Hey! I Don’t Have to Pay Income Tax!

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.

– Mitt Romney, at a fundraiser.

Okay, I’m confused. I’m an Obama supporter, have been for a nice long time now, and have never seriously considered voting for anyone else for president in the current election cycle — and yet yesterday I also sent in a big fat check to cover my estimated quarterly tax assessment, something I had to do because as a freelance writer, the federal, state and local governments think I’m not smart enough to pay my entire tax indebtedness in a single go. I also have private health insurance, a mortgage through a private lender, and pay for my own groceries.

Have I been doing this wrong the whole time?

Because I’m not gonna lie to you: man, if being an Obama supporter means you don’t have to pay income tax, well, sign me up. Because that would be sweet. I pay a metric crap ton of taxes — almost certainly more, as a percentage of my income, than ol’ Romney does, so more the fool me — and if all it takes to get out of them is voting for B. Hussein Obama, then that’s just fine with me. Honestly, if that’s actually the deal, and Romney is not just pulling a bunch of nonsense straight out of his ass, then I’m not surprised conservatives aren’t planning to sweep Obama to a 49-state landslide. Isn’t the holy grail of modern day conservatism never paying taxes for anything ever? You can do it! In one simple step! And, apparently, get a government-issue tub of cheese while you’re at it. Which just makes it sweeter (or, well, cheesier, anyway).

The converse of this is that as someone who actually pays taxes and doesn’t expect the government to pay his mortgage, I may be obliged to vote for Romney. But, yeah, that’s so not going to happen. So: No income taxes for me. And free housing! Hey, look, I don’t make the rules, here. I’m just doing what Mitt Romney tells me. You have a problem with this, you take it up with him.

I can’t wait to try out this logic on my IRS man! I see no possible way that this plan could ever fail. And if it does, then I will go to the federal pen — where I will get government-subsidized food, shelter and medical care, and won’t pay income tax! See. Mitt Romney was right all along.

334 thoughts on “Hey! I Don’t Have to Pay Income Tax!

  1. Romney folks (or alternately anti-Obama folks):

    Please don’t be the one stupid enough to attempt the argument that the 46% (or some such percentage) of the US population which does not pay income tax is exactly or even strongly correlated with the percentage of American voters who are definitely planning to vote for Obama. Things will be grim for you if you do, not in the least because some of the regular commenters here will bury you in actual facts. If you want to know who those 46% of Americans who don’t pay income tax are, start here. But just because Romney said a damned foolish thing at a fundraiser doesn’t mean you should do the same here. Thank you.

  2. Yeah, I was wondering why they keep taking stuff out of my paycheck, when I’m so obviously an Obama supporter. Somebody’s doing something wrong.

  3. I doubt his 47% figure. I suspect is just another massive political exaggeration.

    Don’t believe statistics in any political speech. They were probably invented by a speechwriter.

  4. I saw this via Facebook earlier this evening and I had much the same thought… that as someone who will definitely be voting for Obama again, I should be able to take advantage of this perk. Will it be retroactive to the date he was sworn in as President, do you think? Because if so, I have a helluva vacation to start planning!

  5. Mitt is basically right. The bottom 50% of the American population pay 2% of the taxes (on 13% of all income). This is a marked decrease from the ’70s, when the bottom 50% paid about 11% of taxes. This is the result of right-wing and left-wing politicians both favoring tax breaks for the “poor”. The right because they’re tax breaks, natch, and the left because they’re the “poor”.

    I put quotes around “poor” because being a 49th percentile earner to me doesn’t equate to poor.

    ntu.org/tax-basics/who-pays-income-taxes.html

    That said, there are plenty of taxes we pay that aren’t income tax. Social Security and Medicare are taxes, kinda, and sales tax tends to disproportionately affect the poor (even though you don’t pay sales tax on necessities like groceries and utilities).

    Mitt pays a lower amount than his nominal amount, Scalzi, because he donates a ton of his money to charity. For some reason, the liberal press ignores this tidbit – he donates far more (in absolute and percentage terms) than either Obama or Biden.

    All that said, I’m still not voting for Mitt. I’ll be voting Libertarian again this year.

  6. BillK:

    Actually, Romney is nowhere near being right, because his argument is not that 46% of Americans don’t pay income tax, it’s that that those people who don’t pay income tax are also Obama supporters. Pay closer attention, please.

  7. I respectfully disagree with your take on entitlements. I live in a county where perhaps the greatest industry is the collection of government checks and spending of entitlement monies such as SNAP. I see families that have become dependents on the government, virtual wards of the state. This dependence robs them of their dignity and erodes their desire to seek employment…and yes, they actually do operate under the mentality you parody in this post. Sometimes it really gets depressing watching a fellow with a thousand dollars worth of ink on his arms and an EBT card buying better groceries than I can afford. I find myself unable to vote for a party and president who think signing even more people up for these programs is an accomplishment of which to be proud.

    If it sounds like I hate poor people, I suppose you could say its true. I’d like to see them become affluent people, not simply continue to provide them enough money to remain in poverty.

  8. Uchuck:

    “I respectfully disagree with your take on entitlements.”

    Well, no. What you’re doing here is using my mere mention of entitlements in a parodying manner as an excuse to get on a soapbox and make an almost entirely unrelated point, and then attempt to make the discussion about what you think Obama’s view on the subject is, rather than discussing the actual topic at hand, which Is Romney saying a damn fool thing. You may not have been aware that this is classic derailing tactics, but, surprise! It is. Try not to do that again, please.

  9. I am another Obama voter who has most definitely, painfully, written those checks to the IRS. Does this mean that if Mitt is elected I get it back? Somehow I doubt it… But, really, this is how a great majority of the wealthy really think. I’m the rather well off son of a very wealthy parent, and I’ve spent time with these aging lunatic millionaires at my father’s country club, and while they are, on a personal level, some of kindest, most pleasant people to hang with, they also are convinced, in a way that makes any rational argument pointless, that there is this great mass of people (mostly brownish) who are coming to take what’s theirs, and they are convinced that Obama is the pitchfork wielder-in-chief. Their frame of reference is the French Revolution. And they feel that Marie Antionette was misunderstood. And, to be brutally honest, most of them are complete idiots.

  10. BillK:

    “Mitt pays a lower amount than his nominal amount, Scalzi, because he donates a ton of his money to charity. For some reason, the liberal press ignores this tidbit – he donates far more (in absolute and percentage terms) than either Obama or Biden.”

    Not true. The Obamas made $789,674 in 2011, gave away 22% to charity and paid an effective federal income tax rate of 20.5%. Romney has not released his 2011 return, but he has released an estimation of that return which shows that the Romneys made $20,901,075 in 2011, gave 19% away to charity and paid 16% in federal taxes.

    Add to that the fact that most of the “charity” Romney gave away isn’t what most of the rest of us would consider “charity”, but was tithing to the Mormon church.

    All this to point out the obvious: charitable giving is in no way the reason “Mitt pays a lower amount (of taxes) than his nominal amount”. He pays less because he takes advantage of a tax system that is designed to help the rich keep more of their money than the non-rich can.

  11. I think one thing worth pointing out about the numbers refuting the 46% estimate (46? 47? What’s a percentage point between internet commenters?) is that many people *don’t seem to distinguish between income and payroll taxes*. Or social security, etc… They just think of every penny withheld from a paycheck as income tax. Hey, it comes out of your income, right?

  12. Heh, I think there may be a Snopes reference somewhere.

    It is roughly true that the number of tax returns is just over half the number of the entire population of the United States.

    About half of that “47%” who don’t file are children. A large fraction of the remainder are stay-at-home mothers, elderly in-home relatives, and other people who are, um, declared as dependents on other people’s tax returns. So presumably Athena is one of the 47%.

  13. Romney’s mini-press conference tonight made clear that he (along with, presumably, Uchuck above) believes everyone can be affluent, hence his “saying a damn fool thing” at the taped fundraiser. His attitude to anyone who isn’t affluent, no matter how they got that way, simply has to be one of disdain. I don’t even think he can imagine any other orientation.

    (Reminds me of the lyric in “It’s All for the Best” from Godspell: “Someone’s got to be oppressed.”)

  14. We can argue who pays what taxes or whether income tax vs. sales tax should be included as one topic or separate things, but to me the bottom line with this Romney comment is his contempt for the regular poor or lower middle class people of the nation.

    Did Mitt forget the recession being a factor? I mean come on. This is just insulting stereotyping of nearly half the population of the country.

    This makes me mad as hell!

  15. I really, REALLY want somebody at the “town meeting” debate to approach Mitt Romney as if she’s about to ask a question, start reciting “Being Poor,” and when he starts to interrupt, look him straight in the eye and say, “I’M NOT FINISHED YET.”

  16. I received a check back from the IRS this year, as I have for the last 12 years, because I use a loophole in the tax code. I pay interest on my mortgage. I know which party targeted this “entitlement” to be removed as a tax break in the recent past, and it didn’t start with a “D.” My family is not dependent upon the government, are not victims, do not believe the government has a responsibility to care for them and don’t believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, or, to you-name-it. We pay for those other things because we pay for stuff that we need. Maybe one day I could meet Mitt and introduce myself as an independent that would never vote for a person that didn’t understand the basics of the everyday living that I’ve been blessed to be a part of.

  17. I’m amused by the idea that the people who are “not paying income tax” must be Obama supporters, when all it would take is being a relative or friend of somebody who is dependent on one of the programs that Mitt Romney is likely going to have to gut in order to not raise taxes and attempt to reduce the deficit. People may vote for their own benefit, but it’s also possible to believe that the important thing is to vote in a way that the entire country will benefit, and that sufficient evidence exists to believe that Mitt Romney’s plans for running the country will not benefit the entire country.

    (There’s also the question of how the southern states can be strong Republican states when they’re not full of millionaires paying tons of money in taxes.)

  18. Dear Mr Romney: Maybe if so many decent-paying jobs hadn’t been outsourced to the third world, we’d have more Americans earning a median income. You reap what you sow.

  19. Wow. Very nearly half the voters in the country are parasites he doesn’t need to worry about. I wonder how much contempt he holds for those that don’t vote. A candidate really ought to pretend to give a shit about the entire nation, not just voters he already has.

  20. What irks me is that from now until election day, Mitt’s half-cocked statement will be part of the “he said” debate that will overshadow the issue we should really be focusing on: which candidate will leave this country in a better state than it is now. This election has been a comedy of errors on both sides and I’m sick of it. I’m not a big fan of any of the candidates and I hate voting for the lesser evil, whomever that may be.

  21. Alex: The 47% is a real figure and isn’t made of children and all that. It’s 47% of the households.

    That number is, of course, down from 51% (in 2009 when the recession was at its worst, and tax breaks as part of the Obama stimulus helped), and up from 40%, which was the number prior to this little recent economical problem.

    But the point is that, he said this because it was what his audience wanted. He was speaking to political donors who like to be told that they’re held back by those poors, can’t figure out how any “hardworking american” could be liberal, etc, etc. So, it’s the perfect message for these people.

    In the good ole days, it wouldn’t matter. No news station would report on this, and no one would pay attention. But these days, the entire Internet hears about everything you do.

  22. It’s amazing how Romney keeps getting even more special every time he opens his mouth. Just the other day he said that “middle income” was 200-250K. So obviously everybody making less than that ought to be part of the 47%. (Why is it that the IRS keeps taking money out of my paycheck, then?)

    The alleged 47% number doesn’t bother me as much – if you count retired people who are collecting Social Security and not paying much income tax, and children who aren’t earning money but are going to government schools (paid for by their parents’ taxes, but not their own), and unemployed people (who are either still getting benefits or have been out of work long enough that they didn’t pay income tax this year), and people who are working but poor enough to pay minimal income tax, and of course if you only count Federal Income Tax, not Social Security taxes or sales taxes or property taxes (many retired people own their homes), it might very well add up to 47%.

    The assertion that they all vote Democrat is pretty bogus (didn’t Sarah Palin say that elitists all vote Democrat?) but if he’d like to tell all the retired Americans not to vote Republican, more power to him!

  23. Not an American, but there were some years I didn’t pay income tax but would have been a “household”. When I was a full-time student, for example, and when I was extremely sick with cancer. Since my government helped me through both, they’ve now reaped 14 years (and presumably many more!) of me paying income tax, plus all the other relevant taxes. Seems like a fair deal.

  24. Obviously, this assertion is false on its face. My household, for instance, pays more in income taxes every year (and that’s AFTER deductions) than the U.S. median income. All three of us will be voting for Obama.

    More than that, though, it’s also false from the other end: there are millions of poor people, many of whom are actually surviving off of various taxpayer-funded programs, who nonetheless think that they’re the only ones who deserve any help, and everyone else who uses government services is a moocher.

    My nearly destitute parents, who never planned for retirement and are living off of Social Security, are about as anti-government-entitlement as you can get. They justify SSI and Medicare with the notion that they paid into it, and thus they’re entitled to get something out of it (nevermind that they’re getting more out than they paid in, and nevermind that people on, say, unemployment or food stamps likely also have paid into those funds while working.) They still have Reagan’s Welfare Queen lie in their heads, believing that their hard-earned tax dollars are going to support lazy baby factories and not, for instance, a guy who got injured in an industrial accident and needs help feeding his kids until he’s well enough to work again.

    The biggest laugh of all? These people have themselves been on food stamps in the past, and for several of my childhood years were also getting food-bank boxes. (Yay, government cheese.) They clearly know what it’s like to need help that charity can’t provide, but they believe that most of that help isn’t going to people like them, but to people who never worked for anything they’re getting back (their current target: undocumented immigrants.)

    This is what class warfare is really about: it’s not about the poor hating the rich, but about the working poor hating the non-working poor (regardless of the reason they’re not working) because they’re angry that they should have to suffer in menial, low-paying jobs while someone else freeloads off of them. They see the tiny handful of people who really are committing entitlement fraud and assume that covers everyone. They believe that it’s all single mothers who can’t be bothered to keep their legs closed or marry their baby daddies, or lazy college kids who smoke pot all day instead of looking for a job. They’re hardworking people who can’t seem to get ahead and who truly believe it’s because people who don’t want to work are stealing their tax dollars.

    Even more than the lies about evil gay people, abortion-seeking sluts and fanatical terrorists, it’s the lies about what other poor people are doing to steal from them that drives these people to vote the way they do. Romney’s speech may have been designed for the ears of the rich who somehow believe that making stock deals counts as a proper day’s work, but it’s still resonating with the rest of his angry, working-poor base, too.

  25. Romney’s low tax rate is mostly about the preferential treatment for payments that can be termed capital gains, even for Hedge fund managers who don’t put any of their own capital at risk. It’s a loophole everyone agrees makes no sense, but that couldn’t be closed without it counting as a “tax increase,” which one party finds the most vile phrase of the English language.

  26. The bottom 50% of the American population pay 2% of the taxes (on 13% of all income). This is a marked decrease from the ’70s, when the bottom 50% paid about 11% of taxes. This is the result of right-wing and left-wing politicians both favoring tax breaks for the “poor”.

    No. In large part, this is because the bottom 50% are poorer than they were in the late 70s: they are earning a much smaller percentage of the total national income, therefore it’s understandable that they are paying a much smaller percentage of the total tax intake.

  27. So here’s the question: does Romney still have a chance? Even if he keeps up with the gaffes like this, will enough people vote for him regardless as to make the election an open question?

  28. Entitled to have the government provide food, housing, good health? Well, yes, that is the government’s (any government) job to provide those for its citizens. If not, then what is the government for? Governments exist to provide for their people, not the other way around.

  29. @ Michael Rosefield: Yes, it’ll probably still be fairly close. After all, his opponent is an uppity … Democrat.

    I could be wrong, but I’m not expecting this gaffe to have much effect on its own, though it’ll certainly feed into the uncaring-rich-bastard narrative about Romney, as well as the clumsy-foot-shooting-campaign narrative.

  30. FWIW, I think there are too few undecideds at this point for campaigning to really make much difference in who people vote for. The key will be getting out the vote–and ensuring that everyone gets one. For some time now, I’ve believed that Romney’s strategy was simply to get out every single one of his base with rabble-rousing, and rely on voter-suppression efforts in big-EV states to make up the difference. Quite chuffed that most of those efforts seem to be failing.

    One interesting thing this gaffe–and the subsequent narrative of his campaign being over–might do, however, is free more people on his side of the aisle to vote for third parties. If people think his chances are shot, they may decide to make a statement about the truly crap slate of candidates the GOP has offered by throwing their vote at someone else. In fact, I kind of wish they would. Not because I don’t want Romney to win (I don’t, of course) but because I’d like to see the right wing finally split into the libertarian/wingnut camps it’s been threatening to for the last generation. Also, I’d like to see the handful of reasonable, balanced-budget conservatives finally come to realize that the GOP has abandoned them, and that their true home is among the Blue Dogs. I’m personally a progressive, but I do think the D’s need a proper opposition to keep them honest; the GOP isn’t doing that, so the Blue Dogs will need to.

    Must say, I look forward to the day when the great political split in our country has absolutely jackall to do with whether someone thinks I’m going to hell for being queer or having premarital sex.

  31. I don’t pay income tax because I don’t have enough income to tax. I’m an at-home mom, but I don’t receive any handouts, so I must be doing it wrong, too. Is there a form I need to fill out or a line I need to stand in to receive all this largesse for me and my daughter (who also pays no taxes)? Like Sally from Peanuts, all I want is my fair share.

  32. I keep wondering the same thing. My quarterly taxes keep going out. My mortgage keeps coming out of my personal bank account. I have to pay for my own food. What is going on here?

    Maybe I (and you) are part of that middle 5% that might, maybe, just possibly change our minds when given the opportunity to pay more cause we are in the middle class and earn $250,000? But no, that isn’t me.

  33. I’m glad Romney said this, because it is the underlying feeling that much of the enraged privileged feel. A lot of the working and middle class are angry. They feel that they are the only ones working hard and seeing little gain. They think “the poor” get money for nothing (and chicks for free?) and look forward to the day that they too are the 1%, when the 1% are 50%, because math works that way. John Steinbeck said it best when he said that even some of the poor in America behave as if they are “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” Someday I will be rich, and boy, I’ll regret that taxes went up from 35% to 37% on the highest incomes. The biggest joke is the capital gains tax rate of 15%. If anything, wages should be taxed at a lower rate than “investment.” The argument against it is that the investors will just squirrel away their income and not make ANY money rather than pay more taxes. You know, take their ball and go home. Because that makes sense- if I can make zero profit and stick out my tongue, that is somehow more financially sound than making 10% less profit because I paid a tax. But people believe it, most likely because the financial education of the middle and lower classes is abysmal, and the banks like it that way.

    To spin a tangent- we need to stop saying “Romney lost the election” until the Supreme Court decides who is President. The last thing we need is voters staying home from the polls on election day, especially Obama voters. I would love to see a landslide like Reagan-Mondale, except for the Democrats. Have they seen one since FDR?

  34. Yeah, I’ve paid taxes for 20 years now but I’m voting for Obama. Apparently I missed the big ‘Obama supporter’ deduction on my tax form this year.

    Seriously, what chafes me most about Romney’s comment is that among those 47% who are not paying taxes but are receiving housing, food, healthcare, etc. from the govt are veterans on disability – people who have given more to this country Mitt ever can or will. (But then he made pretty clear during the convention and with the ‘laundry list’ remark afterward that they aren’t people he really cares about).

  35. If Romney had his way, I’d be broke, pregnant and most likely unemployed in the backwoods of Georgia.

    I was laid off after 9-11, eight and a half months pregnant and because my husband and I were both military (myself former) I didn’t qualify for unemployment. The WIC program supplemented our food for six months, loaned me a high quality breast pump and functioned as a support network while my husband spent 14-18 hrs at the base.

    Now we are both college graduates who make good money, own a home, and pay our taxes.

    Is the government entitled to help in those situations? Maybe not. But that assistance made us stronger citizens in the long run.

  36. Apparently Romney forgot that people vote on social policy as well as fiscal; a lapse of memory that does not bode well for a Romney presidency. “You mean there’s a whole other half to this job?!”

    If voting was determined by tax brackets, we could just disband the FEC and let the IRS tally the vote from records.

    @ Eric

    The Obamas made $789,674 in 2011, gave away 22% to charity and paid an effective federal income tax rate of 20.5%. Romney has not released his 2011 return, but he has released an estimation of that return which shows that the Romneys made $20,901,075 in 2011, gave 19% away to charity and paid 16% in federal taxes.

    IMO, one of Romney’s biggest mistakes so far was not releasing it before it became an issue. Instead of taking the bull by the horns, he dodged it and left it all open to speculation. Foolish.

    Add to that the fact that most of the “charity” Romney gave away isn’t what most of the rest of us would consider “charity”, but was tithing to the Mormon church.

    Whether you or I consider it a worthwhile charity is immaterial to whether it is charity.

    @ Alex

    About half of that “47%” who don’t file are children. A large fraction of the remainder are stay-at-home mothers, elderly in-home relatives, and other people who are, um, declared as dependents on other people’s tax returns. So presumably Athena is one of the 47%.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_lie_with_statistics

    @ gottacook

    Romney’s mini-press conference tonight made clear that he (along with, presumably, Uchuck above) believes everyone can be affluent,

    So do I (with the caveat that not everyone who can will or even wants or needs to), I simply disagree that Romney is likely to get us any closer to those opportunities.

    @ Craig Johns

    Did Mitt forget the recession being a factor? I mean come on. This is just insulting stereotyping of nearly half the population of the country.
    This makes me mad as hell!

    This sort of fact-immune blinkeredness is par for the political course. If I let it get me riled up, my blood pressure would be higher than a hippy on 4/20.

    @ Calven Scott Eldred

    I wonder how much contempt he holds for those that don’t vote.

    I hold no actual contempt for them, because a lot of non-voters are good people, but I do feel sad for eligible voters who do not exercise their franchise and I regard their non-participation as a civic tragedy.

    @ A Mediated Life

    (their current target: undocumented immigrants.)

    Ah, xenophobia, the most predictable idiocy of constituencies in hard times. Now serving customers since pre-history.

    They believe that it’s all single mothers who can’t be bothered to keep their legs closed or marry their baby daddies,

    Strangely enough, said baby daddies do not always stick around to be married.

    @ Michael Rosefield

    So here’s the question: does Romney still have a chance? Even if he keeps up with the gaffes like this, will enough people vote for him regardless as to make the election an open question?

    Truth rarely gets in the way of elections. It’s only a gaffe if the lie fails to resonate with those who want to believe it.

  37. I guess the reason they’re still taking taxes out of my paycheck, and I’m still paying rent, and buying my own food is that I really wanted to vote for Hillary in 2008. This must be my punishment.

  38. Oh and as an antidote to the link upthread from the Flat Tax advocacy group masquerading as the “Citizen’s Taxpayer’s Union” there’s an actual breakdown here:

    Who Paid Neither Income Nor Payroll Taxes?

    – More than half are elderly

    – Over one-third are nonelderly with income under $20,000

    – Only about 1 in 20 is nonelderly with income over $20,000

  39. It’s not really the fact that R&R lie so much that’s a problem for their campaign. Politicians — including Obama, et al — play fast and loose with the truth all the time. It’s that Romney and Ryan are so goddamn *bad* at it and they don’t seem to *care* how bad they are. They’ve gotten so baldly dishonest that even corporate media is (sometimes) calling them on it, and they just shrug and keep repeating the lies.

    If you’re going to tell someone that you love them just to get them into bed, it’s better not to snicker when you say it.

  40. I wrote four large estimated tax payments checks yesterday–one to the feds, two to two different states, and one to a municipality. (The government doesn’t think that lawyers will pay their taxes in one go, either.) I wasn’t always well off enough to write checks to pay for anything, let alone taxes. When I had my first baby, in 1994, back before I even had an associate’s degree, I was on a Medicaid through a program for uninsured pregnant women and babies (a program that covered you even above income-threshholds for general Medicaid coverage; a program that I think no longer exists in that form thanks to welfare reform). I was ordered out of my $19,000-a-year retail management job by my doctor, and lost that health insurance and had no information to counter the company’s view that it did not owe me disability. My pregnancy was a pre-existing condition on my then-husband’s insurance, so I didn’t have any. My husband was making $17,000 a year working two jobs and was going to school full time. He had to drop out.

