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« Reply #105 on: Jul 26, 2012, 07:27 AM »

‘Anglo-Saxon’ comment hangs over Romney in Britain

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 17:33 EDT

WASHINGTON — The start of Mitt Romney’s foreign tour was overshadowed Wednesday by a reported remark by an aide that President Barack Obama doesn’t understand the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” shared by Britain and the United States.

The Republican White House hopeful’s campaign scrambled to deny that one of its operatives had told a British newspaper that Romney, unlike Obama, understands the “Anglo-Saxon heritage” underpinning the so-called special relationship with Britain.

In the context of previous jibes that the Democratic incumbent, the United States’ first black leader, does not understand American values and business practice, the latest alleged comments were seen as racially charged.

But Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Hennenberg said in a statement that the British report was mistaken.

“It’s not true,” she said. “If anyone said that, they weren’t reflecting the views of governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign.”

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph said it had interviewed two Romney advisers who said their man would be better than President Barack Obama at reinforcing the special bond between the United States and Britain.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” an unnamed adviser told the Telegraph. “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”

The British paper also quoted an adviser saying Obama “is a left-winger” who “doesn’t value the NATO alliance as much. He’s very comfortable with American decline and the traditional alliances don’t mean as much to him.”

The comments caused scandal just as Romney arrived in London to kick off a three-nation tour where his campaign has said he won’t attack Obama’s record, and the White House seized on the remarks as undignified and disturbing.

“Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisers were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

The comments, Biden said, “are a disturbing start to a trip designed to demonstrate governor Romney’s readiness to represent the United States on the world’s stage.”

Senior Obama re-election strategist David Axelrod called the comments “stunningly offensive.”

The Romney campaign hit back, saying Obama’s campaign was using the dust up as a distraction ahead of the November election.

Biden invoked “an anonymous and false quote from a foreign newspaper to prop up their flailing campaign,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams alleged.

“We have very serious problems confronting our nation and American families are hurting, yet the Obama campaign continues to try to divert voters’ attention with specious shiny objects.”
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« Reply #106 on: Jul 26, 2012, 07:29 AM »

07/25/2012 06:17 PM

European Tour: Romney's Trans-Atlantic Policy Needs a Reboot

A Commentary By Annette Heuser and Tyson Barker

Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will visit the United Kingdom and Poland at a time when the GOP's policy toward Europe seems to be trapped in the days of the Cold War. It will be a chance for him to update his outdated views.

Mitt Romney's first foreign tour as the Republican Party's likely presidential candidate includes visits to two European states. While designed to send a message to potential voters at home, particularly blue-collar Reagan Democrats in the Midwest, the trip will be about photo opportunities. Romney's visit to London is meant to echo his own successful management of the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and play into a campaign narrative built on executive experience and sober business acumen.

His visit to Gdansk and Warsaw will highlight the triangle that broke the back of communism: the Polish people's courage, their Catholic faith and Western resolve. Not coincidentally, Polish-American immigrants dot the landscape in important battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Romney's visit will inevitably draw parallels to that of candidate Barack Obama, who on a visit to Germany in July 2008, resolutely declared on the steps of Berlin's Victory Column that he is a "citizen of the world." Now the Republican candidate has an opportunity to articulate his vision for US relations with Europe, which has so far remained underdeveloped and reliant on dated platitudes.

Cold-War Rhetoric

At the moment, Romney's European policy hints at a worldview more reminiscent of 1982 than 2012. In a March interview, Romney described Russia as the US's "number-one geopolitical foe." More recently, one of his top defense surrogates warned of the creeping Soviet threat in the Arctic. Another stated that the Obama administration's decision to opt for a phased adaptive approach to missile defense was abandoning "Czechoslovakia."

Individually these unfortunate statements are meaningless, but taken together they represent a worldview that is tinged with Cold War-era tropes. The Romney camp seems to overlook that Russia's accordance of access to the International Security Assistance Force's northern distribution network has been essential to the continuation of the mission in Afghanistan. His campaign also fails to remember that recent arms reductions in the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty make the US military more effective and the world safer, and that Russia's entry this month into the World Trade Organization forces Moscow to accept higher standards for the rule of law.

That is not to say that US-Russia relations are unproblematic. Russia's obstinacy in the face of the Syrian civil war runs counter to the humanitarian responsibility incumbent upon the United Nations Security Council's permanent members. The Kremlin's new, restrictive laws on non-governmental organizations and internet freedom also call into question even the most basic commitment to civil society. And the country's endemic corruption is worrisome. Indeed, Russia's relationships with the US and Europe are complex and wrought with difficulty. They cannot be boiled down into simplistic, anachronistic sound bites.

Lack of Vision

In Poland, Romney is expected to criticize the Obama administration's reset policy with Russia. In fact, US and Polish approaches to Moscow have hewed closely together. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has stated that his country started its own reset with Russia in 2007 and paved the way for the US to follow a similar path. Even in conservative Poland, Obama's approval rating stands at 50 percent, up from George W. Bush's 41 percent during his last year in office, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey.

Apart from criticizing Obama's Russia policy, the most remarkable feature of Romney's vision is his lack of approach. His 48-page document outlining his foreign-policy strategy does not once mention the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union. That will certainly be a source of concern for his European hosts, two of the largest members of both organizations and countries with two of the largest troop contingents to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

The one bright spot in Romney's trans-Atlantic vision has been his public call for a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, a major positive agenda item that is sure to find support from Europe's most important leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But Romney has yet to address what role his administration would play in tackling the euro-zone crisis, now the most serious foreign-policy challenge for the US. Instead, Romney campaign rhetoric has used Europe as a foil in domestic-policy debates over debt and public spending: "We are increasingly becoming like Europe," he has said. "Europe is not working in Europe. It will never work here." He has stated that he would not allow America's national balance sheet to be exposed to the euro-zone crisis, but the US is already exposed indirectly through trade, banking ties and returns on foreign direct investment. Romney will inevitably have to articulate a policy that recognizes America's continued role as a European power.

Once upon a time, the Republican foreign policy brain trust was replete with some of the greatest minds on US relations with Europe. It was the creative tension in America's center-right foreign-policy establishment from realists such as Henry Kissinger and Brett Scowcroft, to strident Cold Warriors such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick, to brash pragmatists such as James Baker that drove successful American foreign policy in the latter half of the Cold War, eventually leading to an unequivocal geopolitical triumph for the West. Today, however, the Republican candidate's relations with Europe have been relegated to vague pronouncements. Romney's trip to Europe gives him a chance to change that.

Annette Heuser is executive director, and Tyson Barker is director of trans-Atlantic relations at the Washington, DC-based Bertelsmann Foundation.

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« Reply #107 on: Jul 26, 2012, 09:12 AM »

July 26, 2012 08:00 AM

Romney Campaign Joins Voter Suppression Efforts In Virginia

By karoli

That ad was created by the Voter Participation Center in response to outraged fluff from Virginia Republicans over voter registration forms being sent to people, and in some cases pets, who aren't eligible to vote.

This is where I point out that pawprints are not usually accepted as signatures in state registrars' offices. Mailing is not a crime.

The Voter Participation Center (VPC) exists to reach out to unregistered voters in more than half the states in this country and get them to vote. They do this by combing lists, comparing them to registration lists, and sending out a pre-populated voter registration form clearly identified with their organization. Before any mailing goes out, state registrars have an opportunity to review and edit what is sent. It's not being done in a vacuum, and 15,000 people have returned the forms to the Virginia registrar, which is really why the Romney campaign has heartburn, I'm sure.

As usual, the right wing is determined to invent a problem so they can apply a solution like Voter ID, which we already know impacts those very same voters targeted by the VPC.

The Romney campaign has jumped on the bandwagon, calling for an investigation by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli into their practices. Wouldn't that be a nice "get"? A peek inside the lists the VPC uses, a list of voters, all sorts of goodies there for the taking if they actually got the Cooch to agree. The VPC is pushing back hard against their efforts, and well they should. For some bizarre reason the Romney people have it in their head that mailing a form is the same as submitting one for registration.

