THE HUFFINGTON POST did an interview with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In it he just happens to mention that Mr. Romney’s tax problems, including why he can’t reveal more returns, revolves around a gossipy tidbit delivered to him by an anonymous source, whom Reid won’t name, who said Romney didn’t pay taxes for a decade.
Saying he had “no problem with somebody being really, really wealthy,” Reid sat up in his chair a bit before stirring the pot further. A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office.
“Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying.
“He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid. “But obviously he can’t release those tax returns. How would it look?
Anyone who’s covered presidential candidates has dealt with this type of stuff, including myself. Anonymous sources have all sorts of great information, but often are too afraid of what will happen to them financially if they cross someone politically powerful, especially if that person could end up being president.
But without verification it’s worthless. But it’s still interesting to ponder, as well as being good for keeping Mitt Romney’s secrecy fetish in the news, which is important for Team Obama.
Graphic via Tumblr.
Sure, most Americans don't know what the GDP per capita is in the Palestinian territories. But then again, most Americans are visiting the region as a presidential hopeful who just got scores of briefings on the matter.Let me put it this way: IF you didn't know what the GDP figures were in the region, you wouldn't be stupid enough to mention them in a speech without...
Visiting Poland for the final leg of his gaffe-filled trip abroad, Romney praised how the nation has “lifted the heavy hand of government” to become one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.
The problem with Romney’s speech, however, is that the the Polish government plays a larger role in its economy than the U.S. government plays here. The Associated Press noted that the reality of Polish government spending doesn’t match Romney’s rhetoric:
While it?s true that Poland is one of Europe?s fastest-growing economies and boasts dynamic entrepreneurs, Romney?s depiction of Poland as a place of small government is debatable. Even 23 years after throwing off a communist command economy, the Polish government continues to have a strong presence in people?s lives: it gives women $300 for each baby they have, doubling that sum for poor families; it fully funds state university educations; and it guarantees health care to all its 38 million citizens.
And while Poland?s economic growth has certainly been impressive in recent years, this is partly the result of economic redistribution in the form of subsidies that have been flowing in from the European Union since it joined the bloc in 2004.
In addition to praising higher government spending, this is also the second time Romney has inadvertently lauded universal health care — a far cry from his criticisms of the individual mandate. He first complimented universal health care in his comments on Israel’s relatively low health spending.
We have plenty of evidence that governments are afraid of bond markets. In the US, fears of the retaliation of the bond market have driven the fiscal policy of both parties. And the amount of money traded in bond markets is enough to overwhelm weak[...]
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A new joint report from two Republican lawmakers on Fast and Furious -- the ATF operation in which guns were allegedly allowed to "walk" to suspected straw purchasers for Mexican drug cartels -- contends that the Obama administration's decision to prosecute a Bush-era case may have given agents a "green light" to let guns "walk."
The report says that Fast and Furious was "marred by missteps, poor judgments, and an inherently reckless strategy," and is critical of the Obama administration's decision to "resurrect" and prosecute the Bush-era "Wide Receiver" operation. It comes about a month after the House voted to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for allegedly not complying with a subpoena for documents related to the case.
GOP investigators contend that Bill Newell, who served as head of ATF's Phoenix office, "apparently began to believe that the new political leadership in the Justice Department in 2009 might welcome the use of the previously eschewed investigative tactics." The tactics used were approved during the Bush administration but had sat dormant for a number of years before the Justice Department began examining them for prosecution during the Obama administration.
But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has previously distinguished Fast and Furious from Wide Receiver, saying at a hearing in December that the Bush administration "made a real effort under Wide Receiver to pass off a small amount of weapons and track them." He had promised his committee would "get to the bottom" of what happened during the Bush administration.
While the 211-page report (plus thousands of pages in the appendices) doesn't mention the word "Bush" once, it does say that Newell had been "experimenting with various new tactics" since 2006 that were "met with only mixed success." The report referred to Newell as "a major promoter of the strategy in Fast and Furious" but said he "did not have significant experience as a case agent or working street operations" which "may have been a contributing factor to his ignorance of legal thresholds."
The new Republican report also calls the Justice Department's 2009 Strategy for Combating the Mexican Cartels a "signal from Department leadership that the tactics might be welcomed" and the "green light" ATF agents in Arizona used to justify "gun walking" tactics.
DOJ is pushing back on the report, with spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler saying it "reiterates many of the distortions and now-debunked conspiracy theories that Rep. Issa has been advancing for a year and a half, including the fiction that the flawed tactics used in Fast and Furious were somehow the brainchild of the current Administration as opposed to the reality that the pattern of flawed tactics dates back to 2006 and the prior Administration."
She noted, however, that the report "does signal a notable shift in that the Committee finally acknowledges what the Attorney General and other Department officials have been saying from the beginning - that the flaws in this operation, and in previous ones, had their origins in the field in Arizona and occurred, in part, due to weak oversight by ATF leadership. That is why --last year -- the Attorney General removed and reassigned the head of ATF and ensured that other officials who supervised and had responsibility for this operation were also reassigned."
If Rep. Issa wants to continue to spend precious resources recycling old conspiracy theories for stale reports that do nothing to improve public safety that is his prerogative. The Attorney General believes that there is important work to be done for the American people and that partisan exercises like Rep. Issa's latest effort do little to address the serious issues that face our country.
The full report is available on the House Oversight Committee's website.
THE GAFFERIFFIC foreign policy tour of Mitt Romney has finally gotten to his campaign team.
Walking through Pilsudski Square in Poland, the traveling press corps started yelling questions at Mr. Romney, asking about his string of gaffes, particularly related to the Palestinians, who were furious at what Pres. Abbas labeled “racist” comments.
CNN has the transcript of what transpired between Romney’s traveling press secretary Rick Gorka and the press, which involves the words “Kiss my ass, this is a Holy site… show some respect,” all in the same sentence:
CNN: “Governor Romney are you concerned about some of the mishaps of your trip?
NYT: “Governor Romney do you have a statement for the Palestinians?
Washington Post: “What about your gaffes?
NYT: “Governor Romney do you feel that your gaffes have overshadowed your foreign trip?”
CNN: “Governor Romney just a few questions sir, you haven’t taken but three questions on this trip from the press!
Gorka: “Show some respect”
NYT: “We haven’t had another chance to ask a question…”
Gorka: “Kiss my ass. This is a Holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.”
Moments later, Gorka told Jonathan Martin to ?shove it.?
Gorka apologized, calling his public press meltdown “inappropriate.”
Unfortunately, it gave a very transparent viewing of the pressure inside the Romney campaign after a trip that was supposed to show Mitt Romney as presidential, but instead has revealed him as ill-prepared and amateurish on the international stage, as well as so insecure about his own prowess that he felt compelled to insult London on the Olympics, talk about private MI-6 meetings, and diss a primary Middle East peace player, while rattling sabers on Iran, with the net result of the candidate’s behavior leading to his chief communication’s aide coming unglued.
This post has been updated.
As states fight to implement voter ID laws in time for the November election, it is becoming glaringly obvious that the current election system cannot handle the added burden of implementing voter ID laws. Judging from a new report on ballot design flaws by the Brennan Center for Justice and a recent study of chaotic election procedures in another swing state, Ohio, voters with or without an ID stand to be disenfranchised through a fragile bureaucratic maze likely to collapse under the extra burden of the new voter ID laws.
Pennsylvania, currently mired in a legal battle over its voter ID law, is one of the states facing an impossible logistical burden of getting voters the proper identification in the next 100 days.
During a call about the voter ID lawsuit Tuesday, State Senator Vincent Hughes (D-PA) stressed how unprepared Pennsylvania is to implement the law without disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of people.
“It is absolutely unequivocally clear that the state cannot pull this off by Election Day,” he said. “There’s not enough information or staff time to implement this in time, and it will cost the state an extra amount of millions of dollars to get this done.”
A state court is expected to rule on the law in August, giving the state just a few months to implement a voter ID structure certain to tax an already overtaxed system.
Hughes said he and other district officials have encountered many individuals who were given mixed messages about what kinds of identification were permitted and what exactly they needed to do in order to get the proper photo ID. He blamed the confusion on lack of training:
We don’t fault those staffers. This is completely brand new to them and not part of their historic responsibility. Their responsibility in PennDOT is to work on drivers licenses, not to focus on the proper info for photo ID measures. But what we do fault is the training that is clearly not occurring at the executive level for these individuals so they can do their job or do this new responsibility as part of this law.
What’s more, handling the number of voters who need the ID — a conservative estimate found more than 750,000 people without ID — is far beyond these offices’ resources.
