For those who are making a sport of dissecting the Romney tax returns, this is a really big one to let slide through the cracks. Other folks who get dividends or capital gains from owning shares of stock can tell the double taxation story (even here it[...]
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TPM Reader CM thinks we're missing the significance of what happened last night on the gridiron ...I'm a huge fan of TPM (sort of religious about reading pretty much every article you publish), but this morning, I'm a little surprised you guys are not[...]
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The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled 4-3 to find a residency requirement for Court of Appeals races. That means EJ Russell is (virtually) unopposed in her race.
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.
I'm not Jewish. I'm Greek Orthodox. But I spent my younger years, a few decades ago, often being confused for someone Jewish, and more than a few times getting some pretty nasty comments as a result (someone actually called me the k-word once, but usually I'd get asked my last name, which I learned was code). That, and being gay, I like to think I'm somewhat more attuned to prejudice than the...
Craig T. Nelson, 2009Suzanne Mettler and John Sides, in the New York Times:
We have unique data from a 2008 national survey by the Cornell Survey Research Institute that asked Americans whether they had ever taken advantage of any of 21 social policies provided by the federal government, from student loans to Medicare. These policies do not include government activity that benefits everyone ? national defense, the interstate highway system, food safety regulations ? but only tangible benefits that accrue to specific households. [...]The authors were further able to make a distinction between direct benefits, like Social Security or the G.I. Bill, versus indirect or "submerged" social benefits like the homeowner mortgage interest deduction.
What the data reveal is striking: nearly all Americans ? 96 percent ? have relied on the federal government to assist them. Young adults, who are not yet eligible for many policies, account for most of the remaining 4 percent.
On average, people reported that they had used five social policies at some point in their lives.
Overall, 82 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans acknowledged receipt of at least one direct social benefit. More Republicans (92 percent) than Democrats (86 percent) had taken advantage of submerged policies.The obvious question becomes, then, why conservatives are insistent on condemning social programs that they themselves benefit from. The answer appears to be stupidity?sorry, I mean cognitive dissonance. Go figure.
Where Americans actually differ is in how they think about government?s role in their lives. A major driving factor here is ideology: conservatives were less likely than liberals to respond affirmatively when asked if they had ever used a ?government social program,? even when both subsequently acknowledged using the same number of specific policies.You might chalk this up to a theoretical conservative bias towards presuming that the social programs they use are not actually social programs, e.g. when a conservative means "government help" they mean unemployment insurance or food stamps, not the G.I. Bill or family-friendly tax credits. That may be giving too much credit: While Chris Christie noting his father's use of the G.I. Bill while condemning all the other little people who are provided similar assistance is indeed a lovely example of the phenomenon, I'm not sure anything can top the famous statement on the subject by American philosopher Craig T. Nelson:
"I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No."Ah. True genius, there. The very picture of a self-made man.
All of this does lead to the obvious question, though: Do Americans really want these things cut? Mitt Romney puts the percentage of moochers in America at 47 percent, since obviously measuring income tax is the only possible measure for such things, but the true number is, apparently, much closer to 100 percent. While not giving George Romney welfare upon his immigration to this country might possibly have saved us from ever having to hear from his droning, self-entitled son, we nevertheless have decided on a rough social compact in which we spend a portion of our taxes on programs to ensure people like George Romney and Craig T. Nelson can, with enough effort, make something of themselves someday. We have decided that risking your life for your country ought to perhaps get you something in return, and that having people dying in the streets for lack of food or medicine is probably unsanitary, if nothing else.
So how do we convince conservatives to support the very programs they, like all of the rest of the country, benefit from? Logic is right out, we know that much. Perhaps a catchy song would help things?
Pharmaceutical researchers at Merck have developed a promising drug called Ionafarnib to combat the rare disease progeria, a fatal affliction that causes rapid aging in children. According to the Wall Street Journal, children suffering from progeria die of heart attack or stroke at a young age due to an excess of the protein progerin, which [...]
What's new in the Orange to Blue races? Keep reading.Speaker Pelosi Project:
CA-07: It's been a while since we checked in on Ami Bera in his bid to oust Rep. Dan Lungren. There's some encouraging news, in that the secretary of state is reporting that Democrats have regained an edge in voter registrations in this closely watched rematch.
FL-22: Eric Cantor's Young Guns Action fund, yet another Super PAC, has been running an ad against Lois Frankel alleging that when she was mayor of West Palm Beach, she had caused a budget deficit. Frankel has succeeded in getting one station to pull the ad because it's inaccurate. The city is required by law to have a balanced budget; there was not deficit under Frankel's watch. Small victories on the way to the big one.