As anyone who has ever had the misfortune of working with lists knows, it's pretty easy to have entries that aren't right. A typo, someone uses their pet's name to register or subscribe to something, any number of things can cause list errors. But there isn't a problem unless someone actually picks up that erroneous form and tries to use it. Then they're committing fraud, and it would be the job of the registrar to verify those registrations anyway.

All in all, it's just more right wing smoke and mirrors intended to discredit any organization which extends opportunities for all citizens to vote.

But there is a humorous side to an otherwise fairly mundane story. In their zeal to find some sort of ZOMG conspiracy, PJ Media's reporter asked why they are "spoofing their zip code" on a conference call with the VPC on this issue. Nay, they even have it up on their front page right now!

Sorry to destroy that exclusive for you, PJ Media, but you see, when you send mass mailings with reply mail on them, the United States Postal Service assigns a "QBRM" number and code.

    The ZIP+4 Code assigned by the Postal Service is unique for that category of letter-size BRM. The ZIP+4 IMb barcode provides for sortation on postal automated equipment by specific size and rate categories (i.e., cards, 1 oz. letters, 2 oz. letters, etc.).

So you see, there's no conspiracy to "spoof" a zip code, Brian Preston of PJ Media (aka Tatler). It's called complying with the rules. Gosh, I'll bet you anything FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity does it too!

Another conspiracy theory killed before it's born.
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« Reply #108 on: Jul 27, 2012, 07:40 AM »

07/27/2012 11:14 AM

MI6 and Anglo-Saxon Heritage: Mitt Romney Flounders and Flubs His Way Through London

By Sebastian Fischer  in Washington

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had been hoping to show off his foreign-policy credentials by traveling to Europe this week. Instead, he has committed one flub after another. The headlines have not been kind.

Mitt Romney was hoping to start off his European tour with a bang: a meeting with conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Friday and a couple of lucrative fundraising events. The idea was to show the presumed Republican presidential candidate from his best side. After all, he himself successfully managed the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The plan, in short, was a good one, and London is to be followed by quick stops in Poland and Israel. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Romney to make the kind of negative headlines he had been hoping to avoid. And it has cast a dark cloud over his entire trip.

It all began with an anonymous Romney "adviser" and the special relationship between the US and Great Britain. "We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he (Romney) feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser told the British daily Telegraph. "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have."

Perhaps the comment hadn't been adequately vetted. But the Telegraph teased it out for its readers. The remarks, the paper wrote, "may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity" given that Obama's father, after all, was neither white nor Anglo-Saxon. US Vice President Joe Biden reacted strongly by calling the comments "disturbing" and saying the assertion was "beneath a presidential campaign." Obama adviser David Axelrod said that the comment on shared heritage was "stunningly offensive."


And Romney? The candidate has done his best to distance himself from the statements, saying he doesn't know who the source is -- and accusing Biden of reacting to quotes from an unnamed adviser in a "foreign newspaper."

That, though, was just the appetizer. Not long after his arrival in London, Romney joined Brian Williams from the US broadcaster NBC for an exclusive interview. It was a wide-ranging talk, touching on topics as diverse as the shooting in Colorado (the candidate said America did not need new gun-control laws) and his wife's horse Rafalca, which will be competing in dressage at the Olympics ("I will not be watching the event," Romney said).

And then Williams lobbed what should have been a softball question about whether London was well-prepared for the Olympics. Romney could have said how wonderful it was to be in such a great city full of wonderful people and rich history. Instead, he said: "There are a few things that were disconcernting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

As if that weren't enough, Romney also seemed to take aim at the British people. "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That is something which we only find out once the Games actually begin."

Not surprisingly, the British press jumped on the comments. As did British leaders. During a rally to celebrate the end of the torch relay in Hyde Park, London Mayor Boris Johnson said to the gathered crowd: "There's this guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we are ready."

'Mr. Leader' and MI6

And Prime Minister Cameron also chided the Republican candidate. "We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world," he said. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."

Chagrined, Romney quickly did something that Americans have become used to from him: He flip-flopped. In comments to the press afterward, he conceded that it is "impossible for absolutely no mistakes to occur." And added that, once competition starts, "those are all overshadowed by the extraordinary demonstrations of courage, character and determination by the athletes."

Still, Romney wasn't quite done making headlines. It was, after all, a long day full of meetings with a variety of people, including Labour party head Ed Miliband, who Romney addressed as "Mr. Leader."

And then there was another appointment. "I can only say that I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here as well as the head of MI6 as we discussed Syria and the hope for a more peaceful future for that country," he said at a news conference.

Oops. The meeting with MI6 head Sir John Sawers was supposed to remain secret. That, at least, had been the agreement beforehand.

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« Reply #109 on: Jul 29, 2012, 10:20 AM »

From the American magazine Perspectives ...

How the U.S. Government Helped Mitt Romney Build His Fortune

At events across the country, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is trying to convince voters that small business owners in fact build the roads and bridges they use every day. Unfortunately, Romney's "We Did Build It" gatherings have hit some potholes, with many participants revealed to be the recipients of government contracts and subsidies and others unaware of the full context of President Obama's selectively edited remarks now under attack.

But Mitt Romney has another, much larger problem with his baseless contention that President Obama is "insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America." Because on his road to becoming a $250 million captain of private equity at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney had a lot of help from his uncle. Uncle Sam, that is. As it turns out, the U.S. tax code doesn't merely allow Romney to pay a lower rate than many middle class families. Without the public subsidy that is the corporate debt interest deduction, there might not be a Bain Capital--or a private equity industry as we know it--at all.

Private equity owes its success in no small part to that uniquely American provision of the corporate tax code. The New York Times recently helped explain why:

    Companies can finance investment from either debt or equity. Companies can finance investment from either debt or equity. But profit on an investment financed with equity -- stock issued by the company -- is taxed. In contrast, if the project is financed with debt, then only the profit after interest payments are made is taxed. This means debt-financed investments are cheaper than equity.

And not just a little cheaper. As the Treasury Department recently explained, "The effective corporate marginal tax rate on new equity-financed investment in equipment is 37 percent in the United States. At the same time, the effective marginal tax rate on the same investment made with debt financing is minus 60 percent--a gap of 97 percentage points." The result:

    This creates a bias by corporations toward debt.

Or, for the likes of Mitt Romney, a business model.

For the leveraged buyout (LBO) kings of the 1970's and 1980's, that was the pot of the gold at the end of the rainbow. Because the same interest deduction applied whether debt was taken on for a new factory or just to pay investors, Josh Kosman detailed in The Buyout of America, the early corporate raiders and their private equity successors could almost mint money as they bought firms for a fraction of the overall deal size:

    Kohlberg saw a way to make debt far less onerous for the company being acquired. He would have the company treat its debt the way businesses handle capital expenditures--as operating expenses deduced from profits through the depreciation tax schedules, thereby greatly reducing taxes. With far less to pay the government, his companies could use the money that formerly went to Uncle Sam to retire these huge loans at an unusually fast rate. Bear's equity would rise with every dollar the companies paid back in debt, even if the value of the businesses only remained the same. The final step in the plan was to sell these companies, usually within four to six years.

In January, The Economist explained how the perverse incentives work:

    From 2004 to 2011 private-equity firms piled more debt onto their companies so they could take out $188 billion in dividends to pay themselves. The deals got bigger and bigger. The largest ever, in 2007, was the $44 billion purchase of TXU, an electricity company. The market worries the company will go under.

    But though the private-equity people may have walked off with the loot, America's tax code was partly to blame, because it encourages this behaviour. The tax deductibility of interest payments on debt gives private-equity executives an incentive to pile extra debt onto the companies they buy, thereby risking the health of these firms for the sake of a tax benefit and the prospect of higher returns.

