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« Reply #135 on: Aug 27, 2012, 09:56 AM »

Romney: Women Should Support Me Because of 'Romneycare'

By David

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney says that women should support him because of a health insurance law he passed as the governor of Massachusetts -- even though he has promised to repeal a similar law passed by President Barack Obama.

During an interview that aired on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Romney why women should vote for him after a fellow Republican, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), suggested that women could not get pregnant from "legitimate rape."

"Look, I am the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women -- and men -- in my state," the former Massachusetts governor explained. "There was talking about it at the federal level. We did something."

"So, you're saying look at Romneycare?" Wallace wondered.

"Absolutely," Romney replied. "I'm very proud of what we did, and the fact that we helped women and men and children in my state."

"And then with regards to contraceptives, of course Republicans and myself in particular recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives. There is absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort and try and bring that up. And with regards to the issue of abortion, that is something where men and women have alternative views on that or different views."

Throughout his campaign, Romney has pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which fact checking organizations have determined "is identical to the Massachusetts health care plan -- the same thing."

By repealing Obama's health reforms, women could once again face insurance co-pays for contraception, screening for HIV, breastfeeding support, domestic violence counseling and other services.

Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), has voted for legislation that would ban some forms of birth control, ban abortion and end funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the Obama campaign.
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« Reply #136 on: Aug 28, 2012, 10:13 AM »

Romney Camp Bets On Welfare Attack

Their most powerful weapon, a top aide says. “We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers,” says Newhouse.

By Travis Waldron posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Aug 28, 2012 at 11:20 am

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has run multiple false advertisements accusing the Obama administration of “gutting” the 1996 welfare reform law through a waiver program that will give states more latitude in applying the law’s work requirements. The ads, debunked by many news outlets, are blatantly false — the waivers do not “gut” the law, and work requirements remain in place. Romney himself supported an even more expansive waiver program while he was governor of Massachusetts.

The Romney campaign, undeterred by the obvious falsehoods, has both continued running the ads and released new ones. On Tuesday, when asked by an NPR reporter why the campaign continues to run the ads, Romney political director Rich Beeson laughed off their brazen lack of truth, stating that “reasonable people can have a disagreement” about whether the oft-debunked ads are false:

    STEVE INSKEEP (NPR): “Doesn’t the change mean that the governors can choose or can apply to change the work requirement as opposed to being forced to remove it?”

    BEESON: “Again, that still is a change.”

    INSKEEP: “But it’s not, quote, ‘they just send you your check,’ which is what the ad says.”

    BEESON: (laughs) “I think reasonable people can have a disagreement over this but he [Obama] has significantly changed what President Clinton put in in 1996.”

The Romney campaign’s apparent disagreement with the notion that facts are true (and still matter) was reinforced later in the day, when campaign pollster Neil Newhouse told BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Neither, judging by Romney’s repeated struggles with the truth, are they going to let their campaign be dictated by actual facts.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent highlights Romney’s own words, from earlier this month, citing fact-checkers against an Obama advertisement and lamenting the days of past when false ads were pulled from the air:

    “You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad,” Romney said on the radio. “They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them.”
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« Reply #137 on: Aug 28, 2012, 10:26 AM »

The presidency: So, Mitt, what do you really believe? Too much about the Republican candidate for the presidency is far too mysterious

The Econonmist
Aug 25th 2012 | from the print edition

WHEN Mitt Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, he supported abortion, gun control, tackling climate change and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, backed up with generous subsidies for those who could not afford it. Now, as he prepares to fly to Tampa to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president on August 30th, he opposes all those things. A year ago he favoured keeping income taxes at their current levels; now he wants to slash them for everybody, with the rate falling from 35% to 28% for the richest Americans.

All politicians flip-flop from time to time; but Mr Romney could win an Olympic medal in it (see article). And that is a pity, because this newspaper finds much to like in the history of this uncharismatic but dogged man, from his obvious business acumen to the way he worked across the political aisle as governor to get health reform passed and the state budget deficit down. We share many of his views about the excessive growth of regulation and of the state in general in America, and the effect that this has on investment, productivity and growth. After four years of soaring oratory and intermittent reforms, why not bring in a more businesslike figure who might start fixing the problems with America’s finances?

But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind. America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper. The convention offers Mr Romney his best chance to say what he really believes.

There are some areas where Mr Romney has shuffled to the right unnecessarily. In America’s culture wars he has followed the Republican trend of adopting ever more socially conservative positions. He says he will appoint anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court and back the existing federal Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA). This goes down well with southern evangelicals, less so with independent voters: witness the furore over one (rapidly disowned) Republican’s ludicrous remarks about abortion and “legitimate rape” (see article). But the powers of the federal government are limited in this area; DOMA has not stopped a few states introducing gay marriage and many more recognising gay civil partnerships.

The damage done to a Romney presidency by his courting of the isolationist right in the primaries could prove more substantial. He has threatened to label China as a currency manipulator on the first day of his presidency. Even if it is unclear what would follow from that, risking a trade war with one of America’s largest trading partners when the recovery is so sickly seems especially mindless. Some of his anti-immigration policies won’t help, either. And his attempts to lure American Jews with near-racist talk about Arabs and belligerence against Iran could ill serve the interests of his country (and, for that matter, Israel’s).

Once again, it may be argued that this will not matter: previous presidents pandered to interest groups and embraced realpolitik in office. Besides, this election will be fought on the economy. This is where Manager Romney should be at his strongest. But he has yet to convince: sometimes, again, being needlessly extremist, more often evasive and vague.

In theory, Mr Romney has a detailed 59-point economic plan. In practice, it ignores virtually all the difficult or interesting questions (indeed, “The Romney Programme for Economic Recovery, Growth and Jobs” is like “Fifty Shades of Grey” without the sex). Mr Romney began by saying that he wanted to bring down the deficit; now he stresses lower tax rates. Both are admirable aims, but they could well be contradictory: so which is his primary objective? His running-mate, Paul Ryan, thinks the Republicans can lower tax rates without losing tax revenues, by closing loopholes. Again, a simpler tax system is a good idea, but no politician has yet dared to tackle the main exemptions. Unless Mr Romney specifies which boondoggles to axe, this looks meaningless and risky.

On the spending side, Mr Romney is promising both to slim Leviathan and to boost defence spending dramatically. So what is he going to cut? How is he going to trim the huge entitlement programmes? Which bits of Mr Ryan’s scheme does he agree with? It is a little odd that the number two has a plan and his boss doesn’t. And it is all very well promising to repeal Barack Obama’s health-care plan and the equally gargantuan Dodd-Frank act on financial regulation, but what exactly will Mr Romney replace them with—unless, of course, he thinks Wall Street was well-regulated before Lehman went bust?

Playing dumb is not an option

Mr Romney may calculate that it is best to keep quiet: the faltering economy will drive voters towards him. It is more likely, however, that his evasiveness will erode his main competitive advantage. A businessman without a credible plan to fix a problem stops being a credible businessman. So does a businessman who tells you one thing at breakfast and the opposite at supper. Indeed, all this underlines the main doubt: nobody knows who this strange man really is. It is half a decade since he ran something. Why won’t he talk about his business career openly? Why has he been so reluctant to disclose his tax returns? How can a leader change tack so often? Where does he really want to take the world’s most powerful country?

It is not too late for Mr Romney to show America’s voters that he is a man who can lead his party rather than be led by it. But he has a lot of questions to answer in Tampa.

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« Reply #138 on: Aug 30, 2012, 02:33 PM »

Politics: The Federal Bailout That Saved Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
AUGUST 29, 2012 | 7:00AM EDT

From the September 13, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone

Mitt Romney likes to say he won't "apologize" for his success in business. But what he never says is "thank you" – to the American people – for the federal bailout of Bain & Company that made so much of his outsize wealth possible.

According to the candidate's mythology, Romney took leave of his duties at the private equity firm Bain Capital in 1990 and rode in on a white horse to lead a swift restructuring of Bain & Company, preventing the collapse of the consulting firm where his career began. When The Boston Globe reported on the rescue at the time of his Senate run against Ted Kennedy, campaign aides spun Romney as the wizard behind a "long-shot miracle," bragging that he had "saved bank depositors all over the country $30 million when he saved Bain & Company."

In fact, government documents on the bailout obtained by Rolling Stone show that the legend crafted by Romney is basically a lie. The federal records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Romney's initial rescue attempt at Bain & Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had "no value as a going concern." Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million. And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds.

With his selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney has made fiscal stewardship the centerpiece of his campaign. A banner at MittRomney.com declared, "We have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in." Romney also opposed the federal bailout for Detroit automakers, famously arguing that the industry should be forced into bankruptcy. Government bailouts, he insists, are "the wrong way to go."

But the FDIC documents on the Bain deal – which were heavily redacted by the firm prior to release – show that as a wealthy businessman, Romney was willing to go to extremes to secure a federal bailout to serve his own interests. He had a lot at stake, both financially and politically. Had Bain & Company collapsed, insiders say, it would have dealt a grave setback to Bain Capital, where Romney went on to build a personal fortune valued at as much as $250 million. It would also have short-circuited his political career before it began, tagging Romney as a failed businessman unable to rescue his own firm.

"None of us wanted to see Bain be the laughingstock of the business world," recalls a longtime Romney lieutenant who asked not to be identified. "But Mitt's reputation was on the line."

Mitt Romney's Federal Bailout: The Documents**

The trouble began in 1984, when Bain & Company spun off Bain Capital to engage in leveraged buyouts and put Romney in charge of the new operation. To free up money to invest in the new business, founder Bill Bain and his partners cashed out much of their stock in the consulting firm – leaving it saddled with about $200 million in debt. (Romney, though not a founder, reportedly profited from the deal.) "People will tell you that Bill raped the place clean, was greedy, didn't know when to stop," a former Bain consultant later conceded. "Did they take too much out of the firm? You bet."

The FDIC documents make clear what happened next: "Soon after the founders sold their equity," analysts reported, "business began to drop off." First came scandal: In the late 1980s, a Bain consultant became a key figure in an illegal stock manipulation scheme in London. The firm's reputation took a hit, and it fired 10 percent of its consulting force. By the time the 1989 recession began, Bain & Company found itself going broke fast. Cash flows weren't enough to service the debt imposed by the founders, and the firm could barely make payroll. In a panic, Bill Bain tapped Romney, his longtime protege, to take the reins.

In Romney's own retelling, he casts himself as a selfless and loyal company man. "There was no upside," he told his cheerleading biographer Hugh Hewitt in 2007. "There was no particular reason to do it other than a sense of obligation and duty to an organization that had done great things for me."

In fact, Romney had a direct stake in the survival of Bain & Company: He had been working to build the Bain brand his entire career, and felt he had to save the firm at all costs. After all, Bain sold top-dollar strategic advice to big businesses about how to protect themselves from going bust. If Bain & Company went bankrupt, recalls the Romney deputy, "anyone associated with them would have looked clownish." Indeed, when a banker from Goldman Sachs urged Bain to consider bankruptcy as the obvious solution to the firm's woes, Romney's desperation began to show. He flatly refused to discuss it – and in the ensuing argument, one witness says, Romney almost ended up in a brawl when the Goldman banker advised him to "go fuck yourself." For the sake of Romney's career and fortune, bankruptcy was simply not an option – no matter who got screwed in the process.

According to the government records obtained by Rolling Stone, Bain & Company "defaulted on its debt obligations" at nearly the same time that "W. Mitt Romney . . . stepped in as managing director (and later chief executive) in 1990 and led the financial restructuring intended to get the firm back on track."

Romney moved decisively, and his early efforts appeared promising. He persuaded the founders to return $25 million of the cash they had raided from Bain & Company and forgive $75 million in debt, in return for protection from most future liabilities. Romney then consolidated Bain's massive debts into a single, binding loan agreement with four banks, which received liens on Bain's assets and agreed to delay repayments on the firm's debts for two years. The federal government also signed off on the deal, since the FDIC had recently taken control of a bank that was owed $30.6 million by Bain. Romney assured creditors that the restructuring would enable Bain to "operate normally, compensate its professionals competitively" and, ultimately, pay off its debts.

Almost as soon as the FDIC agreed to the loan restructuring, however, Romney's rescue plan began to fall apart. "The company realized early on that it would be unable to hit its revenue targets or manage the debt structure," the documents reveal. By the spring of 1992, Bain's decline was perilous: "If Bain goes into default," one analyst warned the FDIC, "the bank group will need to decide whether to force Bain into bankruptcy."

With his rescue plan a bust, Romney was forced to slink back to the banks to negotiate a new round of debt relief. There was only one catch: Even though Bain & Company was deep in debt and sinking fast, the firm was actually flush with cash – most of it from the looted money that Bill Bain and other partners had given back. "Liquidity is strong based on the significant cash balance which Bain is carrying," one federal document reads.

Under normal circumstances, such ample reserves would have made liquidating Bain an attractive option: Creditors could simply divvy up the stockpiled cash and be done with the troubled firm. But Bain had inserted a poison pill in its loan agreement with the banks: Instead of being required to use its cash to pay back the firm's creditors, the money could be pocketed by Bain executives in the form of fat bonuses – starting with VPs making $200,000 and up. "The company can deplete its cash balances by making officer-bonus payments," the FDIC lamented, "and still be in compliance with the loan documents."

What's more, the bonus loophole gave Romney a perverse form of leverage: If the banks and the FDIC didn't give in to his demands and forgive much of Bain's debts, Romney would raid the firm's coffers, pushing it into the very bankruptcy that the loan agreement had been intended to avert. The losers in this game would not only be Bain's creditors – including the federal government – but the firm's nearly 1,000 employees worldwide.

In March 1992, according to the FDIC documents, Romney approached the banks and played the bonus card. Allow Bain to pay off its debt at a deep discount, he demanded – just 35 cents on the dollar. Otherwise, the "majority" of the firm's "excess cash" would "be available for the bonus pool to its officers at a vice president level and above."

The next month, when the banks balked at the deal, Romney decided to prove he wasn't bluffing. "As the bank group did not accept the proposal from Bain," the records show, "Bain's senior management has decided to go forth with the distribution of bonuses." (Bain's lawyers redacted the amount of the executive payouts, and the Romney campaign refused to comment on whether Romney himself received a bonus.)

Romney's decision to place executive compensation over fiscal responsibility immediately put Bain on the ropes. By that July, FDIC analysts reported, Bain had so little money left that "the company will actually run out of cash and default on the existing debt structure" as early as 1995. If that happened, Bain employees and American consumers would take the hit – an alternative that analysts considered "catastrophic."

But Romney didn't dole out all of Bain's cash as bonuses right away. According to a record from May 1992, he set aside some of the money to put one last squeeze on the firm's creditors. Romney now demanded that the banks and the government agree to a deal that was even less favorable than the last – to retire Bain's debts "at a price up to but not exceeding 30 cents on the dollar."

The FDIC considered finding a buyer to take over its loans to Bain, but analysts concluded that "Bain has no value as a going concern." And the government wasn't likely to get much out of Bain if it allowed the firm to go bankrupt: The loan agreement engineered by Romney had left the FDIC "virtually unsecured" on the $30.6 million it was owed by Bain. "Once bonuses are paid," the analysts warned, "all members of the bank group believe this company will dissolve during 1993."

About the only assets left would be Bain's office equipment. The records show FDIC analysts pathetically attempting to assess the value of such items, including an HP LaserJet printer, before concluding that most of the gear was so old that the government's "portion of any liquidation proceeds would be negligible."

How had Romney scored such a favorable deal at the FDIC's expense? It didn't hurt that he had close ties to the agency – the kind of "crony capitalism" he now decries. A month before he closed the 1991 loan agreement, Romney promoted a former FDIC bank examiner to become a senior executive at Bain. He also had pull at the top: FDIC chairman Bill Seidman, who had served as finance chair for Romney's father when he ran for president in 1968.

The federal documents also reveal that, contrary to Romney's claim that he returned full time to Bain Capital in 1992, he remained involved in bailout negotiations to the very end. In a letter dated March 23rd, 1993, Romney reassured creditors that his latest scheme would return Bain & Company to "long-term financial stability." That same month, Romney once again threatened to "pay out maximum bonus distributions" to top executives unless much of Bain's debt was erased.

In the end, the government surrendered. At the time, The Boston Globe cited bankers dismissing the bailout as "relatively routine" – but the federal documents reveal it was anything but. The FDIC agreed to accept nearly $5 million in cash to retire $15 million in Bain's debt – an immediate government bailout of $10 million. All told, the FDIC estimated it would recoup just $14 million of the $30 million that Romney's firm owed the government.

It was a raw deal – but Romney's threat to loot his own firm had left the government with no other choice. If the FDIC had pushed Bain into bankruptcy, the records reveal, the agency would have recouped just $3.56 million from the firm.

The Romney campaign refused to respond to questions for this article; a spokeswoman said only that "Mitt Romney turned around Bain & Company by getting all parties to come to the table and make difficult decisions." But while taxpayers did not finance the bailout, the debt forgiven by the government was booked as a loss to the FDIC – and then recouped through higher insurance premiums from banks. And banks, of course, are notorious for finding ways to pass their costs along to customers, usually in the form of higher fees. Thanks to the nature of the market, in other words, the bailout negotiated by Romney ultimately wound up being paid by the American people.

Even as consumers took a loss, however, a small group of investors wound up getting a good deal in the bailout. Bain Capital – the very firm that had triggered the crisis in the first place – walked away with $4 million. That was the fee it charged Bain & Company for loaning the consulting firm the services of its chief executive – one Willard Mitt Romney.
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« Reply #139 on: Sep 01, 2012, 11:51 AM »

September 01, 2012 09:00 AM

The Post-Truth Campaign: Mitt Romney Tells 530 Lies in 30 Weeks

By Blue Texan

Steve Benen has truly done yeoman's work this campaign season in documenting the astonishing onslaught of Romney's lies, and Fred Clark helpfully compiled them.

    Click those links. Read the lists. List after list of lie after lie. Hundreds of them — 533, to be exact, although Benen does not make any claim to providing a comprehensive chronicle.

    This is unprecedented. “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” Romney’s pollster, Neil Newhouse, said.

While the sheer number of Romney's lies are indeed unprecedented for a presidential campaign, his fact-free campaigning is simply the logical continuation of a trend that started in the George W. Bush administration, when Republicans literally walled themselves from reality.

    The [Bush] aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

So this has been going on for a while. Right-wingers just don't have to confront facts they don't like any longer. They no longer have to watch to Edward R. Murrow dress down Joe McCarthy for his un-American demagoguery. They don't have to listen Walter Cronkite telling them the Vietnam War is lost. Those days are over -- they can simply switch the channel.

Now, they are tightly cocooned in the cozy world of FOX News, right-wing radio, conservative newspapers and wingnut blogs where high taxes and burdensome regulations are crushing the American dream, inflation is running rampant, businesses are suffering, global warming is a joke, homosexuality is a choice, illegal immigration is at all-time high, our scary Muslim enemies are on the march -- and if only Republicans could take power over the entire federal government again, those problems would all magically disappear.

Because of this highly-profitable right-wing media infrastructure so willing to deceive its consumers, and because conservative dogma has replaced fact-based analysis on the right, Republican candidates don't have an incentive to tell the truth. Quite the opposite.

It's going to get worse before it gets better.

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« Reply #140 on: Sep 02, 2012, 09:00 AM »

From the American magazine Perspectives
Sept 1 2012

How We Built Bain Capital

Among the things absent thus far from the 2012 Republican National Convention has been any mention of Bain Capital and any fidelity to the truth. After just the first day, the GOP's twin frauds about welfare and "we built that" were once again demolished, prompting Team Romney to protest that "we're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." Adding to the embarrassment was a prime-time presentation on how to build your small business by selling to the government.

As it turns out, the silence about Mitt Romney's old company and the Republican sham that "you didn't build it" are related. Because when it comes to Bain Capital, in a very real sense you did build it. After all, your United States tax code doesn't merely allow the "carried interest exemption" that enables the likes of Mitt 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.

As the history shows, 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. Writing in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi explained how:

    Essentially, Romney got rich in a business that couldn't exist without a perverse tax break, and he got to keep double his earnings because of another loophole - a pair of bureaucratic accidents that have not only teamed up to threaten us with a Mitt Romney presidency but that make future Romneys far more likely. "Those two tax rules distort the economics of private equity investments, making them much more lucrative than they should be," says Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel at the Center for Tax Justice. "So we get more of that activity than the market would support on its own."

Then-Bain Capital CEO Mitt Romney concluded as much when he acknowledged, "There's a lot greater risk in a startup than there is in acquiring an existing company." So he fatefully redirected his firm from venture investments in new companies like Staples and instead became a leveraged buyout king. To understand both why he did that and how all American taxpayers helped make it possible, a little background is in order.

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.

"In the majority of these deals," Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission explained, "the tax deduction has a big enough impact on the bottom line that the takeover wouldn't work without it." And that interest," Turner said, "just sucks the profit out of the company." As Taibbi rightly noted, "You almost have to start firing people immediately just to get your costs down to a manageable level."

"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.

That's why Romney's former Bain colleague Marc Wolpow fretted, "I believed he was making a mistake by framing himself as a job creator." In reality, he insisted, "That was not his or Bain's or the industry's primary objective. The objective of the LBO business is maximizing returns for investors."

And it's also 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.

It's worth noting Bain Capital has come under increasing scrutiny for getting carried away with carried interest. The practice isn't just immoral; in Bain's case, its use of "fee conversion" to evade taxes may also have been illegal:

    Private equity funds are usually paid like this: They get a 2 percent management fee, which is taxed as ordinary income at a 35 percent rate, and a 20 percent share at the profits, called carried interest, that's taxed at as capital gains at a 15 percent rate, as University of Colorado law professor Victor Fleischer explains. But since those 2 percent fees can still be a lot of money, funds convert this into carried interest, too, by waiving the management fee in exchange for the chance to skim off the top of future profits. Fleischer writes, "Unlike carried interest, which is unseemly but perfectly legal, Bain's management fee conversions are not legal. If challenged in court, Bain would lose." The New York Times' Nicholas Confessore, Floyd Norris, and Julie Creswell report that the funds converted $1.05 billion in fees that would have been taxed at the higher rate. That saved $200 million in income taxes and $20 million in Medicare taxes.

Leaving that question aside, there's little doubt, as a Washington Post analysis detailed last year, 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 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 our elected United States government, Mitt Romney would not have gotten nearly as rich as he did at Bain Capital. As Matt Taibbi put it, "the way Romney most directly owes his success to the government is through the structure of the tax code."

    In other words, the government actually incentivizes the kind of leverage-based takeovers that Romney built his fortune on. Romney the businessman built his career on two things that Romney the candidate decries: massive debt and dumb federal giveaways. "I don't know what Romney would be doing but for debt and its tax-advantaged position in the tax code," says a prominent Wall Street lawyer, "but he wouldn't be fabulously wealthy."

Not without us, that is. After all, we built Bain Capital.

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« Reply #141 on: Sep 02, 2012, 09:09 AM »

September 02, 2012 08:00 AM

Mitt Romney's Federal Bailout; Bain Investigated for Tax Evasion

By Diane Sweet

Mitt Romney may not "apologize" for his success in business, but more importantly, you'll also likely never hear him say "thanks" to the American people for the Federal bailout of Bain Capital.


    The trouble began in 1984, when Bain & Company spun off Bain Capital to engage in leveraged buyouts and put Romney in charge of the new operation. To free up money to invest in the new business, founder Bill Bain and his partners cashed out much of their stock in the consulting firm – leaving it saddled with about $200 million in debt. (Romney, though not a founder, reportedly profited from the deal.) "People will tell you that Bill raped the place clean, was greedy, didn't know when to stop," a former Bain consultant later conceded. "Did they take too much out of the firm? You bet."

    The FDIC documents make clear what happened next: "Soon after the founders sold their equity," analysts reported, "business began to drop off." First came scandal: In the late 1980s, a Bain consultant became a key figure in an illegal stock manipulation scheme in London. The firm's reputation took a hit, and it fired 10 percent of its consulting force. By the time the 1989 recession began, Bain & Company found itself going broke fast. Cash flows weren't enough to service the debt imposed by the founders, and the firm could barely make payroll. In a panic, Bill Bain tapped Romney, his longtime protégé, to take the reins.

    In fact, Romney had a direct stake in the survival of Bain & Company: He had been working to build the Bain brand his entire career, and felt he had to save the firm at all costs. After all, Bain sold top-dollar strategic advice to big businesses about how to protect themselves from going bust. If Bain & Company went bankrupt, recalls the Romney deputy, "anyone associated with them would have looked clownish." Indeed, when a banker from Goldman Sachs urged Bain to consider bankruptcy as the obvious solution to the firm's woes, Romney's desperation began to show. He flatly refused to discuss it – and in the ensuing argument, one witness says, Romney almost ended up in a brawl when the Goldman banker advised him to "go f*ck yourself." For the sake of Romney's career and fortune, bankruptcy was simply not an option – no matter who got screwed in the process.

