Was I Dreaming? Did Mitt Romney Really Lose the Election?

Which of these guys really won the election?

Is Mitt Romney the President-elect or what? For the past several days, the media and the Republicans have acted as if they won.

In fact, President Obama won in the Electoral College by 126 votes and the popular vote by 3.3 million votes (so far). Democrats added 2  seats in the Senate and are likely to have a 55-45 majority if both independent Senators caucus with them. Democrats also increased their numbers in the House by 7. By any measure Democrats won a huge victory on November 6.

Is it just me, or are the corporate media and Republican leaders continuing to act under the assumption that Republicans will still be in full control of the nation’s destiny going forward and that Obama’s reelection means nothing?

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Bob Woodward produced a document that he described as follows:

MR. WOODWARD: Well, this is the confidential doc last offer the president, the White House made last year to Speaker Boehner to try to reach this four trillion dollar grand bargain. And it’s long and it’s tedious and it’s got budget jargon in it. But what it shows is a willingness to cut all kinds of things, like TRICARE, which is the sacred health insurance program for the military for military retirees; to cut Social Security; to cut Medicare, and there are– there are some lines in there about we want to get tax rates down, not only for individuals but for businesses. So Obama and the White House were willing to go quite far, in a sense this is the starting point

Dancin’ Dave Gregory says he’ll put it up on the MTP website so the “budget wonks” can see it. I can almost see his gleeful expression as he turns to newly elected Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro.

GREGORY: Right, we just got it here and we’ll– we’ll put it on the web [read it here]. But that’s the point. And congressman, I guess the– the question that Bob and I talked about is, there’s a lot of spending pain in there that Democrats are going to have to go back to their folks and say, hey, this is the pain you’re going to have to suffer. Are you prepared to do that?

REP. CASTRO: Oh, look, there’s no question. I mean, these are tough issues and that’s why there’s been a lot of hand-wringing and wrangling over them. But, yeah, I believe so. I believe you’ve got a Democratic Congress, especially in the House and in the Senate that are willing to make those tough choices, that know that in the long term that we’ve got to reform entitlements.

So these guys (including Democratic Rep Castro) are assuming that this same “grand bargain” will be the starting point for new negotiations? WTF?! From Lucas Kawa at Business Insider:

Yesterday on “Meet the Press,” Bob Woodward of the Washington Post displayed documents that outline a “Grand Bargain” the White House offered during debt ceiling negotiations in 2011.
The document in question appears to have been drafted by White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors, and includes the annotation ‘Post Gang of 6′ which suggests it was created as Supercommittee talks broke down.

Woodward describes the three-page document as “confidential” and points out Obama’s apparent willingness to take on sacred cows such as Medicare and Social Security. Specifically, the president was open to increasing the minimum age for Medicare recipients.

I assume Woodward would not have this “confidential document” and be handing it over to MTP if the White House didn’t want him to. The White House offer included cuts to veterans health benefits (Tricare), civilian and military retirement plans, social security, the Post Office, and Pell Grants. So it appears the White House is floating this idea to see what the public reaction will be.

This morning, I clicked around to a number of morning TV shows, and the meme I saw most often was that Obama and Congressional Democrats need to accept the reality that Obama’s supposed drop dead insistence on raising taxes on the top 2% is suddenly dead in the water and the only increased revenue will have to come from closing tax loopholes. There was much talk of enacting “Simpson-Bowles.”  I even saw Grover Norquist being asked whether he’d agree to raising some revenue in this way–but of course not by raising taxes on the wealthy!

The only tax loopholes that could be eliminated to raise significant revenue are the mortgage tax deduction and the charity deduction–and those would primarily affect middle class taxpayers.

Here’s Richard Escow at HuffPo, using a Veteran’s Day theme:

Every year our leaders honor our nation’s veterans with flags and parades. Are they also about to betray them this year with a backroom deal? Words won’t be enough this time. Our returning warriors need — and deserve — jobs, opportunity, and a thriving Social Security system that protects them and their families.

Bob Woodward obtained a copy of the deal the White House offered to Speaker of the House John Boehner last year. That proposal asked our nation’s vets to sacrifice for the luxuries of others once again It included cuts to TRICARE, the military health insurance program, which would have meant higher out-of-pocket medical costs for active and retired military personnel and their families.

The secret White House offer would have also cut Social Security payments for anyone receiving benefits today, along with everyone who’ll ever receive them in the future.

But Americans didn’t vote for a “grand bargain.” If Obama ran on anything, it was letting the Bush tax cuts expire on incomes over $250,000. He said it again and again on the campaign trail and he said it in a speech just a few days ago:

President Barack Obama on Friday signaled willingness to compromise with Republicans, declaring he was not “wedded to every detail” of his tax-and-spending approach to prevent deep and widespread pain in the new year. But he insisted his re-election gave him a mandate to raise taxes on wealthier Americans.

“The majority of Americans agree with my approach,” said Obama, brimming with apparent confidence in his first White House statement since securing a second term.

Finally, Josh Barro at Bloomberg writes that the Bush tax cuts for the rich aren’t going anywhere, “for now.”

Conservatives have taken a lot of well-deserved mockery about their overconfidence in last week’s election. But this week, I am seeing overconfidence from liberals that they are about to win the coming tax fight in Congress. They’re not.

On Dec. 31, all of the Bush tax cuts are set to expire, and, just like two years ago, Republicans want to extend them all while Democrats only want to extend about 80 percent of them, applying them to taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year….

If the fiscal cliff isn’t resolved before the end of the year, House Republicans will pass a tax cut in January — a tax cut that extends the Bush tax cuts in their entirety, including the part for people with high incomes. The Senate will pass one that excludes the high income tax cuts. Then both parties will say they have passed a tax cut bill and are just waiting for the other side to agree to it.

Democrats cannot force Republicans’ hand unless they are more willing than Republicans to let all the Bush tax cuts expire. And they won’t be. A full expiration might well cause a new recession, which would be even more politically damaging for the Barack Obama administration than for congressional Republicans. Congress is already about as unpopular as it can become, and Republicans know they are not going to get their legislative agenda enacted in the next two years anyway. But a new recession would greatly interfere with Obama’s second-term plans.

Obviously, I’m not Sky Dancing’s economist, so I’ll leave it to Dakinikat to tell me whether to freak out about this or not. But it isn’t sounding good to me so far.

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56 Comments on “Was I Dreaming? Did Mitt Romney Really Lose the Election?”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Corker:

    Republican Senator Bob Corker said increasing tax revenues from wealthier Americans would have to be part of the plan, but he stressed closing loopholes rather than raising top tax rates as many Democrats favor, provided spending is also tackled.

    “I am optimistic,” Corker told “Fox News Sunday.” “I think there is the basis for the deal. … There is a way of getting there on the revenue side. The real question is: can we come to terms on the entitlement side?”

    • bostonboomer says:

      Senator Charles Schumer, voiced skepticism that it would be possible to raise enough revenue to lower the deficit sufficiently without lifting the tax rate on the rich, but said he is open to hearing other ideas.

      “The only way mathematically that I’ve seen to do it, is go to that 39.6 percent rate. If someone can show another plan that doesn’t do that … we could look at it. But no one has shown one because I think it is mathematically impossible,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

      • dakinikat says:

        They’ve got two government studies showing that raising tax levels on the rich is just fine and dandy for the economy. The Dems need to shove it down the Republicans throat.

      • dakinikat says:

        They also need to send the copies of polls showing how many Americans supporting increasing taxes on the rich too.

  2. pdgrey says:

    I’m still here catching up, Wow, great links I didn’t get to comment on fro several posts, damn. I really had to work a lot but this morning trying to help my neighbor who had a hip replacement, I locked myself out of my house! 🙂 It could have made a cartoon, dog barking as I was breaking in and crawling in a bathroom window, cue, “she came in thru the bathroom window”. What a long ass day. Anyway, because I’m trying to find the “pony” here is Obama’s last laugh at the birthers.

  3. ecocatwoman says:

    I hear the dulcet tones of Frank Luntz in these messages. Control the dialog, re-frame the message. If Obama stands firm, what’s going to happen – he’ll get fired? He’s already said that the majority of Americans – the people he represents – support letting the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthiest. The Repugs are still using the same tactics – winning through intimidation.

