Tag Archives: Romney

GOP: Getting Back to Base-ics?

Now, would someone in the corporate media care to discuss “Republicans in Disarray?”  Heaven knows it’s been a hallmark of coverage about issues within the Democratic Party.  As a former adherent of the GOP, and now as a complete outsider, I’ve had some rambling notions about what’s been happening since the 1980’s.  Here they are.

Ancestor Worship

The election of President Ronald Reagan was a significant one for the Republicans, and the popularization of the Southern Strategy by GOP activist Kevin Phillips continued into the decade.  The Republicans offered a home for the Dixiecrats, the gun lobby, and the “God, Guns, and Gays” wedge issue proponents who found succor within Republican realms.  His was the “Southern Strategy Fulfilled.”  All of this made it far easier for the beknighted President to advance an agenda that was blatantly anti-union, persistently pro-banking, and generally pro-corporate.   He was, however, not the consistent opponent of the New Deal some conservative would like to remember.

“Reagan increased payroll taxes in 1983. History records that, alarmed by spiraling deficits, he signed tax increases during six of his eight years in office. Even so, his administration tripled the national debt, to almost $3 trillion.” [Salon]

He pulled U.S. forces out of Lebanon after the Beirut Barracks bombing. He gave amnesty to undocumented immigrants.  He did not privatize Social Security, instead he raised the payroll taxes.   What he did do was to popularize some right wing ideas which advanced the corporate agenda (to break the social compact between citizens and their government) such as the “welfare queen.”  Reagan’s world was “Leave it to Beaver” without the unionized employees who made the show possible.  It was “Ozzie and Harriet” without any African American neighbors.  It was “See The USA In Your Chevrolet” without acknowledging the Eisenhower Administration’s grand public works project — the Interstate Highway system.  Reagan, instead, paved the route for the Bush and Rove show.

The Bush-Rove Bargain

The Show was abetted by the advance of right wing talk radio in the AM revival after the fairness doctrine was eliminated during the Reagan Administration in 1987.   The Reaganesque mythology of welfare queens was translated to the John Birch Society – Randian free market mythology, and further transmogrified into Compassionate Conservatism, proving  once and for all times that a snappy slogan exempts the speaker from having to provide any specific, cogent, or rational policy proposals on any given subject.  The spins, the twists, and the dog whistling created an environment in which the Oil Barons, the Bankers, and the CEO’s were the Blesséd Among Us, while the rest of the nation’s population would have to demonstrate their worthiness to receive the charity of the country.  If this is sounding a bit familiar, it should.

The Truth Tellers

One of the well documented features of the Romney-Ryan election efforts was the casual association their campaign had with the truth.  Nor did their campaign suffer from a surfeit of consistency.   Indeed, one of the highlights came when this quotation was captured: “I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was,” Romney responded.” [RS]  How on Earth could a candidate get away with this?  Even worse, there was this comment from the Romney camp: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said at a panel organized by ABC News.” [HP]  The answer may well be that Governor Romney assumed that the Mythology of Reagan, the focus group centered conservatism of Bush, the fulfillment of the Southern Strategy, and the cynicism toward information from the media created by the GOP-Fox-Right Wing radio Echo Chamber, would all culminate in a successful election effort.

What Went Wrong?

Policy Matters.  Those corporate friendly policies of the Bush Administration which tended toward de-regulation, capital flight, and “creative” products to enhance investment revenues collapsed in a staggering heap circa 2007 and 2008.  We went from “Greed Is Good,” back to “Greed Is One Of The Seven Deadly Sins.”

Item – The vaunted and well publicized Supply Side Theory of economics proved illusory, in all probability because it was a hoax in the first place.  It may take the American public some time to understand the facts, but as of 2008 they were inescapable — low taxation did not, and never had, create economic growth in the real economy. No amount of spinning, theorizing, generalizing, or rationalizing can make this ideological theory whole again. Yet the Romney campaign persisted, enabled by the plutocrats on the Rove donor lists, the Club for Growth, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the bankers.

Item – The Republicans themselves, at least in the form of former House Speaker New Gingrich, recognized that they had a Financialist candidate in a race wherein the electorate was still reeling from the effects of financialist excesses.   American voters rejected the Supply Siders, in favor of a candidate whose economic policies emphasize growth not European style austerity, which seems to have done precious little for the Eurozone economic growth rate.

