Paul Ryan’s Unexplainable Tax Math

Republican economic plans are primarily about cutting taxes for the ultra-wealthy and coming up with arguments to con the gullible into believing that this is good for the economy. This does not mean that they are willing to cut spending for their pet projects. While they might claim that the tax cuts will bring in more revenue, this does not work when taxes are relatively low as they are now, leaving the middle class to pay for Republican fiscal irresponsibility. Paul Ryan was asked how his tax plan would add up, buts said he didn’t have the time to answer:

… it would take me too long to go through all of the math, but let me say it this way. You can lower tax rates by 20 percent across the board by closing loopholes and still have preferences for the middle class for things like charitable deductions, for home purchases, for health care.

Catherine Rampell explained why there was not enough time, beginning with:

There’s a reason why it would take too long — infinitely long, you could say — to go through the math that holds this policy proposal together: because math will never hold this particular policy proposal together.

Perhaps Ryan thinks he needs time as long as John Galt’s speech to explain this. Like this portion of Atlas Shrugged, his explanation would be fiction.

Today Bloomberg News asked Ryan about his tax plan, offering him all the time he needed to explain it. Ryan still couldn’t explain it. The math just does not add up.

Romney Unable To Shake Etch A Sketch On His Candid Opinions

The secretly taped comments from Mitt Romney continue to dominate the political news today. Romney’s comments were wrong on so many levels. Beyond the obvious problems of his attack on nearly half the country and on those who legitimately need assistance, he is so out of touch that he doesn’t realize he is actually attacking Republican voters. Despite the right wing myth that they are the job creators and Democrats are welfare leaches, a large percentage of those not paying income taxes are Republican voters. This includes the low-information white male voters who make up a huge percentage of GOP voters–many of these pay payroll taxes but don’t make enough to pay income taxes. Many are also elderly Republican voters who no longer have an income to pay income tax on. Those not paying taxes also include students (who might become job creators after completing their education) and members of the military (who might also be future job creators).

Many low income voters do vote for Democrats, but a tremendous number also vote Republican. The biggest recipients of federal government aide are the red states, not the blue states. While Obama now receives the vast majority of all Democratic constituencies, his greatest support has come from upper middle class Democrats and independents  (in contrast to the less affluent Democrats who backed Clinton in 2008). In offending all the Obama supporters who pay a larger percentage of their income than Romney does,  Romney’s comment might help Obama keep the portion of the independent vote which has drifted away.

On the other hand, if Mitt Romney had his way, he would be joining those who pay no income taxes.

Another irony is that the increased number of working Americans who do not pay federal income taxes is largely a consequence of GOP tax cuts. In order to cut taxes on the wealthy they have had to reduce income taxes on others. It was George Bush and Ronald Reagan who pushed policies which led to many lower income working people not paying taxes, while also cutting taxes on the wealthy.

If things weren’t already bad enough, another video was released in which Romney showed hostility towards the peace process and two-state solution in the middle east. He already showed during his trip to Israel that he will not be able to be an honest broker in a peace settlement. This video further shows his inability to handle foreign affairs.

The Choice This Year Is Between A Center-Left Democratic Party And Far Right Republican Party

If Democrats are to have a chance at retaining the White House and possibly controlling both houses of Congress, it is necessary to get out the message to voters who have voted Republican in the past that this is not the same Republican Party. It has moved so far to the extreme right that it is no longer the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater. Rather than being the party of William F. Buckley, Jr., the Republican Party is now dominated by the type of far right wing extremists that Buckley once fought to exclude from the conservative movement. Today two columnists who often push for a centrist agenda discussed the extremism of today’s Republican Party.

Barack Obama has called the Republican economic plan Romney Hood, or Robin Hood in reverse. Matt Miller has another name for the GOP: Drawbridge Republicans:

Mitt Romney came from wealth and went on to build his own quarter-of-a-billion dollar fortune. Paul Ryan, who has never worked a day in the private sector (outside a few months in the family firm) reports a net worth of as much as $7 million, thanks to trusts and inheritances from his and his wife’s family.

Wealthy political candidates are nothing new, of course. But we’ve never had two wealthy candidates on a national ticket whose top priority is to reduce already low taxes on the well-to-do while raising taxes on everyone else — even as they propose to slash programs that serve the poor, or that (like college aid) create chances for the lowly born to rise.

