Tagged: Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney is Paul the Octopus for this year’s Republican primaries

Paul the Octopus — animal oracle of the 2010 World Cup — did not survive long enough to pick the winners in Brazil this year…No such tradition for paranormal prediction has caught on for American politics, and it seems imprudent to think it will during the midterms. Why rely on a lion or tiger or bear for your election predictions when you can conscript the prophesying skills of Mitt Romney? The former presidential candidate has been busy during the primary season, picking favorites in some of the most important party infighting of the year. And, about halfway through the midterms, all of his endorsements have led to victories at the polls, as other news organizations have noticed.

Last week, he endorsed Nevada state senator Mark Hutchison in the Nevada lieutenant governor primary — a race he won. One week earlier, Joni Ernst, whom he endorsed in the Senate primary in Iowa, and Neel Kashkari, whom he endorsed in the California governor race, both won. On May 20, Monica Wehby won the Republican primary after a Romney endorsement. Romney also picked winners in the North Carolina Senate race and House races in Idaho, Pennsylvania and California.

This is an example of correlation not equaling causation. These candidates aren’t winning because of Romney’s adapted Midas touch. He is just proving a knack for knowing what’s on voters’ minds — and the minds of those who spend money trying to influence voters. (The Chamber of Commerce’s winning primary picks this year closely follow Romney’s.) It’s a knack for choosing winners he’d like to cement before the 2016 Republican primaries finally roll around, if the tea leaves scattered around his GOP summit this weekend are to be believed.

NBC News reported on Friday that Romney told reporters, “As someone who has run and has served, I would like to be able to, if you will, push our party and our nominees toward the positions that I think are the most effective for the country.”

In other words, Romney is hoping that the party remembers his clairvoyance in a year or two…

Romney’s ability to pick general election winners, however, has yet to be tested — as does the Chamber of Commerce’s. According to the Sunlight Foundation, 6.9 percent of the money the Chamber spent in 2012 went to winning candidates…

Red State’s Erick Erickson wrote after Romney lost the 2012 election, “Just please, GOP, PLEASE — in four years let’s not go with the “he’s the most electable” argument. The most electable usually aren’t.”

The Republicans may yet decide to run the ghost of George Wallace. Why listen to an opportunist moderate when you can go all out with someone truly contemptible and bigoted.

Oh, the RedState dude? Last time around he hosted the campaign kickoff for Rick Perry. ‘Nuff said.

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George W. Bush ain’t exactly the ghost of Xmas Past for Scrooge Romney

Mitt Romney has a George W. Bush problem.

In fact, that’s Romney’s biggest problem. It’s George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who has made voters skeptical of many of Romney’s core policies. It’s George W. Bush, not Obama campaign strategist David Plouffe, who persuaded voters that our economic troubles aren’t mainly Obama’s fault. And so it is, in a sense, the electorate’s lingering fear of George W. Bush, as much as its residual affection for Barack Obama, that Romney needs to beat if he’s to become president.

At Tuesday’s debate, Romney was given a chance to do just that. A voter from Nassau County stood up and asked: “Governor Romney, I am an undecided voter, because I’m disappointed with the lack of progress I’ve seen in the last four years. However, I do attribute much of America’s economic and international problems to the failings and missteps of the Bush administration. Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?”…

Romney devoted the first bit of his answer to the previous question about contraception. Only later did he turn to address the central question about his candidacy: “Let me come back and answer your question,” he said. “President Bush and I are — are different people and these are different times and that’s why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done.”

Notice what he didn’t say there. He didn’t say that Bush had gotten anything wrong before leaving office as one of the most unpopular presidents in history. He didn’t say, “You’re right to be skeptical of Republicans, because we didn’t live up to your expectations last time.” He said, rather, “Have you heard about my five-point plan?”…

Romney offered precisely nothing that Bush wouldn’t have proposed in 2000. And Romney left out some of his more salient agreements with Bush. For instance, both the Enron debacle and the financial crisis happened on Bush’s watch. As a result, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley and, later, Dodd-Frank laws to toughen financial regulation. But Romney has proposed rolling back both…

2012 is not 2000. We have deficits rather than a balanced budget. We have historically high unemployment rather than historically low unemployment. We’ve seen what the financial system can do when left unchecked. We’ve watched tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 fail to spark economic growth and seen a rising stock market fail to lift middle-class wages. We do need new thinking. But Romney isn’t offering any.

One reason you won’t see any differences in the worst plans offered by Romney is his advisors are exactly the same people that did the grunt work for Bush. From John Bolton advocating foreign policy roughly akin to Attila the Hun to Glen Hubbard who laid out Bush’s tax cuts and now proposes screwing things up about 400% worse – it’s the same old song.