It's no wonder Romney wouldn't want to discuss the details of the bailout during a campaign for office. And then when it came to "negotiating" repayment of the bailout, Romney threatened use of a loophole:

    In a letter dated March 23rd, 1993, Romney reassured creditors that his latest scheme would return Bain & Company to "long-term financial stability." That same month, Romney once again threatened to "pay out maximum bonus distributions" to top executives unless much of Bain's debt was erased.

    In the end, the government surrendered. At the time, The Boston Globe cited bankers dismissing the bailout as "relatively routine" – but the federal documents reveal it was anything but. The FDIC agreed to accept nearly $5 million in cash to retire $15 million in Bain's debt – an immediate government bailout of $10 million. All told, the FDIC estimated it would recoup just $14 million of the $30 million that Romney's firm owed the government.

Sounds more like blackmail than a negotiation, doesn't it?

As if this bailout doesn't sound crooked enough, Bain is now under investigation for tax evasion. Via Think Progress:

    Since July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been issuing subpoenas to private equity firms including Bain, which he believes intentionally changed management fees into capital gains as a way of hanging onto millions of dollars that would have otherwise been taxed at a higher rate. Bain alone is estimated to have saved “more than $200 million in federal income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes.” It is unclear whether the tax strategy was used while Romney was at the helm of the company, but the Times reports that Romney is still making money on funds that are using the method in question.

While an attorney for Romney insists that he “can confirm that neither he nor the trust has ever done this, whether before or after he(Romney) retired from Bain Capital," it would certainly be nice, for the sake of transparency, if Romney would release his tax returns.


September 02, 2012 07:00 AM

Taibbi: Mitt Romney Was The Guy Who Fired You From Your Job

By Susie Madrak

Once upon a time, when I was a department head at a large company, one of my employees was badgering me about why we were going to lose our jobs after we merged with another company. "We make money for them, if you just tell them, they'll keep us on," she said.

I said that the whole point of the merger was to make money for the stockholders, not to reward us for doing a good job. She told me how unfair that was. Finally I said, "I hear you on the phone every week, moving the money around in your 401K because you expect to make 13 percent interest. Don't you get it? It's people like you who cost us our jobs. Everyone in the stock market who expects to make a killing, instead of a reasonable return. Every time you move your money, you make it more likely someone else is going to lose their job."

She simply didn't believe me. I thought of her when I read this from Matt Taibbi:

    Are you kidding? Mitt Romney was the guy that fired you from that $22.50 an hour job, and helped you replace it with two $9 an hour jobs! He was a pioneer in the area of eliminating the well-paying job with benefits and replacing it with the McJob that offered no benefits at all. One of the things that killed him in the Senate race against Ted Kennedy were Kennedy ads that reminded voters that Mitt’s takeovers resulted in slashed wages and lost benefits. He was exactly the guy that eliminated that classic $22.50 manufacturing job, like in the case of GST Steel, where Bain took over with an initial investment of $8 million, paid itself a $36 million dividend, ended up walking away with $50 million, and left GST saddled with over $500 million in debt. 750 of those well-paying jobs were lost.

    What kinds of jobs were left for those fired workers to look for? Well, in the best-case scenario, you might have found one at Ampad, another Bain takeover target, where workers had their pay slashed from $10.22 to $7.88 an hour, tripled co-pays, and eliminated the retirement plan.

    So a guy who eliminated hundreds of $22 an hour jobs and slashed hundreds more jobs to below $9 an hour blasts Barack Obama for not giving you the better life you deserved, after you lost your $22/hour job and had to take two $9/hour jobs. Are we all high or something? Did that really just happen?

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« Reply #142 on: Sep 13, 2012, 06:09 AM »

September 12, 2012 03:00 PM

Russia's Putin Thanks Mitt Romney For Calling Them Greatest Foe

By John Amato

Oh boy, Mitt Romney stuck his foot in his mouth big time. You can see what a novice he is when it comes to foreign affairs.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Mitt Romney’s characterization of Moscow as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe” has actually helped Russia.

    The Russian leader said Romney’s comments strengthened his resolve to oppose NATO’s plan for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, a system Russia believes will degrade its nuclear deterrent. The U.S. insists the system is aimed at Iran, not Russia.

    “I’m grateful to him (Romney) for formulating his stance so clearly because he has once again proven the correctness of our approach to missile defense problems,” Putin told reporters, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

    “The most important thing for us is that even if he doesn’t win now, he or a person with similar views may come to power in four years. We must take that into consideration while dealing with security issues for a long perspective,” he said, speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, according to Interfax news agency.

You can see why John McCain's staff was right about Mittens.

    Romney knew little about foreign policy when he ran for president in 2008. An internal dossier of John McCain’s presidential campaign said at the time that “Romney’s foreign affairs resume is extremely thin, leading to credibility problems.”

If you recall, the GOP presidential primary field was chock full o' nuts.

    Rick Perry labeled the Turkish government “Islamic terrorists.” Newt Gingrich referred to Palestinians as “invented” people. Herman Cain called Uzbekistan “Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” and memorably blanked when asked what he thought of NATO’s incursion into Libya. Michele Bachmann pledged to close the US embassy in Iran, which hasn’t existed since 1980. Rick Santorum gave a major foreign policy speech at a Jelly Belly factory in California.

I never had so much fun on Twitter as I had during the Republican debates.

And because Romney is so green on foreign policy, he has surrounded himself with Bush-era neocons. John Bolton leads his team, but there are many more Bushies littering his crew.

    Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, “Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected.” On some key issues, like Iran, Romney and his team are to the right of Bush. Romney’s embrace of the neoconservative cause—even if done cynically to woo the right—could turn into a policy nightmare if he becomes president.
    Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush. “I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake,” says Cato’s Preble. “Two-thirds of the American people do believe the Iraq War was a mistake. So he has willingly chosen to align himself with that one-third of the population right out of the gate.”

The Nation has much more on these remnants of the cold war still grasping at windmills.

Pretty soon Iran's Supreme Leader will thank Romney for revving up his followers at the U.N.
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« Reply #143 on: Sep 13, 2012, 06:12 AM »

September 12, 2012 02:00 PM

Romney's Debacle: Smirking Attacks Make Unfitness Clear

By David Neiwert

Well, as Josh Marshall says, "this is when you learn they're not ready." Or at least when your suspicions become manifest.