    When that first baby was a year old, I started back to school at the local community college, using Pell Grants and federal student loans to pay tuition and to pay for childcare. I was in school and dependent on those grants and student-loans for seven years. One year we got an increase in my law school loans to pay for COBRA payments on my spouse’s health insurance for four months, because at the time, without health insurance, my monthly asthma medication bill was about $1,200. We went two months without any insurance before I started my first full time post-law school job, and we put the scripts on the credit card, knowing we would soon be able to save up and pay them off. In those years, we very rarely paid very much in taxes, and what came out of our paychecks was almost always sent back to us due to earned income credits and childcare credits and education credits and etc. We always used it to, like, order Chinese food as a splurge and then pay off a doctor bill or a car payment. We bought a house in Detroit (with an FHA loan, with a special additional “first-time buyers credit” on our interest rates) and used our tax refund for the $500 downpayment. We needed those tax refunds, desperately, every year.

    It’s 18 years later. I’ve been a lawyer for ten years. I’ve been a partner for three years, but this is the first year I’ve had the cashflow to make my estimated tax payments timely. I am also able to pay for my oldest son to go off to college this year (again, we’re using Federal unsubsidized and Plus loans to spread out my cashflow demands, but I’ll be able to pay them annually before any interest is applied). I had another baby this year, but had insurance and maternity leave and what-have-you. I have been very lucky, and I would not be where I am today without the multitude of entitlements I’ve received from my government over the years. The total of the checks I’ve written so far this year to pay for estimated taxes alone is more than I and my ex-husband made together in 1994. I wrote those tax checks yesterday, and I was extraordinarily happy to do it and extraordinarily grateful that I could.

    I also wrote another check, this morning–to the Obama campaign (well, I didn’t *write* that check; I did it electronically). I’ve been very poor, and I am now well off, and I worked a lot harder when I was poor than I do now. The “47%” deserve a hell of a lot better from their president than disdain.

    (Sorry, John. That got longer than I expected when I started it.)

  41. Oh, and if there’s not someone at the Obama campaign putting together an ad where using the “entitled to food” line, I’d be shocked.

  42. MORE GUBMENT CHEESE, PLEASE! It does make the best grilled cheese sandwiches. Much better than that fru-fru nonsense that the 1% uses to adorn their grilled panini.

  43. Re the tithing/charity thing: I’ve heard some speculation that one of the reasons Mitt’s so reluctant to release his tax records is that they may have been under-tithing. Might be awkward — evidently Mormons tend to take tithing relatively seriously.

  44. I know this is off topic. Sorry about that. Anyway, I’m curious.

    > I also sent in a big fat check
    > The total of the checks

    Do you Americans still use checks a lot? Why, what for? In my life checks have been peripheral for at least 20 years. It has been a caricature that Americans use checks a lot but is that true in 2012?!?

  45. What bothers me most is the part where he says ” I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” pretty clearly stating that, not only does 47% not pay income taxes because of their economic status, but that they’re perfectly content with their poverty and aren’t interested in doing any better. And prefacing that comment by saying “it’s not my job to worry about those people” is pretty damning as well.

  46. @AMediatedLife: thank you for articulating what’s always mystified me: How can the Bushes, Ryans, Ron Johnsons, and Romneys of the world — people born into wealth, whose entire agenda is built around further entrenching privilege and plutocracy — possibly con votes out of hard-working people who are anything BUT wealthy, who will be the primary victims of their policies? Apparently the politics of otherness go deep into the brainstem, hence their effectiveness. Works perfectly well in the other direction, too — “we are the 99%” is a scarily effective tactic to call out and demonize a minority, after all.

    Don’t get me wrong about Occupy — over the long haul, obscenely skewed wealth distribution has a better potential to foment violent revolution than anything else I can think of. It’s not just the working-poor Republican voters who are directly at odds with their own best interests, the rich Randroids are likewise digging their own graves. At some point I suspect that a large majority of people are going to realize that there are indeed makers and takers in our system; it’s just that the hard-up former Republicans were confused about which was which, and that the former outnumber the latter 99 to 1.

    “Well, that’s going to be an interesting day.” — Jayne

  47. @my informed opinion: In the US, a paper check is by far the easiest/cheapest way to get money to the government – paper checks and money orders are pretty much the only two options, in most cases. How do you do that where you live?

  48. John – its a bigger lie than even what you suggest.

    My kid is just starting out in life and he and his wife get back everything that is withheld for Federal income tax because their income is small. He would be classified as part of the 46% the Mr. Rmoney mentions. But does he really pay no taxes? No, he pays 7.5% for FICA plus more for Medicare and other Federal programs. People like Rmoney want to continue to take that plus add the burden on of a 10% tax rate (Paul rAyn plan – Willard won’t give specifics) with few or no deductions.

    I make nearly twice the national average and currently pay more than the 13% the Marquis du Mittens whines about in total Federal tax. But under the plan proposed my total Federal tax bill would go over 25%. So nobody is riding for free is they have a job and his cure is worse than the disease.

  49. I think the most telling aspect of this whole mess is that Romney made these comments at a $50,000 per plate fund raiser held at the platial Boca Raton mansion of a fellow hedge-fund manager, comments made essentially to his peer group behind closed doors. It’s troublesome simply because it is Romney at ease with others he seems to consider equals of like mind to his; that he’s so dismissive of nearly half the electorate as people who supposedly consider themselves “victims” and “rely on government” as a result is frightening in someone who’s run a campaign wherein he’s supposed to be concerned about all Americans.

    But, remember, we were hearing the “unbuttoned” Romney, not the one who’s giving press conferences for public consumption.

  50. @Mark: I don’t know where “my informed opinion” lives, but here in .uk the gov’t and the major banks have been working together to phase out personal cheques for donkeys years – the only reason they still exist at all is because stopping them completely would inconvenience small traders who have no other way of handling their finances. No major shops accept them any more, and the majority of central government services are now only available online via debit/credit card.

  51. I’ve seen a report that claims that the host of this event had also hosted sex parties (or at least parties at which there was public nudity and sex) at the same location. Personally, I don’t think it’s particularly relevant and I’d just as soon it didn’t get much attention. But I do wonder how the media will handle it and whether it’ll give the whole bru-ha-ha more staying power in the public’s attention.

  52. According to fivethirtyeight, the current forecast is for Obama to get 51.1% of the vote. So, Romney is claiming that only 4% of the people who will vote for Obama will be paying income tax (it appears that both John and I fall into this category). His claim also seems to be that 100% of the people who will not pay tax will vote for Obama and not for him.
    Both claims are quite obviously silly. A quick google of “republican income demographics” will show various studies that while households with lower income (those most likely to not pay federal income tax) tend to vote Democratic, the percentage who vote Republican is nowhere close to zero. So, it would seem that Romney is saying he doesn’t care at all about a number of people who will actually vote for him.

  53. So, on the anniversary of the Occupy movement, Mitt has brilliantly shifted the question from “are you in the 1% or the 99%?” to “are you in the 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” or the 10% who can think, sort of, or are independents.

    Politico fact checks thus:

    Romney was close — 46 percent paid no federal income taxes in 2011.
    Half of those nonpayers earn too little to pay any taxes, and half of them get there through tax deductions and exemptions, according to the Tax Policy Center. Of the latter half, 44 percent use tax deductions designed to help the elderly, and 30 percent use tax deductions that aid the working poor or children.

    The Tax Policy Center uses a family of four earning less than $26,400 as an example. After the $11,600 standard deduction and four $3,700 exemptions, they have no taxable income.
    But many of these people pay federal payroll and excise taxes, as well as state income taxes.

    By the way, I paid income taxes this year even though I have not received a paycheck or food stamps or unemployment compensation or any government money in 15 moths. I had to take a penalty and cash out one of my tiny retirement fund, and $1,500 of taxes were extracted from me immediately. If one of my 14 novels sold over the past 2 years sells this year, I’ll pay income taxes on that — but at a low rate, because my taxable income will be lowered whan I apply my business losses from for example, flying to and from Chicon 7, staying in the Sharton, and incidentals ($2,211.45 total).

    I think that, as Bill Clinton said, Romney is from an Alternate History.

    Imagine for example that when young Barack “Barry” Obama was in high school in Honolulu, Hawaii, smoking a lot of potent locally grown pot, and bought a bunch of paperbacks for a nickle each, Moby Dick, Saul Bellow, and others, and had his eyes opened to literature. That really happened. Then he wrote some rather literary short stories, and submitted them to literary magazines. That really happened. Now, in our world, those were all rejected, and he went into different pursuits such as being a community organizer in Chicago before earning his law degree. Then, in our world, he worked as a civil rights attorney in Chicago and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. He served three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2000. But suppose that one of his early short stories sold, was printed, paid him a small sum, and he decided to drop out and be a novelist. My life and your might have been closely paralleled by a novel by Bestselling Barry Obama, as seen on TV.

  54. @my informed opinion — as @Mark said, we pretty much have to use the paper slips when we’re sending money to the government. Businesses can make tax payments electronically, but very few individuals do. It’s also pretty much the only way to pass cash from one individual to another.

    In addition: even when we pay bills electronically, we often call this ‘writing a check’. I write about six physical checks a year these days, and still use the term.

  55. They still have Reagan’s Welfare Queen lie in their heads

    Which is precisely what Romney’s comments were meant to call out. The tie-in between ‘pays no income tax’ and ‘Obama supporters’ has a not very subtle racial component. Those People only support one of their own because they’re lazy and live off’n your tax dollars, etc etc. It worked for Reagan, why not for Romney?

    And of course there’s the neo-Calvinism that so appeals to our sense of defensive attribution. It’s far too scary to think that maybe, even if I work very hard and am a good person, I might not succeed for reasons beyond my control – say, because I wasn’t born rich and the system is rigged. If I blame poor people for being poor, I don’t have to think about that.

  56. @ Mark, @ Beth: We don’t do the quarterly thing so I don’t know how that works. Our taxes are deducted from our paychecks before we get them, and the annual April 15th settling up has been done via electronic payments from / to our bank accounts for several years. No paper checks involved.

    Hmmm. The spouse and I both voted for Obama in 2008, but I guess we somehow missed that Obama-voter deduction every year. This year, she’s planning on voting for Obama again, but I’m not … will we need to file separately?

  57. Uchuck: I see families that have become dependents on the government, virtual wards of the state.

    Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re… dependent.

    Of course, you have the same problem as Cole. You can’t prove what you see.

    This dependence robs them of their dignity

    YES! The thing that you’re most concerned about here is people’s dignity! What a humanitarian you are.

    Sometimes it really gets depressing watching a fellow with a thousand dollars worth of ink on his arms and an EBT card buying better groceries than I can afford.

    So, the real problem here is… um… tatoos?

    Do you think that’s a big enough smoke screen to distract from gajillioin dollar companies who don’t pay any taxes or actually get tax refunds?

    The old saw is that poor people waste their handout money on drugs, booze, whores, the racetrack, and lottery tickets. I didn’t know they updated it to include tattoos.

  58. Romney’s theory of the “taker class,” and why it matters: (emphasis mine)

    Part of the reason so many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes is that Republicans have passed a series of very large tax cuts that wiped out the income-tax liability for many Americans. That’s why, when you look at graphs of the percent of Americans who don’t pay income taxes, you see huge jumps after Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform and George W. Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. So whenever you hear that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, remember: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush helped build that. (You also see a jump after the financial crisis begins in 2008, but we can expect that to be mostly temporary.)

    Some of those tax cuts for the poor were there to make the tax cuts for the rich more politically palatable. “Do you think we wanted to include a welfare payment to people who don’t pay taxes and call it a tax cut?” A top Bush administration official once asked me. “No. But that’s what we needed to do to get it done.”

    But now that those tax cuts have passed and many fewer Americans are paying federal income taxes and the rich are paying a much higher percentage of federal income taxes, Republicans are arguing that these Americans they have helped free from income taxes have become a dependent and destabilizing “taker” class who want to hike taxes on the rich in order to purchase more social services for themselves. The antidote, as you can see in both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s policy platforms, is to further cut taxes on “job creators” while cutting the social services that these takers depend on. That way, you roll the takers out of what Ryan calls “the hammock” of government and you unleash the makers to create jobs and opportunities.

    So notice what happened here: Republicans have become outraged over the predictable effect of tax cuts they passed and are using that outrage as the justification for an agenda that further cuts taxes on the rich and pays for it by cutting social services for the non-rich.

  59. Chalk up one more Obama voter who pays federal income taxes.

    I say, if Mitt Romney wants to be crtitical of those who do not pay federal income taxes, he should prove that he is not one of those people and show his tax returns.

  60. Yeah, when I picked up this video from Guardian (via Mother Jones) I was most pleasantly surprised. Obama’s campaign should just be to ignore Romney et al and focus on what he can do. Leave it to GOP candidates to shoot themselves in the foot till they get gangrene. If I were Republican I would be sad. What a bunch of bozo’s for politicians.

  61. And before anyone poo-poo’s my post, realize it’s on topic. I mean, listen to that video and hear what Romney is saying! All it takes is a clue and a heartbeat to figure it out for what it’s about. Foolish foolish man.

  62. What I find remarkable is how much Willard and his $50K diners come across as sounding just like Edward Arnold and the evil plutocrats in old Frank Capra films like “Meet John Doe.”

  63. Genufett: …. Republicans have become outraged over the predictable effect of tax cuts they passed and are using that outrage as the justification for an agenda that further cuts taxes on the rich and pays for it by cutting social services for the non-rich ….

    i.e.: Republicans are still running the standard “Starve the Beast” play that they’ve been running for years. The “outrage” is merely garnish added for variety.

  64. As far as I have been able to tell, that 47% is an accurate measure of something. But I don’t think that it’s what Romney says it is. I saw one article this morning that said that it’s the number of people in the country getting government assistance of some sort. Romney’s adding a lot of attributes and generalizations to that group that just aren’t true.

    I heard once that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lines and statistics. I think I’ll add political statistics to that list as the worst of the lot.

    Meanwhile, it seems these days that every time Romney opens his mouth (or at least when the press covers it) I feel like he’s making me, as a middle-class, mostly-Republican, Mormon, look bad.

  65. @Mark, @Beth, @Dave, and @Bearpaw

    > In addition: even when we pay bills electronically, we often call this ‘writing a check’. I write about six physical checks a year these days, and still use the term.

    I thought that this might (also) be the case.

    That (@Bearpaw) is quite like we do it. We use our bank accounts, the cards don’t matter there at all. For example, employers pay taxes (according to the tax info we ourselves provide, or actually the government, in most cases) for employees on the net. If that doesn’t add up we either get money back to our bank accounts by the government, or we have to pay the government to their bank account, also on the net. Claims for tax refunds are also made on the net. This has been going on “for ever”. I only remember seeing checks at the end of the 70s / beginning of the 80s, my mother had a check book back then. I used travellers’ checks myself at the beginning of the 90s while on Interrail, payed an advance on an appartment lease in Germany 10 years ago on check. This is all I remember about checks. Thank God / Spaghetti Monster they’re gone!

  66. @ Greg: “The old saw is that poor people waste their handout money on drugs, booze, whores, the racetrack, and lottery tickets. I didn’t know they updated it to include tattoos.”

    You forgot TVs. And it looks like Romney wants to add healthcare, food, and housing.

  67. One of the chilly under-currents of Romney’s comments, an under-current that I’ve noticed elsewhere in the news where wealthy donors are speaking off the cuff, is a seeming lament that these people (the 47% of America that is poor, or at least not rich enough to see things the way they do) get to vote at all.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a high profile somebody, in the next few months, suggest something to the tune of “If you don’t pay taxes, you shouldn’t get a vote.”

  68. John, there is a simple solution to your problem – move to Ireland, where income derived from ‘artistic endeavours’ is not taxed! Think of Ireland as the Cayman Islands of the Artistic set! Don’t forget to renounce your US citizenship on the way there!

    Yes, I know that you wouldn’t do that. Yes, I’m aware that the analogy to Romney’s Swiss and Cayman accounts isn’t exact. Yes, my suggestion is intended to be snarky. :-)

    As for Romney’s ‘charitable giving’ – people should be aware by now that the 10% he gives to the LDS isn’t optional for him! Failure to pay his tithe would result in his ‘Temple Recommend’ being revoked, with effects somewhat (again, 100% congruence is not implied here) akin to a Catholic being denied Communion. Romney is presumably not interested in missing out on the Celestial Kingdom because he short-changed his church!

  69. @ ben: In the US, there used to be places with poll taxes, which is that idea in a nutshell. The idea was just as racist and classist as you might expect such a thing to be. And at the time, mostly unapologetically so. These days, of course, such ideas have to be more “elegantly stated”.

  70. Bearpaw: You forgot TVs. And it looks like Romney wants to add healthcare, food, and housing

    Wait. So, when a homeless person walks up to a Republican asking for some spare change, the Republican will throw his nose up in the air and say “You’d just waste it on food and housing anyway.” ???

    Man, even Ebeneezer Scrooge would look at that and say “That’s a bit harsh”.

    Speaking of ol’ E.S.:

    “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

    Also, it appears Romney is a middle east hawk. At the same $50k-per-plate fundraiser he basically said all Palestinians want to destroy Israel. All of them.

    The guy is a characiture who thinks in characitures of everyone else.

    I think someone ought to present Romney with a monocle, a top hat, and a cigarette holder. If he’s gonna play the part, might as well dress the part.

  71. Peter: There’s also the question of how the southern states can be strong Republican states when they’re not full of millionaires paying tons of money in taxes

    Because southern states are strongly religious (extremist) and the Republican party platform says abortion is wrong even in the case of rape, homosexuality is a sin, birth control is wrong, the Ten Commandments should be on Government property, “in god we trust” should be on money, and so on and so forth.

    i.e. the Republican party has adopted Christian Theocracy views, and all the hard-religious people in the South vote for that.

  72. Soooo, as an Obama supporter, why exactly did I get hit with that tax penalty this past year? It’s not like I owed them anything, right?

  73. There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly. Some even want more taken from them. Those few vote for hopeless change.

  74. At this point, I don’t even care about the numbers.

    I mean, I do, but I can’t get over this: , who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

    I just…I…seriously? SERIOUSLY?

    Why, yes, Mr. Romney. Human beings in civilized societies are, in fact, entitled to food. And housing. And health care. The fact that you phrase this as a subjective-and-suspect belief, that you apparently think “nobody should starve to death in the street” is a controversial proposition…

    Seriously? I couldn’t write a villain like you, Mittens. I couldn’t fucking run a priest of Tiamat who works on your moral lines: my players would laugh and point at the cartoonishly unrealistic villainy. What the hell is *wrong* with you?

    I half expect the next GOP statement to involve closing down an orphanage. Maybe a puppy orphanage.

  75. Oliver Wendell Holmes: ‘I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.’

    Compare and Contrast: ‘Somalia, the Libertarian-Objectivist Ideal Made Real.’

  76. @Greg: “I think someone ought to present Romney with a monocle, a top hat, and a cigarette holder. If he’s gonna play the part, might as well dress the part.”

    You want him to dress up like FDR?

    I’m so confused.

  77. There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly.

    There will always be those few who are ignorant of the state of nature described by Hobbes three hundred fifty years ago as the war of all against all, in which life is “nasty, brutish and short.”

    The rest of us subscribe to the social contract in which we consent to pay taxes to the government to safeguard the liberty of not having the fruit of our labor taken forcibly. Not coincidentally, this notion of a social contract is at the heart of the United States Constitution. Taxation is most definitely not theft.

  78. There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly. Some even want more taken from them. Those few vote for hopeless change.

    Because the way we did it before (slavery and feudalism) worked so much better, amirite?

  79. The 47% number doesn’t bother me. His assumptions of their entitlement attitude and this statement are what bother me:

    “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

    The implication sounds like anyone under this definition takes no personal responsibility for their lives, as well as never be convinced to vote for him.

    I really don’t like this guy, or those like him, and I can’t say that about most people. Maybe I’d feel different if I knew him personally, but after this statement, I’m thinking maybe I wouldn’t.

    Someone… anyone… please try to help all the middle-american, low to mid income, conservative voters that Romney is also talking about them in this statement. He will base his policies and actions on the assumption they will not take any personal responsibility for their lives – they are the problem to be solved, not the people to be represented.

  80. In re Uchuck the Tuchuck @ September 18, 2012 at 1:05 am:

    “Sometimes it really gets depressing watching a fellow with a thousand dollars worth of ink on his arms and an EBT card buying better groceries than I can afford.”

    I find this sort of commentary fascinating. The implication is that Uchuck knows all and sees all. Some random guy with tattoos and a SNAP card is obviously a freeloader, who has never worked a day in his life, la la la.

    I find this particular comment striking because it reminds me of a dear friend of mine. She was a very successful tattoo artist for 40 years, one of the best known female tattooists in the US. Unfortunately, because she was female, self-employed, and had a chronic condition, she was never able to get health insurance. When she developed a brain tumor, the medical care wiped out her life savings, and she spent the last year of her life on government assistance, including SNAP. What a freeloading loser, right? 40 years of paying outrageous tax rates, and there she is tattooed from neck to ankles, buying carrots with a SNAP card. For shame. /sarcasm

  81. “Whether you or I consider it a worthwhile charity is immaterial to whether it is charity.”
    Oh please. The Mormon church is a multi-billion dollar a year business that owns such things as shopping malls and hotel chains.

  82. MPAVictoria:

    Let’s not wander off into a discussion of whether the LDS church actually merits a status as a “real” charity. Under the law, it has tax-exempt status and donations to it are tax-deductible. To that extent it, and pretty much any other church, qualifies as a charity. The more the discussion focuses on whether it (or in fact any other church) qualifies as a “real” charity, the higher the likelihood we’re going to wander into a regrettable bit of religious intolerance, which, aside from anything else, will be completely off-topic for the thread.


  83. “There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly.”

    That sounds like something KARL MARX would say.

    It’s no surprise when Mr. Scalzi wins in his own house, but seeing it is always delightful.

  84. Wait…

    Mitt Romney has said before that corporations *are* people. And now he says 47% of people in the country don’t pay income tax, and just mooch off the government.

    You know, if you combine those two statements, I think there’s a non-zero number of Democrats involved in the Occupy movement who might actually agree with the implied result! Yes, giant gestalt-persons of a corporate nature, stop mooching off the government and pay your income taxes! ;)

  85. Romney wasn’t wrong, 71 million working folk who file do not owe, and 70% of that 71 million make less than 50K a year, and I would bet most of them have received some sort of assistance on and off over the years. A few years ago 71 million was about 46%, but it’s most likely less now. I know I have from time to time. At the same time, we’ve also heard nothing from the Democratic side of the aisle other than “We’re taxing the rich for you, and if you keep us in office, we’ll keep taxing them and you can keep getting this aid. Elect them and they’ll take it away!” Or variations on the theme (Ending Obamacare, Ending Social Security as we know it…) There’s a percentage of the population out there, no matter what he does or says, Romney’s not going to get their vote. It’s a lot less than 47 percent though.

    Then again, having gone through that entire “Life of Julia” Infograph the Left put out awhile back, it may be 47% in one form or another.

    Obama’s got to be turning cartwheels on the golf course though, this saves him from having to talk about the middle east, the latest “unexpected’ jobs report, and how unempliyment numbers have risen again (although the teachers in Chicago are skewing that upwards…) Romney was pandering to his base, poorly.

    Dav

  86. “Aaaand the first Obama ad using the video is up”

    Wow, it’s nod bad either.

    When you’re ideology demands that you write off roughly half of the population of United States as a lost cause, and worse yet, you get caught saying that on tape, you probably aren’t going to get to be president. Just saying.

  87. There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly. Some even want more taken from them. Those few vote for hopeless change.

