it would eliminate safety rules for school bus drivers. Worse, Proposal 2 could prohibit schools from removing employees with criminal records. That’s dangerous for kids and terrifying for parents.”
Although most of the campaign’s financial disclosures are not due until after the election, political experts estimate that more than $30 million will be spent in the fight, with national business and labor groups contributing substantial financing.
At the moment, the proposal’s chances of passing are difficult to predict. Proponents had a significant lead at first, but that has eroded as business-backed groups have escalated their attacks. A Detroit News poll released Oct. 12 found that 43.2 percent of the 600 people surveyed supported the proposal, and 41.8 percent opposed it. The difference was within the poll’s margin of error.
Union leaders say Proposal 2 has a simple aim: to protect collective bargaining against further assault.
“Collective bargaining is a fundamental right; collective bargaining lifts all boats,” said David Hecker, president of the Michigan branch of the American Federation of Teachers. “There’s no question that in Michigan, every worker, union or not, is better off today because of what the U.A.W. has achieved historically. People can afford to send their kids to college. They have a cottage up north.”
Governor Snyder is fighting hard to defeat Proposal 2 and preserve the emergency manager law, which was updated during his tenure.
He said the emergency manager law is vital to help communities that have lost population bring their cost structures into line, avert bankruptcy and return quickly to local control.
But many union officials oppose the law because it empowers emergency managers to scrap union contracts. “We see it as a power grab against democratically run communities,” said Albert Garrett, the top Michigan official of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
As for Proposal 2, Mr. Snyder said he urged labor leaders not to place it on the ballot for the same reason he successfully urged Republican legislators not to introduce right-to-work legislation — the issues are highly divisive.
“They call it the collective bargaining proposal, but I call it the back-in-time proposal,” Mr. Snyder said in an interview. “This would literally wipe out up to 170 laws that are on the books, some dating from the 1960s. The cost of litigation that would come out of this is huge.”
He said he feared that Proposal 2 would trump two laws he deemed particularly important, one making it easier to fire ineffective teachers and another requiring all government employees to pay at least 20 percent of the cost of their health care plans. Under Proposal 2, those provisions would be superseded in communities or school districts that agree to union contracts that contain conflicting provisions.
“It would significantly raise the cost structure of local government,” Mr. Snyder said.
Labor leaders say public sector unions have bargained innovatively to hold down health costs, asserting that the current restrictions might inhibit future innovation. They further argue that if a democratically elected school board agrees to let union members pay 17 percent rather than 20 percent of their health care coverage, state lawmakers should not get in the way.
Governor Snyder’s allies complain that Proposal 2 would undercut his efforts, which include cutting corporate taxes, to make Michigan friendlier to business.
“Proposal 2 is a very scary thing to me,” said Ralph Beebe, president of Highland Engineering, a military equipment manufacturer. “Michigan is going in the right direction, and I think it would be a huge step backward.”
Chamber of Commerce officials warn that if the proposal passes, businesses in southwest Michigan that are weighing expansion might decide to expand just across the border in Indiana, which passed a right-to-work law early this year.
Right-to-work laws prohibit union contracts at private sector workplaces from requiring employees to pay any dues or other fees to the union, a move that often saps unions’ strength and treasuries. In states without such laws, workers at unionized workplaces generally have to pay such dues or fees.
John Armelagos, a nurse in Ann Arbor, acknowledged that Michigan’s Republican-dominated legislature had not enacted a broad law curbing many unions’ ability to bargain. That contrasts with Wisconsin and Ohio, where the legislatures enacted wide-ranging antibargaining laws, although Ohio voters repealed that law in a union-backed referendum last November.
“In Michigan, we’re dying a death by a thousand cuts,” Mr. Armelagos said, pointing to laws that limit bargaining on such issues as how to evaluate teachers or staff levels for fire trucks in some communities. “Conservative politicians are passing law after law that restricts our collective bargaining rights.”
To rally public support, proponents have sought to turn Proposal 2 into a referendum on whether collective bargaining is good or bad for America.
Ivy Bailey, an elementary-school teacher in Detroit, said collective bargaining helped lift her father, a longtime assembly plant worker at General Motors, into the middle class and send two daughters to college.
“People fought for the right for us to bargain,” she said. “If we could trust the boss to do the right thing, we wouldn’t need collective bargaining.”
October 25, 2012Business Leaders Urge Deficit Deal Even With More Taxes
By JACKIE CALMES
The partisan rift over taxes has blocked a deficit reduction deal for two years and has spilled into the 2012 campaigns. Yet as Republicans and Democrats continue to brawl, business leaders are increasing pressure on Washington to reach a deal on taxes and spending, even if it raises their own tax bills.
On Thursday morning, more than 80 executives of leading American corporations signed a statement calling for a deficit reduction compromise that would “include comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.”
Several members of the group, which includes highly paid chief executives of financial and industrial corporations who will stand to pay more if President Obama succeeds in his effort to raise taxes on the wealthy, then helped ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange to draw attention to their coalition, Fix the Debt. The group has raised $37 million for a nationwide education and lobbying effort.
Alarmed last year by Washington’s brinkmanship over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, these executives are now mobilizing to avert another such crisis at the turn of the year. After the November elections, they plan to press the two parties to compromise on a long-term substitute for the “fiscal cliff” — the immediate across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases that would affect nearly all Americans on Jan. 1, potentially sending the economy back into recession.
The business leaders’ goal contrasts with the campaign messages of both parties. While the executives seem to answer Mr. Obama’s call for “economic patriotism” by their tentative embrace of higher personal taxes, in interviews many of them have rejected his “pay your fair share” talk as class warfare, and a good number oppose his re-election.
But the business leaders’ position also contradicts the stand of Mitt Romney and other Republicans, who say that all tax increases are “job killers,” that the federal budget can be balanced with spending cuts alone and that any overhaul of the tax code should be “revenue neutral,” neither raising nor lowering the government’s total tax collection.
“To say that you can solve this without increases in taxes is ludicrous,” said David M. Cote, the chief executive of Honeywell, a Republican and a member of Mr. Obama’s Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission in 2010. “Most wealthy people get it. They just don’t want to be put in the position, though, where you pay more in the taxes and the profligate spending continues.”
The Wall Street event on Thursday was just the latest, if the highest profile, of near daily developments in recent weeks in which prominent figures have stepped out of corporate suites to back a deal that would generate more revenue and, by implication, raise taxes on themselves. They support those moves if they are part of a bipartisan compromise that also reduces the long-term costs of entitlement programs, chiefly Medicare and Medicaid, that are the biggest factors driving projections of unsustainable federal debt.
Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, who is a Democrat, said, “The people, including myself, who are willing to give more revenue don’t want to take on the moral hazard” of sending more money to Washington unless the White House and Congress “deal with the pressing need to cut the budget.”
On Monday, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase hosted a Wall Street lunch for about 75 other chief executives to hear from budget experts, including Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, a Democrat, and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a Republican, about what the business leaders could do to promote a bipartisan deal. How, for example, could they persuade Republicans to drop their antitax position?
Business leaders “think it’s just really important that we fix this,” said Mr. Dimon, an early backer of Mr. Obama whose relationship with him later frayed. “They’re not into whether the tax rate for higher-paid individuals is 35 percent or 39.6 percent.” He was referring first to the top Bush-era tax rate, which high-income taxpayers now pay, and then to the Clinton-era rate, which they face after Dec. 31 if the Bush tax cuts expire as scheduled. Mr. Obama supports ending the cuts for high incomes, and Republicans oppose it.
On Tuesday, attendees at the national conference of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association met in New York with Mr. Warner and Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia. The two belong to the Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” which has struggled for nearly two years to draft a spending and taxes deal.
“I’m talking to everybody in this room,” Mr. Chambliss told his audience. “If you like the package that we ultimately come up with, then we haven’t done our job — because everybody is going to have to ultimately pay a price in this.”
