Warren Buffett and President Obama (White House) and Mitt Romney (Reuters)Mitt Romney, yesterday on CNBC, defending his opposition to the Buffett Rule:
LARRY KUDLOW: Listen, the 30 percent millionaires' tax, the Buffett tax was stopped in the Senate last night, you know that. Let me ask you this. President Obama, Vice President Biden and others, they're taking to calling it the Romney Rule. It's not the Buffett tax. It's the Romney Rule because they say that wealthy, successful people like yourself don't pay their fair share in taxes. I want to get your initial response to that, please.Of course, the reason the Buffett Rule couldn't get through the Senate is that Republicans filibustered it. And the reason Republicans filibustered it is because they know that the Buffett Rule isn't a gimmick. Yes, making sure that folks like Mitt Romney don't pay lower taxes than anyone else would only raise about $47 billion over the next decade, but if we can't even do that, how can we realistically expect to handle the bigger fiscal issues? Far from being a gimmick, the Buffett Rule is a start?and a wildly popular one.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, you know, these kind of gimmicks that they've talked about, the so-called Buffett Rule, if they want to change the name, that's fine, too, they couldn't get it through their own Democratic Senate. And I think the reason is, people recognize that these gimmicks are not going to get America strong again, they're not going to create jobs. They're going to have the opposite effect of creating jobs.
If you want a gimmick, look no further than Mitt Romney's absurd claim that letting him pay less than 15 percent in taxes on $21 million of income will create jobs. If you want a gimmick, look no further than the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy which have been steadily undermining our national strength for nearly twelve years. If you want a gimmick, look no further than the trickle-down economic philosophy that Mitt Romney has put front-and-center in his campaign. None of those gimmicks have created a single job, yet they persist to this very day. And for that, we have Mitt Romney and his Republican Party to thank.
Texas health officials are telling low-income women not to worry. The Women's Health Program, the Medicaid program serving 130,000 women, will still be there for them. Of course, how it will be paid for and if enough clinics will be left providing services are still subjects up for debate.
The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature cut funding for the program?which offers poor women basic reproductive health services like birth control and cancer screenings?by two-thirds last year. The cuts came out of fear that the health-care providers were too linked in with the so-called "abortion industry." Just to be safe, conservative lawmakers opted to bar Planned Parenthood from participating in the program. Of course, no dollars from the program could go to abortions and women can only participate if they are not pregnant.
The results were swift. The budget cuts resulted in clinic closings around the state, and the decision to exclude Planned Parenthood violated federal policy, meaning that the federal government, which paid for 90 percent of the $35-million program, would no longer pay for any of it. Protests have emerged around the state. Planned Parenthood has already filed a lawsuit.
But not to worry?Governor Rick Perry promised the state would take over the Women's Health Program. And yesterday, state health officials unveiled their plan. Step one: Stay on the federal tab a few months longer. Step two: They're working on it.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will ask the feds to keep funding them through November 1. (Texas was supposed to get cut off at the end of April.) By then, presumably, the state will find some way to free up dollars. That's hardly a cakewalk. Texas has been in a fiscal crisis since 2011. For the last two-year budget, lawmakers had to deal with a $22 billion shortfall, resulting in unprecedented cuts to education and underfunding Medicaid programs by almost $5 billion. The state has a structural deficit thanks to a dysfunctional tax structure. And yesterday, Perry announced his "Budget Compact" which asks lawmakers to pledge no new or increased taxes as well as offering voters a constitutional amendment that would limit spending increases to the population growth.
Given the situation, $35 million isn't going to easy to find, unless the state simply finds a way to get more federal money. Which maybe it's best option. According to The Texas Tribune, officials "hinted the state could free up state dollars to fund the Women's Health Program by seeking federal block grants for other programs."
But even if they find the money, there's still the problem of clinics. Planned Parenthood clinics served almost 50 percent of the women participating in the WHP. With those providers out of the picture, the remaining clinics have to shoulder the burden?and they have to do so with a major funding cut. As the Austin Chronicle notes, non-Planned Parenthood clinic Community Action Inc. has had to close 11 of its 13 clinics in Central Texas. The two remaining ones are in danger as well. In the plan for taking over the program, state officials say they will try to increase the number of providers.
The head of the state's biggest health agency, Tom Suehs, has promised things will be fine, dismissing the "scare tactics and misinformation campaigns." The bigger challenge, he says, is "making sure women get accurate information about the program in the midst of organized attempts to confuse and frighten those who rely on it."
Maybe it's just me, but what's confusing is a health care policy that makes it hard to access health care.
Little Tommy Friedman, aka, WOTD, laments about the decayed state of American infrastructure, announces America needs a renewal and then proposes the man to do it . . . good grief.[...]
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Mitt Romney, yesterday on CNBC, responding to Democrats who say he is hiding something by withholding disclosure of his tax returns:
KUDLOW: Will you defend your great business success against these class warfare attacks?So yeah, we've got to stop apologizing here at home. And, at the same time, we've got to open up some bank accounts overseas. I hear Switzerland is nice. And the Caymans too.
Gov. ROMNEY: Oh, the answer's, of course. We've got to stop apologizing for success here at home.
No related posts.No related posts.
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Mitt Romney claims he would produce a better
policy in Afghanistan by having better relations
with this guy. (Dina Rudick/Pool)Mitt Romney would like to, needs to, distinguish himself from President Obama in foreign policy and, in particular, on Afghanistan. But his views on the war there just don't add up. While he would no doubt love to have a simple bomb-bomb-bomb message to display his tough-guy credentials to the right wing of the Republican base, not only is such a policy utterly useless in Afghanistan, but it also cuts against the grain of the rest of the American electorate, which, the polls say, wants to bring the troops home as soon as possible.
Even Romney says that. But he also says President Obama was wrong to give the generals fewer troops than they asked for when he escalated the war in 2009. And Romney opposed the setting of target dates for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, both the 2014 date for pulling out most combat troops and the 2011 date for bringing home 23,000 troops by the end of summer. With the 10,000 already removed, that would reduce U.S. troop strength there to 68,000, about twice what it was when Obama took the oath of office in 2009. Romney said in a townhall meeting in Maryland a month ago:
"It's unthinkable that you say: 'Here's the date we're gonna leave, regardless of the circumstances.' Because that only communicates ... to the enemy, that at some point certain you're leaving. ... They make their plans based upon knowing your plans, when we don't know theirs."That seems clear enough.
But Rich Williamson, a senior foreign policy adviser to the candidate, says,
"Gov. Romney is committed to success of the mission, but he absolutely wants to get the American troops home as soon as possible. [...]Campaign chatter. Shades of the secret plan. We-can't-tell-you-the-details-but-we'll-do-it-better. Promise.
"We will have a better strategy, better leadership, more firm commitment, and that will result in American troops able to return home sooner," says Williamson.
The time for doing things better in Afghanistan passed long before President Obama came to office. And Romney's view that the generals should be listened to conveniently ignores the fact that Gen. David Petraeus, now head of the CIA, crafted the counter-insurgency plan that originally underpinned the surge. A successful counter-insurgency plan, the general pointed out many times, would take far more than even the maximum number troops that were proposed for the surge and take as long as a decade to complete their mission. A decade added to the decade in which the United States has already been at war in Afghanistan.
Not only has Romney said he would have paid more attention to the generals, but he says he would also have worked better with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has had, let us say, bumpy relations with the Obama administration. Uh-huh. And no doubt Romney believes he could smooth relations with Pakistan, too.
Whatever a President Romney might do to tweak current Afghanistan policy, it's clear there's no stomach among most Americans for hanging around one minute longer than necessary to get U.S. troops out. Were he able to defeat Obama in November, Romney would likely handle things about the same way as they have been handled.
The big questions being wrestled with are how to cover the costs of a large Afghan National Army that Kabul cannot come close to affording and how many residual U.S. troops would remain there, either as special operations units under Pentagon control or reassigned to CIA supervisors. The latter gives both Kabul and Washington the ability to say to their constituents that there are no U.S. combat troops remaining, a transparent lie. Sad to say, the answers to those questions will likely be pretty much the same whoever is president come January 21, 2013.
There's an old saying on Wall Street that investors should look to the income statement for upside and the balance sheet for downside protection. But for mining and energy stocks, this axiom has been spun on its head. Income-statement metrics are forcing many of these stocks down, but their balance sheets point to the way to vigorous upside (while that downside protection also remains in place).
You can find no greater example of this than copper and gold miner Freeport McMoran (NYSE: FCX). Copper prices have fallen from around $4.50 a pound in early 2011 to a recent $3.60, dampening the company's profit prospects. Adding insult, the company is temporarily seeing reduced output at a key Indonesian mine . . . → Read More: The Best Mining and Energy Stock Bargains on the Market
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Around two years ago I attended a convention in Portland by the Association of American Editorial[...]
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We always knew that Mormonism was going to be a touchy issue in this presidential campaign. After all, there are still many Americans who express discomfort with the idea of a Mormon president (up to 40 percent, depending on how you ask the question). But it's one thing when you ask that question in the abstract, and quite another when we're talking about a particular Mormon. In that case, I'm fairly sure that nearly everyone is going to decide their votes on how they feel about Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, not how they feel about Joseph Smith. Even Robert Jeffress, the Baptist minister and Rick Perry supporter who just a couple of months ago denounced Mormonism as a "cult," just announced that he'll be supporting a member of that cult for president, since Obama is so vile unto his sight. But all that doesn't mean that the Romney campaign and its supporters aren't going to be on the lookout for any anti-Mormon slights, so long as they come from Democrats.
You may remember that back in August, the Obama campaign called Romney "weird," and conservatives immediately rushed to charge that this was a dog-whistle to anti-Mormon voters, since "weird" is obviously code for "Mormon." And now it's starting up again. Alec MacGillis at TNR has a good round-up of some recent cries of anti-Mormonism from Romney supporters, including the idea that when the Obama campaign criticized Romney for a "penchant for secrecy," they were plainly trying to get people to think "Mormon!" because the LDS church is secretive.
This is all pretty ridiculous, not least because you have a situation where the supporters of one candidate are accusing the supporters of another candidate of dog whistling on a topic both actual candidates have no desire at all to discuss. Furthermore, the voters most likely to feel a strong aversion to Mormonism are evangelical Christians, who vote overwhelmingly Republican anyway, and it isn't like too many of them are going to be persuaded to vote for Barack Obama based on some winking and nodding about "weirdness." There are so many other things the Obama campaign wants to attack Romney on, they hardly need to invest energy in trying to get people to vote against him because of his religion, which would risk an enormous backlash.
So Romney's supporters end up sounding a lot like the old Jewish man who sees anti-Semitism everywhere. Romney's weird? Anti-Mormonism! Romney's secretive? Anti-Mormonism! Romney's stiff? Anti-Mormonism! It brings to mind this classic from Annie Hall, where Woody Allen is convinced that when someone said "Did you eat?" to him, what the guy was really saying was, "Jew eat?"
And though it can't be embedded, here's a link to Uncle Leo.