    Call me socialist, but I am a social creature. I live better knowing a network of family and friends is there for support. Pride may make acting on such opportunities rare, but it’s the knowing that pays handsome dividends to my peace of mind. Same thing goes with government. I’ve no qualms handing the ‘fruits of my labors’ in turn for safety net programs should misfortune come the way of me and mine. And if it allows others of this wide community to improve their lot, more’s the better. E pluribus unum.

    Indeed, the universe is a tough place and it is survival of the fittest. Why not make use of our unique talents of logic and reason, and turn the ‘fittest’ into the largest denominator possible?

  88. “We’re taxing the rich for you, and if you keep us in office, we’ll keep taxing them and you can keep getting this aid. Elect them and they’ll take it away!”

    Which ignores the issue that the bulk of states which are net recipients of aid are ones that vote for the GOP, and the ones that pay out to the rest tend to be the ones who vote Democratic.

    I, meanwhile, also about to write a couple of hefty cheques, get to have taxation without representation as a resident alien. My CTO, who will be becoming a citizen this week, will get to vote and even with being a tax payer, he will also be voting Obama. Go figure.

    Voting against your own self interests… madness! Madness I say!

  89. No one can acquire personal property without society. Put someone on a deserted island (with a volleyball named Wilson) and he can’t acquire personal property. He can grow a really long beard, but he can’t become rich. He can make things with his own two hands (like a raft or a hut or a fishing spear), but he cannot become wealthy. Any wealth above and beyond what someone makes with their own two hands can ONLY be made if there is a society within which to make it.

    All the Ayn Randian Objectivist nutjobs, all the Paul Ryan fruitcakes, all the Laissez Faire crazies, all hold the false belief that the John Galt’s of the world could build a railroad empire with their own two hands, without society. The whole “going Galt” nonsense is the epitome of this idiocy.

    They threaten to “go Galt”, but even on some subconscious level, they realize they’re full of shit. Because if they truly believed it, they would all be flocking to their own deserted islands to live out their utopias. Or to Somalia. Or the Pashtun area of Afghanistan.

  90. Greg,

    The Island isn’t his? The volleyball is not his? The raft?
    Maybe an Island, volleyball, a raft and solitude are all he wants, and by his definition he is not just comfortable, but rich beyond measure.

    Dav

  91. Todd, Tom Hanks lived below the poverty level. And the reason he risked his life at the end was he realized that if he broke his arm or had some sort of accident like that, he would die due to lack of any medical care.

  92. Hi John,

    I think you are being just a little obtuse here.

    We all know that there is no magic 1% of the population that supports the GOP specifically due to income/tax considerations. Lots of rich folks support Democrats.

    We also know that there is no magic dividing line at 47% of income where people support Democrats due to social spending issues.

    Mitt Romney calls his 47% claim “inelegant”. My disgrontifier translates his explanation into “my but this season’s crop of athletes foot sure is tasty!”

    But that does nothing to negate the underlying truth that there is a significant correlation between the portion of the population that relies on government social spending, and the portion of the population that pays little, if any, income taxes, and the portion of the population that reflexively supports Democrats. Given the many tax credits meant to offset FICA taxes, we have effectively removed the poor from the pool of taxpayers. Is it really a good idea to totally disconnect people from the expense of their care?

    B/R,
    Dann

  93. “Is it really a good idea to totally disconnect people from the expense of their care?”
    Is the thinking here that the poor have somehow forgotten how much it sucks to be poor, and if we just make it suck badly enough, they’ll stop?

  94. @Dann: Do you really think that anyone *wants* to be so poor that they don’t pay taxes? Do you really think anyone enjoys depending on government assistance to feed themselves or pay rent? Do you think anyone finds it fun trying to balance getting that toothache or suspicious mole checked out with having electricity, or getting their kid some new shoes for school that year?

    Really?

  95. Dann:

    “But that does nothing to negate the underlying truth that there is a significant correlation between the portion of the population that relies on government social spending, and the portion of the population that pays little, if any, income taxes, and the portion of the population that reflexively supports Democrats.”

    Well, it does nothing to negate your underlying assumption, Dann. As for “underlying truth?” I’d want to see the data, please. If you’re talking truth then the data should not be hard to find. If you don’t have the data, then I’m going to suggest you might consider rescinding the “obtuse” comment.

  96. But that does nothing to negate the underlying truth that there is a significant correlation between the portion of the population that relies on government social spending, and the portion of the population that pays little, if any, income taxes, and the portion of the population that reflexively supports Democrats.

    Pensioners largely pay income tax? Really? That sucks.

    Oh? They don’t? But isn’t that something like 13% of the population who predominately vote Republican?

    Then, if this is correct, then we’d expect to see that the states which receive the most from the federal government to support the largess of the state must be solidly Democratic?

    Whats that? Of the Top 10 recipients of government money only 1 is blue?

    In other words Todd, these are things you believe to be true but which are not supported by the data.

  97. Dann: Reductio ad Somalia has already been covered nicely.

    Hey, when Republicans stop threatening to go galt, I’ll stop inviting them to Somolia.

    Anyone who argues that they got rich with their own two bare hands is deluding themselves. A quick trip to Somolia or to Tom Hank’s island, would demonstrate that they’re full of shit.

    Take any billionaire you want, give them a pair of swim trunks and throw them on a deserted island for a couple years with no outside contact and see if they make their billions with their own two hands.

    They are billionaires becaues they are part of a society.

  98. so here is the thing, obama is a useless washout when it comes to foreign affairs and in fact has created divisions among americans and contempt for america abroad. all he does is blame George Bush for america’s ailments and misspeaks when giving speeches (try egypt for example). and get this, americans trust obama??????

  99. and just wondering, why would anyone vote for a useless fool like obama after his wasted four years in office…. he’s got a record now, so take a good look at it.

  100. From TPM:

    According to the TPC, half are people who simply didn’t make enough money to pay income tax. The rest all have some special tax benefit that leaves them with no tax liability. 44% are people who have tax benefits because they’re elderly. Mainly that’s the non-taxability of most Social Security benefits. Another 30.4% are Credits for Children and the Working Poor. That’s mainly what I referred to earlier: the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Rebates. The remaining 25.6% runs the gamut from itemized deductions, education credits, special rates for capital gains and a lot else. See page two of the document for the pie chart with the details.

    Needless to say, this is “income tax”, which is far from the only federal tax. Virtually everyone who gets a pay check pays the payroll tax. And when you combine the amount you pay and your employer pays on your behalf its about 13% from the first dollar on up.

  101. @ Greg: Silly person. Islands aren’t where billionaires are supposed to live. Islands are just where they visit their money.

  102. @bren

    Perhaps if your comments were on topic, and backed up with any information aside from opinion, we could answer your questions.

  103. Bren:

    Capitalization is your friend. If you don’t care enough about your comment to make it readable, I’m not sure I should care enough about it to let it stay on the site.

    Moving on, regarding the idea of a correlation between those who pay no income tax and those who will vote for Obama, Ramesh Ponnuru points out the correlation is not particularly strong, actually:

    One major reason for the growth of the federal government in recent years has been that entitlement spending per beneficiary has increased, and so has the number of beneficiaries as people have retired. Yet senior citizens — who benefit from federal programs, on average, far more than younger people — have become more Republican over that same period. They actually voted for John McCain over Obama in 2008 by a slightly higher margin than they did for George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004.

    In 2010, their Republican margin increased even more, to a whopping 21 points. Pollster Scott Rasmussen told me that in his latest poll, Romney still leads among seniors by 19 points. It’s true that Americans with low incomes — more and more of whom now receive food stamps and federally subsidized health insurance — have generally voted for Democrats over Republicans. But in 2010, these voters shifted toward Republicans even as food stamps, unemployment benefits and the like continued to increase.

    Conservatives have even less reason for worrying about people who don’t pay federal income taxes. A major reason that the number of those people has grown is that a Republican-controlled Congress created, and the Bush administration expanded, a tax credit for parents. If there is any evidence that in recent years middle-class parents have become more Democratic, relative to the general electorate, I haven’t seen it.

    If you follow the link, the actual article has links to supporting data.

  104. bren, lots of sweeping statements there:
    washout when it comes to foreign affairs
    in fact has created divisions among americans and contempt for america abroad
    a useless fool like obama after [he's] wasted four years in office

    Interesting. And what most sensible people call ‘hyperbole’. That is unless you have data and facts to back these up?

  105. @isabelcooper

    The issue isn’t that a volleyball, a raft, and solitude is all a person needs to be happy or consider themselves rich, it’s that an outsider deems them poor or not rich, because they aren’t meeting some arbitrary metric. Bedouins in Saudi Arabia can’t be happy, after all they’re nomads, going back and forth across the desert, despite the fact their better off friends and government built these nice homes and villages for them to live in. I mean, come on: Wander the desert, or live in Air conditioning with satellite TV and a revenue check every year? How hard a choice is that?

  106. The problem with these fights is that each side picks and chooses the data points that are most convenient to them and ignores other data points. They don’t really do any actual science. I think the following data would really help people get a real picture of how taxes relative to wealth has changed over time.

    No commentary. I just want the raw data and some charts.
    1. Go back to 1932. I think the tax system was extremely different before that.
    2. Index it all to the poverty level. I think the poverty level is indexed to inflation. So someone at the poverty level would be 1.0. Half the poverty level would be .5. Middle class family is probably 3-4x or something like that.

    Then get 2 sets of data
    1. Percentage of total income that people at different poverty levels pay in taxes. Include all taxes such as income, state, local, FICA, sales, gas, (sum it up and break it out). So someone at 1.0 of the poverty level pays x% of total income in taxes and so on and then break it out by tax type.
    2. Have the data by year. So you can see changes. We would need charts to really follow this. But it would let us know how taxes change.

    Then you add in the flip side, how much financial benefits people get from the government (federal, state, local) relative to the poverty level. This one would be tricky, since its hard to define it. So whatever method is chosen, it needs to be stated clearly. Possibly use a few different methods, but make sure you explain what you did, so people can decide which they like better.

    Then chart it over time relative to the poverty level.

    I would also break both data sets down by age, race, urban vs, rural, state, and probably others. Plus mix and match. Such as Age, Race, Urban vs. Rural as one.

    If you have the raw data with charts, then you can decide for yourself if you think taxes are appropriate or not without the garbage that is called ‘facts’ you get from the lefties and righties. It would take most people (and I include myself in this) some time to get an understanding of this data.

    Political Advocates don’t do science. They just spit out slices of data and call them facts. These slices are whatever is most convenient to them. I don’t trust any of them. I want to see the raw goods.

  107. Even if said desert island miraculously had an incredibly rich deposit of gold (or plutonium, or rare earths, or diamonds, or thingies), without a society that values such things, all you have is really expensive sinkers for your fishing line. The only benefit is that you probably will not have to pay taxes on them (dragging it back around to the primary argument by main force).

  108. ” It would take most people (and I include myself in this) some time to get an understanding of this data.”

    And therein lies the root of the problem….

    Dav

  109. Still relevant now, seven years later: Thomas Frank, “What’s the matter with Kansas?”, on how conservatives have managed to get so many people to vote against their interests.

  110. @isabel

    “He can grow a really long beard, but he can’t become rich.” My posts relate to that statement by Greg, a few posts up the page. Happiness is indeed subjective. Wealth is too. YMMV

    Dav

  111. Todd: The issue isn’t that a volleyball, a raft, and solitude is all a person needs to be happy or consider themselves rich, it’s that an outsider deems them poor or not rich, because they aren’t meeting some arbitrary metric

    Like saying people are “dependent” on government because they don’t pay taxes? Seems pretty arbitrary to me.

    No, the issue is plutocrats think they’re better than everyone else and think they can “go galt” if they don’t get their way. No one gets wealthy on a deserted island. They would only get what they can put together with their own hands. If someone gets wealthy, its because they rely on the labor and purchasing power of society. If someone gets wealthy, it is because they are part of a connected economy, not because they built something alone and with their bare hands.

  112. Todd: “He can grow a really long beard, but he can’t become rich.” My posts relate to that statement by Greg, a few posts up the page. Happiness is indeed subjective. Wealth is too.

    Yeah, sure, can I have all your money then, cause it’s just subjective, right?

    You’re cute.

  113. “Romney wasn’t wrong, 71 million working folk who file do not owe, and 70% of that 71 million make less than 50K a year, and I would bet most of them have received some sort of assistance on and off over the years.”

    There is a huge amount coming out of my paycheck every month that says Romney has his head up his ass. I make less than $50K. Getting a refund every year does NOT mean I’m not paying taxes. If anything, it means I’m over-paying. And I’m probably paying more because people like Romney get more tax breaks than I do. To argue that I’m not paying taxes on that premise is delusional at best.

    Romney wasn’t right. He just doesn’t want to pay his fair share.

  114. @Todd: So nobody should ever be taxed because Kim Kardashian might not think she’s wealthy enough?

    Nobody should ever get government support because they’re not as poor as a 10th-century beggar?

    Is that actually what you’re saying here? Or is there actually any point to the handwaving postmodernism that isn’t “waaaah don’t take money from millionaires because who are you to say that two houses is enough”?

    Because I’ll tell you: that’s where postmodernism stops having any kind of influence on me. Yes, humanity is capable of nigh-infinite adaptation. Forcing some people to adapt to the low end because other people have gotten used to the high end is still not okay.

    Also what Greg said. The original post had nothing to do with subjective happiness or wealth; it had to do with the fact that anyone who says they can absolutely fend for themselves and blah blah Ayn Rand fappery can and should go and…do that. Somewhere else. Where they’re not bothering the rest of us, who would actually like a functioning society.

  115. Foreshadowing Libya? (emphasis mine)

    In the newly released full Mojo/Romney tapes, about 4 minutes in on tape one, Romney starts to talk about what he refers to as “the Jimmy Carter election”, i.e., 1980. He then goes on to talk about how the hostage crisis and the failed rescue mission Desert One were pervasive issues through the 1980 election. Then at the end he says that “if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.”

    He has a couple stopped and started sentences and at some points it’s not entirely clear to me what his meaning is. But on this last point he seems to be saying that if a major international crisis erupted he’d do what he could to turn it to political advantage.

    What the actual f*ck. I mean, it’s not surprising in hindsight, because that’s what he actually did. But that he did it with premeditation, that he was planning to do what Reagan had the decency to go out of his way to avoid, is just…wow.

  116. There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly

    If it means the hundred or so people camped at the bottom of the hill from my house, in a flood zone, with no running water or permanent sanitation facilities, can get regular meals that aren’t being provided by a heroic one-woman operation who pays for the food she serves them out of her fixed income, roofs over their heads, and, you know, some clean socks, I’m all for it.

    Yes, that’s a real example. I live in Seattle. Go and look.

    (Some of those fruits of my labor could go toward paving the streets, too. I mean where is basic infrastructure supposed to come from, the Basic Infrastructure Fairy?)

  117. My post at 1:00 (that a man can’t become rich on an island) is pretty much a play by play of a quote from that well known communist, Thomas Paine.

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/tom-paine-was-commie.html

    And when some knucklehead like Romney says all these people are “dependent” on government, feels “entitled” to things like food, then its nothing but part of the larger Objectivist fantasy that anyone could “go galt”, leave society, go to some deserted island, and make themselves billionaire captain’s of industry, when the reality is that they’d be a shaggy, scrawny looking Tom Hanks talking to a volleyball because they’re on the verge of going crazy.

    Looking out for the common welfare isn’t Romney’s claim that its about poor people choosing to be poor, choosing to be dependent on government. Looking out for the common welfare doesn’t rob people of their dignity, it restores dignity to those who’ve lost it through bad luck and misfortune. It acknowledges that people’s fortunes, good AND bad, are made in part by luck, random chance, and things beyond our control.

    I was laid off at the height of the current crash. Spent nearly a year on unemployment. Spent several hours every day looking for a job when none existed. If it hadn’t been for unemployment benefits, I would have quickly become homeless. If it wasn’t for COBRA, I might have ended up with a serious medical problem. If these benefits hadn’t been extended, I would have been screwed as well.

    I pay taxes because it buys civilization. I pay taxes because as Thomas Paine said, whatever wealth I have is mine in part because I am part of society.

    Knuckleheads like Romney think they shouldn’t pay taxes because they believe the bullshit that they are somehow self-made men. These knuckleheads think that THEY are what makes the economy great and therefore THEY shouldn’t have to pay taxes. They believe that everyone ELSE is little more than a moocher living off the 1% teet. They think that someone living below the poverty level has more of an obligation to pay taxes than multimillion dollar corporations.

    Listen to him speak and you can hear the contempt for the poor oozing from every word.

    It’s so ass-backwards that it makes the mind boggle.

  118. Here are some interesting charts that the Washington Post has about tax rates by total tax by income groups.The bottom chart is by far the most interesting. T–

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/09/18/who-doesnt-pay-taxes-in-charts/?hpid=z1

    This link is posted by the Post just above the bottom chart. This takes into account all taxes. Note that these are summaries, so I don’t know how accurate this is:

    http://ctj.org/ctjreports/2012/04/who_pays_taxes_in_america.php

    Bottom 99%. 27.5% of their income
    Top 1%: 29% of their income.

    Keep in mind that sales tax, and such are the same percent for everyone. I don’t know how they calculate property tax. Property tax is typically built into the rent, so they may be making assumptions about this and if so, I don’t know if its reliable. I would need to see the raw data and a spreadsheet with how they summed it up, etc.. and their methodology. Summaries like this can easily be misleading.

  119. CNN just had a commentator show charts from the polling organization which Romney’s campaign uses. The claim here is the excruciating coincidence that the pollster DOES say that 47% will vote for Obama, almost no matter what happens, by adding up the high percentage of African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and college-educated white women who stay with Obama — AND that close to 47% of American adults pay no income taxes. First, Romney conflated these two 47% figures, then made the loony leap that all 47% think of themselves as victims demanding entitlement. Sadly, that last claim irks people who WOULD have voted for Romney, such as retired elderly (who paid taxes WHEN they worked), vets home and needing medical treatment, and those on food stamps because they were laid off, none of which categories think of them selves as victims NOR entitled. An many of whom pay local or state taxes…

    If so, Poor Mitt has just been damaged yet again by his evil twin from Bizarro World, Tim Yenmore, because of a weird coincidence, parallel to the Sun being 400 times bigger in diameter than the Moon, but being 400 times farther away, so it looks the same size.

    Or so it seems to me, as a guy who’s written speeches for a Presidential campaign, taught Astronomy (as Adjunct Professor), and taught Math (as Adjunct Professor, and in middle school, and high school).

    YOUR vote counts. DO THE MATH!

  120. Greg: your example up there strongly reminds me of the movie “Trading Places,” which is worth seeing anyway, not least because it has Jamie Lee Curtis in it.

  121. @Greg

    Well, seeing as how we’re both participating in society, we should be billionaires anyways, right. They got rich just by participating, why shouldn’t we as well?
    As for having my money, no, you cannot just have it. However, if you want to earn it, we could work something out. As to your assertion that “No one gets wealthy on a deserted island.” it depends on what standard your using to determine what wealth is. Money, objects, your value of them, the islanders value of them. By your standards, he doesn’t have a house, two cars in the drive, no cable tv and no medical, how can he be wealthy? Oh, I see: “They would only get what they can put together with their own hands.” Explains a lot.

    @eviljwinter

    “And I’m probably paying more because people like Romney get more tax breaks than I do.”

    You actually have the same tax breaks available to you. The opportunity/ability to use them that we can’t use. I don’t own any expensive art that I could donate, and while I do tithe, it’s not a huge amount, and unlike my neighbor, I don;t have a mobile home I can claim as a second house…so the ability to utilize those same tax breaks the upper income level earners use is not there. Once I start earning that type of money, I could avail myself of them.
    Some would argue that in a perfect tax system, no one would get a refund, you pay in, and that’s that. Not feasible in today’s age I think, that would require governmental fiscal responsibility that is just nonexistent. Then again, there are people who would argue your paying more because the entitlement and other help programs are growing in usage, and more needs to be paid in so all of the people using them can be helped. As an example, Food Stamp participation has grown from 39 Billion to 81 Billion the last four years, taxes will go up to support that increase in Food Stamp Spending. Why the can’t cut an F-35 from the budget, or close the loophole that lets certain New York City residents receive Federal farm subsidies and use that money instead…

    @isabel

    “So nobody should ever be taxed because Kim Kardashian might not think she’s wealthy enough?”

    I don’t believe I’ve said that… Honestly I don’t mind paying taxes. While part of me is bothered that some of what I pay in goes towards things I may not approve of, there are those out there, for whatever reason, that need a hand. I’ve been on unemployment, my sister in law has used WIC, I’m glad both programs were in place and available.
    What I find bothersome is that in my experience it seems the person who sits there and says “You have two houses, sell one and give the money to charity” is also the same one who given a choice between having 10 percent of a million dollars and 1 percent of a billion dollars would take the 10 percent, because 10 is bigger than 1. That is my experience, I am sure yours is different.

    Dav

  122. John it’s a nice, snarky post, and I’ll charitably guess you’re effort is to highlight that the inverse isn’t true, but this does not disprove the hypothesis that those who receive much from gov’t will choose to vote their self interest and try to continue the gravy train. I defy you to reject that the Obama-Biden campaign willingly accepts an increase in domestic spending programs like these are a net-plus for the Democrat constituency and the Romney-Ryan campaign would more vigorously try to shrink membership in the programs in the linked graph.
    Speaking of the handout express
    How many folks who are trying to migrate off gov’t assistance and become net INCOME tax payers is a question that illuminates one’s biases/values/assumptions as nobody can know the answer. Not you, not me and not a politician on the stump.

  123. I don’t think I’m the only person wondering where the radical Socialism is in the idea that people who don’t earn much income, don’t (and shouldn’t) pay a lot of income tax. (Pay close attention to the emphasis, Candidate Romney.)

    @John Scalzi:

    Moving on, regarding the idea of a correlation between those who pay no income tax and those who will vote for Obama, Ramesh Ponnuru points out the correlation is not particularly strong, actually

    In related punditry, even NY Times conservative columnist David Brooks would really like ‘Thurston Howell Romney’ to take his own advice and stop being a divisive figure who keeps doubling down on flat out lies.

  124. @ mike. Yyyeah. Posts like yours are the inverse of the mistake the left often makes about “values voters.” They assume that not voting in their economic best interest but instead because of issues like abortion mean that they are clearly just stupid and uneducated.

    Both are way too simplistic. And cynical.

  125. welltemperedwriter @ September 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm said:

    (In response to: “There will always be those few who enjoy having the fruits of their labor taken forcibly”
    (Some of those fruits of my labor could go toward paving the streets, too. I mean where is basic infrastructure supposed to come from, the Basic Infrastructure Fairy?)

    Ja, she’s related to the Public Utility Fairy and the Clean Drinking Water Fairy. The Breathable Air Fairy is a different department, though.

  126. but this does not disprove the hypothesis that those who receive much from gov’t will choose to vote their self interest and try to continue the gravy train.

    Except that even conservative commentators are saying that’s not the case. See John’s follow-up comment @ 2:14pm. Several GOP politicians are saying the same thing.

    I defy you to reject that the Obama-Biden campaign willingly accepts an increase in domestic spending programs like these are a net-plus for the Democrat constituency

    Considering that these programs affect the poor (who are are leaning towards Romney) and usually safe GOP demographics such as the elderly, veterans, and military families, I think you could make the case quite easily. Even Romney went on Fox News and complained about Obama cutting money to one of these programs (Medicare)–of course not mentioning that he was doing the same thing, except that his plan removed benefits while Obama’s cuts costs.

    How many folks who are trying to migrate off gov’t assistance and become net INCOME tax payers is a question that illuminates one’s biases/values/assumptions as nobody can know the answer.

    Maybe not definitively, but we certainly have plenty of statistics as to who are on government assistance and are working poor (and can generally be assumed to trying to migrate); or are retired, or have physical/mental disabilities, or something else that explicitly disqualifies them from the work force. And they make up very large parts of Romney’s 47%.

  127. I don’t suppose anyone has come up with a Venn diagram that shows the overlap of “People who will vote for Obama” and “People dependent on government”. Bonus points for a breakdown of what criteria are used to judge governmental dependency. What department do The Common Good fairies, Infrastructure and other, fit in?

