Open Thread: Mitt Romney, BusybodyPosted: May 15, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, 2012 primaries, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, busybody, Debt, Federal Deficit, gossip, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney 20 Comments
In a speech in Des Moines, Iowa today, Mitt Romney sounded like a fussy old gossip, claiming that President Obama probably has a “beef” with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Almost a generation ago, Bill Clinton announced that the Era of Big Government was over.
Even a former McGovern campaign worker like President Clinton was signaling to his own Party that Democrats should no longer try to govern by proposing a new program for every problem.
President Obama tucked away the Clinton doctrine in his large drawer of discarded ideas, along with transparency and bipartisanship. It’s enough to make you wonder if maybe it was a personal beef with the Clintons….but really it runs much deeper.
President Obama is an old school liberal whose first instinct is to see free enterprise as the villain and government as the hero. America counted on President Obama to rescue the economy, tame the deficit and help create jobs. Instead, he bailed out the public-sector, gave billions of dollars to the companies of his friends, and added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined.
ROFLMAO!! Obama, “an old school liberal?” This guy is a laff riot!
At the Washington Post, Nia-Malika Henderson interpreted Romney’s odd invoking of the good old days of the Clinton administration as another effort to link Obama with Jimmy Carter. Henderson writes:
The strategy, of course, is obvious, if a little heavy handed—paint Obama as more like Jimmy Carter, rather than as a New Democrat in the mold of Clinton.
Clinton has already emerged as one of Obama’s most visible surrogates, appearing in a video marking the death of Osama bin Laden, and will likely be used to gin up support among so-called Reagan Democrats—white, blue collar workers, particularly—and Romney can perhaps mute some of Clinton’s power by suggesting that Clinton isn’t all in with Obama. (It’s a beef, not a bromance, Romney suggests.)
But by invoking Clinton, Romney risks poking the bear in some ways, and perhaps even casting himself as a version of Clinton. Praising Clinton, even in a backhanded way, isn’t exactly a way to solidify support among the religious right.
I don’t know about the reaction from the religious right, but Bill Clinton worked a few digs about Romney into his speech today at the Pete Peterson conference (why Clinton shows up for these things, I’ll never understand, but that’s for another post). According to the National Journal, Clinton said that Romney
shot himself in the foot with the broad tax-cutting budget he suggested during the primary. He said Romney should accept projections that his plan for deep tax cuts would add billions to the deficit while requiring huge cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and non-defense spending.
“If I were in his position I would, I think, use the Congressional Budget Office numbers saying my plan increased the debt and say that no responsible president can pretend an independent analysis of his numbers don’t matter,” Clinton said. “That’s, I think, his his best avenue back to the real world.”
Clinton also offered a few verbal pats on the head to Romney.
“I feel a lot of sympathy for him,” he said. “The whole primary was about finding somebody who was true conservative, but they’re going to vote for him anyway.”
Good one, Bill!
Monday Morning ReadsPosted: November 21, 2011 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Federal Deficit, Federal role in Occupy crackdowns, FOIA request, Hillary Clinton in 2012, Krugman and global turmoil, Liberal discontent, National Lawyer's GUild, Obama re-election, Tacky NASCAR Fans 43 Comments
I actually think this headline from Dean Baker is true: “Supercommittee Democrats Insist on Not Giving Republicans Everything”. Of course, that’s why Republicans want the President to enter the fray. The same cannot be said for him. That’s why the John Chaffee/Bob Dole/Mitty Romney/American Heritage Institute health care proposal of 1993 now goes by the moniker Obamacare.
In much of the media it is the rule that both parties are equally to blame regardless of what the facts of the situation are. Hence the lead sentence in the Post’s article on the supercommittee’s deadlock tells readers:
“Congressional negotiators made a yet another push Friday to carve $1.2 trillion in savings from the federal debt, but remained stuck in their entrenched positions on tax policy even as the clock was running down on their efforts to reach a deal.”
It would be interesting to know how the Post decided that the Democrats have an entrenched position. They have offered dozens of plans, many of which would not involve having the rates return to their pre-Bush level, as is specified in current law. By contrast, the Republicans have consistently put forward proposals that would keep the taxes on the wealthy at their current level or lower them further.
Even though the Democrats have shown every willingness to cave, the Post refuses to give them credit for it.
Let’s just post this next one under the heady of tacky is as tacky does.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden were grand marshals at today’s NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, appearing as part of their charitable campaign to support military veterans and their families.
But their benign, bipartisan cause wasn’t enough to prevent public fallout from the nation’s polarized political climate as they were introduced before the crowd.
ESPN video from the event documented loud boos from some in the stands as the announcer named Obama and Biden, seconds before they delivered the “most famous words in motorsports,” telling drivers to start their engines.