Item – the conservative complaints about immigrants being a curse upon the civil state were strident enough to cause Hispanic voters to express their opinions in the polling that mattered.  Opposition to the DREAM Act, calls for self-deportation, “papers please” legislation,” and charges that the Hispanic community was basically “unAmerican,” didn’t help expand the numbers for the Republican Party.

Item – That “rape thing” in combination with wholesale assaults on the Affordable Care Act, attached to radio ranting about “sluts” who take birth control pills, and associated with the most extreme anti-abortion rhetoric wasn’t good for Republicans either.  Only 15% to 20% of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in all instances. [PR]  Proposing to adopt policies supported by 20% of the population doesn’t seem to be a constructive way to attract votes from the 46.2% of American women who are registered to vote. [Census]

Leadership 

Leadership matters.   Those not self identified members of the Republican Party have marveled at the importance attached to the opinions of the right wing radio ranters in GOP politics.  There have been several instances in which members of Congress, for example, sought to distance themselves from or disagree with radio commentator Rush Limbaugh — only to walk back their criticism almost immediately. Unfortunately for Republican politicians, Mr. Limbaugh’s misogynistic, racist, and otherwise radical offerings are associated with the fringe right not the moderate middle.

It is handy to have one’s own television network, but Fox News however helpful it seeks to be has done a poor job of informing its viewers.  Studies from the University of Maryland and Fairleigh Dickinson University both demonstrated that Fox viewers were the least well informed, and were often willing to accept obviously inaccurate information.  [HP] Fox’s response was to attack the Universities, not to deny the results of the studies.  The Republicans could be certain to count as theirs the votes among the Fox viewers, but while Fox draws about 604,000 per day [TV] it should be recalled that there are 112,806,642 people in the country between the ages of 18-44, another 81,489,445 aged 45-64, and some 40,267,984 over 65.   In slightly more stark terms, Fox is reaching 604,000 daily viewers out of 234,564,071 of those eligible to vote.

Item – An echo chamber can also be a trap.   From the outside it appears the Republicans can’t decide if they are a Party with its own radio and TV broadcasters, or if they are the operatives responsible for promoting the policies sought by  one television network, and a handful of broadcasters on AM radio.   The Party appears to be functioning without a national spokesperson — is the anointed one Rush Limbaugh? Senator John McCain? Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly?  Governor Mitt Romney? Senator Mitch McConnell?  What are we to think of a party that for two election cycles didn’t (or couldn’t) use the services of its most recent incumbent?

Having an incumbent in the White House is always an advantage, but President Obama is the acknowledged leader of the Democratic Party, and has secured the support of former President Bill Clinton, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator John Kerry, and the imprimatur of the Kennedy family.  GOP spokesperson may rail about the “Chicago” clique responsible for the Obama Campaign, but there’s no mistaking the fact that unlike the GOP there is a clear coterie of national Democratic leadership aligned with an incumbent president.

In Fine

Ancestor worship, focus group politics, and the narrowing perspective along polarized lines promoted by a self referencing media does not constitute a recipe  for long term success.  Self definition works better.  If the GOP is truly the Small Government Party, then the privacy invasive anti-abortion portion of the base will be disappointed.  If the GOP is the Party of Big Business, then eventually small business owners will come to define themselves separately from the mega-corporations and the bankers.  If the GOP is the Party of Social Conservatives then does it permanently constrain its membership to the 20% to 30% of voters for whom issues like abortion are primary considerations?

Perhaps the Party might want to look at Democratic efforts to realign itself after 1988?  There’s a template there should the GOP choose to follow it, but WARNING — it requires moderation.

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Filed under 2012 election, conservatism, Politics, Republicans

Distorted Vision: Romney’s Numbers Still Don’t Add Up

Those who believe former Governor Romney is presenting a “vision” for America, especially for the American economy, should move away from the fun house mirror.  The numbers still don’t add up.