  128. Why is there an ellipsis point in the original quote, which would indicate a portion of the speech we’re not seeing here, possibly a deliberate edit to encourage reaction?

    *reads linked article from Scalzi*

    Interesting. Stupid as the logical assertion is that low income==Obama supporter, what Romney was digging at IMO is the question of entitlements (among them tax cuts which are just entitlements by another name) and their value on the campaign trail.

    Far more interesting, and also hilariously true:

    “Well, I wrote a book that lays out my view for what has to happen in the country, and people who are fascinated by policy will read the book. We have a website that lays out white papers on a whole series of issues that I care about. I have to tell you, I don’t think this will have a significant impact on my electability. I wish it did. I think our ads will have a much bigger impact. I think the debates will have a big impact…My dad used to say, “Being right early is not good in politics.” And in a setting like this, a highly intellectual subject—discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections. And there are, there are, there are—for instance, this president won because of “hope and change.””

    And so here we are arguing this over.

  129. Well, seeing as how we’re both participating in society, we should be billionaires anyways, right.

    Wow, Todd, are you trying to be obtuse, or does it come naturally?

    That sounds like something KARL MARX would say.

    Ouch…

    The old saw is that poor people waste their handout money on drugs, booze, whores, the racetrack, and lottery tickets. I didn’t know they updated it to include tattoos.”

    Also piercings. And cell phones.

  130. @Y.T. quotes:

    My dad used to say, “Being right early is not good in politics.” And in a setting like this, a highly intellectual subject—discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections. And there are, there are, there are—for instance, this president won because of “hope and change.”

    Oh, FFS. So the 47% aren’t only lazy, entitled tit-sucking statist “victims” they’re also far too stupid to warm themselves before the radiance of Mitt’s “intellectual” brilliance. That is ‘hilariously true’ — if you’ve been living in a cave, with your head up your arse, and missed the rolling political and policy debate over ‘entitlements’ for at least the last five decades or so.

  131. Hi John,

    The point that I believe Mr. Romney is attempting to make is that we have a long term trend towards more people receiving federal assistance and fewer people paying to fund government activities. A little less than half of all Americans receive some sort of federal assistance; ranging from unemployment insurance to Medicare to SS to veterans disability payments and so forth. An educated guess is that a sizable proportion of those people are not surviving solely on that assistance. A little less than half of all Americans pay no income taxes. The working poor pay no net federal taxes at all courtesy of various tax credits.

    As the link you provided suggests, receiving a government subsidy is not a guarantee of support for Democrats. Subsidies are only one of many factors that a person considers before they enter the voting booth. It is not a huge leap to see someone receiving $100 a month in subsidies but having another $2000 per month in other income as not being as concerned about that subsidy. But as the link you provided suggests, the more a person relies on government programs, the more likely that person is to support Democrats. Again, not exactly a huge leap as I implied in my original response.

    I would love to show you the data, but to the best of my knowledge it does not exist in one easy to access location. It is not IMO a huge assumption based on the things I’ve read over the years.

    Perhaps I am the one being obtuse. While I disagree with some of the things you post here, I appreciate the generally thoughtful perspective you bring to the discussion.

    Tax policy is complex. Screaming invectives at one another is rarely helpful in trying to comprehend it.

    And I generally have a low tolerance for sarcasm. It is an overused technique that creates much heat but little light.

    I do not respond here very often. If my use “obtuse” was “inelegant”, then I apologize. I am not sure of another word for “I like you, but knock it off…we all know you are smarter than this”.

    B/R,
    Dann

  132. Dann:

    “The point that I believe Mr. Romney is attempting to make is that we have a long term trend towards more people receiving federal assistance and fewer people paying to fund government activities.”

    Well, the point Mr. Romney was attempting to make is that hardcore supporters of Obama are all looking for a government handout and don’t pay income taxes, and that he wasn’t going to bother with them when it came to getting elected. We know this because that’s what his words actually said. You’re attempting spinning this into a different issue, which is fine, but what you’re suggesting Mr. Romney’s point was, and what Mr. Romney actually said are two separate things. As a matter of textual analysis, it’s probably advisable to go with what the source actually said.

    Beyond this, mind you, and has been noted all over the place, one of the primary reasons fewer people are paying to fund government activities has to do with tax cuts spearheaded by GOP administrations (here’s an article from the right-leaning Daily Caller site noting that point). One of the very bad optics of this particular Romney bit is that he’s castigating the people those in his party gave tax cuts to.

    “And I generally have a low tolerance for sarcasm.”

    Heh. If you’re going to stick around, I’m afraid you’re going to have to get used to it.

  133. Under Commenter Rule-of-Thumb #10. (“Do I know when I’m done? I’m not saying you should enter each comment thread with an exit strategy, but on the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt.’) maybe I should have shut up long ago. But when I’m wrong, I liked to admit i; and when I left out something that might be on-topic, I am always tempted to append it.

    Thus: “Magic Wall” analysis (by John King, CNN chief national correspondent) corrects me that the 47% of Americans who do not pay income tax DOES include children.

    And, though I’ve paid zero payroll tax in 2012 so far, I did pay $3,609 Property Tax in 2011, and so something very close to that is being included in my monthly Mortgage payments (escrow payments used by my mortgage holder to pay 2 increments per year adding up to annual Property Tax as billed).

    So, I paid payroll taxes on my salary when I had one, and paid taxes of roughly $1,500 in 2012 when I made a cash-out of a retirement fund, and pay property tax, and paid Hotel Tax at the Chicago Sheraton, and pay sales tax and excise taxes, and will pay both Federal and State income tax by 15 October (I’d applied for an extension), I have ZERO payroll income in 2012, yet asked for no Unemployment Compensation nor Food Stamps. I sort of kind of agree with Mitt Romney on being self reliant. But, OTOH, it’s HARD to do so as an author, for reasons that John Scalzi has explained well in the past.

  134. Tax policy is complex. Screaming invectives at one another is rarely helpful in trying to comprehend it.

    And I generally have a low tolerance for sarcasm. It is an overused technique that creates much heat but little light.

    And you know what, Dan, John Scalzi isn’t a major-party presidential nominee who, for the next fifty days, has the kind of bully pulpit to discuss complex public policy issues every wonk in existence (left, right, whatever) would kill for. I, for once, would applaud Romney leading that kind of national conversation instead of yucking it up at ‘birther’ gags, his Libya-related brain-fart and even going to a totally innocuous press conference in London and managing to insult the government of an ally while standing next to the British Prime Minister.

    John Scalzi didn’t stand up before a room of potential big ticket donors and treat people who had the unmitigated gall to vote the wrong way four years ago with sneering condescension. (And, no, I don’t believe for a moment Romney is telling the truth when he said it was all “off the cuff”, while “inelegant” is the mother of all under-statements.

  135. Greg says, Take any billionaire you want, give them a pair of swim trunks and throw them on a deserted island for a couple years with no outside contact and see if they make their billions with their own two hands.

    They can’t. Because, on a deserted island, there aren’t any customers. Can’t be a businessman of any kind, let alone a billionaire businessman, without customers.

    I’m not entirely clear where Romney thinks demand for his businesses’ products comes. Possibly he thinks it comes from the Demand Fairy, who oversees the department upstairs from the Basic Infrastructure Fairy’s. Romney certainly can’t believe that demand comes from customers, given that his (current) policies mostly involve impoverishing them.

    (Can I just say, I miss Governor Romney? I’m very happy with Romneycare — pay money to insurance company, receive health insurance! It’s almost like the free market works! I disagreed with Governor Romney a lot, but Presidential Candidate Romney is some kind of Pod Person, and I want the old one back.)

  136. Presidential Candidate Romney is some kind of Pod Person, and I want the old one back.

    Depending on which movie you’ve seen, Governor Romney is now either a handful of dust or a trash bag full of crusty goop. Leonard Nimoy is going to give you a shot, and when you wake up everything will be better…

  137. @Kellan Sparver:

    For the most part, Romney’s “businesses” don’t make products; rather, they buy companies that make products, bleed them dry, and leave a dry husk of debt behind. KB Toys is a stellar example of this strategy. Thus, he doesn’t need anything so plebian as “customers” to make money, all he needs is enough of “his type of people” willing to loan him enough money to buy a going concern. The employees, suppliers, distributors, retailers, et al, end up unemployed, of course, but that’s not his problem, right? After all, they’re just moochers looking for handouts; they *wanted* to be on unemployment and Medicaid, they were only working for KB, because Romney hadn’t yet come around to show them the full glory of entitlements.

  138. Dann, first, let me direct you to the graphs here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/09/18/161337343/the-47-percent-in-one-graphic?utm_source=NPR&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20120903

    Then, let me point out this one: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/where-are-the-47-of-americans-who-pay-no-income-taxes/262499/

    Now, let’s talk about exactly who it is that you’re referring to.

    Few people would argue against SSI, Medicare, unemployment and other things that people actually pay into while working, to have as a safety net available for when/if they are not. These things are called insurance for a reason: they work the same way as the premiums you pay for other kinds of insurance: you’re buying them, therefore you’re entitled to a payout when you need it. Whether these types of insurance should be administered by the government or private entities is up for debate, but the fact that they are insurance, purchased by the people who may use it, shouldn’t be in question.

    So, then, the real objection is to aid received by people who have (theoretically) never worked and who receive benefits for which they’ve (theoretically) never paid into. This is where the Welfare Queen and lazy immigrant thing comes in. The theory is that these people have never contributed to the economy or to the tax coffers, and yet sit back and cash checks and use food stamps that other people have paid for. In other words: the objection is to charity, rather than insurance.

    Let’s pick this apart, shall we?

    First, as illustrated by the graphs linked above, only a tiny fraction of people not (currently) paying income taxes are those who are not currently working and not retirees: approximately 8%, by the last graph on the first link. Of those, at least a couple percent (counting for overlap) are people on SSI disability, for which one must have a certain number of work credits (depending on age) qualify.

    So already, we’re down to about only 5% who have never (theoretically) paid into the system that’s supporting them. These people are, I imagine, the ones some would consider the true moochers: never contributing to the income tax coffers while getting benefits that income taxes pay for (in part.)

    Yes, that’s right: rather than the 47% of people Mitt Romney thinks are moochers, only 5% (a generous estimate) are actually (supposedly) living off of the taxpayer dime, instead of reaping insurance they themselves (or a spouse or parent, in the case of survivor benefits) paid into.

    But here’s another important fact: just because people aren’t paying income or other payroll taxes doesn’t mean they pay no taxes at all. On the contrary, virtually every last one of them pays sales taxes in some form or other. Many drive and therefore pay gas taxes and car-registration fees. Some may even have homes on which they pay property taxes (seems unlikely, but not actually all that much: many people live in inherited family homes that aren’t mortgaged, but for which they still must pay property taxes.) And that doesn’t count the hundreds of other little taxes factored into the retail cost of many goods, especially things like tobacco and liquor.

    So, bearing that in mind, the number of people living in the U.S. who are paying no taxes whatsoever, and whose living comes solely from public benefits they never paid into is effectively zero. Absolutely no-one in this country can get by in modern life without ever buying something that has a tax built into its price, so yes, everyone is contributing in some way or other. Even “illegal” immigrants.

    Now, let’s turn this around. We’ve established that everyone, however poor, pays into the system. Now let’s establish that everyone, however rich, benefits from it.

    That part, of course, is simple: Roads. Police and fire protection. Federal security agencies such as the FBI, CIA and NSA, not to mention the military. Libraries. Public schools. Hundreds of different agencies that ensure the safety of the things we consume, and the competency of the people who perform critical services for us. Not a single person who even sets foot in this country can say that they’ve never benefited from government services of any kind. Even people who exclusively send their kids to private schools still benefit from public schools. Where else are companies going to get educated workers?

    The bottom line: there is no such thing as a self-made man, and no such thing as a total leech. All of us need help, and all of us do help. The only question is how much. But that’s a subject for a different post.

  139. @MadLibrarian,

    It’s not a Venn Diagram, but of the present American Working Age population 49% do not pay federal income tax, Of the present American Working Age population, 47% receive a check from the government. Of that 47%, half are receiving checks that are tied to some sort of “means tested” criteria, Welfare, Medicare, Section 8 housing, Food Stamps.
    Those numbers are skewed from a historical perspective, because of the economic realities of the past five years, and doesn’t take into account that almost 90% of the working population does pay a payroll tax of some sort, and also doesn’t take into account state. local and in some cases city taxes. The Income tax is an easy canard for both parties to bludgeon one another with.

    Dav

  140. Well, he was off by 7 points:

    “Medicaid currently finances about 40 percent of all births in the U.S.”

    (Source: U.S. Dept of HHS: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/02/20110203tech.html)

    I was watching a news report yesterday of Obama’s downtown Cincinnati rally. One of the women in the audience was a (single) mother of three. But this woman is by no means atypical of “Obama’s America.”

    Out-of-wedlock births (which disproportionately end up funded by taxpayers) are now about 40% of all U.S. births, and 70% of all African-American births. You heard that right: 70% (These statistics are widely reported can be found easily on the Internet.)

    95% of this same demographic supported Obama in 2008, and likely will in 2012 as well. Surprise!

    So yes, it is easy to see where Obama gets his loyal voting block: From those who want a handout from the government. Mitt was certainly impolitic, and probably wrong about the specific numbers. But his statement contained a strong kernel of truth. My only complaint is that he will probably backpedal.

  141. Tax policy is, indeed, complicated.

    You know what’s not complicated?

    A candidate who implies that everyone *isn’t* entitled to food, housing, and medical care. A candidate who talks like “I shouldn’t starve in the street” is morally or rhetorically equivalent to demanding a big-screen TV and a blowjob every night.

    That’s not complicated. That’s a Dickens villain.

    And that’s who the GOP is supporting. So…go you guys?

  142. @Doc RocketScience: Seriously.

    Also, if you’re going to bring up taxpayer-funding childbirth…well. Yeah. I’m sure abstinence-based education, sex-shaming, massive funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, and Stone Age abortion policies have absolutely nothing to do with the expense there. Nope.

  143. Great comments by and large. One item that struck me dumb for a couple of hours, is that Romney clearly came out and said he is going to ignore 47% of the voters. In this day and age, can you as a candidate, particularly one that is seemingly behind in the polls, afford to concede almost half the voters right out of the gate? The inherently flawed logic behind that attitude is clearly one of wealth and priviledge. I’m rich, and so are my friends, and we don’t even need to worry about almost half of the country because we’ll buy what we want (the election in this case) just like we always do.

    Forget the class element for a moment; the whole though process of just handing your opponent that much of the electorate is madness. Is he assuming he’ll get virtually every remaining vote out there off money, good looks and charm? It is such a simplistic mindset – and a scary one – and it is unfathomable how he would even begin to approach thorny foreign relations issue or a domestic crisis. I see no evidence of even a modicum of intelligence in him, a state of being he seems to revel in every time he opens his mouth.

  144. @IsabelCooper: Yes, everyone knows that a government program is needed to avoid pregnancy. And “sex-shaming”? Seriously…

    @David, DocRocketScience: Okay, you’ve done the obligatory nod to white guilt. Now that that’s out of the way, please correlate the fact that almost all African-American children are born out-of-wedlock (if you need statistics to correlate out-of-wedlock births to Medicaid, they’re out there) and the fact that African-Americans disproportionately vote for Obama.

    Then correlate that to Mitt’s assertion that a big part of the Obama voting block is chronically on the public dole.

  145. @Mintwitch

    KB Toys was in trouble before Bain bought it in 2000, retailers like Walmart and Target had been eating away at it’s share for over a decade. While Romney was at Bain when KB was bought, he did leave shortly after its acquisition, and the dividend recap which eventually did the company in came about after he left. That said, if Bain had not bought KB in 2000, it would have gone out of business shortly thereafter.
    I’ve an uncle who worked for Melville Corporation in the eighties and 90’s, they were the company that owned KB before selling it to Consolidated (Known these days as Big Lots), Consolidated sold to Bain. Last summer when we had the big family reunion he got into with my very liberal uncle over “How evil Bain was”. Interesting conversation, and good homebrew as well.

    Dav

  146. @Todd: And where exactly *do* you suggest that teenagers learn how to protect themselves, pray tell? I mean, your guys aren’t exactly huge on library funding, either, and learning from parents or each other has given us such gems as “you can’t get pregnant standing up,” Coke douches, and a lot of unplanned pregnancies.

    For that matter, how do you suggest that people protect themselves if they can’t afford contraceptives? Or do you think anyone below the poverty line has no right to a sex life, either?

    Do you want to explain what you find less than true about the term “sex-shaming”, or should I just assume you’re being pointless again?

  147. @AML: That, in retrospect, is probably wise.

    I sense an “asprin between the knees” comment coming up, and am not sure if I want to avoid it or want him to show his true colors like the guy he backs just did.

  148. @ Jim Watts

    IIRC he also said there’s nothing he can say or do to change those 47% minds into voting for him.
    The past few election cycles have never been about the base. Each side can usually rely on 45% (give or take) of the population voting for it, they fight over the remaining10%, well, 5.1% of that 10% in certain markets.
    Obama won with 53%, Bush II won with 50.7 in 2004 and 48 in 2000, Clinton had 49% in 96, would have probably had around 53% if Perot hadn’t run, 43% in 92, hard to say how much he would have had from Perot, Bush I had 53% in 88, the 84 Reagan juggernaut had 59%, in 80 he 50.1, but Anderson probably took away 3 or 4%. Anyhow, it’s always elections when things like “Soccer Moms” and various other polling groups become known, because they are identified as a key segment of the population that could swing the election wither way.

    Dav

  149. @IsabelleCooper: “For that matter, how do you suggest that people protect themselves if they can’t afford contraceptives? Or do you think anyone below the poverty line has no right to a sex life, either?”

    I would suggest that anyone who can’t afford a drugstore condom should have other priorities besides having sex. Birth control isn’t rocket science.

  150. @Todd: My goodness, what an abuse of the word “correlate”. It doesn’t actually mean “draw a chain of dwindling inferences to prove A causes B”. Especially when you’re trying to defend an argument that D causes G.

    I mean, c’mon: your argument is that because the rate of births to unwed mothers is twice as high among African-Americans as among whites, per the CDC, the roughly half of Americans who don’t pay Federal income taxes are the exact same people who support Obama, and furthermore these people are all on “the dole”. Setting the racial silliness aside, this is practically Dadaist in its non-logic.

    (Interestingly, the CDC also says the rate of births to American Indians/Alaskan natives is also quite high. One doesn’t often hear complaints in America about lazy Aleutian or Sioux welfare queens and their babies. I wonder why.)

  151. …wow, I’m done with you. Enjoy your mistake-free, bad-luck-proof life–and if something bad does happen, I hope you get exactly as much compassion as you’ve shown here.

  152. Now that that’s out of the way

    Actually, I’m going to stick with my point about your remark being racist. Thanks, though.

  153. Todd @ 8:23 pm:

    Your conflation of unrelated statistics into some sort of racist pseudo-scientific theory of how Romney is right is flawed, and unless I’m mistaken has already been debunked before you decided to flop on in and crap on the thread. But just in case it isn’t clear, I’ll go to the statistics that can actually be correlated:

    Who receives government benefits, in six charts

    In 2011, about 49 percent of the population lived in a household where at least one member received a direct benefit from the federal government. A big chunk of these households are retirees. And about 27 percent households benefited from a means-tested poverty program. A quick breakdown:

    –Last year, about 29 percent of households received Medicare benefits and 31.6 percent received Social Security. (Obviously there’s a lot of overlap between those two, since those programs mainly benefit retirees.)

    –Meanwhile, about 32 million households, or 27.1 percent, benefited from at least one means-tested poverty program. The biggest benefits here were Medicaid (19.5 percent), food stamps (12.7 percent) and subsidized lunches (11.2 percent). Again, there’s some overlap.

    –Smaller benefits include public housing (5 percent of households), unemployment (4 percent), and veterans’ compensation (2.6 percent). Only 7 percent of households receive some sort of direct cash assistance, such as the TANF welfare program.

    and:

    Three-quarters of entitlement benefits written into law in the United States go toward the elderly or disabled. That’s according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And a big chunk of the rest goes to working households. Only about 9 percent of all entitlement benefits go toward non-elderly, non-disabled households without jobs (and a big chunk of that is health care and unemployment insurance)

    You’re welcome to present statistics to support your Medicaid argument, per item #5 of our host’s “How To Be A Good Commenter” guidelines, because we’re not going to do your work for you.

  154. @JimWatts:

    One item that struck me dumb for a couple of hours, is that Romney clearly came out and said he is going to ignore 47% of the voters. In this day and age, can you as a candidate, particularly one that is seemingly behind in the polls, afford to concede almost half the voters right out of the gate?

    To be fair, Romney thought he his fit of oral incontinence was never going to go beyond a room of potential big-ticket donors he probably thought hated poor people anyway. (To stay remotely on topic, whether Romney believes anything that comes out of his mouth or has pander-Tourette’s is a whole other can of fail-worms.)

    But, yeah… among the many things Mitt Romney is really bad at we can add ‘high school civics’. (Small point of fact though, Mitt: I can rattle off a string of Democratic presidential candidates who didn’t score on or over 47% of the popular vote – Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton in ’92 -, , and that’s without going back past 1980.)

    But is Romney aware that no registered Democrat is actually compelled to vote at all in presidential elections, let alone for the Democratic Party candidate? I have no idea now many registered Republicans or independents voted for Obama in 2008, but I can’t imagine many of them would find it endearing to be patronized as lazy, tit-sucking welfare queens. It’s also double down dumb for a candidate who can name-check Reagan all he likes, but is painfully (and obviously) devoid of the skills of a man who managed to unite his quite bitterly divided party as well as appealing across the aisle.

  155. @ Cranapia,

    “devoid of the skills of a man who managed to unite his quite bitterly divided party as well as appealing across the aisle.”

    While the Republican Party was divided in 1980, it was united against Carter. And honestly, when your party is running Carter and Mondale, why not support Reagan?

    Dav

  156. No, Todd, that was a nod to the racism to your racist comment. I’m not quite sure why you’re confused.

    Also, since you seem to think you understand “correlation”, here’s another term you might want to familiarize yourself with: causation.

  157. *Someone is WRONG on the Internet!!! Or at least muffing an acronym!!!*

    @A Mediated Life – I think you mean SSDI rather than SSI.

    Just for clarity:

    SSDI = Social Security Disability Insurance

    SSI = Supplemental Security Income

    SSDI and SSI are both administered by the Social Security Administration and both are concerned with the disabled, but the two programs have vastly different eligibility requirements and rules. SSDI is insurance; SSI is welfare. Conflation of the two terms can be a source of much confusion, misunderstanding, and miscommunication.

  158. “I think people would like to be paying taxes.”
    – Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for President

    He said that today defending the 47% comments. Whilst running on a platform predicated almost entirely on the awfulness of taxes. In a conversation generally about raising a tax bracket by two percentage points. They should have sent Dante to narrate this election journey.

  159. Todd: Well, seeing as how we’re both participating in society, we should be billionaires anyways, right.

    If you want to become a billionaire, being part of society is a necessary component. It isn’t a guarantee of billionaire-yness. But it is a pre-requisite. Once you are part of society, it also takes a lot of luck, timing, being in the right place at the right time, in addition to hard work, skills, smarts, and so on.

    They got rich just by participating, why shouldn’t we as well?

    That’s the objectivist view, the laissez faire view. That the only thing between you and a billion dollars is hard work. that your billionaire destiny is completely in your control, your choices, your decisions.

    The realistic view would include random luck, good and bad, timing, position, birthplace, family connections, all manner of things that are totally out of your control, in addition to your brains, your skills, your determination, and so on.

    As for having my money, no, you cannot just have it.</i.

    then this thing about wealth being "subjective" is just smokescreen and nonsense, isn't it? It's not "subjective" like love is subjective. It's not subjective like the flavor of ice cream is subjective. Calling it "subjective" is nothing more than a way to throw the conversation off the trail for a little while so as to avoid one fact:

    No one can make wealth on a deserted island.

    However, if you want to earn it, we could work something out.

