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« Reply #30 on: Mar 06, 2012, 07:38 AM »

From the American magazine "Perspectives"

How Can Mitt Romney Sleep at Night?

Less than 24 hours after refusing to take hate radio host Rush Limbaugh to task for slandering Sandra Fluke , Mitt Romney reached a new low on Saturday. During an exchange with an Army mom yesterday in Ohio, Romney asked of the President who killed Osama Bin Laden, "How in the world can the commander in chief sleep at night?" That from a man who once brushed off the importance of even getting Bin Laden, opposed U.S. strikes to target Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, flip-flopped on whether the Iraq war was mistake and declared his own five son serve America by "helping me get elected."

How can Mitt Romney sleep at night?

As CBS reported, in Dayton this weekend an Army mother asked Governor Romney what he could do to speed her daughter back from Afghanistan. Romney, who has opposed President Obama's timeline for drawing down troops there, responded by blasting the Commander-in-Chief (around the 2:00 mark):

    [Mrs. Chura said] "There is no mission here. We have no definition of a mission."

    Romney jumped on Chura's complaint and attacked Obama on the war. "If your daughter is not familiar with the mission that she's on, how in the world can the commander in chief sleep at night, knowing that we have soldiers in harm's way that don't know exactly, precisely, what it is that they're doing there?" he asked.

How in the world can Mitt Romney sleep at night, when during his first run for President he declared that Osama Bin Laden wasn't that important?

In a May 2007 diatribe conflating all Muslims into a single unified global threat, there was one Muslim he wasn't too worried about:

    "But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate."

Even regarding that "one person, Osama Bin Laden," Romney struggled. After insisting in May 2007 that "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney reversed course just three days later and declared of Bin Laden, "He's going to pay, and he will die."

He did, thanks to President Obama and no thanks to Mitt Romney.

How can Mitt Romney sleep at night, when he opposed the American strikes in Pakistan that killed Bin Laden and most of his lieutenants?

Repeatedly in 2007 and 2008, then candidate Barack Obama promised to unilaterally launch strikes against Bin Laden and other high-value targets in Pakistan and ramp up the U.S. effort in the under-resourced effort across the border in Afghanistan. In July 2008, Senator Obama pledged, "we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights."

But Mitt Romney said no:

    "I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours... I don't think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort..."There is a war being waged by terrorists of different types and nature across the world," Romney said. "We want, as a civilized world, to participate with other nations in this civilized effort to help those nations reject the extreme with them."

That might seem like an incongruous statement coming from the same Mitt Romney who last fall said of our "ally" Pakistan, "We need to help bring Pakistan into the 21st century, or the 20th for that matter." It's more comical still coming from the same Mitt Romney who also told Chuck Todd of MSNBC that he now supports the very kind of operation to take out Osama Bin Laden he once opposed:

    "I think in a setting like this one where Osama bin Laden was identified to be hiding in Pakistan, that it was entirely appropriate for this president to move in and to take him out," Romney replied, later adding that "In a similar circumstance, I think other presidents and other candidates, like myself, would do exactly the same thing."

Not true, as the 2008 edition of Mitt Romney made clear.

How can Mitt Romney sleep at night, when he can't even make up his mind about whether the Iraq war was a mistake?

Four years ago, Mitt Romney felt pretty good about killing Saddam Hussein, too. As Byron York noted, during a January 2008 GOP debate, Romney was asked, "Was the war in Iraq a good idea worth the cost in blood and treasure we have spent?" Mitt's response?

    "It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now."

Then in 2011, Multiple Choice Mitt was not so sure. The answer now depends:

    "Well, if we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction -- if somehow we had been given that information, why, obviously we would not have gone in."

Needless to say, over the past four years nothing has changed on that point: Saddam's non-existent weapons of mass destruction have not magically appeared. Then again, neither has Mitt Romney's backbone.

How can Mitt Romney sleep at night, after trying to lecture any military parent when he claimed his five sons serve their nation by getting their dad elected President?

Young Mitt Romney avoided military service during the Vietnam by virtue of multiple deferments granted to enable his church mission in France. There, he was either forced to poop in a bucket or live in an elegant Paris mansion, the answer depending on whether you ask him or anyone else. By Mitt's own accounts, he felt guilty - or not - about being in the vineyards of France instead of the rice fields of Vietnam.

But as Mitt Romney made clear in 2007, he felt no such guilt about his own sons' lack of military service. After all, they had a higher calling:

    "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard. One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president. I respect that and respect all those and the way they serve this great country."

Of course, these are a just a few of the reasons the serial flip-flopper who would be Commander-in-Chief Romney should be experiencing a lot of sleepless nights. There are myriad others. For starters, telling jobless workers that "I'm also unemployed," proclaiming himself part of the "80 to 90 percent of us who are middle class" and insisting income inequality should only be discussed in "quiet rooms" even though as a $250 million man he pays a lower tax rate than most middle class families.

For the American people, the real nightmare could begin in November. If Mitt Romney becomes President of the United States, how will anyone sleep at night?
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« Reply #31 on: Mar 06, 2012, 09:10 AM »


Santorum: ‘Higher-income people don’t have to pay taxes’

By David Edwards
Monday, March 5, 2012 13:19 EST

Republican presidential Rick Santorum is advising President Barack Obama not to raise taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans because “higher-income people don’t have to pay taxes if they don’t want to.”

“Once we defeat Barack Obama this economy will start turning around,” the former Pennsylvania senator told a crowd in Miamisburg, Ohio. “Because you’ll know you have someone in there who’s going to unshackle businesses, reduce rates, not increase them. The president’s promised increased taxes if he’s re-elected.”

“All he wants to do to solve the deficit problem is increase taxes on people, particularly higher-income people,” Santorum continued. “You see, that sounds very populist. Go after the 1 percent. It’s interesting because the British just did this. They went after the 1 percent in Britain. They dramatically increased taxes on the highest-income Brits. And guess what? It failed.”

“What happened? Well, higher-income people don’t have to pay taxes if they don’t want to because they can move their money somewhere else, they can move their investments. They can stop investing. They can stop working. They don’t need to work. They’re higher-income people.”

DeAnne Julius, the former chairwoman of Chatham House in London, has explained that Britain’s 50 percent marginal tax rate on high-income earners should not be compared to 35 percent rate imposed on wealthiest Americans, who can take advantage of loopholes in the U.S. tax system.

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« Reply #32 on: Mar 08, 2012, 08:34 AM »

From the American magazine "Perspectives"

March 7, 2012

Romney Admits He Has No "Bold" New Tax Plan

Two weeks ago, Mitt Romney unveiled what he has repeatedly deemed a "bold" plan to deliver a 20 percent across the board tax cut. As it turns out, the plan isn't so bold after all. For starters, it's largely a retread of the 15 percent tax cut scheme Bob Dole rode to defeat in 1996. And after a wave of analyses showed Romney's plan would produce oceans of red ink while giving the rich yet another payday courtesy of the U.S. Treasury, Mitt admitted today that his plan "can't be scored" because "I haven't laid out all of the details."

As The Hill reported today, the GOP frontrunner is now essentially claiming he deserves an "A" because the dog ate his homework:

    "So I haven't laid out all of the details about how we're going to deal with each deduction, so I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it, because frankly it can't be scored, because those kinds of details will have to be worked out with Congress, and we have a wide array of options."

As Ezra Klein's Wonkblog rightly concluded:

    "Let's be clear on this: A tax plan that can't be scored because it doesn't include sufficient details is not a plan. It's a gesture towards a plan, or a statement of intended direction, or perhaps an unusually wonky daydream. But it's not a plan."

Romney's may not be a plan, but it is a recipe. At a time of record income inequality, the lowest federal tax burden in 60 years and large budget deficits, without listing all of his ingredients Mitt Romney is just offering a recipe for exploding national debt and a windfall for the wealthy.

As the Washington Post explained in its discussion of an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, "until the campaign offers a more specific plan, Budget Watch analysts said Romney's entire framework would add about $2.6 trillion to the debt by 2021." That's likely a conservative estimate. As ThinkProgress and the Washington Post's Lori Montgomery and Ezra Klein documented, Mitt Romney's risky new scheme makes George W. Bush look like Karl Marx:

    Romney's claim that his plan would promote job and economic growth while reducing the deficit is also likely false. The Bush tax cuts were promoted under the same guise, only to blow a $2.5-trillion hole in the federal budget that was accompanied by worst performance of any post-war expansion" for growth in investment, GDP, and job creation. Romney's tax cuts are even more expensive, clocking in at a cost of more than $10.7 trillion over the next decade and reducing revenue to a paltry 15 percent of GDP, according to Linden. Balancing the budget on those terms, as Romney claims he will do, would be next to impossible.