"Traditionally," Kosman noted in 2009, "cash-rich public companies have paid dividends to lure and reward investors." But private equity firms, he explained, stand this process on its head. "Fourteen of the largest American private equity firms had more than 40 percent of the North American companies they bought from 2002 until September 2006 pay them dividends, "Kosman pointed out, adding, "In thirty-two of the eighty-three case, 38 percent, they took money out in the first year." And the innovator behind the business model?

    Mitt Romney was a pioneer of this strategy. His private equity firm, Bain Capital, was the first large PE firm to make a serious portion of its money not from selling its companies or listing them on the stock exchange, but rather by collecting distributions and dividends, which in this context is the exact opposite of reinvesting in a company. Bain Capital is notorious for failing to plow profits back into its businesses.

So much for candidate Mitt Romney's 2007 claim, "Don't forget that when companies earn profit, that money is supposed to be reinvested in growth."

During his tenure as CEO from 1984 to 1999, Bain invested in 40 companies in the U.S. While seven later went bankrupt, in June the New York Times reported that "In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money." That mirrors a January 2012 analysis by the Wall Street Journal, which revealed:

    Bain produced stellar returns for its investors--yet the bulk of these came from just a small number of its investments. Ten deals produced more than 70% of the dollar gains.

    Some of those companies, too, later ran into trouble. Of the 10 businesses on which Bain investors scored their biggest gains, four later landed in bankruptcy court.

Put another way, Mitt Romney's investing was almost risk-free. He won when his portfolio companies won and often when they lost. Thanks in large part to the dangerous incentives unleashed by the U.S. tax code.

Which is why other countries like Denmark, the UK and Germany either don't offer--or are trying to limit--the "public subsidy" that William D. Cohan deemed "the mother's milk of a leveraged buyout". As Felix Salmon noted, the United States could lower the rate at which debt interest can deducted or cap the amount of debt to which it applies. (The Obama administration is considering those kinds of changes in its recently proposed "Framework for Business Tax Reform.") In its January 30, 2012 editorial, the Financial Times lamented:

    "The system could be made fairer and more efficient by taxing debt and equity at the same rate...Most of [Romney's] money was made at Bain Capital, which, like all private equity groups, benefits from a federal debt subsidy. It should be eliminated."

Reflecting on his private equity career, Romney in 2007 sounded almost remorseful that the pain from Bain fell mainly on the plain:

    "It is one thing that if I had a chance to go back I would be more sensitive to," Mr. Romney said. "It is always a balance. Great care has got to be taken not to take a dividend or a distribution from a company that puts that company at risk." He added that taking a big payment from a company that later failed "would make me sick, sick at heart."

Not so sick at heart, though, to make President Romney change the two key elements of the federal tax code that keep the American private equity gravy train running at full speed. The first is the tax deductibility of corporate debt. The second is the notorious "carried interest exemption" that allows him and fellow fund managers to pay only the 15 percent capital gains rate- and not the 35 percent rate on income- to Uncle Sam. It is that rule that allowed Mitt to pay a lower effective tax rate on his $45 million (much of it still from Bain Capital) over the past two years, a rate below that of many middle class families.

As Alec McGillis noted in the New Republic, even the likes of Stephen Moore and Pete Peterson have grudgingly come to the conclusion that it's time for the carried interest exemption, "which allows fund managers to have their compensation for investing other people's money taxed as capital gains, not earned income," to go. But what makes Congress' largesse to Mitt Romney's ilk so glaring is the historically low capital gains tax rate he and his gilded colleagues now pay.

In September, an analysis by the Washington Post concluded that "capital gains tax rates benefiting wealthy feed [the] growing gap between rich and poor." As the Post explained, for the very richest Americans the successive capital gains tax cuts from Presidents Clinton (from 28 to 20 percent) and Bush (from 20 to 15 percent) have been "better than any Christmas gift":

    While it's true that many middle-class Americans own stocks or bonds, they tend to stash them in tax-sheltered retirement accounts, where the capital gains rate does not apply. By contrast, the richest Americans reap huge benefits. Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the United States has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent.

The tax rate on capital gains and dividend income used to be much higher. In the late 1970's, it reach 40 percent. Even as late as 1986 the IRS treated the top taxpayers' investment and earned income the same way. (It is worth noting that lower capital gains tax rates raise income inequality, not investment.) This convenient chart tells the tale:

All of which has--and continues--to work to the great advantage of the one Willard Mitt Romney. To be sure, other codicils of the United States tax code, like overseas tax havens and vagaries of the gift tax have allowed Romney to, among other things, generate a $100 million IRA for his sons, tax-free. (Getting state tax breaks or having the U.S. bail out the pension funds of firms he he acquired didn't hurt, either.) To be sure, Mitt Romney is very smart, very hard working and, to use his words, "extraordinarily successful." But without the policy choices of the United States government, Mitt Romney would not have gotten nearly as rich as he did at Bain Capital. The fact is he simply couldn't have built Bain Capital.

Not without help from his uncle. Uncle Sam, that is.
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« Reply #110 on: Jul 30, 2012, 07:02 AM »

Romney horse rider: dressage can be done with a ‘normal budget’

By Jonathan Terbush
Sunday, July 29, 2012 11:21 EDT

The man who will ride Ann Romney’s horse, Rafalca, in the Olympics insists that dressage is not a sport solely for the upper class, and that any family on a, “normal budget” could afford to buy, train and feed their own horse for competition.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Jan Ebeling, the 53-old who will ride Rafalca, pushed back against the notion that the sport is elitist, saying that he and others on the Romney’s riding team are not all millionaires. Riding lessons aren’t too expensive, Ebeling said, nor is the cost of buying a young, cheap horse.

An analysis by Current.com estimated that it costs on average $28,800 to shelter a dressage horse annually, or more than half the roughly $52,000 median household income nationwide from 2006-2010. That figure does not include the costs of feeding, clothing and transporting a dressage horse either, which bring the total ownership costs to around $55,000.

Critics have assailed Ann Romney’s partial ownership of Rafalca as another sign that she and her husband are woefully out of touch with average Americans. For his part, Mitt Romney has done little to assuage that concern when it comes to sports. In February, Romney told a reporter in Florida that though he didn’t follow NASCAR, he had good friends who owned racing teams. One month later, despite being heavily lampooned for that miscue, he said the same of NFL team owners.

Dressage is an equestrian sport in which riders take their horses through a series of specific trots and maneuvers, each of which are then rated by a panel of judges.
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« Reply #111 on: Jul 30, 2012, 09:28 AM »

yet another lie by the pathological liar

July 30, 2012 08:00 AM

Bibi Netanyahu: No, Mitt Romney Isn't A Close Friend of Mine

By Blue Texan

Mitt Romney, who's currently in Israel holding secretive fundraisers out of the view of the press, loves to brag about his close friendship with with Bibi Netanyahu.

    “We can almost speak in shorthand,” Mr. Romney said in an interview. “We share common experiences and have a perspective and underpinning which is similar.” [...] “Before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say: ‘Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?’"


    “Israel’s current prime minister is not just a friend, he’s an old friend,” Mitt Romney, with whom Netanyahu worked at the Boston Consulting Group in the 1970s, told aipac in March.

Mitt and Bibi: BFFs!

Except no one told Bibi.

    “I remember him for sure, but I don’t think we had any particular connections,” he tells me. “I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”

Yes, Bibi Netanyahu just called Mitt Romney a liar.

First of all, take a moment to imagine the howling by Jennifer Rubin and the rest of the right-wing smear machine if President Obama had bragged about being buddies with the Israeli Prime Minister in '08, only to have the Israeli leader say publicly, "Obama? Yeah. I suppose I've heard of him."

Now, it's easy to believe Romney's lying -- he lies about everything. But Bibi didn't have to throw him under the bus like that.

So what gives?

Either Bibi has concluded that Romney's going to lose in November, or he just doesn't like him. Can't think of anything else. Got any other theories?
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« Reply #112 on: Jul 30, 2012, 10:08 AM »


JERUSALEM (AP) -- Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who suggested his comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. His campaign later said his remarks were mischaracterized.

"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that "culture makes all the difference."

"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence." He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.

Palestinian reaction to Romney was swift and pointed.