IL-13: David Gill has been attacked by the conservative American Action Network (AAN) for supporting a single-payer health care program. Now the National Republican Congressional Committee has jumped on the bandwagon, taking a short statement by Gill that "Medicare would no longer exist" totally out of context. Of course, what Gill was explaining was that a Medicare for All program would mean that Medicare wouldn't exist as it is now, but would be part of a universal single-payer program that would provide everyone, seniors included, with health care. Not with vouchers.
MN-06: Rep. Michele Bachmann pays opponent Jim Graves a compliment, though that's probably not what she intended when she sent out a fundraising appeal telling supporters that she's in the "most heated race of my political career." That's sure what we intended. By the way, we made some local news with our Hell to Pay for Graves. Good job, team Orange.
NH-01: The Concord Monitor is "flabbergasted" over "bizarre" remarks made in yesterday's debate between tea party freshman Frank Guinta and challenger, former Rep. Carol Shea Porter, on the idea of creating a commuter train line from Massachusetts up to Concord. Guinta thinks it's a bad idea to encourage New Hampshire residents to find work in Massachusetts. For real.
NY-18: Good news for our most recent Orange to Blue addition, Sean Patrick Maloney. The Working Families Party has endorsed him, and he will appear on the WFP ballot line, as well as the Democratic line, on November's ballot. (Early ballots, however, might have already gone out with the WFP placeholder Larry Weissman on the ballot.) Polling in the Maloney's race against tea party freshmen Rep. Nan Hayworth has given Hayworth double digit leads, but that's in a three-way contest. However, PPP just polled the race for the AFL-CIO, and found that, in a two-way race, it's all tied up at 43 percent.
How do you beat an incumbent who?s well known and well liked in his district? Stick to his votes. That?s exactly the message of Democrat Kathy Boockvar?s clever new television ad, which casts incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick as an ill-fitting shirt.Upgrade the Senate:
CT-Sen: Linda McMahon has been busy trying to convince Connecticut voters that she isn't really anti-woman, thanks to a smart ad from Democrat Chris Murphy. Maybe that's all to try to change the subject from this Stamford Courant story: ?For the second time in less than a week, a review of municipal records by The Courant show that McMahon also failed to pay her property taxes on time. She paid the property taxes on her Greenwich home late four times since 1984 and was assessed close to $2,000 in interest and penalties. This comes a few days after news that McMahon was six weeks late this month paying taxes on a Stamford condo she owns with her husband Vince.? Oops.
OH-Sen: This is good for Sen. Sherrod Brown: He has a 53-41 lead over challenger Josh Mandel. Also good for Brown, Salon reports that Mandel deliberately avoided paying payroll taxes for his campaign staff when he was running for state treasurer in 2010. Treasurer. The person in charge of the state's books. Yeesh.
WI-Sen: No wonder Tammy Baldwin is surging in this race against crotchety old Tommy Thompson. He's Romney-like in his ability to say really stupid things. Like this from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Republican Senate candidate Tommy G. Thompson told a tea party group in June that he wants to 'do away with the Medicare and Medicaid'" ? Presumably referring to his efforts as governor to eliminate Wisconsin?s welfare program, Thompson said, "[W]ho better than me ? to come up with programs to do away with Medicaid and Medicare??? And he thinks Wisconsin voters are going to be scared by the word liberal?Daily Kos for Marriage Equality:
Maryland: Labor is stepping up to organize for the gay marriage referendum.
The state AFL-CIO and SEIU are full partners in the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition, Nix says, as is the Maryland State Education Association, an affiliate of the giant National Education Association. Smaller partners are Washington, D.C.-based UNITE HERE Local 25 and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 70.Washington: The National Organization for Marriage is kicking in $250,000 into the campaign against marriage equality in Washington, with promises of more to come.
Iowa Democrats are fired up, ready to goNot good news for Iowa Republicans:
With absentee and early voting set to begin next week in Iowa, a battleground state in the presidential race, Democrats have a 6-1 edge in ballot requests so far, The Wall Street Journal reported.The latest numbers are 105,669 Democratic ballot requests, 18,542 Republican ones.
Democrats requested roughly 100,000 ballots, compared with 16,073 ballots requested by Republicans, the newspaper said. Absentee voting and in-person early voting begins on Sept. 27.
"I see the early vote numbers, and I grimace a little bit," said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party and the editor of a popular blog, told The Journal. "It feels like an Obama state?. The president has been more accessible to voters than [Mitt] Romney and [Paul] Ryan."
In North Carolina, however, the numbers look terrible for us:
NORTH CAROLINA reports as of Tuesday morning 66,664 ballot requests with the following party breakdown:On the positive side, those 66,664 ballots account for just 1.5 percent of the 4.3 million votes cast in North Carolina in 2008. So this is super early. It's early in Iowa, too, but the early ballot requests already account for about 10 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast in the state last cycle.
The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index shot up today, rising from 61.3 in August to 70.3 in September. This typically correlates with a brighter outlook for the economy, and could lead to stronger consumer spending. However, it may be[...]
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