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“The Creeps Meet At The Creeks”: Donors Arrive At Hamptons Fundraisers For Mitt Romney

As protesters assembled on a beach in advance of Mitt Romney‘s evening event at the home of conservative billionaire David Koch, the candidate slipped to East Hampton for his first of three fundraisers on this tony stretch of Long Island.

The line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming cherry red Ferrari began queuing outside of Revlon Chairman Ronald Perelman’s estate off Montauk Highway long before Romney arrived, as campaign aides and staffers in white polo shirts emblazoned with the logo of Perelman’s property — the Creeks — checked off names under tight security.

They came with high hopes for the presumed Republican nominee, who is locked in a tight race with President Obama. And some were eager to give the candidate some advice about the next four months.

A money manager in a green Jeep said it was time for Romney to “up his game and be more reactive.” So far, said the donor (who would not give his name because he said it would hurt his business), Romney has had a “very timid offense.”

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

Among Perelman’s guests at the buffet lunch, which was topped off with chocolate mint cupcakes, were the Zambrellis of New York City, independent voters who attended a fundraiser for Obama four years ago.

Sharon Zambrelli voted for Obama in 2008 but has been disappointed with his handling of the economy and leadership style. “I was very disenchanted with the political process and he gave me hope,” she said, but ultimately: “He’s just a politician,” she said, an “emperor with no clothes.”

The Zambrellis scoffed at attempts by the Democrats — who mocked Romney in an ad Sunday as “great for oil billionaires, bad for the middle class” — to wage class warfare. “Would you like to hear about the fundraisers I went to for him?” Sharon Zambrelli said of Obama. “Do you have an hour? … All the ones in the city — it was all of Wall Street.”

“It’s not helping the economy to pit the people who are the engine of the economy against the people who rely on that engine,” Michael Zambrelli said as the couple waited in their SUV for clearance into the Creeks shortly after the candidate’s motorcade flew by and entered the pine-tree lined estate. “He’s basically been biting the hand that fed him in ’08. … I would bet 25% of the people here were supporters of Obama in ’08. And they’re here now.”

As traffic snarled along Montauk Highway in both directions, a Ron Paul supporter who said his name was Jim continually circled in his pickup truck that bore large signs for his candidate. “I’ve gotten a few thumbs up,” he said when asked whether his presence was having any effect. “He’s the man.”

The price to hobnob with Mitt Romney in the Hamptons was steep. At Romney’s luncheon with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the Creeks, supporters were asked to contribute or raise $25,000 per person for a VIP photo reception. (Among the co-hosts were lobbyist Wayne Berman, a former bundler for George W. Bush, as well as financiers Lew Eisenberg and Daniel Loeb).

At the evening fundraiser at the estate of Julia and David Koch on Meadow Lane in Southampton, the suggested contribution was $75,000 per couple — with funds going to Romney’s campaign, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.


By: Maeve Reston, The Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2012

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Definition Of Hypocrite”: Scott Brown Needs A Dictionary

Earlier this year, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) began criticizing his main Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, for being a “hypocrite.” The argument went like this: Warren makes a fair amount of money, but she’s an advocate for struggling, working families. Ergo, she’s guilty of “hypocrisy.”

The problem, of course, is that this line of attack is dumb, and reflects ignorance about the meaning of the word “hypocrite.” Warren has acquired a fair amount of wealth, after having been raised by a family of modest means and putting herself through law school, but she’s now one of the nation’s leading voices in representing the interests of the middle class.

Brown can agree or disagree on the merits of her beliefs, and he and his fellow Republicans are free to argue that fighting for the middle class is a bad idea, but when those with considerable personal resources look at the status quo — a growing class gap, wealth concentrated at the top, rising poverty — and want a more progressive approach, that’s admirable, not hypocritical.

And yet, Brown and his team are still confused.

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s campaign accused Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren of “hypocrisy” after she admitted to not paying higher taxes than the state requires. […]

“The problem with running a campaign based on self-righteousness and moral superiority is that you had better live up to the same standard you would impose on everyone else,” [Brown campaign managed Jim Barnett] said. … “This is the sort of hypocrisy and double-speak voters are sick and tired of hearing from politicians, especially those who can’t keep their hands out of others’ pocketbooks.”

Let’s explain this in basic terms.

1. Elizabeth Warren makes a good living and pays her taxes.

2. Warren believes she and others in her income bracket should pay higher taxes.

3. Warren would gladly pay higher taxes, but she hasn’t made charitable contributions to the government treasury, and she hasn’t urged anyone else to make charitable contributions to the government treasury, either.

If Brown and his team think this is “hypocrisy,” perhaps Warren could use some of her money to send a dictionary to the Republican campaign headquarters.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 23, 2012

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Fiscal Phonies: GOP “Irresponsible Deficit Hysteria” Presidential Candidates

Mitt Romney is very concerned about budget deficits. Or at least that’s what he says; he likes to warn that President Obama’s deficits are leading us toward a “Greece-style collapse.”

So why is Mr. Romney offering a budget proposal that would lead to much larger debt and deficits than the corresponding proposal from the Obama administration?

Of course, Mr. Romney isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. In fact, all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved — and much, much more — on tax cuts for the rich.

And nobody should be surprised. It has been obvious all along, to anyone paying attention, that the politicians shouting loudest about deficits are actually using deficit hysteria as a cover story for their real agenda, which is top-down class warfare. To put it in Romneyesque terms, it’s all about finding an excuse to slash programs that help people who like to watch Nascar events, even while lavishing tax cuts on people who like to own Nascar teams.

O.K., let’s talk about the numbers.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget recently published an overview of the budget proposals of the four “major” Republican candidates and, in a separate report, examined the latest Obama budget. I am not, by the way, a big fan of the committee’s general role in our policy discourse; I think it has been pushing premature deficit reduction and diverting attention from the more immediately urgent task of reducing unemployment. But the group is honest and technically competent, so its evaluation provides a very useful reference point.

And here’s what it tells us: According to an “intermediate debt scenario,” the budget proposals of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney would all lead to much higher debt a decade from now than the proposals in the 2013 Obama budget. Ron Paul would do better, roughly matching Mr. Obama. But if you look at the details, it turns out that Mr. Paul is assuming trillions of dollars in unspecified and implausible spending cuts. So, in the end, he’s really a spendthrift, too.

Is there any way to make the G.O.P. proposals seem fiscally responsible? Well, no — not unless you believe in magic. Sure enough, voodoo economics is making a big comeback, with Mr. Romney, in particular, asserting that his tax cuts wouldn’t actually explode the deficit because they would promote faster economic growth and this would raise revenue.

And you might find this plausible if you spent the past two decades sleeping in a cave somewhere. If you didn’t, you probably remember that the same people now telling us what great things tax cuts would do for growth assured us that Bill Clinton’s tax increase in 1993 would lead to economic disaster, while George W. Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 would create vast prosperity. Somehow, neither of those predictions worked out.

So the Republicans screaming about the evils of deficits would not, in fact, reduce the deficit — and, in fact, would do the opposite. What, then, would their policies accomplish? The answer is that they would achieve a major redistribution of income away from working-class Americans toward the very, very rich.

Another nonpartisan group, the Tax Policy Center, has analyzed Mr. Romney’s tax proposal. It found that, compared with current policy, the proposal would actually raise taxes on the poorest 20 percent of Americans, while imposing drastic cuts in programs like Medicaid that provide a safety net for the less fortunate. (Although right-wingers like to portray Medicaid as a giveaway to the lazy, the bulk of its money goes to children, disabled, and the elderly.)

But the richest 1 percent would receive large tax cuts — and the richest 0.1 percent would do even better, with the average member of this elite group paying $1.1 million a year less in taxes than he or she would if the high-end Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire.

There’s one more thing you should know about the Republican proposals: Not only are they fiscally irresponsible and tilted heavily against working Americans, they’re also terrible policy for a nation suffering from a depressed economy in the short run even as it faces long-run budget problems.

Put it this way: Are you worried about a “Greek-style collapse”? Well, these plans would slash spending in the near term, emulating Europe’s catastrophic austerity, even while locking in budget-busting tax cuts for the future.

The question now is whether someone offering this toxic combination of irresponsibility, class warfare, and hypocrisy can actually be elected president.


By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, March 1, 2012

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Newt Gingrich Gets Away With “Class Warfare” and “Race Baiting”

When Rick Perry was still in the presidential race, he angered some conservatives by asserting that if you oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants brought here as kids then “you don’t have a heart.” For normal politicians, it is folly to tell the base a position they hold is heartless.

But Newt Gingrich isn’t a normal politician. He is so expert at signaling tribal identification with conservatives that he can seemingly say or do anything without losing the ability to be competitive. In a past entry, I explained how the conservative movement made such a rise possible. Here I want to cite just one example of the ruinous (for them) dynamic that is beginning to result.

[Here] is a clip from Newt Gingrich’s appearance on Univision on Wednesday. Here’s the transcript:

INTERVIEWER: What do you think of Romney’s idea of self-deportation?

NEWT GINGRICH: I think you have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts — and automatic, you know, $20 million per year income with no work — to have some fantasy this far from reality.

Remember that I talk, very specifically, about people who have been here for a long time. Who are grandmothers and grandfathers who have been paying their bills, they’ve been working, they’re part of the community. Now for Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she’s going to self-deport? This is an Obama-level fantasy.

INTERVIEWER: You call him anti-immigrant.

NEWT GINGRICH: Well he certainly shows no concern for the humanity of people who are already here. I mean, I just think the idea that we’re going to deport grandmothers and grandfathers is a sufficient level of inhumanity — first of all it’s never going to happen.


1. Isn’t it amazing to see Newt Gingrich soar in a Republican primary even as he asserts that (a) rich guys are so clueless it’s like they live in a fantasy world and (b) investing money and earning a return on it is tantamount to “no work”? Isn’t it stranger still that while saying all this he accuses President Obama of class warfare?

2. Isn’t it amazing that Gingrich can surge in a GOP primary even as he suggests that wanting to deport illegal immigrants is inhumane, even anti-immigrant? His base has a hair-trigger sensitivity to being accused of xenophobia, and supports deporting all illegal immigrants; yet somehow Gingrich gets away with saying this on Univision. Had Jon Huntsman done the same he’d have been excoriated.

3. The idea of self-deportation spurred by better workplace enforcement — the Mitt Romney position — is in fact the mainstream position of illegal-immigration restrictionists, who mostly insist that the specter of mass deportations are a straw man conjured up by the left to scare people. And it is in fact the case that if you make it more difficult for folks without documents to get jobs, many of them will leave, having come here with the express hope of earning American wages.

4. Under Romney’s plan, which is clearly targeted at working-age adults, illegal immigrant grandparents who’ve been here for many years are in fact the least likely people to be bothered, yet Gingrich talks as if they’re the focus of Romney’s plan.

5. Even Gingrich’s demagoguery is inconsistent, for he isn’t willing to affirm that illegal-immigrant grandparents who’ve been here for some time should be given amnesty. He’d instead create a series of citizen panels modeled after the draft boards of the World War II era that would sit in judgment of whether these longtime residents got to stay or go, presumably sending some of them home. I wonder how Gingrich would respond if a debate moderator pointed out that his plan would deport some longtime residents and called him anti-immigrant and inhumane?

This is but one example of what the right can expect so long as Newt Gingrich is around. Because his appeal is grounded in tribal solidarity — because what people like about him is his ability to lash out at the mainstream media, the cultural elite, and President Obama — he can stray from conservative orthodoxy and policy far more than any other candidate and still retain his support. It’s a more extreme version of what happened during the Bush era. Republicans elected the guy with whom they wanted to have a beer, and since they felt in their gut he was one of them, he spent years advancing an agenda that would’ve drawn cries of tyranny had a Democrat tried it.

Gingrich backed that Bush-era agenda. And if he’s elected president expect him to do all sorts of things that conservatives complain about after the fact, when they realize that they’ve been had again.


By: Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, January 25, 2012

January 26, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Mitt Romney, Detractors Suffer From Envy

Mitt Romney thinks he has figured out why people are critiquing his private-sector record: they’re jealous of rich people.