Call them the Drawbridge Republicans. As the moniker implies, these are wealthy Republicans who have no qualms about pulling up the drawbridge behind them. Such sentiments used to be reserved for the political fringe. The most prominent example was Steve Forbes, whose twin obsessions during his vanity presidential runs in 1996 and 2000 — marginal tax rates and inflation — were precisely what you’d expect from an heir in a cocoon…

Today’s Drawbridge Republicans can’t be bothered. Yes, when their political back is to the wall — as Romney’s increasingly is — they’ll slap together a page of bullet points and dub it “a plan for the middle class.” But this is only under duress. The rest of the time they seem blissfully unaware of how off-key they sound. As the humorist Andy Borowitz tweeted the other day, “As a general matter, it’s a bad idea to talk about austerity if you just had a horse lose in the Olympics.”

Contrast conservative Prime Minister (and heir) David Cameron’s decision to defer his plans to lower the top 50 percent marginal rate in the UK. “When you’re taking the country through difficult times and difficult decisions,” Cameron said, “you’ve got to take the country with you. That means permanently trying to make the argument that what you’re doing is fair and seen to be fair.” As his spokesman added: “We need to ask those with the broadest shoulders to contribute the most.”

Now that’s a conservative ruling class with a conscience! Can anyone imagine Romney and Ryan saying the same?

Thomas Friedman’s column is about the need for a conservative party, quoting some conservatives who hold reasonable conservative positions as opposed to the extremist positions now held by the Republicans. Friedman, who often calls for centrist policies, now realizes that he is far more likely to see centrist policies from Barack Obama than the current Republican Party, with the extremism of the GOP preventing the government from passing reasonable solutions to today’s problems:

We are not going to make any progress on our biggest problems without a compromise between the center-right and center-left. But, for that, we need the center-right conservatives, not the radicals, to be running the G.O.P., as well as the center-left in the Democratic Party. Over the course of his presidency, Obama has proposed center-left solutions to all four of these challenges. I wish he had pushed some in a bigger, consistent, more daring and more forceful manner — and made them the centerpiece of his campaign. Nevertheless, if the G.O.P. were in a different place, either a second-term Obama or a first-term Romney would have a real chance at making progress on all four. As things stand now, though, there is little hope this campaign will give the winner any basis for governing. Too bad — a presidential campaign is a terrible thing to waste.

This is an important message to get out. This election is not a choice between a liberal Democratic Party and a conservative Republican Party. It is a choice between a center-left Democratic Party and an extremely far right Republican Party. The middle of the road is not somewhere between the Democrats and Republicans–it is near where the Democrats stand on most issues and far from where the Republicans now are. Those who seek centrist, or even old Republican ideas, are more likely to find their views represented by Democrats than Republicans if they go beyond all the misinformation being spread by the far right.

Paul Ryan Ensures Mitt Romney Remains Tied To The Far Right

It is now official. Choosing Ryan solidifies the Republican ticket among rich, healthy, male voters who don’t give a damn about anyone else, including their children and future generations–not that Romney has any problem with that demographic. Falling in the polls, Romney found that he cannot win by doing nothing but telling lies about Obama and twisting quotations. Initially Romney wanted the election to be purely a referendum on Obama, trying to avoid saying anything specific and hoping that anyone unhappy with the state of the economy would vote for Romney by default. Apparently too many people realize that the problem is Republican policies, not Barack Obama. Besides, despite the best efforts of Republicans to prevent this, there are signs the economy may be recovering. Choosing Ryan now means that Obama gets what he wanted–an election based upon a choice between two competing policies

Romney had hoped to keep his taxes and business experience off the table, but making such demands only makes him look like a cry baby. This might be a fair deal provided that Romney  stop making stuff up and stop trying to place the blame for the Bush Recession and Bush Deficit (which Ryan voted for) on Obama. Announcing the choice of Ryan (even if calling him the next president in error) will change the topic of discussion briefly. Unfortunately for Romney it might change the conversation in ways which do not help him. With the announcement of Romney/Ryan, Goldwater/Miller is no longer the most far right ticket in Republican history–and may they suffer the same fate. This ticket is also unique in not having a candidate with military or foreign policy experience, and in not having a Protestant.

