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“We Don’t Like You Either”: When “We Don’t Like Your Kind” Becomes A Problem

There are a lot of ways to parse a loss like the one the GOP suffered on Tuesday, but what ought to be increasingly clear to smart Republicans is that there’s something fundamentally problematic in how they’ve gone about assembling their electoral coalitions. Conservatives are complaining a lot in the last couple of days that Obama ran a “divisive” campaign, I guess because he once called rich people “fat cats” or something, but the truth is that Republicans have been experts at division for a long time. Much of their appeal, at one level or another, has been “We don’t like those kind of people.” Sometimes it’s welfare recipients, sometimes it’s undocumented immigrants, sometimes it’s people who come from big cities or have too much education or enjoy a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk. They’ve been very good for a very long time at telling voters, “We’re just like you, because we both hate those people over there.”

As a political strategy, this can be very effective, so long as the “them” at whom you’re directing your contempt isn’t too large a group. But once “them” grows too big, you’ve dug yourself an electoral hole. That’s the problem they now have with Latinos. Their anti-immigrant rhetoric sent two simultaneous messages, one about policy and one about identity. The first message was that we don’t support policies you do support, like the DREAM Act. The second message, which Latinos heard loud and clear, was this: We don’t like people like you.

The problem can be seen in other areas too. As Sommer Mathis and Charles Mahtesian point out, the GOP is getting crushed among urban dwellers, who are growing as a proportion of the population. Just like with Latinos, this happens because of both policy and identity. The GOP is opposed to policies that are supported by people in cities, like support for mass transit. But they also continuously tell them that they don’t like them. Every time they wax rhapsodic about the superior morality of those who live in small towns (what Sarah Palin memorably called “the pro-America areas of this great nation”), where people supposedly have “values,” while people who live in cities just have opinions, they are telling voters in cities, “We don’t like people like you.” So it’s no surprise that those voters respond, “You know what? We don’t like you either.”

If Republicans are going to solve this problem—with Latinos, with city dwellers, and with everybody else they’ve alienated—they’re going to have to it with both policy and identity. It won’t be enough to sign on to a comprehensive immigration reform. You have to convince the people at whom you’ve been sneering (or trying to stop from voting) that you don’t hate them. It’s not an easy task, but it can be done.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, November 9, 2012

November 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“What Are You Going To Do About It?”: Mitt Romney And His Despicable Race Baiting Lies

Regular readers of Political Animal should find this analysis of Mitt Romney’s stretch-run strategy and message, as articulated by Thomas Edsall in the New York Times, very familiar:

The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.

Ads that accuse President Obama of gutting the work requirements enacted in the 1996 welfare reform legislation present the first theme. Ads alleging that Obama has taken $716 billion from Medicare — a program serving an overwhelmingly white constituency — in order to provide health coverage to the heavily black and Hispanic poor deliver the second. The ads are meant to work together, to mutually reinforce each other’s claims.

Edsall, as you may recall, has been suggesting for a good while that this is the sort of politics the Tea Party Movement is all about.

So that’s the most important sense in which the Romney campaign has finally surrendered unconditionally to the Right: not simply accepting its political positions or promising to make its priorities his own, or placing on his ticket their favorite politician–but also adopting its meta-message about the kind of people Obama represents (those people) and the kind of people who are suffering from his redistributionist ways.

It’s clear by now that the Romney campaign is going to shrug off the almost universal denunciation of his welfare ads (and to only a lesser extent, his Medicare ads that show a white senior frowning as the narrator says ObamaCare is “not for you”) as a pack of despicable, race-baiting lies–or use the so’s-your-old-man argument that Obama’s campaign tactics justify his own. If nothing else, his wizards probably figured out some time ago that the “welfare” crap offered a rare opportunity to hit notes equally effective with “the base” and the non-college educated white voters who make up a high percentage of this election’s “swing.” Add in the thick armor conservatives have built for themselves against any accusations of racism–now, almost by definition, they believe only liberals are racists, and only white people are targets of racism–and it was probably an easy call for Team Mitt, particularly since truthfulness is not a factor at all.

The Romney campaign’s attitude seems to be that of the famous nineteenth century rogue William (Boss) Tweed, who when confronted by journalists with his misdeeds, said: “Well, what are you going to do about it?” Romney’s not going to be shamed out of his unsavory tactics. But on the other hand, if his gambit fails, not only will his presidential ambitions perish once and for all, but just maybe the kind of politics he has come to exemplify–rich people encouraging the middle class to “kick down” at “those people”–will take a hit as well.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 27, 2012

August 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

From The “Book Of Mitt”: Nonworking Parent’s “Raise Indolent And Unproductive Kids”

For a guy who thinks being a mom is the hardest job in the world, and no one has worked harder than his wife, Mitt Romney sure has a funny attitude when it comes to other nonworking mothers who aren’t married to multimillionaires. As Mitt wrote in his book:

In some quarters, however, the American work ethic is waning. Some people devote themselves to find ways not to work.Some seem to take a perverse kind of pride in being slipshod or lackadaisical. In many cases, where our work culture has deteriorated, shortsighted government policies share a good part of the blame.Welfare without work erodes the spirit and the sense of self-worth of the recipient. And it conditions the children of nonworking parents to an indolent and unproductive life. Hardworking parents raise hardworking kids; we should recognize that the opposite is also true. The influence of the work habits of our parents and other adults around us as we grow up has lasting impact.