"It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."

As criticism mounted while Romney traveled to Poland, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: "His comments were grossly mischaracterized." The Republican's campaign contends Romney's comparison of countries that are close to each other and have wide income disparities - the U.S. and Mexico, Chile and Ecuador - shows his comments were broader than just the comparison between Israel and Palestine.

While speaking to U.S. audiences, Romney often highlights culture as a key to economic success and emphasizes the power of the American entrepreneurial spirit compared to the values of other countries. But his decision to highlight cultural differences in a region where such differences have helped fuel violence for generations raises new questions about the former businessman's diplomacy skills.

As he has at home, Romney in Jerusalem cited a book titled, "Guns, Germs and Steel," that suggests the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there.

"And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here," Romney said, before citing another book, "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," by former Harvard professor David Landes.

This book, Romney said in Jerusalem, concludes that "if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it's this: Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference."

The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.

Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference is so great.

His comparison of the two economies did not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem - areas Israel captured in 1967 where the Palestinians hope to establish a state.

In the West Bank, Palestinians have only limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the territory, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, but has invested much less heavily there than in Jewish west Jerusalem.

And although Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it continues to control access and has enforced a crippling border blockade since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

It's true that Israel has logged tremendous achievements, said Abraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center outside of Tel Aviv. But "you can understand this remark in several ways," he added. "You can say it's anti-Semitic. `Jews and money.'"

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund repeatedly have said that the Palestinian economy can only grow if Israel lifts those restrictions.

"It's Israeli occupiers and Palestinians under occupation, and that's why Palestinians cannot realize their potential," Erekat said.

The breakfast with top donors - including Adelson, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and hedge fund manager Paul Singer - concluded Romney's visit to Israel, the second leg of a three-nation overseas tour designed to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

Standing on Israeli soil for the first time as the GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and said the U.S. has promised never to "look away from our passion and commitment to Israel."

The status of Jerusalem is a critical issue in peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In Israel, Romney did not meet with Abbas or visit the West Bank. He met briefly with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Romney's campaign says the trip, which began in England last week, is aimed at improving the former Massachusetts governor's foreign policy experience through a series of meetings with foreign leaders. The candidate has largely avoided direct criticism of U.S. President Barack Obama while on foreign soil.

The Jerusalem fundraiser, however, was a political event that raised more than $1 million for Romney's campaign. It marks at least the second finance event during his tour. The first, in London, attracted about 250 people to a $2,500-per-person fundraiser.

Both presidential candidates have aggressively courted American donors living abroad, a practice that is legal and has been used for decades.

Romney's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital was in keeping with claims made by Israeli governments for decades, even though the United States, like other nations, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

His remarks on the subject during a speech drew a standing ovation from the audience, which included Adelson, the American businessman who has promised to donate more than $100 million to help defeat Obama.

Adelson was among a several donors who flew to Israel for a day of sightseeing with Romney in addition to private meetings with top Israeli officials.

Romney flew to the Middle East from Britain, where he caused a stir by questioning whether officials there were fully prepared for the Olympic Games. A stop in Poland will complete his trip.

Four years ago, Obama visited Israel as a presidential candidate, part of a five-nation trip meant to establish his own foreign policy credentials.

A goal of Romney's overseas trip is to demonstrate his confidence on the world stage, but the stop in Israel also was designed to appeal to evangelical voters at home and cut into Obama's support among Jewish voters and donors. A Gallup survey of Jewish voters released Friday showed Obama with a 68-25 edge over Romney.

Romney and other Republicans have said Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel.


Associated Press writers Amy Teibel in Jerusalem and Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.
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« Reply #113 on: Jul 31, 2012, 06:54 AM »

07/30/2012 03:12 PM

The World From Berlin: 'Romney Has Already Disqualified Himself'

Republican contender Mitt Romney heads to Poland on Monday, the last stop of an overseas tour that has already taken him to England and Israel. So far, German newspapers have not been impressed with his performance, citing embarrassing verbal blunders and superficial political posturing.

In addition to raising money, the seven-day trip to visit important American allies was supposed to burnish presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney's foreign policy credentials. He started out last week in London where he met with Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the Summer Olympics. Over the weekend he went on to Israel where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But so far, Romney's trip has not had the intended effect. In London he drew fire for clumsy gaffes. In an interview on US television Romney called preparations for the games "disconcerting," questioning the adequacy of security personnel and the possible strike by immigration and customs officials. "That obviously is not something which is encouraging," he said.

Though he later praised the Olympics, the damage was already done. London mayor Boris Johnson rebuked the former Massachusetts governor in front of a screaming crowd of about 60,000. To make matters worse, Romney revealed what was supposed to be a secret meeting with the British foreign intelligence agency MI-6 and awkwardly called Labour leader Ed Miliband, "Mr. Leader."

Warmer Welcome

In Jerusalem, Romney received a warmer welcome from Netanyahu -- the two worked together at Boston Consulting Group after they finished business school. In a speech Sunday evening in Jerusalem's Old City, Romney made clear that he supports more American cooperation with Israel. "We recognize Israel's right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with you," said Romney, who suggested that he might be open to Israeli military action.

US President Barack Obama has also reiterated Israel's right to defend itself, but has been more cautious, discouraging military action and saying that economic sanctions, including a recent European ban on Iranian oil, should be given time. On Friday he signed a bill that will step up American aid to Israel, also announcing $70 million in funding to help the country advance "Iron Dome," a short-range missile defense system that has already been successful in stopping rocket attacks in places like the Gaza Strip.

Romney sought to distinguish himself from Obama's Middle East policy, calling for a tougher stance on Iran, and saying that the America's "highest national security priority" should be keeping the country from obtaining nuclear weapons.

On Monday, German newspapers criticized Romney's visit to Israel as a shallow effort to win over Jewish voters in the US.

Conservative daily Die Welt writes:

"The first part in London went wrong because Romney bluntly criticized the lack of organization ahead of the Olympic games. It was unfitting for a visitor who hopes to be elected to the White House and invoked a great deal of reaction to the prospect. By contrast, in Israel he was greeted by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a "personal friend of mine and a strong friend of the state of Israel." Romney managed to put Obama on the defensive."

"The Middle East is a weak flank for Obama, who has demanded one-sided concessions from Jerusalem, thus casting a massive shadow on the bilateral relationship. The fight for Jewish voters, who have always tended to vote Democratic, could therefore make sense for the Republicans. ... In practice, however, the essence of [Romney's] political proposals is not that different from the president's: military actions won't be ruled out, but diplomatic solutions are preferred."

"In the end it will come down to this: The economy will decide the presidential election, not strong speeches or awkward appearances in foreign countries."

Conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

"Mitt Romney's trip to London, Israel and Poland aimed to sharpen the Republicans' international profile and make an impression on American voters. The interim result: He could (and must) do better. When he tried to give his best in London, his hosts saw it as an unfriendly act. In any case, his Israel visit is even more important to his public back home. With his predictable beliefs about the American-Israeli relationship -- and as an indirect critic of Obama's Middle East policies -- Romney wants to win over Jewish voters, the majority of whom have always belonged to the Democratic Party. But regardless of how stately and diplomatic, or amateurish and clumsy he appears, or how much he talks about the supposed foreign policy errors and failures of the president, who still wears Bin Laden's scalp on his belt, it will have little meaning for the outcome of the November election. The presidential election is a referendum on Obama's domestic policy record. It will be largely decided by the major themes of the economic situation and outlook."

Center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"Travel educates. As a result one should assume that Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger of Barack Obama, wants to learn something during his visit to Israel. Wrong! Almost everything that the candidate organized in Jerusalem fuels the impression that he doesn't want to try understanding how complicated the Middle East situation is. Instead, Romney paints the crisis region in black and white: Israel is good and the rest -- the Palestinians and the mullahs in Iran -- are lumped together."

"This one-sided world view is less dumb than it is coldly calculated. Romney is soliciting campaign donations in Jerusalem (the minimum price for two plates at breakfast is $50,000.) And he is ensnaring Jewish voters at home."

