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

Newt’s Family Values: A Chicken In Every Pot, An “Open Marriage” In Every Household

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 1999 asked his second wife for an “open marriage” or a divorce at the same time he was giving speeches around the country on family and religious values, his former wife, Marianne, told The Washington Post on Thursday.

Marianne Gingrich said she first heard from the former speaker about the divorce request as she was waiting in the home of her mother on May 11, 1999, her mother’s 84th birthday. Over the phone, as she was having dinner with her mother, Newt Gingrich said, “I want a divorce.”

Shocked, Marianne Gingrich replied: “Is there anybody else?” she recalled. “He was quiet. Within two seconds, when he didn’t immediately answer, I knew.”

The next day, Newt Gingrich gave a speech titled “The Demise of American Culture” to the Republican Women Leaders Forum in Erie, Pa., extolling the virtues of the founding fathers and criticizing liberal politicians for supporting tax increases, saying they hurt families and children.

“When a liberal talks about values, will he or she actually like us to teach American history?” Newt Gingrich told the women’s group. “Will they actually like young people to learn that George Washington was an ethical man? A man of standards, a man who earned the right to be father of this country?”

Appearing at a campaign event in South Carolina on Thursday, the former speaker called the interview by his ex-wife “tawdry and inappropriate,” and refused to answer any questions about it.

“I’m not going to say anything about Marianne,” he said, as his third wife Callista stood a few paces behind him.

Marianne Gingrich said she was speaking out for the first time this year because she wanted her story told from her point of view, rather than be depicted as the victim or suffer a whisper campaign by supporters of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid.

“How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people?” she said.

Asked about the timing of the revelations, she said she had had so many requests for interviews that “it was unavoidable.” She said that during a campaign season, “I knew I wouldn’t get through this year without” doing the interview.

The Gingrich campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In the four weeks after that 1999 phone call, Marianne and Newt Gingrich saw a counselor. During that time, he seemed to vacillate about what he wanted to do. Marianne  Gingrich had learned the name of his then-paramour, Callista — now his wife — though Newt Gingrich never talked about her by name.

Newt Gingrich asked Marianne for an “open marriage” so that he could continue to see whoever he wanted. Marianne Gingrich, who had attended services in a Baptist church with Newt Gingrich, refused.

She said she decided to go public when she heard someone make derogatory comments about her on a radio program.

“Truthfully, my whole purpose was to get out there about who I was, so Newt couldn’t create me as an evil, awful person, which was starting to happen,” she said.

She talked on video for two hours to ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross, an edited version of which will be broadcast on Thursday night’s “Nightline,” and a transcript of which was released today. She laughed when told that some were reporting that she had a “bombshell,” and emphasized that many of her views of Newt Gingrich and his political positions are positive.

In anticipation of the interview, Newt Gingrich told NBC’s “Today” show that his divorce was a private matter. He said his daughters from his first marriage had written a letter to ABC News asking the network to spike the broadcast.

“Intruding into family things that are more than a decade old is simply wrong,” he told NBC.

Newt Gingrich has said that he has asked God for forgiveness, but Marianne Gingrich said he has not spoken to her since the divorce.


By: James V. Grimaldi, The Washington Post, January 19, 2012: Contributions by Nia-Malika Henderson and Alice Crites

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Family Values | , , , , | 1 Comment

What “Not Very Much” Income Is To Mitt Romney

In all things economic, the former Massachusetts governor is a veritable gaffe machine.

Up until now, Mitt Romney has refused to release his tax returns, something that he surely knew would eventually become an issue. And it isn’t too hard to figure out why. When you’re struggling to get past your image as an out-of-touch rich guy, having front-page stories about the millions you’re pulling in isn’t something you’d look forward to. And in Mitt’s case, there are really two problems.

The first is his income, which we can be pretty sure is in the seven figures. And this is despite the fact that he hasn’t actually held a job in years. Unlike people who work for a living, Romney makes money when his money makes him more money. Which leads us to the second problem: the tax rate he pays. Because our tax system treats investment income more favorably than wage income, Romney probably pays the capital gains tax rate of 15 percent on most of his income, as opposed to the 33 percent marginal rate he’d be paying if that money were wages. Which is what Romney was forced to admit yesterday, when he said, “It’s probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything.” But here’s where Mitt’s tone-deafness on these kinds of issues comes, once again, to bite him:

The vast majority of the income Mr. Romney reported over 12 months in 2010 and ‘11 was dividends from investments, capital gains on mutual funds and his post-retirement share of profits and investment returns from Bain Capital, the firm he once led. And Mr. Romney also noted that he made hundreds of thousands of dollars from speaking engagements.

“I got a little bit of income from my book, but I gave that all away,” Mr. Romney told reporters after an event here. “And then I get speakers’ fees from time to time, but not very much.”

Financial disclosure forms that candidates are required to file annually shows that Mr. Romney earned $374,327.62 in speakers’ fees from February of 2010 to February of 2011, at an average of $41,592 per speech.