I could have sworn that Governor Romney proposed a smaller number for the total deductions cap at one point, [TP]  but I might be suffering from Romnesia. (video)  However, as of the last debate the former Governor would like for us to believe that his tax plan — which will “generate jobs” — will replace revenue lost from giving billionaires and millionaires a hefty tax break with a deductions cap of $25,000.  Nope.

“Capping deductions would generate less additional revenue, and the higher the cap, the smaller the gain. Limiting deductions to $17,000 would increase revenues by nearly $1.7 trillion over ten years. A $25,000 cap would yield roughly $1.3 trillion and a $50,000 cap would raise only about $760 billion.” [taxvox]

Remember that Governor Romney’s calculations call for a reduction in government revenues, ” TPC estimates that on a static basis, the Romney plan would lower federal tax liability by about $900 billion in calendar year 2015 compared with current law, roughly a 24 percent cut in total projected revenue. Relative to a current policy baseline, the reduction in liability would be about $480 billion in calendar year 2015.”

As the chart above indicates there is no way Governor Romney can keep this promise:

“Romney has vowed to make up for all revenue the government would lose due to his proposed tax cut by eliminating tax breaks, particularly for the rich, and by a spurt of economic activity he anticipates would generate more money for the Treasury.” [Bloomberg]

What about those six studies which supposedly ‘prove’ this magic act will work?  In the last week several factcheckers have been busily debunking this contention.  See Politifact, Bloomberg, and New York Times.

The only way to make the numbers fit is to assume some fanciful increase in job creation and economic growth generated by tax cuts.   And, in order to assume that tax cuts lead to economic expansion and therefore job growth is to buy in lock, stock, barrel, nuts, bolts, nails, tacks, and staples into the Supply Side Mythology Voodoo Economics Trickle Down Hoax.

Governor Romney is asking Americans to purchase his Supply Side Hoax, just as President George W. Bush promised that his Supply Side Tax Cuts would generate economic expansion —  What happened?

The tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy (President Bush famously called them his base), helped fuel the Wall Street Casino which in turn created the Housing Bubble and the consequent financial collapse.  And when the collapse hit during 2007-2008 we lacked the financial capacity — having already kept two wars off the books — to address the needs of Americans, their infrastructure, and their economy.

Tax cuts and deregulation were the ingredients offered by former President George W. Bush for economic expansion — they didn’t work.  Now, presidential candidate Romney is energetically advocating following the EXACT SAME RECIPE but this time assuming different results.

And, what do we call “doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”  [answer]

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Filed under 2012 election, Economy, tax revenue, Taxation

What Does Romney Have In His Own Safe?

 

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Filed under 2012 election, presidential race, Romney

What did Romney and Ryan Store in the Republican Safe?

 

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Follow The Money: How To Play The Traveling Money Game

I think I get it. How to play the Traveling Money Game — Romney Style.  Political Carnival provides the explanation, and because I tend to think in charts and graphs, this is my rendition of that explication.

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Filed under 2012 election, banking, Economy, financial regulation, Politics, Romney, Taxation

The Mythology of the Missing Apology and Diplomatic Matters

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, and even less reason to re-write the well written.  J. Patrick Coolican’s masterful takedown of the Obama Apology Mythology in the Las Vegas (NV) Sun is a must read.  Less informative, but more sophomorically  amusing is the third comment down the page from a Tea Party “thinker” who has nothing on offer but ad hominem attacks on the Obama Administration and the President personally.   There are several other articles worth citing which offer cogent explications of various parts of the foreign policy story.

Before anyone starts rambling about why the American embassies and consulates aren’t better protected,  some attention should be paid to the reasons for that, one of which is:

‘Secretaries of State have had to beg for crumbs from Congress, which sees diplomacy as an easy thing to cut back — who lobbies for more money for diplomats? Military contractors have all the money. In addition, no president is criticized for gutting State, while taking even a nail file to Defense’s obese budget elicits slurs from the opposing party.”  [Salon]

There’s some additional commentary on the subject of the Libyan Gaffe   worth reading at The Nation, regarding the political ramifications of Governor Romney’s ill-timed remarks, and a perceptive piece from George Zornick about the intertwined relationship between Governor Romney’s foreign policy pronouncements and the right wing blogs.   Frank Rich explains how Governor Romney got out ahead of the facts.