And as Klein made clear in his 150 word description of the Romney plan, there's only one place Mitt can look for the money:

    Mitt Romney is promising that taxes will go down, defense spending will go up, and old-people programs won't change for this generation of retirees. So three of his four options for deficit reduction -- taxes, old-people programs, and defense -- are now either contributing to the deficit or are off-limits for the next decade.

    Romney is also promising that he will pay for his tax cuts, pay for his defense spending, and reduce total federal spending by more than $6 trillion over the next 10 years. But the only big pot of money left to him is poor-people programs. So, by simple process of elimination, poor-people programs will have to be cut dramatically. There's no other way to make those numbers work.

The numbers won't work, that is, unless President Romney both savaged federal spending and eliminated deductions for workers, families and businesses that cost Uncle Sam over $1 trillion a year. But in typical Romney fashion, his campaign is refusing to say which loopholes it would close while promising to maintain the ones voters care about most. His economic adviser Glenn Hubbard admitted Romney's cowardice, explaining "it is not his intention to take on any specific deduction or exclusion and eliminate it." And as the New York Times reported, Romney promised last Wednesday his plan would somehow be "revenue neutral" and raise the burden on upper-income taxpayers, even as he balanced the budget.

Two months before Romney rolled out his desperate 20 percent tax cut, the reliably Republican Wall Street Journal essentially labeled Mitt a coward when it came to making the tough choices in his economic plan. Then and now, Mitt admitted that discretion was the better part of valor:

    Amid such generalities, it's hard not to conclude that the candidate is trying to avoid offering any details that might become a political target. And he all but admits as much. "I happen to also recognize," he says, "that if you go out with a tax proposal which conforms to your philosophy but it hasn't been thoroughly analyzed, vetted, put through models and calculated in detail, that you're gonna get hit by the demagogues in the general election."

Those "demagogues," as Mitt Romney calls the American people, just want to see his math. Otherwise, his pledge to "cut, cap and balance" the budget is just a smokescreen. As Klein summed it up:

    So at this point, Romney doesn't have a plan to reform the tax system. He has a statement about what he would like a reformed tax system to include: lower rates for everyone. But that's cake-and-ice-cream stuff. All the hard questions -- which tax breaks to close, for instance -- remain unanswered, and it doesn't appear that he plans to answer them anytime soon.

And there's nothing bold about that.
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« Reply #33 on: Mar 08, 2012, 08:38 AM »

Obama to Romney: Make Your Case For War With Iran Or Quit Talking About It

By karoli

Mitt Romney's pathetic efforts to stain the President's track record when it comes to foreign policy ring hollow and are actually dangerous, or could be. During his news conference yesterday, President Obama addressed Mitt Romney's irresponsible comments about war with Iran in recent days. Here's a sample:

    “Yet, the current administration has promoted a policy of engagement with Iran,” he continued. “The president not only dawdled in opposing sanctions, he’s opposed them. Hope is not a foreign policy. The only thing respected by thugs and tyrants is our resolve, backed by our power and our readiness to use it.”

    Earlier this week in Snellville, Georgia, Romney told an 11-year-old boy that the world would be one step closer to nuclear war if President Barack Obama was allowed another term in office.

    “If Barack Obama gets re-elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change if that’s the case,” he said.

This follows on the heels of his irresponsible statements at the last debate about how he, and he alone, would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

President Obama had some choice words for him and any other Republican candidate who thinks war with Iran is a good idea.

    OBAMA: At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically. That's not just my view -- that's the view of our top intelligence officials, it's the view of top Israeli intelligence officials. And as a consequence, we are going to continue to apply the pressure, even as we provide a door for the Iranian regime to walk through, where they could rejoin the community of nations, by giving assurances to the international community that they are meeting their obligations and they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon. That's my track record.

    Now, what's said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don't have a lot of responsibilities. They're not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I'm reminded of the costs involved in war. I'm reminded of the decision that I have to make, in terms of sending our young men and women into battle, and the impacts that has on their lives, the impact it has on our national security, the impact it has on our economy.

    This is not a game, and there's nothing casual about it. And, you know, when I see some of these folks who had a lot of bluster and a lot of big talk, but when you actually ask them, specifically, what they would do, it turns out they repeat the things that we've been doing over the last three years. It indicates to me that that's more about politics than actually trying to solve a difficult problem.

    Now, the one thing that we have not done, is we haven't launched a war. If some of these folks think that it's time to launch a war, they should say so. and they should explain to the American people exactly why they would do that and what the consequences would be. Everything else is just talk.

It's not just the President who thinks they're being irresponsible with their "loose talk of war," either. The former director of the Mossad spoke out, saying Romney is actually making the situation worse with Iran. The National Security Network has a roundup of other condemnations by highly respected current and former officials also condemning it, and reminding people that war is not "another applause line."

Doesn't the Republican drumbeat for war with Iran feel a lot like the drumbeat for war with Iraq back in 2003? It does to me, and so let me just remind readers and casual visitors alike that there is no evidence of Iran actually having a nuclear weapon. Further, Iran has agreed to restart talks with the world community and agreed in principle to allow nuclear inspectors to visit the Parchin site. Saying so doesn't make it so, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

It frustrates me to see Republicans warmonger to create a campaign wedge, but I don't understand why they think they'll succeed. This is a war-weary nation and support for another war is almost nil. What do they think they gain with this kind of "loose talk"?

Former Mossad Director: Romney ‘Is Making The Situation Worse’ With Iran

By Eli Clifton on Mar 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Efraim Halevy

Mitt Romney’s oped in today’s Washington Post claimed — without offering any evidence — that Iran has a “nuclear-bomb program” and that the Islamic Republic is “racing to build a nuclear bomb.” Currently, U.S. intelligence and the IAEA do not believe either of these claims to be true.

But Romney’s disregard for the facts was noticed not just in Washington. Former Israeli Mossad director Efraim Halevy said that Romney’s militaristic talk could induce the Iranians to rush to acquire nuclear weapons in order to deter an attack if the former Massachusetts governor were to assume the presidency in January 2013. Halevy warned that Romney is effectively “telling the Iranians, ‘You better be quick about it,’” in an interview with the Huffington Post. Halevy explained:

    If I’m sitting here in the month of March 2012 reading this, and I’m an Iranian leader, what do I understand? I have nine more months to run as fast as I can because this is going to be terrible if the other guys get in.

Halevy went on to observe, “In the effort to demolish the president [Romney] is making the situation worse.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said an attack would only delay Iran’s nuclear program and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey warned that military action “could carry unforeseen risks.”

The bellicose rhetoric of the campaign trail, which often incorporates accusations that Obama has been insufficiently protective of Israel’s security in the face of an Iranian nuclear threat, has stood in stark contrast to the messages coming out of Israel’s intelligence and security communities. Indeed, the IAEA has expressed concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program but neither U.N. nuclear inspectors nor U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Iran has restarted its nuclear weapons program.

In February, former Israeli intelligence chief Meir Dagan disagreed with the characerization of Iran as an “existential threat” to Israel and current Israeli intelligence chief Tamir Pardo reportedly told a gathering of Israeli ambassadors in December that Iran doesn’t pose an “existential threat” and “the term existential threat is used too freely.”

Also in February, Israeli Lt. Gen. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak reported that the Israeli military’s leadership doesn’t support a strike on Iran and the AP disclosed that Israel’s incoming air force chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel is “less enthusiastic about a possible attack on Iran” than the current air force chief, according to defense officials.

The White House also noticed Romney’s efforts to beat the war drums. Speaking today, Obama challenged Iran-hawks to “explain to the American people exactly why [we should launch a war] and what the consequences would be.” A growing number of defense and intelligence elites in Israel seem to think the costs of war with Iran far outweigh the consequences to the Jewish state.

Responsible Leadership: “Not Just Another Applause Line”

March 7, 2012

Amid Super Tuesday-week rhetoric on national security and war with Iran, three things held constant this week: Active-duty and retired military leaders pushed back strongly on loose war talk and supported the White House approach. The public continued to give strong support to the pragmatic national security policies of the administration and oppose pre-emptive military actions. And national security commentators continued to raise the alarm about the most sensitive security topics being swallowed by meaningless election-year rhetoric.

