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“Misleading And Abusive”: Mitt Romney Angers Veterans And Nuns

I’ve been honored to serve Ohio in both Statehouse chambers and in the United States Congress. And if there is one thing I’ve learned about Ohioans, it’s that you don’t cross those who dedicate their lives to service and expect to get elected.

Unfortunately for his campaign, Governor Romney has managed to upset both veterans and nuns this week.

Gov. Romney began the week by infuriating veterans when his efforts to bolster his campaign through blatant lies about the Commander-in-Chief backfired. Seeking the votes of Ohio veterans, Romney intentionally misconstrued the President’s lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State and Attorney General as an attack on our service members. This transparent political move angered veterans and active military members – like me – throughout the country, who rightfully resent his misuse of the goodwill and respect we have earned through our sacrifices.

Here are the facts that Mitt Romney eagerly distorted: In an effort to reduce lines at the polls, Ohio instituted an early voting period that extended through the Monday before Election Day. However, after the 2008 election, partisan conspiracy theorists, bitter about the Democrats’ historic victory, blamed this early voting period for the President’s success in Ohio. After conservatives took over the state legislature, they fought to push back the early voting deadline. They were able to do so for all voters except active duty military, who enjoy special protection under federal law.

President Obama’s suit seeks to reinstate the early voting period for all Ohioans. He wants service members to continue to be able to vote early, as well as every other Ohioan – including the state’s 913,000 veterans and our military family members who are not protected by the special federal law. Our voting rights are sacred and the numbers we’re talking about should alarm everyone. In 2008 alone, 93,000 voted during this early voting time period. More than enough to sway the outcome of this election.

Governor Romney’s campaign twisted the intent of this lawsuit, and falsely claimed that the President was attacking the rights of military voters. Knowing our country’s deep appreciation for the contributions of our military, his campaign is attempting to manipulate the goodwill of voters and turn them against the President. Lying about our men and women in uniform in this disgraceful manner is politics at its dirtiest, and Governor Romney’s tactics have angered veterans and military personnel throughout the country. We who serve do not appreciate our work and sacrifice being turned into false fodder for his personal political gain.

As if using military service members in his campaign smears was not unscrupulous enough, Governor Romney’s campaign has also spent the last week levying insults at our nation’s struggling poor. His most recent attacks focus on welfare and welfare reform, charging that the President has not been as hard on those in poverty as his democratic predecessor President Bill Clinton.

Not only have these accusations angered President Clinton, who has adamantly rejected this characterization of himself and the current president, but they have also upset nuns working for social justice. Yesterday, Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of the Catholic organization NETWORK, issued an invitation to Governor Romney to join her and her Sisters for a day of service, where he can witness firsthand (as the nuns do every day) the hardship faced by Americans living in poverty.

Misleading voters, abusing veterans, vilifying the poor, angering nuns – these are not the campaign tactics of a successful candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. There are moral standards in politics, and Governor Romney is going to learn that when the election returns come in from Ohio.


By: John Boccieri, Guest Blogger and Former Congressman, Ohio; Think Progress, August 10, 2012

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Slave To The Right Wing”: Romney’s Health Care Dilemma Returns

Mitt Romney has been so busy securing his Republican base that he hasn’t had time to court independent voters, the ones who will actually decide this election. But now, probably by accident, he has an opportunity to show them that he’s something other than a slave to his party’s right wing. Will he take it?

When Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul committed the apparently unpardonable sin of praising the health care law Mitt Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts, was she making a horrible mistake that made everyone in Romney headquarters gasp in horror, or was she just reflecting what her candidate actually believes? The answer to that question would tell us where Romney is going to go from here on health care, and whether he may at long last try to find some issue on which he can convince voters he’s something more than a vessel for whatever his party’s right wing wants to do to the country.

Most everyone, myself included, initially assumed that Saul just spoke out of turn. After all, Romney had been trying to avoid any discussion of health care all through the primaries. And from a logical standpoint, there really is no good argument for him to make. Since what Romney did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did with the Affordable Care Act are identical in their major features, either they were both wise policy moves or they were both horrible mistakes, but it just can’t be the case that one was great and the other was a nightmare. That is, in fact, the argument Romney makes when he’s forced to talk about the Massachusetts reform, but you can tell he realizes how absurd what he’s saying is, and he wants to change the subject as soon as possible.

But Noam Scheiber argues that it’s oversimplified to just say that Romney has turned his back on Romneycare in order to assure Republicans that he hates Obamacare as much as they do:

As we await the Romney campaign’s decision about Saul’s fate, it’s worth reflecting on one under-reported aspect of this latest conservative blow-up: Saul was saying precisely what her superiors in the Romney campaign believe, not least of them Mitt Romney.

I spent a lot of time talking to Romney campaign officials while reporting my recent profile of Stuart Stevens, his chief strategist. The unmistakable impression I got from them is that, to this day, Romney remains extremely proud of having passed health care reform in Massachusetts.

And why wouldn’t he be? He approached a difficult problem, then came up with a solution acceptable to both parties, and by all accounts the resulting policy has been a success. There are only a small number of uninsured people left in Massachusetts, and the reform is widely popular within the state. It was without a doubt the most significant accomplishment of Romney’s one term as governor. The fact that he is running a campaign for president in which he dares not mention the best thing he did in the one job he had that was something of a preparation for the job he wants is quite insane.

Of course, it’s one thing for him to be justifiably proud of Romneycare, and it’s another for him to actually talk about it on the campaign trail. If he were to do that, it would require two things he has little desire to do: angering his base, and admitting, at least tacitly, that Barack Obama actually did something right. The former is really the biggest problem; there has not been a single occasion during this campaign (or the one he ran in 2008, for that matter), when Mitt Romney has said or done anything he thought might get the right wing of the Republican party upset. The chances that he’ll start now are slim to none.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, August 10, 2012

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Health Reform | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Politics Over People”: Romney Endorses Mass Public-Sector Layoffs

Mitt Romney chatted with Bloomberg Businessweek Editor Josh Tyrangiel for a good-but-brief interview, which was published today, and which turned out to be quite informative (thanks to Tricia McKinney for the heads-up).

Tyrangiel asked, for example, about the famous Bain Capital photo featuring Romney and his colleagues posing with cash, and what Romney thinks of the image now. “Oh, that was a moment of humor as we had just done what we thought was impossible,” he said.

The editor also tried to ask the tax-return issue in a new way: “If you’re an investor and you’re looking at a company, and that company says that its great strength is wise management and fiscal know-how, wouldn’t you want to see the previous, say, five years’ worth of its financials?” Romney dismissed the comparison, saying, “I’m not a business.”

I was also delighted to see Tyrangiel ask how Romney intends to balance the budget without raising taxes, without cutting defense, and without touching Social Security. Romney responded by talking about eliminating “Obamacare,” which, of course, would make the deficit worse, not better.

But what I found most interesting was an exchange that probably won’t get as much attention. Tyrangiel asked a fantastic question about the economy: “One thing that distinguishes this recovery is that public sector jobs, government jobs, have already fallen by 650,000. Given the conservative goal of shrinking government, is this a positive development or a negative one?” Romney didn’t give a straight answer, but his take was nevertheless illustrative of a larger point.

“Well, clearly you don’t like to hear [about] anyone losing a job. At the same time, government is the least productive — the federal government is the least productive of our economic sectors. The most productive is the private sector. The next most productive is the not-for-profit sector, then comes state and local governments, and finally the federal government. And so moving responsibilities from the federal government to the states or to the private sector will increase productivity. And higher productivity means higher wages for the American worker. All right?

“America is the highest productivity nation of major nations in the world, and that results in our having, for instance, an average compensation about 30 percent higher than the average compensation in Europe. A government that becomes more productive, that does more with less, is good for the earnings of the American worker, and ultimately it will mean that our taxes don’t have to go up, that small businesses will find it easier to start and grow, and we will be able to add more private sector jobs.”

It’s far from clear that Romney’s correct about the federal government being the “least productive of our economic sectors,” but for the sake of conversation, let’s say that’s true. Let’s just assume that those rascally federal bureaucracies are just too darned “unproductive.”

This is still a deeply misguided policy position.

Remember, the question from Tyrangiel has to do with the economic recovery: is it good or bad that America has been trying to dig itself out of a brutally-deep economic hole while simultaneously laying off 650,000 public-sector workers — on purpose.

Romney’s response is about a long-term vision — a more efficient and productive federal sector will eventually be good for the private sector. That may or may not be true, but the Republican is badly missing the point: how can the economy get better in a hurry if we’re deliberately putting 650,000 out of work? The answer is, we can’t, but apparently Romney doesn’t much care.

For that matter, Romney may struggle with the details of basic economics, but it’s disconcerting that he doesn’t realize who these people are. “The federal government is the least productive of our economic sectors”? What does that have to do with school teachers, police officers, and firefighters who’ve been laid off in droves in communities nowhere near the Beltway?

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 9, 2012

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dark Days Of Repression”: Ohio Early Voting Cutbacks Disenfranchise Minority Voters

On Election Day 2004, long lines and widespread electoral dysfunctional marred the results of the presidential election in Ohio, whose electoral votes ended up handing George W. Bush a second term. “The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters,” found a post-election report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee. According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of the interminable wait. (Bush won the state by only 118,000 votes).

After 2004, Ohio reformed its electoral process by adding thirty-five days of early voting before Election Day, which led to a much smoother voting experience in 2008. The Obama campaign used this extra time to successfully mobilize its supporters, building a massive lead among early voters than John McCain could not overcome on Election Day.

In response to the 2008 election results, Ohio Republicans drastically curtailed the early voting period in 2012 from thirty-five to eleven days, with no voting on the Sunday before the election, when African-American churches historically rally their congregants to go to the polls. (Ohio was one of five states to cut back on early voting since 2010.) Voting rights activists subsequently gathered enough signatures to block the new voting restrictions and force a referendum on Election Day. In reaction, Ohio Republicans repealed their own bill in the state legislature, but kept a ban on early voting three days before Election Day (a period when 93,000 Ohioans voted in 2008), adding an exception for active duty members of the military, who tend to lean Republican. (The Obama campaign is now challenging the law in court, seeking to expand early voting for all Ohioans).

The Romney campaign has recently captured headlines with its absurd and untrue claim that the Obama campaign is trying to suppress the rights of military voters. The real story from Ohio is how cutbacks to early voting will disproportionately disenfranchise African-American voters in Ohio’s most populous counties. African-Americans, who supported Obama over McCain by 95 points in Ohio, comprise 28 percent of the population of Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County but accounted for 56 percent of early voters in 2008, according to research done by Norman Robbins of the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates and Mark Salling of Cleveland State University. In Columbus’s Franklin County, African-Americans comprise 20 percent of the population but made up 34 percent of early voters.

Now, in heavily Democratic cities like Cleveland, Columbus, Akron and Toledo, early voting hours will be limited to 8 am until 5 pm on weekdays beginning on October 1, with no voting at night or during the weekend, when it’s most convenient for working people to vote. Republican election commissioners have blocked Democratic efforts to expand early voting hours in these counties, where the board of elections are split equally between Democratic and Republican members. Ohio Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has broken the tie by intervening on behalf of his fellow Republicans. (According to the Board of Elections, 82% of early voters in Franklin County voted early on nights or weekends, which Republicans have curtailed. The number who voted on nights or weekends was nearly 50% in Cuyahoga County.)

“I cannot create unequal access from one county board to another, and I must also keep in mind resources available to each county,” Husted said in explaining his decision to deny expanded early voting hours in heavily Democratic counties. Yet in solidly Republican counties like Warren and Butler, GOP election commissioners have approved expanded early voting hours on nights and weekends. Noted the Cincinnati Enquirer: “The counties where Husted has joined other Republicans to deny expanded early voting strongly backed then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, while most of those where the extra hours will stand heavily supported GOP nominee John McCain.” Moreover, budget constraints have not stopped Republican legislators from passing costly voter ID laws across the map since 2010.

The cutbacks in early voting in Ohio are part of a broader push by Republicans to restrict the right to vote for millions of Americans, particularly those who voted for Obama. “The Republicans remember those long lines outside board of elections last time in the evenings and on weekends,” Tim Burke, Democratic Party chairman in Cincinnati’s Hamilton County, told the Enquirer. “The lines were overwhelmingly African-American, and it’s pretty obvious that the people were predominately—very predominately Obama voters. The Republicans don’t want that to happen again. It’s that simple.”

Ohio in 2012 is at risk of heading back to the dark days of 2004. “Voting—America’s most precious right and the foundation for all others—is a fragile civic exercise for many Ohioans,” the Enquirer wrote recently.


By: Ari Berman, The Nation, August 8, 2012

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Erasing W”: Republications Want To Obliterate Any Trace Of The Administration That Created This Mess

As Bill Clinton is resurrected by the Democrats, George W. Bush is being erased by the GOP — as if an entire eight years of American history hadn’t happened.

While Bill Clinton stumps for Obama, Romney has gone out of his way not to mention the name of the president who came after Clinton and before Obama.

Clinton will have a starring role at the Democratic National Convention. George W. Bush won’t even be at the Republican one – the first time a national party has not given the stage at its convention to its most recent occupant of the Oval Office who successfully ran for reelection.

The GOP is counting on America’s notoriously short-term memory to blot out the last time the nation put a Republican into the Oval Office, on the reasonable assumption that such a memory might cause voters to avoid making the same mistake twice. As whoever-it-was once said, “fool me once …” (and then mangled the rest).

Republicans want to obliterate any trace of the administration that told America there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and led us into a devastating war; turned a $5 trillion projected budget surplus into a $6 trillion deficit; gave the largest tax cut in a generation to the richest Americans in history; handed out a mountain of corporate welfare to the oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical companies, and military contractors like Halliburton (uniquely benefiting the vice president); whose officials turned a blind eye to Wall Street shenanigans that led to the worst financial calamity since the Great Crash of 1929 and then persuaded Congress to bail out the Street with the largest taxpayer-funded giveaway of all time.

Besides, the resemblances between George W. Bush and Mitt Romney are too close for comfort. Both were born into wealth, sons of prominent politicians who themselves ran for president; both are closely tied to the nation’s corporate and financial elites, and eager to do their bidding; both are socially awkward and, as candidates, tightly scripted for fear of saying something they shouldn’t; and both presented themselves to the nation devoid of any consistent policies or principles that might give some clue as to what they actually believe.

They are both, in other words, unusually shallow, uncurious, two-dimensional men who ran or are running for the presidency for no clear reason other than to surpass their fathers or achieve the aims and ambitions of their wealthy patrons.

Small wonder the Republican Party wants us to forget our last Republican president and his administration. By contrast, the Democrats have every reason for America to recall and celebrate the Clinton years.


By: Robert Reich, Robert Reich Blog, August 10, 2012

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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