The roof has caved in on Mitt Romney, beyond even Chuck Todd and Peggy Noonan's criticism of his mishandling of his response to the murders of American diplomats in Libya and Cairo. Now it seems that everyone involved in the diplomacy business are pronouncing him unfit:

    "They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up," said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an "utter disaster" and a "Lehman moment" — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.

    He and other members of both parties cited the Romney campaign's recent dismissals of foreign policy's relevance. One adviser dismissed the subject to BuzzFeed as a "shiny object," while another told Politico that the subject was the "president's turf," drawing a rebuke from Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

    "I guess we see now that it is because they’re incompetent at talking effectively about foreign policy," said the Republican. "This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it."

And that's just the Republicans.

So he went before the press this morning and basically doubled down -- smirking, as he had the night before, all the way through. If those performances didn't convince anyone that this is not the man you want handling a difficult national crisis, nothing will.

As Greg Sargent observed about Romney's "opportunistic, incoherent" response:

    But this press conference looks to me like a serious mistake on Romney’s part. The whole thing reeked of political opportunism and didn’t convey any sense of leadership or reassurance amid a crisis. It was also somewhat incoherent. At one point, Romney defended his reaction by noting that the White House, too, had also condemned the U.S embassy’s statement, claiming: “I had the exact same reaction.” Okay, so Romney is criticizing the Obama administration while simultaneously agreeing with it?

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« Reply #144 on: Sep 13, 2012, 06:13 AM »

September 12, 2012 01:00 PM

Mitt Romney, 9-11 Profiteer?

By karoli

    Endurance Specialty Holdings was one of many insurance and reinsurance startups that cropped up in the wake of 9/11. These companies were designed to purchase debt from insurance companies who faced billions of dollars in claims after the attacks and sold insurance at high prices generated by the soaring rates that resulted from the cash crunch on traditional insurance companies. Mr. Romney was invested in Endurance Specialty Holdings both through Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm founded by a former Bain Capital executive in 2000 and through his direct interest in another investment firm, CCG Investment Fund, LP.

    In documents filed with the SEC ahead of a proposed IPO in late 2002, Endurance Specialty Holdings, which began operations in December 2001, a little over three months after the World Trade Center attacks, boasted about how they were taking advantage of economic opportunities created in the wake of September 11th.

But, but, but...Willard wasn't involved with Bain after 1999, was he? And didn't he have his money in a blind trust controlled by his close personal friend and lawyer? Yeah, that's not a blind trust, and Mitt knew exactly where his money was, because he was one of the original investors.

Endurance made a ton of money on those September 11th attacks, and so did Mitt Romney. But did he pay any taxes on the profit? Doubtful.

    In addition to Endurance’s history of profiting from the September 11th attacks, Mr. Romney’s investment in the company is also interesting because the company was domiciled in Bermuda, though none of its initial investors hailed from the island nation and ten of them came from the United States. In SEC filings, Endurance noted this arrangement ensured it was not “subject to taxes computed on profits or income or computed on any capital asset, gain or appreciation, or any tax in the nature of estate duty or inheritance tax or to any foreign exchange controls.” Throughout this election, the Obama campaign has accused Mr. Romney of using similar offshore investment schemes to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

What a patriot. This is the man who wants to be president, profiteering from a national tragedy and doing so without even paying a dime of taxes on it. Some might call him enterprising. I call it greedy.
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« Reply #145 on: Sep 13, 2012, 07:12 AM »

September 12, 2012 5:21 PM

Character Defects

By Ed Kilgore

The following is a long paragraph penned by Steve Erickson for TAP that is so succinct and powerful an indictment of Mitt Romney’s “character problem” that I will simply repost it without comment:

    Romney’s current troubles don’t stem from miscalculation or even a duff convention in Tampa but are manifestations of his own political character as heard and witnessed over the past half-decade. This is a man who has altered his positions—not modified, not tailored, not hedged, but utterly transformed—on every single issue from abortion to climate change to the health-care reform that he signed as governor in Massachusetts. Now he runs a campaign that doesn’t want to talk about his record as governor or as a financier and that refuses to put forth an economic alternative of any detail beyond building the Alaska pipeline and lowering taxes for people like himself, even as at the same time he won’t show us what he pays in taxes now or whether he pays taxes at all. His adamant hostility to revealing anything that resembles an authentic belief or credible strategy for accelerating the recovery is not only losing Romney the choice part of the election but the referendum part as well, as the Democrats succeed in making this a referendum on Romney, not Obama. Romney’s selection of Ryan was meant both to reassure the party’s base and bathe the presidential candidate in the glow of the vice-presidential candidate’s reputation as a man of integrity and candor. As evinced by the ticket’s appearances on this past Sunday morning’s news programs and Ryan’s speech at the Republican Convention, when he blamed Obama for a plant that closed during his predecessor’s term and for a Medicare cut that Ryan himself supports and for not embracing a debt-commission report that Ryan himself opposed and for the country’s credit downgrading that Ryan himself brought about as much as any single individual, it is truth-teller Ryan who bathes in the glow of Romney’s irrefutable standing as the phoniest nominee of our lifetime.
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« Reply #146 on: Sep 13, 2012, 07:26 AM »

Wow, that is pretty darn succinct and says it all.
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« Reply #147 on: Sep 13, 2012, 10:46 AM »

Romney’s Economic Plan–Shhh It’s Not Really His

By harvey_gold

The reason Mitt Romney’s 5-Point Plan sounds familiar is because it’s not really his; the GOP Economic Plan hasn’t changed in 30 years, regardless of the economic conditions. Throughout the Republican “preliminaries” I kept getting the feeling that I had heard most of what the candidates were saying before. Turns out I’ve heard Mr. Romney’s plan lots of times. Actually, it’s the same exact plan that Republican candidates have repeated for decades, but never actually implemented. How about looking at just this century?