    Eliminating mortgage interest deductions might hurt some of the almost uber-wealthy, those who bought McMansions on credit, but I’ll bet most wealthy pay cash for their castles. So, it’s what is left of the middle class who will be hit. Eliminate charitable deductions? That’s only going to hurt charities, which are already suffering with precipitous drops in contributions thanks to the almost depression. My vote goes to eliminating the tax exempt loophole for churches, especially those who have politicized the pulpit. At least for a year, that would inject some really big bucks into the deficit/debt/budget.

    Have I told you lately that I really, really despise Republicans? Toxic pond scum is what they are.

  4. pdgrey says:

    Tiger Beat, as Ralph and Charles Pierce calls it, to bad this is not the #1 story about Politico.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/politico-mike-allen-playbook_n_2117261.html?utm_hp_ref=media

  5. ecocatwoman says:

    BTW, I personally think it’s more likely that Boehner or Cantor released that “confidential” document to Woodward.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think so too. The president and the Dems are in the catbird seat.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Then why hasn’t the White House said anything about it?

        • ecocatwoman says:

          Hopefully they’ve learned some lessons in the past 4 years. Full frontal confrontations doesn’t work with shape shifters, you have to outsmart them or trick them into walking into their own trap. Hell the public blamed both sides for the inaction in Congress, instead of the obstructionist Repugs. Remember, the average American is not paying close attention to the day to day machinations of the Republican spin machine.

        • dakinikat says:

          I imagine they are knee deep in finding new cabinet positions right now including the CIA director

      • RalphB says:

        The WH would have to respond to a TV show. If they did that, it’s all they would ever get done.

      • bostonboomer says:

        They would be responding to the many articles about Woodward’s release of the supposedly “classified document.” If Obama doesn’t say something pretty quickly, it will be assumed that this is the White House’s “starting point.”

      • RalphB says:

        Maybe a reporter will ask Jay Carney about it?

  6. mablue2 says:

    OMG! This is just making me furious.

    I have stopped watching MTP online because I genuinely dislike Dancin’ Dave, along with other bullshit artists and Republican suck -ups like Tom Brokaw.

    Everytime these clowns talk about getting “serious” about the deficit, you know it’s about inflicting pain on the poor. For some reason Obama has been buying into this.

    David Atkins made a spectacular catch on David Frum appearance on Morning Joe last week.

    Since the loss of the election, we have heard an enormous amount of discussion from Republicans on television and newspaper columns about immigration as an issue…but all of us who are allowed to participate in this conversation, we all have health insurance. And the fact that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance, they don’t get to be on television. And it is maybe a symptom of a broader problem, not just the Republican problem, that the economic anxieties of so many Americans are just not part of the national discussion at all. I mean, we have not yet emerged from the greatest national catastrophe, the greatest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And what are we talking about? The deficit and the debt. And these are important problems, but they’re a lot easier to worry about if you are wealthier than you were in 2008, which most of the people on television now are again, if you are securely employed, which most of the people on television now are. But that’s not true for 80% of America.

    Immediately after Obama clinched 270 EV, the “Serious People” began talking about the fiscal cliff and we know when it means for those assholes who all have cushy jobs with all kinds of benefit.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m tired of the BS that’s just how the ‘message’ their policies of theocracy and plutocracy … the majority of people rejected their platform of slavery … period.

    • RalphB says:

      I saw David Frum say that and thought it was the best thing I’ve heard about the election yet.

      • dakinikat says:

        Their religious voting base spent 30 years hijacking the party. They’re not going to give up their blind obedience to the 4th century.

      • RalphB says:

        I know but Frum was dead on. The only Republican so far who gets it.

      • peggysue22 says:

        I also caught Morning Joe when Frum said that and the ‘panel’ talked right beyond his statement, ignoring what the man said, which was basically–it’s easy for those of us here [on the panel] to get all worked up about the debt and deficit because we haven’t really lost anything. But for the majority of Americans, the debt and deficit obsession doesn’t mean a hellva lot to the quality [or lack, there of] of their daily lives or the real losses suffered as a consequence of the Recession/Depression.

        It was if the panel had gone deaf or Frum had said something in Chinese. They quickly switched to something else. Too awkward o discuss the truth, particularly when it flies in the face of the establishment’s prevailing point of view.

        The propaganda machine is on full tilt when it comes to the “Fiscal Cliff.” Plus that ‘leaked’ Grand Bargain? Obama was willing to give away the farm, and the arrogant GOP refused to accept it. You cannot make this stuff up.