Not only does Mitt think poor mothers “need to go to work” so they’ll have “dignity,” and not only does he think that drug testing poor mothers is “an excellent idea,” but he also thinks that nonworking parents raise rotten children. Except, of course, for Ann Romney, the hardest working nonworking parent ever.


By: Kaili Joy Gray, Daily Kos, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“This Really Isn’t Complicated”: Mitt Romney Should Read Paul Ryan’s Budget Plan

Mitt Romney’s allergy to honesty has come into sharper focus this week, but even by his standards, the comments Romney made on a Wisconsin radio show this morning were astounding.

Romney said the plan introduced by House Budget Committee chairman Ryan (R-Janesville) “does not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly … It instead preserves Medicare and preserves Social Security.”

Look, this really isn’t complicated. Paul Ryan’s budget plan is simply brutal towards the poor and working families. Romney doesn’t have to like it, but he really shouldn’t lie about it.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means. This stands a core principle of President Obama’s fiscal commission on its head and violates basic principles of fairness.

While giving a massive tax break to the wealthy, the Ryan budget plan Romney is so fond of slashes funding for Medicaid, food stamps, and other for low-income programs, nearly all of which Ryan’s plan would eliminate over the next couple of decades.

As the CBPP’s Robert Greenstein put it, “[T]he Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured.” He added that Ryan’s plan “would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree, and squeeze funding for research, education, and infrastructure.”

If this doesn’t “balance the budget on the backs of the poor,” for crying out loud, what exactly would such a budget plan look like?

As for “preserving” Medicare, the Ryan plan that Romney supports would turn Medicare into a voucher program, scrapping the guaranteed benefit altogether; weaken Medicare solvency; and bring back the Medicare Part D prescription drug “donut-hole.”

So, what are we to make of Romney’s comments this morning? He’s either lying or he hasn’t read the budget plan he’s endorsed. It’s one or the other.


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

March 24, 2012 Posted by | Budget, Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Collapse Of Civilization”: GOP Releases Plan To Save America From The Poor

The House Republicans unveiled their new budget today, complete with a spooky video pressing home the point that only the House Republicans and their leader Paul Ryan stand between us and CIVILIZATIONAL COLLAPSE. Yes, the peril of rising debt is that bad. No, it’s not so bad that it’s worth restoring Clinton-era tax rates to prevent. But so bad that it’s worth throwing tens of millions of people off health insurance? Oh, yeah.

The first place to begin with the House budget is taxes. The plan is to slash tax rates, with the top rate dropping to 25 percent. The budget asserts that it will make up for most of the lost revenue by eliminating tax deductions, but it does not say which ones. This would require them to produce about $6 trillion worth of tax deductions. It would also ensure that, if they succeeded, taxes on the rich would fall, a lot, and taxes on many non-rich people would rise. This probably explains why they are not providing any details, which also explains why this promise would be tricky to fulfill. In any case, the upshot is that they have delineated $6 trillion worth of deficit-expansion, offset by unspecified promises to make it up.

On the spending side, things get somewhat more specific. Medicare would be partially privatized. The basic functions of government, like:

Over the next decade, Ryan would spend 30 percent less than the White House on “income security” programs for the poor — that’s everything from food stamps to housing assistance to the earned-income tax credit. (Ryan’s budget would spend $4.8 trillion over this timeframe; the White House’s would spend $6.8 trillion.) Compared with Obama, Ryan would spend 38 percent less on transportation and 24 percent less on veterans. He’d cut “General science, space, and basic technology” by 20 percent. And, compared with the White House, he’d slash “Education, training, employment, and social services” by a full 44 percent.

Do House Republicans really think the federal government is vastly overinvesting in things like roads and scientific research, or is this merely a gimmick to make their tax cuts appear affordable? It is hard to say.

They do genuinely seem to believe that the federal government spends way too much on the poor and sick, and move to correct that. Poor people, or people who have a family member with a serious medical condition, come in for special abuse here. The Republican budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provides health insurance coverage to 30 million people, and replace it with nothing. On top of that, it would absolutely slash Medicaid and the childrens’ health insurance plan, eliminating coverage from 14-27 million more people (the wide variation reflects the fact that the outcome heavily depends on how states respond to the huge cuts, and the elimination of rules that force states to cover poor people.)

All in all, we have a standard mix of specific benefits for the rich, specific pain for the poor, and a lot of vague promises that would entail pain for the middle class, without committing themselves in a way that could hurt politically.


By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intel, March 20, 2012

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Budget | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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