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“Quiet Room Magical Thinking”: Mitt Romney Pretends Congress Doesn’t Exist

Mitt Romney went before a group of Latino public officials today to offer some remarks on immigration. Calling it a “plan” would be too generous, although there were a couple of details, some of them perfectly reasonable, like giving green cards to people who get an advanced degree at an American university. But the part everyone has been waiting for—his reaction to President Obama’s recently-announced mini-DREAM Act—was pretty disappointing, because it engaged in a kind of magical thinking that has become increasingly untenable:

Some people have asked if I will let stand the President’s executive action. The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the President’s temporary measure. As President, I won’t settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution.

I will prioritize measures that strengthen legal immigration and make it easier. And I will address the problem of illegal immigration in a civil but resolute manner. We may not always agree, but when I make a promise to you, I will keep it.

It’s certainly nice to know he’ll be “resolute,” but you may have noticed that getting a major immigration reform through Congress is kind of a difficult thing to do. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both tried to do it and failed. So how is Mitt going to accomplish this feat? He will “put in place my own long-term solution.” Now why didn’t anyone think of that before?

This isn’t something new, of course—most challengers act as though through the overwhelming force of their personality, they’ll sweep away all opposition, bring both parties together, and get things done. The messy details are left for when you’re actually in office. Obama certainly talked that way four years ago. But after all we’ve been through in the last few years, isn’t it incumbent upon a presidential candidate to at least not pretend that enacting large, sweeping legislation that requires bipartisan cooperation on an intensely controversial issue is going to be a piece of cake?

Last weekend, Bob Schieffer asked Romney what he would do about the Obama policy while he was getting his awesome new policy in place, and Romney dodged the question. But no one who knows anything about Congress believes it’ll be anything but enormously difficult.

And it’ll be particularly difficult for Mitt Romney. It isn’t a matter of the complexity of the issue, as it was with health care reform where there were hundreds of small and large details to be worked out. In this case, it’s about the fragile coalition that would have to be assembled to pass immigration reform. I spoke today to a staffer for one of the most influential members of the House on the immigration issue, and he pointed out that there have been comprehensive immigration bills sitting around for ten years. The problem, he said, is the House Republicans. As long as they’re in control, no immigration bill that grants any undocumented immigrant anything other than a swift kick in the pants has any hope of passing. If a President Romney was to pass immigration reform, he’d have to do it with overwhelming support from Democrats and enough moderate Republicans peeled off to get to 218 votes.

But this is Mitt Romney we’re talking about. The guy who is going to have to spend his entire first term convincing conservatives he’s still one of them, lest he face a primary challenge from the right. What do you think are the chances he’d take on a high-profile fight with his party’s right wing, with the odds stacked against him?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, June 21, 2012

June 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“With Eyes Wide Shut”: Right Wing Spins The Media With “Job-Killer” Claims

The media is indiscriminately using the term “job-killer” to describe government policies and programs, but without verifying or substantiating the claims, according to a new study. Use of the phrase by major media outlets has exploded since President Obama took office and rapidly circulates throughout the press with little or no fact checking of the “job killer” allegations.

“Job-Killing” Rhetoric From the Right

“The news media, by failing to seek to verify allegations made about government policies and proposals, typically act more like a transmission belt for business, Republican, and conservative sources than an objective seeker of truth when it comes to the term ‘job killer,'” its authors found.

The independent study, Job Killers in the News: Allegations without Verification, conducted by Prof. Peter Dreier of Occidental College and Christopher R. Martin of the University of Northern Iowa, reviewed the use of the term “job-killer” in stories from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Associated Press going back to 1984.

The vast majority of the “job-killer” allegations were directed at federal or state government policies to regulate business (particularly policies towards the environment, taxes, health care, and raising the minimum wage). Most of the sources for the “job-killer” charges came from business spokespersons and Republican Party officials, but in around 17 percent of the articles and editorials, news outlets used the phrase without citing a source. In 91.6 percent of the stories about “job killing” government policies, the media failed to cite any evidence or quote an authoritative source to corroborate the claim.

“With little or no fact checking of ‘job killer’ allegations, Americans have no way to know if there is any evidence for these claims or whether they are simply a cynical political ploy used to discredit opponents’ policy ideas,” Dreier and Martin noted.

Indeed, according to the authors, “There is no correlation between the frequency of the phrase ‘job killer’ and unemployment rate. Instead, ‘job killer’ allegations correspond much more closely with political cycles,” particularly during election season and under Democratic administrations.

“Job-killer” allegations were barely used under the Clinton administration and virtually disappeared during the eight years George W. Bush was president — despite job growth under Clinton and job loss under Bush — and skyrocketed once Barack Obama became president. The number of news stories alleging that a particular government policy would be a “job killer” increased 1,156% between the first three years of the George W. Bush administration and the first three years of the Obama administration.

“The cavalier nature in which the ‘job killer’ allegations are reported suggests that term is used loosely by those who oppose government regulations, and they can get away with it because news organizations fail to ask—or at least report – whether they have any evidence for the claims they make,” the study’s authors wrote.

The Wall Street Journal was the most likely news organization to use the phrase with no attribution.

 

By: Emily Osborne, Center For Media and Democracy, June 22, 2012

June 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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