"The trip to Israel may help Romney in the short-term. But in the long-term the Republican has done damage. The Middle East needs the US as a mediator. As such, the presidential hopeful has already disqualified himself."
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« Reply #114 on: Jul 31, 2012, 07:35 AM »

07/31/2012 02:34 PM

Tour de Gaffes: Romney Flops in Europe

He's only been abroad for a week, but the Palestinians are accusing him of racism, the Brits are annoyed and Polish union leaders don't like him. Mitt Romney's trip to Europe and the Middle East has been marred by one fumble after the next.

In the end, Mitt Romney tried to find something positive to say about his European adventure. He said an important lesson he had learned is that "rejection of one kind or another is going to be an important part of everyone's life."

The remark didn't come after the Republican presidential candidate's snafu-filled European tour over the past week. He made it after spending two years as a missionary for the Mormon Church in France in the 1960s, according to his biographers Michael Kranish and Scott Helman in their recent book "The Real Romney". He only managed to convert 10 to 20 people during that time.

Fast forward to last week in Europe, and things haven't really gone any better for Romney. His visits to Britain, Israel or Poland didn't go very well. The result has again been rejection of one kind or another. And the candidate has only himself to blame for this gaffe-filled tour.

A Difficult Trip

It was telling that Romney's spokeswoman, Andrea Sail, was on the defensive right from the start of the trip. At one point she said his words had been "grossly mischaracterized," and at another she denied them completely, saying they were "not true". By Tuesday, his staff was so frustrated that one spokesperson told reporters with the American press corps to "shove it" after they tried to ask questions about his myriad missteps.

First Romney took a swipe at the British, questioning their preparations for the Olympic Games and their enthusiasm. Then, in Jerusalem, he directly compared Israeli gross domestic product to Palestinian per capita GDP, attributing the Israeli's economic vitality to their culture, while at the same time ignoring the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On Monday, Romney's trip continued to Poland, where the left-leaning national daily Gazeta Wyborcza asked: "Will there be further blunders?"

Things actually went pretty well for Romney on Monday. A visit to the Gdansk shipyard, the birthplace of the Solidarity trade union movement that led the Polish struggle against communism in the 1980s, provided the kind of symbolism Romney favors. He met former Solidarity leader and democracy hero Lech Walesa, who last year refused a meeting with US President Barack Obama but practically gave Romney his endorsement this week. "I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too. Governor Romney, get your success -- be successful," Walesa said through a translator.

But the visit also led to irritation. Solidarity officials criticized the meeting. "Regretfully, we have learned from our friends in the American trade union central AFL-CIO representing 12 million workers about Mitt Romney's support for the attacks against trade unions and labor rights," Andrzej Adamczyk, the head of the union's international department, wrote in a statement.

Romney also failed to find support in areas where one might generally expect him to. In an editorial headlined "No Illusions," the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita wrote the visit was "doubtlessly a nice gesture, but we shouldn't attach too much importance to the event."

It is precisely with these sorts of pleasant gestures that Romney is hoping to impress voters back home in swing states like Michigan, which are home to large numbers of voters with Polish roots. For months, Romney has been seeking to distinguish himself as a critic of Russia, labelling Poland's neighbor as America's "No. 1 geopolitical foe". He won't forget to mention that when he meets Poland's president and foreign minister on Tuesday, and then holds a speech on the value of freedom.

Can it suffice to save his unsuccessful trip? Hardly. The European tour of Barack Obama before the 2008 election is remembered here for the speech he gave to 200,000 people in Berlin. Romney's trip will be remembered for his gaffes.

Things went wrong right from the start of the trip in London, where even Prime Minister David Cameron reprimanded the candidate. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere," Cameron said, referring to Romney's management of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. And then Romney flubbed by telling the press about what was supposed to be a secret meeting with the head of Britain's MI6 intelligence agency.

Romney Angers Palestinians

In Israel, Romney opted for strong messages in a bid to finally score points with Jewish Americans. Gallup polls show Obama with a particularly large lead among this group, with 68 percent of American Jews supporting the president compared to just 25 percent for Romney. But the Republican candidate is equally concerned about attracting the votes of Christian fundamentalists, who tend to appreciate sharp rhetoric when it comes to Middle East policies.

It didn't go well. Speaking to 40 campaign donors in Jerusalem's King David Hotel, Romney said "culture and a few other things" were to thank for the country's economic power. He then went on to compare Israel with the Palestinian territories, saying Israel's per-capita income was more than twice as high. "You notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," he said. Cultural superiority? Oh dear. "Grossly mischaracterized," Romney's spokeswoman would later say.

This comparison -- which was also incorrect given that the World Bank states that actual Israel's per-capita income is actually 20 times higher -- has infuriated Palestinians. "It is a racist statement," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "This man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation." Admittedly, Erakat made no mention of Palestinian policies, but he still managed to catch Romney in a Mideast policy gaffe. "It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erakat told the Associated Press.

Indeed, Romney's trip to the Middle East turned out to be a perplexing one. Further angering Palestinians, Romney went on to describe Jerusalem as Israel's capital, stating he would like to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the city. Even the US government doesn't recognize Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem.

The trip has cast doubt on whether Romney has the stature to hold the United States' highest office.

White House officials are predictably satisfied with Romney's performance. "It is clear that there are some people who have taken a look at those comments and are scratching their heads a little bit," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Even harsher criticism came from the Obama campaign itself, where spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Romney's foreign trip had been overshadowed by a series of "fumbles". As if that weren't enough, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak even came forward with praise for Obama, telling CNN: "This administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past."

In recent days, it appears as though Romney has actually improved Obama's chances of re-election.


Jul 31, 2012 7:04am

Mitt Romney Spokesman Tells Reporters ‘Kiss My ***’ at Polish Holy Site

WARSAW, Poland – A Mitt Romney spokesman reprimanded reporters traveling with the candidate on his six-day foreign trip this morning, telling them to  “kiss my a**” after they shouted questions from behind a rope line.

As Romney left the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw and walked toward his motorcade parked in Pilsudski Square, reporters began shouting questions from the line where campaign staffers had told them to stay behind, prompting traveling press secretary Rick Gorka to tell a group of reporters to “kiss my a**” and “shove it.”

He later apologized.

As Romney wrapped up his visit to the historical site, a CNN reporter had yelled, “Governor Romney, are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip.”

“Governor Romney, do you have a statement for the Palestinians?” a New York Times reporter shouted.

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com

“What about your gaffes?” yelled a Washington Post reporter, referring to a number of missteps the candidate has made during his trip, including one in which he said there were some “disconcerting” developments leading up to the London Olympics, drawing the ire of the British media, and another suggesting that  culture was to blame for the difference in economic success between Israelis and Palestinians.

The Romney campaign has called the reports on the candidate’s remarks about Palestinians a “gross mischaracterization.”

Gorka told reporters answering questions to “show some respect.”

“This is a holy site for the Polish people,” he added.

“We haven’t had another chance to ask a question,” one reporter noted to Gorka.

Gorka told another journalist to “shove it.”

Romney last took questions — three — from the traveling press corps Thursday in London. Romney did not address the media that’s flying with him on any of the three charter flights — two that lasted more than four hours — either. Romney has conducted several television interviews during the trip.

Gorka later called both reporters to apologize for his remarks, telling one that he was “inappropriate.”

ABC News reached out to Gorka for an additional comment but did not immediately receive a response.
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« Reply #115 on: Aug 05, 2012, 06:38 AM »

August 04, 2012 01:00 PM

How did Mittens get $100M in his IRA? Dems want to know

By Susie Madrak

This question has been raised several times, and now two Democratic congressmen are making it an official issue: How did Mitt Romney end up with so much money in his IRA - and more importantly, is it legal?

    Romney’s most recent financial disclosure form revealed that his tax-deferred individual retirement account holds upwards of $100 million — an amount that awkwardly showcases his enormous wealth but also raises legal and ethical questions.

