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

What’s The Deal With Mitt Romney’s Taxes?

So what’s the deal with Romney’s tax returns?  Or more specifically, what’s the deal with Mitt Romney letting himself get more and more nippy press by refusing to release his tax returns when virtually every serious presidential candidate of the last 40 years has done it?  Allow me to explain.

We already know Mitt Romney is a really, really wealthy guy.  But there have been a lot of rich presidential candidates.  And, though he was born to wealth, Romney also made a lot of money himself.  He’s also said he’ll release information about his wealth, his assets … a lot of stuff.  But just not the tax returns.

So what’s the deal?  It’s pretty simple.  We might say that a specter is haunting Mitt Romney — the specter of the Buffett Rule.

That’s right, we haven’t heard a lot about the so-called Buffett Rule in a while but it’s the concept pushed by kabillionaire Warren Buffett and embraced by Democrats and particularly the White House, which says that the superwealthy should not pay lower tax rates than your average secretary or auto mechanic or office manager or anybody else who gets by on a salary.

It’s a very resonant concept.  It makes intuitive sense to people.  Overwhelmingly the public supports the idea.  And it’s very easy to understand.

This is Romney’s problem.  While we don’t know the specifics of Romney’s tax returns, we know enough about his finances and sources of incomes to know that he is likely the poster-boy for the Buffett Rule.  As Romney likes to say, he’s unemployed.  He doesn’t draw a salary.  But he seems to still be making big big money off capital gains which are currently taxed at a very low rate.  He doesn’t seem to have drawn a salary at any time recently.  So he likely pays no payroll taxes.  And that’s before you get into legal but aggressive tax-sheltering.  It seems virtually impossible that Mitt Romney doesn’t pay the sort of effective tax rate that would make people’s eyes pop when compared to middle income and even relatively wealthy (by normal standards) people who pay considerably higher rates.

That might cause a little problem in any election year.  But issues of income inequality and particularly tax policy are right at the top of the political agenda in 2012.  And that dictates keeping those tax returns under wraps as long as possible.


By: Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, December 30, 2011

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Wealthy | , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Antoinette: The Audacity Of The Rich

It’s a campaign tactic that’s been around for a long while, but Mitt Romney seems eager to perfect it: identify the candidate’s most damaging flaws, then project those flaws onto the candidate’s rivals. This week offered a classic example.

Mitt Romney on Thursday sought to portray President Barack Obama as out of touch with the struggles of everyday Americans — a charge he himself has often faced — by comparing the president to a former French queen who was overthrown during the French Revolution.

“When the president’s characterization of our economy was, ‘It could be worse,’ it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: ‘Let them eat cake,’” Romney said, referring to the infamously dismissive remark toward the poor attributed to the queen.

As Jon Chait noted, this is “in keeping with his favorite method of deflecting attacks.”

Romney anticipates his greatest vulnerability, then peremptorily lobs the charge against his adversary. That way, when his opponent uses the charge it’s repetitive.

Romney first deployed this technique against New Gingrich. He has deployed a furious assault against what was briefly his chief adversary, painting him as a flip-flopper who has wavered on abortion and even supported health care reform in Massachusetts. Gingrich was left stammering helplessly in response. After sifting through the charges and counter-charges, all the Republican voters knew was that you had two candidates accusing each other of flip-flopping and trying to help sick people get health insurance. The natural next step is to open his general election campaign by portraying Obama as a callous aristocrat.

At this point, anything’s possible.

It takes quite a bit of chutzpah for any candidate to campaign this way. For crying out loud, Romney accused Gingrich of taking both sides of every issue and being an unreliable champion of far-right causes. How does one even intellectually process something like this? Is it the result of a pathological lack of self-awareness, an assumption that voters are idiots, the belief that the media is hopelessly incompetent, or some combination of all of them?