As is usual for Romney, he has both backed the Ryan budget on several dates and has tried to distance himself from it. Now there will be no more successful shaking of the Etch-A-Sketch. Romney is attached to the Ryan budget and plans to destroy Medicare as we know it, regardless of his campaign talking points.  Ryan’s earlier attempts to privatize Social Security, which went beyond those of George W. Bush, may further harm the ticket. Florida, which has only been leaning slightly to Obama n recent polls, might wind up to be out of reach for the anti-Medicare boys.

Choosing Ryan calls into question any claims of having a running mate who is qualified to take over from day one. It also makes it difficult for Romney to continue to attack Obama for a lack of experience in the private sector. Ryan’s private sector experience is limited to summer jobs such as driving the Weinermobile as an Oscar Mayer salesman. He does have experience working as a Congressional aide, including for Sam Brownback. He also shares many of Brownback’s reactionary views.

Choosing Ryan might help Romney keep the election about the economy as opposed to other issues. There are even some on the left who, while disagreeing with Ryan, do say he is serious. James Fallows explained just how unserious Ryan’s economic proposals really are.  While Romney would prefer to keep the election centered on the economy, Ryan’s far right views will further alienate the ticket from women, as well as with reasonable individuals regardless of gender. For example, Ryan co-sponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which declares that a fertilized egg “shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood,” effectively banning abortion and some forms of contraception. While in theory this should shore up the vote from the religious right, the ticket could also have problems with them. Ryan is a strong follower of  Ayn Rand, an ashiest who has written many things which would greatly offend the religious right.

Ryan’s major strength is that he does have the ability to make very bad ideas sound palatable. Democrats will be forced to respond with ideas of their own, defending what is necessary from government without the out-of-control spending which Republicans accuse them of. This could be an exercise which is good for the Democratic Party.

Obama Plans Strong Attacks on Romney and Having Republicans At Democratic Convention

I think the biggest mistake made by John Kerry in his campaign against George Bush was to insist that all the speakers at the Democratic convention be positive without attacking George Bush. Needless to say, the Republicans did not follow the same policy. Kerry was leading during the summer, but fell significantly behind Bush after the Republican hate-fest. I’m glad to find that Barack Obama will not be making that mistake:

Advisers to President Barack Obama are scripting a Democratic National Convention featuring several Republicans in a prime-time appeal to independents — and planning a blistering portrayal of Mitt Romney as a heartless aristocrat who “would devastate the American middle class,” Democratic sources tell POLITICO.

According to convention planning documents, the three-night convention in Charlotte, N.C., early next month will seek to “[e]xpose Mitt Romney as someone who doesn’t understand middle class challenges” while also burnishing “the President’s image as someone whose life story is about fighting for middle class Americans and those working to get into the middle class.”

It is fun to watch the Republicans whine when Obama hits them with critical but generally honest attacks considering that Republicans have been running far harsher attacks on Democrats for years which also are notable for their dishonesty. There is nothing coming from Obama (unless you believe this story in The Onion)  which compares to Republican lies that Obama is a Muslim born outside of the United States, that he is a socialist, that he is bringing about a government take over of health care, that he raised taxes when he actually cut them, or blaming him for the Bush deficit.  There’s no Democratic comparison to the all the recent noise misquoting Obama, falsely claiming he said that businessmen did not build their business or the lies about Obama’s welfare proposal. Same is true of several other misquotations Republicans have campaigned on. There’s nothing coming from Obama which compares to the Swift Boat Lies, which have been tied directly to Karl Rove and the Bush White House. There’s no Democratic 24-hour cable channel which spends the day promoting partisan talking points and lies disguised as news.

It will be interesting to see which Republicans will be included. Will they be individuals from outside of government who have voted Republican in the past and are now backing Obama, or will there be former Republican office holders? There certainly are a lot of moderate Republicans, and even some conservatives, who are no longer welcome in this far, far right wing GOP. I’m hoping for a seance in which Barry Goldwater repeats his old warnings about the religious right taking over the party and Ronald Reagan explains how the party has moved far to the right of him.

Earlier in the week there was reason to hope that the most entertaining Republicans of this election cycle, the Huntsman daughters, might be convinced to change parties. Abby Huntsman did say she was joining the Democrats but later said she was kidding. She also remains unsure as to who she will be voting for, so there is still hope of seeing videos from the Huntsman daughters backing Obama. It might be a family affair. There is speculation that Jon Huntsman, Sr. is the source for Harry Reid’s questionable claim that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years. Who knows, maybe Jon Huntsman, who already served as Obama’s ambassador to China, might show up at the Democratic Convention to back Obama.