    IRAs are intended to allow workers to put away modest sums of money each year in order to help finance a middle class retirement. The savings are tax deferred, but there’s a legal limit — now $6,000 — on how much each IRA holder can contribute annually.

    Now top Democrats on the Budget, Ways and Means, and Education and Workforce Committees want to know how people of Romney’s wealth can end up with 100,000 times that much money in a single IRA, and how much the tax and investment strategies they employ cost the Treasury in revenue every year.

    In a letter Thursday to senior officials at the Treasury and Labor departments, Reps. George Miller (D-CA), Sander Levin (D-MI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) want to know: Is this legal? How easy is this strategy to get away with? How much does it cost the government every year? And what can be done to end the practice?

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« Reply #116 on: Aug 07, 2012, 06:33 AM »

08/06/2012 04:31 PM

Labeled a 'Wimp': Doubts Growing About Romney's Election Chances

By Gregor Peter Schmitz

Critics have called Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney a weakling, and polls show him far behind President Barack Obama. With new suspicions emerging that he has been less than honest about his taxes, even fellow Republicans are having their doubts about him.

Lee Sheppard, a columnist with the industry paper Tax Notes, has spent decades wading through books on taxation. But even Sheppard took a few days to figure out what Rafalca was doing in the 203-page tax return of Ann and Mitt Romney.

Rafalca is a fine, dark brown, 15-year-old Oldenburg dressage horse with an estimated value of $500,000 (€404,000). Horse enthusiast Ann Romney, the wife of the Republican presidential candidate, has been a co-owner of the mare since 2006. Last week Rafalca, ridden by German-born equestrian Jan Ebeling, even competed for the United States in dressage at the London Olympics. No ordinary Olympian, the valuable horse traveled to London in a chartered jet -- in the style to which she is accustomed.

Rafalca is a pretty expensive source of entertainment, but not necessarily for the Romneys, as Sheppard discovered while poking around in their tax return. As it turns out, the political couple posted a loss of $77,731 for the mare's upkeep and transport on their 2010 tax return, just as if the horse were a business. Although the Romneys have not claimed the loss as a deduction yet, they were acting with foresight. Whenever they earn a little money with Rafalca in the future, be it through prizes or breeding fees, they will be able to carry forward the 2010 expenses as a deduction on future tax returns.

"Do we want a president who takes advantage of tax loopholes for his wife's horse hobby?" asks Sheppard, who just published a long article on the subject.

Do Americans even want Willard Mitt Romney, 65, in the White House? It's an increasingly relevant question. The Washington Post selected Romney for its "Worst Week in Washington" column after Romney's much-touted foreign trip turned into a flop. First he insinuated that the British would not be good Olympic hosts. Then, in Israel, he said that the Palestinians were economically backward because of their "culture." Finally, his spokesman verbally abused journalists in Warsaw. "Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive," the Daily Telegraph wrote bitingly.

Newsweek Calls Romney a Wimp

According to the Washington-based Pew Research Center, the Republican presidential candidate is now polling 10 percentage points behind President Barack Obama, as conservatives in the United States become increasingly exasperated with Romney. After all, he is campaigning against a president whose economic policies meet with disapproval among the majority of Americans. One of the reasons Romney is trailing Obama is that he persistently refuses to talk about his past and his plans for the future. He has been deliberately vague about his own proposals for America's future economic and foreign policy.

This approach prompted Newsweek to characterize Romney as a "wimp." This man avoids all risk, unlike previous Republican candidates like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who both went on to win the White House. "It looks like they're banking on simply the angst about President Obama," influential conservative journalist Craig Shirley told Politico. What you've got to do is come up with a pitch, a formula, a message that is going to tell the American people, 'We've tried the last four years. I have a better plan and here's what it is.'"

Romney's biggest weakness is that he is seen as the candidate of the 0.1 percent, the richest of the rich in America. With an estimated net worth of $250 million, he is also one of the richest presidential candidates of all time.

His inability to shed this reputation is his own fault. The former businessman likes to pose while jet skiing in front of his $10-million lakeside vacation house, and he raves about how nice it is to "fire" people. Some 89 percent of Americans believe that Romney's main motivation is to help the rich, whose taxes he promises to cut considerably.

It isn't as if US citizens didn't have a weakness for rich politicians. They've voted the Kennedys and the Bushs into office, and in New York they elected multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg as mayor. But Americans also expect full transparency from candidates for the White House, on matters ranging from marital fidelity to their health and the state of their finances.

Speculation About Unreleased Tax Returns

And that, precisely, is Romney's problem. The steadfast refusal to release his tax returns to the extent that former candidates have done has led to speculation. Mark McKinnon, a former campaign strategist for George W. Bush, said there was obviously something problematic in Romney's tax returns. And Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, even insinuated that Romney hadn't paid any taxes at all for 10 years.

Romney's 2010 tax return, the only one he has released so far, offers an indication of how serious the problems could be. His investment advisors found so many loopholes that the Romneys paid taxes of only 13.9 percent on income of $21.6 million, a lower rate that the average secretary pays in the United States.

The Romneys' extensive investments abroad cover 55 pages of the joint return. Vanity Fair has learned that his former company, the investment firm Bain Capital, maintains 138 investment funds in the Cayman Islands, and that Romney has interests in 12 of them, with an estimated value of $30 million.

Romney, who doesn't tire of praising the United States as the "greatest country in the world," is proving to be less than patriotic in his investment strategies.

Until 2010, the Republican had $3 million deposited in a Swiss bank account. An investment firm in Bermuda helped him save additional taxes. Romney invested at least $1 million in Elliott Associates, a hedge fund of the worst sort. Elliott buys the bonds of dirt-poor African countries, often for very small amounts, and then tries to sue their governments for the money.

All of this can be found in the tax return Romney felt comfortable enough to release. But what secrets could be hidden in the others? More offshore accounts? Even lower tax rates? Politically sensitive investments for a candidate running on an anti-abortion platform? Bain, for example, once invested in a company that media reports claimed had helped abortion clinics dispose of fetuses.

Aggressive Investment Firm

Experts are not even ruling out the possibility of illegal transactions. In 1995, the Republican transferred assets that would now be worth $100 million to his five sons. Without reviewing the documents, it can't be determined whether he may have underreported the value of the transfers to avoid pesky taxes. It's a widespread practice, and US authorities only tend to investigate violations sporadically. "If detected, undervaluing large gifts to one's children could provoke large penalties from the I.R.S.," Columbia University law Professor Michael Graetz writes in the New York Times.

Romney remains defiant. "I'm simply not enthusiastic about giving (the Obama people) hundreds or thousands of more pages to pick through, distort, and lie about," he says. But even Romney's father George, the former CEO of a car company and former governor of Michigan, released 12 years of tax returns during his unsuccessful 1968 presidential candidacy. Ironically, in doing so he established the practice of tax transparency.

The longer the debate drags on, the more voters remember how Romney accumulated so many millions as the founder of Bain Capital, a particularly aggressive investment firm. Bain advisors repeatedly bought up healthy companies and saddled them with high levels of debt. Then the advisors collected lavish fees while the overleveraged companies went bankrupt. Rick Perry, one of Romney's rivals in the Republican primary, characterized the Bain people as "vultures."

Romney has argued that his years with the investment firm make him more qualified than President Obama to create the jobs that are so urgently needed in the United States. But now no one really believes him anymore.

The worries of his wealthy rival must seem like a gift from God to Obama. The president already published his 2011 tax return online in April, and it showed that he paid a tax rate of more than 20 percent last year. The Democrat is now a millionaire, thanks to the royalties for his memoirs. But he rarely forgets to remind voters of the modest circumstances in which he was raised.

In a recent speech, just as Romney was being photographed on jet skis,

Obama reminisced about spending vacations travelling in Greyhound buses and staying at budget motels in his youth.

Obama's advisors are using ads to paint Romney as a tax trickster. One ad features Romney doing a terribly off-key rendition of "America the Beautiful," while images of the picturesque beaches of the Cayman Islands flicker across the screen.