Oh Mitt, you really are the gift that keeps on giving. A smarter candidate would say, “I’ve been very fortunate to make significant amounts of money from giving speeches.” But Mitt describes $374,327 in speaking fees in one year as “not very much.” If you put that amount into the Wall Street Journal‘s handy calculator, it turns out that if those speaking fees were the only income Mitt had, he’d still be richer than 98 percent of Americans. But those speaking fees, apparently, are “not very much” to him.

Just to be clear, I don’t think that the fact that Romney considers an amount of income that most of us will never dream of earning “not very much” doesn’t mean he’d be a bad president, in and of itself. But like all Republicans, Romney thinks there’s nothing wrong with the fact that money you get for working gets taxed at a higher rate than money you make for selling a stock or having your grandfather die and leave you a few million, and he’d like to make that disparity even more extreme.

Romney now says he’ll probably release his 2011 returns in April. Which guarantees that there will be plenty of time for the Obama campaign to keep talking about it in anticipation of the big event. At the current rate, he should commit about one head-shaking gaffe per week on economic issues between now and then.


By: Paul Waldman, The American Prospect, January 17, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Income Gap | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insulting Comments At Fox News Debate Show Newt Gingrich Clueless On Black Americans

If you want to understand why the GOP is so ill prepared to compete in an increasingly nonwhite America, just look at the exchange between Fox News questioner Juan Williams and Newt Gingrich halfway through last night’s Republican presidential debate.

It being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Williams asked Gingrich whether some poor and minority voters might not be insulted at his claim that poor kids lack a work ethic and that black people should be instructed to demand jobs, not food stamps. Gingrich, as is his wont, haughtily dismissed Williams’s question, to wild applause.

Then Williams tried again, mentioning a black woman who had taken Gingrich to task for calling Barack Obama a “food stamp” president. By this point, the overwhelmingly white crowd had begun to boo the only African-American on stage. When Gingrich insisted that Obama was indeed the “food stamp” president—because more Americans are now on food stamps—and dismissed Williams’s criticism as “politically correct,” the crowd began to scream with delight. By the time Gingrich finished his answer, the crowd was on its feet in a standing ovation.

The fascinating thing about the exchange is that Gingrich is not a racist. I suspect he genuinely cares about the African-American poor. In fact, he’s convinced himself that his willingness to say things that many African-Americans consider insulting is an expression of that concern; that only he cares enough about African-Americans to speak the “politically incorrect” truths that black leaders won’t.

Gingrich’s problem isn’t racism; it’s ignorance. Only someone profoundly ignorant of African-American politics would suggest that black Americans have spent the past few decades seeking food stamps, not jobs. We celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, after all, in part because of the speech King gave at an event called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. If you look at the budgets proposed by the Congressional Black Caucus over the years, you’ll see that they often include huge, FDR-style government jobs programs. Gingrich may not think that’s the best way to go about providing jobs, but to suggest that African-Americans and their leaders don’t consider jobs important just reveals how shut off from Africa-American politics he actually is.

I’m sure Gingrich also sees nothing offensive in calling Obama the “food stamp” president. After all, under Obama the number of people using food stamps has gone up! So because Alan Greenspan presided over predatory lending policies by banks, perhaps we should have called him the “Shylock” chairman of the Federal Reserve. And if child molestations by priests rise on this administration’s watch, perhaps we should call Joseph Biden the “pedophilia” vice president.

Gingrich would never use those phrases, of course, because he’s familiar enough with Jews and Catholics to understand why they’d find them offensive. But for Gingrich—a veteran politician from the state of Georgia, speaking at a debate in South Carolina on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday—not to understand why calling the first African-American in the Oval Office the “food stamp” president would offend African-Americans is simply amazing. The most plausible explanation is that Gingrich inhabits a cultural and intellectual bubble. A bubble called the Republican Party.

I don’t doubt that Newt Gingrich wants to help African-Americans, just like I don’t doubt that George W. Bush wanted to help Iraqis. But in politics, if you want to help people, it’s a good idea to learn something about them first.


By: Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast, January 17, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Martin Luther King, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Model Of Deception”: For House Republicans, A Game Of Debt Charades

Lawmakers went home for the holidays and got an earful from constituents about their juvenile behavior in Washington.

So, in their first major act of 2012, House Republicans picked up exactly where they left off: They staged a duplicitous debate in which they pretended that they were going to deny President Obama permission to increase the government’s borrowing limit.

The pretense had been clear since last summer, when 174 House Republicans voted for a budget deal that guaranteed that the debt limit would continue to increase this year unless two-thirds of the House and Senate voted otherwise — a practical impossibility.

But that didn’t stop many of those same 174 Republicans from marching to the floor  Wednesday afternoon to vote for a resolution “disapproving” of the very same debt-limit increase they had already blessed. It was a model of deception: claiming to oppose something they had guaranteed would take effect.

