Mitt Admits He Won’t Help Middle Class

Campaigning in Westerville, Ohio, Mitt told the crowd he wanted to “bring the [income tax] rates down.”

But then he admitted that what he gave with one hand, he would take away with the other, warning them not to “be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions.”

The man’s got nothing.

“Tax Rate Summary” Getting Booed Like Ryan at AARP

From “Castellanos on tax summary:  Is this a joke,” Maggie Haberman, Politico:

Alex Castellanos, the former Mitt Romney strategist from 2008 who has alternately been critical and praising of the current campaign, left no doubt where he stands on the decision to release a summary of the candidate’s tax rates over 20 years.

“At first I thought this was an April Fool’s Joke,” said Castellanos, who tweeted something to that effect at me earlier. “But it isn’t April. I can’t imagine that David Axelrod will now say, I’m glad Mitt put this issue behind him. This will drag Mitt’s taxes back into the debate. And there’s not many days left. I just can’t imagine why they would do this. There are 40 days left and you have now made more of them about Mitt’s taxes….

Other Republican operatives have emailed in with a similar reaction – that the summary is going to revive, instead of settle, questions on an issue where what had seemed to be the worst was already behind Romney.

Emphasis added.

More on the 47%

I’m tired of reading stuff trying to justify Mitt and the 47% garbage.  What he said wasn’t just politically stupid, it’s factually stupid.

He said these 47% are in the tank for Obama, no point in trying to reach them.  Really?  How can he not know that a chunk of the people who don’t pay federal income tax are retirees, living on Social Security and their savings?  And how can he not know that the one group he consistently has been leading among is seniors?  So to say that the 47% are synonymous with Obama voters just makes him look an idiot because so many of them are his freaking base.

And I don’t get the leap between not paying (actually I would frame it as not owing) federal income taxes and seeing yourself as a victim, as not taking personal responsibility for yourself.  I don’t see any connection there, it’s just a non sequitur.

Who are these people who don’t owe on April 15?  As I said, a chunk of them are seniors, which means that they used to work and pay federal income taxes.  They also paid in to get their Social Security and their Medicare.  Yes, some of them will take out of the system more than they put in, but some of them will die before they get their investment back.  That’s what an insurance system is.  And what’s Mitt’s solution here to end their “dependency”?  Does he want people in their 80’s and 90’s to rejoin the work force?

Some of them are students.  They are old enough to vote, and maybe flipping burgers to get through school, but not in their prime earning years.  They have decades of paying federal income taxes ahead of them, and the more education they get, the more they will earn and the more they will pay.

Some of them are low-wage earners because they’ve lost better-paying jobs in the Great Recession; because they lack education and skills; because they don’t speak English well; because they choose careers that don’t pay well, but help other people; because they work part-time so that they can write or paint or spend more time with their kids or do volunteer work.  People are low-wage earners for all kinds of reasons.  Some of them have paid federal income taxes in the past and will do so again in the future.

Just because you’re working a low-wage job (or two or three) doesn’t mean you don’t work hard.  Anyone doing honest work is taking personal responsibility for himself or herself.  The GOP has consistently supported earned income tax credits and child care credits to keep low-wage earners out of poverty and off of welfare, to make work worthwhile.   The GOP has declared this tax policy the path to personal responsibility, and now Mitt is denying his own party’s long-standing beliefs.

It is beyond chutzpah for someone earning $20 million a year and paying 13% in federal income taxes (maybe, assuming we believe him) to bitch and moan about those terrible people making $20,000 a year who don’t pay their fair share.

Listening to that tape, I don’t think this guy is just politically dead, I think he’s brain dead.

The Unbearable Vagueness of Being Mitt

From “GOP to Mitt Romney:  You’re so vague,” Jim VandeHei and Alexander Burns, Politico:

Leading conservatives are offering blunt advice to Mitt Romney:  Quite ducking details, start engaging in a real and specific war of ideas with President Barack Obama — or lose.

[The story then quotes conservatives like Rupert Murdoch, Trent Lott, Laura Ingraham, the WSJ editorial page, Alex Castellanos, Mike Murphy, Bill Kristol, William McGurn, Jonah Goldberg, and George Pataki, all from the last 24 hours.]

“This is not a new concern: Before Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, many of the same conservatives were lamenting the Romney strategy of showing very little leg when it comes to his policy plans…. The selection of Ryan, many of these conservatives assumed, meant Romney was prepared to scrap that plan and engage in an authentic, if high-risk, war of ideas. They assumed wrong.

“Romney, according to people who have discussed the issue with him, did not pick Ryan because he suddenly changed his mind about the strategic risk of detailing his ideas. Instead, it was personal chemistry first and a belief that Ryan would be instrumental in a governing context second that ultimately sealed the deal. Still, that didn’t keep conservatives from hoping otherwise — and Romney and Ryan from sending mixed signals about their intentions to go all-in on policy debates, especially on restructuring Medicare. Initially, they promised a campaign of bold choices and substance. Since then, the campaign has very much settled into a pre-Ryan mind-set.