        Hopefully, this is ‘not’ the President’s starting position this time around. Or we will see the economy tank.

    • pdgrey says:

      mablue2, I believe the comprise assholes will win. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer. But I haven’t seen even on the “far left MSNBC” programs we watch, anything to make me believe us slugs have a chance. That’s just how I feel.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The only thing I’ve seen was Obama’s speech. Even Axelrod said on MTP that closing loopholes could work–which is a lie.

  7. RalphB says:

    This is an old trick and I’m surprised we seem to be so credulous of it. The MSM repeats the Republican talking points until they become the conventional wisdom and everyone believes it’s the only way to go. All that does is remove leverage from Obama and the Democrats, via the flung propaganda, because public pressure then swings onto them.

    Schumer, with his Wall St constituents, has always believed in the past that $250K was too low and wanted the limit raised to $1 million for increased rates. Who knows what he’s advocating now?

    By the way, it’s more likely any proposal came to Woodward from Congress than from the WH at this point. It serves their purposes after all and, with any leak, you should always ask who wins.

    • dakinikat says:

      the stupid thing is it isn’t what Obama won … it’s by how much Romney lost and that includes votes to third parties … he got less votes than McCain for pete’s sake

      • mablue2 says:

        Almost humiating for Mittshady: He got fewer Mormon votes than McCain. You read that right. Fewer Mormon voted for Mitt Romney than for McCain. Yikes!

      • RalphB says:

        I love that Rmoney didn’t get more Mormon votes than Dubya either.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Krugman today: Hawks and Hypocrites

    It’s not just the fact that the deficit scolds have been wrong about everything so far. Recent events have also demonstrated clearly what was already apparent to careful observers: the deficit-scold movement was never really about the deficit. Instead, it was about using deficit fears to shred the social safety net. And letting that happen wouldn’t just be bad policy; it would be a betrayal of the Americans who just re-elected a health-reformer president and voted in some of the most progressive senators ever….

    Contrary to the way it’s often portrayed, the looming prospect of spending cuts and tax increases isn’t a fiscal crisis. It is, instead, a political crisis brought on by the G.O.P.’s attempt to take the economy hostage. And just to be clear, the danger for next year is not that the deficit will be too large but that it will be too small, and hence plunge America back into recession.

    Deficit scolds are having a hard time with this issue. How can they warn us not to go over the fiscal cliff without seeming to contradict their own rhetoric about the evils of deficits?

    • bostonboomer says:

      And this:

      I don’t know how seriously to take the buzz about appointing Erskine Bowles to replace Timothy Geithner. But in case there’s any reality to it, let’s recall his record. Mr. Bowles, like others in the deficit-scold community, has indulged in scare tactics, warning of an imminent fiscal crisis that keeps not coming. Meanwhile, the report he co-wrote was supposed to be focused on deficit reduction — yet, true to form, it called for lower rather than higher tax rates, and as a “guiding principle” no less. Appointing him, or anyone like him, would be both a bad idea and a slap in the face to the people who returned President Obama to office.

      • RalphB says:

        I’ve seen where Jack Lew is more in the running than Bowles. Don’t know enough about him to say he would be good, but anyone would beat Bowles.

      • dakinikat says:

        Robert Reich is saying it will be Lew too.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Jack Lew?

        The chatter in Washington and on Wall Street is that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is the favorite to replace Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in President Obama’s second term. The decision could disappoint critics hoping for a dramatic change in the administration’s approach to banks.

        Throughout Obama’s first term, Geithner has been constantly criticized as looking out for the interests of Wall Street over Main Street, particularly for what some critics say was his opposition to mortgage relief for underwater homeowners out of concern for bank profits. Lew seems likely to be less of a lightning rod than Geithner, who is the protege of bank-deregulator Robert Rubin. Lew is widely seen as a smart, tough negotiator and an able public servant.

        But his professed lack of expertise in financial regulation, along with his own tenure at Rubin’s old firm, the original too-big-to-fail bank, Citigroup, has raised warning flags among critics. They fear a Lew Treasury might not aggressively push back financial industry efforts to water down the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law or keep an eye out for the next financial crisis.

        • dakinikat says:

          There are other people I’d rather see as Treasury Secretary but Lew is better than Erskine Bowles. I’d like an economist for a change, but that’s just me. I’m freaking tired of lawyers passing themselves off as financial economists.