    And as long as you’re paying employees, and making money off them, regulations should make sure you’re paying them fairly, working them safely, and so on. And because you’re paying employees to make your billions, you can’t make your billions without your employees. This is the thing the laissez faire folks can’t seem to wrap their head around.

    No one can make wealth on a deserted island.

    The top 1% think they’re indispensable and think the 99% is disposable. But the truth is, it’s a group effort. you can’t make your billions alone on an island. You have to be a part of an economy, part of a society. Everyone is needed.

    Oh, I see: “They would only get what they can put together with their own hands.” Explains a lot.

    Yes. It explains quite a bit. This is how Thomas Paine explains it. If you disagree, then you’re disagreeing with Thomas Paine and a number of other founding fathers.

    Out-of-wedlock births (which disproportionately end up funded by taxpayers) are now about 40% of all U.S. births, and 70% of all African-American births.

    Oh my head. I don’t think I can deal with this level of racism right now. Maybe tomorrow?

  160. Great googly moogly, you guys posted a lot while I was composing my comment. I think I’ll go back to doing what I do best here: reading.

  161. And yet… people still can’t seem to extrapolate how the expansion of a welfare state occurs and how a welfare state eventually becomes unsustainable. The US debt-to GDP ratio recently exceeded 100% and neither party appears able to stop government spending of any kind, let alone “entitlements.” If you want to see some charts and projections, look here at a recent scholarly article that shows why massive debt damages economic growth for a quarter century: http://www.aei-ideas.org/2012/05/new-study-high-u-s-debt-levels-could-mean-a-quarter-century-of-weak-growth/ .

    The interest alone on a $16 trillion dollar national debt at just 2% interest is a staggering $320 billion dollars. No wonder Bernake wants to keep interest rates low by destroying the value of the dollar! If interest rates went up to just 6%, the interest on the national debt would explode to almost a trillion dollars. That is a trillion dollars being paid to our creditors and not going into schools, libraries, housing, health care or any of the other programs beloved by all. The interest payments would dwarf our entire military budged (some $672 billion for 2013) and cause our creditors to genuinely question whether the US has any intention of actually making good on promises of payment. Moreover, we’d be hit immediately with another housing meltdown as people once again can’t afford mortgages at anything like normal market rates.

    Right now, our trade partners are upset because they are being paid in devalued dollars. They loan money at market rates at the time, then watch the Fed “quantatitively ease” a few hundred billion into the market (read print money) and the dollar tumbles down and down. Look at a (simplified) chart through 2008: http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/SeanMaloneRiseFallDollarLarge.jpg . Even the Washington Post raises a concern about ongoing game of beggar-your-neighbor by destroying your own currency here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/28/AR2009102802347.html

    This ongoing destructive process is why gas costs almost $4 a gallon now and the middle class is feeling crushed: we’re being paid and trying to pay in Monopoly money but people want a lot more of it to make up for the inevitable losses they will take for holding it. We can never get pay increases nearly as fast as the fed can destroy monetary value.

    Someone needs to be an adult here, to draw a line and say “No, you can’t have everything for free forever. We have to develop sound fiscal policies, implement them and stick by them. We must cut spending. That’s reality. Welcome.”

  162. @Greg
    While I do like and admire Paine and many of the founding fathers, they weren’t infallible.
    As Jon’s asked us to stop, I’ll have to wait for an econ thread to keep this particular tangent going.

    Dav

  163. @KIA AEI is not a credible source. And by the way, the last time the United States debt went well over 100% of GDP was during and at the end of World War II. Strangely, that was followed by several decades of grand American superiority.

    Yes, debt is an issue. But when you’re on the operating table and the surgeons are attempting the quadruple bypass, it is not the time to start worrying how much the anesthesiologist is charging. Unless, of course, you *want* to die.

  164. @KIA: Or we could require millionaires and billionaires to, I don’t know, go back to the Eisenhower-era tax rates?

    Your false cut-spending-or-devalue-everything binary is not actually the cleverest ruse in the history of argument. And closing your eyes and stomping your feet regarding the option of taxing the wealthy isn’t going to make that not an option.

  165. KIA: Someone needs to be an adult here, to draw a line and say “No, you can’t have everything for free forever.

    It would probably help establish your position as being one of the “adults”, if you weren’t childishly trying to strawman your opposition as “wanting everything for free forever”.

    I mentioned earlier in this thread about how I was on unemployment for almost a year. I certainly didn’t want everything for free forever. Your shotgun-blast generalization just put birdshot in my face. Maybe you could be a little more careful where you point that thing.

    We must cut spending. That’s reality.

    Or, we could take the current taxes which are some of the lowest they’ve been in nearly a century and raise them to more reasonable levels. That’s mathematics.

    At the very least, we could stop the tax-breaks-for-millionaires that Bush put in place.

  166. KIA: yes, clearly the best way out of all our financial troubles as a nation is to let the poor people die. Good call.

  167. “While Romney was at Bain when KB was bought, he did leave shortly after its acquisition, and the dividend recap which eventually did the company in came about after he left”

    Let me stop you right there Todd. One, Romney did not leave Bain at that time. He was listed as the CEO and sole Shareholder on numerous corporate documents from that time period. This view of the events is supported by numerous media reports from the time. And even if he had left (which he hadn’t), he was still the sole stockholder of Bain. You can’t own a company and profit from its actions and then claim to have no responsibility for said actions.

  168. @MPAVictoria,

    Romney took a paid leave of absence in 1999 to take over the Salt Lake Olympics. His departure was so rushed it took the people left at Bain more than a few months to sort things out. More than one member threatened to sue for the mess left behind, several others left to form their own equity companies.
    After he left, a management team took over the day to day operations, Romney was not involved in the day to day decision making. He was listed in the SEC filings because that was the legal reality, and if Bain didn’t file that way, they’d be breaking the law.
    If you married a guy two years ago, moved across the country a year later and haven’t seen him since, but never obtained a divorce, legally your still married. Romney was on a leave of absence, but legally speaking, was still the CEO. If Romney had out and quit in Feb of 1999, Bain would have filed differently, but he originally took the leave of absence with the intent of going back to Bain, before he decided to run for governor.
    On more than one occasion his former partners have stated that after leaving February 1999, Romney had no say or role in assessing new investments. He had no role in creating or running the Bain Capital Fund VII, (which was formed in 2000) which was what KB Toy was purchased by. The dividend recapitalization that KB Toy was forced to take that led to its first bankruptcy filing took place in 2004, two years after Romney officially left Bain, and five years after his leave of absence started.

    So, a guy who left Bain in 1999 and had no say in its day to day operations, no part in forming the fund used to buy KB Toy, officially left Bain in 2002 and had no part in the recap that caused KB Toy to go bankrupt the first time is responsible for KB Toy going out of business?

    Dav

  169. Amen, John. Romney truly put his foot in his mouth talking to those donors. So how did this thread morph into a discussion of quantitative easing, debt levels, monetary, and fiscal policy? He wasn’t talking about any of that stuff that day, was he? What is truly sad is that neither Romney nor Obama are proposing responsible policies to keep our nation’s future bright. I feel we are being asked which path of destruction we prefer in this election. Deciding whom to vote for though is easy when you are a boomer nearing retirement on social security. Whoever will keep those social security checks coming, that the one to vote for.

  170. Todd – So, we’re talking about ownership and agency of the 47% because they aren’t invested in their future. But, a guy who actually legally owned a company doesn’t have ownership of its actions? He created it, managed its team and led the development of its culture. This is a very confusing conversation as far as the meaning and implications of agency go, rhetoricly speaking.

  171. Attention to all CEOs thinking of, say, breaking the law: this defence “but I wasn’t involved in the company! I just founded it, owned it and had my name on the 10-Q filings as CEO! I had nothing to do with the war! I didn’t even know there was a war! I lived at the back! Next to Switzerland! It was very quiet! All we ever heard was yodelling!”

    …is unlikely to do you much good.

  172. I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I would urge everyone here to take a closer look at the bottom lines of their grocery receipts and their utility bills. In many areas, like inner-cities, you will find that many prepared foods purchased at your supermarket are eligible for and charged sales tax. You’ll also discover that the majority of what you spend on your utilities is actually state and local taxes payable upon purchase.

  173. What I find bothersome is that in my experience it seems the person who sits there and says “You have two houses, sell one and give the money to charity” is also the same one who given a choice between having 10 percent of a million dollars and 1 percent of a billion dollars would take the 10 percent, because 10 is bigger than 1.

    If this were really true, then why aren’t more Christians bad at math?
    Luke 3:11

    “If you have two coats, give one away,” he said. “Do the same with your food.”

  174. All the defenses of Romney and what he “really meant” remind me of That Couple.

    C’mon, you all have known at least one of That Couple. The one where you like Person A, but their significant other, Person B, is a complete asshat. B is a know-it all, B is never wrong (and gets angry/sulky if shown, irrefutably, to actually be wrong), B is belittling and insulting, B insists on trying to run social activities purely so that B enjoys them without regard to anyone else; B is only tolerated because B is attached to A. And A’s role is to be B’s apologist, by explaining nonstop (often in B’s wake) that B didn’t mean it that way, B sometimes doesn’t understand how others will interpret what B says, B’s been under a lot of stress at work, B didn’t mean to give offense and is sorry for doing so (of course, this apology never comes from B), what B really was trying to say was something entirely different and it just came out wrong. A loves B and can’t or won’t see that B is an asshat, so rather than dump B tries very unconvincing damage control.

    Romney was telling his very wealthy donors exactly what a lot of very wealthy people believe: You shouldn’t give a shit about poor people because they’re lazy, greedy, stupid and want to leech off your money. The people who are insisting ‘that’s not what he meant, he was talking about the entitlement culture generally’ are the A-apologists. The people who think Romney was right are either the selfish superrich, or desperately dream of being among those superrich and are aping the class attitudes they think will eventually be theirs.

  175. Other Bill: Todd – So, we’re talking about ownership and agency of the 47% because they aren’t invested in their future. But, a guy who actually legally owned a company doesn’t have ownership of its actions?

    I don’t think you’re being 100% fair to Romney. He did work quite hard to be born into a wealthy family, he worked hard to be born to a father who was three-time governor, and he worked hard to be born into a family that would send him to prestigious schools.

    All those infants who were born into poor families with no political connections, I mean, who can we blame for choosing such a horrible start but the children?

    It’s certainly not Romney’s fault they’re so lazy. We can’t blame him for that.

  176. @David “at the end of World War II. Strangely, that was followed by several decades of grand American superiority” – Yes, immediately following government cuts and military draw-downs, returning soldiers, lifting of wartime rationing and restoration of a vibrant civilian economy. “Unless, of course, you *want* to die.” Here is some shocking news: people really can survive without the fed fiddling with monetary rates all the time. Nobody will actually die from removing the power of government to beggar people who are trying to save money. No, we won’t get huge housing bubbles without currency manipulation, but how many people are actually enjoying those consequences?

    @isabel “Your false cut-spending-or-devalue-everything binary is not actually the cleverest ruse in the history of argument. And closing your eyes and stomping your feet regarding the option of taxing the wealthy isn’t going to make that not an option.” Don’t recall saying anything about taxing or not taxing anyone. I believe I said something like “Spending is completely out of hand.” If I was going to talk about taxes, I’d probably say: The thing about the “soak the rich” option is it inevitably is expanded by government into a “soak everyone” game. Income taxes were originally only 2% against the richest 5% of the nation. All other government spending was made from excise taxes and sales taxes. Now look what’s happened.

    @Doc “yes, clearly the best way out of all our financial troubles as a nation is to let the poor people die. Good call.” Obviously this is a close to a direct quote from my post as can be managed. You, sir, nailed my point. Good job on discovering that I propose to let everyone die.

    @ Greg “raise them to more reasonable levels” and “Taxes right now are damn low compared to what they have been.” Your chart shows marginal tax rates of 90% for decades on end. Pardon me if I find that to be completely absurd. Unless… are you actually proposing 90% taxes on everyone??? I’m glad to hear that the safety net worked for you for what must have been a very tough year, however does it need to be extended to three years? Five years? Ten years? What should we do with people who are capable of work but won’t lift a finger to try to pull themselves out as you did? Let everyone else keep a mere 10% of what they actually earn? Mideval peasants got to keep more of their labor than that.

  177. I guess we actually cannot make too much of the quote as it was selectively edited. If we can hang Nixon on the missing minutes of his office tapes is it this not also potentially exculpatory since the Mother Jones tapes are also incomplete? How utterly convenient!

    From by William A. Jacobson
    David Corn of Mother Jones released the “complete” audio and video of the secretly recorded Mitt Romney speech at a private fundraiser.
    Yet the complete audio and video is not complete. There is a gap in the recording immediately after Romney’s now famous discussion of the 47% of voters who don’t pay taxes. The cut in the audio and video comes while Romney is in mid-sentence, so we actually do not have the full audio of what Romney said on the subject.

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2012/09/critical-audio-gap-in-complete-romney-tape-released-by-mother-jones/

    Update: I found Corn’s email address, and he responded as follows:
    According to the source, the recording device inadvertently turned off. The source noticed this quickly and turned it back one. The source estimates that one to two minutes, maybe less, of recording was missed
    Ya John, since it played into your preconceived bias I doubt you’ll change your mind, but maybe you can think for a moment about it this way; a cheap shot from a selectively edited, illegal recording released months later in an attempt to manipulate the news cycle to favor an incumbent, hmm?

    Ps. here’s the link to the graph I previously tried to post about social program participation, maybe the link will work this time? If not, any tips?? Thanks –

  178. Yes, immediately following government cuts and military draw-downs, returning soldiers, lifting of wartime rationing and restoration of a vibrant civilian economy.

    Actually, the US economy went into recession almost as soon as the war ended. Why? Because most of that government military spending decreased. It pulled out of it because of the rebuilding of the consumer economy *and* because of renewed defense spending in the Cold War and Korea.

    Note the post-1944 dip here:

    And note, when I said “grand superiority” what I meant was that from 1943 to about 1973, the United States was the world’s largest, strongest economic power, at a time when debt hovered between a high of 120% of GDP down to 40%. The US was actually farther ahead of everyone else when the debt ratio was highest.

    The larger point is that the ” cries of eek! debt” are stupidly simplistic and mean nothing except for political point-scoring. Debt has to be evaluated in context. During World War II, debt was a reasonable reaction to an extreme military situation. Post-2008, debt was and still is a reasonable reaction to a near catastrophe economically.

    It’s the difference between spending money on an expensive car and spending it on a life-saving operation.

    “Unless, of course, you *want* to die.” Here is some shocking news: people really can survive without the fed fiddling with monetary rates all the time.

    You’re not clear on the concept of a metaphor, are you?

  179. Fascinating. Romney himself has owned his words and repeated them in a press conference, and some people are still claiming he was misunderstood or the tape was maliciously edited. I’m pretty sure Mr Romney could sodomize a German Shepherd in the Lincoln Memorial and some would claim he was misunderstood and/or framed and/or it was the nominee expressing his solidarity with Teh Gays.

  180. KIA: Your chart shows marginal tax rates of 90% for decades on end. Pardon me if I find that to be completely absurd. Unless… are you actually proposing 90% taxes on everyone???

    You forgot to prefix that question with “YARGLEBLARGLE! TAXES!”

    I’m glad to hear that the safety net worked for you for what must have been a very tough year,

    Are you glad? really? I took government money for almost a year. Maybe I was a lazy bum? Maybe I wanted everything free forever. How would you know?

    Nothing you’ve said would indicate that there are legitimate users of the safety net. You’re only reference to it was that someone has to be an “adult” and tell all the children, no, you can’t everything free forever.

    I would be interested in hearing you describe in some objectively measurable way how you distinguish between people like me (who you are “glad” were able to use the safety net) and people who aren’t “adult”and who want everything free forever.

    And you can’t resort to personal interviews of these people, you can’t resort to personal relationships, because that means either you only allow it for your personal friends, or you’re going to need a massive number of government employees to interview these people on a regular basis to make sure they’re the “right” kind of people to use the safety net.

    however does it need to be extended to three years? Five years? Ten years?

    I see only two ways to read this:

    [1] Yes, yes, there is a massive amount of public support for unemployment being extended for ten years and it would be entirely reasonable of you to bring it up as legitimate concern.

    [2] Help! I’ve got no brakes and I’m sliding out of control down this slippery SLOPE!

    Guess which one I’m leaning towards? Go on, guess.

  181. @KIA: The thing about the “soak the rich” option is it inevitably is expanded by government into a “soak everyone” game.

    Really? It is? Prove it.

    Ideally, without using “soaking” to mean expecting people who benefit greatly from society and infrastructure to pay back into those things.

    The original taxes were at a time when the population of the country was much smaller, when we didn’t require as much infrastructure to keep ourselves alive–oh, and also when you had a pretty good chance of dying before your first birthday, when minor wounds turned fatal with terrifying regularity, and when old age frequently meant starvation or the workhouse unless you had family who were in a position to take care of you.

    Now look what’s happened.

    We have interstate highways, public education, and vaccines for measles? We no longer treat our veterans to the conditions that led Kipling to write “The Last of the Light Brigade”? We don’t have slaves?

    THE HORROR.

  182. Yes, immediately following government cuts and military draw-downs, returning soldiers, lifting of wartime rationing and restoration of a vibrant civilian economy.

    Oddly enough, this is essentially what Obama did. The only difference between the post-war economy and now was that Truman and Eisenhower had much larger stimulus programs (for starters, that’s why we have an extensive highway system), and much higher marginal tax rates.

    Your chart shows marginal tax rates of 90% for decades on end. Pardon me if I find that to be completely absurd.

    Well, no. It shows marginal tax rates of 75% or higher for decades, specifically from 1936-1963, where the top bracket was $5m or higher for the first five years, as opposed to $350k now. And you’re welcome to present evidence that those tax rates didn’t exist.

    What should we do with people who are capable of work but won’t lift a finger to try to pull themselves out as you did?

    I’m not sure why this is a crux of your argument. We already know that 60% or so of the people getting assistance and making under $50k are “working poor” and are therefore “lift[ing] a finger to try to pull themselves out,” and that most of the people who aren’t contributing to federal income tax aren’t in the workforce either because they’ve already retired, are active-duty military, or have physical/mental disabilities that disqualify them from participating in the workforce. So that doesn’t leave a lot of people in your hypothetical moocher society.

  183. By all means, Mike, let us know what you think Romney might have said during those one or two minutes that would mean that the other 70 minutes didn’t make him sound like an elitist asshat who has a problem understanding simple arithmetic.

    As a bonus, please let us know what you think of Andrew “Selectively Edited” Breitbart and James “Pimp Wanna-Be” O’Keefe. I’m sure your critique of them would be devastating.

  184. mike: a cheap shot from a selectively edited, illegal recording

    Linda Tripp! Is that you! You look Mahvelous dahling.

  185. Mike:

    “Ya John, since it played into your preconceived bias I doubt you’ll change your mind, but maybe you can think for a moment about it this way; a cheap shot from a selectively edited, illegal recording released months later in an attempt to manipulate the news cycle to favor an incumbent, hmm?”

    You’ll understand if I note my potential outrage here is muted by the fact that Romney himself hasn’t disavowed the position he articulated on the recording, except to note that it was inelegantly stated. So, it’s not a cheap shot; it’s a $50,000 a plate shot, and at least from Romney’s point of view, it’s directly on the money.

    Also, if you’re suggesting the Obama folks had this in their treasure chest and chose to release it just so, I think you might want to look a bit more closely at the provenance of the recording. How it became publicly known is pretty straightforward.

    Bearpaw, Greg:

    You’re doing that thing where you’re saying “well, the OTHER guys do it too!” which is not a particularly good argument. If I were you, I would have suggested that Mike suggesting that the tape was “selectively edited” when he noted that the thing had been inadvertently shut off for a couple of minutes indicates he’s willing to stretch the limits of what the phrase “selectively edited” means past any reasonable definition.

  186. I guess we actually cannot make too much of the quote as it was selectively edited. If we can hang Nixon on the missing minutes of his office tapes is it this not also potentially exculpatory since the Mother Jones tapes are also incomplete? How utterly convenient!

    Dude, Romney has already admitted that those are his words, that he stands by everything he said in them, and is now using them in his campaign. Are you saying that he’s in on the conspiracy?

    Ps. here’s the link to the graph I previously tried to post about social program participation

    Upon further investigation (i.e. the small print), it looks as though their numbers seem to be off by a lot. Presumably that’s because their numbers come from a selectively chosen single quarter, which suspiciously presents the Medicare and Social Security rates as half or less of their actual outlay. And also because it doesn’t count the many tax cuts that are part of the 47% figure, many of which were advocated for and passed by Republicans. Not that this is entirely surprising, considering that the source is a “market-oriented research, education, and outreach think tank affiliated with the Koch family” that advocates a “free market-based approach to solving public policy problems.”

  187. @ John: That’s not really what I was saying, but I admit it was … inelegantly stated, and agree that it was not a particularly good argument.

  188. @ Mike: “a cheap shot from a selectively edited, illegal recording”

    Error of fact: Florida state recording laws allow recording without consent in public places, or anywhere that “the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation.” This includes political meetings such as fundraising events. I realize that the more conservative blogosphere has been pimping the “possibly illegal” theory over the past two days, but the reason no one is actually filing any suits is because it was not, in fact, illegal.

    IANAL, btw, but I did have to learn about recording and wiretapping regs in several states, including FL, for some work I did on a non-profit, educational conference. Most states have similar exceptions, and most also have “freedom of the press” exceptions.

    http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/florida-recording-law

  189. Following is a link to a New York magazine article by Jonathan Chait on why, in the writer’s opinion, the comments in the Mother Jones video reflect Romney’s actual beliefs, rather than some kind of pandering to donors:

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/09/romneys-47-percent-slam-wasnt-a-pander.html

    For easy reference, the first part of the full Mother Jones video is available at:

    The second part is available at:

    They’re over half an hour long each.

  190. Todd: What Bain did with KB (and other companies do) should be ILLEGAL.

    When you or I buy something, let’s say a car, we participate in our own version of a leveraged buy out. We put some money down and then use the equity in the car as collateral for the loan used to finance the rest of the car.

    However, let’s say we put $2000 as a down payment and then sell pieces of the car for parts worth $5000. Now, let’s say we said we could no longer make payments on the car because it was no longer usable? Shouldn’t that be illegal?

    What Bain did was very similar. They put money down, they used the assets of KB toys to finance the rest, and then they cashed out the money from KB and left it to go bankrupt. However, because of the nature of corporations, KB toys itself went bankrupt and Bain suffered no loss because of it. In fact, they caused other companies to lose money because they couldn’t make back the money they invested in giving KB Toys a loan. HOW IS THIS NOT ILLEGAL?

    So WHO CARES if KB would have gone bankrupt sooner. The fact is that they saddled a company with debt, cashed out, and left it to rot. It is disgusting that anyone would defend this sort of behavior.

  191. So “selective editing” is the defense now? Riiiight. Sorry, but that should have been the the FIRST defense, at the rushed 10 PM press conference. At that time Romney stood by everything he said, just that he said it “inelegantly.” It’s like: “I killed him in self defense. No, wait, I wasn’t even there.” The mind boggles at how inept Romney and his campaign have been.

    Editing, schmediting. I watched the entire video and read the entire transcript. Beyond the “47% of Americans don’t want to take responsibility and care for their lives” comment, there is so much more offensive shit that I doubt whatever 1-2 minutes are missing could make up for it.

  192. It wasn’t just KB Toys. Ampad, Dade International, GS Industries, Stage Stores… in total, Bain made 67 debt financed acquisitions under Mitt Romney, a strategy that he created, and that the company has continued to use ever since. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs directly due to Romney’s Bain, and possibly ten times that number indirectly, as suppliers laid off workers or closed entirely because they lost those core accounts. Municipalities where those businesses were located lost tax revenues, causing all the collateral damage that one would expect to subsidiary unemployment.

    It is the absolute height of hypocrisy to claim that people on unemployment, and possibly other programs, want to be in that position, when he himself is an architect of mass unemployment, has personally, and as a matter of public record, caused thousands to lose their jobs.