What kind of people can’t shut up long enough to recognize the troops with a first and second lady for pity’s sake? This sort’ve just played into those NASCAR fan stereotypes, didn’t it? There were also two children standing there receiving recognition as kids of a wounded veteran who volunteers time weekly at the local VA. What kind of lesson does this teach them? What has happened to manners in this country; not to mention common courtesy, decency and civility? Fortunately, the pre-cermony reception with the drivers, crews, and NASCAR administration folks was polite and enthusiastic.
Here’s something interesting! The National Lawyers Guild has filed a FOIA request asking for evidence of any federal role in the Occupy crackdowns. FBI or Homeland Security any one?
According to a statement by the NLG, each of the FOIA requests states, “This request specifically encompasses disclosure of any documents or information pertaining to federal coordination of, or advice or consultation regarding, the police response to the Occupy movement, protests or encampments.”
National Lawyers Guild leaders, including Executive Director Heidi Beghosian and NLG Mass Defense Committee co-chair and PCJ Executive Director Mara Veheyden-Hilliard both told TCBH! earlier this week that the rapid-fire assaults on occupation encampments in cities from Oakland to New York and Portland, Seattle and Atlanta, all within days of each other, the similar approach taken by police, which included overwhelming force in night-time attacks, mass arrests, use of such weaponry as pepper spray, sound cannons, tear gas, clubs and in some cases “non-lethal” projectiles like bean bags and rubber bullets, the removal and even arrest of reporters and camera-persons, and the justifications offered by municipal officials, who all cited “health” and “safety” concerns, all pointed to central direction and guidance.
Well, it looks like the WSJ is playing games again with us.
When Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson accepted the reality that they could not effectively govern the nation if they sought re-election to the White House, both men took the moral high ground and decided against running for a new term as president. President Obama is facing a similar reality—and he must reach the same conclusion.
He should abandon his candidacy for re-election in favor of a clear alternative, one capable not only of saving the Democratic Party, but more important, of governing effectively and in a way that preserves the most important of the president’s accomplishments. He should step aside for the one candidate who would become, by acclamation, the nominee of the Democratic Party: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Never before has there been such an obvious potential successor—one who has been a loyal and effective member of the president’s administration, who has the stature to take on the office, and who is the only leader capable of uniting the country around a bipartisan economic and foreign policy.
Well, that’s the WSJ. Jonathan Chait writes on Liberal Disappointment with Obama and says it’s the fault of liberals.
The cultural enthusiasm sparked by Obama’s candidacy drained away almost immediately after his election. All the passion now lies with the critics, and it is hard to find a liberal willing to muster any stronger support than halfhearted murmuring about the tough situation Obama inherited, or vague hope that maybe in a second term he can really start doing things. (“I’m like everybody, I want more action,” an apologetic Chris Rock said earlier this month. “I believe wholeheartedly if he’s back in, he’s going to do some gangsta shit.”) Obama has already given up on any hope of running a positive reelection campaign and is girding up for a grim slog of lesser-of-two-evils-ism.
Why are liberals so desperately unhappy with the Obama presidency?
There are any number of arguments about things Obama did wrong. Some of them are completely misplaced, like blaming Obama for compromises that senators forced him to make. Many of them demand Obama do something he can’t do, like Maddow’s urging the administration to pass an energy bill through a special process called budget reconciliation—a great-sounding idea except for the fact that it’s against the rules of the Senate. Others castigate Obama for doing something he did not actually do at all (i.e., Drew Westen’s attention-grabbing, anguished New York Times essay assailing Obama for signing a budget deal with cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid that were not actually in the budget in question).
I spend a lot of time rebutting these arguments, and their proponents spend a lot of time calling me an Obama apologist.
Some of the complaints are right, and despite being an Obama apologist, I’ve made quite a few of them myself. (The debt-ceiling hostage negotiations drove me to distraction.) But I don’t think any of the complaints—right, wrong, or otherwise—really explain why liberals are so depressed.
Here is my explanation: Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing. The various theories of disconsolate liberals all suffer from a failure to compare Obama with any plausible baseline. Instead they compare Obama with an imaginary president—either an imaginary Obama or a fantasy version of a past president.
Okay then. Suppose it has nothing to do with Democratic presidents that basically pass and support Republican insanity agendas. One more and then it’s the end of the post! Paul Krugman tells the FT that ‘No one’s safe” in this economic crisis. It’s mostly on where to hide your money in this turmoil. My favorite part is Krugman’s description of financial innovations.
Do you have any doubt that innovative financial products have made people better off?
I have substantial doubt. There’s almost a joke but it’s a slightly serious question to ask which financial innovation of the past 30 years was clearly beneficial – and you are not allowed to use ATMs. And the rest is all ambiguous.
The case for believing these financial innovations have actually enhanced welfare as opposed to giving people a false sense of security is very dubious. Collateralised debt obligations were clearly destructive. It was to fool people that risk was less than it was. AIG created a false sense of security via credit default swaps that was as it turned out completely unjustified by reality. Those are specific examples and you might argue they are just misleading, but we are already talking about a pretty large part of what the industry has been doing these past 10 or 15 years.