      • pdgrey says:

        Well, BB that’s just F’n great. not. If obama doesn’t get why we, me, stood in line, just damn, damn, damn.

  9. ecocatwoman says:

    Independent Lens tonight at 10 (check your local PBS listings) – Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream. It’s a look at income disparity. Guess we will get to see how the 1% live.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    I think this shows what I said before voting for Obama. We needed to get him elected to stop Romney/Ryan, but now we’re facing the really hard part–getting Obama to accept the clear will of the voters and stop him from caving in. We’re going to have to scream bloody murder and fight like hell, because Obama’s natural inclination is to hope for cooperation and to give away the store before the negotiations begin.

    • dakinikat says:

      The signals from the Democratic Senators are the only things we can go on right now. Frankly, I think Obama will play brinkmanship and this silence is part of that strategy.

    • mjames says:

      Yes, I understood your approach, although I disagreed. But I don’t think there is any way in hell to pressure Obama from the left. (Nor was there, quite frankly, before the election.) He has no core, no abiding Democratic principles, and he so wants to be in with the “in” crowd. He also doesn’t have an ounce of gumption.

      All of us in the 99% (no matter who we voted for) have to unite against the looming Grand Bargain – but, honestly, IMO, it’s a done deal. The 1% is determined to wring every possible penny out of us before the country collapses. I say this with great sadness and anger, and I will fight like hell. But … all we can really do is throw out the Dems in 2014. And push for public financing of elections. I rue the day the Chicago machine took over the Democratic Party.

    • jawbone says:

      After the election, we have no leverage whatsoever. Zero, zip, nada.

      You get the pols’ attention a promises before giving them your vote.

      We are so fucked.

  11. ecocatwoman says:

    I just love this – 20 states have started petitions to secede. You have to check out the list, ’cause there are a couple of surprises. http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/20_states_petition_to_secede_from_us_following_obama_victory_20121112/?ln

  12. ecocatwoman says:

    Okay one more link: http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/17636-five-misconceptions-about-our-tattered-safety-net This is full of great info.

    This is just one piece:

    A big part of the problem is the severe degree of poverty for our nation’s children. According to UNICEF, among industrialized countries only Romania has a higher child poverty rate than the United States. Just in the last ten years the number of impoverished American children increased by 30 percent.

    That’s a nice stat to throw in the face of a rabid anti-abortion supporter.

    • Linda C says:

      Caring for children before they are born. Actually not even caring since they don’t believe pre-natal care is necessary if you can’t afford it.

  13. Linda C says:

    So Woodward release a “confidential” document from a year ago? That is like so last year

  14. roofingbird says:

    So, there is this from my paper:

    [171,000 retirees likely to lose
    Tricare Prime option
    With the presidential election over, Defense officials are
    expected to announce soon that military retirees and their
    dependents living more than 40 miles from a military
    treatment facility or base closure site will lose access to Tricare
    Prime, the military’s managed care option.
    These beneficiaries would be expected to shift to Tricare
    Standard, their fee-for-service insurance option, which would
    mean an increase in out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries who
    are frequent users of health services.
    A total of 171,000 retirees and dependents are expected to
    have to shift coverage when remote Prime networks go away.
    Tentative plans are for this to occur April 1, 2013, in the west
    region, which would coincide with UnitedHealth Military and
    Veterans Services taking over the region’s support contract
    from TriWest Healthcare Alliance after 16 years.
    The North and South Tricare regions are expected to close
    down Prime service areas beyond 40-mile catchment areas of
    bases or base closure sites by Oct. 1, 2013, the date when
    current Prime enrollment periods expire for most
    beneficiaries……]

    It looks complicated to figure out and someone who has Tricare probably understands it better. Generally though the retirees who are are outside the 40 mile area, will be asked to pay more in co-pay and there may be other stuff. they lose.

    Where I live 40 miles is a one way trip to work, and this is common on the west coast. However, this milage restriction seems a counterintuitive move to impose on a population that may not be able to travel. Nor does it seem environmentally sound.

    If they were to get switched over to Medicare (Health and Human Services), that would take a big chunk of expense off the Defense Dept.

    I’m skeptical that these folks will come out whole if this move is made. It looks lie a game of “Whacka Mole” to me.