    Okay, now I’m getting irate, and hoping Mr Romney eats a bee, so it’s time for me to step off this thread, for a while.

  193. Scalzi: You’re doing that thing where you’re saying “well, the OTHER guys do it too!” which is not a particularly good argument.

    I assume that “you look mahvelous, dahling” was fairly clearly not attempting to pose as a logical argument. It was more a disagreement with what is a “cheap shot”. What Romney was saying about those who don’t pay taxes are moochers indicates potential sweeping policy directions he would take if president and so isn’t a “cheap shot”. Clinton’s relation with Monica didn’t reflect Clinton’s political policies as president, and more importantly, many of the Republicans who tried using Monica-gate to impeach the president weren’t shining examples of marriage fidelity themselves, therefore they WERE using it as a cheap shot.

    But I didn’t want to get into all that, so just said “you look mahvelous, dahling”.

    so much for my attempt brevity.

  194. It’s kind of funny that all the media and everyone, including conservatives, are jumping on this, given that Romney has already said essentially the same thing many times earlier in speeches, stump appearances, the primary, etc. (I don’t really understand why he was bothering to say it to a bunch of millionaires who already know it’s propaganda, but my husband says Romney is still trying to prove his bonafides with them by talking the talk as their candidate.) All of the conservative spokespeople say this sort of thing regularly. In April, the 50% of Americans don’t pay “taxes” and are trying to take our money meme was everywhere. Just, what, a week earlier, Romney tried to claim the middle class was those making $250,000 on average. The whole “they want us to pay for their birth control” was the same idea, and similar slams, using completely inaccurate figures. Watching conservative speakers who railed about the non-tax paying moochers now scold Romney for the same thing is fascinating. What they really mean is the same refrain that was given over the Akin furor: you’re losing, bad boy.

    Those who are the working poor pay income tax. Sure, they get it back in April, but it still gets sucked out of their paychecks every payday and the government gets that money for a year, to spend, loan, bank and make profitable interest off of, until eventually they return the interest free loans they’ve gotten from the working poor as tax refunds. And they of course as noted pay Social Security, payroll, sales tax, gas tax,etc. They pay and pay and pay. Meanwhile, Romney gets a huge tax write off on his dressage horse — government dependency and unneeded corporate subsidy that they pretend is actually an investment issue. They pay 15% on investment income, or nothing with the loopholes, and live off of that, not having to work or taking as pay for their work stocks which are taxed less. Even those not so rich get to take their mortgage interest deduction — one of the few perks left to those in the upper middle class.

    Right now, the Republicans just launched a new bill to try and gut the healthy school lunch program. Again. Because heavens forbid that poor kids eat real food. After all, they’re trying to close down those annoying free public schools anyway. Their families might not be ideologically perfect, so we’re perfectly justified in starving them all. It’s the same crap — let’s keep people on the bottom in any way we can think of and then beat them with sticks. Meanwhile, the things that would actually reduce the deficit and are main contributors to its current existence — ending the unnecessary tax cuts to the wealthy under Bush, reducing defense spending as we switch from war to peacetime aid, getting rid of unnecessary corporate welfare subsidies, particularly to the gas and oil companies drowning in cash, to start — those are somehow not fiscally prudent. But starving the poor? Assuming that leaving them in the gutter isn’t going to be an enormous financial drain on the government far and above giving them aid? Those are apparently always ace ideas. I’m sorry, but fiscal conservatives, besides being really awful at math, are no better than social conservatives. And Romney is pretending to be both.

    It’s not Romney who is wrong; it’s all of them — idiots whose wealthy daddies put them in charge of the world. They’re the ones who think they get it free forever, and just maybe they’re beginning to find that it isn’t free, at least in the U.S. Or we could be idiots again and elect another scumbag and his tea party friends. And they’ll mooch off the government, taking more and more federal pork money for the “Red” states while their populace gets poorer and poorer and face more Jim Crow laws to keep them from voting. Welcome to Victorian England, the reboot. It’s always been the same vision.

  195. Possible things in the minute and a half of blank recording:

    Mitt: Just kidding! Hah hah! Got you all.

    Mitt: That is why, when I am President, I will announce a War on Poverty that will use the power of the government purse to bring all Americans a fair standard of living.

    Mitt: (whips out cigarette holder, puts in mouth): I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people.

    Mitt: (glowing 666 appears on his forehead): AND THEN WE SHALL DRINK THEIR BLOOD, EAT THEIR BONES, AND CONSUME THEIR SOULS!

  196. Your chart shows marginal tax rates of 90% for decades on end. Pardon me if I find that to be completely absurd. Unless… are you actually proposing 90% taxes on everyone?

    Oh, Lord, he doesn’t know what a marginal tax rate is.

  197. 244 David – Ok, that’s pretty funny. If Leno/Letterman/Conan had good writers they’d have come to the same point when the topic was hot.

    Genufett – no conspiracy needed or mentioned, just a hit piece from the opposition timed for effect. as for “affiliated with the Koch family”, who’s conspircay mongering now?

    J. Scalzi – I really think the world of your comment threads and though I differ w/ the majority, I appreciate the venue to discuss because your moderation and frequent posting/reminding of the rules really creates an environment for opinions to flourish.

  198. KIA: I’m not saying it’s your “purpose”. But I am saying that it’s a consequence of your apparent stance. I suppose I can give you the benefit of the doubt on whether it’s intended or not. But I don’t really see why I should: it ought to be painfully clear, at this late date, that the kind of draconian cuts to social services you advocate will result in sickness and death among the lowest socio-economic tiers.

  199. Mike: “just a hit piece from the opposition timed for effect”

    Well, no, a hit piece, as has already been pointed out to you several times but you have yet to address, is when, say, a video is doctored by Fox to leave off the first part of Obama’s sentence so that Fox can claim that Obama said one thing, whereupon Obama’s camp comes forward with the whole video that shows that Obama meant something else entirely, and Fox hopes their viewers don’t notice since they watch nothing but Fox. That’s a hit piece. (Or say, a made up story of a mosque on Ground Zero used for the 2010 elections.)

    In this case, Romney’s words meant exactly what they said and he confirmed himself that he meant the words in that way, that the recording has not been doctored, as has again been pointed out to you several times here already and you have again kept ignoring. So it’s no more a hit piece than Katie Couric asking Sarah Palin what publications she reads. It’s a matter of poor performance. It’s not even an expose, again, because Romney has already said things like this in previous speeches and appearances. Even if the first two minutes that didn’t get recorded are of Romney saying nice things about the poor and retirees and veterans, that doesn’t change what he said on the recording, which he has declared to be exactly what he meant, not changed in any way. If you agree with what Romney said — and has said before — then what’s the problem? It’s not a hit piece — a negative — if you think that Romney is right. It’s a bold statement of which you should be proud and stand by it. It’s only a hit piece if you think that what Romney said was wrong and a bad thing for him to say, making him look bad, or if you think the video made Romney seem to be saying something different from what he actually said and meant, which he himself has confirmed is not the case. So you’ve got nothing, try again. Or you can just ignore the facts and keep muttering “it’s a hit piece” over and over.

  200. Romney told Newt Gingrich in the debates, that if the capital gains tax rate were 0, then he would pay 0 taxes.

    On the tax return he did release, there was a capital gains loss carried forward, which means he had a capital gains loss the prior year. If capital gains are the greatest part of his income, and he had a loss on at least one of the years that he hasn’t released, then it’s entirely possible that he didn’t pay any income tax.

  201. Genufett – no conspiracy needed or mentioned, just a hit piece from the opposition timed for effect.

    That doesn’t answer the point that it’s all been confirmed by Romney.

    as for “affiliated with the Koch family”, who’s conspircay mongering now?

    Apparently, your own source is:

    Charles Koch is a member of the Mercatus Center’s Board of Directors. He is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Koch Industries, Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in America.

    Here they go again with some more conspiracy-mongering:

    Richard Fink is a member of the Mercatus Center’s Board of Directors. Mr. Fink is an executive vice president and member of the board of directors of Koch Industries, Inc. He is also chairman and CEO of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC; which provides legal and government and public affairs services to Koch Industries, Inc. and its affiliates.

    Mr. Fink also serves on the boards of Georgia-Pacific Equity Holdings, LLC and Flint Hills Resources, LLC, subsidiaries of Koch Industries, Inc.

    Before joining Koch in 1990, Mr. Fink was an economics professor and executive vice president of advancement and planning at George Mason University. He also served on the University’s Board of Visitors for eight years.

    Mr. Fink brings an extensive background in economics, business strategy, and management to these civic boards and organizations:

    Mercatus Center at George Mason University
    Co-founder and Board of Directors

    Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
    President and Board of Directors

    Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
    President and Board of Directors

    Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Charitable Foundation
    Board of Directors

    But wait, there’s more!

    Mercatus’s rise owes much to the oil-and-gas company Koch Industries Inc., (pronounced “coke”), a privately owned company in Wichita, Kan., that contributes heavily to Republican causes and candidates. A Koch family foundation has given Mercatus and George Mason University a total of $14.4 million since 1998, according to public documents analyzed by the Public Education Center, a Washington group that tracks environmental issues. A Koch spokesman says about half of the money went to Mercatus. In addition, the company’s chief executive, Charles Koch, donated interests in limited partnerships to Mercatus that the think tank sold last year for $6.1 million. Mr. Koch is a Mercatus director.

    I mean, my god, the conspiracy goes so far that they’re posting their affiliations right there on their website. That’s some Dan Brown sh*t right there.

  202. mike: as for “affiliated with the Koch family”, who’s conspircay mongering now?

    Oh. My. Lord.

    Dude, on September 19, 2012 at 10:21 am, you posted a link to a chart. The chart was created by Mercatus Center.

    Two seconds of googling shows Mercatus is a market-oriented research, education, and outreach think tank affiliated with the Koch family”.

    It’s not booga booga conspiracy mongering to point out that your so-called “proof” was a propaganda poster produced by a laissez-faire group associated with laissez-faire Koch brothers.

    It would be like ignoring the fact that a “fact sheet” about how priests don’t molest choir boys was in fact produced by an organization associated with the pope. Calls into question the neutrality of the organization.

  203. Greg:

    “I don’t think you’re being 100% fair to Romney.”

    I had something for this. Something about a fair trade/job export joke brewing here. Come back to me.

    Break break. I’m currently trying to work out my feelings regarding Ryan’s “net dependent” concern trolling and what it’s supposed to mean.

    “This is what Mitt and I are talking about when we are worried about more and more people becoming net dependent on the government than upon themselves. Because by promoting more dependency, by not having jobs and economic growth, people miss their potential,” Paul said in Dover.”

    I literally don’t know what the fuck this sentence means. But the net dependent portion of it strikes me as insidious. In a conversation about the 47% not paying (payroll) taxes, he’s suddenly talking about net dependency. Does this term mean gets a 100% tax refund AND bennies? Or, does it mean receives more from the government than they actually earn? I’m not kidding. For a ticket built to mainline the old “It’s the economy, stupid” their messaging seems remarkably inept. I mean, this sentence is like a distilled hodgepodge of their entire economic argument that leaves my earholes feeling shitty.

  204. A fellow Republican pointed out to me that Obama’s infamous remarks about ‘clinging to guns and Bibles’ was likewise taped at a fundraiser for political supporters.

    @mike: When you are trying to make a point, surrounding it with things that are blatantly, laughably false detracts from that point. Admittedly, the point you were trying to make (Democrats are being big meanyfaces) is not the greatest, but pretending the recording was out of context or illegal adds nothing to that point. All it does is broadcast that you like Romney. And? Are you trying to convince anyone else to like Romney, or are you just bored?

  205. @ Liberal Dan,

    Bain was sued after KB went bankrupt, the claim was the dividend recap left the company to exposed, among other things. But a dividend recap isn’t something a company can do because it wants to, there has to be a set of financial and fiduciary goals met before it can go through, and Bain met those. If you want to argue that Bain massaged those numbers, one of the details in the lawsuits was that Bain did, but it was never proven. What Bain did show was the some of the creditors were also suppliers to KB, and they sold many of the same toys to KB’s competitors at grossly lower prices, which forced KB to discount its prices to a point it could not bear the cost, and as a result KB lost more money than it had projected.

    To borrow you’re anology, you and your neighbor own the exact same car.
    You decide to sell yours, and go to the parts store and get $5,000 worth of parts on credit.
    You fix your car up, your neighbor also fixes his car up, and you both out them on the market, but his sale price is a lot less than yours, and it sells. Other people on your street also own the same car, and sell them for less as well. Eventually you sell your car after discounting the price, and after the sale you only make $3000. You default on the credit the parts store gave you, and they take you to court for the remainder of the balance. There you find out that your neighbors not only got the same parts you did, but the parts store made them pay $1000 on credit, whereas they had you pay $5,000.
    And, believe it or not, what the parts store did to you, (and what the toy suppliers did to KB) is legal as well. KB sales as a result of the discounting (which took place after the recap), were one of the reasons it had financial troubles in 2003.

    Now, if we’re to hold Romney responsible for what happened to KB after he had left the company, can we hold Clinton responsible for the Housing Market collapse? After all, it was Clinton’s administration that forced the banks to ease their long accepted lending practices (often with the DoJ threatening them with a lawsuit if they didn’t), he deregulated the banks in 99. allowing them to do more than just banking, and in 2000 he signed the bill the bill that deregulated the credit default swaps that were commonly used in the tranches used to finance such deals. All of those things happened after Clinton left office, but he did set the wheels in motion. If were to blame Romney for actions that happened after he had left Bain, surely we can apply the same to Clinton.

    @ Mintwitch,

    Oddly enough, in many of those companies you name cases, they grew under Bain, and when Bain stepped back or divested itself, they ran into trouble. Stages is a good example of this, the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an excellent article on what happened during and after Bain controlled the company, and how it’s going out of business was not Bain’s fault. Bain was a minority shareholder after Dade was sold to Aventis, Aventis was the majority share holder when Dade declared Bankruptcy (but lets go ahead and blame Bain anyways, they obviously tricked Aventis into buying Dade).
    When I worked at Bayer in KC there were several guys there who worked at the Armco plant, to a one they all told me then that if Bain had not bought the company in 1993, it would have shut its doors then, not 8 years later. And honestly, being a US steel producer in the 90’s was not a growth market either.
    Bain and Romney did not create debt financing, that’s been around for quite a long time. And of those 67 cases you sight, Bain lost money on some, broke even on most, had small to moderate returns on the remainder, and had a few big scores, the biggest of which is Staples. As an initial Investor, Bain helped Staples get off the ground and up and running. Now it has 90000 plus direct employees, not to mention a score of other companies (such as AmPad) distributing to it. In fact, of Bain’s profits, 70 percent are directly related to just a few investments. Did Romney and Bain make some questionable investments? Did they make some questionable moves? Sure. Is Romney Victor Posner the 2nd? No.

    @ Greg

    “I would be interested in hearing you describe in some objectively measurable way how you distinguish between people like me (who you are “glad” were able to use the safety net) and people who aren’t “adult”and who want everything free forever.”

    When I lived in worked in Atlanta, I spent a decent amount of time in the projects. In my personal experience, which was further strengthened by going to similar areas in other major metropolitan areas in the years since, they mostly fall into two groups.

    Group 1, with variations on the following, was the Group living in poor housing, living as frugally as they could, working two or more jobs, saving what they could to get out. The extreme example I know of was the mom who worked three different jobs and went to school part time, yet walked her kids to school, walked them home from school, kept her house neat and orderly. She got a certification, became a nurse, and took a job that paid her less than she was getting in sum total from the government, but a year later was earning a lot more and had moved out. Poster family for the system working? Sure.
    Group 2, with variations on the following, lived in poor housing, hadn’t kept or looked for a job in awhile. The most egregious example I encountered was the single mom who had six kids from five fathers, aged 27 to 7, all living in a tiny section 8 house, that was falling apart. The driveway had a car that was more rust than color, but it had a stereo system, rims and anti theft system that totaled together, was about ten time worth what the car was. Her oldest son already had three kids by two different women, and his last job was working at a local fast food place, which he was fired from after showing up drunk. He was on SSDI because of a back injury, which really didn’t seem to bother him after playing basketball with his buds for three hours. Poster family for egregious abuse of the system? Perhaps. Indicative of the system as a whole? No.

    When I was an appraiser, I ran into more than a few people who were on one program or another. WIC, EBT, Medicare. Many of them were doing what they could to get off of them, some were on them because they had no other options. Some had been on them for years with no desire to leave, one woman told me while the checks she got weren’t a lot, they were more than any job she had had or could get…although I suspect being a high school drop out affected that. On the other hand, while I was there she freaked out when her son brought home a “B” grade because she didn’t want him living in the house forever.

    There are people who use the resources available to them for the time they need them, then move on. There are those who use the resources available to them, and milk them for as long as they can, even after they don’t need them.
    There are those that are in the system, and realize that if they have another kid, they get more money from the government, and don’t get out of the system, and have no desire to. In Some metropolitan areas, there are 2nd and 3rd Generation welfare recipients.

    I know the sum total of all those people is less than 47%, but its also not an insignificant number either. And while blaming individuals/government programs/politicians might make one feel better in the short term, it’s not solving the problem either.

    Dav

  206. @ Other Bill

    ” But the net dependent portion of it strikes me as insidious. In a conversation about the 47% not paying (payroll) taxes, he’s suddenly talking about net dependency. Does this term mean gets a 100% tax refund AND bennies? Or, does it mean receives more from the government than they actually earn?”

    I believe it’s the latter, but it could be both.

    As an example, lets say you work a minimum wage job, your spouse is at home disabled.
    You earn $8.00, or 16640 a year, before taxes. At a guess, lets say 18% of what you earn comes out in local, state, and payroll taxes. Thats 2995 dollars, I’ll round up to 3000 just for ease. So your gross is just over 13340 a year. Unless there’s something I’m missing, you aren’t going to be paying in, you might get something back. (If you claim HoH and One dependant at home disabled its around $2500 back).
    The average SSDI payment is 1100 dollars. For 12 months of that, your family is getting 13200 in benefits. Add in other program costs, if you use them, such as WIC, or EBT, or Section 8 housing, your now receiving more money from the government than your earning.

    What percentage of the population is in this particular situation…not sure. I’d bet a lot less than 47%.

    Dav

  207. Todd: they mostly fall into two groups.

    Two anecdotes do not qualify as describing some objective measure for separating those who need assistance from the “moochers”.

    I will also note that you’ve avoided acknowledging your slippery slope arguments. Kind of makes me wonder if that’s because you haven’t given them up.

    As for Romney’s behavior at Bain, here’s a specific example with actual numbers:

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/05/bankruptcy-report-on-bainowned-ampad-creditors-repaid-124072.html

    The short of it is Romney’s only interest was in personal profit, not adding value. His priority was his personal bank acount to the detriment of the companies he dealt with. This might be a man you want to invest some money with, but its not a man who you would want to put in charge of the economy. Managing the economy is about managing it for everyone’s benefit. Romney wouldn’t be interested in anyone but himself and perhaps his 1% friends.

  208. Wow, Todd, you really don’t know how it works, do you? The point of leveraging bankruptcies is to get out with all the money before the company has to declare bankruptcy; that way, Bain isn’t left owing the creditors. And borrowing more money to inflate the paper worth is not the same as growing the actual business through capital re-investments back into expansion of plants and workforce. Bain milked the borrowed funds back out of their acquisitions via various management fees.

    Finally, while Mr Romney claimed he was no longer involved with Bain after 1999, their SEC filings as well as the bankruptcy filings of several companies, including Stage Stores, name Mr Romney as the “sole shareholder, a director and President” of Bain and it’s subsidiary companies, including Sankaty Ltd. Romney also received annual distributions from Bain of at least $600K. This was during the time that he was working on the Olympics, and had signed a conflict of interest agreement that required he not have any contact with Bain, and yet he has admitted in court to attending conference calls and business meetings as Bain’s owner, etc. Also, during that time, he awarded SLC Olympics contracts to (at the time) Bain-owned companies, such as Mattel, violating the board’s policy in two directions. Now that takes talent!

    Matt Taibbi wrote a terrific article about Bain, and also here is a good roundup, or you can get a summary of the Olympics profiteering here.

  209. @Greg,

    I think everyone I talked about in my examples needed assistance, for a variety of reasons. Some of the people in my example had no desire to do anything to put themselves in a position where they no longer needed it, some of them did.

    “”Managing the economy is about managing it for everyone’s benefit.” Right, and with things like Solyndra, the Auto bailouts, and suing Boeing for building a plant in a Right to Work state the present leadership has been doing that? Look, We could go back and forth all day on what Romney’s behavior entails. You give AmPad, I’ll give you Solyndra, You come back with GST, I come back with GE and the non union Delphi workers who got screwed out of their pensions..it’s a never ending cycle, and neither of us is going to change each others mind on it.

    Dav

  210. Right, and with things like Solyndra, the Auto bailouts, and suing Boeing for building a plant in a Right to Work state the present leadership has been doing that?

    Well, yeah. Especially the Auto bailouts. But yeah, it has, except where the Congressional Republicans have kept if from doing so.

  211. @mintwitch,

    “The point of leveraging bankruptcies is to get out with all the money before the company has to declare bankruptcy”

    Every time a dividend recapitalization occurs, the company goes out of business shortly thereafter? Is that what your saying?

    “Finally, while Mr Romney claimed he was no longer involved with Bain after 1999, their SEC filings as well as the bankruptcy filings of several companies, including Stage Stores, name Mr Romney as the “sole shareholder, a director and President” of Bain and it’s subsidiary companies, including Sankaty Ltd. ”

    As I said in my post above to Isabel, that’s because legally, he was. Romney left Bain to take over the Olympics so quickly that Bain had a management crisis. Several partners left to form their own firms, some thought of suing, a management board took over the day to day decisions of the company, and on more than one occasion members at Bain (including those supporting Obama) have said Romney was not involved in the day to day operations of the company after he left. Are those people lying, and if they are, why? If during the time Romney was on a leave of absence Bain had filed with the SEC without listing him as CEO, Bain would have been committing a felony under SEC rules.
    Romney’s original intent (also verified by those Bain employees) was to come back to the company, but after he decided to run for governor, he formally left, which is why in 2002 the SEC filings changed. Legally, he was still the CEO of Bain. If Bain had filed with the SEC differently, they would have been breaking the law (odd as it sounds). As I used in my example with Isabel, If you get married, leave the guy. move across the country but never get a divorce, legally your still married.
    Legally, Romney was in charge of Bain, even though, according to other Bain members at the the time, he made no decisions on the day to day running, and he had no involvement with the fund used to purchase KB toys.

    I like Matt Taibbi’s work, but you’ll have to forgive me if I think DailyKos and Politicususa don’t have their own axes to grind with Romney. Of course, I suspect if Romney walked on water the lede on Kos would be “Romney can’t Swim!”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/mitt-romney-and-his-departure-from-bain/2012/07/12/gJQAASzUfW_blog.html

    Is a very good breakdown of what happened when Romney left Bain. “The Real Romney”, written by a pair of Boston Globe Investigative reporters, goes into a lot more detail, but the Post article hits all the major points.

    Dav

  212. I guess we actually cannot make too much of the quote as it was selectively edited. If we can hang Nixon on the missing minutes of his office tapes is it this not also potentially exculpatory since the Mother Jones tapes are also incomplete? How utterly convenient!

    @Mike: I have a voice-activated digital recorder I often use for work. Please note the emphasis, because it often stops recording when nobody is talking. It also has a rather useful standby feature where, yes, it powers down if nothing has been recorded for three minutes. Saved me a fortune in batteries over the years.

    Using your rather strained logic, I guess anything I’ve written based on these recordings has been “selectively edited’ and is therefore unreliable. Thankfully, I can’t think of a half-way competent editor or lawyer who’d agree.

  213. The thing that amazes me about all this is that Romney’s speech was in final analysis, his concession speech. Either Romney is absolutely horrible at math, or he no longer believes he has any chance at winning the election. If people who pay no taxes are all rock solid, immovable Obama supporters who he has zero chance of winning over and are 47% of the electorate, he needs to win over 90% of the people who do pay taxes. A quick survey of myself and a number of my friends who all pay at least some income tax at the end of the year shows this to be rather unlikely, as does the sizable contingent of limousine liberals who are quite unlikely to vote for a Republican, especially not against Obama. So either Romney already believes he has lost or he can’t understand basic math, or he has no clue as the real social makeup of America. Or perhaps the most likely scenario, he was just talking out of his ass. None of these exactly inspire anyone to vote for him. Barring some massive slip up by Obama, this election is pretty much over, but we’ll still be subjected to a month and a half more of increasingly shrill politicking. Oh joy.

  214. Todd: Some of the people in my example had no desire to do anything to put themselves in a position where they no longer needed it, some of them did.

    But you’re not answering the question. Talking about someone’s “desire” to work is subjective. I’m looking for an objective test that separates those with “desire” and those without it. If I give you the reins of government for a moment, how would you design the system to separate those who need it from the moochers? Are you goign to personally interview each person on unemployment and determine yourself whether they have the “desire” or not?

    There’s a reason you and KIA can’t come up with an answer: Because you don’t want ANY unemployment. If you propose an objective system for sorting those with “desire” and those without, then you’re implicitly acknowledging that you support the idea of unemployment benefits. But you don’t.

    KIA talked about unemploymenet benefits being extended for “ten years”. Not because it was a realistic possibility in the US, but because KIA thinks 6 months of unemployment benefits are just as bad as 10 years, and he’s trying to slippery slope ALL unemployment benefits out of existence.

    So, I’m curious, do you have an objective “moocher detector” test that can be reliably applied to recipients of unemployment benefits? Or is it simply that no test can be designed because everyone who recieves unemployment is a moocher?

  215. I’m not sure how it works in other states, but in mine, you put aside about 1 week of UI in every full year of work. So, when I was laid off, I had enough UI for over 2 years. Fortunately, I found work at about 18 months, plus I had a few short contracts in there, which allowed me to work. But, you know, I’m a miserable victim who wants to stay on the dole. Because the frustrating, awful, and demoralizing full time job hunt was soooooooo much fun.

    It’s not like there aren’t any requirements for receiving UI checks, and it really sucks to not get a check for week because you had a death in the family or a medical emergency. Just when you most need money, you can’t collect, because you can’t meet the requirements. It’s enough to drive you insane.

    Add to that the lack of jobs in a recession, so one is competing against record numbers of applicants, or getting all the way through interviews only to be told that they really want to hire you, but it turns out they need to freeze hiring due to blah blah blah. Doing it all by bus, because it’s all you can afford. Buying black RIT dye to try to keep your interview clothes and shoes looking decent; skipping meals; getting prescriptions filled; and putting groceries on yet another credit card, because you can still get credit, isn’t that hilarious?

    Yeah, that was a great time. LOLZ all the way. The 47%? That’s 164M stories, each of them unique, and all of them the same. Romney wrote all of us off with despicable contempt. But he’s right. I see myself as a victim during that period, because I was a victim–a victim of a terrible economy that was nuked by shady financial practices, which Romney symbolizes to me. The is almost no chance I would vote for him. He’s right about that, too. I do believe I am entitled to reap what I sow, and that includes UI. That’s three. Romney’s got me cold.

    Which only makes it more clear that Mr Romney has never had anything bad happen to him, has never been victimized, does in fact live in an entirely different world from the majority of the US. Shit happens to most people. We deal with it and move on. But Mr Romney has spent his entire life insulated from shocks by vast piles of money, so jokes about Hispanics having it easy are funny to him. He’s incredibly entitled, enormously privileged, and completely clueless about what it is actually like for the majority of people in this country, the lower and middle classes.

  216. Todd: Legally, Romney was in charge of Bain,

    You had to hide this in about a thousand words of fluff, but at least you admit it.

    even though, according to other Bain members at the the time, he made no decisions on the day to day running, and he had no involvement with the fund used to purchase KB toys.

    So, Romney is the real victim in all of this?

    Legally, he’s in charge of Bain, but in actuality he shirked that responsibility? And now his opponents are picking on him for leaving the company rudderless and blaming him for what Bain did while he was legally in charge, but actually absent?

    I just have this funny feeling, you know, that you wouldn’t be so quick to defend someone who was legally responsible for something but wasn’t actually acting responsible if the person in question was, oh I don’t know, say poor and unemployed?

    I could be wrong, but it’s kind of a queasy, uneasy feeling in my gut.

    Out of curiosity, how do you feel about the recent spate of home foreclosures? Were you in favor of the government helping them? Or did you feel they were legally responsible for their mortgages (even if the problems were due to things out of their control), so they should have to take the consequences and get zero help?

  217. @Todd

    “What percentage of the population is in this particular situation…not sure. I’d bet a lot less than 47%.”

    Well. Yeah. Probably a pretty small percentage. But, even so, that’s, like, the function of benefits. Naturally, people benefitting from them are going to be in dire straits. So, it’s an argument that implicitly argues against welfare and, generally, a progressive tax system, full stop.

    But, they say, they will replace this assistance with dignity. It’s like the Caddyshack quote: “And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.’ So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

    So, shorter, apparently Romney and Ryan think I’m Carl Spackler. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. But, I’m partially pleased with the notion that Romney is Judge Smails (“You’ll get NOTHING and like it!”)

    @mintwitch

    “Just when you most need money, you can’t collect, because you can’t meet the requirements. It’s enough to drive you insane.”

    I think people who haven’t experienced this have an impossible task in trying to grok this. And, it’s really difficult to listen to people talk seriously about preserving my, for one example, diginity in such a hopeless situation but have clearly never experienced it. Really difficult.

  218. 1) I have relatives dealing with the social service system. You get diddley squat per kid. It’s not enough to feed them with, even with food stamps, much less rent, utilities, gas, school charges, etc. Poor people don’t have five kids from different partners because they’re trying to bilk the system, even if they desperately became addicts. They have them because they are poor — with little access to education, healthcare, birth control and abortions, not to mention access to resources to help them from becoming addicts. They have them because the conservatives are deliberately and frighteningly working on laws and cuts to make them have kids and not be able to get help for those kids. (Why, when we no longer have factories to work them in they want this, I don’t know, but they’re convinced a poorly educated, poor workforce that will take any terms is exactly what they need even as they send jobs to China. There’s no fiscal logic to it.)

    We have second, third generation welfare recipients because the far right has rigged the system, especially in red states, to make it as hard as possible for them to get out of poverty, even if they are working the two jobs and living on noodles, because businesses and banks are allowed to raid the poor like a piggy bank for whatever they have left: http://www.salon.com/2012/05/17/the_poor_americas_piggy_bank/ and the school budgets are constantly cut. Whether you like how they all live or not, they are a drain on the system either way, and gutting the support systems punishes all the poor, not just those you disapprove of. No one gets out of poverty without support or eighty percent do with help, and if they get more resources, every time the data shows that crime, drugs, high school drop outs, teen pregnancies, etc. all go down as a result. Poverty is the biggest problem in economies, but business doesn’t have to care.

    2) That’s why it’s the government’s job is to keep people in the country from dying as much as possible. That’s why they have to regulate business — because too many of them try to kill the populace, putting sawdust in bread, pollutants in the water, doing quick fixes for quick stock price bumps like layoffs instead of long term growth solutions. That’s why we had Medicare and Social Security to help the elderly who made up most of the poor — and drains on the economy — and now don’t. Romney and Bain are great as vulture takeovers — they make money whether the companies succeed or fail. Keeping people alive and thus keeping the whole economy humming domestically? Romney sucks at that, People aren’t of any use in his business, and he soon lost interest in them as governor.

    3) And that’s the problem — these Republicans are financial incompetents. Gov. Christie just got New Jersey’s bond rating downgraded, waiting for the magical tax cut unicorn to sprinkle cash while destroying a massive infusion of needed infrastructure government money for the agreed upon tunnel that would have pumped business opportunities into NJ as well. Ryan, the VP pick, helped get the whole U.S. downgraded when he and the merry men held the debt ceiling hostage for a continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy — a major factor in creating the deficit in the first place. Obama got a middle class tax cut out of it, but that was the best they could do. And the Repubs realized their mistake which is why they didn’t try the same trick with the election looming. And now they’ve blocked the veteran jobs bill to help people who sacrificed ten years of their lives in Bush’s wars — people who didn’t pay income tax, the 47% moochers — and the economic boost it could create, on the grounds that no, we can’t afford it. At the same time, they insist we can’t cut defense spending — the other major deficit contributor — even though the military wants to. Screw the soldiers, yay for the defense contractors. Same for the gov subsidies to gas, oil and coal even though they have record profits. Because these people are trying to run the government like pirate financial raiders.

    So Todd, make me a better argument than “KB Toys was going to go bankrupt anyway and Romney only pretended to be involved” and “this one family put rims on their rust bucket.” (Which were probably stolen, by the way, or traded for something else. They do a lot of swapping down below.) Romney’s “successes” running the Olympics and being governor of Massachusetts came from pursuing the very same policies — government bailout money, tax hikes, healthcare reform — that he now says are horrible. And trickle down economics has never, ever worked statistically. Whereas government stimulus, education and aid spending has — and the Repubs often take that money with one hand while waving the other hand against it. I’m tired of government by corporate raiders. It just leaves the rest of us broke — and unable to pay income tax.

  219. Other Bill, you forgot the “Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga”.

    Pool and a pond, the pond would be good for you.

  220. Todd: “Now, if we’re to hold Romney responsible for what happened to KB after he had left the company, can we hold Clinton responsible for the Housing Market collapse?”

    If actions done by Clinton enabled the collapse, sure. But that is a topic for another thread. You can absolutely blame past presidents of companies or countries if the actions they do have an impact on future events. Just because someone leaves it doesn’t mean that they are absolved of all responsibility.

    Of course, witht he SEC filings it is highly likely Romney was involved it at least the initial parts of the KB aquisition. However, even if not, Romney created the corporate culture that enabled these kinds of shenanigans to take place.

    Now, remember, I am not saying that what Bain did WAS illegal. I am saying that what Bain did SHOULD be illegal. And Bain may very well have been having problems because they didn’t negotiate the best deals possible on the toys they sold and other companies did and as such could undercut the KB toy prices. But those interactions are irrelavent to the argument I am making that saddling companies with debt and then cashing out on them is something that should not allowed to be done.

  221. I would like to speak to the “X generations of welfare recipients” thing – a stereotype I’m sure informed Romney’s comments. The framing can give the impression that this is a chronic condition that people in Y-type families experience from birth to death across X generations. Mathematically this would be something like 120-225 person yrs on welfare. Obviously not possible, but this is the picture some people create in their heads.

    Poor(er) people cycle through the social services it is true. Lifetime usage of “welfare” services runs to 40% of the US population, depending on whose data you look at. So, as a for instance, I am the third generation of college educated people in my family who have spent at least 1 year receiving at least 1 of the following constituents of “welfare”: food stamps, unemployment, housing assistance, cash assistance, school lunches, WIC, commodities assistance (like for fuel). My grandparents received assistance during the Great Depression. So my family was automatically 3 generations of recipients when my mom was on welfare for 2 years with her three children immediately after her divorce. And when my sister was on WIC for 2 years while she finished college when her child was a baby -BANG! FOUR generations of welfare recipients!

    Notice that is 4 years total of public funding, and at this point, my mother, siblings and I have contributed >120 person years to the work force. THAT is actually what X generations of welfare recipients looks like. FTR my siblings and I all have solid middle-class careers and incomes. Mom is retired on disability & gets food stamps. OOP! that puts her back on welfare, doesn’t it! A whole $130/mo!

    That said, the myth of the large numbers of “X generations of welfare recipients” who look like chronic users (say, >10yr stints) from one adult set to the next is not substantiated by any data I can find – not HHS data, not BLS, not even independent studies by place like Cato. I am sure that they exist as individual examples of a failed safety net. I will even grant you that at least ONE family out there is nothing but generations of malingerers (sure, it’s technically POSSIBLE, although my anecdata supports that it’s not POOR people who get the luxury of malingering). However, as the population of people who use welfare >10yrs is at MAX 5% of the population as a LIFETIME incidence (highest % I found in my #1scientific googleing at lunch), the likelihood is that the proportion of the population where successive generations are relying on welfare for >50% of income for >10yrs is more like 1%. And it’s highly unlikely that these users have received *in aggregate* anything like the total number of dollars handed out in TARP, as a for instance.

    Lastly, the people who are chronically under-educated, marginalized by involvement in our judicial/penal system, and over-reliant (whatever THAT means) on welfare are not drains on the system. In a purely economic calculus, I’d think framing them as wasted resources that should have been better allocated more accurately represents their situation. Morally, they are a rebuke to the wealthy nation on the planet.

  222. Irishup: Remember, the common response to your point (or to any point that brings up people who legitimately use the system) is “oh, we were not talking about you”.

    It’s their get out of jail free card.

  223. Dan: “oh, we were not talking about you”.

    Exactly.

    KIA posted above to me: ” I’m glad to hear that the safety net worked for you for what must have been a very tough year”

    But thenI asked him to define in some objective way how he would differentiate ME from all those “moochers”, and he hasn’t posted anything on this thread since.

    Todd attempted a reply, but thus far, he’s only been able to give examples and anecdotes, and pointed to a lack of a subjective thing called “desire”, but thus far, he has not provided an objective test for separating ME from the MOOCHERS.

    Which is why I think they really don’t separate me from the moochers, they bin everyone into the “moocher” category. When confronted with one person saying “I needed unemployment benefits there”, they’ll respond with “Of course I don’t mean you”, but they can’t explain how they suddenly shifted their dialogue from “everyone is a moocher” to “everyone is a moocher, but I’ll make an exception for you”.

    The only reason they probably made an exception for me is because there is at least a minimal amount of familiarity on Whatever. Had we been at a “town hall” meeting and if I had said I had “two incurable auto-immune diseases”, the response may have been “Oh, we definitely mean you”>

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/02/wheelchair-bound-woman-sh_n_275472.html

  224. What struck me most in reading the transcript of the full video was how passive Romney seemed and how limited in his thinking. Here were supporters, people who *wanted to help him win,* people asking him what they could do to help. Literally asking him. His replies were so clueless. Not only about how he was never going to change the minds of the 47%, so he would have to count on swaying the undecided voters, but also about how he could not influence what gets through to the American people. He just seems utterly bewildered about how to connect to the people of the country he wants to lead.

    From the transcript (courtesy of NBC News): Romney says, “They say that Romney defends success– success in America and dreamers and so forth. So they write about it. But in terms of what gets through to the American consciousness– that’s– I have very little influence on that at this stage. As to what they write about.”

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, Romney. You’re the chosen candidate of one of the two major parties in the country, and you presumably hired people whose job is to influence “what they write about.” If you want to get through to the American consciousness, make more of an effort. That’s what the campaign is for.

    And: “So I– the best thing I can ask you to do– I mean, yeah, sure, talk to people and tell ‘em what– how you know me. And word of mouth makes a big difference. But, you know, I– I’m not terribly well known– by the general American culture.”

    And so he throws up his hands. Oh, well, they don’t know me, and there’s nothing I can do to influence that.

    One woman at the event said, “Right now I’m very concerned. Women do not wanna be– vote for you. Hispanics, the majority of ‘em do not wanna vote for you. College students don’t. After talking to them and explaining and (UNINTEL) on a one-on-one basis, we are able to change their opinions, but on a mass level, how– how– what do you want us to do, this group here, as your emissaries, going out to convert these individuals to someone who’s obviously gonna be such an incredible asset to the country. We want you.” After faffing around about women and Hispanics, this was Romney’s answer: “And– what– what I– frankly, what I need you to do? Just to raise millions of dollars, ’cause the president’s gonna have about $800 to $900 million. That– and that’s– that’s by far the most important thing you can do.”

    So even though she practically begged him, he offered no practical strategies for getting his message out to women, college students, Hispanics, or anyone else. Just raise more money. Because apparently the only way he can think of to influence Americans’ opinions is to buy advertising. And either his campaign staffers are no better or he won’t listen to them.

    Obviously, he can’t go door to door in very many places, but research suggests that the method of delivery of a candidate’s message has more influence in attracting voters than the content of the message, and candidates who make personal contact with voters tend to do better (citation for those interested: http://cess.nyu.edu/policon2012/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Regan-Petrie-Candidate-Canvassing.pdf). Romney ought to be spending his time jetting around making as many personal appearances as possible. Except I don’t think he’s at all comfortable with that, which is a problem for him. If his reputation is that he’s a Richie Rich who doesn’t care about people, staying aloof from them isn’t going to help. And apparently a bunch of Republicans feel similarly:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-romney-schedule-20120920,0,6122587.story

    (I liked the description of McCain after the ’08 convention bounding around the country like a jackrabbit.)

    Romney just seems to be marking time until the debates. That seems like a risky strategy, to place such a heavy bet on the debates. Remember the 2008 debates? A relatively green Obama stayed cool, confident, and on-message and pretty much wiped the floor with McCain. I’ve never seen Romney in a debate. Anyone know how he’s done in the past?

  225. I watched all the Republican debates (because I am a total masochist, apparently), and Mr Romney did fine. He was generally considered the “winner” in most of his, but IMO that was because they debates weren’t particularly challenging, yet his opponents still managed to hang themselves. Mostly, Mr Romney smiled his robot smile, released one of his 7 talking points into the atmosphere, and occasionally behaved like a patronizing prig, telling one or another of his opponents to more or less grow up.

    But when your opponents manage to forget the 2 out of 3 of their own talking points, or have a foamy melt-down on stage, or promise to open a pizza franchise in the White House in order to pay down the deficit (I wish I was making this up!), then you become winner by default.

    There were times when I thought Mr Romney might have been medicated, or something. He would answer a question with an entirely irrelevant talking point, as if he’d literally been programmed to give answers in a certain order, no matter the order in which the questions were given.

    Honestly, the longer the GOP debates went on, the more *I* needed to be medicated. I wouldn’t blame Mr Romney for girding himself with psychopharmaceuticals; if anything, it would make him seem more human.

  226. If I were a sitting President I would be embarrassed to be in a statistical dead heat with my (supposedly) robotic, fumbling, impersonal, empty-suited competitor this late in the election cycle. Astoundingly, Romney’s lethal gaffe-that-was-not-really-a-gaffe yields an up-tick for Mitt in the latest Gallup numbers, and a down-tick for Obama. Considering the overweight applied by Gallup (ergo: they poll more Democrats than they do Republicans) the 47%-vs-47% this week ought to be a canary in the coal mine for the White House. The election is on the line. Literally. But do Obama voters know it? Does Obama himself know it?

    Obama roared into office four years ago on angel’s wings. He’s since fallen to Earth. Not entirely his fault — no mortal could live up to the hype foisted upon this President by his fawning fans. And the economy and the overseas picture have not been kind. But there does come a time when you have to wonder: how much of his own punch has BHO been drinking? More to the point, does BHO expect to be able to dominate WMR in the debates when WMR is not McCain and now there are four years of actual BHO track record to point to when referencing BHO’s (dis)qualifications for a second term?

    If Obama thinks all he has to do is declare, “It’s Bush’s fault,” or point at Romney and say, “You dirty evil greedy businessman, you,” I am sure that’ll go over great with the 47% WMR referenced in his gaffe-that-wasn’t-a-gaffe: the committed statists, liberals, progressives, and Democrats who would never, ever vote for Romney under any circumstances or for any reason because, well, he’s a dirty evil greedy businessman.

    For the remaining 53% of the nation . . . I think it’s becoming more and more clear that as nice of a guy BHO is — and he is nice, and so is his family — he’s just not cut out for the Oval Office.

    Time to bring in someone with a different resume.

  227. Astoundingly, Romney’s lethal gaffe-that-was-not-really-a-gaffe yields an up-tick for Mitt in the latest Gallup numbers, and a down-tick for Obama.

    Last week: Don’t trust Gallup, they totally missed the 1980 race!
    This week: Hey everybody, look at Gallup, it’s Obama’s DOOOOOOOOOM!

    But hey, at least you’re being consistent in ignoring other polls, aggregates, and pretty much everything else that pollsters look at. I mean, sure you were ignoring tons of other polls and historical data to make the first point, but having been informed of it since I would think you would have figured it into your equations. It’s always worth checking with people who have a good track record on this to make sure you’re not falling into the same trap repeatedly.

    Considering the overweight applied by Gallup (ergo: they poll more Democrats than they do Republicans)

    So do most polls, if you’re not counting independents. But more importantly, a lot of the other polling firms also ask about political ideology, and moderate and conservatives outnumber liberals by huge margins there (Gallup may do this, but IIRC you have to pay for their internal data). And the state-level pollsters have adjusted their screens by lowering the D+ or raising the R+ by several points compared to 2008. And just in case, math-nerd types like Nate Silver have been adjusting for “house effects” in certain firms, including Gallup.

    the 47%-vs-47% this week ought to be a canary in the coal mine for the White House. The election is on the line. Literally. But do Obama voters know it? Does Obama himself know it?

    If the OFA and Democratic offices in Virginia are any evidence, they’re running this race as if every Democrat was several points behind. The mantra is that there are several weeks to go, we haven’t even started the debates, anything can happen, don’t believe the polls. Of course, it’s not the Obama campaign that keeps on talking to the press about “rebooting” their campaign every week.
    The Obama campaign wasn’t the one that copied McCain and
    pulled all their ads out of Pennsylvania and Michigan with 6 weeks left to go. The Obama campaign isn’t being blamed by their party for falling poll numbers (don’t these guys remember the Gipper’s Eleventh Amendment?). The Obama campaign isn’t attacking their opponent for saying the same thing they themselves said 5 years ago. The Obama campaign isn’t the one that has major conservative commentators, insiders, and interest groups trashing their candidate and advisors. And it’s not the Obama campaign who has spent the entire week whining about how this tape is just another liberal smear campaign while also claiming it’s full of completely awesome hard-hitting truths, and was so courageous that he only give interviews at a safe haven. If that sounds like a winning campaign to you, then yes, Romney is totally kicking ass.

    But there does come a time when you have to wonder: how much of his own punch has BHO been drinking? More to the point, does BHO expect to be able to dominate WMR in the debates when WMR is not McCain and now there are four years of actual BHO track record to point to when referencing BHO’s (dis)qualifications for a second term?

    Judging by interviews with campaign advisors, they’re not taking anything for granted. Axelrod says Romney preps for every single little question, and is inhumanly hard to trip up. He points out that the President hasn’t had to debate for 4 years, whereas Romney got 27 chances this year alone. And he knows they have a track record. We’ll see in two weeks what’s going on.

    If Obama thinks all he has to do is declare, “It’s Bush’s fault,” or point at Romney and say, “You dirty evil greedy businessman, you,” I am sure that’ll go over great with the 47% WMR referenced in his gaffe-that-wasn’t-a-gaffe: the committed statists, liberals, progressives, and Democrats who would never, ever vote for Romney under any circumstances or for any reason because, well, he’s a dirty evil greedy businessman.

    Way to repeat the Romney campaign/Fox News talking points. If you’d bothered reading this thread, you’d have known that the 47% covers a ton of Romney voters, and that likely a majority of them are part of it.

    For the remaining 53% of the nation . . . I think it’s becoming more and more clear that as nice of a guy BHO is — and he is nice, and so is his family — he’s just not cut out for the Oval Office.

    Huh, all the aggregate/weighted polling seems to say otherwise. And more importantly, the statewide polling (thanks Electoral College!) looks a lot worse for Romney, with huge leads opening up over several polls from different houses in swing states that Romney needs to win, even in polling done by Fox News.

    Time to bring in someone with a different resume.

    Was this copied direct from Romney’s home page or something?

