Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Mitt’s “Macaca Moment”

Wow. Just wow.

By now, half of America has seen and heard the surreptitious recording of Romney telling a group of well-heeled donors that 47% of Americans would vote for Obama no matter what because they were non-taxpaying moochers who depend on government for handouts.

A few thoughts–none, I’m sure, original.

First of all, in an age of pervasive digital technology, why on earth would anyone be stupid enough to say something like that? No matter how congenial the group, no matter how hand-picked, in today’s world the odds of your “confidential” statements staying confidential are exceptionally low. The days when political candidates could say one thing to one group and something very different to another are long, long gone–and failure to realize that is probably as great a sign of being “disconnected from reality” as the actual sentiments being expressed. Ask George Allen (he of the “macaca moment.”)

Second, how immensely ironic that a man who pays far, far less than his fair share of taxes would characterize people who don’t pay taxes as moochers. Forget how inaccurate and unfair his statement was–forget the fact that even people who don’t make enough money to pay income taxes nevertheless pay all manner of other taxes, from payroll taxes to sales taxes to gas and property taxes. Forget the fact that most of us in middle America not only pay income taxes, but do so at a far higher effective rate than Romney. Here is a man running on a platform that would decrease his own tax liability and the tax rate of people like himself; a man who has used offshore accounts and other tax avoidance strategies, and who has defended that behavior by saying he’d be stupid to pay more than he owed, denigrating  Americans who don’t pay because they don’t owe. (And where are your tax returns, Mitt? How do we know you paid anything in those years you refuse to release?)

Finally, this dismissive and self-satisfied man seems utterly oblivious to the extent to which he and his wealthy donors are themselves “moochers.” Recent articles have detailed the extent to which Romney and Bain used debt and public subsidies of one sort or another. It is particularly distasteful to watch crony capitalists who have benefitted from multiple public and private privileges crow about how they are “self-made” men. Can we spell “un-self-aware”?

Before the GOP convention, we were told the American public needed to be introduced to the “real Romney.”

I think we just were.

Michelle Bachmann in Pants

It’s two and a half months until the election.

Anyone who may have been harboring a forlorn hope that Mitt Romney might revert to the persona he wore as Governor of Massachusetts can “fuhgeddaboudit,” as they used to say on Seinfeld. He’s not using that famous Etch-A-Sketch to shake up his newfound Tea Party allegiance; to the contrary, with his choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, he has signaled his complete capitulation to and identification with the furthest reaches of the Right.

What does Romney’s doubling-down tell us about the choice facing the country—and especially the choice facing those of us who aren’t old white heterosexual males?

Let’s look beyond issues of character and personality. Let’s ignore suspicions that Romney has lacked the savvy to assemble a competent staff. Let’s choke down the bile that we taste when we look at his “team,” composed of George W. Bush’s worst leftovers. Let’s even ignore his proposal to end Medicare.

Let’s just look at the policies that Romney and Ryan (the “Rolls Royce” team) explicitly support.

Perhaps you’ve heard, as I have, that Ryan’s voting record is substantially identical to that of Michelle Bachmann. Allow me to share some of the details of that record.

  • Ryan opposed the DREAM Act–legislation that would have allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the US as young children to remain in the country, and provided them with a path to citizenship. Instead, despite his professed identity as a deficit hawk, he supported spending millions to build a border fence to keep “them” out. (Hint: the fence wasn’t between us and Canada.)
  • In addition to his desire to privatize Social Security and eliminate Medicare, he has proposed to give Medicaid back to the states. This would almost certainly mean an end to the payments that currently keep millions of seniors in nursing homes after they have gone through all their assets and savings.
  • The Ryan budget proposes to gut programs that support neighborhood health clinics, to eliminate most student loans, and to slash funds for elementary and secondary education.
  • Ryan wants to de-fund Planned Parenthood, criminalize abortion, and grant “personhood” to fertilized eggs (a measure that would outlaw most popular forms of birth control). In a particularly egregious vote, he supported a bill allowing hospitals to refuse to perform abortions even when those procedures were necessary to save the life of the mother.
  • Adding insult to injury, Ryan has voted against equal pay for women.
  • On GLBT rights, the story is the same. Ryan opposes same-sex marriage and voted twice for a constitutional amendment prohibiting it. He voted to keep same-sex couples from adopting children in Washington DC. He voted against repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And while the Log Cabin apologists will point out that he once voted for ENDA (the Employee NonDiscrimination Act), he later reneged on his promise to do so again, saying he saw no need for “special” legislation.
  • Mr. “Fiscal Conservative” would abolish taxes on Capital Gains—giving wealthy individuals a windfall—and would recoup the lost revenue by cutting programs that benefit the poor and middle class.
  • Ryan also agrees with Romney that we don’t need to fund Amtrak or PBS (bye-bye, Big Bird…), but we cannot take a penny from the Defense budget, or allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire.