But this Marie Antoinette line is arguably even more beautiful. Romney — who, by the way, speaks fluent French and spent nearly three years in France — amassed an enormous fortune thanks to a vulture-capitalist firm known for breaking apart companies and firing their American workforces. Despite a quarter-billion in the bank, and several mansions (one of which he intends to quadruple in size), Romney is running on a campaign platform that includes slashing public investments that benefit working families (including the total elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood), massive tax breaks for the very wealthy, repealing safeguards that protect the public from Wall Street recklessness, and calling for more foreclosures on those American families struggling to keep their homes.

Two weeks ago, Romney told PBS he’d like to see President Obama stop criticizing “Wall Street” and “insurance company executives” altogether. Yesterday, he debated whether he meets the “classical” definition of “a Wall Street guy.”

Romney thinks it’s funny to joke about being unemployed; he finds it inconvenient when he doesn’t have anything smaller than a $100 bill in his wallet while on the campaign trail; he doesn’t blink when offering to make a $10,000 bet; and he considers a $1,500 a year tax cut for the typical middle-class family to be a meaningless “band aid.”

This guy wants to compare Barack Obama to Marie Antoinette?

If votes are awarded on the basis of audacity, Romney should go ahead and start drafting his inaugural address.


By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, Voters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frank Luntz Always Makes Newt Gingrich Cry

At an Iowa campaign stop Friday morning, Newt Gingrich got all choked upremembering his late mother. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise: The event was emceed by GOP opinion-researcher-cum-stand-up-comedian Frank Luntz, and tearjerking is his M.O.

The event, at a downtown Des Moines coffeehouse, was styled as a focus group of moms, so Luntz asked Gingrich to recall his own mother, who died in 2003.

Gingrich recounted his mother’s final days in a long-term care facility, where she battled bipolar disorder, depression and physical ailments. It was that experience, he said, that prompted his interest in long-term care and Alzheimer’s disease. As he spoke, a baby in the audience wailed, suggestively perhaps, in the background.

“My whole emphasis on brain science comes indirectly from dealing –” Gingrich paused, winced and waved a hand, pleading, “you’ve got me all emotional!”, then continued — “dealing with the real problems of real people in my family. And so it’s not a theory. It’s, in fact, my mother.”

Parallels were instantly being drawn to the campaign-trail tears of Hillary Clinton, whose 2008 welling-up was thought to humanize her to voters, and Ed Muskie, whose emotionalism in 1972 helped kill his campaign. But it’s worth remembering that Gingrich has hardly been the picture of stoicism up to this point.

At a Thanksgiving forum in Des Moines in November, also moderated by Luntz, Gingrich was one of several candidates who broke down in tears. That time, the trigger was thinking about a friend’s baby who was born with a heart defect. Also shedding tears at that event were Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain; Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul managed not to crack.

“I feel like Dr. Phil!” Luntz joked at that earlier event, and it’s clear his manipulative lines of questioning — probing the candidates for the emotional pressure-points of family and faith — were responsible for the orgy of tears.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Gingrich doesn’t suffer from a too-tough public persona. If anything, it’s the opposite — he’s seen as a loose cannon. The momentary front-runner, now fallen to a lowly fifth in Iowa polling, isn’t tanking because voters worry he’s too buttoned-up. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The candidate who could most use a tearful moment to soften his image as overly controlled and cerebral isn’t Gingrich. It’s Mitt Romney.


By: Molly Ball, The Atlantic, December 30, 2011

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney Switched ’94 Abortion Stance Based On Polling Results

Mitt “Groucho” Romney: “These are my principles. And if you don’t like them, I have others.”

When he challenged Ted Kennedy in the 1994 U.S. Senate race, Mitt Romney used polling data to determine that he would run as a pro-choice candidate while remaining personally pro-life, according to a new book by Boston journalist Ronald Scott.The Washington Examiner revealed the moment in Scott’s book:

According to Scott, Romney revealed that polling from Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s former pollster whom Romney had hired for the ’94 campaign, showed it would be impossible for a pro-life candidate to win statewide office in Massachusetts. In light of that, Romney decided to run as a pro-choice candidate, pledging to support Roe v. Wade, while remaining personally pro-life.