“Why such reticence to go specific? Top campaign officials have explained it this way: In the modern political and media culture, with every day dominated by one side doing a better job than the other of pouncing on facts or, more often, on plausibly defensible distortions or lies, specificity is merely ammunition for the other guys.

“Moreover, the officials believe voters are moved by big ideas — a bad economy or impulse for change. The Romney theory of the case for winning rests on voters turning against Obama because of the economy and then ultimately warming to Romney because they see him as a better-than-even bet to improve it.

“In this context, a full-throated engagement on the laurels of injecting private competition into the existing Medicare system or detailing the loopholes to be eliminated to finance broad-based tax reductions for the middle class are a distraction — not a political asset.

“It’s not clear the pressure from the leading voices on the right will do anything to change this.”  Emphasis added.

Don’t listen to them, Mittens.  You just keep doing what you’re doing.

Were Mitt’s Returns Stolen? Oh Please, Oh Please, Oh Please.

From the Associated Press:

The Secret Service says it’s investigating the reported theft of copies of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s federal tax records before 2010. A letter sent anonymously to Tennessee political and newspaper offices demanded $1 million to prevent their disclosure.

“Romney’s accounting firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, said there is no evidence any Romney tax files were stolen. The letter said the returns were stolen in late August during a Watergate-style break-in at the company’s accounting offices in Franklin, Tenn.”

If I had copies of Mitt’s returns (note to Secret Service, I don’t), I wouldn’t be thinking about money, I’d just want to get them up online. 

Just because you’re a thief, doesn’t mean you can’t be a patriot.  If you have them, post them.


“Get Off Your Asses”

From “Ryan-Akin, Romney-Trump,” Brent Budowsky,  The Hill:

“This column is an expression of contempt toward some of the wealthiest Democrats in America, who fail to understand the consequences if the forces I describe here take power in America.

“On almost all matters of high policy, the Republican ticket might well be called the Ryan-Akin team. Ryan and Akin agree on almost every major issue.

The Republican campaign might well be called the politics of Romney-Trump. Voters might ask why Donald Trump, the standard-bearer of a campaign of nut-case birtherism to advance bigot-based politics, will be showcased at the Republican convention while the last Republican president, George W. Bush, will be hidden from public view.

“Romney-Ryan, Ryan-Akin and Romney-Trump share a vision of politics that gives extremism and hate a privileged seat at the table of GOP power.

Romney, Ryan, Akin and Trump agree on almost every issue. Wealthy Democrats suffering a life crisis about whether they should enter the arena against mega-donations by the Adelsons and Koches might ponder why they make their mega-donations, why Romney and Ryan fall to their knees paying homage to them, and what kind of America we get if they buy the power of the presidency, the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court for a generation.

“The GOP wages war against Medicare and Social Security because they despise what they consider evil liberal programs. Their extremist platform before the election doesn’t scratch the surface of what they will try to do if they win the election, especially if they control Congress and courts. They know most voters disagree with them, so they lie about the president’s Medicare position and try to hide their extremism as Romney and Ryan hide their tax returns.

“When Republicans say they want to ‘take back America’ they are dog-whistling that they want to take back America from seniors who benefit from Medicare and Social Security, from uppity women who seek fair pay and freedom of choice, from uppity blacks they demonize in dishonest Trump-style welfare ads, from Hispanics they picture as climbing over walls to immigrate here and against whom they employ the shameless pandering Mitt Romney employed demonizing Hispanics even against other Republicans in Republican primaries.

To wealthy Democrats having difficulty deciding whether they should enter the arena with their fists flying against the shared vision of Ryan, Akin, Romney and Trump I propose:

Get off your asses, before it is too late.”  Emphasis added.

The Nut In a Nut Shell

Paul Krugman perfectly explains Paul Ryan and his budget.  If you read one column today, it should be this one because then you can explain Paul Ryan at cocktail parties brilliantly from now to November 6.  From “An Unserious Man,” NYT:

“On the tax side, Mr. Ryan proposes big cuts in tax rates on top income brackets and corporations. He has tried to dodge the normal process in which tax proposals are ‘scored’ by independent auditors, but the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has done the math, and the revenue loss from these cuts comes to $4.3 trillion over the next decade.

“On the spending side, Mr. Ryan proposes huge cuts in Medicaid, turning it over to the states while sharply reducing funding relative to projections under current policy. That saves around $800 billion. He proposes similar harsh cuts in food stamps, saving a further $130 billion or so, plus a grab-bag of other cuts, such as reduced aid to college students. Let’s be generous and say that all these cuts would save $1 trillion.

“On top of this, Mr. Ryan includes the $716 billion in Medicare savings that are part of Obamacare….

