If the polls are accurate, the presidential race nationally is essentially tied, but Barack Obama holds leads in almost all of the battleground states that will ultimately decide the race.
Among the factors in Obama's slight bump after his convention last month was the nearly universal acclimation given to former President Bill Clinton's prime-time speech in Charlotte.
As has been the case since his Clinton Global Initiative began back in 2005, the former POTUS usually appears on at least one Sunday morning talk show to highlight the event, as well as weigh in on the politics of the moment.
That took place on CBS' Face The Nation this Sunday.
Naturally Clinton was asked to weigh in on Mitt Romney's infamous Boca Raton speech, where he discussed the 47 percent of the country who don't pay income taxes as being dependent on government. Clinton rebutted that claim, but then host Bob Schieffer asked the larger question lying underneath: is government too big? Clinton you might remember, said back in 1996 that the "era of big government is over."
"I think that we have to wait until normal growth resumes to make that judgement. That is, there are only, of the 33 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, basically bigger, richer countries, we are 31st out of 33 in terms of percentage of income we take in for taxes, and we have been 25th out of 33 in a percentage of government spending we have. That's just because of the collapse. In other words, a heckuva lot of this money is unemployment and food stamps and Medicaid for people who have lost their private health insurance. In 2009, in the depth of the recession, insurance profits went up again, 5 million people lost their health insurance. Three and a half million went on Medicaid. So I think after normal growth resumes will have a better feeling. I think that the number of people dependent on government will go way, way down once we've got an economy that's functioning again."
On Friday afternoon Mitt Romney (finally) released his second set of tax returns, this time for 2011. It showed his tax rate was 14.1 percent on an income of $13,696,951. All of his income came from capital gains, which are taxes at 15 percent.
When asked by Schieffer if he had any thoughts about that, Clinton said it would be nice to see more returns.
"It'd be interesting to see how the ordinary income years were treated," Mr. Clinton said. "We're not going to be able to see that." He then pivoted Romney's relatively low rate of paying taxes to the bigger question about economic policy. "I don't think we can get out of this hole we're in if people at that income level only pay 13 or 14 percent," he added.
Regarding if he saw the intransigence between Congress and the president changing if Barack Obama is reelected, Clinton said there was only one year where little was done when he dealt with a Republican congress, that being in 1995 when Newt Gingrich had just led the Republicans to take over the House of Representatives by campaigning behind the "Contract with America."
"It was sort of a pre-Tea Party Tea Party Congress," he countered, talking about how even 1999 and 2000 were extraordinarily productive years - after Clinton had been impeached by the House.
Clinton predicted that the "calculus" and the fiscal ticking clock will compel the two sides to come together. "I think that as soon as this election is over the incentives for gridlock will go way down and the incentives for action will go way up."
And in response to that question that seems to obsess some, Clinton said he had no idea whether wife Hillary will for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.