" The Obamans firmly believe that they've hit a nerve," writes New York Magazine, " and like a bunch of sadistic dentists, they plan on drilling away at that sucker until the patient/victim screams."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
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« Reply #117 on: Aug 07, 2012, 03:38 PM »

From the American magazine Perspectives........

August 5, 2012

Romney Proposes $80 Million Tax Cut for His Family

The U.S. tax code may be difficult to grasp, but understanding the presidential candidates' plans for it doesn't have to be. President Obama wants to raise his own taxes, while Mitt Romney wants to dramatically reduce the already small slice he pays to Uncle Sam.

Of course, that simplification doesn't shed light on just how dramatic President Romney's windfall for his family would actually be. Mitt's plan, which the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center forecast would cut taxes for the richest five percent of earners while increasing the tax bill for the other 95 percent of Americans, could slash his own annual IRS payment by almost half. And by eliminating the estate tax, the $250 million man would potentially divert $80 million (and possibly more) from the United States Treasury to his own heirs

On Friday, Governor Romney defended his mystery finances, declaring, "I have paid taxes every year. A lot of taxes. A lot of taxes." But when he announced Sunday that he wants "something dramatic" to boost the economy, he must have been speaking about his own.

Here's why.

At the end of 2012, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will expire. Among other changes to the tax code, President Obama wants to let the top 35 percent tax rate for income over $250,000 to return to its Clinton-era level of 39.6 percent and implement the Buffett Rule guaranteeing millionaires pay a minimum 30 percent effective tax rate. Obama would also end the "carried interest exemption" that allows Mitt Romney and other similar financiers to pay under 15 percent to Uncle Sam each year. In contrast, Romney would not only make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but deliver a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Upper income taxpayers would not only see their rate slashed to 28 percent, but would benefit by the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).

In June, the AP's Connie Cass reviewed studies by the conservative Tax Foundation and the more liberal Citizens for Tax Justice. She concluded:

    Compared with what they owed in April, both men would be dinged in 2013 under Obama's proposal, along with other wealthy taxpayers. They could expect savings under Romney, depending on which tax breaks the former Massachusetts governor decides to oppose.

(It's worth noting that Romney thus far has refused to say which of the $1 trillion in revenue lost to tax breaks and deductions he would recover. But as Ezra Klein rightly pointed out, "The size of the tax cut he's proposing for the rich is larger than all of the tax expenditures that go to the rich put together. As such, it is mathematically impossible for him to keep his promise to make sure the top one percent keeps paying the same or more.)"

But left unsaid in the AP analysis is that Mitt Romney's proposed tax cut windfall to his family would dwarf his own personal payday. Ending the estate tax would not only mean billions back for the families of Mitt's billionaire backers, but as the Center for American Progress showed in the chart at the top, a huge payday for the Romney clan as well.

It's bad enough that the $250 million man Romney pays less than 15 percent of his income to Uncle Sam each year, a rate well below most middle class families. Worse still, the notorious "carried interest" exemption for private equity managers (like his son Tagg) Romney wants to preserve taxes him not at the ordinary income rate of 35 percent but at the capital gains rate now half of what it was only 15 years ago. (As it turns out, most of Mitt's millions each year come from his controversial former employer, Bain Capital.) On top of his Cayman Island investments and past Swiss bank accounts, Romney has created a $100 million trust fund for his sons - tax free. Thanks to some (apparently legal) chicanery on the part of his former employer, Mitt has also accumulated an IRA worth a reported $100 million. The Romney camp even complained about that, worrying that recent tax code changes had "created a tax problem" for the former Massachusetts governor and asking, "Who wants to have $100 million in an IRA?"

Mitt Romney's answer to that is another question: who wants to pay the estate tax? That tax is currently paid by less than a quarter of one percent of American estates each year. According to the Tax Policy Center, in 2009 fewer than 2,700 family farms and businesses owed the tax to Uncle Sam. But thanks to successful Republican brinksmanship, the December 2010 tax cut compromise lowered the rate from 45 percent to 35 percent while boosting the estate tax exemption to $10 million per couple. Now, Mitt Romney wants to make sure those 40 richest estates estimated to now pay the tax each year could keep billions of dollars away from the federal government.

And among those 40 estates would be those of the Walton family, the Adelsons, the Koch brothers and his own. With President Romney zeroing out the estate tax, those 17 grandchildren would get a golden shower when their grandparents Mitt and Ann leave the scene. On paper, their payday courtesy of all other American taxpayers could reach $84,000,000, that is, 35 percent of $240 million. (While the effective estate tax rate is lower than 35 percent, Romney's wealth may also be substantially greater than has been reported.)

Those winnings would represent a pretty good return on investment for the former Bain Capital CEO. Back in 2008, Romney spent $45 million of his own money in his first presidential bid, money he wrote off in hopes of securing the vice presidential slot on John McCain's Republican ticket. As Mitt's son Matt explained at the time, the Five Brothers had no problem with their diminished inheritance:

    "I don't ever expect to see any of that anyways. I don't think any of us kids are counting on that money. If my dad decides to use the money he's made, then we support him."

And why not? If Mitt Romney becomes President of the United States, Matt and his four brothers will get that money--and more--back from Uncle Sam.
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« Reply #118 on: Aug 07, 2012, 11:02 PM »

Great video on Romney's duplicity



Also, Obama called Romney's tax plan which is to steal from the poor to give to the rich, "Romneyhood"....(reverse robin hood)
« Last Edit: Aug 07, 2012, 11:10 PM by Sunyata » Logged
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« Reply #119 on: Aug 08, 2012, 12:01 PM »

Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy for Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes

Jesse Drucker, Elisa Martinuzzi and Lorenzo Totaro, ©2012 Bloomberg News
Updated 6:03 a.m., Monday, August 6, 2012

Aug. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Mitt Romney skipped Italy on his swing through Europe. That was probably prudent.

That’s because Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid.

Bain funneled profits through subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a common corporate strategy for avoiding income taxes in other European countries, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The buyer, Italy’s biggest telephone company, now has a total market value less than what it paid Bain and other investors for the directory business.

In Italy, the deals have spurred at least three books, separate legal and regulatory probes and newspaper columns alleging investors made a fortune at the expense of Italian taxpayers. Boston-based Bain wasn’t a subject of the inquiries, which didn’t result in any charges.

The sale of the government’s directory business is “a dark chapter in the country’s privatization history, one that has hurt Italians deeply,” said Bernardo Bortolotti, an economics professor at Turin University who advised the Italian Treasury on asset sales from 2002 through 2005. “It was a mistake from the start, damaged by a lack of transparency and the use of offshore funds.”

Personally Involved

While few ordinary Italians realize the link between Romney and the investor group, the deal symbolizes Italy’s economic woes and government futility as the nation struggles to convince investors that it can repay Europe’s second-largest debt without a bailout. The economy is in its fourth recession since 2001 and unemployment is at a 13-year high.

Romney himself probably earned more than $50 million, and possibly as much as $60 million from the Italian directory sale of Seat Pagine Gialle SpA, according to a person familiar with the matter. The deal turned into one of the biggest windfalls of his tenure.

“With this investment, Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, with its consortium partners, partnered with a new management team to transform this company, and grow it into a tremendous success,” said Michele Davis, a spokeswoman for Romney’s presidential campaign. “Mitt Romney is running for President to put that experience to work.”

‘Burned’ Investors

As Bain’s CEO from 1984 to 2001, Romney was personally involved in the deal at various points, including the initial decision to invest. He attended at least one meeting about it in Boston, according to a participant. When Bain sold the directory business in 2000, Romney, while still holding the title of CEO, was in charge of preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Romney has contended that he gave up management control of Bain in February 1999 to run the games.

“Mitt Romney and Bain played the role of successful financial speculators at the peril of the Italian government and the small stock-market investors who were burned by the sharp decline in Seat shares,” said Giovanni Pons, a journalist for la Repubblica and co-author of “L’Affare Telecom” (2002), which recounts details of the Bain deal.

The use of offshore subsidiaries to avoid taxes has been standard practice for private equity firms such as Bain, as well as other big U.S. companies such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc.