Conservatives frequently say that their ideas are the only ones that will work. For the past eleven months, however, I’ve been observing the Republicans more closely than in the past simply because the economic crash at the end of George W. Bush’s second term did not catch me by surprise. I knew it was coming. [The way we govern it had to. Throw in the normal economic cycles and you'll always have ups and downs, but our economy is driven by politics rather than economic principle. Emotions rather than logic. Perception rather than reality. Amateurs rather than experts. Half of the population doesn't even understand a basic economic tenet; The Fallacy of Composition. That fallacy drives assumptions made daily by millions of Americans that think that accounting, budgeting, economic, etc. work the same way as accounting for individuals or businesses. Actual Businessmen know that this is not true. The ones that tell you that it can are telling you that in order to take something that you have that they need; be it cash, property or votes. Con men know it's not true as well. And politicians that tell you this are either laughing at you for believing them, or ignorant enough to believe it themselves. I'll let you judge of which is worse. ]

In fact, had the crash held off another few months, President Obama would probably be preparing to retire because the Republican propaganda machine is nothing short of phenomenal. America re-elected President Bush despite 9/11 happening on his watch, Katrina’s botched rescue, starting a war, A TEN-YEAR WAR based on non-existent Iraqi WMDs, and stating that he wasn’t worried about Osama bin Laden,(I guess “bait & switch” is only illegal in advertising, not sending our armies to war).

Then, after Mr. Romney wrapped up the GOP nomination he rolled out his own unique vision. A “Five-Point Plan to create twelve million jobs!!! Wow. Sounded great. So I listened. I read the plan. And there it was again, this nagging feeling that I had heard all of this before. So I fired up the Google machine to find out exactly what the details were for this stunning business plan. Specifically, here are the five points that Mr. Romney-the-Business-Expert, the “Best possible man to have in charge of a situation as unique in our lifetime as this”, has laid out to save America’s economy during his August 30th, 2012 RNC Acceptance speech:

The details of Mr. Romney’s plan are :

…by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables .
When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance so he[Romney] will give our citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow.
He[Romney] will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.
He[Romney] will assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.
He[Romney] will champion SMALL businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Wait. So Mr. Romney’s super-fantastic, five-point plan to create twelve million jobs , which is laser-focused to THIS UNIQUE set of conditions by Mr. Business-Profit-Man and is fixated on 1)domestic energy production,2) school choice, 3)more trade agreements, 4)cutting government spending, and 5)reducing taxes and business regulations.

This is Mr. Romney’s plan to solve our long-term mass unemployment , restore our economy to greatness, and is specifically suited to the economic conditions as they exist today, right?

The Familiar Ring Becomes Clear–A History Lesson in Romney/GOP Economic Plans

Candidate McCain

On September 4th, 2008. John McCain had stunned the U.S. by choosing Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate. Senator McCain gave his acceptance speech for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, during at which time unemployment was 6.1 percent, and George W. Bush’s second term was coming to a close. Two weeks later, Lehman Brothers Investments collapsed, the real estate market collapsed in severity not seen since the Great Depression. During a campaign stop in Jacksonville, FL, despite the collapse of Lehman Brothers, McCain made the remarkable statement that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” So what exactly were Mr. McCain’s proposals for the economy in his nomination speech two weeks earlier, and why did he not see the need to change them? Well, it’s not the “GOP way.”

Mr. McCain’s acceptance speech for your comparison convenience to the above, I’ve changed the order, but not the content of HIS five point plan:

“These are tough times for many of you. You’re worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home. All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that’s just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future”…

We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much…We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we’ll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas…this great national cause will create millions of new jobs
Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school…When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one… But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.
We believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers… I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them…
We all know that keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs… I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them…. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them.
My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.
Some of the wording may be a little different, but the two candidates are expressing remarkably similar ideas under radically different circumstances. The “5-Point Plan” that comprises the 2012 Romney agenda for job creation (promising 12 million jobs) is exactly the same prescription that John McCain wanted to do anyway but in 2008, and a couple of weeks after an economic collapse the likes of which this country has not seen since the Great Depression.

Well, I have to say, that’s a little strange . But there’s more.

Candidate Bush

On September 2nd, 2004, George W. Bush is at the RNC, giving his speech accepting the nomination to run for a second term as President of the United States. Unemployment is 5.4 percent. A housing bubble is taking place, and the country is debating the motives and cost of the invasions of first Afghanistan, which seemed at least logical, but later Iraq under the auspices of some undefined length and mission of the War on Terror. A few months later, people will be talking about a permanent Republican majority in Congress. But what are some priorities for a second George W. Bush terms of economics? Americans’ paychecks have been stagnant and 9/11 didn’t help with consumer confidence.

You remember George W. Bush, right? George W. Bush that took the keys to the white house from Bill Clinton with the budget experiencing the first surplus in a generation? Mr. Bush accepted the nomination for his second term in 2004 with unemployment at 5.4 percent, but a housing bubble was occurring and some were were very skeptical about the reason s for invasion of Iraq that deposed Saddam Hussein, but no WMDs were found, as well as the intention to stay in Iraq now that Saddam was gone. To make things even stranger, there was less and less talk coming out of the Bush Administration about Osama Bin Laden and why were were still in Afghanistan as well. Billions of dollars per week were being spent of two wars that the American public clearly did not understand any clear and simple reasons for either. And what about paying for these two wars? How were we paying for that?

Again, the salient points:

At Mr. Bush’s RNC acceptance speech:

To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business.

To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
On education … Too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge. When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn…And if they don’t, parents should get the money to make a different choice.
The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason … We were fighting World War II. Today, our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend…The surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money…I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code…no one in America should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government…So we will reduce tax rates for everyone, in every bracket…reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills[and reduce regulations that keep business from flourishing].
To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making the tax relief permanent…create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe.
What, no health plan? Mr. Bush will later get to privatizing healthcare with tax breaks and purchase your own “basic health insurance” plan.
Well, again, it’s the same agenda. Apparently, there is ALWAYS time for less government spending, more oil drilling, open markets and free trade, and lower taxes and regulations to fix the economy.

All those even numbers. All those different circumstances. All those same plans melding into the same old failures that Democrats sit back and take the blame for.

Still, that the plan doesn’t seem to change. There has to be some common thread between all these situations that I’m just not seeing.

President Bush

Here’s George W. Bush in 2007 giving his State of the Union address. Unemployment is 4.6 percent and the economy seems to be alright. So, Mr. Bush must have a different plan for his last two years in office right? Mr. Bush was convinced the economy was amped up and purring like kitten.

Alright then. Now we’re talking. What is the Republican plan to keep this momentum going and propel us into a stable and safe economy?

January 23, 2007:

“Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move — and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.”

