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Author Topic: BIRTH CHART FOR MIT ROMNEY: AN ARCHETYPAL STUDY IN DUPLICITY  (Read 18824 times)
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« Reply #165 on: Sep 25, 2012, 06:18 AM »

GOP backer Adelson accused of commandeering Israel's media market

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has poured millions into GOP coffers, also bankrolls a pro-Netanyahu Israeli newspaper that could transform the media market.

By Joshua Mitnick, Correspondent / September 24, 2012
Charles Dharapak/AP

Tel Aviv

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson grabbed the spotlight in the US earlier this year for making multi-million dollar campaign contributions to Republican presidential candidates on the bet that their policies would better jibe with those of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than with President Obama's.

In Israel, Mr. Adelson is better known as the force behind the five-year-old free newspaper, "Yisrael Hayom" (Israel Today), which is seen by some as the Israeli print equivalent of Fox News. Touting Israeli patriotism, it is among the most widely read newspapers in the country and has a reputation for its fiercely loyal coverage of Mr. Netanyahu – and now Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Adelson rejects accusations of bias, insisting in a previous interview that his paper is a "fair and balanced" alternative to other newspapers more critical of the government and that he is breaking rival newspaper Yediot Ahranot's monopoly on the market. Many Israelis nonetheless see the paper as a political vehicle to support the prime minster, and now, American Republican politicians. And with other newspapers floundering financially while Adelson puts his substantial wealth behind Yisrael Hayom, some worry that he is squeezing other political ideologies out of the market.

"You can see completely biased coverage always emphasizing good news for the Republicans, or always hiding or eliminating bad news for the Republicans," says Oren Persico, who writes a daily analysis of print news coverage for Israel’s media magazine "The Seventh Eye." "It's one-sided, so Israelis will stand behind Romney."

An opinion poll conducted by Hebrew University and released yesterday showed Mr. Romney with an eight percentage point advantage over Mr. Obama among Israelis – 34 percent to 26 percent, with 20 percent undecided. Another opinion poll from earlier this month suggested that the gap was more than two to one.

While it is impossible to discern the exact role Yisrael Hayom plays in shaping those opinions, its critical take on Obama and its upbeat coverage of the Republican campaign stand out from the rest of Israeli media coverage of US politics.

For example, the day after the Romney campaign was rocked by a video of the candidate making disparaging remarks about Americans who pay no income tax, Yisrael Hayom featured a front page opinion piece alleging the US is a declining empire and accusing Obama of "voluntarily lowering the profile" of the US and fueling unrest in Arab countries. The story about the video was on page 23.

A day later, the newspaper wrote in a subhead that "commentators think the affair will help" and quoted conservative columnist Ann Coulter saying that Romney comments were on the mark. Today the newspaper acknowledged that the video is having a negative impact on public opinion of Romney, but cited "optimism from surveys" indicating that the Republican candidate remains close in the polls, despite the uproar.

Yisrael Hayom is not the only paper that comes across as promoting a particular political agenda in Israel. News coverage in the liberal newspaper Haaretz, for example, is known to be sympathetic to the US president and heavily critical of Netanyahu. But critics of Yisrael Hayom say the fact that the paper has never reported a profit is further evidence that the goal of the paper is primarily political rather than a business enterprise.

Nahum Barnea, an Israel Prize laureate columnist who works for rival newspaper Yediot Ahronot, has denounced Yisrael Hayom as a paper with no business model that serves the interest of "one man" and is undermining Israeli democracy by making it impossible for for-profit newspapers to compete.

And as Yisrael Hayom has surged in readers, other Israeli papers that need to make money in order to stay afloat have struggled – yesterday, the cash-strapped daily newspaper Ma’ariv was sold to Shlomo Ben Zvi, the owner of another right wing newspaper, who announced plans to lay off most of the staff.

"For many years, the media was dominated by left-of-center views and families supporting the Labor party," says Mitchell Barak, an Israeli pollster. But today the paper’s sympathetic coverage of US Republicans has a natural audience in Israel, he says.

"In general, Israelis have been disappointed with the promise and hope of Obama. That’s not specific to Yisrael Hayom."

****************

September 24, 2012 3:35 PM

Adelson’s Ideological Dollars

By Ed Kilgore

Mike Allen of Politico got some face-time with Sheldon Adelson, and wrote a profile of the casino mogul and maximum GOP donor that should be of interest to those of us—which means all of us—who might be affected by the man’s views.

According to Allen, Adelson himself ticked off five reasons he’s giving so heavily this year. The first and most interesting is probably “self-defense;” he thinks the Obama administration is conspiring to take down his business empire and maybe send him to tennis prison. Another way of putting it, of course, is that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have exhibited a keen interest in his vast operations in Vegas and (especially) Asia, which involve places and enterprises where skullduggery is not exactly unknown.

A second rationale cited by Adelson is very well-known: he hates unions, and loves a particular brand of right-wing Israeli politics (indeed, he is arguably more influential and controversial in Israel than here, thanks to his ownership of Israel Hayom, a free, high-circulation pro-Netanyahu newspaper.

A third reason for Adelson’s hyper-activism involves what Allen describes as a high level of annoyance with inefficiency on the American Right:

    Adelson has played a previously unreported role that has helped maximize the outside groups’ muscle. He has insisted that they coordinate their efforts, making the spending more efficient. “If word got back to him that a group wasn’t cooperating, he’d cut them off,” said a top official at one of the groups, who deals personally with Adelson. “It’s to maximize the dollars. You don’t want repetition. You don’t people doubling up. He doesn’t want to feel like his money is wasted.”

It appears Adelson is using his leverage to herd conservative organizations into the strategic corral maintained by Karl Rove:

    One official said many donors have been pushing for such coordination, based on Rove’s Weaver Terrace Project in 2010, a meeting that brought the big conservative spenders together. “Most of the major donors have become sophisticated,” said one top Republican official. “They have a line of people out their door wanting checks, and the first question they ask is: Are you working with these groups? Sheldon is very pointed about it.”

The other two factors cited by Adelson in motivating his mega-donations are a strong concern for the future of small businesses (yeah, that’s real convincing!) and then just his personal dislike of Obama. According to Allen, Sheldon seems to have taken a deep draught of the right-wing Kool-Aid he’s paid for, and finds it tasty as well as useful as a political narcotic.

While I hope we don’t get to find out what sort of influence Adelson might have with a Romney White House (he claims he doesn’t need access, and would get it anyway without the checkbook being so wide-open), the picture Allen draws is alarming enough: a billion-dollar ad campaign whose strategic centerpoints are Adelson’s money and Bush’s Brain (Rove’s nickname during the Bush administrations in Austin and Washington). Any progressives needing additional motivation going into the stretch run of this campaign should contemplate the shadenfreude they would experience from a very bad night for these two particular gents on November 6.

« Last Edit: Sep 25, 2012, 11:27 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #166 on: Sep 25, 2012, 06:22 AM »

Workers beg Romney to stop latest Bain outsourcing

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, September 24, 2012 11:52 EDT

Being told to train his replacement was humiliating and surreal, but Tom Gaulrapp said the worst part was when the plant’s US flag was taken down before the Chinese engineers arrived.

Gaulrapp decided it was time to take a stand against outsourcing and the man he blames for the loss of his job: Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney, who founded the private equity firm that owns the Freeport, Illinois auto parts plant.

Romney’s ties to Bain Capital have burdened the Republican nominee’s hopes of winning the November 6 election as Democrats unfavorably paint him as a corporate raider who pioneered the outsourcing of US jobs to countries with lower labor costs.

Romney denies the charge, but his claim to be a man who could revive the economy and boost the prospects of American workers rings hollow here.

Gaulrapp thinks it would only take a phone call from the candidate who’s vowed to create 12 million jobs in the United States to save the 170 jobs at Sensata Technologies that are about to leave this already economically depressed town of 26,000.

“What we’d like is a miracle,” Gaulrapp, who has worked at the plant for 33 years, said with a sigh that acknowledged how unlikely it is that his wish will be granted.

“We’d like Mitt Romney to come to Freeport, see what this is doing to this community, and contact his friends that run Bain Capital and say ‘this is absolutely the wrong thing to do’ and save our jobs.”

The Romney campaign declined to comment on the situation at Sensata, but a spokeswoman contacted by AFP noted that the former Massachusetts governor retired from Bain in 1999 and his investments there are controlled by a blind trust, effectively nullifying his links to the firm.

Romney’s campaign recently set up a website — business.mittromney.com — defending his record at Bain and the “thousands” of jobs he saved or created by “fixing companies that were broken and giving new companies a shot at success.”

But the situation in Freeport is a classic example of how what’s best for a company is not always what’s best for American workers, said Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp, who is no relation to Tom.

“You can’t keep sending your jobs offshore and still have a middle class,” said the mayor.

Plant worker Pam Lampros, 53, is worried she’s going to lose her home so investors like Romney can make a bigger profit.

“It just hurts after so many years of hard work and dedication,” said Lampros, a 34-year veteran at the non-unionized plant who had hoped to retire from there.