Romney said on Wednesday’s Today show that all the carping about greed and excess in America is “about envy. It’s about class warfare.”

Romney is smarting from attacks over his time as the head of Bain Capital, the Boston private-equity firm he founded. Gov. Rick Perry called Romney a “vulture capitalist” and Newt Gingrich accused him of “looting companies” while at Bain. These broadsides echo the Democrats who have derided Romney as a “corporate buyout specialist” who outsourced and eliminated jobs in order to line his own pockets.

Yet, like the snobby homecoming queen who thinks everyone hates her because they are jealous, Romney can’t see that it’s not his financial success in itself that is the problem. It’s that many people find his self-serving brand of capitalism—which was the hallmark of the recent economic collapse—repulsive.

Don’t blame the green-eyed monster. It’s simply that Americans are increasingly fed up with the behavior of the ultra-wealthy who have enriched themselves with no regard for the pile of middle class bodies they leave in their wake. In fact, a Pew poll released Wednesday discovered that two thirds of the public (66 percent) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor, up 19 points since 2009.

Why would this be? Cue the tape: “Make a profit. That’s the name of the game, right?” a smirking Romney says in King of Bain: When Romney Came to Town, a documentary Gingrich’s super PAC released on the Internet Wednesday.

In other words: don’t hate the player, hate the game.

But it’s not a “game,” Mitt.

Furthermore, making a profit is only one component of owning a business. Whatever happened to the idea that you are responsible for your workers and to the larger community? Too often, people feel like just pawns in a game of ever-increasing largesse for the top dogs. The big shots are always the winners—often getting payouts in the millions when their companies fail—and the “losers” are left to figure out how to eat or buy clothes for their children. (A new study found that $100 million “golden parachutes” have become commonplace for failed CEOs.)

Romney’s “class envy” claim is predicated on a lie we often here from the uber-rich and their defenders: the highest goal and achievement for Americans is to be wealthy, when all most people want is to be able to provide a decent lives for their families.

Pew Research found in 2008 that only 13 percent of adults say it’s “very important” for them to be wealthy. The survey found that, “Four times more people say ‘doing volunteer work or donating to charity’ is a very important priority than say the same about being wealthy.” And about five times more Americans (67 percent) say it’s very important to them to have enough free time. Having children, living a religious life, and getting married also ranked vastly higher than being wealthy.

Yet, Romney has made the “class envy” trope central to his message. In his New Hampshire victory speech Romney whined that President Obama “divides us with the bitter politics of envy.

Romney complained to on Wednesday’s Today show, “Everywhere [President Obama] goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.” In maximum Thurston Howell III mode, Romney allowed, “I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms.” But the president is talking about it in public!

How uncouth. Doesn’t Obama know that it’s always best to discuss the unwashed masses over martinis at the gentlemen’s club?

The unlikely hero in this tale has been Newt Gingrich, who has been making the most coherent argument for ethical capitalism. Says Gingrich, what we want is “a free enterprise system that is honest … fair to everyone and gives everyone an equal opportunity to pursue happiness.” Criticizing Romney’s brand of free enterprise, Gingrich said, “It’s not fine if the person who is rich manipulates the system, gets away with all the cash and leaves behind the human beings.”

Be still, my heart.

Newt’s new message—and Romney’s continued tin ear to this issue—may pay dividends in the upcoming primary states. Unlike Iowa and New Hampshire, which have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, people in South Carolina are suffering mightily with a 9.9 percent unemployment rate. Ditto for the following two primary states, Florida and Nevada, with jobless rates in the double digits.

Romney gaffes, such as “I like to be able to fire people” probably aren’t going to engender a lot of love. Nor will his joking that, “I’m also unemployed … and I’m not working” as he told a group of unemployed Floridians. In Nevada—with the highest foreclosure rate in the countrya clip showing Romney saying, “Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process” is sure to be a dud.

Romney needs to figure out that Americans aren’t player haters. They don’t have “Mitt envy.” They just want jobs.

I’ll bet Romney $10,000 I’m right.


By: Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast, January 13, 2012

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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