For too long our Nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments… raise the price of oil.
… without taking control from local communities … and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools
…we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C.[and eliminate pesky regulations].
Mr. Bush saw fit to call an audible in 2007. Instead of trade policy, wars stood proudly as it’s placeholder.
For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance… this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making healthcare affordable for more Americans.
Well, there you have it. This is NOT coincidence. This is THE GOP boilerplate, one-plan-fits-all, pro-forma, fill-in-the-blanks Republican economic plan. It was the same for candidates as well as Presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. It was the same in 2004 and 2008. And it is the same exact plan that Mr. Romney is proposing in 2012.

Domestic oil production, school choice, trade agreements, cut spending and reduce taxes and regulations – feel free to substitute on any one of the five, no one can call the GOP inflexible for goodness sakes–it’s been the conservative answer to all conditions. It’s the answer when the Republicans inherit surpluses, it’s the answer during times of economic worry, it’s the plan after economic collapse, and it’s even the plan for Wall Street hysteria. It’s been the GOP Plan through the Savings & Loan Collapse, it’s been the GOP Plan through Enron, WorldCom, Housing collapses, 9/11, wars, natural catastrophes, and even recoveries.

I have to say, at least conservative icon, Ronaldus Reaganus and George H.W. Bush had enough sense to see the folly of their ways and raise taxes when necessary to fulfill their oaths before the one all Republicans feel blackmailed into signing now from little Grover Norquist (which apparently takes precedent over their oath of office).

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. With a misinformation machine like the one conservatives have constructed, virtually unlimited money, (whether domestic, foreign, terrorist-backed, or of criminal origin), why would Mr. Romney feel the need to offer anything different? It is disconcerting for me that the Republican economic playbook doesn’t change regardless of circumstances though.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why it does not concern everyone.

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« Reply #148 on: Sep 14, 2012, 07:04 AM »

September 13, 2012 02:00 PM

Mitt Gets Worse

By karoli

This is Julie Goodridge. Goodridge sued the Massachusetts Department of Health in 2003 because her partner was denied the right to see her newborn daughter or her after a difficult and life-threatening birth. That case turned into the landmark ruling that said gay couples do have the right to marry.

In this video, Goodridge tells us all what it was like to fight for those rights in a state where Mitt Romney was governor at the time. She said she begged him for a meeting and couldn't get one. When she did finally have an opportunity to speak with him, he had not read anything with regard to her case (or so she claimed). She described his answer to her question about what she should tell her daughter about why her parents couldn't be married as "cold." The answer was the equivalent of flipping her off. Via Boston.com:

    “It was like talking to a robot. No expression, no feeling,” recalls David Wilson, one of the plaintiffs in the case who met with Romney that day. “People were sharing touching stories, stories where you’d expect recognition in the other person’s face that they at least hear what you’re saying — that there’s empathy. He didn’t even shake his head. He was completely blank.”

    Occasionally Romney would say something.

    “I didn’t know you had families,” remarked Romney to the group, according to Wilson.
    The offhanded remark underscored that Romney, the governor of the first state prepared to grant same-sex marriage, hadn’t taken the time to look at what the landmark case was really about. By this point the plaintiff’s stories had been widely covered by national media — in particular, Julie Goodridge’s heartrending tale of how her then-partner, Hillary, was denied hospital visitation following the precarious birth of daughter Annie. It was the ignorance of these facts — and Romney’s inaccurate, insensitive answer to her parting question, that pushed Julie Goodridge to her breaking point.

    “I looked him in the eye as we were leaving,” recalls Goodridge. “And I said, ‘Governor Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?’”

    His response, according to Goodridge: “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.”

Romney couldn't even be bothered to know that Goodridge's daughter was not adopted. She was her natural daughter. In fact, it was Goodridge's childbirth experience that sparked the lawsuit. But he hadn't bothered to pay attention at all, yet was supporting a constitutional amendment banning her marriage.

If Goodridge's story was unique, it could possibly be dismissed as pure politics. But it's not. The words she uses to describe Mitt Romney -- cold, lacking any empathy, dead eyes -- are what we see every day. This is the same Mitt Romney who says students should get the best education they can afford, who profiteers from the 9-11 tragedy, who stores his money in Swiss and Cayman bank accounts while placing his hand over his heart and singing "America the Beautiful."

It's no stretch to imagine Julie Goodridge begging Willard to just try and see things from her vantage point, only to be rebuffed and told that she wasn't worth him even reading about her case.

On top of all the other reasons, imagine what it would be like to have someone like Romney as president. Shoot, just look at the states that are currently run by Republicans! Women? Bah! Let them do laundry! Gay people? Suffer, sinners. That would be what would happen. There would be no rights for anyone but wealthy white dudes.

Julie's story is only one of many, but all of them tell the same tale.
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« Reply #149 on: Sep 15, 2012, 06:02 AM »

September 14, 2012 12:00 PM

Mitt Romney Defines 'Middle Income' As $250,000 Per Year

By Blue Texan

This morning on ABC News, Mitt Romney took a break from his reckless and self-destructive comments on foreign policy to discuss his tax policy.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But his study, which you’ve cited, says it can only work if you take away those deductions for everyone earning more than $100,000.

    MITT ROMNEY: Well, it doesn’t necessarily show the same growth that we’re anticipating. And I haven’t seen his precise study. But I can tell you that we can lower our rates–

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you cited the study, though.

    MITT ROMNEY: Well, I said that there are five different studies that point out that we can get to a balanced budget without raising taxes on middle income people. Let me tell you, George, the fundamentals of my tax policy are these. Number one, reduce tax burdens on middle-income people. So no one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Is $100,000 middle income?

    MITT ROMNEY: No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less. So number one, don’t reduce– or excuse me, don’t raise taxes on middle-income people, lower them. Number two, don’t reduce the share of taxes paid by the wealthiest. The top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today. That’s principle one, principle two. Principle three is create incentives for growth, make it easier for businesses to start and to add jobs. And finally, simplify the code, make it easier for people to pay their taxes than the way they have to now.

Wow. Only someone worth $250M would say that someone making a quarter million dollars per year is in the "middle." In fact, people who earn between $200,000 and $250,000 per year earn more than 97-98% of the country.

Median household income in the US is $50,054.

This is what happens when your entire economic philosophy involves cutting taxes for rich people -- you have to define up "middle." Way up.

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