“My resolution that is before this chamber will send a message that the constant borrowing from our children, our grandchildren, must come to an end,” declared Rep. Tom Reed (N.Y.), one of the 174 Republicans who voted to allow the borrowing last summer.

“During my time in Congress, I voted nine times against raising the debt limit because it was not tied to spending controls. This is another time to say no,” argued Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.), who said yes last year to the increase he voted against on Wednesday.

“If we do nothing, American prosperity will drown in debt,” said Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (Pa.), another of the 174 Republicans who had authorized the drowning.

“The culture of Washington must be reformed from the ground up,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) thundered in opposition to the debt-limit increase to which he consented last summer. “The future of our nation depends on it.”

Actually, if the culture of Washington is to be reformed, a good place to start would be for Kinzinger and his colleagues to be more honest about their shenanigans.

The role of calling out Republicans for their two-faced behavior fell on Wednesday to one of their own, conservative Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), who, unlike most of his colleagues, was perfectly consistent: He opposed increasing the limit last year, and he continued to oppose it on Wednesday.

“This vote has been called a charade,” Flake said on the floor. “That is true. It is. Let’s face it.”

Flake, one of the few grownups in the chamber, was not done with his fellow Republicans. “I think we have to admit that even if the Senate had passed the House-passed budget, the so-called Ryan budget, we would still have to raise the debt ceiling,” he reminded them. “I don’t think anybody really disputes that. We are going to have to raise the debt ceiling again and again.”

Then Flake did something truly heretical: He reminded Republicans that “we were headed toward this cliff long before the president took control of the wheel.”

What Flake said was demonstrably true: Both parties created the debt mess, and to fix the problem both would have to be honest. Instead of being honest, however, House Republicans were staging a show so that they could tell voters they opposed the very debt limit hike they had authorized.

Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) accused the Republicans of donning “flip-flops.”

“I do prefer Crocs, if anybody cares,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) retorted.

Apparently, most of the 174 Republicans who blessed the debt-limit increase last year were embarrassed about going to the floor to argue against it, because most of those who spoke were from that GOP minority who voted against the debt-limit increase last year, too.

“We should never have passed that Budget Control Act the way we did,” said Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who voted no last summer. As a result, he said, Obama is “raising the debt ceiling without us being able to do a thing about it. We made a big mistake.”

Maybe they made a big mistake. Or maybe they did the right thing last year in reaching an agreement that kept the federal government from defaulting.

Reed, the floor leader for Republicans on Wednesday, wanted to have it both ways. “It’s so important, in my opinion, for the future of this nation, the future of the world,” he pleaded, with an urgency that he apparently lacked last summer. “The national debt is a serious threat to our very existence as an American nation.”

Reed and 232 fellow Republicans then voted to “disapprove” of the debt-limit increase — well short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome a presidential veto. The House’s first legislative act of 2012 had been utterly pointless — which was just the point.


By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 18, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Budget, Debt Ceiling | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cayman Baining”: Mitt Romney Invests In Several Bain Funds That Use Offshore Tax Havens To Boost Profits

Mitt Romney yesterday admitted for the first time that his tax rate is about 15 percent, lower than the rate paid by millions of middle class families. Romney is able to pay such a low rate (even though the top income tax rate is 35 percent) because his income comes overwhelmingly from investments and he is able to use a pernicious loopholeavailable to wealthy money managers.

Romney has been refusing to release his tax returns, finally conceding to releasing his 2011 return after he files it in April. However, only releasing his 2011 returns would give Romney the opportunity to keep under wraps some of the financial engineering he may have done to avoid taxes before the last calendar year. As Reuters noted, those returns “could shed light on how Romney and Bain use offshore strategies to avoid taxes.” In fact, ABC News reported today that Romney has millions of dollars parked in several Bain funds that are set up in tax shelters in order to help their investors avoid U.S. taxes:

Although it is not apparent on his financial disclosure form, Mitt Romney has millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven…As one of the wealthiest candidates to run for president in recent times, Romney has used a variety of techniques to help minimize the taxes on his estimated $250 million fortune. In addition to paying the lower tax rate on his investment income, Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.

Even if these funds don’t help Romney directly dodge U.S. taxes, which the campaign claims they don’t, they convey a host of advantages to Bain and Romney, including “higher management fees and greater foreign interest” from investors looking to avoid U.S. taxes. As the Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm noted, “just one of these offshore-linked funds — Bain Capital Fund VIII, based in the Cayman Islands — generated $1 million for the Romneys in 2010.”

Offshore funds are attractive to investors, since they help with tax evasion, and more investor interest translates into more profit for Bain and Romney. As we’ve noted, Romney has a lucrative retirement deal with Bain that is paying him millions each year.

In contrast to Romney’s steadfast refusal to release his tax returns, George Romney (Mitt’s father) released 12 years worth of tax returns when he ran for president in 1968. Those returns showed that the elder Romney paid a 37 percent effective tax rate.


By: Pat Garofalo, Think Progress, January 18, 2012

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Tax Evasion, Tax Loopholes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: