Mitt’s Tax Plan Doesn’t Cut the Deficit, Just Tax Breaks for the Middle Class

From “A Tax Plan That Defies the Rules of Math,” David Firestone, NYT:

“But Mr. Romney said the [tax] cuts would be ‘revenue neutral’ and cost nothing because they would be paid for by ending tax breaks and loopholes.  He never identified those tax breaks, and now we know why — the experts concluded that there aren’t enough loopholes in the tax code to balance out the cuts.  Following Mr. Romney’s plan would mean ending popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions, which would wind up raising taxes on the middle class, while the rich would still enjoy the benefits of an income-tax cut larger than the deductions they would lose.”  Emphasis added.

Keep This in Mind

You’ll be hearing Paul Ryan criticize President Obama for not supporting the Simpson-Bowles Plan.

When you hear this, remember that Ryan was a member of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, and he voted against the plan because it included tax increases.  He was one of those who kept it from going to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

You’re going to hear Ryan talking about the deficit, but that’s just a smokescreen.  He couldn’t care less about the deficit, he just cares about more tax cuts for the rich.

Mitt is slick and sleazy, but in an awkward way.  Ryan is slick and sleazy, but in a much smoother, more graceful way.  Mitt knows he’s a duckling who’s never going to become a swan, so he hired himself one.

In the past, the GOP has won by convincing middle-class people that the Dems don’t care about them, they care about the poor.  But all Americans need to understand that this GOP ticket cares only about the rich and would be a disaster not just for the poor, but for the middle class as well.

Look, you can’t get over 50% of Americans to vote for a ticket that benefits 1% of us, so their mission is to lie.  Our mission is not to fall for it.

Watch Those Unfavorables Soar

A CNN poll last week found that 54% either had no opinion about Ryan or hadn’t even heard of him.  His favorables were 27%, while his unfavorables were 19%.

As more Americans learn about him and form an opinion, helped along by the Obama campaign’s defining him as an enemy of the middle class, I expect the unfavorables to climb, into that dreaded upside-down territory where Mitt now resides.

The Caricature Plutocrat

The GOP has a terrible message and an awful messenger.  Other than that, it’s all good.

From “Pro-Tip, as They Say,” Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:

“Having vast wealth and aggressively working the law and tax code to avoid taxes is a very different thing if your policy agenda is geared almost entirely to benefit the super wealthy.  If you’re a gazillionaire and your main pitch is to cut taxes on gazillionaires that’s just gonna put a bit more emphasis on your wealth.

“To put the point in even sharper relief, one admittedly partisan but likely accurate analysis of Romney’s tax proposal shows it would not only cut rates for the wealthiest Americans, it would actually raise taxes for most of the middle class.

“Mitt’s entire platform is cutting programs and and enabling the super-wealthy to accumulate capital to create more jobs.  Whether it actually works that way is another story — an economic argument that virtually no one on the center-left buys.  But that really is the Mitt message.  And Mitt is just not a good messenger.

“He’s stuck to it I think for a mix of personal predilections and his need to cement support from the hard right of the GOP which doesn’t believe he’s really one of them.

“There are a lot of turbulent cross-currents in the United States today.  But one of the key ones has it that the super wealthy are leaving the rest of the country behind and that they’re playing under a fundamentally different set of rules, ones they’ve written for themselves by owning the political process….  When people hear that Romney pays a 15% flat tax rate and has a lot of his money parked in tropical islands they know that he’s living in a very different world.  As a lot of Republicans are recognizing right now, Romney can easily come off like a caricature plutocrat, something that spans from his tax returns to his affect on the campaign trail.

If a presidential candidate is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and pays less than a 15% tax rate, it’s even harder to swallow if he’s out there saying his taxes should be even lower.”  Italics in original; emphasis added.

Quote of the Day

“So Mitt Romney didn’t personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have.  He was, however, an enthusiastic and very well remunerated participant in the process of destruction; if Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits.”

Paul Krugman, “Off and Out with Mitt Romney,” NYT

Mitt Agrees with Obama

The Romney campaign says the Obamacare mandate is a penalty, not a tax.

So how can they run against Obama by screaming about the enormous tax increase on the middle class, which is the new overarching GOP strategy and theme?

Mitt is now aligned with the Prez and off-message with Fox News and his own party.

Roberts has painted Mittens into a corner by choosing the tax argument.

The GOP has painted itself into a corner by choosing  Mittens.

Why Is a Strong Middle Class So Essential for Everyone Else?

It’s striking that we are so focused on building a strong middle class everywhere in the world, that we see it as the magic bullet that solves threats and problems — except here at home.

When we invaded Iraq, we were assured that one of the things in our favor for building a democracy there was the existence of a strong, educated middle class.  By contrast, we’ve been told over and over that one of the reasons for the tough, fruitless slog in Afghanistan is the lack of a middle class.

We’ve been told that one of the reasons the Islamists have been able to emerge strong from the Arab Spring is the lack of a middle class in the Middle East, that a tiny group of very rich people has ruled over an enormous group of very poor, uneducated people for so long.

We’ve been told that the emerging middle classes in India and China are a wonderful thing for the growth of world trade and prosperity and stability.

But here at home, our middle class is suffering and shrinking.  And we’re told that the growing chasm of income inequality, that the falling back of so many families into poverty, that the failure of so many children to do better than their parents as they have historically, is nothing to be alarmed about.

Can someone explain this?  Mitt?  Reince? Paul Ryan?  John Boehner? Anybody?

Mitt Is Bush 41

I keep reading comparisons between Mitt and Bob Dole.  Historically, that makes sense because Dole ran in 1996 against an incumbent Dem, Bill Clinton, who had suffered major losses in the preceding congressional races of 1994.

But I think personality-wise, Mitt is more like Bush 41 and comes with his out-of-touch, rich guy, patrician liabilities.  Bush won in 1988 because the country wanted a third Reagan term.  When he ran in 1992, no longer wrapped in the Reagan mantle, voters didn’t like him.

Bush was distrusted by conservatives in his second run because he’d broken his “Read my lips, no new taxes” pledge.  Mitt suffers from that same mistrust because of his flip-flops and prior support for abortion and gay rights when he ran in Massachusetts.  He’s also the father of the individual health care mandate that conservatives used to support, but now believe is unconstitutional.

Less ideological voters turned against Bush in 1992 because his preppie persona contrasted poorly with Clinton’s warmth and folkiness.  The tax thing didn’t bother them as much as Bush himself did.

My theory of presidential elections is that the less preppie-seeming guy always wins.

Both Mitt and President Obama went to very fancy prep schools (the President got a scholarship), but Mitt has led a much more privileged, sheltered life, and it shows.  He can’t manage to sound convincing when he proclaims his concern for the middle class.  He’s never spent a day of his life as an actual member of the middle class.

What happens when two preppies run against each other?  Al Gore and Bush 43 both went to very elite prep schools.  But Bush managed to come across as more down-home Texas than high-flown Andover.

The less preppie guy wins — Obama beats Mitt.

Surprise — Voters Don’t Like Mitt!

According to new Washington Post-ABC News polling, “By better than 2 to 1, Americans say the more they learn about Romney, the less they like him.”*  Emphasis added.

I fully expect this trend to continue.  All his Wall Street contributions plus his own wealth can’t buy him a personality transplant.

For the first time, President Obama is leading Mitt among registered voters, 52-43.

The President has solid leads over Mitt on the issues of looking out for the middle class, conducting foreign affairs, and prosecuting the war on terror.  Usually Republicans score better on issues relating to national security, so this is a big plus for Obama.  It gives him a cushion as he has to deal with Iran between now and the election, showing that Americans trust his decision-making.

The President leads Mitt 52-37 on who better understands Americans’ economic problems.

As for Mitt and his low tax rate, 66% think he isn’t paying enough.  In general, 68% believe the tax code favors the rich rather than the middle class.

The GOP is about to nominate the wrong guy at the wrong time.  He personifies everything Americans believe is wrong and unfair and uncaring about our system.

* “Obama holds edge over Romney in general election matchup, poll finds,” by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen

Quote of the Day

“You can say this for the former Massachusetts governor and Bain Capital executive:  He is opening up new frontiers in American politics.  Even conservative politicians used to find it necessary to pretend that they cared about the poor.  Remember ‘compassionate conservatism’?  Mr. Romney has, however, done away with that pretense.

“At this rate, we may soon have politicians who admit what has been obvious all along: that they don’t care about the middle class either, that they aren’t concerned about the lives of ordinary Americans, and never were.”

Paul Krugman, “Romney Isn’t Concerned, NYT