“It’s for corporate greed, more or less.”

Sensata, which is majority-owned by Bain Capital, purchased the automotive sensors unit from Honeywell for $140 million in cash in January 2011.

With annual revenues of $130 million and valuable patents, the unit was a good buy. But with 75 percent of the revenue generated in Asia, it made sense to ship production to Sensata’s facilities in China, the Netherlands-based company said.

“It’s better to be closer to one’s customers,” Sensata spokesman Jacob Sayer told AFP, citing transportation and other logistical advantages.

Sayer acknowledged that the decision to shift production to China is “an unfortunately event” for Freeport and said he understands why it could be “difficult” for the workers to train their replacements.

He has no idea why — or if — the US flag was removed before the Chinese engineers and technicians arrived.

“We didn’t request it. I can tell you that,” Sayer said, adding that the company has been leasing the facility from Honeywell and has no involvement in grounds maintenance.

The workers have had nearly two years to prepare for the plant closure. Some have found new jobs and those who remained were given retention bonuses to help keep operations going until the last pieces of equipment are shipped elsewhere.

They got riled up in June when Romney visited nearby Janesville, Wisconsin and talked about how jobs were his top priority — at the same time they were being told to train their Chinese replacements.

After months of pursuing Romney’s campaign with protests and petitions, the Sensata workers set up camp in the fairgrounds across the road from the plant on September 12 in hopes of drawing more attention to their cause.

In a nod to both the “Hoovervilles” of unemployed workers that sprung up during the Great Depression and the Occupy Wall Street movement, about a dozen people have since been sleeping in tents staked into the cold, hard ground.

Mark Schreck, 36, a registered Republican, even brought his children a couple of times.

“This isn’t a Republican issue or a Democrat issue, this is an American issue,” he said, noting it is the second time his job has been outsourced to China, despite both operations being profitable — just not profitable enough.

“We’re in trouble. I’m not that old and when I grew up American industry and technology was huge. My folks and my uncles all worked in good jobs and retired from them,” Schreck said as he sat by a smoking campfire on the windy fairgrounds.

“It’s hard to grasp how bleak it is out there. I’ve been looking for work since last January and I’m not finding any.”


* bain.jpg (51.55 KB, 613x344 - viewed 119 times.)
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« Reply #167 on: Sep 26, 2012, 08:03 AM »


September 24, 2012
NYT Editorial

Why Romney Is Slipping

Mitt Romney said in an interview aired on Sunday that his campaign “doesn’t need a turnaround.” He told CBS News’s “60 Minutes” that he is tied with President Obama; he has a “very effective campaign; it’s doing a very good job;” and all he needs to do to win is keep repeating his plan to restore economic freedom.

That’s an outright denial of political reality, but Mr. Romney’s willingness to stray from the truth is at the root of what’s really going on. His campaign has been losing ground since the two political conventions. All the reliable national polls now show Mr. Obama ahead, and in two cases substantially so — beyond the margin of error. A variety of polls also shows Mr. Obama with growing leads in most of the important swing states.

To some extent, Mr. Romney’s diminishing stature is because of two recent statements that revealed his deficiencies to a newly interested audience. He falsely suggested that the Obama administration was sympathetic to the violent Muslim protests in Libya and Egypt, illustrating his ignorant and opportunistic critique of foreign policy. And he was caught on video belittling nearly half the country for an overreliance on government handouts.

These moments, though, were not fumbles or gaffes. They were entirely consistent with the dismissive attitude Mr. Romney has routinely shown toward non-Americans or the nonrich. Now even long-undecided voters are starting to catch on and dismiss him.

In Wisconsin, for example, a hotly contested state that has veered Republican in recent elections, Mr. Obama leads Mr. Romney by 17 points when voters are asked who cares about their needs and problems, according to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll published last week of likely voters. The poll found that only 10 percent of voters said his policies would favor the middle class. (This poll was taken before the video showing his disdain for 47 percent of the country.)

Voters don’t react positively when a candidate speaks incomprehensibly about taxes, as Mr. Romney did on “60 Minutes.” He said he would lower everyone’s tax rate by 20 percent but that everyone would wind up paying essentially the same taxes because he would limit unspecified deductions and exemptions. Even on its face, that makes little sense. If everyone will pay the same taxes, how does that stimulate growth or reduce unfairness? In fact, tax experts say the rate cut is such a huge benefit for the rich that it can’t be balanced by curbing their deductions. But listeners don’t have to do the math to calculate how fundamentally hollow the proposal is.

Asked about the government’s responsibility to the 50 million Americans without health insurance, Mr. Romney said they already have access to health care: in emergency rooms. That, of course, is the most expensive and least effective way of providing care, as someone who once advocated universal care has reason to know. But it also reeks of contempt for those left behind by the current insurance system, suggesting that they must suffer with illness until the point where they need an ambulance.

Mr. Romney is free to pursue this shallow, cavalier campaign for six more weeks, but he shouldn’t be surprised if voters increasingly choose not to pay attention.

*****************

Romney suggests teachers unions should be prohibited from campaign donations

By Kay Steiger
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 16:10 EDT

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared at a multi-day “Education Nation” event co-hosted by NBC News in New York City at the infamous public library to say that he favored school choice, controversial merit-based teacher pay and even went so far as to suggest that teachers unions should not be allowed to contribute to political campaigns.

Romney praised Massachusetts’ reforms that emphasized teachers while he served as governor. “Perhaps the single most important thing from the education reform effort that went on was an increased focus on the teachers, on hiring the very best and brightest we possibly could, promoting them and giving them the very best opportunities we could in the classroom.”

When talking about early childhood education, “The involvement of parents — particularly where there can be two parents — is an enormous advantage for the child. … Even then to have one parent that stays closely involved in the education of the child and can be at home in those early years of education can be extraordinarily important.”

But the real meat of Romney’s remarks came when he talked about teachers unions. “I understand the interest of the teachers union,” Romney told NBC’s Brian Williams on Tuesday. “The teachers union has every right to represent their members in the way they think is best for their members. But we have every right to in fact say, no this is what we want to do, which is in the best interest of our children.”

“We don’t just presume that because we’ve been here for a certain number of years that we should get more and more pay every year. Instead, we get measured. If teachers say there’s no good measurement system, well we say let’s look for one,” Romney continued.

“Education is about teachers, great leadership and parents, and the union has a different objective. I understand. It’s fine for them to promote it. It’s not fine for us to just go along with it,” Romney said.

When New York City parent mentioned that parents support teachers unions in New York three to one, Romney responded, “I don’t believe it for a minute. I know something about polls. I know you can ask questions to get any answer you want.”

“Jeb Bush stood up to the teachers unions in Florida and that made a difference,” Romney said. “We simply can’t have a setup where the teachers unions can contribute tens of millions of dollars to the campaigns of politicians and then those politicians, when elected, stand across from them at the bargaining table, supposedly to represent the interests of the kids. I think it’s a mistake. I think we’ve got to get the money out of the teachers unions going into campaigns. It’s the wrong way for us to go. We’ve got to separate that.”

Romney also noted that “higher education is also essential to the well-being of our economy and the success of our fellow citizens … but one trend that gives me cause for concern is the rapid growth in the cost for tuition.” Romney said “we’re on an unsustainable path. You can’t have higher education tuition grow at a multiple of the rate of inflation. At some point, something has to give. And we’re going to have to find a solution to that problem. I have ideas myself in that regard. I do believe this is something that just can’t go on.”

Romney’s higher education platform has thus far contained few details, but it does call the current system of federally subsidized grants and loans “needlessly complex” and calls for a return to bank-based student lending, which would reverse a 2010 change that was designed to be deficit-reducing.

President Barack Obama, in a pre-filmed video with the “Today” show broadcast on Tuesday, said, “I think Gov. Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher-bashing.”

“You know, I just really get frustrated when I hear teacher-bashing as evidence of reform,” Obama said during the interview. “My sister is a former teacher, and I can tell you that they work so hard … what is absolutely true is if we’ve got a bad teacher, we should be able to train them to get better, and if they can’t get better, they should be able to get fired.”

Nevertheless, Obama still defended controversial education reforms. “Let’s make sure we’ve got the resources, so i’m glad it was resolved, but I do think that from the perspective of Democrats we can’t just sit on the status quo or say that money’s the only issue. Reform is important also.”

*****************

Robert Reich: Romney is the avatar of the upper-class

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 22:06 EDT

University of California professor Robert Reich on Tuesday disputed Republican claims that the wealthy were job creators.

“We have not had this degree of income inequality in America for 80 years and by some measures 100 years,” he told Current TV host Cenk Uygur. “Go back to the Gilded Age of the robber barons. That’s when you find the same kind of concentration of income and wealth inequality and power at the very highest reaches of the United States. We don’t want to go back there.”

Reich said the upper class wanted to defend their power and wealth, “and that’s why they are sponsoring Mitt Romney, who is the avatar, the sponsor of his class.”