Finally A True Word From Mitt Romney

Unfortunately he will raise taxes on almost everyone else to pay for his tax cuts for the ultra-rich.

Today Mitt Romney Picked Welfare For The Topic Of His Lies About Obama

Another day and another attack from pathological liar Mitt Romney which is purely fictitious. Today Romney launched a blatantly dishonest attack claiming Obama will “gut welfare reform” when actually Obama is supporting policies supported by Mitt Romney and many other Republicans. For those tired of going through all the details of all the lies from Mitt Romney the key thing to know is that it is not true that Obama is eliminating the requirement to work. For those who want more, Steve Benen provided this explanation:

Romney’s lying. He’s not spinning the truth to his advantage; he’s not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he’s just lying. The law hasn’t been “gutted”; the work requirement hasn’t been “dropped.” Stations that air this ad are disseminating an obvious, demonstrable lie.

All Obama did is agree to Republican governors’ request for flexibility. That’s it. Indeed, perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this is that Romney himself, during his one gubernatorial term, asked for the same kind of flexibility on welfare law that Obama agreed to last month. Romney, in other words, is attacking the president for doing what Romney asked the executive branch to do in 2005.

The entire line of attack is simply insane.

And that brings us back to the test for the political world.

How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney’s lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about taxes.

The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.

Ed Kilgore discussed the issue further, concluding:

Wonkery aside, it’s no mystery why the Romney campaign and its supporters are pursuing this dishonest and deeply hypocritical tack. In a “memorandum” released to support the new ad’s claims, Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chan accuses Obama of inflicting “a kick in the gut to the millions of hard-working middle-class taxpayers struggling in today’s economy, working more for less but always preferring self-sufficiency to a government handout.” It’s the old welfare-queen meme, which Republicans have already been regularly reviving in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act, on Medicaid, on food stamps, and in their much broader and horrifyingly invidious claims that poor and minority people deliberately taking out mortgages they knew they couldn’t afford caused the whole housing market collapse and the financial crisis that followed.

The claim that Obama is quietly bringing back the old welfare system is perfectly designed to bring back the old politics of the 1980s, when Republicans constantly (and often successfully) sought to pit middle-class voters against the poor while distracting attention from the vast welfare system supporting corporations and the wealthy.

Unlike ACA, Medicaid or even food stamps, there’s very little public support for the pre-1996 welfare system. So Romney and conservatives can go absolutely wild with this attack line, hauling in every racial innuendo imaginable with relatively little fear of blowback. As a bonus, I am sure Team Mitt is abundantly aware that many progressives disliked the 1996 law intensely and/or thought Clinton “caved” to Republicans in signing it (and I can confidently say that even those Democrats who approved of Clinton’s action were for the most party deeply conflicted about it; I certainly was). So they probably hope their attacks spur some internal recriminations within Obama’s own party and voting coalition.

All in all, this development in the campaign is a very nasty piece of work that I hope, but do not expect, Republicans come to regret.

An election campaign should be a debate between the different ideas of each party. If Republicans have objections to Obama’s policies and beliefs they should criticize these–not repeatedly attribute beliefs to Obama which he does not have and lie about the policies he has supported. The problem that the Republicans face is that a majority of  Americans, and often a majority of Republicans, support the positions promoted by liberals when polled  based upon positions and not party. In order to pursue policies which are actually only supported by a tiny minority of Americans, Republicans such as Romney must resort to lying about Democratic policies and beliefs to scare people into voting for them.

Quote of the Day

You know, Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X and he’s an Islamo-socialist revolutionary who’s coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe or worse yet, Saul Alinsky. And this is how politics has changed; you used to have to run against an actual candidate, but now you just recreate him inside the bubble and run against your new fictional candidate.

That’s how Bush won in 2004, by running against John Kerry, a French war criminal. And speaking of Bush, I know conservatives are saying oh Bill, come on Democrats did the same thing to him. No. Say what you will about the left’s hatred of Bush, at least we were hating on the real guy. We didn’t invent a boogeyman who tanked the economy, took us to war on false pretenses, and tortured prisoners. That was the actual guy.

