"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Mitt Romney ‘Makes It Worse’ With Obvious Falsehood

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has focused most his message on attacking President Obama’s economic record. To that end, the former governor has repeated a specific phrase over and over again: “He made it worse.”

“He” in this sentence is the president, and “it” references the economy. Romney has used the exact same line, word for word, in debate appearances, press releases, exchanges with voters, and even his campaign kick-off speech, when Romney said of the president, “When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse.”

This is, in other words, one of the driving messages of Romney’s presidential campaign. Unfortunately for the GOP frontrunner, it’s also a lie.

With that in mind, Romney held a press conference yesterday in Pennsylvania, and NBC’s Sue Kroll, to her enormous credit, asked the candidate the question no other reporter has been willing to pose.

[Kroll] asked the former Massachusetts governor why he believes that Obama’s policies have made the economy worse — when the economy is now growing (and not shrinking like it was in 2009), when the Dow is climbing (and no longer in a free-fall like it was in ‘09), and when the unemployment rate is down a full percentage point from where it was in Oct. ‘09.

Romney offered a response that was nothing short of extraordinary.

“I didn’t say that things are worse…. What I said was that economy hasn’t turned around.”

When a candidate lies, it’s a problem. When a candidate lies about lying, it’s a bigger problem.

Even for Romney, who’s flip-flopped more often and on more issues than any American politician in a generation, this is ridiculous. He’s argued repeatedly that Obama made the economy worse, and when asked to defend the bogus claim, says he never made the argument in the first place.

Romney does realize that Google exists, right? That it’s pretty easy to find all kinds of examples of him saying exactly what he claims to have never said?

What’s more, as part of his defense, Romney’s new line — the economy “hasn’t turned around” — is itself wrong. The economy was shrinking, now it’s growing. The economy was hemorrhaging jobs, now it’s gaining jobs. The stock market was collapsing, now it’s soaring. When compared to where things were when the president took office, the economy has obviously turned around, even if it’s far short of where it needs to be.

I’m not sure why this isn’t a bigger deal this morning. It was amusing when Michele Bachmann falsely characterized John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father, but Romney getting caught telling a blatant falsehood about one of the central themes of his presidential campaign is infinitely more important.

Remember when John Kerry, talking about Iraq funding, said he was for it before he was against it? Romney’s incoherence yesterday is every bit as interesting.


By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Media, Mitt Romney, Politics, President Obama, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitch McConnell’s Insincere Invitation

One can only dream of a Republican Party led by grown-ups. Instead, we have this.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) challenged President Obama on Thursday to meet with Senate Republicans to hear firsthand about the political reality of passing tax increases through Congress.

A day after Obama challenged Republicans to give up special tax breaks for corporate jets and major oil companies, McConnell issued a challenge of his own on the Senate floor.

“I’d like to invite the president to come to the Capitol today to meet with Senate Republicans. Any time this afternoon if he’s available, to come on up to the Capitol,” McConnell said. “That way he can hear directly from Senate Republicans … why what he’s proposing will not pass.”

McConnell says once Obama learns from GOP lawmakers that ending special tax breaks for oil companies and wealthy families has no chance of passing the Senate, “we can start talking about — maybe, finally — start talking about what’s actually possible.”

Let me summarize the message McConnell announced this morning: “If the president has some free time in a few hours, he should stop by and listen to us tell him we want to lower the deficit, but only in ways we see fit.”

Soon after, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the president need not hear Republicans “restate their maximalist position,” adding, “We know that position. That’s not a conversation worth having.”

Of course not. Everyone knows what everyone thinks and everyone’s position at this point. Obama doesn’t need to listen to Republicans demand 100% of what they want, anymore than McConnell needs to listen to Democrats tell him he can’t get 100% of what he wants.

This entire process made a right turn at farcical quite a while ago. Mitch McConnell isn’t just threatening to crash the economy, he’s also threatening to make mockery of the institution he claims to serve and turn the American political process into a reality-show circus.

Not to be outdone, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) said President Obama has “diminished” his office by urging lawmakers to do their duty. If anyone explain what on earth Cornyn was blabbering about, I’m all ears.

And then there’s Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, who told Fox News this morning that the president goes golfing too much.

These aren’t random House backbenchers — McConnell, Cornyn, and Thune are three of the top four highest-ranking Republican members of the Senate. And they all appear to be rambling incoherently.

I was about to type that there are no adults left in the Republicans’ room, but that’s not entirely true. There are still a couple left, but they’re stuck in primary fights, so they have to go along with the madness to save their careers.

It’s a pathetic display.


By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, June 30, 2011

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Lawmakers, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Taxes, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debt Ceiling Hostage Taking: Section 4 Of The 14th Amendment Was Designed To Stop John Boehner

Kevin Drum is skeptical that the Obama administration would really be within its rights to ignore the debt ceiling:

Maybe I’m missing something here, but it strikes me that this doesn’t come close to implying that the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. What it really suggests is merely that the public debt is the only untouchable part of the federal budget.

Jack Balkin delves into the legislative history and shows why the 14th Amendment has a provision guaranteeing the debt in the first place. The sponsor of the provision, Benjamin Wade, wrote at the time:

[The proposed amendment] puts the debt incurred in the civil war on our part under the guardianship of the Constitution of the United States, so that a Congress cannot repudiate it. I believe that to do this wil give great confidence to capitalists and will be of incalculable pecuniary benefit to the United States, for I have no doubt that every man who has property in the public funds will feel safer when he sees that the national debt is withdrawn from the power of a Congress to repudiate it and placed under the guardianship of the Constitution than he would feel if it were left at loose ends and subject to the varying majorities which may arise in Congress.

Balkin explains:

If Wade’s speech offers the central rationale for Section Four, the goal was to remove threats of default on federal debts from partisan struggle. Reconstruction Republicans feared that Democrats, once admitted to Congress would use their majorities to default on obligations they  disliked politically. More generally, as Wade explained, “every man who has property in the public funds will feel safer when he sees that the national debt is withdrawn from the power of a Congress to repudiate it and placed under the guardianship of the Constitution than he would feel if it were left at loose ends and subject to the varying majorities which may arise in Congress.”

Like most inquiries into original understanding, this one does not resolve many of the most interesting questions. What it does suggest is an important structural principle. The threat of defaulting on government obligations is a powerful weapon, especially in a complex, interconnected world economy. Devoted partisans can use it to disrupt government, to roil ordinary politics, to undermine policies they do not like, even to seek political revenge. Section Four was placed in the Constitution to remove this weapon from ordinary politics.

In other words, it’s in the 14th Amendment to guard against exactly what Congressional Republicans are doing right now.

Balkin does not suggest, nor do I, that the legal merits are open and shut. It’s certainly risky to take a flyer in the middle of a debt crisis. But if we do reach h-hour, we’re probably better off if the Treasury simply announces it’s going to continue to pay the bills and dares Republicans to take them to court than repudiating the debt, right?

Matt Steinglass argues that the Supreme Court would likely side with the Treasury:

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past 11 years, it is that the Supreme Court’s decisions on critical issues are very strongly influenced by political pressure. In a situation where the entire weight of world bond markets was bearing down on Anthony Kennedy’s head, would he really vote to crash the economy and destroy the credit rating of the United States? Would any individual do that? I don’t think even Eric Cantor would, if he were solely and publicly responsible for the decision. The ability of the GOP to push the government to the brink of default, and possibly ultimately over it, depends on the diffusion of responsibility: Republicans can only do it because they can hold Democrats to blame. It’s also driven by political vulnerability: Republicans have gotten themselves into a spiraling tea-party-driven political dynamic where they seem, on issue after issue, to be incapable of voting for any proposals that a Democrat might be able to accept, for fear of the consequences from their base. Anthony Kennedy does not have to fear a primary challenge, and if the United States’ ability to pay its debts comes down to his single vote, he’ll have no excuse. Maybe I have no idea how these things work. But I can’t see a Republican Supreme Court going toe to toe with the entire massed forces of Wall Street and not blinking.

A point that I think is worth drawing out here is that it’s not even clear the GOP leadership wants the power to take the credit of the Treasury hostage, or  — more likely — if it’s simply been forced into this position by a financially uneducated base. Republicans in Congress might be relieved to have a deux ex machina absolve them of the need to walk a fine line between the demands of the base and the demands of their business constituency.


By: Jonathan Chait, The New Republic, July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, SCOTUS, Teaparty | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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