He explained that the strong purchasing power of the middle class was imperative to keep the economy health. While the wealthy tended to accumulate their money, the middle class used their income to purchase goods and services, which drove up demand and lead to new jobs being created.

“If there is not enough money in the middle class and among the poor, then what do you get? You get a stagnate economy,” Reich said.

***************

Group files complaint against Murray Energy for forcing workers to attend Romney rally

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 18:12 EDT

ProgressOhio announced Monday that it had filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, alleging that Murray Energy made an illegal corporate contribution to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Coal miners in Ohio said they feared being fired if they did not attend an August 14 event with the Republican presidential nominee. Images from the event are now being used in a pro-Romney ad.

“It is clear from published reports by executives at Murray Energy that employees were mandated to attend the August 14 Romney rally after closing the mine,” said Brian Rothenberg, Executive Director of ProgressOhio. “Clearly the use of these miners in television ads is meant to convey something of value to the Romney campaign and is therefore a violation of federal law.”

Rothenberg’s complaint alleges the company violated federal campaign laws that prohibit a corporation from using the threat of a detrimental job action to force employees to make a contribution on behalf of a candidate.

Robert Murray, the founder of Murray Energy, is a major Romney supporter. Between 2005 and 2009, the Murray Energy Corp. Political Action Committee had given more than $150,000 to Republican candidates. Murray personally gave $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2004 and $10,000 in 2006. The Ohio Valley Coal PAC, a group affiliated with Murray Energy, gave $10,000 to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000.

But the company denies any wrongdoing.

“It is readily apparent that the complaint is nonsensical and completely without any merit whatsoever,” Murray Energy said in a statement. “It is clearly an attempt by ProgressOhio to try to embarrass the Romney campaign and to blunt and eliminate criticism of Mr. Obama’s War on Coal.”
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« Reply #168 on: Sep 26, 2012, 08:22 AM »

Economy

Romney Firm Invested In Chinese Company That Touted Low Wages, Low Tax Liability To Investors

By Travis Waldron posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Sep 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

A firm run by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney invested in a Chinese company just a week after it touted the low wages it paid its employees, stringent working conditions, and the low tax liability it faced compared to American companies in a document to investors.

Romney has gotten tough on the Chinese government on the campaign trail, but in 1998, Brookside Inc., a subsidiary of Bain Capital, invested in Global-Tech Appliances days after it sent investors a document detailing the low wages it paid its workers and the low tax liability it faced, the Boston Globe reports:

    It used “inexpensive labor,” Global-Tech Appliances wrote in a prospectus meant to attract investors on April 8, 1998. Its location in China meant “an overall effective tax rate that may be less than that of US corporations.” It said its current operations would not be subject to “material US taxes because it should not be considered to have significant income effectively connected with a trade or business in the US.” [...]

    Nine days after the document was released – on April 17, 1998 — an affiliate of Bain Capital called Brookside Capital Partners Fund acquired about 6 percent of Global Tech, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents that were first reported by Mother Jones magazine.

A leaked video from a Romney fundraiser showed the candidate giving an account of a trip to China to visit a factory in which Bain considered investing. Romney talked of the long hours worked by teenage girls who lived in dormitories on the premises and earned low wages. Spokespersons for both the Romney campaign and Bain Capital declined to comment for the Globe’s story.

Mother Jones reported in July that Global-Tech also depended heavily on the outsourcing of American jobs to China. Romney has blasted that practice on the campaign trail, but as the chief executive at Bain, he routinely oversaw the outsourcing of jobs to China and other low-wage countries. Investment documents released in August also detailed an investment into a company that is outsourcing jobs to China and forcing American workers to train their replacements.

*****************

Romney Says Obama Did Not Raise Taxes ‘In His First Four Years’

By Igor Volsky on Sep 25, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Mitt Romney has argued for months that President Obama raised taxes on middle class Americans and small businesses during his first term. But during a rally in Ohio on Tuesday, the GOP presidential candidate inadvertently undermined his claim, calling tax increases a “new idea” that Obama would institute in a second term:

    ROMNEY: His idea now. He’s got one new, one new idea. I admit this, he has one thing he did not do in his first four years, said he’s going to do in his next four years, which is to raise taxes. And is there anybody who thinks that raising taxes will help grow the economy?

Update

The Romney campaign responds: “President Obama has raised taxes on millions of middle-class Americans during his first term in office,” said spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg. “Governor Romney was clearly communicating about an additional tax increase President Obama is proposing on American small businesses that will jeopardize over 700,000 jobs.”

****************

Justice

Romney Unwittingly Explains Why Citizens United Was Wrong

By Ian Millhiser posted from ThinkProgress Justice on Sep 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

At a forum on education policy on Tuesday morning, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched into an unexpected explanation of why big money should be kept out of our political system:

    I just think that the most important aspect in being able to have a productive relationship between the teachers’ unions and the districts in the states that they are dealing with is that the person sitting across the table from them should not have received the largest campaign contributions from the teachers’ union itself. . . . The largest contributors to the Democratic Party are the teachers’ unions, the federal teachers unions, and so, if [the unions] can elect someone that person is supposed to be representing the public vis a vis the teachers’ union, but actually most of their money came from the teachers’ union. It’s an extraordinary conflict of interest. That’s something I think is a problem and should be addressed.

Romney is right! When a wealthy individual or organization that has a stake in public policy is able to spend their vast fortunes influencing elections, that inevitably leads to corruption. No one should have any illusions that politicians who enjoy massive support from teachers’ unions are any less corruptible than those who enjoy the support of Republican casino billionaires.

Yet this problem cannot “be addressed,” as Romney suggests, because the Supreme Court declared in Citizens United v. FEC that wealthy corporations and unions have a right to spend unlimited sums of money to buy and sell elections. The core holding of Citizens United was that massive outside spending seeking to change the result of an election “do[es] not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Apparently, even Mitt Romney understands that this holding makes no sense.

If Romney is worried about the impact union donations can have on lawmakers’ behavior, than he should be absolutely outraged by corporate, millionaire and billionaire donations. Federal law permits workers to opt-out of union dues spent to influence elections, which means that union election spending comes from pooling small contributions from workers who did not exercise this legal right. Corporations, by contrast, are under no obligation to seek approval from their investors or other stakeholders before trying to buy an election.

Likewise, the relatively small contributions from workers that participate in their union’s political effort add up to only a small fraction of what wealthy GOP benefactors are able to spend to change the results of elections. The AFL-CIO is the nation’s largest coalition of unions, for example, and its total assets at the end of 2008 were just over $91 million. GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, by contrast, is worth just under $25 billion. So if the AFL-CIO chose to sell its building, liquidate its assets and dump every single dollar into the 2012 elections, it could still only muster less than 0.004 percent of the money just one right-wing billionaire brings to the table.

But, of course, Romney has made it very clear that he is not concerned by the impact of corporate or wealthy individuals’ donations on politicians. Romney promised to appoint more justices in the mold of the four most conservative justices on the Supreme Court — all of whom were in the majority in Citizens United. Similarly, Romney endorsed eliminating all limits on campaign donations so that Wall Street billionaires can write million-dollar checks directly to his campaign and not just to super PACs and other outside groups.
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« Reply #169 on: Sep 26, 2012, 08:23 AM »

Economy

Nuns On A Bus: Romney’s 47 Percent Comments Show ‘He Has No Idea How Hard It Is’ To Be Poor

By Travis Waldron posted from ThinkProgress Economy on Sep 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Nuns On A Bus supporters rally in Staten Island
The leader of the Nuns On A Bus tour that has criss-crossed the nation highlighting the effect the House Republican budget would have on low-income Americans said Monday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s recent comments about the “47 percent” “show that he is “out of touch” and “has no idea how hard it is at the margins of our society.”

ThinkProgress spoke to Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, in New York, where the Nuns got off the bus and onto the Staten Island ferry to highlight the GOP budget’s impacts on poverty programs in New York City. Aboard the ferry, Campbell said Romney’s comments “broke my heart” because they demonstrated his lack of knowledge about the living conditions of America’s poorest citizens:

    CAMPBELL: I mean, it was shocking to me that a person who says he wants to be the leader of our nation believes that 47 percent of our country is basically lazy or dependent or indolent. That was shocking to me. But then, it broke my heart that he would be so out of touch, that he would so not know the truth of folks at the margins of our society who work so hard. And he obviously doesn’t know that if you work a minimum wage job, if you’re a child care, if you’re providing janitorial services, or if you’re a day laborer, if you work for minimum wage, you’re still in poverty. He has no idea how hard it is at the margins of our society.

The Nuns tour, which hit nine states earlier this year, was in New York to protest the House GOP budget authored by Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Even before he chose Ryan as his running mate, Romney supported the Ryan budget, which makes a majority of its spending cuts from programs that benefit the poor, including food stamps, Medicaid, and other assistance programs.

The Nuns On A Bus tour invited Romney and Ryan to join them during a stop in Ohio early in October but have yet to get an answer. But that visit, Campbell said, might be exactly what Romney needs. “That’s why we’ve invited them to come October 10 to Cincinnati, to have him listen to folks experience,” Campbell said. “Not speak, we want him to listen, to let his heart be broken by the truth of people in the U.S. That’s what he needs.”
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« Reply #170 on: Sep 26, 2012, 08:40 AM »


September 25, 2012 04:00 PM

Mitt Romney's Terrible Horrible Plan For Poor People

By karoli

Mitt Romney's appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday night was generally awful. Between making the asinine claim that emergency rooms provide adequate health care for the uninsured to his assertion that he could drop tax rates by 20 percent without causing harm to anyone, he just proves over and over that he's not up to the task of campaigning, much less governing.

But this little segment is as cynical and as absurd as his claim about emergency rooms. When asked specifically how he would "shrink government," his answer is that he will turn certain programs over to the states where the costs will not grow beyond the inflation rate. Here's the snippet, beginning at about one minute in:

Pelley: You would move some government programs to the states. What would they be?

Romney: Well, for instance, Medicaid is a program that’s designed to help the poor. Likewise we have housing vouchers and food stamps and these help the poor. I’d take the dollars for those programs, send them back to the states and say “You craft your programs at the state level and the way you think best to deal with those that need that kind of help in your state.”

Pelley: So how does moving those programs to the states bring relief to the taxpayer?

Romney: Because I’d grow them only at the rate of inflation or in the case of Medicaid, at inflation plus one percent. That’s a lower rate of growth than we’ve seen over the past several years, a lower rate of growth than has been forecast under federal management. And I believe on that basis you’re going to see us save about $100 billion dollars a year.

Pelley: So you’re going to cap the growth on those social welfare programs.

Romney: Exactly right.

POOF! The magic shrinking safety net will magically shrink because...states? Ladies and gentlemen, what you have seen here is some right wing magical thinking, wrapped up in a smug face telling us all we're victims and nails ladies who simply don't understand.

Here's what Romney is really saying. He would block grant Medicaid, SNAP and housing assistance dollars to the states who could then use those dollars to lower STATE taxes while providing nothing for poor people if they chose not to. The states who actually used those federal dollars to assist the poor would be limited to the inflation rate in terms of increases even if the national economy blew out again, and also would not take into account states with disasters that impact their own economic picture.

Another way of saying what he said is that too many people are dependent on the government and consider themselves victims, so he wants to craft policy to confirm that they are, in fact, victims. Never mind what the actual situation on the ground is for people. As long as the problem is a state problem, it's not Mitt's problem. And states are under no obligation to provide uniform benefits because there would be no federal requirement that they meet certain minimum standards.

Víva la John Galt!

A couple of other thoughts occurred to me as I watched this piece over again. First, Mitt Romney is the king of taking small businesses which typically have higher costs because they're small, stripping their assets and then merging them with other businesses until they're big! So it's just a tiny bit incongruous to hear him talking about "the inefficiency that’s always part of a large institution like our government."

The king of large institutions is bashing large institutions? Multinational corporations that rake in lots of profit are large institutions. Romney built those, and they're so efficient he makes a ton of money on them at the expense of their employees' long term financial health. Does anyone hear that dissonance playing as loudly as I do?

Also, I can't get over the smirk in this interview. He smirks just like George Bush did. Is that something Republican handlers teach their candidates? It's obnoxious and unnecessary.

Mostly though, the idea of Mitt Romney taking food out of the mouths of hungry kids on school lunch programs, or housing assistance away from veterans, or leaving people with no options for long-term care for their elderly loved ones is so incredibly evil and cynical it should be called what it is: Selfish greed.
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« Reply #171 on: Sep 28, 2012, 06:24 AM »

September 27, 2012 03:00 PM

New Romney Video Surfaces Debunking His Job Creator Claims

By karoli

Remember when Mitt Romney used his time with Bain Capital to assure us that he was the only candidate in the race who "understood job creation" because he had been in business and had "turned around" companies?

Yeah. Not so much. Thanks to David Corn over at Mother Jones, we have a new video of a much younger Willard Mitt Romney talking up the purpose of Bain Capital. Here it is in a nutshell straight from Willard himself:

    Bain Capital is an investment partnership which was formed to invest in startup companies and ongoing companies, then to take an active hand in managing them and hopefully, five to eight years later, to harvest them at a significant profit…

Just for some context, in 1985 Ronald Reagan was president, leveraged buyouts were at an all-time high, hostile takeovers were not unusual, and Bain Capital was riding that gravy train. According to Euromoney, 1985 was the year where LBOs doubled, despite warnings by Paul Volcker about their danger.

A 1999 article from Bloomberg Businessweek has a particularly good description of LBOs and their impact on not only the companies, but the investors who "harvest them". The focus of the article is Formica, the laminate manufacturer, who went through three separate LBOs in ten years. While the article discusses the impact on the company's market share and net profits, I think it's also safe to say jobs were considered "deadwood" to be cut away. Here's why Wall Street (and Mitt) loved them:

    For instance, Wall Street loves to tout LBO successes. The typical story: Investors buy out the existing company, typically with substantial debt, perhaps 70%. Because of the leverage, the new owners, who own the bulk of the equity, have a strong incentive to aggressively streamline operations and get rid of all the deadwood. When the company is eventually sold, because so little equity was put in the deal, the returns are magnified. Current annual rates of return to the buyout artists are around 25%--below the 35% returns of the late 1980s, but still very lush.

    In Formica's case, the private investors came out very well. If you had participated in LBO No. 1 in 1985 and sold out in LBO No. 2 in 1989, when Formica's cash flow was growing at about 14% a year, you would have made four to five times your investment. And if you had held on for 10 years, you would have made $10 for every dollar that you invested.

I liked this description from Jonathan Raban's 1988 book Hunting Mister Heartbreak: A Discovery of America:

    It was meant to sound mysterious, for the leveraged buyout was basically a financial conjuring trick, a sleight of hand in which the success of the operator depended on his skill as an illusionist. It was the miracle of the loaves and fishes in reverse. It turned a lot of credit into an even greater quantity of debt, and then, if the illusionist had timed things right, it made a gigantic profit out of the debt.

Mitt Romney knew how to make a profit, how to be an illusionist, how to transfer the risk to individuals investing their retirement accounts in mutual funds and the stock market. What Mitt Romney has never known how to do is create jobs. He just told you that in the video.

It is Romney's profiteering during the most profligate era of our modern times that should repel every ordinary American. When he says he doesn't care about 47 percent of Americans, he's being honest. He didn't care about the people who lost their jobs because Mr. LBO Turnaround Guy loaded their company up with credit and then shut down operations to "streamline" them. His faith is in the Almighty Markets, where work is not a commodity but money and leverage is.

Romney is Reagan redux, with none of the charm and all of the greed.

Click to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EsxNYXW5i8&feature=player_embedded

*******************

Republicans fire voter registration firm owned by Romney consultant

By Arturo Garcia
Thursday, September 27, 2012 19:37 EDT

The Republican National Committee fired a voter registration firm owned by a paid consultant to the party’s presidential candidate Mitt Romney Thursday, after Florida officials traced more than 100 possibly fake registration forms back to the company.

NBC News reported that the RNC cut ties with Strategic Allied Consulting (SAC), run by party strategist Nathan Sproul, had been paid $2.9 million this year to register voters in five swing states before being dismissed.

Sproul is also the founder and managing partner of another company, Lincoln Strategy Group, which records show was paid by the Romney campaign paid to do “field consulting.”

A Romney campaign spokesperson told NBC via email, “We used this vendor for signature gathering services during the primary but have not used them since 2011.”

Strategic Allied Consulting had been fired this week by Republican officials in Florida after 106 “questionable” registration forms were handed to the state attorney’s office after being flagged for review by Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher.

“When we learned today about the instances of potential voter registration fraud that occurred in Palm Beach County, we immediately informed the Republican National Committee that we were terminating the contract with the voter registration vendor we hired at their request,” state Republican Executive Director Mike Grissom told The Palm Beach Post Tuesday. “There is no place for voter registration fraud in Florida.”

Sproul told NBC Thursday the incident was caused by isolated acts by individual employees, and attacked state party officials of acting “in a likely libelous manner” against SAC, and suggested that on a national level, the Republicans were moving to protect Romney from any fallout.

“In the case of the RNC, they had no choice to do what they did,” Sproul said. “They’re trying to get the distraction behind him.”

The allegations in Florida led Sproul’s firm also being fired by GOP state officials in both North Carolina and Virginia, a decision one official told WTVR Thursday did not surprise him.

“They were responsible for people that appeared in some libraries in Chesterfield County, supposedly to conduct voter registration drives,” said the county’s General Registrar, Larry Hawke. “But they were asking voters for whom they are going to vote.”

And in North Carolina, state Democratic Party officials told WRAL-TV state Rep. Larry Hall (D) was preparing to criticize Republicans for hiring Sproul’s firm before learning they had cut ties.

“Republicans are using this unethical and shady firm to try to get a leg up in this election because they know North Carolinians aren’t interested in their message of slashing education to pay for more tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires,” Hall was planning to say in a statement.

WTVR’s report on the firm’s suspected activities in Virginia, aired Thursday, can be seen below
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« Reply #172 on: Sep 29, 2012, 08:07 AM »

September 29, 2012 06:00 AM

Ten WSJ Ed Writers Forgot To Say They're Romney Advisers

By Susie Madrak

As I've said before, the Wall Street Journal editorial board is full-out whacko -- to the point where they frequently contradict reporting from their own staff. Now we have another example of how divorced the WSJ ed board is from any semblance of journalistic integrity. But then, having served as undisclosed debate advisor to Ronald Reagan hasn't seemed to hurt George Will's ability to make a buck!

    The Wall Street Journal has been criticized by senior US journalists for failing to disclose that 10 of its op-ed writers are Mitt Romney advisers.

    According to an inquiry by Media Matters, 23 pieces in the WSJ’s op-ed pages attacked President Obama or praised Romney without the writers acknowledging their political connections to Romney.

    Max Frankel, a former New York Times executive editor, called the lack of disclosure “shameless.” He added: “They ought to put a banner saying Romney has approved of this page… It looks like the Wall Street Journal editorial and op ed pages have enlisted in the campaign. They should be disclosing that.”

    “Not disclosing is inexcusable,” declared Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press.

    “It is important to disclose that so that the reader can evaluate the argument intelligently,” said Nicholas Goldberg, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor, adding that transparency is “absolutely essential.”

    John Diaz, editorial page editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, said the prominence of the writers should have raised a red flag that they could be Romney advisers.

    Harold Jackson of the Philadelphia Inquirer, said: “I don’t know why it would be harmful for them to disclose those kinds of connections. I think readers would expect it.”

    A review by Media Matters on September 19 named the 10 WSJ writers with strong Romney links as John Bolton; Max Boot; Lee Casey; Paula Dobriansky; Mary Ann Glendon; Glenn Hubbard; Paul Peterson; David Rivkin Jr; Martin West; and Michael Mukasey.

Click the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oJkRlYxewSw#!
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« Reply #173 on: Oct 02, 2012, 06:26 AM »

October 1, 2012

Offshore Tactics Helped Increase Romneys’ Wealth

By MICHAEL LUO and MIKE McINTIRE
NYT

Buried deep in the tax returns released by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign are references to dozens of offshore holdings with names like Ursa Funding (Luxembourg) S.à.r.l. and Sankaty Credit Opportunities Investors (Offshore) IV, based in the Cayman Islands.

Mr. Romney, responding to opponents’ barbs about his use of overseas tax havens, has offered a narrow defense, saying only that the investments, many made through the private equity firm he founded, Bain Capital, have yielded him “not one dollar of reduction in taxes.”

A review of thousands of pages of financial documents and interviews with tax lawyers found that in some cases, the offshore arrangements enabled his individual retirement account to avoid taxes on its investments and may well have reduced Mr. Romney’s personal income tax bills.

But perhaps a more significant impact of Mr. Romney’s offshore investments has been on the profit side of the ledger — in the way Bain’s tax-avoidance strategies have enhanced his income.

Some of the offshore entities enabled Bain-owned companies to sidestep certain taxes, increasing returns for Mr. Romney and other investors. Others helped Bain attract foreign investors and nonprofit institutions by insulating them from taxes, again augmenting Mr. Romney’s bottom line, since he shared in management fees based on the size of each Bain fund.

The documents — which include confidential Bain prospectuses and foreign regulatory filings, many previously unreported — illustrate how these tax-avoidance strategies are woven into the fabric of Bain’s deal making. While hardly a novel concept and not unique to Bain, the inevitable result is that elite investors like Mr. Romney are able to increase their fortunes in ways unavailable to most taxpayers.

“Private equity fund managers have a responsibility to their investors to maximize their investors’ returns, and part of that responsibility involves minimizing taxes,” said David S. Miller, a tax partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

Many of the details of the Romneys’ wealth — estimated at $250 million — remain hidden, partly because Mr. Romney has released only the last two years of his tax returns. Those returns show an effective tax rate of about 14 percent, because most of the earnings came from investments and are taxed at 15 percent, significantly lower than rates on ordinary income.

In a statement, the Romney campaign said, “Governor and Mrs. Romney have scrupulously followed the tax laws and have paid 100 percent of what they owed.”

Mr. Romney ran Bain for 15 years before leaving to manage the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. But he has continued to share in the profits of subsequent Bain funds, thanks to the terms of his retirement agreement.

The sophisticated tax strategies of Bain and other private equity firms begin with the basic architecture of their funds. Though headquartered in Boston, Bain and its credit affiliate, Sankaty Advisors, have set up at least 137 entities in the Caymans, using local lawyers and others who provide an islands address for paperwork purposes.

Contrary to veiled assertions by some of Mr. Romney’s Democratic foes, hiding assets from the Internal Revenue Service is probably not part of their rationale. Some might still assail the arrangements as “tax dodges.” Others, however, would say they are simply efforts to make Bain’s funds more “tax efficient.”

“You can call these loopholes,” Mr. Miller said. “But they’re really just inadvertent consequences of an extremely complicated system.”

To navigate that system, Bain said in a statement, “Like virtually all global asset managers, we use widely accepted, fully legal and recognized structures so that investors may receive predictable tax treatment on investment gains for their constituents.”

The reasons for organizing the funds offshore are varied, each based on a specific tax situation, tax lawyers said.

A variety of Bain funds in the Romneys’ portfolio have controlling stakes in foreign companies. Had those funds been set up in the United States, the Romneys and other American investors would probably have been subject to certain federal taxes for their ownership of “controlled foreign corporations.” Setting up the funds in the Caymans allowed them to avoid those taxes.

“Bermuda and the Caymans are popular choices for U.S.-based funds because they’re both close by and neither imposes local taxes on the fund or its owners,” said Andrew W. Needham, a partner in the tax department at Cravath, Swaine & Moore L.L.P.

Another appeal of offshore funds is that they help private equity attract investment from deep-pocketed big institutions like pension funds and university endowments. While these are generally tax-exempt, they are liable for taxes on “unrelated business taxable income” if they put money in funds that use debt financing to make investments.

Bain and other private equity firms use a variety of mechanisms to help investors avoid those taxes, including setting up offshore “blocker” corporations, a practice that has been criticized in some circles and has prompted legislative efforts to curb it. These offshore corporations become a conduit for money for these institutional investors, as well as foreign investors looking to avoid United States taxes.

Individual retirement accounts, as tax-exempt entities, are subject to the “unrelated business income” tax. But people familiar with Mr. Romney’s investments said his I.R.A., which is managed by an independent trustee and is estimated to be worth between $21 million and $102 million, used offshore blockers to avoid the tax. Mr. Romney’s I.R.A., for instance, has millions invested in several Sankaty funds with onshore and offshore investment vehicles. His I.R.A. would have invested through the offshore funds, they said.

In addition, the largest investment — worth up to $25 million — in Mr. Romney’s I.R.A. is in a fund called BCIP Trust Associates III, a Cayman Islands partnership through which Bain employees invested in the firm’s deals. Documents from a German regulatory authority, detailing the Bain funds’ share of a media holding company in that country, refer to holdings by BCIP Trust’s blockers, indicating it used such entities.

The complexities of tax structuring are apparent in many Bain and Sankaty funds. The 2011 tax return for the blind trust belonging to Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, released last month, showed holdings, for example, in investment vehicles that control two related funds — Sankaty Credit Opportunities IV, L.P., organized in Delaware, and Sankaty Credit Opportunities (Offshore) IV, L.P., set up in the Caymans.

The confidential offering memorandum for Sankaty Credit Opportunities IV, part of a trove of documents dating to 2004 obtained by The New York Times, is explicit in the purpose of its Caymans counterpart. It states that it is designed to “accommodate qualified non-U.S. investors and U.S. tax-exempt investors,” and explains that the Delaware fund is “expected to incur income that is considered ‘unrelated business taxable income.’ ”

Beyond their tax advantages, however, offshore funds controlled by American money managers can also create new tax problems. Those funds are limited in their ability to make loans without triggering corporate income taxes — an issue for Sankaty funds. Therefore, they usually have a parallel domestic fund that makes the loans, holds them for a period before selling a portion to the offshore fund, a practice known as “season and sell.”

The Sankaty offshore funds feature still another layer of complexity, designed to lower the taxes on profits enjoyed by Bain and Sankaty managing directors, as well as Mr. Romney through his retirement agreement. So-called carried interest, the cut of a fund’s investment gains earned by its managers, enjoys a favorable tax treatment. But under I.R.S. rules, carried interest cannot be derived from a corporation, like the offshore blockers used by Sankaty.

To address that, Sankaty sets up offshore partnerships to work in tandem with the blockers, the documents show. The result is a complex plumbing system. Tax-exempt and foreign investors put their money into blocker corporations to avoid certain taxes. Then the blockers feed their money into the partnerships, which distribute the lightly taxed income to Bain and Sankaty executives.

Most of these and other tax-saving arrangements are embedded in the organizational structure of the funds. It is often hard to drill down on the maneuvers Bain pursued in specific deals. But the 2010 tax returns for Mrs. Romney’s blind trust offer a hint of one, with the mention of Ursa Funding (Luxembourg) S.à.r.l.

In 2006, Bain and another private equity firm, Blackstone Group, bought Michael’s Stores, an arts and crafts chain, for $6 billion, much of it borrowed. The company struggled, however, as its debt skyrocketed with the deal and its sales stagnated.

In early 2009, apparently recognizing an opportunity, Bain and Blackstone set out to purchase some of the stores’ debt at a steep discount. They spent $28.6 million to acquire about $193.6 million in Michael’s debt, going through what was essentially a shell corporation set up in Luxembourg, Ursa Funding, according to financial statements filed in that country and a Bain investor report published by the Web site Gawker.

Two Bain funds, in one of which Mrs. Romney’s trust held up to a $1 million dollar stake, invested about $13.5 million into Ursa, through a Caymans entity. In late 2009 and early 2010, Ursa sold the Michael’s Stores notes for nearly $200 million, giving Bain a hefty profit.

The deal could have saddled Michael’s with a tax on what is known as “cancellation of debt” income, which arises when a company’s debt is repurchased at a discount by the company itself or a related party. Federal withholding on interest payments by Michael’s was another potential issue. But Bain and Blackstone probably ensured Michael’s avoided those taxes by routing the transaction through Ursa, which was “unrelated” to the retailer and situated in a jurisdiction with a tax treaty with the United States that bars withholding taxes on interest. This, in turn, would have bolstered returns for investors like Bain.

The exact amount saved through the Ursa maneuver is difficult to calculate. Around the time the debt was purchased, Michael’s balance sheet made it “insolvent” for tax purposes. Under I.R.S. rules, instead of paying taxes on cancellation of debt income, insolvent companies lose other tax benefits, like the ability to deduct depreciation. By using Ursa to buy the debt, according to documents and tax lawyers, Bain potentially preserved tax benefits worth more than $50 million to Michael’s bottom line.

David Kocieniewski contributed reporting.
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« Reply #174 on: Oct 02, 2012, 06:29 AM »

Romney’s sanitation workers bash his ‘hypocritical’ views

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, October 1, 2012 16:55 EDT

The AFSCME on Monday launched an online ad campaign against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, using public service workers in his own town to attack him.

In three separate videos, public employees who work in La Jolla, California criticize Romney for benefiting from government services while threatening to cut them back. The ads note that Romney once criticized President Barack Obama for wanting to hire “more fireman, more policeman, more teachers” and reference video of Romney describing nearly half of Americans as government-dependent “victims.”

“We’re kind of like the invisible people. He doesn’t realize, you know, the service we provide,” says Richard Hayes, a sanitation worker who has picked up the trash at Romney’s expensive La Jolla home.

“I know that if Mitt Romney’s house was on fire, I know a truck that I’ve worked on would go to his house,” Temo Fuentes says in another ad. Fuentes repairs fire trucks for the San Diego Fire Department.

“I actually did pick up trash on Mitt Romney’s street,” adds Joan Raymond, a City of San Diego sanitation driver, in the third ad. “It is a beautiful neighborhood. The reason he wants to be there, I take it, is because it is so beautiful. It is right on the beach. It is in one of the most pristine neighborhoods. But it is so hypocritical because he is going after our workers and wanting to cut, cut, cut our workers — they are the same workers that are making that La Jolla neighborhood so beautiful and so desirable.”

The AFSCME represents 1.6 million public service workers and has made it clear they will support President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Watch the videos, uploaded to YouTube on October 1, below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=68q28r7m_FU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ru5XAFIgviQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ZekwtW0aOIg
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« Reply #175 on: Oct 02, 2012, 08:12 AM »

Mr Duplicity and pathological liar simply can't not stop lying ...

 Posted at 09:03 AM ET, 10/02/2012

The Morning Plum: Mitt Romney, scourge of millionaires

By Greg Sargent

Mitt Romney’s problem is not simply that the Obama campaign has succeeded in persuading voters that his policies would benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class. It’s that his policies really would benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class, and he doesn’t have any reality-based way of persuading voters otherwise.

Case in point: The new ad that the Romney campaign rolled out this morning, which is a very good preview of what to expect at the debates:

The ad claims Obama and the “liberals” would raise middle class taxes, and says: “Mitt Romney and common sense conservatives would cut taxes on the middle class, and they’ll close loopholes for millionaires.”

The ad shows that the Romney camp recognizes the urgent needs to change perceptions that his policies are skewed towards the wealthy. The problem is that the ad is an almost comically misleading presentation of his own actual proposals, and it is unlikely voters will believe it in the numbers Romney needs.

The ad’s claim that he’d cut taxes on the middle class while closing loopholes for millionaires glosses over some inconvenient realities. Romney’s proposed across the board tax cuts would disproportionately benefit the rich. As for closing loopholes for millionaires, the Tax Policy Center found that the plan cannot be paid for in that fashion; if you are going to keep it revenue neutral, as Romney has claimed, you’d need to target loopholes enjoyed by middle class Americans, ultimately hiking their tax burden. (Paul Ryan has explicitly acknowledged that Romney would proceed with tax cuts even if the math can’t be made to work.)

The larger point here, though, is that Romney’s broader agenda really would benefit the rich at the expense of everyone else. He has embraced the Ryan agenda, which “would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history,” as Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently put it. Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare would do away with its core mission over time, ultimately translating into higher medical costs for seniors — even as Romney would dramatically reduce the amount the rich contribute towards deficit reduction. Repealing Obamacare would take away health insurance from millions.

Romney’s answer to all this is that cutting taxes and deregulation — getting government out of the way — will ultimately benefit everybody. Indeed, today’s Post reports that the Romney camp is hard at work on an explanation for his lethal remarks about the freeloading 47 percent. He will say that he’s “for the 100 percent,” and that his policies will benefit the millions of struggling Americans failed by Obama’s policies.

The problem for Romney is that this claim — that his policies will help everybody — simply isn’t credible. Camp Romney continues to treat his 47 percent remarks, and his plutocratic aura, as something that can be corrected with a few well-placed lines and a softening of his image. But what Romney really needs to explain is how his policies would benefit everybody. This is tough to do, since any substantive discussion of them risks reminding voters that they represent a return to Bush economics. So Romney is forced to resort to evasions like the ones in the new ad. This has at least a chance of working in a controlled setting like a TV spot. But at the debates, Romney won’t be the only one on the stage.

click on the link to hear the lies:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SJa7pX-HoLw

***********

how about this one:

Another misleading China ad from Mitt Romney

Posted by Josh Hicks at 06:02 AM ET, 10/02/2012
   
“Fewer Americans are working today than when President Obama took office. It doesn’t have to be this way if Obama would stand up to China. China is stealing American ideas and technology — everything from computers to fighter jets. Seven times Obama could have taken action. Seven times he has said no. His policies cost us 2 million jobs.”

-- Narration from Mitt Romney campaign ad

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney continued to stress President Obama’s handling of U.S.-China relations last week, claiming with this ad that the policies of the current administration have cost the U.S. 2 million jobs.

What policies have done this? The ad refers to China’s alleged stealing of “American ideas and technology -- everything from computers to fighter jets.”

Let’s examine those issues and determine whether the president has said “no” to taking action on them. This ad is the lastest in a series of tit-for-tat exchanges on China between the two candidates. (President Obama, for instance, previously earned Three Pinocchios for making misleading claims about Romney’s business record.)

The Facts

There’s little doubt that Chinese companies have infringed on U.S. intellectual property rights, just as the Romney ad claims. China essentially acknowledged the problem by agreeing to implement stricter measures to curb piracy and counterfeiting during the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings in 2010.

Not only did China promise better intellectual property protections that year, but it consented to stop discriminating against U.S. technology in government procurement, effectively opening up a new market for American innovators.

A 2011 report from the independent U.S. International Trade Commission noted that “these issues were among the central themes of the December 2010 U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) meetings.” So the 2010 agreements count as wins for the Obama administration, and they run counter to the notion that the president has stood by while China stole American innovation.

What is the economic impact of Chinese intellectual-property infringements? The trade commission report found that improving protection of U.S. intellectual-property rights could lead to an additional 2.1 million full-time equivalent jobs.

But again, the Obama administration has taken action on this issue. Furthermore, the Romney ad said the president “cost” 2 million jobs, as though those positions actually existed and then disappeared during his administration. The difference here is missed opportunity versus actual loss of jobs, and the video was not clear about which it referred to.

As for China stealing fighter-jet technology, the Romney campaign pointed us to an April 2009 Wall Street Journal report that said “Computer spies have broken into the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project -- the Defense Department’s costliest weapons program ever.”

The article quoted former U.S. officials saying the attacks “appear to have originated in China,” so the Romney campaign seems to be correct about the culprit. But the report noted that the infiltration dated back at least as far as 2007,” which was during the George W. Bush administration. A separate Washington Post piece on the issue said experts and former defense officials did not believe the attackers were able to access classified information.

Bush had planned to spend $17 billion on a new initiative to help combat the online-security breach, according to the Journal article. The Obama administration decided in May 2009 to expand on that program, which the Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima reported on shortly before the administration’s decision.

Roughly two months after the Journal report, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates established a new U.S. Cyber Command to address “growing threats against the Defense Department’s computer networks.”

These actions alone contradict the notion that the current administration has sat on its hands when it comes to dealing with China. But the president has also supported the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which fell eight votes short of advancing on the Senate floor in August -- 40 Republicans voted against cloture, which helped block the bill from advancing.

That brings us to the “seven times Obama could have taken action.” The Romney ad mentioned only intellectual-property theft and the online-security breach, but this claim has nothing to do with those issues. It actually refers to seven opportunities the Obama administration had to apply the currency manipulator label to China through the Treasury Department’s Semiannual Report on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policy to Congress.

Setting aside the fact that Romney’s ad has conflated several issues, let’s look at the one it didn’t even bother to mention -- currency manipulation. We addressed this issue in a previous column.

U.S. officials believe — and economic experts generally agree — that China keeps its currency artificially low to give its exports an advantage. The Obama administration has opted against using the currency manipulator label, instead filing at least seven World Trade Organization complaints against its Asian trading partner relating to specific industries.

The WTO has largely upheld four of those complaints, but the president’s critics say this is a piecemeal approach. They point out that addressing China’s currency policy would be a far more sweeping approach.

Indeed, the Obama administration has pressured China to change its currency policy, and President Hu Jintao in 2011 promised to enact reforms — although the implementation seems to be inconsistent so far.

Romney is not alone in talking tough about China. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) used the same kind of rhetoric during his 2004 race against Bush, and Obama vowed to stop the Asian nation from manipulating its currency during his 2008 run.

But neither Bush nor Obama ever tried to tag China as a currency manipulator. That’s probably because applying the label could heighten tensions between the United States and one of its largest trading partners — not to mention one of its largest debt holders. It could also affect unity between the two nations in dealing with such geopolitical issues as Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Former Bush White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten had this to say recently in regard to Romney’s China talk: “If history is a guide, such sharp campaign rhetoric is blunted by the reality of governing.”

The Pinocchio Test

The Romney ad states that Obama had seven opportunities to take action against China. The average viewer — having limited knowledge of U.S.-China relations— could easily assume that the first claim relates to fighter-jet technology and intellectual-property theft, but it actually refers to currency manipulation, which the campaign didn’t even mention.

The ad also said that Obama’s policies toward China have cost 2 million U.S. jobs. But it fails to mention that this figure applies to intellectual-property theft, and it technically refers to missed job opportunities, not jobs lost.

On top of conflating multiple issues, the ad overlooks steps the Obama administration has taken to address those problems, including currency manipulation to an extent. The Romney campaign earns Three Pinocchios.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TRViUQntMfs
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« Reply #176 on: Oct 03, 2012, 06:53 AM »

October 1, 2012

Mr. Romney’s Government Handout

NYT

The biggest beneficiaries of government largess are not those who struggle along on Social Security payments, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, or earned-income tax credits, despite what Mitt Romney has told his donors. Rather, they are those at the highest end of the income scale: government contractors, corporate farmers and very rich individuals who have figured out how to exploit the country’s poorly written tax code for their benefit.

The latter group’s most prominent member is Mr. Romney himself, whose astonishingly low tax rates are made possible by finding and using every loophole and flaw in the code. What his tax practices show is not illegal or unethical behavior, but rather the unfairness of a tax system that provides its most outlandish benefits only for the very, very rich and savvy. What is worse is that Mr. Romney has proposed making this profoundly dysfunctional system even more unfair.

Some of Mr. Romney’s financial tactics are well-known, like structuring his income so that most of it is taxed at the low capital-gains rate of 15 percent, or stashing investments in tax havens like Switzerland or the Cayman Islands. (The Times reported on Tuesday that the use of these havens not only saved him money, significantly enhancing his sizable retirement account, but also helped his company attract foreign investments.) But other strategies are so obscure that they are only known to the very few who worry about passing millions to their heirs without paying transfer taxes.

As Bloomberg News recently reported, Mr. Romney has managed to move nearly $100 million worth of assets into a trust for his heirs without paying any gift tax, which, like the estate tax, was established to ensure that society benefits from the dynastic transfer of great wealth. When he was running Bain Capital, the private equity firm, in 1998, he gave the trust shares of an Internet ad company, DoubleClick, in which Bain had invested, just before the company went public. The shares were worth little then, but insiders like Mr. Romney knew the company could flourish. After the company went public, the value of the shares went up tenfold. The trust then sold the shares, but their increased value escaped the gift tax because that tax applies just to the original value of the gift.

But that wasn’t the only trick that Mr. Romney used, none of which are of any use to ordinary taxpayers. Exploiting a flaw in the tax code, he set up the trust so that he could pay the income taxes on the capital gains on DoubleClick’s shares. Paying those taxes is another huge gift to his heirs, and this practice is widely used by the wealthy as another way to pass on money to another generation while avoiding gift or estate taxes. Earlier this year, President Obama proposed eliminating this loophole, but the idea went nowhere with Republicans in Congress.

Like most Republicans, Mr. Romney wants to eliminate the estate tax entirely, even though it currently applies only to estates of more than $10 million for a married couple. That would cost the treasury more than $1 trillion over a decade, but it would be a huge benefit for Mr. Romney’s heirs and for the other 0.3 percent of estates rich enough to qualify for the tax. Getting rid of the estate tax would subvert the gift tax (it was established as a backstop, to keep estates from being passed on before death) and would spare the rich all this complicated “estate planning,” which is just a euphemism for avoiding the tax.

As Warren Buffett has said, the estate tax increases equality of opportunity and curbs the movement toward a plutocracy. Mr. Romney’s plan to get rid of it, helping his family but few others, is one of the sharpest illustrations of his distance from ordinary Americans.
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« Reply #177 on: Oct 03, 2012, 07:55 AM »

72 Million Will Go Without Health Insurance Under Romney’s Health Plan

By Annie-Rose Strasser posted from ThinkProgress Health on Oct 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm

One of the myriad things presidential contender Mitt Romney has pledged to do on day one of his presidency is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation, and replace it with “market drive” reforms. But a new study estimates that the effort would actually increase the number of uninsured Americans to 72 million and increase costs across the board.

The Commonwealth Fund report considered Romney’s proposal in full, including his plans to transform Medicare into a “premium support” structure and convert Medicaid into a block grant for the states. Romney would also “equalize the tax treatment of employer-based coverage and plans purchased in the individual insurance market,” allow insurance companies to circumvent state-based consumer protections to sell subprime plans “across state lines,” and push sicker Americans into expensive high-risk pools. The changes will make it harder for the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions to find coverage.

As a result, 72 million Americans would be unable to obtain insurance — more than if the Affordable Care Act had not become law in the first place:

Out-of-pocket spending and premiums would also increase, since Americans would lose “the combination of premium tax credits, limits on out-of-pocket spending, and consumer protections” that will reduce “costs for people purchasing coverage through the new insurance exchanges or the individual market”:

Romney’s plan would hit young adults between the ages of 19 and 29 the hardest, with an estimated 41.4 million uninsured (PDF) under his plan. That contrasts sharply to Obama’s health care reform, which will drop the uninsured in that age group down to 16 million, mainly thanks to the provision allowing adults up to 26 years old to remain on their guardians’ insurance.

The Republican candidate’s plan would also be particularly tough for low-income people or people living in poverty, who, under Obamacare, will be eligible for coverage in most states through the expansion of the Medicaid program. With Romney’s cuts to Medicaid, however, the number of uninsured people within 138 percent of the federal poverty line would grow from a baseline of 38.6 million to 43.7 million.


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« Reply #178 on: Oct 03, 2012, 09:00 AM »

for a good laugh just click on this link:

http://embed.crooksandliars.com/v/MjU2NzgtNjIwODE?color=C93033
« Last Edit: Oct 05, 2012, 07:30 AM by Steve » Logged
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« Reply #179 on: Oct 05, 2012, 07:25 AM »

Editorial
NYT

An Unhelpful Debate

Published: October 4, 2012

The first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, so long anticipated, quickly sunk into an unenlightening recitation of tired talking points and mendacity. With few sparks and little clarity on the immense gulf that truly separates the two men and their policies, Wednesday’s encounter provided little guidance for voters still trying to understand the choice in next month’s election.

The Mitt Romney who appeared on the stage at the University of Denver seemed to be fleeing from the one who won the Republican nomination on a hard-right platform of tax cuts, budget slashing and indifference to the suffering of those at the bottom of the economic ladder. And Mr. Obama’s competitive edge from 2008 clearly dulled, as he missed repeated opportunities to challenge Mr. Romney on his falsehoods and turnabouts.

Virtually every time Mr. Romney spoke, he misrepresented the platform on which he and Paul Ryan are actually running. The most prominent example, taking up the first half-hour of the debate, was on taxes. Mr. Romney claimed, against considerable evidence, that he had no intention of cutting taxes on the rich or enacting a tax cut that would increase the deficit.

That simply isn’t true. Mr. Romney wants to restore the Bush-era tax cut that expires at the end of this year and largely benefits the wealthy. He wants to end the estate tax and the gift tax, providing a huge benefit only to those with multimillion-dollar estates, at a cost of more than $1 trillion over a decade to the deficit. He wants to preserve the generous rates on capital gains that benefit himself personally and others at his economic level. And he wants to cut everyone’s tax rates by 20 percent, which again would be a gigantic boon to the wealthy.

None of these would cost the Treasury a dime, he insisted, because he would reduce deductions and loopholes. But, as always, he refused to enumerate a single deduction he would erase. “What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit,” he said. “No economist can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.”

In fact, many economists have said exactly that, and, without details, Mr. Romney can’t simply refute them. But rather than forcefully challenging this fiction, Mr. Obama chose to be polite and professorial, as if hoping that strings of details could hold up against blatant nonsense. Viewers were not helped by a series of pedestrian questions from the moderator, Jim Lehrer of PBS, who never jumped in to challenge either candidate on the facts.

When Mr. Romney accused the president of supporting a “trickle-down government,” Mr. Obama might have demanded to know what that means. He could then have pointed out that it is Mr. Romney whose economic plan is based on the discredited idea that high-end tax cuts trickle down to the middle class and poor.

Mr. Romney said he supported the idea of regulation but rejected the Dodd-Frank financial reform law because it was too generous to the big “New York banks.” This is an alternative-universe interpretation of a law that is deeply despised and opposed by the banks, but Mr. Obama missed several opportunities to point out how the law limits the corrosive practices, like derivatives trading, that led to the 2008 crash and puts in place vitally important consumer protections.

On health care, Mr. Romney pretended that he had an actual plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and that it covered pre-existing conditions. He has no such plan, and his false claim finally roused the president to his only strong moment of the evening. The country doesn’t know the details, he said, of how Mr. Romney would replace Wall Street reform, or health care reform, or tax increases on the rich because Republicans don’t want people to understand the hard trade-offs involved in these decisions.

There are still two more presidential debates, and Mr. Obama has the facts on his side to expose the hollowness of his opponent. But first he has to decide to use them aggressively

************

Romney’s Sick Joke

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: October 4, 2012   

“No. 1,” declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate, “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No, they aren’t — as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.
   
Was Mr. Romney lying? Well, either that or he was making what amounts to a sick joke. Either way, his attempt to deceive voters on this issue was the biggest of many misleading and/or dishonest claims he made over the course of that hour and a half. Yes, President Obama did a notably bad job of responding. But I’ll leave the theater criticism to others and talk instead about the issue that should be at the heart of this election.

So, about that sick joke: What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a health plan that covers pre-existing conditions, because it applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job). Did I mention that the number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade?

What Mr. Romney did in the debate, in other words, was, at best, to play a word game with voters, pretending to offer something substantive for the uninsured while actually offering nothing. For all practical purposes, he simply lied about what his policy proposals would do.

How many Americans would be left out in the cold under Mr. Romney’s plan? One answer is 89 million. According to the nonpartisan Commonwealth Foundation, that’s the number of Americans who lack the “continuous coverage” that would make them eligible for health insurance under Mr. Romney’s empty promises. By the way, that’s more than a third of the U.S. population under 65 years old.

Another answer is 45 million, the estimated number of people who would have health insurance if Mr. Obama were re-elected, but would lose it if Mr. Romney were to win.

That estimate reflects two factors. First, Mr. Romney proposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means doing away with all the ways in which that law would help tens of millions of Americans who either have pre-existing conditions or can’t afford health insurance for other reasons. Second, Mr. Romney is proposing drastic cuts in Medicaid — basically to save money that he could use to cut taxes on the wealthy — which would deny essential health care to millions more Americans. (And, no, despite what he has said, you can’t get the care you need just by going to the emergency room.)

Wait, it gets worse. The true number of victims from Mr. Romney’s health proposals would be much larger than either of these numbers, for a couple of reasons.

One is that Medicaid doesn’t just provide health care to Americans too young for Medicare; it also pays for nursing care and other necessities for many older Americans.

Also, many Americans have health insurance but live under the continual threat of losing it. Obamacare would eliminate this threat, but Mr. Romney would bring it back and make it worse. Safety nets don’t just help people who actually fall, they make life more secure for everyone who might fall. But Mr. Romney would take that security away, not just on health care but across the board.

What about the claim made by a Romney adviser after the debate that states could step in to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions? That’s nonsense on many levels. For one thing, Mr. Romney wants to eliminate restrictions on interstate insurance sales, depriving states of regulatory power. Furthermore, if all you do is require that insurance companies cover everyone, healthy people will wait until they’re sick to sign up, leading to sky-high premiums. So you need to couple regulations on insurers with a requirement that everyone have insurance. And, to make that feasible, you have to offer insurance subsidies to lower-income Americans, which have to be paid for at a federal level.

And what you end up with is — precisely — the health reform President Obama signed into law.

One could wish that Mr. Obama had made this point effectively in the debate. He had every right to jump up and say, “There you go again”: Not only was Mr. Romney’s claim fundamentally dishonest, it has already been extensively debunked, and the Romney campaign itself has admitted that it’s false.

For whatever reason, the president didn’t do that, on health care or on anything else. But, as I said, never mind the theater criticism. The fact is that Mr. Romney tried to mislead the public, and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

***************

Obama calls on Romney to tell the truth

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, October 4, 2012 19:17 EDT

DENVER, Colorado — Barack Obama demanded truth from the “real Mitt Romney” on Thursday as aides promised a “hard look” at strategy after the president’s listless performance in the first White House debate.

Passionate, cutting and engaged, in stark comparison to his debate showing, Obama told 12,000 cheering supporters at a chilly lakeside rally in Denver that the Romney who turned up to their first head-to-head clash on Wednesday night was an impostor who had covered up unpopular positions.

“I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney,” Obama said. “It couldn’t have been Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney has been running around the country for the last year, promising $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy.

“The fellow on stage last night said he didn’t know anything about that. The real Mitt Romney said we don’t need any more teachers in our schools. The fellow on stage last night — he loves teachers, can’t get enough of them.

“If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth,” a fired-up Obama told supporters anxious not to see him fritter away his opinion poll lead with less than five weeks to go before election day.

The president’s feisty appearance represented a clear effort to shift the news cycle away from his stinking debate reviews and stall Romney’s bid to create a comeback narrative following his unexpectedly strong showing.

Obama, who flew later to another rally in Wisconsin, seized on Romney’s comment that he knew nothing about a tax break for companies that outsource jobs overseas, saying that if that was true, then the multi-millionaire former venture capitalist needed a new accountant.

“He seems to be doing just fine with his current accountant,” he said, poking fun at Romney’s complex offshore tax arrangements, which Democrats highlight to press the case he is indifferent to middle-class struggles.

About 40 million people watched Wednesday night’s debate on television, according to preliminary figures by the Nielsen TV ratings service.

Romney basked in the plaudits for his performance as he addressed a fundraising event in Colorado before flying to Virginia, saying Americans had seen two contrasting visions for the future on stage in Denver.

The Republican challenger made a surprise appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, thrilling hundreds of attendees as he stepped on stage to join his sons who were scheduled guests.

“I know this is going to be a close-fought battle,” Romney said. “We need to win Colorado. You know what, if we do, we are going to win back the White House.”

In his first public appearance since trumping Obama in the first of three one-on-one debates, the former Massachusetts governor pursued attacks on what he portrayed as the president’s continuing expansion of government.

“I saw the president’s vision as trickle-down government and I don’t think that’s what America believes in,” Romney said. “I see instead a prosperity that comes through freedom.”

Obama turned in a lethargic and sometimes irritable performance, allowing a pumped-up Romney an opening in a White House race that had been trending away from the Republican after weeks of gaffes.

The president’s campaign team signaled that it understood Obama’s performance was below par and promised a rethink before the next clash in New York state in two weeks’ time.

Top strategist David Axelrod told reporters on a damage limitation conference call that Romney’s performance was laced with untruths that the campaign would now push back on.

“We are going to take a hard look at this,” Axelrod said. “I’m sure we will make adjustments.”

Independent fact checkers agreed that many of the more flagrant manipulations of the facts in Denver were committed by the Republican challenger.

“The fact checkers will have a field day on Romney,” congressional expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington told AFP.

“He brazenly lied on numerous occasions and that could change the story line over the next several days.”

The question now is whether Romney’s debate performance has changed the minds of enough wavering voters in key swing states to give the Republican challenger a real chance on November 6.

Opinion polls in the coming days will provide the first clues.
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