That is what the Rolls Royce team has to offer. It is as mean-spirited and radical a set of proposals as we have seen in my lifetime—not to mention thoroughly unworkable and unrealistic. (When Paul Krugman and David Stockman agree that Ryan’s package of proposals are a “fantasy” and wouldn’t begin to balance the budget even if enacted, that’s a pretty good sign that it isn’t a serious effort.)

So we have a choice: “Mitt the Twit” running with Michelle Bachmann in pants, versus Obama and Biden.

I’m hiding under my bed until it’s all over.




A Choice, Not an Echo….or the Base that Roared

Bowing to the demands of the purist GOP base, Mitt Romney has chosen his running mate. Paul Ryan is the final signal of his capitulation to the True Believers.

I think it was during the Goldwater campaign that Phyllis Schlafly wrote a book titled “A Choice, Not an Echo.” The idea was that the two parties have too much in common, collaborate too frequently (shades of Richard Mourdock!), and that what Americans really want is a for-real choice between starkly different platforms and philosophies.

Well, the choice of Paul Ryan means we’ll have that choice this November!

Ryan is mostly known for his budget and tax plan–a plan Roll Call says would slash Mitt Romney’s effective tax rate from 13% to 1%. (And we thought “Romney Hood” was bad…)

The New Republic describes the effects of Ryan’s budget–millions of Americans losing health insurance (Ryan’s budget would end Medicare), senior citizens falling back into pre-social security poverty, a Government “so starved for resources that, by 2050, it wouldn’t have enough money for core functions like food inspections and highway maintenance.” The richest Americans would get a huge tax cut.

The Catholic Bishops and nuns haven’t been agreeing on very much lately, but they agree that the Ryan budget is “immoral and unChristian.”

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that 1.4 million jobs would be lost if Ryan’s budget were passed. The budget proposes to eliminate Pell Grants for over a million college students; it would continue subsidies for Big Oil, but cut funding for alternative and clean energy development. (In 2011, The Daily Beast reported that Ryan’s family leases land to oil companies, and benefits from those subsidies–I’m sure that’s just a coincidence…)

Paul Ryan has called Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme,” and supported privatizing it, but he would actually increase the already-bloated Defense budget. (When several Generals testified that the reductions in Obama’s Defense Budget would not jeopardize national defense, he called them liars. He later apologized.)

If you are thinking–okay, the guy is just one of those deficit hawks, well, you don’t know the whole Paul Ryan. He may reject his Catholic faith’s teachings on social justice, but he enthusiastically embraces its anti-choice positions.

Ryan sponsored a “Fetal Personhood” bill. That bill gave fetuses full personhood rights from conception and would not only outlaw all abortion, but most popular forms of birth control. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and supported  a bill which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to provide a woman with an emergency abortion even if it was necessary to save her life.

Ryan has pooh-poohed the science of climate change. He voted against the Lily Ledbetter Act to ensure equal pay for women.

There’s more, but this should give any voter a pretty good idea of the agenda we are being asked to endorse.

Paul Ryan is the Koch brothers’ wet dream. In a sane world, someone this radical would be unelectable.

Pray for sanity.





Return of the Welfare Queen

The Romney campaign has “gone there.”

A recent ad accuses the Obama Administration of “gutting the work requirement” that was part of welfare reform. The charge isn’t even remotely true–Politifact gave it a “Pants on Fire” rating, and reporters have noted the chutzpah of criticizing Obama for granting a request by Republican governors for more flexibility to try innovative job placement programs. Charles Blow of the New York Times noted that in 2005, Romney himself, and 8 other Republican governors, had signed a letter requesting even more flexibility than the administration has now granted.

So the ad is an outright lie, but that isn’t the point. The point is to play on white working-class resentment of the lazy, unproductive (black) moochers  who are living high at the expense of hardworking Americans. Those resentments, racial and economic, are closer to the surface in bad economic times, and let’s face it–the people who harbor them are much more likely to believe the charge that a black President  is enabling “those people.”

Resentments don’t respect facts, unfortunately. Most welfare recipients are white, and a majority are children. Another large subset are disabled. Of recipients who are working age, most work–and most of those work 40 hours a week. They simply work at jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

My biggest gripe with the folks who get bent out of shape about welfare, though, is different. It’s their definition and lack of consistency.

By far the largest recipients of welfare are corporations–the special interests whose lobbyists have successfully argued for favorable tax breaks and lucrative subsidies. Huge and highly profitable corporations like GE pay virtually no taxes. Obscenely profitable oil companies like Exxon continue to receive immense subsidies. (As E.J. Dionne wryly noted a few months back, evidently giving money to the rich gives them an incentive to produce, but giving money to the poor makes them dependent.)

We’ve only seen one year of tax returns from Mitt Romney, but in that one year, he took advantage of tax preferences–aka corporate welfare–that reduced his effective rate to 13%.

We have heard very little from Mitt Romney about his policy proposals. We are told we have no business seeing his tax returns. All we know is that he wants to be President so badly that he is willing to say or do anything–including flat-out lying and appeals to social and racial resentments.

References to Welfare Queens worked for Ronald Reagan, but Reagan had other things going for him. I do not think they will work for Mitt Romney.