Military leaders, active and retired, reject loose talk on Iran. As Politico reports today, “On Iran, however, the generals seem wary of the GOP’s hawkishness and more in agreement with the White House’s measured approach… On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, another top U.S. general cautioned that military action would ‘just delay’ Iran’s nuclear drive. ‘I don’t see this going in the right direction until the full effect of the sanctions can accrue,’ the head of Central Command, Gen. James Mattis, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.” Retired military leaders also reject the conservative approach. As Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton (ret) told Military.com earlier this week, “There is a national reflex on the conservative part [of the] political spectrum to reach for the military option first and others second… We feel the need to give the president and those who endorse this approach as much space as possible to let … the economic efforts guide Iranian behavior.” [Politico, 3/6/12. Paul Eaton via Military.com, 3/5/12]

By trying to make political hay out of deadly serious issues, candidates show they’re not ready to be commander in chief. As Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented in a floor statement yesterday responding to an op-ed by Mitt Romney earlier in the week: Stan Greenberg and Jeremy Rosner, 2/29/12. Michael Cohen, 3/2/12]

March 6, 2012

Ronald Romney Forgets Iran-Contra

For the second time in four months, Mitt Romney has penned a tough-talking op-ed on the Iranian nuclear program. But this time, the almost certain GOP presidential nominee has introduced a new riff to his constant refrain that "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon." Now in his Washington Post piece and again in his speech Tuesday to AIPAC, Romney has portrayed himself as a modern day Ronald Reagan who will force Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions just as it did the 52 U.S. hostages in 1981. Unfortunately, Mitt forgot the full story of the Gipper's experience with Iran. As it turned out, in the Iran-Contra scandal that almost ended his presidency, Ronald Reagan gave the mullahs in Tehran not a show of American might, but a cake, a Bible - and U.S. arms.

Romney first Reagan impersonation appeared in Monday's Washington Post as a follow up to November's "I Won't Let Iran Get Nukes." In it, he cast Barack Obama as "America's most feckless president since Carter" and cast himself as the Gipper:

    Beginning Nov. 4, 1979 , dozens of U.S. diplomats were held hostage by Iranian Islamic revolutionaries for 444 days while America's feckless president, Jimmy Carter, fretted in the White House. Running for the presidency against Carter the next year, Ronald Reagan made it crystal clear that the Iranians would pay a very stiff price for continuing their criminal behavior. On Jan. 20, 1981, in the hour that Reagan was sworn into office, Iran released the hostages. The Iranians well understood that Reagan was serious about turning words into action in a way that Jimmy Carter never was.

Speaking by satellite this morning to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy (AIPAC) Conference, Mitt again donned his Reagan mask:

    "I believe the right course is what Ronald Reagan called "peace through strength." There is a reason why the Iranians released the hostages on the same day and at the same hour that Reagan was sworn into office. As President, I will offer that kind of clarity, strength, and resolve."

Apparently, Mitt Romney wasn't paying attention to the rest of Reagan's performance. That would be the part when Ronald Reagan swapped arms for hostages with the Ayatollahs.

The Iran-Contra scandal, as you'll recall, almost laid waste to the Reagan presidency. Desperate to free U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, President Reagan provided weapons Tehran badly needed in its long war with Saddam Hussein (who, of course, was backed by the United States). In a clumsy and illegal attempt to skirt U.S. law, the proceeds of those sales were then funneled to the contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And as the New York Times recalled, Reagan's fiasco started with an emissary bearing gifts from the Gipper himself:

    A retired Central Intelligence Agency official has confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that on the secret mission to Teheran last May, Robert C. McFarlane and his party carried a Bible with a handwritten verse from President Reagan for Iranian leaders.

    According to a person who has read the committee's draft report, the retired C.I.A. official, George W. Cave, an Iran expert who was part of the mission, said the group had 10 falsified passports, believed to be Irish, and a key-shaped cake to symbolize the anticipated ''opening'' to Iran.

The rest, as they say, is history. After the revelations regarding his trip to Tehran and the Iran-Contra scheme, a disgraced McFarlane attempted suicide. (That would be the same Bud McFarlane whose endorsement Newt Gingrich touted during a reecent GOP debate.) After his initial denials, President Reagan was forced to address the nation on March 4, 1987 and acknowledge he indeed swapped arms for hostages (video here):

    "A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages."

(For more background, read the Reagan diaries, starting with the part in which he admits in 1986, "I agreed to sell TOWs to Iran.")

Of course, the sad saga didn't end there. Then Lt. Colonel and now Fox News commentator Oliver North saw his Iran-Contra conviction overturned by an appellate court led by faithful Republican partisan and later Iraq WMD commissioner Laurence Silberman. And in December 1992, outgoing President George H.W. Bush offered Christmas pardons to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other Iran-Contra scandal figures. Among them were John Poindexter and Elliott Abrams, men who eight years later reprised their roles in the administration of George W. Bush.

As it turns out, Elliott Abrams - one of the people who brought you the Iraq War - is also now providing ammunition for Mitt Romney. As Washington Post blogger and Romney stenographer Jennifer Rubin wrote Monday after President Obama's address to AIPAC:

    As former deputy national security advisor Elliott Abrams explains, "Military and intelligence cooperation is excellent, and American diplomatic support for an isolated Israel was repeatedly (though not always, as he suggested) forthcoming. Still, any effort to paper over the differences between his administration and the Netanyahu government--or worse yet, to make believe there really are no important differences--was bound to fail." Facts are stubborn things, and Obama's record is so error-strewn and so different in tenor from predecessors that no speech can paper over the last three years.

Facts are, as Ronald Reagan liked to say, stubborn things. Among those facts is that with the Iran-Contra scandal, Reagan disgraced himself and his country. Which is why Mitt Romney had it right for once back in 1994 when he proclaimed:

    "I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush; I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush."

Sadly, 18 years later and 25 years after Iran-Contra, Ronald Romney is trying to rewrite that history, too.
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« Reply #34 on: Mar 15, 2012, 09:43 AM »

March 15, 2012 08:00 AM

Romney, Santorum, and Goldman Sachs: Their Values Are the Same

By Mike Lux

Everyone is buzzing — and the Goldman Sachs PR team is desperately spinning — about the powerhouse op-ed in the New York Times this morning by the (as of this morning, apparently) former Goldman Sachs exec Greg Smith who resigned in protest because of their “toxic and destructive” environment. It is a painful reminder of how out-of-control Goldman has become, but this isn’t just about one company or one set of immoral executives; it’s about the Wall Street system and its allies in the political and media world.

Stories like Smith’s, along with a Mack Truck-load of books and articles written since the financial panic of 2008 about Wall Street greed and corruption, are a reminder of the breakdown of basic morality in the entire culture and structure of Wall Street, and of the destruction and potential destruction this lack of ethics causes the rest of our economy. According to virtually all the reporting, writing, and research we have seen in the last four years, this kind of short-term greed and willful corruption — and in many cases outright law breaking — has been baked into the Wall Street system, so that the honest players like Smith are systematically discouraged, punished economically, and driven from the companies. Only the people obsessed with short-term greed remain. The events of 2008 demonstrated in way too dramatic a fashion the incredible harm that does to the entire economy.

You have to be amused by the massive irony of all this, as these pillars of our society and their close allies in government and the media go on and on about what is moral and what is not. Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, with its $75 trillion in toxic assets and its terrible track record of heartless foreclosures, talks of the moral hazard of writing down mortgage debt for homeowners. One of Wall Street’s biggest defenders in the media is Rush Limbaugh, who calls young women sluts and prostitutes when they disagree with him. Goldman Sachs’ closest political ally, Mitt Romney, wants to shut down Planned Parenthood because they are apparently so immoral.

The irony is deep because the conservatives who are such fans of Wall Street and so worshipful of free markets say that they are the ones who are for traditional morality. The problem is that the kind of greed they defend gets its morality from a very untraditional place: Ayn Rand, who argued that selfishness was not only a virtue, but really the only one that mattered, and that generosity was immoral because it helped society’s leeches. When a company like Goldman encourages its executives to, as Smith put it, “callously talk about ripping their clients off,” they are simply following Rand’s twisted version of a morality based on greed and selfishness.

When Republicans like Romney, Santorum, Limbaugh, or GOP budget author Paul Ryan (who openly sings Rand’s praises and speaks of her as his biggest influence) speak of morality and values, they seem to never talk of things like companies not cheating people, or fairness, or kindness, or generosity. I suspect that is because they agree with Rand that those are false values that don’t actually matter. But maybe the not cheating/fairness set of values is somewhere on their list but not high enough to mention or think about as much as, say, stopping people having sex.