“So if we add up Mr. Ryan’s specific proposals, we have $4.3 trillion in tax cuts, partially offset by around $1.7 trillion in spending cuts — with the tax cuts, surprise, disproportionately benefiting the top 1 percent, while the spending cuts would primarily come at the expense of low-income families. Over all, the effect would be to increase the deficit by around two and a half trillion dollars.

“Yet Mr. Ryan claims to be a deficit hawk. What’s the basis for that claim?

“Well, he says that he would offset his tax cuts by ‘base broadening,’ eliminating enough tax deductions to make up the lost revenue. Which deductions would he eliminate? He refuses to say — and realistically, revenue gain on the scale he claims would be virtually impossible.

“At the same time, he asserts that he would make huge further cuts in spending. What would he cut? He refuses to say.

What Mr. Ryan actually offers, then, are specific proposals that would sharply increase the deficit, plus an assertion that he has secret tax and spending plans that he refuses to share with us, but which will turn his overall plan into deficit reduction.

“If this sounds like a joke, that’s because it is. Yet Mr. Ryan’s ‘plan’ has been treated with great respect in Washington. …What’s going on?

‘The answer, basically, is a triumph of style over substance. Over the longer term, the Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it — and in Washington, ‘fiscal responsibility’ is often equated with willingness to slash Medicare and Social Security, even if the purported savings would be used to cut taxes on the rich rather than to reduce deficits. Also, self-proclaimed centrists are always looking for conservatives they can praise to showcase their centrism, and Mr. Ryan has skillfully played into that weakness, talking a good game even if his numbers don’t add up.

The question now is whether Mr. Ryan’s undeserved reputation for honesty and fiscal responsibility can survive his participation in a deeply dishonest and irresponsible presidential campaign.

“So will the choice of Mr. Ryan mean a serious campaign? No, because Mr. Ryan isn’t a serious man — he just plays one on TV.”  Emphasis added.

Another Lost Day for Mitt

The buzz today is all about Todd Akin and abortion and whether rape victims are magically protected from getting pregnant.

For the Romney campaign, it’s another completely lost day when their message (whatever it is today) isn’t getting out.

Mitt has so much ‘splaining to do about budgets and Medicare and cutting rich people’s taxes that he can’t afford to have his thunder (such as it is) stolen by members of his own party he’d rather see locked in a closet between now and the election.

Last week was wasted on trying to figure out how to mesh his positions with Paul Ryan’s, something the Romney campaign should have done before they announced Ryan, and something they still haven’t accomplished.

Todd Akin is Obama’s new BFF.  Hang in there, Todd.  Don’t quit!



But What About the Swiss Account?

Mitt isn’t releasing any more tax returns, but he’s asking us to take his word that he paid at least 13% in each of the last ten years.

First, I’d be more inclined to trust him if he hadn’t flat out lied as to what his tax returns said about his residency when he ran for governor of Massachusetts after paying taxes as a resident of Utah.

Second, I’m not impressed about the 13%.  I’ve paid far more in each of the last ten years on a teeny, tiny fraction of his annual income.

Third, this doesn’t tell us if he took advantage of the IRS amnesty for Americans who had been hiding their Swiss bank accounts and not paying taxes on them.  If he participated in this amnesty, he admitted to being a felon.  Election over.

Mitt Can’t Make the Politics and the Policy Work

From “Romney + Ryan = More Budget Math Confusion Than Ever,” Benjy Sarlin, Talking Points Memo:

“When Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, he pledged a new ‘campaign of substance’ that would finally silence critics who’ve attacked his policy proposals as unworkably vague. But far from clarifying his platform, Romney’s positions have become even more confusing since Ryan joined the ticket.

“Ryan’s choice was intended to bolster Romney’s promise to cut spending. In a bizarre twist, however, the only concrete policy change since Ryan joined the ticket has been a new promise to reverse $716 billion of Medicare savings enacted under the Affordable Care Act, complicating an already fantastical promise by Romney to balance the budget within eight years.

The politics of Romney’s Medicare pledge were clear: Ryan’s call to privatize Medicare and reduce its average benefits puts Romney on the defensive, especially in senior-heavy states like Florida. But the policy side is gibberish. House Republicans have twice passed budgets that included the same $716 billion in cuts. Both budgets were written by Ryan himself, and Romney previously pledged to sign them if elected.

“But there’s a reason Ryan included the ACA’s savings, which do not come out of Medicare recipient’s benefits, in his own budgets. It’s incredibly hard to close the deficit while cutting taxes and protecting defense spending. Under Romney’s platform, defense spending would actually increase, requiring catastrophic levels of cuts at every other level of government to meet his second-term balanced-budget vow.”  Emphasis added.

Mittens can do policy or he can do politics, but he can’t do both.  Since this is a campaign, he obviously has to do politics, but then what’s the point of Ryan?