‘Full Compliance’

“The holding company structure was in full compliance with all tax and reporting requirements in Italy, Europe, the U.S. and the resident countries of other investors,” Bain Capital said in an e-mail. “Investing through this common cross-border structure ensured that investors were not unfairly subjected to double taxation in multiple countries. The structure did not reduce or defer income taxes for any U.S. investor.”

Romney’s extensive investments in tax havens are drawing intensifying media scrutiny at the same time that revenue- starved governments around the world are cracking down on such practices.

In recent weeks, Romney has faced increasing pressure to release additional years of tax returns because of questions over his 13.9 percent personal tax rate, his Swiss bank account, an IRA valued at as much as $102 million and his investments in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

An official for Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli, who oversaw privatizations at the Treasury when Italy sold the telephone-directory business, declined to comment.

Cautionary Tale

The telephone directory episode may serve as a cautionary tale now that the Italian government has approved an additional round of state asset sales, said Italian Senator Elio Lannutti, a member of the Italian Values party, which is headed by a former magistrate who led anti-corruption probes in the 1990s. Italy aims to raise 10 billion euros through those sales and reduce the second-biggest government debt load in Europe.

Bain’s purchase and quick resale of the yellow pages business is “an example of Italian capitalism, whereby those with little capital are able to cheat the system and enrich themselves,” Lannutti said. “It’s a mistake Italians hope won’t be repeated again now.”

Twelve years later, Romney’s ties to the deal could hurt his image in Italy, said Carlo Alberto Carnevale-Maffè, a professor of strategy at Bocconi University’s School of Management in Milan.

“There is always this underlying sentiment in Italian public opinion that when you are in politics you don’t serve the public good, you serve your personal interest,” Carnevale-Maffè said. “Many will see Romney’s role in this as confirmation and it will be interpreted in a very cynical way.”

Pagine Gialle

The origins of Bain’s deal can be traced to 1996, when the Italian Treasury -- whose chiefs then included director general Mario Draghi, now head of the European Central Bank -- began privatizing several publicly owned businesses to reduce government debt, making it easier to enter the euro zone.

One of the first companies to go was Seat Pagine Gialle, or yellow pages, controlled by a state-owned company called Stet SpA.

Bain got wind of the public auction through the Italian unit of Bain & Co., the consulting company whose partners created Bain Capital. The Milan-based subsidiary was run by Gianfilippo Cuneo, a founder of McKinsey & Co.’s Italian operations.

Cuneo also was part owner of an investment firm, which needed additional capital to invest in the directory sale. Cuneo brought the deal directly to Romney.

“He immediately understood that it was a credible operation and it was worth devoting some time to it, so he guaranteed the support of Bain Capital,” Cuneo said.

‘Sharp Questions’

Lorenzo Pellicioli, who became an investor in Seat and its CEO, recalled Romney stopping in on a meeting in Bain’s Boston offices about the pending acquisition.

“He came into the room, asked a couple of very sharp questions immediately, we shook hands and he left,” Pellicioli said.

The other investors in the Bain group included De Agostini SpA, an Italian holding company with publishing and media interests; Banca Commerciale Italiana SpA, then itself only recently privatized and one of the country’s largest banks; Telecom Italia SpA, Italy’s biggest phone company, then government-controlled; and Cuneo’s investment group Investitori Associati SpA.

Bain invested 36 million euros, or about $40 million, according to a document compiled by Investitori Associati, giving it a 16 percent share of the bidding group, and making it the second-biggest investor, after Telecom Italia.

2000 Resale

Bain and its partners wound up acquiring 61.7 percent of Seat for 853 million euros in November 1997, beating another bidder.

The Italian government, which previously owned a controlling stake in Telecom Italia, sold most of its shares in the phone company in 1997. In February 2000, at the height of the Internet bubble, Telecom Italia announced it was spending 14.6 billion euros to buy the remaining portion of Seat -- which had since expanded its Web offerings.

While Bain won’t disclose its precise return on the investment, Cuneo’s office said Investitori Associati’s return was almost 28 times the initial investment. Bain, like other private equity firms, enhances returns by using borrowed money to finance acquisitions.

Bain moved profits through a series of subsidiaries in Luxembourg, a country that makes it easy to get cash out without paying taxes, according to corporate filings. Corporate records in Luxembourg show Bain carried out technical steps for a tax- free repatriation of profits to the U.S.

‘Non-Existent’ Taxes

Investitori Associati said taxes paid by the Luxembourg holding company in which it and the group members invested were “almost non-existent,” according to an e-mail from Cuneo’s office.

Seat’s stock price had almost tripled in the three months leading up to Telecom Italia’s offer in February 2000. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index increased 160 percent in the two years leading up to the deal.

“It was sold at the peak of the Internet bubble” recalled Pellicioli, Seat’s then-CEO. “It was not pure smoke, there was a lot of real meat, but the multiple within the Internet bubble and the timing helped.”

Italian regulators raised concerns that the price was manipulated and investors traded on inside information and probed alleged conflicts of interest. Two top Telecom Italia officials also owned shares in Seat indirectly.

‘Ripped Off’

Italy’s stock market watchdog, Consob, and Turin prosecutor Bruno Tinti investigated, according to a person familiar with the matter and news accounts at the time. No charges were brought.

Seat was sold in 2003 for 3.7 billion euros to another group of private equity firms and today has a market value of 57 million euros. Today, all of Telecom Italia has a market capitalization of 12.5 billion euros. Since February 2000, shares in Telecom Italia have declined about 90 percent.

“The government got ripped off,” said Alessandro Fogliati, who led a Stet shareholder group that voted against the sale of Seat. “It was the beginning of the destruction of Italian industry.”

--With assistance from Chiara Remondini in Milan and Simon Clark in London. Editors: Dan Golden, Lisa Wolfson

To contact the reporters on this story: Jesse Drucker in New York at jdrucker4@bloomberg.net; Elisa Martinuzzi in Milan at emartinuzzi@bloomberg.net; Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Kaufman at jkaufman17@bloomberg.net


What does it tell about any Soul, when a lie is exposed as below, that that Soul continues with the lie anyway ?

August 08, 2012 9:49 AM

The Big Dog Speaks

Mitt Romney’s campaign probably made a tactical error in displaying Bill Clinton’s image in its highly mendacious and deeply divisive new ad on welfare policy that suggests, among other fabrications, that the Obama administration is somehow abolishing the central “work” focus of the 1996 welfare reform act Clinton signed. As I thought might happen, the Big Dog is speaking out against the lies in a statement (per Politico’s Maggie Haberman):

    Governor Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true.

    The act emerged after years of experiments at the state level, including my work as Governor of Arkansas beginning in 1980. When I became President, I granted waivers from the old law to 44 states to implement welfare to work strategies before welfare reform passed.

    After the law was enacted, every state was required to design a plan to move people into the workforce, along with more funds to help pay for training, childcare and transportation. As a result, millions of people moved from welfare to work.

    The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada to achieve more flexibility in designing programs more likely to work in this challenging environment. The Administration has taken important steps to ensure that the work requirement is retained and that waivers will be granted only if a state can demonstrate that more people will be moved into work under its new approach. The welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act will not be waived.

    The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether. We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.

How did the Romney campaign’s response to this rather categorical rejection of the ad’s claims? It just repeated them. I swear, trying to engage these people in any sort of reasoned discourse is like looking into the eyes of a goat: nothing there but the determination to keep on keeping on, truth be damned. Team Mitt has a lot riding on this latest effort to tar (racial allusion intended) the president with the “welfare” meme, which unsubtly links repeated GOP claims that Obama is a wild-eyed socialist “redistributor of wealth” to the least popular and most racially explosive programmatic element of the New Deal/Great Society legacy. The welfare ad is going to be in heavy rotation according to Romney campaign sources, and no number of refutations of its central claims (by Clinton or by “fact-checkers” like PolitiFact, which quickly gave the ad a “Pants on Fire” designation) will stop them.


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