The other rich irony here is that the man these guys claim to worship as their savior, Jesus of Nazareth, cared a whole lot more about the fairness and kindness stuff. He despised greed and wealthy people taking advantage of the poor, and preached over and over about generosity, kindness, helping others less fortunate, and that whole set of values. The sex thing, not so much. Jesus never condemned homosexuality even though it was common in ancient Greek and Roman culture, and never mentioned abortion even though it was a very common practice in that era. He mentioned adultery a few times, mostly in a long list of other sins to avoid, and told the authorities about to stone a woman to death for committing adultery that he who was without sin should cast the first stone. He openly socialized with prostitutes. This was not a man obsessed with sexual sins.

These modern day followers of his sure seem to be, though. Wall Street is brazenly ripping off its clients and tanking our entire economy, and the Romney/Santorum/Limbaugh team has no time to castigate them, but they sure seem to have all the time in the world to talk about the sinfulness of gays and abortion and birth control.

Maybe we should try to reorient their thinking about morality. My organization, American Family Voices, has put up a petition calling on Mitt Romney to call on Lloyd Blankfein to step down as CEO of Goldman Sachs. I think Romney should be the one to lead the charge on this because Goldman is his single largest source of money, and if I were Romney, I would want to do everything I could to make clear that my values were not identical to Blankfein’s values.

It is amazing we live in a culture that allows the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the country to cheat their clients and the public at large with impunity, and that their closest political allies aren’t held to account as well. Help us shine a spotlight on this by signing our petition.
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« Reply #35 on: Mar 19, 2012, 08:33 AM »

March 19, 2012 06:00 AM

Romney Admits GOP Education Policy is Intended to Kill Unions

By karoli

Republicans always say they want to get the federal government out of education. This comes in many forms, but usually they say something like "education should be returned to local control" or "I'll eliminate the Department of Education." They always avoid talking about union-busting because union-busting is not always especially popular. Wisconsin's Governor Walker can attest to that.

Romney, in a rare moment of transparency, told Bret Baier that the reason for returning control of education to the states is for one reason: to union-bust.

    But the role I see that ought to remain in the president's agenda with regards to education is to push back against the federal teachers unions. Those federal teachers unions have too much power, in some cases, they overwhelm the states, they overwhelm the local school districts. We have got to put the kids first and put these teacher's unions behind.

I'm sick and tired of seeing teacher's unions demonized, and even more tired of seeing teachers shamed and demonized. There's been a theme that Democrats and Republicans alike have adopted where teachers are the reason for problems in the schools. Teachers are not the problem. I would argue that teachers have been the backstop to keeping schools from deteriorating in the face of constant budget cuts, student poverty, larger classroom sizes, and not enough parent involvement. I don't necessarily blame parents for that, by the way. When you're working two jobs to make the house payments it's tough to head down to your kids' school or constantly nag about homework.

The problem in the schools right now is not teachers' unions, either. The problem in the schools is that for ten years, teachers have been forced to teach to a test and "one size fits all" standards. They are accountable for an arbitrarily set baseline, regardless of circumstances in their specific area. As we've all discovered, that baseline does not necessarily reflect reality or the students they're instructing, or the environments they're teaching in. Yet their job hinges on meeting those standards. If they don't, they're out.

Unfortunately, reality never seems to matter to Republicans. Diane Ravitch wrote about the differences between Finnish schools and American schools recently. She points out that Finnish educators do not administer standardized tests until the end of high school. Before that point, they do evaluate students, but based on tests developed for their specific student populations.

    Sahlberg speaks directly to the sense of crisis about educational achievement in the United States and many other nations. US policymakers have turned to market-based solutions such as “tougher competition, more data, abolishing teacher unions, opening more charter schools, or employing corporate-world management models.” By contrast, Finland has spent the past forty years developing a different education system, one that is focused on

        improving the teaching force, limiting student testing to a necessary minimum, placing responsibility and trust before accountability, and handing over school- and district-level leadership to education professionals.

    To an American observer, the most remarkable fact about Finnish education is that students do not take any standardized tests until the end of high school. They do take tests, but the tests are drawn up by their own teachers, not by a multinational testing corporation. The Finnish nine-year comprehensive school is a “standardized testing-free zone,” where children are encouraged “to know, to create, and to sustain natural curiosity.”

Did I mention that Finland's schools finished at the top of world rankings in 2009? They did. It had nothing to do with teachers' unions, or local control. In fact, teachers are highly valued in Finland. When you hear Mitt Romney talk about wrecking teacher's unions, do you have the impression teachers are highly valued?

As my youngest child nears graduation from a rural, public high school, I count myself fortunate to know that she had teachers who were Harvard and Stanford graduates who placed value not only on educating my daughter but caring enough about her to see her strengths and weaknesses and not stop until they addressed the latter and bolstered the former. Unfortunately, my daughter saw the unnecessary struggles that came with their efforts, the constant attacks by parents and politicians alike, and has vowed never to be a teacher.

I hope she changes her mind. She would be a gifted teacher in the right system with the right goals, but if Mitt Romney's dream comes to pass, her vow would remain intact.

Full transcript follows:

    BAIER: Governor, one of the standard lines in your stump speech is on spending and the test that you would apply in a Romney administration is a program so critical that it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it. At the FOX/Google debate in September, you said without qualification, quote, we need to get the federal government out of education. Does this mean eliminating the Department of Education?

    ROMNEY: Not necessarily. It may be combined with other agencies. There will be a rule, meaning that, for instance, the federal government provides funding to local school districts for care of disabled children, that will be maintained.

    But the reach of the Department of Education into the states has to be pulled back. Education has to be managed at the state level, not at the federal level. Will there be any flow through of funds to the states? Yes. But the role I see that ought to remain in the president's agenda with regards to education is to push back against the federal teachers unions. Those federal teachers unions have too much power, in some cases, they overwhelm the states, they overwhelm the local school districts. We have got to put the kids first and put these teacher's unions behind.

    BAIER: Do you still support No Child Left Behind?

    ROMNEY: I support the principle of having states test their kids, and one of the things President Bush did that I supported, and I did support No Child Left Behind and do support continuing to test our kids. I want to know which school districts are succeeding and which ones are failing and where they are failing. I want there to be action taken to get the teacher union's out and to get the kids once again receiving the education they need.

    So, I like the idea of testing our kids. No Child Left Behind needs to be changed, I think in some pretty significant ways before it's reauthorized. But I do support the testi
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« Reply #36 on: Mar 21, 2012, 07:32 AM »

Who is the real Romney ? Click the link below to find out ........

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« Reply #37 on: Apr 16, 2012, 12:26 PM »

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

April 14, 2012
                                                           The Romney Uncertainty Principle

That Mitt Romney will say anything to become President of the United States - no matter how blatantly false or comically contradictory - is sadly taken as a given in Election 2012. But while his pathetic pandering and transparent dissembling are not new, novel theories to explain his pathology are rapidly proliferating. Rick Perlstein sees Romney as an undoubting Hamlet determined to avenge his father's defeat most foul in 1968. As Jonathan Chait explained, there's even a clinical term for Mitt's compulsive aversion to the truth known as "fundamental attribution error." And just two weeks ago, David Javerbaum offered his ground-breaking (and side-splitting) "Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney."

But whatever hypothesis you may subscribe to, an incontrovertible truth is that on almost any issue, Mitt Romney's position changes when observed. Call it the Romney Uncertainty Principle. And as his advisers once again confirmed this week, Mitt Romney's defining trait is a feature, not a bug.

That admission comes via Fred Barnes, the conservative water carrier for Republicans past and present. Just three weeks after campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom boasted that his RomneyBot can easily be reprogrammed for a post-primary run back to the center ("You hit a reset button for the fall campaign...It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.), Team Romney promised voters that the unseen Mitt is softer and gentler than the one observed during the Republican primaries:

    On one issue--immigration--Mr. Romney would be wise to move away from his harsh position in the primaries. He can't afford to lose the Hispanic vote as decisively as John McCain--who won just 31% of it--did in 2008. According to a Romney adviser, his private view of immigration isn't as anti-immigrant as he often sounded.

As it turns out, Romney himself has been surprisingly candid about his strategy. Given his battered approval ratings and well-earned reputation for flip-flopping (even to the point of bragging that "I think you'll find that I've been as consistent as human beings can be" after having declared "if you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy"), Mitt has announced that only he knows the details of any position he advocates.

For months, the Romney campaign auto-response of "no comment" has been on display across a gamut of issues ranging from the mass deportation of illegal aliens and Ohio's anti-labor laws to extension of the payroll tax cut and even GOP debate attendees booing a gay active duty U.S. soldier. But in a December interview with the Wall Street Journal, the RomneyBot admitted his cowardice was simply his app working as designed:

    Amid such generalities, it's hard not to conclude that the candidate is trying to avoid offering any details that might become a political target. And he all but admits as much. "I happen to also recognize," he says, "that if you go out with a tax proposal which conforms to your philosophy but it hasn't been thoroughly analyzed, vetted, put through models and calculated in detail, that you're gonna get hit by the demagogues in the general election."

Unfortunately, what Mitt Romney branded "demagogues" most Americans call "voters."

Even when he rolled out his new 20 percent across-the-board tax cut as a bribe for those supposed demagogue-voters, Governor Romney refused to say how he would keep his pledge to "Cut, Cap and Balance" the budget. Even by taking an axe to domestic spending, his proposal to both massively cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans while increasing the defense budget would produce a much larger 10-year debt than President Obama's FY 2013 plan. Unless, that is, Romney is willing to eliminate deductions for workers, families and businesses that cost Uncle Sam over $1 trillion a year. But in typical Romney fashion, his campaign is refusing to say which loopholes it would close while promising to maintain the ones voters care about most. His economic adviser Glenn Hubbard admitted Romney's cowardice, explaining "it is not his intention to take on any specific deduction or exclusion and eliminate it." For his part, Romney promised only "I want to make sure that you understand, for middle-income families, the deductibility of home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, those things will continue."

But asked to get specific about his self-proclaimed "bold" tax plan, Mitt Romney decided discretion is the better part of valor. As he explained earlier this month, Romney in essence responded, "I'm not going to tell you":

    "So I haven't laid out all of the details about how we're going to deal with each deduction, so I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it, because frankly it can't be scored, because those kinds of details will have to be worked out with Congress, and we have a wide array of options."

As Ezra Klein's Wonkblog rightly concluded:

    "Let's be clear on this: A tax plan that can't be scored because it doesn't include sufficient details is not a plan. It's a gesture towards a plan, or a statement of intended direction, or perhaps an unusually wonky daydream. But it's not a plan."

Romney's penchant for withholding vital information from voters is no accident. As the former Massachusetts Governor inadvertently revealed in an interview with the Weekly Standard, his opacity is by design, a lesson learned from losing the 1994 Senate race:

    "One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don't care about education," Romney recalled. "So I think it's important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies. So for instance, I anticipate that housing vouchers will be turned over to the states rather than be administered at the federal level, and so at this point I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we'll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I'm not going to give you a list right now."

But as Rick Perlstein suggested in Rolling Stone, the roots of Romney's horror at telling voters anything they may not want to hear dates back further. Apparently, Mitt concluded that his father George Romney lost his bid for the White House in 1968 by leveling with the American people. George's "shocking authenticity," Perlstein argued, cost him the GOP nomination. And that's a mistake his son Willard has no intention of making:

    The truth was a dull weapon to take into a knife fight with Richard Nixon - who kicked Romney's ass with 79 percent of the vote. When people call his son the "Rombot," think about that: Mitt learned at an impressionable age that in politics, authenticity kills. Heeding the lesson of his father's fall, he became a virtual parody of an inauthentic politician. In 1994 he ran for senate to Ted Kennedy's left on gay rights; as governor, of course, he installed the dreaded individual mandate into Massachusetts' healthcare system. Then he raced to the right to run for president.

The result, conservative columnist Ross Douthat fretted in December 2010, is that Romney is "serially insincere." Nevertheless, Douthat warned his readers that trait was a plus for Mitt's supporters:

    Nearly every position he stakes out comes across as a blatant (and often inconsistent-looking) pander to a conservative electorate that regards him with suspicion. But there are good ideas concealed within the pandering -- you just have to know where to look! And in your heart, you know he's a smart guy who'd make a solid center-right president -- wonkish, detail-oriented, sensible on policy, all the rest of it. He's just a prisoner of the process!...Even when he's mid-pander, you always know that he knows that it's all just a freak show, and you can always sense that he'd rather be at a policy seminar somewhere, instead of just forking red meat. There's a highly competent chief executive trapped inside his campaign persona, in other words, and the only way to liberate him is to put him in the White House!

While Romney's backers may view his duplicity as a virtue, even Douthat is unconvinced. "Because everything he does feels like a pander," he worried, "I don't know where he really stands on any of them."

Which is probably just how Mitt Romney wants it. (While his closest adviser Eric Fehrnstrom compared Mitt to an "Etch-a-Sketch," in 2005 his strategist Michael Murphy admitted his man was "a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly." ) After all, when he's not pandering to voters, he's keeping silent altogether on what would actually do in the Oval Office. As he put it in response to the growing outcry for the release of his tax returns:

    "I don't put out which tooth paste I use either. It's not that I have something to hide."

If so, Mitt shouldn't need a six month extension to complete his 2011 return. After all, he doubtless already knows how much money he won't be paying Uncle Sam.

But that's just par for the course for Mitt and the Romney Uncertainty Principle. Mitt Romney simply has to be seen to not be believed.

For more on the Romney Uncertainty Principle, see "Romney Launches Mitt 3.0" (June 2, 2011) and "A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney" (March 31, 2012).

                                                               Mind the Gap

This week, Mitt Romney's former Lieutenant Governor and current adviser Kerry Healy nonchalantly acknowledged the yawning chasm separating her candidate from American women, "There's always going to be a gender gap between Republicans and Democrats." She should know. After all, she was by Mitt's side as he made - and broke - a bevy of promises to women voters during his days in Massachusetts. And as it turns out, that long list not only includes his gymnastic reversal on abortion rights and shocking betrayal of Planned Parenthood. As we now know, Mitt's beliefs that "now mom and dad both have to work" and "I want the individuals to have the dignity of work" don't apply to well off households like his own.

Seeking to capitalize on the manufactured flap over Hilary Rosen's offhand remark that Ann Romney "has actually never worked a day in her life," Mitt proclaimed that "all mothers are working mothers." As it turns out, Romney's Rule is means-tested. Put another way, on Mitt's Animal Farm, some mothers are more equal than others. As he explained during his 1994 Senate run against Ted Kennedy:

    "This is a different world than it was in the 1960s when I was growing up, when you used to be able to have mom at home and dad at work. Now mom and dad both have to work."

Now, as the severely conservative and severely condescending Romney insisted in January, women who receive welfare must work outside the home, even if their children are very young:

    "I wanted to increase the work requirement," said Romney. "I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. And people said, 'Well that's heartless.' And I said, 'No, no, I'm willing to spend more giving day care to allow those parents to go back to work. It'll cost the state more providing that daycare, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work."

Just not if the individual is his wife.

As Ann Romney explained in an October 1994 interview, their dignity was provided by Mitt's father George:

    "Neither one of us had a job, because Mitt had enough of an investment from stock that we could sell off a little at a time. The stock came from Mitt's father. When he took over American Motors, the stock was worth nothing. But he invested Mitt's birthday money year to year -- it wasn't much, a few thousand, but he put it into American Motors because he believed in himself. Five years later, stock that had been $6 a share was $96 and Mitt cashed it so we could live and pay for education."

$250 million dollars later, the dignified Mrs. Romney now claims their wealth can't be quantified. As she lectured voters in January:

    "I understand Mitt's going to release his tax forms this week. I want to remind you where our riches are: our riches are with our families," Ann Romney said. "Our riches, you can value them, in the children we have and in the grandchildren we have. So that's where our values are and that's where our heart is -- and that's where we measure our wealth."

As Rosengate reached its crescendo last week, Ann Romney explained, "My career choice was to be a mother." She then added:

    "We have to respect women in all those choices that they make."

Just not when those choices involve their own bodies and their own health. And that message to the women of America is the exact opposite of the one Mr. and Mrs. Romney sold to the women of Massachusetts.

In March, Governor Romney caused a firestorm when he casually announced, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that." While he later clarified that "what I want to get rid of is the federal funding of Planned Parenthood," he shouldn't have stopped there. After all, Mitt Romney wants to end all funding for Title X, the only federal program devoted to family planning. But as Ruth Marcus documented last year, that's only a small part of the health care services Title X provides for lower-income American women:

    The inevitable result of eliminating Title X funding would not only be more abortions - it would also be higher bills for taxpayers footing Medicaid and welfare costs for poor children. Guttmacher found that every public dollar invested in family planning care saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures for pregnant women and their babies during the first year of care. Imagine the lifetime savings.

    And then there is the other "important work" that Pence cited: 2.2 million Pap smears, 2.3 million breast exams, nearly 6 million tests for sexually transmitted infections.

Mitt's positions on Planned Parenthood, women's health care and reproductive rights have always depended was running for office inside or outside of liberal Massachusetts.

During his 2002 race for governor, Ann assured Massachusetts voters they need not worry about moderate Mitt protecting the right to choose:

    ANN ROMNEY: I think women also recognize that they want someone who is going to manage the state well. I think they may be more nervous about him on social issues. They shouldn't be, because he's going to be just fine. But the perception is that he won't be. That's an incorrect perception.

    MITT ROMNEY: So when asked will I preserve and protect a woman's right to choose, I make an unequivocal answer: yes.

(Just five years later, Ann Romney announced that Mitt "has always personally been pro-life." She added that "he did change his mind. It took courage" and claimed, "hasn't changed his position on anything except choice." So much for her claim Thursday that "we need to respect the choices that women make.")

During the '94 Senate campaign when her husband declared the death of a "dear, close family relative" from an illegal abortion inspired his formerly "unwavering" pro-choice position, Ann Romney put her money where her Mitt's mouth was. That fall of 1994, Ann and Mitt attended a Planned Parenthood event. During a time when he was trying to establish his pro-choice bona fides with liberal Massachusetts voters, Ann wrote a check for $150 to the organization. When presidential candidate Romney said in 2007 that he had "no recollection" of the fundraiser, then president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Nichols Gamble seemed surprised:

    "I can understand that he might not remember the check -- it's surprising to me that he would not remember the event. His main motivation for being there was a political motivation."

For her part, Ann Romney gave away the game during a January 2008 interview in Florida (around the 3:10 mark). A clearly irked Mrs. Romney brushed off a question about the contribution to Planned Parenthood, before walking away:

    "That was 14 years ago and $100. Do you really think I'd remember?"

Of course, the good people of Planned Parenthood remember not only Ann Romney's check, but Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's support for their agenda. In an April 2002 questionnaire he completed for the group, Mitt Romney put his mouth where his wife's money was :

    Do you support the substance of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade? YES

    Do you support state funding of abortion services through Medicaid for low-income women? YES

    In 1998 the FDA approved the first packaging of emergency contraception, also known as the "morning after pill." Emergency contraception is a high dose combination of oral contraceptives that if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can safely prevent a pregnancy from occurring. Do you support efforts to increase access to emergency contraception? YES

Of course, that was then and this is now. And in order to win over his party's evangelical base, Mitt Romney adopted a new anti-woman agenda in his 2011 "Pro-Life Pledge":

    I support the reversal of Roe v. Wade, because it is bad law and bad medicine. Roe was a misguided ruling that was a result of a small group of activist federal judges legislating from the bench.

    I support the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. And as president, I will support efforts to prohibit federal funding for any organization like Planned Parenthood, which primarily performs abortions or offers abortion-related services.

Now, CEO Mitt Romney shows his commitment to female voters by casually announcing that that his wife "reports to me regularly" on what women care about. Of course, during the flap five years ago over Ann's Planned Parenthood contribution, Mitt had a different view about the value of her input:

    "Her positions are not terribly relevant for my campaign."

That helps explain why Romney's surrogate Kerry Healy is so fatalistic:

    There is always a gender gap between women voters between the Republican and the Democratic Party. There are more women in the Democratic Party to begin with. They are Democrats and they are always going to vote Democratic. We're hoping to win a few of those over, but there's always going to be a gender gap between Republicans and Democrats.

Especially if President Romney has his way.
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« Reply #38 on: Apr 17, 2012, 06:45 AM »

April 15, 2012 09:50 PM

David Cay Johnston: Romneys Were Able To Give Sons $100 Million Tax Free

By Heather

During another typically intelligent panel discussion on Chris Hayes' show on MSNBC this Sunday on the Republicans and Mitt Romney out there demagoguing President Obama asking Congress to pass the "Buffett Rule" so that millionaires and billionaires are not exploiting tax loopholes that allow them to pay far less of a percentage of their income in taxes compared to average working class citizens out there, David Cay Johnston brought up something I apparently missed earlier this year that he had reported on in January -- the fact that Mitt Romney was allowed to give his sons $100 million as a gift tax free, thanks to a tax loophole on "carried interest."

Romney’s gift from Congress:

    When the Romney campaign disclosed in December that the couple’s five sons had a $100 million trust fund, I suspected that, in setting up the fund, the Romneys used a tax strategy that allows some very rich people to avoid paying gift taxes. But it was impossible to know if this was the case without seeing their tax returns going back years.

    So when Mitt Romney released the family’s 2010 tax return last week, I went looking. I found a hint on pages 132 and 134 of the return. It showed that the value of property placed that year into another family trust, the Ann D. Romney Blind Trust, was, for tax purposes, zero. The Ann Romney trust is not the same trust as the one that holds the Romney sons’ $100 million, but I wondered if the Romneys used the same approach in prior years when it came to valuing property placed into the sons’ trust.

    Reuters emailed the Romney campaign spokeswoman to ask how much the Romneys paid in gift taxes on assets put into the sons’ trust over the last 17 years. The spokeswoman, citing Brad Malt, the Romney family tax lawyer, answered: none.

    The idea that someone could pay zero gift taxes on contributions to a $100 million trust fund may surprise people who have heard arguments that the wealthy are overburdened by gift and estate taxes. But the Romneys’ gift-tax avoidance strategy is perfectly legal. Read on...

Johnston posted a video explaining the loophole in his post at Reuters which you can watch below the fold.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones flagged this interview with Johnston on CNN in January as well where he was discussing the same column at Reuters -- Mitt Romney's Kids Pay an Even Lower Tax Rate Than He Does:

    As we all know, much of Mitt Romney's wealth is derived from "carried interest," a share of the profits from investments that Bain Capital made while he was CEO. This income is taxed at the same 15 percent rate as ordinary capital gains, which is why Romney's tax rate is so low.

    But it turns out there's another interesting tidbit about carried interest that I've never heard of before: It's a great way of passing along a huge inheritance to your kids without paying any taxes. David Cay Johnston explains:

        Johnston: The Romneys gave $100 million to their sons and paid not one penny of gift tax. They were able to take assets they have that are producing enormous income and, under the law, give that money to their children and not pay any taxes on it.

        Sambolin: Is that something you specifically found in what has been released to you?

        Johnston: Yes. I have suspected this and written about it in my column that this is what happened, and last night, Brad Malt, the attorney for the Romneys, confirmed to Reuters that we were correct. They have not paid a penny of gift tax. That's because Congress allows a very tiny group of people—the Romneys by their income are in the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent—to not count as having any value the real source of their income, something called carried interest, if they give it to their children.

As he noted, "Welcome to the wonderful world of estate planning for the super wealthy." The segment above from Up With Chris Hayes showed Romney out on the campaign trail saying President Obama was trying to "divide America" by asking that the rich like himself pay their fair share in taxes. As their panel of David Cay Johnston, Betsey Stevenson, Tom Perriello and Heather McGhee noted later in the program, that division does not have a fifty/fifty split, since the ones Romney is carrying water for are only the super rich in America and the upper 1 percent.
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« Reply #39 on: Apr 25, 2012, 12:08 PM »

April 25, 2012 10:00 AM

Mitt Romney Rewrites American History, Claims Progressive Taxation Increases Poverty

By Blue Texan

Willard gave a speech Tuesday night in Manchester, New Hampshire that was more than fact-free than usual.

    This President is putting us on a path where our lives will be ruled by bureaucrats and boards, commissions and czars. He’s asking us to accept that Washington knows best – and can provide all.

Reality: government jobs have decreased under Obama more than they did under Reagan. Strange way to "put us on a path" to the government taking over everything, isn't it?

    We’ve already seen where this path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it’s supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty. Other nations have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.

This is just ahistorical. The top marginal tax rate during one of the most prosperous eras in US history -- the three decades after WWII -- was as high as 91 percent. The middle class thrived and the poverty rate declined. And for six years of the Reagan administration, the highest tax rate was 40 percent higher than it is now.

Willard might as well claim that America fought France during the Revolutionary War and that the slaves were freed by Zachary Taylor.

Also, tell Germany higher taxes and more government leads to rampant poverty. Tell Sweden.

    I have a very different vision for America, and of our future. It is an America driven by freedom, where free people, pursuing happiness in their own unique ways, create free enterprises that employ more and more Americans. Because there are so many enterprises that are succeeding, the competition for hard-working, educated and skilled employees is intense, and so wages and salaries rise.

Well, that vision sounds a lot like George W. Bush and the GOP's vision. And during the Bush/Cheney era, income declined and America's job creation was anemic.

Republicans have a serious problem. They don't have actual evidence to support their trickle-down Laffer Curve fantasies any longer -- so they just have to rewrite history and claim up is down. That raising taxes to Reagan-era rates will cause mass poverty. That cutting taxes even more will lead to more jobs and widespread prosperity. That wages go up when government just gets out of the way of the "free market."

None of its true, but then, Republicans haven't been a reality-based party for some time now. The question is, are there enough American voters that are gullible enough to fall for it in November?
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« Reply #40 on: Apr 29, 2012, 09:11 AM »

April 29, 2012 08:00 AM

Liar of the Week: Mitt Romney's Brain Fehrnstrom Says Auto Bailout All Romney's Idea

By karoli

In case you're unfamiliar with Eric Fehrnstrom, let me introduce you to him. The original creator of the "Etch-a-Sketch" candidate, Fehrnstrom is Mitt Romney's brain, much like Karl Rove was George Bush's brain. He's counting on each and every person out there to suffer from collective amnesia, too, or just love the Etch-a-Sketch enough to appreciate it when he erases and re-draws a narrative.

Today's picture concerns the auto bailouts and Romney's role in them. Mr. Fehrnstrom would like you to forget the title of Romney's 2008 op-ed, calling to "let Detroit go bankrupt." Or his 2012 op-ed, where he reiterated his 2008 stance.

But if you don't remember those, maybe you remember the primary debates, where he sneered at the bailouts (begun under George W. Bush, by the way) as a "giveaway to the UAW." If you don't, just watch the video at the top of the page.

Today we have the New and Improved Mitt Romney position on the auto bailout, courtesy of Fehrnstrom, via The Hill:

    One of Mitt Romney's top advisers said Saturday that President Obama's decision to bailout Chrysler and General Motors was actually Romney's idea.

    "[Romney's] position on the bailout was exactly what President Obama followed. I know it infuriates them to hear that," Eric Fehrnstrom, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, said.

    "The only economic success that President Obama has had is because he followed Mitt Romney's advice."

    "The fact that the auto companies today are profitable is because they've shed costs," Fehronstrom said. "The reason they shed those costs and have got their employee labor contracts less expensive is because they went through that managed bankruptcy process. It is exactly what Mitt Romney told them to do."

Welcome to the 2012 general election campaign, where up is down, right is left, wrong is right, and whatever you said yesterday is yesterday's truth because today is a new day with a new truth. This is the cynical Romney campaign at it's lying-est best.

This is an outright lie, and it wasn't Fehrnstrom going off the reservation. It was planned, it relies upon a gullible and uninformed public to accept the lie as truth because memories are too short to remember yesterday and for the most part, the part of the press that reaches the most viewers hasn't bothered to actually call a lie a lie or to pull them up short on any of the lies they've told, so why not?

This is who Mitt Romney is, and Fehrnstrom is merely amplifying it:

    [Romney]’s not stupid. He’s not a stumbling, gaffe-prone doof. He’s a soulless, cynical robot who has no problem with saying exactly what he thinks voters want to hear, and he doesn’t care if the subsequent contradictions, flip-flops and nonsense are utterly obvious and transparent. Voters expect politicians to be two-faced and inconsistent, so why not say whatever it takes to make it through the week and over the next hurdle?

    The now-infamous line from Romney staffer Eric Fehrnstrom about the campaign resetting its language when the general election begins — like an Etch-A-Sketch — was one of the most glaring examples of meta-cynicism in the history of modern presidential politics. Not only was Fehrnstrom describing the cynical strategy in detail in front of a national audience, but he was cynical enough to believe that voters wouldn’t care — they expect candidates to be shifty, so why the hell not?

    Romney is easily the most jaded, cynical presidential politician since Richard Nixon. He operates with the hubristic attitude that voters expect him to be shifty, and therefore he’s allowed to be shifty. The expectation gives him permission to be that caricature.

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« Reply #41 on: Apr 30, 2012, 12:08 PM »

This is what happens in the USA .. an utterly corrupt media .. a media owned by of course the corporations .. who then hire people to enact the corporate agenda ... remember in the USA chart you have a 9th House Pluto in Capricorn opposed a Mercury retrograde in Cancer in the 3rd... the perfect symbol for a corrupt and corporate controlled media .. which is then ruled by it's Moon in Aquarius in the 10th conjunct, yes, Lucifer.

April 30, 2012 10:00 AM

Media Coverage Favored Romney Over Obama

By Nicole Belle

Oh, that librul media strikes again...

    During the bruising Republican primaries, there was one candidate whose coverage was more relentlessly negative than the rest. In fact, he did not enjoy a single week where positive treatment by the media outweighed the negative.

    His name is Barack Obama.

    That is among the findings of a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a Washington nonprofit that examined 52 key newspaper, television, radio, and Web outlets.

    “Day in and day out, he was criticized by the entire Republican field on a variety of policies,” Mark Jurkowitz, the group’s associate director, says of Obama. “And he was inextricably linked to events that generated negative coverage”—including rising gas prices, the ailing economy, and the renewed debate over his health care law.

    In short, while the president was being hammered on both fronts, his message was somewhat drowned out by the volume of news coverage surrounding the GOP candidates.

Surprise! The media doesn't seem to want to offer up "balanced" coverage, do they? They don't want to inform their audience that the president has little to do with rising gas prices, or that the economy is in fact recovering, albeit slowly, or that there are massive lies constantly flung by Republicans over the health care law. No, it's much more interesting to cover the Republican primary as a horse race and to uncritically regurgitate Every. Single. Republican. Talking. Point. without bothering to fact check or place it into context.

And that's why Democratic voters cannot take this election for granted. The media -- by abdicating their jobs -- have muddied the waters. They have made this race far closer than it should be, for their own purposes. And while Obama is nowhere near the progressive hope that some may have thought him to be in 2008, there is no question that the alternative is far, far worse.

Not that the media will ever admit that.
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« Reply #42 on: May 03, 2012, 08:46 AM »

May 03, 2012 07:00 AM

Mitt Romney's Top Donor On Wealth Inequality: The Wealthy Should Be Wealthier So All Can Benefit

By karoli

Mitt Romney's former Bain Capital partner and current high-stakes donor Edward Conard wants all of us 99 percenters to know we've got it all wrong. If we really understood the economy, we'd be grateful that wealth is concentrated with the wealthiest .01 percent of the 1 percent, and we'd work really hard to double their wealth because it would be good for all of us.

Not only does he believe this, he's written a book about it, due to come out next month. I've already written to see if I can get a review copy of it, because I just cannot pass up such an exercise in self-adulation. In the meantime, Conard sat down for an interview with New York Times reporter Adam Davidson. His brazen responses to Davidson's questions reveal the extraordinary thought process of the investor class, who have become so incredibly removed from reality that they actually believe this stuff.

Take, for example, his assertion that doubling the wealth of the wealthy is really good for the rest of us. His argument goes like this:

    Conard picked up a soda can and pointed to the way the can’s side bent inward at the top. “I worked with the company that makes the machine that tapers that can,” he told me. That little taper allows manufacturers to make the same size can with a tiny bit less aluminum. “It saves a fraction of a penny on every can,” he said. “There are a lot of soda cans in the world. That means the economy can produce more cans with the same amount of resources. It makes every American who buys a soda can a little bit richer because their paycheck buys more.”

    It might be hard to get excited about milligrams of aluminum, but Conard says that we live longer, healthier and richer lives because of countless microimprovements like that one. The people looking for them, Conard likes to point out, are not only computer programmers, engineers and scientists. They are also wealthy investors like him, who are willing to risk their own money to finance improvements that may or may not work. There is a huge mechanism constantly trying to seek out and support these new ideas — entrepreneurs, multinationals and, crucially for Conard, investment firms and hedge funds and everyone down to individual bond traders.

And yet. I see an economy with trillions on the sidelines and wonder what a few more trillion dollars will do for the economy. What can be done with 4 trillion dollars squirreled away that can't be done with 2 trillion, after all? He doesn't seem to have much of an answer for that, but he's certainly willing to look down his nose at art history majors.

    A central problem with the U.S. economy, he told me, is finding a way to get more people to look for solutions despite these terrible odds of success. Conard’s solution is simple. Society benefits if the successful risk takers get a lot of money. For proof, he looks to the market. At a nearby table we saw three young people with plaid shirts and floppy hair. For all we know, they may have been plotting the next generation’s Twitter, but Conard felt sure they were merely lounging on the sidelines. “What are they doing, sitting here, having a coffee at 2:30?” he asked. “I’m sure those guys are college-educated.” Conard, who occasionally flashed a mean streak during our talks, started calling the group “art-history majors,” his derisive term for pretty much anyone who was lucky enough to be born with the talent and opportunity to join the risk-taking, innovation-hunting mechanism but who chose instead a less competitive life. In Conard’s mind, this includes, surprisingly, people like lawyers, who opt for stable professions that don’t maximize their wealth-creating potential. He said the only way to persuade these “art-history majors” to join the fiercely competitive economic mechanism is to tempt them with extraordinary payoffs.