The wretched hack piece of a film which launched the protests in the Middle East and northern Africa is very difficult to explain to citizens of nations wherein the media is controlled by government agencies.  It is equally hard to explain why “free speech” which denigrates and demeans another religion isn’t officially banned here to citizens of nations in which church/mosque/etc. and state are not separated.  Jack Balkin offers a summary of the legal reasons the wretched hack piece of a film is protected constitutionally.

Secretary of State Clinton reiterated this point in her remarks to U.S. – Morocco Strategic Dialogue:

“I also want to take a moment to address the video circulating on the internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries. Let me state very clearly – and I hope it is obvious – that the United States Government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. And as you know, we are home to people of all religions, many of whom came to this country seeking the right to exercise their own religion, including, of course, millions of Muslims. And we have the greatest respect for people of faith.”

If you agree that the attack on the consulate in Libya looked very different from the usual rock and bottle throwing flag burners in other hot spots, then the information in Hisham Matar’s contribution to the New Yorker will be instructive. Here’s a taste:

“It is thought to be the work of the same Salafi, ultra-religious groups who have perpetrated similar assaults in Benghazi. They are religious, authoritarian groups who justify their actions through very selective, corrupt, and ultimately self-serving interpretations of Islam. Under Qaddafi, they kept quiet. In the early days of the revolution some of them claimed that fighting Qaddafi was un-Islamic and conveniently issued a fatwa demanding full obedience to the ruler. This is Libya’s extreme right. And, while much is still uncertain, Tuesday’s attack appears to have been their attempt to escalate a strategy they have employed ever since the Libyan revolution overthrew Colonel Qaddafi’s dictatorship. They see in these days, in which the new Libya and its young institutions are still fragile, an opportunity to grab power. They want to exploit the impatient resentments of young people in particular in order to disrupt progress and the development of democratic institutions.”

Some attention should also be paid to the delicate work that is the essence of diplomacy.   The object of the game is to keep sovereign nations talking constructively with one another so as to promote their mutual interests, and — here’s the sticky part — address, so far as is practicable, their own agendas.

The Yosemite Sam version of diplomacy in which trade and security interests are promoted at gun point with all the sensitivity of a saltwater crocodile  isn’t often very helpful increasing bi-lateral trade and commerce. Characterizing diplomacy as “soft” (as opposed to rushing in guns blazing “hard”) is counterproductive to our own economic interests.  Likewise, when it does come to the classic definition of war — a failure of diplomacy — it’s always better to have friends, especially friends who are willing to foot part of the bills.   There’s one more step in this waltz.

President Obama was, for example, very cautious in his classification of Egypt — a nation not necessarily a friend, but not an enemy.  In a less complex world, or perhaps in one in which there are only two countries, the “friends and enemies” categorizations are possible.  Reality is another matter entirely.   There are friends, enemies, and nations which are both given a particular set of circumstances at a given point in time.  Think: Great Britain and the Falklands/Islas Malvinas (Argentina).    Think: China imports about $82 billion worth of U.S. goods annually.  Some further thought leads inevitably to the conclusion that some friendships are stronger than others, and some enemies can, at times, be very helpful. Think: Pakistan.

 

Therefore, diplomacy in the advancement of American interests requires patience, all too often not our best suit — we like our beer cold, our soup hot, and our aspirin to work within 15 minutes.  The patience involved is not only a matter of concern for Secretary Clinton engaging with the Moroccans at the moment, but also our patience with other countries, especially those which are experiencing internal instability.

Why, we wonder, can’t the citizens of Whateveria get their act together and form a government?  What’s so hard about having an election?  We’ve been having elections forever about everything; six year old first grade students hold up their hands to select either a Story Hour or Puzzle Time for Rainy Day Recess.  That’s the point.

We start practicing “elections,” and other rudimentary forms of democracy with children who are barely housebroken.  The losers in the Story Hour/Puzzle Time vote learn to “go along with the majority.”  Imagine the middle aged man voting in the first election of a lifetime in which the outcome was not already a forgone conclusion.  Imagine a nation in which people are trying to figure out what it means to form a “loyal opposition.”

We also tend to forget the patient long term efforts of diplomats and agencies which carefully tended organizations, in eastern Europe for example, which gradually consolidated sufficient political power to finally and  literally make The Wall fall down.

We imperil our own interests if we don’t recognize that most of the nations with whom we share this planet don’t fall neatly into Cold War Era categorizations of Friends or Enemies.  As tidy and convenient as those labels may be, the simplification is both seductive and counter-productive.  The paradigm is outdated. The classifications are too simplistic.  American interests are always better served when we put away our cartoon character persona’s, re-color our maps in something other than black and white, and approach discussions of foreign policy with the understanding that the ties binding us to each other on this planet are incredibly tangled.

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In The Reading Room

   Information concerning the relationship of Medicare to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is bountiful, albeit not always accurate or informative.   Perrspectives explains “The Return of Republican Medicare Frauds” with clarity and fact based analysis.   Perrs quotes Jackie Calmes’ article in the New York Times; and, those wanting to place the issue in a political framework will want to read Calmes’ summary of why the Medicare messaging from the Republicans has become such a muddle.

*****

Politicususa highlights a Republican provision concerning SNAP (food stamps) in the House version of the Farm Bill which is as draconian as it is nonsensical.   “The Republican plan eliminates “categorical eligibility” which means that a family living at or below the poverty line that owns a dependable car will be cut off of food assistance. According to Republicans, a dependable automobile will be figured in to the family’s income and when they are near the eligibility cut-off point, even a moderately-priced used car sends them over the limit.”   (emphasis added)   Think about this for a minute, or think back to the time in your early life when you need the car to get work and the work to keep paying for the car.

If a family doesn’t own a “dependable automobile” then they will be eligible for food stamps, thus in order to qualify for food assistance the family has to part with the means to get to work!  Precisely how this is supposed to incentivize people to find jobs escapes any logic, especially if they are required to give up the means to get TO a job in order to eat.  If one has an undefined “undependable automobile,” then must a person only be able to accept work from an employer who doesn’t care when or if he or she can show up?  Seen any of those recently?

*****

This pathological perseveration about someone receiving any form of public assistance, lest they become “dependent,” leads right wing members of Congress into such silly statements as Rep. Allen West’s comment that Social Security is a 21st century version of slavery. [Think Progress]   Rep. West seems to have missed the obvious point wherein individuals receive Social Security benefits — because they paid into the system during their working lives.

*****

Apparently pointing out that someone is very rich is now a “character assault?”   “In a statement, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said “The Obama campaign’s latest unfounded character assault on Mitt Romney is unseemly and disgusting.”  [WashMonthly]  ICYMI, Vanity Fair’sWhere The Money Lives” approaches being a primer on how the ultra-rich avail themselves of tax loopholes and other accounting treatments to avoid paying taxes.  Governor Romney is quite precise about it — stating he pays just what the law requires and not at dollar more.   And… about those arguments predicated on the assumption that Governor Romney can’t be blamed for any actions taken by Bain Capital since he left?

Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.”

Americablog observes that Governor Romney needs to answer some basic questions about his tax returns.

*****

The Chart of the Day:  What would a graph of the Real GDP look like using data from January 1, 2009 to Q3 2012?  This:

Probably not something the Republicans are going to post on their campaign web pages?

*****

More LIBOR.  Robert Reich calls it “a mammoth violation of public trust.” [BusInsider] The Guardian (UK) reports a Barclays whistleblower alleges Bob Diamond would have to have known about the rate rigging.   The BBC reports that the Serious Fraud Office has launched a criminal investigation. From the Telegraph, “Vince Cable: Banks are throttling UK recovery,” (Cable is the UK Business Secretary.) On Friday authorities said external audits were being conducted to see if Deutsche Bank was involved in the LIBOR rigging scandal, today it’s reported two bank employees have been suspended. [Reuters]

ZeroHedge has been following the story, and has several interesting analytical posts on the subject.  Pragmatic Capitalism yawns and tells us that the LIBOR scandal doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. The main bit of evidence is the fact that the LIBOR and Effective Federal Funds rates are closely aligned — which is good, BUT it’s the little spaces in which the Big money can be gleaned.   And lost.

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Filed under banking, Medicare, Politics, Republicans, Romney