Well, that’s certainly pragmatic. If your positions will keep you from getting elected, change your positions. Now he’s trying to win the primaries, so Mitt’s switched his abortion stance back to his original anti-abortion position (or an even more draconian one, I can’t keep up) and no doubt during the general election he’ll find yet another position to take.

As much as we might scorn Romney for changing his past position purely based on polling numbers, I think I might find this even more shallow, though:

In an October 1994 debate, Romney said he believed that abortion should be “safe and legal” and that Roe v. Wade should stand. He added, “And my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.”Sen. Kennedy seized on his stance: “On the question of the choice issue, I have supported the Roe v. Wade. I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple choice.”

Romney responded, “I have my own beliefs and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people.” He then told the story of a family friend who passed away from an illegal abortion.

So at least back then, his justification for changing his position is that he would not impose his beliefs on other people (bringing a family relative into it as an example). Now he’ll “impose his beliefs” on you happily, I guess, because the Republican base wants him to.

This is what I find so detestable about Romney. Not any individual positions, or even the more atrocious elements of his corporate past, but his apparent lack of any strong principles whatsoever. Every stance is “whatever it has to be,” and tomorrow it might be something else. Both his corporate and his electoral lives have demonstrated a complete lack of personal conviction or morality. Just ambition.


By: Hunter, Daily Kos, December 30, 2011

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Scaredy Cat’s”: Why Is No One Attacking Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney’s confidence is brimming. The former Massachusetts governor, now widely seen as the favorite to win Iowa, announced Wednesday he’ll stay in the Hawkeye State the night of the caucus, a clear indication he anticipates a good result. If he does capture Iowa, he’ll head into New Hampshire, long his political stronghold, with a chance to become the first non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate ever to win the first two primary contests — a back-to-back triumph that would all but secure the nomination.

So, naturally, his Republican rivals have spent the last week castigating him on the trail and eviscerating him on TV, all in a desperate attempt to slow down his momentum and keep their own campaigns viable. Right? No — they’ve nearly done the opposite.

In a new radio ad released Wednesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry set his sights not on Romney but on former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is enjoying his own surge in Iowa. In the ad and on the campaign trail, Perry criticized Santorum’s previous support for earmarks, calling the ex-U.S. senator part of the big-spending Washington establishment. He does not, however, mention Romney.

It’s an old story this primary, where Romney has not faced the kind of withering attacks that normally confront a frontrunner. His rivals have trained their fire on one another instead.

Just examine the Iowa landscape this week as the campaigns make their last desperate push. Reps. Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul are at each other’s throats over the defection of the Minnesota congresswoman’s Iowa state chair.

Paul, meanwhile, has spent most of the last month barraging former House speaker Newt Gingrich with a litany of hard-hitting TV ads. Paul himself has received blistering criticism from Gingrich and Santorum, each of whom has said his isolationist-leaning foreign policy is unacceptable.

As they form a circular firing squad, Romney stepped back. Rather than engage his GOP opponents, as he’s done most of his campaign, he’s focused almost entirely on his No. 1 target, President Obama.

Romney has received cover from the primary’s unprecedented volatility (at least since 1964), which has sent a bushel of candidates to momentary stardom atop the Republican field only to be torn down weeks later. Attacks from rivals and media scrutiny have followed each of these momentary front-runners, who have risen and fallen through the fall, instead of Romney, as he plodded methodically along at 25 percent in most national polls.

And it’s not as though Romney, his past rooted in blue-state Massachusetts, didn’t supply his opponents plenty of ammunition. They have the bullets; they’re just not firing them.


By: Brian Snyder, The Atlantic, December 30, 2011

December 31, 2011 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP, Iowa Caucuses, Republicans | , , , , , | 1 Comment


%d bloggers like this: