• With: Jason Riley, James Freeman, Kim Strassel, Dan Henninger


    RILEY: He wants a new normal for government spending in the country.

    He wants, obviously, the complete enactment of Obama-care and that will require more government spending going forward at a higher level.

    GIGOT: His argument, James, is that -- he's been saying this in interviews, that if you go -- if you reelect me, the Republicans will be chastened and they'll no choice but to do a grand budget bargain on my terms, which means big tax increase, which means fiddling around the edges of entitlements and means major defense cuts. Is that what we're likely to see if he does win? Republicans are going --


    FREEMAN: Well, I think the bad news for voters, for American taxpayers, if he wins again, is that the pressure for a tax increase will become more intense because interest rates are likely to rise. The government is going to be even more -- be under great pressure to come in with more revenue to pay these bills. And so, I think what you're going to see is intense pressure for a tax increase, but it's sort of like the movie "The Producers." If he ever actually got his Buffet Rule, people would find out how little of government it would pay for.


    FREEMAN: And I think that's going to be a problem for him in the second term if he actually succeeds.

    GIGOT: What about the partisanship question, Kim. Remember, the president said he would be able to deal with Republicans in the second -- in the first term, he thought that could calm the nastiness in politics. That certainly hasn't happened. Do we have any reason to believe that his reelection would lead to less fierce, nasty, ugly partisanship?

    STRASSEL: No. I mean, here is the thing that nobody wants to confront. If Barack Obama's reelected, the chances are that Washington is going to be configured very much the way it is right now are very high. The Republicans are likely to keep the House. They might gain a seat or two in the Senate. They might even win the Senate. But whatever happens, they're going to call this a split decision by the voters and they're going to say, we have as much backing out there in the country to continue what we've been pushing as you. So this is a rescue for more Gridlock and some more brinkmanship when it comes to things like the fiscal cliff, tax hikes and sequester issues.

    GIGOT: What about education and immigration reform? The president -- those are things where the Republicans and Democrats do see some common ground. President, I was startled, didn't really stress immigration reform at all in his speech, talk a little about education. Any hope for movement on that ground, Jason?

    RILEY: I'm -- on immigration, yes, but of the type of immigration reform that I don't think Republicans want to see, which is more executive order decision, doing what he can from the White House, doing end runs around Congress.

    GIGOT: He's poisoned for the well politically for a grand deal by doing that. Republicans resent, saying you don't --


    GIGOT: -- Congress.

    RILEY: The biggest chance for some compromise might come from education, where he has pushed for charter schools, for instance. I think you can see him continue to do that. So I think that might be one area where you might see some progress.

    GIGOT: James?

    FREEMAN: I think if you were listening to Joe Biden, and if he was telling the truth, expect no compromise. He said Barack Obama does not back down. So I think we could expect more of the same, judging by what the vice president is telling.

    GIGOT: So he's going to push for an even larger tax increase, I assume, and more revenue. What does "Don't back down" mean?


    GIGOT: Is that -- is that what --

    RILEY: Well here's what it means. An advisor to the Obama campaign told a Journal reporter earlier this week, we tried bipartisanship in 2011, we won't make that mistake again.

    GIGOT: All right, fine.


    OK, when we come back -- good for journalism.


    Maybe not for the country, but good for journalism.


    GIGOT: With the conventions behind us, the real race begins. A look at where the two candidates stand heading into the fall stretch, next.


    GIGOT: With the conventions behind us, attention now turns to the race ahead. The latest Real Clear Politics poll average has the two presidential candidates in a dead heat. So will Democrats see a big bump coming out of Charlotte or is Mitt Romney in striking distance of President Obama as the final stretch begins?

    So, Kim, polls tied right now after the Republican convention. What about after the Democratic convention? Obama going to get a bump in the lead?

    STRASSEL: He's going to get a little bump. I think he will. This convention actually went off well and he's going to reach some of those people out there that hadn't been tuned in until now. He's get some of them.

    I think the bigger story is what you mentioned in the open, what you've seen over the last month this a steady erosion of his lead over Mitt Romney, pretty much ever since Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan and they had their own convention. We start this two-month election season in a dead heat and those parameters are probably going to stay pretty close to each other for the foreseeable future.

    GIGOT: James that really puts the premium on the debates, does it not?


    GIGOT: It's a cliche to say so. But when a challenger who is less well-known than the president is running, he's got to make that case, to look presidential in the debates, particularly on foreign policy issues, got to look in command.

    FREEMAN: Yes.

    GIGOT: And one thing Obama will do, he will project confidence and he'll play off his experience.

    FREEMAN: Yes. Obama seems to have the edge among a lot of voters on foreign policy. But I think it's actually on the economics where the task for Romney is most clear. He basically has to explain how his plan will grow the economy and jobs. And he has to puncture this Obama myth that his policies are somehow ones of the Bush administration.