There's much, much more, but this last paragraph more or less turned me off to anything more he may have had to say. This writer is someone who writes, who reads, and who doesn't need to be fabulously wealthy to figure out solutions to her own little problems, like how to keep the pug from chewing the legs on the table or even how to pay for her daughter's college education. Conard, like so many wealthy people, assumes everyone on the planet wants to be wealthy and those who don't are really just a drag on the rest of society. Or, as Digby says, his message is really "f*ck you, you little art history parasite."

Some of us want to be content. Some of us want to live a peaceful life in harmony with our neighbors and our environment, making whatever small contribution to our communities we can. Some of us are artists, and musicians, and writers and people who make the landscape something more interesting than just the bland business suits running up and down the elevators like rats on a cage wheel.

We are not all destined to be moguls and magnates. By the same token, one doesn't have to be a mogul to contribute to society. The teachers, firefighters, police, file clerks and insurance agents in this world maybe don't care if they have millions. They just want the ability to have a home, a family, and an opportunity to live without wondering what fealty they must pay to the world's wealthiest in order to live a simple, quiet life. As Davidson points out, this is a paradigm Conard does not understand.

    The world Conard describes too often feels grim and soulless, one in which art and romance and the nonremunerative satisfactions of a simpler life are invisible. And that, I realized, really is Conard’s world. “God didn’t create the universe so that talented people would be happy,” he said. “It’s not beautiful. It’s hard work. It’s responsibility and deadlines, working till 11 o’clock at night when you want to watch your baby and be with your wife. It’s not serenity and beauty.”

Oh, by the way. The whole reason for the financial meltdown in 2007 and 2008? Our fault. The fault of the 99 percent. If we were smart like Conard and Romney, well, there wouldn't have been a problem. Seriously, he believes this.

    In 2008 it was large pension funds, insurance companies and other huge institutional investors that withdrew in panic. Conard argues in retrospect that it was these withdrawals that led to the crisis — not, as so many others have argued, an orgy of irresponsible lending. He points to the fact that, according to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, banks lost $320 billion through mortgage-backed securities, but withdrawals disproportionately amounted to five times that. This stance, which largely absolves the banks, is not shared by many analysts. Regardless, Conard told me: “The banks did what we wanted them to do. They put short-term money back into the economy. What they didn’t expect is that depositors would withdraw their money, because they hadn’t withdrawn their money en masse since 1929.”

Gee, and here I thought it was the frozen credit markets that finally precipitated the meltdown. Heck, if there was a run on the banks, why is it that my 401k took such a hit? Why did the government and the fed have to pump trillions of cash into the system to keep it from a total meltdown? Hey, friends, these questions aren't ours to answer in Conard's world, because it was just the little "art history majors" peeing their pants and putting runs on the banks.

Davidson predicts that Conard's book may be the most hated one of 2012. On the contrary, I see it as a revelatory work which should tell voters throughout this country exactly what Mitt Romney and his fellow Bain overlords think of us. To their philosophy and unbridled greed, I reply in Digby-esque fashion, "F*ck you, you Randian robots."

One final thought on this. When the economy melted down, a close relative of mine made his living managing small investment accounts for elderly people in an ethical, honest fashion. About two months into the meltdown he remarked that he thought he was playing by the rules, only to discover there were no rules. It was that moment that illuminated just how greedy and immoral these people are. When do they decide they've got enough? When they have 90 percent of the wealth? 95 percent? Is there some point where they've got whatever they think is enough?

No, I didn't think so.
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« Reply #43 on: May 06, 2012, 07:46 AM »

Mitt Romney’s Bigotry Needs No Spokesman

May 04, 2012 8:32 AM
By Michael Kinsley

Mitt Romney didn’t exactly fire Ric Grenell, who is gay, as his foreign policy spokesman. But when the religious right got wind of Grenell’s hiring, his job started to shrink.

Grenell was told to sit in on conference calls with reporters and not say anything, which is tantamount to firing him. He was told to be silent not merely on gay issues. He was told not to talk about anything, even foreign policy. A spokesman who is not allowed to speak — even internally — doesn’t have much of a job. So Grenell quit, three weeks after he was hired.

For Romney, this is the first big flub of the general election campaign. Until now, his smooth-running machine was one of the more impressive things about his candidacy. It made you think that maybe, as a businessman, he really could bring some efficiency to the White House, if not to the government as a whole.

Besides being offensive, however, this episode is remarkably inept. Grenell apparently was completely open about his sexuality. Why did Romney appoint him in the first place if he was going to hang the guy out to dry as soon as there was any criticism? (And there never was much.) If you’re going to be a bigot, at least be smart about it.

Although, as a weak-kneed liberal, I hate to talk like this, this episode does make you wonder about Romney’s guts. He portrays himself (and probably thinks of himself) as a hard- nosed businessman, ready to make the tough decisions that professional politicians won’t. Romney has even defended his famous flip-flops in these terms. “In the private sector,” he says, “if you don’t change your view when the facts change, well, you’ll get fired for being stubborn and stupid.”

I don’t know about that. You see a lot of stubbornness and stupidity in stories about business, but not so much about business executives getting fired for it.

Romney seems obsessed with firing people. In January, you may recall, he committed a gaffe by saying he enjoyed doing it. He seems to consider it as evidence of a backbone and a tough hide. He also likes to say that if you want this or that undesirable quality in your president, “I’m not your man.” This also is supposed to signal toughness, as well as independence of thought.

Better evidence would have been telling the people who complained about his hiring of a gay man as an adviser where they could put their objections. And has he stopped to ask himself how he will manage to fill a Romney administration if he excludes all gay men (and women?) from the candidate pool?

Romney is right of course that there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind. But you should (a) be prepared to admit it and (b) be prepared to explain it.

In his most famous flip-flop, about health care, Romney has tried, instead, to have it both ways. He has never renounced his Massachusetts health-care plan, with its individual mandate almost identical to the one in President Barack Obama’s. He just says that he will veto Obamacare on Day One of his administration, because the individual mandate is so awful.

Nor has he explained his change of mind on abortion or gay rights, on which he once said he would be a better advocate than Ted Kennedy.

Many moderates and independents may still believe that at heart Romney is a moderate Republican who fortunately has no principles and will say whatever it takes to win. Actually, citizens of all stripes across the country more or less believe that Romney’s been faking who he is, but it’s moderates he must now convince that he’s been lying like mad for the past year.

He’s going to need a few really top-notch spin doctors to perform this operation successfully. Too bad for him that he just drove a good one away.
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« Reply #44 on: May 09, 2012, 06:44 AM »

May 08, 2012 01:00 PM

Mitt Romney Takes Credit For Saving Auto Industry

By scarce

No, really, he did. Those were his exact words. Video via WEWS in Cleveland.

    (AP) EUCLID, Ohio — Campaigning in the backyard of America’s auto industry, Mitt Romney re-ignited the bailout debate by suggesting he deserves “a lot of credit” for the recent successes of the nation’s largest car companies.

    That claims comes in spite of his stance that Detroit should have been allowed to go bankrupt.

    The presumptive Republican presidential nominee told a Cleveland television station on Monday that President Barack Obama followed his lead when he ushered auto companies through a managed bankruptcy soon after taking office.

    “I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,” Romney said in an interview inside a Cleveland-area auto parts maker. “So, I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.”

    Romney has repeatedly argued that Obama ultimately took his advice on the auto industry’s woes of 2008 and 2009. But he went further on Monday by saying he deserves credit for its ultimate turnaround.

    The course Romney advocated differed greatly from the one that was ultimately taken. GM and Chrysler went into bankruptcy on the strength of a massive bailout that Romney opposed. Neither Republican President George W. Bush nor Democratic President Barack Obama believed the automakers would have survived without that backup from taxpayers.

    Romney opposed taxpayer help.

Shameless. Completely and utterly without shame. The guy whose NY Times op-ed Let Detroit Go Bankrupt set the standard for Republican obstinance is now trying to claim credit.

The Obama campaign called it "a new low in dishonesty" and called on Romney to "have the courage and integrity" to admit he was wrong. Yeah, like that'll happen.
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