Mitt and the half of America he calls moochers

The Republican Party has some potentially winning themes for America’s presidential and congressional elections in November. Americans have long been skeptical of government, with a tradition of resistance to perceived government overreach that extends back to their country’s founding years. This tradition has bequeathed to today’s Americans a related rejection of public subsidies and a cultural aversion to “dependence” on state support.

But Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other leading members of his party have played these cards completely wrong in this election cycle. Romney is apparently taken with the idea that many Americans, the so-called 47%, do not pay federal income tax. He believes that they view themselves as “victims” and have become “dependent” on the government.

But this misses two obvious points. First, most of the 47% pay a great deal of tax on their earnings, property, and goods purchased. They also work hard to make a living in a country where median household income has declined to a level last seen in the mid-1990’s.

Second, the really big subsidies in modern America flow to a part of its financial elite – the privileged few who are in charge of the biggest firms on Wall Street…

No one has succeeded in the modern American political game like the biggest banks on Wall Street, which lobbied for deregulation during the three decades prior to the crisis of 2008, and then pushed back effectively against almost all dimensions of financial reform.

Their success has paid off handsomely. The top executives at 14 leading financial firms received cash compensation (as salary, bonus, and/or stock options exercised) totaling roughly $2.5 billion in 2000-2008 – with five individuals alone receiving $2 billion.

But these masters of the universe did not earn that money without massive government assistance. By being perceived as “too big to fail,” their banks benefit from a government backstop or downside guarantee. They can take on more risk – running a more highly leveraged business with less shareholder capital. They get bigger returns when things go well and receive state support when fortune turns against them: heads they win, tails we lose

RTFA for the history and analysis behind Simon Johnson’s conclusion. Project Syndicate once again rolls out a solid article on complex political economy.

Republican “critic” of Wall Street takes job as CEO of Wall Street’s biggest lobbying firm


Why do you think this man is laughing?

Tim Pawlenty, the former Republican governor of Minnesota who criticized Wall Street while running for president last year, is joining the Financial Services Roundtable as president and chief executive officer.

Pawlenty…will take over from the retiring Steve Bartlett as CEO of the Washington-based group that represents 100 of the biggest financial-services companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America. Corp. and Citigroup Inc. The new job means quitting his post as national co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign…

In a Bloomberg Television interview last year before he ended his presidential run and joined Romney’s campaign, Pawlenty said his “truth message to Wall Street is going to be, ‘Get your snout out of the trough’.” He was viewed as a potential Romney running mate before the former Massachusetts governor selected Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Pawlenty, who campaigned as a “Sam’s Club Republican” concerned with issues affecting the middle class, will represent the interests of the large financial firms across a broad range of business, from insurance giants such as State Farm Insurance Cos. and money managers including BlackRock Inc. to payment networks like Visa…

In a statement, Romney said…“While I regret he cannot continue as co-chair of my campaign, his new position advancing the integrity of our financial system is vital to the future of our country”…

He may also receive a substantial raise. Bartlett was paid $1.8 million in 2010, according to the group’s IRS filings for that year. Pawlenty’s most recent salary as governor was $121,000, according to a 2011 financial filing for his presidential bid. Scott Talbott, a senior vice president of public policy at the Financial Services Roundtable, declined to share Pawlenty’s salary information.

Musical jobs among the politicians of America, two pantywaist parties and the corporate plutocrats who own our lawmakers, legal system and judges – continues without missing a beat.

I hear America singing. And it ain’t Bob Dylan.

Mitt Romney Is not the face of Mormonism

When the news of Mitt Romney’s Florida video broke on Monday evening, I was incensed — but not for its political implications. His arrogant and out-of-hand dismissal of half the population of this country struck me at a visceral level, for it sullied the religion that he and I share — the religion for which five generations of my ancestry have lived and sacrificed, the religion whose official mantra is “to take care of the poor and needy throughout the world.”

My first impulse was to rent an airplane towing a banner: “Mitt Romney is Not the Face of Mormonism!”

I was a supporter of Romney 1.0. That was in late 2007, when we had far more in common. We are both Mormons and we both served foreign missions for our church at the same time, he in France and I in Brazil. Some of my best friends had been some of his best friends for decades. Although I am a registered Democrat, his accomplishments as Governor of Massachusetts appealed to me. I contributed the maximum amount to his early presidential primary bid…

Early in 2008, to my dismay, Romney 1.0 became Romney 2.0 by moving far enough to the right to lose my support. He has kept moving ever farther to the right. He has made this move in a successful attempt to gain the nomination, and in an ongoing attempt to persuade no more than 53 percent of the country that he should be the next President.