Like others who have privately lobbied lawmakers, Mr. Blankfein and Mr. Cote reject suggestions that the philosophical chasm between the parties is unbridgeable.
“There are very conservative Republicans in the House who sit there and say, ‘I would agree to a revenue increase if there was significant entitlement reform,’ ” Mr. Cote said. “And then you’ll run into Democrats who say there won’t be any entitlement reform unless there’s revenue increases. For most of us in the business community, we say: ‘It sounds to us like you’ve got a deal. You just need to sit down and flesh out the details.’ ”
That, as members of the Simpson-Bowles commission can attest, is easier said than done.
The panel’s dissenters, who opposed the majority’s recommendations of a $4 trillion, 10-year package to reduce annual deficits with a combination of spending cuts and new revenue, included all three House Republicans. Among them was Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House Budget Committee chairman, who is now Mr. Romney’s vice-presidential running mate.
The Fix the Debt campaign’s inspiration is the dormant Simpson-Bowles framework, and the group’s formation is due in large measure to nonstop proselytizing of business leaders by the commission’s chairmen, Erskine B. Bowles, a businessman who was a White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and Alan K. Simpson, a former Senate Republican leader from Wyoming.
According to the group’s president, Maya MacGuineas, the money raised is financing a growing staff of about 35 at a Washington “war room,” chapters in up to 35 states and ultimately, perhaps, television ads and other help for politicians — members of Congress or even the president — who would need support in taking unpopular positions on tax increases or spending cuts.
Mr. Dimon, speaking for JPMorgan Chase, said: “You know, we’re in 1,900 hamlets in America. I’d — we’d — be calling them all up, literally we’d start flying people in. It would be a whole different ballgame, I think, if we had something to support, and with the president supporting it.”
October 25, 2012Obama Campaign Endgame: Grunt Work and Cold Math
By JIM RUTENBERG
CHICAGO — This is what “grinding it out” looks like at President Obama’s election headquarters: scores of young staff members intently clicking away at computer keyboards as they crunch gigabytes of data about which way undecided voters are leaning, where they can be reached, and when; strategists standing at whiteboards busily writing and erasing early voting numbers and turnout possibilities; a lonely Ping-Pong table.
The wave of passion and excitement that coursed through Mr. Obama’s headquarters here in 2008 has been replaced with a methodical and workmanlike approach to manufacturing the winning coalition that came together more organically and enthusiastically for him the last time, a more arduous task with no guarantee of success.
As Washington and the cable news commentariat breathlessly discuss whether Mitt Romney’s post-debate movement in the polls has peaked, Mr. Obama’s campaign technicians — and that’s what many of them are — are putting as much faith in the multimillion-dollar machine they built for just such a close race as in the president himself.
“We are exactly where I thought we would be, in a very close election with 12 days left with two things to do and two things only: persuade the undecided and turn our voters out,” said Jim Messina, 43, the president’s technocratic campaign manager, slightly paler and more hunched than he was when the campaign began. Pointing to the rows of personnel outside his office on Thursday, he added, “Everything in that room has been focused on that.”
Four years ago, Mr. Obama’s political team here was preparing one of its trademark showstoppers: a half-hour prime-time program extolling Mr. Obama’s character and plans across four networks, culminating in a live feed from a boisterous rally in Florida.
There will be no such razzmatazz this time around. Any extra money in this tight final phase of the election is being wired to Nevada and Florida for more Spanish-language ads, to Iowa and Ohio for more on-the-ground staff members, and to Google and Facebook for more microtargeted messaging to complacent, maybe even demoralized, young supporters.
Mr. Obama emphasized the importance of their task during a stop at a phone bank here in Chicago on Thursday, telling volunteers, “If we let up and our voters don’t turn out, we could lose this election.” He added quickly, “The good news is, if our voters do turn out, we will definitely win the election.”