But run down the list of complaints about fantasy Obama. He wants to raise your taxes, even though he’s lowered them. Confiscate your guns, even though he’s never mentioned it, and read terrorists their rights, yeah, like he did Tuesday in Somalia. And look what Gingrich said about him this month. (Video of Gingrich claiming Obama is against work). Yes, Obama is anti-work. You remember the bill he championed, The Grab A Corona And Call In Sick Act.

You see, the difference is the Republicans hatred of Obama is based on a paranoid feeling about what he might do. What’s he’s thinking. What he secretly wants to change. Anger with Bush was based on what he actually did. What Bush was thinking didn’t matter, because he wasn’t.

I’ve mentioned many times that there is little relationship between the real Barack Obama and the Barack Obama which Mitt Romney and other Republians talk about. Bill Maher broadcast this back in January, but I’ve just seen the above graphic being spread on Facebook this week. Transcript and links via Politicus USA. Here’s the video:

I Hope Harry Reid Knows What He Is Doing Or He Should Stop Acting Like A Republican

I sure hope Harry Reid knows what he is doing, or he might wind up helping Mitt Romney in the end. As Romney refuses to release his tax returns we cannot be certain whether the accusations are true, but Reids claims that a Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years sounds rather fishy. Even a Bain investor actually did say that, how credible would this be. I’ve never seen a financial adviser show their personal tax returns to a client. If Mitt Romney won’t release his tax returns when he should, while running for president, whey would he have shown them to a client when their was no reason to?

The reactions of the McCain people, who did see many of his returns four years ago, also makes me doubt there would be anything as damaging as not paying taxes for ten years. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his rate was closer to zero than 15 percent in 2009.

Of course we cannot be certain about this unless Romney does release his tax returns. Perhaps Romney did brag about not paying taxes, and perhaps the McCain people are covering for him out of party unity.

Harry Reid is sticking to his accusations:

On Wednesday, Reid stuck to his story, and broadened it.

“I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination,” Reid said in a telephone call with Nevada reporters. “I have had a number of people tell me that.”

Asked to elaborate on his sources, Reid declined. “No, that’s the best you’re going to get from me.”

“I don’t think the burden should be on me,” Reid said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”

A Romney spokesman said Reid’s charge was baseless and below the belt.

Burden of proof isn’t so one-sided here. Romney should release his tax returns, but that doesn’t free Reid of being obligated to back up his charges too.

There are possible up-sides to this. Reid is drawing even more attention to Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns. This might also force Romney to release his returns.

One possible down-side to this is that should Romney release his tax returns, whatever comes out might not be as bad as Reid is alleging, and the meia story could then change to Romney’s vindication. If it turns out that Romney is hiding something such as only paying around 5 percent for a couple of years, the story could then be that the charges of paying no taxes for ten years were outright false as opposed to how little taxes Romney paid.

Looking at the reactions to this around the blogosphere is amusing. Conservatives seem unanimous in condemning Reid for making false accusations, which is rather hypocritical considering that conservatives (including Romney) make false accusations about Democrats on a regular basis. Most conservatives can’t conceive of responding to liberals with anything other than a gross distortion of the facts. As Steve M. says, “welcome to our world, Mitt. Now you have a vague sense of how Democrats feel all the time.” Still, do we really want a Democratic leader acting like a Republican?

Romney Plan Would Raise Taxes on 95%

Mitt Romney’s proposed tax plan would provide tremendous tax cuts for the wealthy, but to make up for the revenue loss 95 percent of tax payers would see a tax increase according to a study by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Those in the top 0.1% would receive a tax break of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. In doing these calculations, the Tax  Policy Center even granted Romney the questionable assumption that giving these tax breaks to the ultra-wealthy would stimulate the economy and generate more tax revenue.

Barack Obama brought this up in campaigning in Ohio:

“If Gov. Romney wants to keep his word and pay for this plan, then he’d have to cut tax breaks that middle-class families depend on to pay for your home, the home mortgage deduction; to pay for your health care, the health care deduction; (or) to send your kids to college,” the president said.

“And here’s the thing: He’s not asking you to contribute more to pay down the deficit, he’s not asking you to pay more to invest in our children’s education, or rebuild our roads or put more folks back to work,” Obama said in Mansfield, Ohio. “He’s asking you to pay more so that people like him can get a big tax cut.”