“There?s no way PennDOT could process anywhere near that number of IDs, even if people could get the documents and the transportation to get there,” said Penda Hair, co-counsel for the voter ID lawsuit.
Pennsylvania has the lowest percentage of government workers in the nation. When Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010 and slashed public sector jobs, the number of government employees dropped by more than 3 percent in a year, among the sharpest declines in any state. Republican legislators now expect the remaining employees to take on even more responsibility with no preparation.
In a weak attempt to meet this challenge, the state may expand the hours of some PennDOT offices, many of which are only open two or three days a week and will only process ID applications within limited hours during the work day. But Hughes remains skeptical, pointing out the “hidden costs” of expanding office hours, coordinating services and data between offices and departments, which requires even longer hours from the reduced workforce.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today appointed Center for American Progress chair and counselor John Podesta to a High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals. ?I have asked my High-level Panel to prepare a bold yet practical development vision to present to Member States next year,? Mr. Ban said in a news release. ?I look forward to the Panel?s recommendations on a global post-2015 agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries and with the fight against poverty and sustainable development at its core,? Mr. Ban said.
On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings to provide an “update” on climate science. While presumably the Senators will discuss the new Koch-funded study that changed a prominent climate change “skeptic’s” mind, the Republicans on the Committee probably won’t want to hear it.
Almost to a man, the GOP Senators on this key committee have consistently denied the brute fact that humans are causing climate change and/or worked to obstruct any possible solution to the mess we’re making:
1. James Inhofe, Oklahoma: Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Committee, is one of America’s most famous climate deniers. He has written a book alleging that climate science is a conspiracy “perpetrated” by the United Nations and that any climate change that is happening is part of God’s irreversible plan for the Earth. When confronted with the fact that 97% of climate science accepted anthropogenic warming, he – surprise! – denied it.
2. David Vitter, Louisiana: Vitter has referred to evidence for climate change as “ridiculous pseudo-science garbage” and, though his home state was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and is at serious risk from future warming-caused storms, attempted to block federal funding for efforts to mitigate the worst byproducts of global warming.
3. John Barrasso, Wyoming: Barrasso appeared on Glenn Beck’s show to suggest he had a “smoking gun” suggesting the attempt to regulate CO2 emissions was simply an EPA power grab. Relatedly, Barrasso claimed the EPA’s main goal was no longer protecting the environment, but rather “remaking society,” and introduced legislation stripping the agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.
4. Jeff Sessions, Alabama: Senator Sessions reserved his strongest ire for congressional regulation of carbon pollution, calling cap-and-trade a “conceit” that “we can manage the climate.” He has also, in the process of denying the moral importance of addressing the consequences of global warming, described CO2 as “a naturally occurring gas that plants breathe and they can?t grow without” as if that were some sort of evidence that it couldn’t harm the environment (which, of course, it isn’t.)
5. Mike Crapo, Idaho: Crapo’s official website features a page full of misinformation about climate science, claiming among other things that “the underlying cause of…climactic shifts is ultimately not well-understood” and implying that “[n]atural factors such as solar activity, volcanic eruptions and orbital changes” may explain our current period of warming (nope). He has also decried air pollution and then, in the same breath advocated expanded oil drilling in the United States.
6. Mike Johans, Nebraska: Like his compatriots, Johans has rejected the scientific consensus of anthropogenic warming, calling it “contested science.” Johans was also the author of a procedural maneuver designed explicitly to block the majority from overriding Republican obstructionism on cap-and-trade.
7. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee: Alexander is a comparative standout from the group – he believes climate change is both real, anthropogenic, and a serious problem – but that’s only if you’re grading on a curve. He opposed cap-and-trade but voted to block the EPA from regulating emissions because “that’s Congress’ job.” Though he appears to think a carbon tax is a somewhat better alternative, he has dithered on any real action to try to implement it.
There’s nothing about being a Republican or a conservative that requires legislators to be this blinkered about the climate change crisis: Former GOP Representative Bob Inglis recently founded an initiative to develop and push Republican ideas for pricing carbon.
Unfortunately, the vitriolic reaction to similar ideas from the Republican establishment and the views of the GOP leaders most responsible for establishing the party’s position on the global warming crisis suggests that we’ll have to wait for some time for Republican sanity on climate change.