At the White House, it is clear that the action has moved to Chicago, with some staff members, who are legally prohibited from even wearing campaign buttons to work, pining to be on the trail and others whiling away the time preparing for the lame-duck Congressional wrangling on the budget impasse.
For Mr. Obama’s campaign staff in a nondescript office tower here, the task now comes down to creating an electorate more favorable to Democrats than most major pollsters have assumed, with percentages of Obama-friendly black, Latino and young voters that rival those of 2008, at least enough to offset the large drop in support among other segments of the population, like independent men.
An ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll on Thursday had Mr. Romney with a 50-to-47-percent edge among likely voters nationwide, the first time the challenger had reached 50 percent in the poll. But Mr. Obama’s aides here are at least projecting an air of confidence. They say their system, which they began building long before the Republican primaries, is exceeding expectations. Eleven days will tell whether they are bluffing.
After using their huge database to increase registration among favorable voting groups in crucial states, they are now pinpointing people who ordered absentee ballots and need a nudge to send them, or sporadic voters who indicated they would vote for the president but may need to be pushed to show up at their polling place.
“We made a strategic choice very early on that getting our supporters — and the right types of supporters — to the polls before Election Day was a big priority for us,” said Mitch Stewart, the Obama campaign’s battleground state director, who has been helping organize Mr. Obama’s supporters since the 2008 election and started at the campaign some 19 months and, in his words, “20 pounds ago.”
With a box of Tastykakes sitting on his desk in his spartan office, Mr. Stewart added, “The electorate’s going to look much more like 2008 than 2010.”
Some polls in recent weeks have shown Mr. Obama with an advantage among all registered voters, and Mr. Romney with an advantage or tied among likely voters. Mr. Obama’s aides are contending that the pollsters are wrongly assuming that Mr. Obama’s voters are less enthusiastic and that turnout among his key groups will be down, that is, he has fewer likely voters than he had four years ago.
A new Time magazine poll this week showed Mr. Obama ahead by a two-to-one ratio among those who voted early in Ohio.
His aides pointed to statistics showing that a slightly higher percentage of African-Americans had voted early in North Carolina compared with the percentage at this point four years ago, and that their percentages are up along with those of Hispanics in the early mail-in vote in Florida, which they attributed to their turnout operations.
Officials with Mr. Romney’s campaign disagree, and they said that whatever gains Mr. Obama had would be unsustainable through Election Day, contending that he is succeeding only in getting those most likely to support him to show up early, an assessment that Mr. Obama’s aides dispute.
“Every cycle, when someone is losing, they claim they are altering the electorate,” said Rich Beeson, Mr. Romney’s political director.
Of course, at this stage of the race, each campaign is engaged in a bit of bravado, aimed at giving supporters and undecided voters alike a sense that it is the winning team to be on.
There is little dispute that for Mr. Obama to at least come close enough to matching his 2008 coalition to win he will need to induce people to vote in a way he did not have to four years ago, before the full impact of the Great Recession was followed by intensive partisan wrangling.
Mr. Obama’s aides here said they had prepared for the need to rebuild his coalition all along, and that is why they have kept careful tabs on his former supporters, and worked to identify potential new ones, since he took office, all the while perfecting ways to keep track of them, keep in touch with them, and, ultimately, persuade them to vote.
The campaign is refocusing its advertising to scare less motivated supporters to vote. One new ad presents a reminder of Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in the Florida recount of 2000, which, the ad says, made “the difference between what was, and what could have been.”
But ultimately, if Mr. Obama does win, it could come down to the huge room of technicians and data crunchers in a corporate office here, sitting on exercise balls or squeezing stress toys as they dispatch information to volunteers knocking on doors hundreds of miles away.
In interviews, Mr. Obama’s aides wistfully recalled when the office had just opened, a vast, mostly empty space with a countdown of the days scrawled in Magic Marker — then well into the hundreds. Now it is done with a digital clock, ticking off the very last minutes and seconds.
Peter Baker contributed reporting from Chicago, and Mark Landler and Jackie Calmes from Washington.