…That he is the only Mormon ever to be the nominee for the Presidency of a major political party makes it inevitable that even if people do not judge him because of his religion, they will judge his religion because of him. Given the unfolding news of this week, I regret to say that Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism.

…The face of Mormonism is the one that calls on some of its members, particularly bishops and stake presidents, to devote as many hours gratis to their church jobs as they do to their professional jobs. It is the one that summons up extraordinary acts of love, compassion and generosity, often in response to the deepest tragedies of life — and death.

But it is not the one that dismisses out-of-hand half the population of the United States by saying, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives…”

The very basis of Mormon community, stretching back to the earliest years of Mormonism nearly two centuries ago, is that the more able have a sacred obligation to assist the less able…

Judge Mitt Romney as you will, and vote for or against him as you will; but do not judge Mormonism on the basis of the Mitt Romney that was unveiled to the public this week. He is not the face of Mormonism.

Well said, Gregory Prince. A leading Mormon scholar, a historian who puts a generational persona on the dialectic stream that becomes the present – Prince stands up for the values that formed this religion like many other Christian religions. Love, kindness and aid for your fellow human beings.

Romney behaves like the princes of today’s Catholic Church or the Bible Belt hustlers who sell religious cred through their universities, pre-recorded prayers and genuine virgin acrylic bubba hats. He demeans the reasons believers want to believe. He’d rather they were True Believers. Unquestioning. Bigoted. Stuck in the past that never was.

He is the face of Mammon – not Mormon.

An example of differences between UK Conservatives and the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican?


What a funny-looking doorbell!

David Cameron described US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney as having the “unique distinction of uniting the whole of England against him”, a Hollywood movie mogul has said.

Harvey Weinstein, an Oscar-winning producer, said he had personally heard Mr Cameron make the disparaging remarks to a group of people.

The revelation will risk inflaming tensions between Mr Cameron and Mr Romney, which could make trans-Atlantic relations difficult if the Republican wins the race.

Mr Weinstein told the BBC: “I witnessed Prime Minister saying to a group of people, myself included, that Mitt Romney had that unique distinction of uniting all of England against him with his various remarks. On behalf of my love of England, I have to support the President [Barack Obama] who is anything but making faux-pas.”

Mr Romney did not win many fans during his visit to Britain when he publicly cast doubt on whether Britain was prepared for the Olympics…

In a further diplomatic gaffe, the Republican candidate also appeared to breach protocol by disclosing that he had received an unusual briefing from Sir John Sawers, the chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), on the situation in Syria.

An adviser boasted to The Daily Telegraph that Mr Romney had also previously met the head of the Security Service (MI5).

Letting him out of doors without a handler is a bit of a problem – seeing that he relies either on guidance from the Kool Aid Party or neocon leftovers from the George W. Bush New American Century. He has a choice of nutballs or failures to guide him in foreign relations.

Mitt’s Major Meltdown!

Mitt Romney broke our deal…Perhaps he didn’t know he’d made it, although, really, I thought it was pretty clear.

He could do anything he wanted during this campaign as long as he sent out signals that once he got in the White House he was not likely to be truly crazy.

We, in return, were going to be able to continue with our normal sleeping patterns through the fall.

It didn’t seem to be a lot to ask, but when the crisis in the Middle East flared up, Romney turned out to have no restraining inner core. All the uneasy feelings you got when he went to London and dissed the Olympic organizers can now come into full bloom. Feel free to worry about anything. That he’d declare war on Malta. Lock himself in a nuclear missile silo and refuse to come out until there’s a tax cut. Hand the country over to space aliens.

Here is the Republican candidate for president of the United States on Wednesday, explaining why he broke into a moment of rising international tension and denounced the White House as “disgraceful” for a mild statement made by the American Embassy in Cairo about the importance of respecting other people’s religions:

“They clearly — they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And — and the statement came from the administration — and the embassy is the administration — the statement that came from the administration was a — was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a — a — a severe miscalculation.”

Feel free to reread this when you’re staring at the ceiling at 4 a.m…

The one big advantage to being a boring candidate is that you give the appearance of calm and stability. But, suddenly, Romney seemed to want to go for a piquant mélange of dull and hotheaded…When asked whether he was too quick on the attack, loyalists were supposed to say: “No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests…”

Two months to go and we’re rethinking our presumption that the Republican primary voters picked the most stable option.

The Party-formerly-known-as-Republican continues to devolve as dramatically as their creationist roots would predict.

With little reliance on fact, why not lie? With little attention paid to history, why not contrive new tales of capitulation? With no intent at bi-partisan legislation, political solutions to the economy they nearly destroyed, why should they support the efforts of our diplomatic service to calm a dangerous situation – especially when you believe that a worsening economy and doom and gloom abroad are your only hope for getting elected?

Gail Collins’ Op-Ed piece will likely go unread by conservative pundits. After all, she’s a woman.

Mitt Romney’s fair share – a question of ethics and leadership


Romney’s favorite flag

Mitt Romney’s income taxes have become a major issue in the American presidential campaign. Is this just petty politics, or does it really matter? In fact, it does matter – and not just for Americans.

A major theme of the underlying political debate in the United States is the role of the state and the need for collective action. The private sector, while central in a modern economy, cannot ensure its success alone. For example, the financial crisis that began in 2008 demonstrated the need for adequate regulation.

Moreover, beyond effective regulation (including ensuring a level playing field for competition), modern economies are founded on technological innovation, which in turn presupposes basic research funded by government. This is an example of a public good – things from which we all benefit, but that would be undersupplied (or not supplied at all) were we to rely on the private sector.

Conservative politicians in the US underestimate the importance of publicly provided education, technology, and infrastructure. Economies in which government provides these public goods perform far better than those in which it does not.

But public goods must be paid for, and it is imperative that everyone pays their fair share. While there may be disagreement about what that entails, those at the top of the income distribution who pay 15% of their reported income (money accruing in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens may not be reported to US authorities) clearly are not paying their fair share.

There is an old adage that a fish rots from the head. If presidents and those around them do not pay their fair share of taxes, how can we expect that anyone else will? And if no one does, how can we expect to finance the public goods that we need?

RTFA for more detail and insight.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is a Professor at Columbia University. He’s innovated studies of taxation, development, trade, and technical change. He was Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank.

Mitt Romney’s wealth up front in tax probe of Bain Capital


NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Getty Images

The source of Mitt Romney’s personal wealth continues to generate awkward headlines after it emerged that regulators have subpoenaed Bain Capital, the private equity firm he once headed, during an investigation into its tax arrangements.

New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is seeking internal documents that will establish whether Bain – along with 11 other firms – has been forgoing management fees in favour of investments in the funds which they manage. Investments are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income.

The practice falls into a legal grey area. Some lawyers consider it an aggressive but legitimate means of tax avoidance; others believe it strays beyond the bounds of legality. Bain Capital is believed to have used it to avoid paying around $220 million in taxes, according to The New York Times, which broke news of the subpoena at the weekend.

Mr Romney left Bain over a decade ago, but continues to profit handsomely from his ties to the firm, and in the past two years earned roughly $13 million from his share of its profits…

Consistency truly stalks these creeps – stuck into defending their avoidance of responsibility in America’s class-based economy.

Our nation long ago established a system of fair and progressive taxation and the means and methods arranged by tax lawyers, lobbyists and corrupt politicians to subvert that system stinks on ice.

Cardinal Dolan to lead Republican convention in prayer for victory over civil rights, liberated women and uppity nuns


On your knees, sinners!

The news that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the nation’s most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week was seen as a huge coup for Mitt Romney, the party’s presumptive nominee. But the move has also prompted a sharp debate within the church over the increasingly close ties between leading bishops and the GOP.

The cozy relationship between a sizable portion of U.S. bishops and the Republican Party should be cause for concern, and not just among progressive Catholics,” Michael O’Loughlin wrote in a post on the website of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly published by the Jesuits.

“Cardinal Dolan’s appearance in Tampa will damage the church’s ability to be a moral and legitimate voice for voiceless, as those who view the Catholic Church as being a shill for the GOP have just a bit more evidence to prove their case,” O’Loughlin concluded…

Similarly, David Cruz-Uribe, a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a professor of mathematics at Trinity College, wrote on the Vox Nova blog that Dolan’s decision “will only drag the Church further into a partisan divide and fuel the perception (true or not) that the Catholic Church wants to replace the Episcopalians as the Republican party on its knees…”

Cripes. I haven’t read that phrase in years. Reminds me of no end of salacious jokes.

By tradition, the local bishop often delivers a prayer at the party convention meeting in his city, but it is highly unusual for another bishop — and the leader of the hierarchy — to fly in to deliver a benediction, as Dolan will do on Aug. 30, right after Romney is formally nominated…

Examine the range of issues – and positions on those issues – today’s Republican Party and the most reactionary elements of the Catholic Church hold in common. They share a war on Women – denying reproductive rights, abortion, birth control, IVF – even the papal edict against a woman choosing to abort to save her own life.

They oppose civil rights for the LGBT community. They demand that religious dogma and doctrine take precedence over civil law. All that may be missing from the podium that night is an appearance by one of those uppity nuns – gagged and in chains.