That’s my suggestions for the day. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Taxes are the solution, not the problemPosted: November 4, 2011 Filed under: U.S. Politics | Tags: 1%, Budget Deficit, Federal Deficit, Super Committee, taxes 18 Comments
As far as I can tell, if corporations and the top 1% paid anything like a fair share of taxes, budget problems would melt away.
I feel a bit like the recent physicists who seemed to find faster-than-light neutrinos in their data. (There’s the big difference that I’m an amateur at taxes, and they’re anything but amateurs at physics.) But, like them, I’m so boggled by the results that I want to throw it out there for people to pick apart.
Let’s begin at the beginning. The current US deficit is around $1.5 trillion per year. Current US GDP is around $14 trillion per year. Current yearly tax revenues are near $1.1 trillion (IRS pdf, 2008 numbers). In better years revenue is higher, deficits are lower.
An aside: Those numbers are smaller than the multiple trillions of cuts the Super Committee throws around. That’s because they say they need to come up with money for ballooning future costs of social insurance. (The powers-that-be didn’t seem to be worried about the future when tax cuts were implemented.) I don’t consider those future costs a real issue. Social Security doesn’t have any real problems. National health care costs could be cut in half with Medicare for All, based on the evidence from all the industrialized countries that do have national health care systems. (Link is to Congressional Research Service, 2004, pdf. See e.e Table 1, Fig. 1, Fig. 2.) So Medicare for All is the place to start for anyone who is actually concerned about future costs, and not some other agenda.
Further, a healthy deficit level is said to be around 2% of yearly GDP. In addition to other considerations, the ability to buy US Treasury bonds and bills is an important factor in global finance. Zero deficit means the end of that whole asset class, which is not a Good Thing. One wants a sustainable and easily carryable deficit, and 2% is a conservative estimate of that level. Two percent of $14 trillion is $280 billion. (I saw this most clearly expressed somewhere in Krugman’s writing, but all I can find right now is a passing reference here.)
So the yearly shortfall, in round numbers, is $1.2 trillion ($1.5T deficit – 0.280T healthy deficit).
If Fortune 500 corporations actually paid tax on their corporate profits, there’d be much less freeloading from that end. When even Marketwatch headlines “Big Profits, Zero Taxes” you know it’s not a small issue. It’s hard (for me) to find unequivocal numbers on how much difference that would make to revenue, but there are fairly clear data on corporate tax payments as a share of GDP. It’s now at a recent all-time low of 1% of GDP. Moving that back to 4%, about where it was in the 1960s would bring in an extra $480 billion (1% of GDP = $160B, 3% = 480B).
That would entail ending all the corporate loopholes, such as income-shifting in transnationals to whichever tax haven suits them that year, as well as ending special tax breaks for wildly profitable industries such as oil and finance. It would involve adding necessary new taxes, such as a financial transaction tax that would have other beneficial social consequences by slowing down market trading velocity. And it would involve raising rates on large corporations. (Update from comments below: 25 CEOs received more in compensation than their companies paid in taxes. Just mindboggling.)
Then, the other task is to raise taxes on the top 1%. According to the IRS (pdf), in 2008 the top 1% was composed of households making an average of $1.2 million per year. Their effective tax rate is 20% ±5% (CBO pdf, Table 3), and at that rate they contributed well over $350 billion in tax revenue. (For instance, in 2009 the top 1% contributed 36.7% of total income taxes. That proportion is typical during the last decade, plus or minus a few percent. Total income tax revenue in 2008, the last year for which I could find complete IRS data, was $1.081 trillion. 36% of 1.081T = $389 billion.) If their tax rates went to 60%, there would be an extra $700 billion revenue.
So, $700 billion plus $480 billion approaches $1.2 trillion, pretty much the entire yearly shortfall of $1.2 trillion.
That doesn’t pay down the debt. Nor does it provide funds for essential projects such as switching to clean, sustainable energy. But those are one-time charges, as it were, not permanent features of fiscal balance, which I gather is what the Super Committee is worrying about.
Raising taxes on the megarich is not the same as taxing the middle class. It’s not even taxing the upper middle class, such as the heart surgeons and mid-size successful business owners. It involves only having the massively wealthy corporations and households pay something vaguely like their fair share. What’s more, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to their lifestyles. For an income of $1.2 million per year, that tax increase would drop them from living on $80,000 per month to living on $40,000 per month. They could still jet to Paris for the weekend. Anybody who feels deprived living on $40,000 per month needs therapy, not tax breaks.
All this is something to think about while the news covers the new super ways the Super Committee has found to shred the safety net. Nor is this just a classic “Don’t tax him, don’t tax me. Tax the fellow behind the tree.” The fellow behind the tree has been tax cheating for far too long, and it’s time to rebalance. If the megarich paid their fair share, we could have a future that was more than collapsing bridges and work on their plantations.
Crossposted to Acid Test