  228. Oh, and re: the “(supposedly) robotic, fumbling, impersonal, empty-suited competitor”

    You really should train yourself out of getting your alternate-world version of Democratic talking points from conservatives–I’m presuming Fox, since some of your arguments are nearly word-for-word recitations–filtering Rachel Maddow and Daily Kos. If you actually read and watched the more measured and/or moderate folks on the left (say, Greg Sargent or Jonathan Chait), maybe sprinkled with moderate conservatives like David Frum, you’d get a much better and more nuanced idea of how the race is being viewed. In that world, it’s very much a “don’t fall for the hype this far out” kind of thing, where people are taking the long view and check what’s happening now with historical precedents. Check out what experienced GOP campaigners like the previously-linked Peggy Noonan and Mike Gerson are saying about the campaign and the race. Review data-oriented sites like the ones I linked to in the 2nd-to-last part of my response, and don’t just follow the numbers, actually read their analyses. A lot of the time they’ll be countering the exuberance of the partisans by pointing out trends that should be worrisome to either side and dig deep into states to see if there’s something going on there that isn’t reflected in the national numbers. They’ll analyze historical data and compare it with what’s going on now. Give it all a whirl, see how different things are.

  229. Genufett –

    In all fairness, to both Brad and Maddow, Mitt Romney probably is a cybertronic robot sent from the future. And, it just isn’t far enough in the future for his creators to have mastered synthetic emoting. I assume that’s because all their politicians were shot by statists.

  230. Now, Brad, to follow up on what I was saying in the “Commenter” thread:

    Genufett has the better argument here, and not because he sourced the living shit out of it. It’s better because it deals in facts and analysis. Your argument, on the other hand, is based on impressions and feelings, your “sense” of how the election is going, based on a single data point, from a source that you yourself had previously denigrated. It’s clever, which seems to be what you were going for, but in a campaign slogan sort of way.

    What Genufett did there wasn’t magic. There was no rhetorical wizardry. No secrets of wordcraft known only to a precious few. All Genufett did was expand the base of sources of evidence in the construction of the argument.

    Put another way, you’re working hard at saying something interesting. Genufett worked harder at having something interesting to say.

  231. I posted about this as well but with much less sarcasm. I guess I am worried people might actually believe this crap. And, after viewing the stupid tweets the last fews days about Romney/Obama, this seems to only have rallied the bases on both sides. Facts aside, this is really turning into an actual circus…

  232. Because apparently he thought it had been too long since anyone focused on either the lack of tax returns being shown and that he paid the tax rate lower than most people in the country, Romney released his 2011 tax return. The kicker is that he voluntarily chose not to deduct a cool $1.75mil in charitable deductions.

    Which is admirable and all, except only two months ago he said “I don’t pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president.” Furthermore, people who crunched the numbers have pointed out that, if he included all applicable deductions, he would have paid something like a 9% tax rate in 2011, which means that the he paid more just to look good politically.

  233. Which means he also lied during the debates, because he told Mr Gingrich that if it wasn’t for Cap Gains taxes, he (Mr Romney) would have paid no 2011 taxes at all.

    I’m shocked. Really.

  234. BHO — nice race-baiting there, Brad.

    “Does Obama himself know it?” — You mean the President who is talking to folks all around the country, plus dealing with international crises, versus the candidate who hardly ever comes out of his hidey-hole except to go to a fundraiser? Yeah, I think he’s aware, thanks. My favorite quote has been from a campaign aide who said that it’s not over until Karl Rove sings.

    “Obama roared into office four years ago on angel’s wings.” — No, he didn’t. He fought through a very tense and tight primary and a tense and tight presidential election while Bush had sent the economy in freefall for him. But it’s interesting how, when you’re so sure he’s going to lose, you all keep obsessing about his magnetism and charisma. Obama has had perhaps the hardest path to climb as a president since FDR and Lincoln, and he’s been under constant criticism from right and left his whole term. But it’s nice to know that you’re that scared of him that you want to pretend it was easy for him going in. Oh, and again, nice affirmative action race-baiting on that point too.

    “how much of his own punch has BHO been drinking?” — More race baiting. Oh, the poor delusional black man, thinking he could master any of those challenges just because people think it’s cool he’s black. Oh wait, he did — stopped recession turning into a depression despite Republican blockage, saved the U.S. car industry without massive number of lay-offs, unemployment going down slowly, housing industry not great but not cratering anymore, Al Quaida decimated, Iraq war ended, slow growth in the economy, corporations and banks sitting on more cash than they have ever had, record Wall Street stock market numbers, record gas and oil profits, several tax cuts for the middle class, the size of government reduced, government spending cut, several reports now documenting that the ACA has already increased Medicare enrollment, lowered drug costs and average premiums, and kept other Medicare out of pocket costs stable instead of rising. That would be the track record Romney is supposed to be using against him, right? The you didn’t fix the economy perfectly and bring about world peace in four years argument? Or did you want the fake track record that you guys make up out of your ass, like saying the completely wrong claim that the 47% of folk who don’t pay income tax are somehow all on welfare?

    “does BHO expect to be able to dominate WMR ” — I disagree with mintwitch — Romney is a lousy debater. He survived the primary debates because almost all the other candidates were crazy, because everyone detests Gingrich, and because Perry, the great white Bush 2.0 hope, cratered, possibly because he was high. They wanted Perry, but he couldn’t hack it, so they settled for Romney, after trying to make everybody else work first. Meanwhile, Obama took on both Clintons in his primary, either of whom could wipe the floor with Romney on a bad day and have a much bigger record to poke at. So I’m not too worried. Plus, most voters pay no attention to the debates at all, so if Romney hopes that’s his ace, he’d do better staying in his hidey-hole. Or bringing Eastwood out to talk to a chair again.

    “his gaffe-that-wasn’t-a-gaffe” — Of course it wasn’t a gaffe. It was standard far right Republican policy, although completely factually incorrect as expressed. It just happens to be really nasty policy. Let people starve is not the rallying cry of most Independents outside of objectivist libertarians. But Romney seems to have spent 75% of his campaign trying to secure ultra conservative Americans who don’t like him to come out and vote for him. He’s stated no clear policies or plans of his own except tax cuts for the very wealthy, just an Obama is no good so use me to get him out approach and a lot of statistical outright lies, like the government is expanding (it’s shrinking). Which may work if folk turn out. But state polls do not look promising for Romney.

    “I think it’s becoming more and more clear that as nice of a guy BHO is — and he is nice, and so is his family — he’s just not cut out for the Oval Office.” — Oh, the new talking point from the convention onward. We’ve gone from four years of Obama is: a socialist-communist-fascist-radical Islamic-atheist-foreign anti-colonialist-non-native born-Hitler-Stalin-Antichrist-dangerous-reparationist-gun stealing-ACA to microchip us all and build death camps-greatest threat to democracy, freedom and capitalism ever to “he’s a nice guy, but he’s an incompetent overwhelmed black man.” We’ve gone from him and his family pictured as African witch doctors, apes, watermelon eating slaves and other racially charged caricatures to “they’re a lovely family.”

    Because Romney and Repub agents are making a half-hearted attempt to appeal to more than 30% of America. By stating outright lies about government spending, taxes Americans pay and other mathematical facts. Romney is an incompetent and frankly shady businessman. He’s a really incompetent leader. His signature accomplishment at governing is the same healthcare reform we used to design the ACA, which he now repudiates, or half-repudiates, or tune in again next week for a new statement. His head guy, Pawlenty, just jumped ship. I have yet to hear anyone make a decent argument for why Romney would do better based on real data beyond “he’s a businessman.” Who believes we should let people starve. And that he’s already lost 47% of the country.

  235. @ Liberal Dan

    “…argument I am making that saddling companies with debt and then cashing out on them is something that should not allowed to be done.”

    An argument could also be made that saving a company (no matter how big or small it is) from going bankrupt is also something that should not be allowed to be done, no matter what the consequences of that company going bankrupt may be. Then again, what would your argument be on saddling an entire country with debt and then leaving office be. Illegal? Necessary? Acceptable? Trick Question? :-)

    @ Greg,

    Since you’ve offered no other information than you’ve been out of work for awhile and have used the services available to you, and unless I missed a post that’s all you’ve said about your situation, I don’t know that you are a moocher. As I’ve said in previous posts, in my past I have encountered more than one family whose goal was to make it from one government check to the next, and not doing much, if anything, to improve their situation. Were the women in Detroit standing in line for their “Obama Money” moochers? Were the people in Alexandra Pelosi’s Welfare video on Maher moochers?
    There’s a percentage of the population out there that does rely on government for most things, it’s a lot lower than 47% number Romney used.

    Dav

  236. @Kat

    If Jon ever had a topic that was something like “What, in your opinion, are some things a Romney Administration could do and get worse results than the Obama administration?” it would be a barnburner for sure, the Mallet would break from overuse….

    Dav

  237. An argument could also be made that saving a company (no matter how big or small it is) from going bankrupt is also something that should not be allowed to be done, no matter what the consequences of that company going bankrupt may be.

    Ooh, rhetorical fail. “An argument could be made” for anything. For instance, I could make an argument for drinking a daily glass of delicious, delicious ethylene glycol, but it probably wouldn’t be a very good argument. And either way, good or bad doesn’t matter if don’t actually make the argument.

  238. The crowdsourcing via Reddit thread has thrown in a couple additional caveats as well. First, if Romney took advantage of the 2009 offshore bank account amnesty deal, he would have had to reimburse the IRS with back-paid taxes and any penalties accrued, which would have brought the average rate up. IIRC, he’s never said whether or not he was part of that deal, even though we know he had many large offshore accounts. And second, it still doesn’t answer the question of what exactly his duties were at Bain Capital nor does it offer proof positive against Harry Reid’s claims, it just asks us to trust him. And at least one tax expert believes that they might not be telling the whole truth with the average tax rate, or at least are stretching the definition of average to fit their narrative.

  239. @Brad: When a political argument comes across like an angry fanboy explaining why his favorite team is going to win the World Series despite a season of bumbling, it’s probably a sign you should rethink your argument.

    By the way, I myself would be pretty embarrassed to be a challenger behind in the polls after years of recession and money coming out my ears and with the Angry White Dude vote solidly in the can.

    (Also: “roared into office . . . on angel’s wings’? Somewhere, God in his aspect as the Great Editor just killed a kitten.)

    @Todd: I’m sure you know that bankruptcy is not a synonym for “going out of business”.

  240. Apparently there’s even more weirdness going on, per Gawker:

    Had Romney taken full advantage of all the deductions available to him, the rate would have been much lower, perhaps as low as 9%. He donated $4,020,772 to charity (good for him!), but only claimed a deduction on $2.25 million of that. Why? His campaign told BuzzFeed:

    He has been clear that no American need pay more than he or she owes under the law. At the same time, he was in the unique position of having made a commitment to the public that his tax rate would be above 13%. In order to be consistent with that statement, the Romneys limited their deduction of charitable contributions.

    In other words, Romney picked a tax rate and told his accountant to hit it. “Just get me somewhere north of 13% so people don’t get mad at me.” It’s just an accounting gimmick; numerical smoke and mirrors. The tax return version of “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake—I can’t have illegals!” Romney’s reasoning is that he has previously said he never paid less than 13% in taxes. BUT HE WAS WRONG! Because in 2012, his burden under our galactically unjust tax system was less than 13%. So in order to retroactively render his remarks accurate, he simply rejiggered some numbers, neglected to take some deductions, and paid 14.1%. See—all fixed!

    And regarding Harry Reid’s claim:

    [The PWC report] would tend to contradict Harry Reid’s famous claim that Romney paid no taxes in certain years. But the large unanswered question is: Did the Romney’s at any point amend or refile any of those old tax returns? I asked the campaign, and—while they did promptly answer some other questions—they didn’t answer that one. Which leaves open the possibility that Romney amended some prior years with the same goal he had in mind in 2011—to make the tax rate more politically palatable.

    For a campaign that’s trying to project an aura of transparency, they refuse to answer an awful lot of uncomfortable questions. I will say that I’m surprised that they admitted that they chose between lying to the public and taking advantage of a loophole in the tax code to play politics.

  241. Mintwitch: You said Romney was an okay debater, so I didn’t want to seem to be misrepresenting what you said. :) But what he’s really bad at are press conferences — I think we also agree on that one.

    Todd: Are you saying you can’t make an argument for Romney with facts that won’t get malleted by Scalzi? Not much of an argument then, is it? As for Obama’s record, again, he:

    “stopped recession turning into a depression despite Republican blockage [with the stimulus,] saved the U.S. car industry without massive number of lay-offs, unemployment going down slowly, housing industry not great but not cratering anymore, Al Quaida decimated, Iraq war ended, slow growth in the economy, corporations and banks sitting on more cash than they have ever had, record Wall Street stock market numbers, record gas and oil profits, several tax cuts for the middle class, the size of government reduced, government spending cut, several reports now documenting that the ACA has already increased Medicare enrollment, lowered drug costs and average premiums, and kept other Medicare out of pocket costs stable instead of rising. ”

    Obama’s policies have personally helped my family in several different ways and the ACA is going to continue to be a big help to them and to me too when my daughter is older and in need of health insurance. So make me an argument. Prove to me that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest did not contribute massive amounts to the deficit. Prove to me that giving money to the job creators and finance, as we did with TARP, has caused banks to loan money to small businesses instead of sitting on cash and fiddling illegally with LIBOR. Prove to me that the stimulus money didn’t help small businesses. Prove to me that my relatives’ kids would be ever so much better if they have no health insurance as opposed to Medicaid. Prove how letting the U.S. car industry go bankrupt as Romney wanted to do, with nearly a million lay offs, would have been better for the economy. Prove to me that fixing crumbling roads or a veterans job bill is a waste of money, but subsidies to oil and gas companies experiencing record profits are not. Prove that the tax cuts that happened didn’t happen or that public jobs haven’t been shrinking the last several years. Prove something, Todd. With facts. Make an argument or quit playing troll.

    Also, as much as Greg and I dislike each other, you missed his damn point. He was saying that you don’t know who’s a moocher (of $137 a month,) and who is not, so gutting these aid programs is not a solution. And you just agreed with him that you can in fact not know who is a moocher and who is not. But you still want to punish everyone who’s poor and on aid, while thinking the corporate welfare Romney’s Bain and other companies make — cash that they simply hoard which does the economy no good — shouldn’t be touched. The point is, Romney was lying about people with his 47% comment. He knew he was lying. The people he talked to knew he was lying. But this is the rhetoric they all feel they have to spout to justify gutting aid programs — which does nearly nothing for reducing the deficit — and gifting themselves even more tax breaks so they can legally cheat the other taxpayers. I pay more than 13% on taxes, even with the tax breaks I get. Everybody knows that Romney should be paying more. You’re never going to see the type of money that Romney squirrels away. But you’re rushing to try to get him more money and complain that we should snatch bread out of poor kids’ mouths for it. Let’s hope that’s not your kids some day.

  242. And yet more weirdness, this time courtesy of US News & World Report:

    So here’s the mystery: Between January and October of this year, Romney’s adjusted gross income for 2011 fell by $7.2 million. And it dropped by nearly $8 million compared with his AGI in 2010. His federal tax liability also fell, by similar proportions.

    The most likely explanation is that Romney’s accountants transferred income from Romney’s personal return to one of the three trusts that also generate considerable income, almost all of it from investments. It will take a detailed examination of the 2010 and 2011 documents to figure out what changed, but here’s a clue: Romney’s campaign has begun to focus on the “personal” tax rate paid by Romney, rather than the tax rate that might be associated with the trusts and his total income from all sources.

    This matters because Romney is subject to a very low tax rate as it is, since most of his earnings come from investments, which are taxed at a lower rate than wages. Romney hasn’t released tax documents prior to 2010, but some tax experts think his overall tax rate could have been very close to zero during at least a couple of years, possibly because of capital losses suffered during the stock-market wipeout of 2008, which zeroed out earnings for many investors.

    The Romney campaign now says that since 1990, “the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate” Romney paid was 13.66 percent. In other words, the rate on what might be characterized as his personal income never fell below that threshold.

    But that doesn’t account for the three trusts, or other investment vehicles that may have existed prior to 2010. And it’s unusual to limit the claim to “personal” taxes when Romney has acknowledged other types of income. So it’s possible that the effective tax rate on the trusts was very low at some point—and maybe even zero, which would have indicated a net loss for the year.

  243. Unless I missed it, no one has pointed out the fallacy. All X are Y does not imply All Y are X. All non-taxpayers are Obama supported does not mean all Obama supporters are non-taxpayers. (Darn it!)

  244. Sharon: This was stated in the post itself, although the language was more satirical, and in several comments. Maybe not as baldly as you might like, but nonetheless…

  245. @Kat,

    I was thinking more along the lines of:

    Do I think a Romney Presidency could do worse than 43 months of 8% unemployment, even with shovel ready jobs bill and a promise that if we pass his recovery bill unemployment will not get above 6%?
    Do I think a Romney Presidency could shrink the total workforce number faster and in a larger percentage?
    Do I think a Romney Presidency could follow Bankruptcy law when saving a business?
    Do I think a Romney Presidency would be more effective at conducting extrajudicial killings?
    Do I think Romney could get more than 100 rounds of golf in less than four years?
    Do I think a Romney Presidency would be successful in stopping a business from building a plant where it wants to.
    Do I think A Romney Presidency would keep better track of the guns going across the border.
    And so on.

    Look, I voted for Obama, I voted for Clinton, twice. Gore gave me the heebie-jeebies worse than Romney does, and I’m sorry, John Kerry? Puh-leeze. As of now, I’d have a hard time voting for Obama again. Do I really want to give him another four years so he can recover more, or is past performance really not an indicator of future success? At this point, I know which way I’m leaning, but the debates are around the corner.

    @Mythago
    “I’m sure you know that bankruptcy is not a synonym for “going out of business” ”

    Well, Chapter 11 and 13 sure. Chapter 7 on the other hand…

    Dav

  246. Todd: “Do I think a Romney Presidency could do worse than 43 months of 8% unemployment, even with shovel ready jobs bill and a promise that if we pass his recovery bill unemployment will not get above 6%?”

    Unemployment has dropped under Obama after he inherited the crash, not as much as we want and in all the ways we want, but it’s dropped. The stimulus did create jobs. The further jobs bills are blocked by Republicans who don’t want them, like the veterans bill. Romney doesn’t have a plan for unemployment and doesn’t care about unemployment — the unemployed don’t take responsibility, remember? Romney wanted to let the car industry go bankrupt, which would have substantially raised unemployment even more than it shot up from Bush’s financial crisis. So you can have a president who has done things to deal with unemployment and plans to do more if he can get past the Republicans, or a president who will do nothing and whose entire track record has been sending jobs to China. For children. In inhumane conditions.

    “Do I think a Romney Presidency could follow Bankruptcy law when saving a business?”

    You mean when the Republicans gave the banks 700 billion with no oversight, no accountability and no guarantees in 2008? Which Romney thoroughly approved of? I’m sorry, did you want massive lay-off unemployment and exploitation of workers while executives kept giving themselves bonuses in the car industry? Romney is your dude, then.

    “Do I think a Romney Presidency would be more effective at conducting extrajudicial killings?”

    He would be, yes. He has all of Bush’s neocons as his foreign policy advisers, the guys who love torture, remember them? And he wants to invade Iran and spend even more money on drones and the military.

    “Do I think Romney could get more than 100 rounds of golf in less than four years?”

    You mean like Bush who took a vacation every two seconds? He’s too busy on his yacht. Romney barely shows up for anything that doesn’t involve people giving him money. He runs off to live in France. But sure, let’s pretend that the nation’s first black president playing golf sometimes is a real problem. (Throw in basketball too.) Any other far right lazy black guy race baiting talking points you want to drag out here?

    “Do I think a Romney Presidency would be successful in stopping a business from building a plant where it wants to.”

    Of course not. A Romney Presidency would let businesses build wherever they like and water standards be damned. Bush and his Repub Congress gutted every business regulatory body and rule he could and the Repubs have been busily blocking any appointment to fix those agencies under Obama. Romney’s proposal is to continue to gut regulation and give businesses corporate welfare and carte blanche.

    “Do I think A Romney Presidency would keep better track of the guns going across the border.”

    You mean the program started under Bush that Obama inherited by the time it was already a mess? (Oh look, another far right talking point.) Given that Romney has already expressed enthusiasm for more U.S. gunrunning arms sales and wars, and that his chosen advisers are the same guys who lost millions of cash in Iraq under Bush that no one kept track of, I’m guessing no, he won’t be. The border is actually way harder to cross now. Deportations are up. Immigration is harder. Crime is down in most areas of border states, despite the Mexican drug war. But let’s pretend those imaginary beheadings in the Arizona desert are real, shall we?

    Obama has in four years done things to stop the economy freefall he inherited, which was worse than anyone, including him, expected, largely because the banks didn’t lend even though they got all that TARP cash and toxic asset buyouts so that they would. He’s done things to reduce the deficit he inherited from Bush. He’s pulled off healthcare reform after several decades of Democrats trying to make it happen. He got a fair pay act through. He’s done tax cuts, government shrinkage and cutting spending — all the things that Republicans say they want and lie and say he hasn’t done. He’s been very good for Wall Street, if it comes to that. He’s trying to improve infrastructure with Repubs fighting him all the way. Romney has no plan, no concrete details or numbers. He wants to continue the policies of Bush, which gave us the deficit and the recession. He wants to continue and start wars and increase defense spending for his contractor buddies, even though that will bounce the deficit higher. He wants to go further and gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He wants more tax cuts for the wealthy and tax raises for the rest. Oh yeah, and he wants to ban abortion and birth control (though he promises out the side of his mouth that it will probably be fine.) He’s going to send us into another recession. He’s going to spend, spend, spend, just like Bush, with the same magic thinking. His own party thinks he’s a disaster. So yeah, pick your poison.

  247. @Other Bill

    This is long, but honestly, I think such a question deserves more than a brief “Because I think X will do a better job than Y” answer.

    I lived in Arizona and voted for McCain when he ran for Senator there. I know his story very well, but he never struck me as the “presidential type” as much as there is such a thing. I believe it takes a certain amount of executive experience to be President. Executive experience being a governor, lieutenant governor (in some states, its more powerful), former VP, member of cabinet type. Of the top of my head, I think LBJ and Kennedy did not have either state or federal executive jobs, although to be honest LBJ is the one grand exception to this. Ford sort of counts, he had 25 years as a rep, 8 of them as majority leader, Hoover was a cabinet secretary, he’s the opposite exception…Truman was head of the Truman Commission, which was pretty important in WW2. Ike is in a class by himself IMO, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush II, all governors, Bush 1 was VP for 8 years, but he was also Ambassador to the UN..well, that was a tangent…anyways, executiive experience matters.

    McCain in 2008 to me was the “Next Old White Guy” in the Republican Party. He ran OK for awhile in 2000, did some good work with the Gang of Fourteen in the Senate, and the 2007 Immigration Bill. I think part of him looked at who was running in 2007 and said “Why Not?”, and to be honest, why not? Let Obama and Hillary drag out the Democratic campaign, meanwhile, here’s McCain, Senate Veteran, War Hero, Compromiser, adult voice of reason and sanity. The voice of experience.

    In any year not starting with “20”, it would have been a good campaign. McCain struck me as one of the last :”honorable” politicians out there, but with social media, 24 hour news cycles, and bloggers waiting to parse every work, action, and inaction, McCain was running the wrong type of campaign. When he got hit by those low blows in South Carolina in 2000, you could tell how much that bothered him. Here he is playing Politics by the Marquis of Queensbury rules, and his opponents are waiting for him in the dark alley on the way to the ring, And honestly, the country was tired of a republican in the white house the past eight years. Part of me says McCain could have flown to Pakistan, dropped in Obama, killed him in hand to hand combat ala Llyod Bridges in Hot Shots, broadcast the fight, and he still would have lost because he as a Republican following Bush.

    And then there was Obama. Sure, his executive experience was next to nothing, Noone really knew anything about him other than the fact he wrote two auto biographies, was a state senator, gave a heck of a speech in 2004, and was running if not rings around Hillary, was making her chase her own tail. He never really ran against a good opponent (and the one time he was, somehow his opponents sealed divorce records were made public and he had to drop out) in any of his state elecetions, and his voting record was…meh. He seemed to be getting a pass from the media. He was young, was a fresh face on the political landscape. Part of me said that if he were willing to be VP, he’d be president hands down no problem in 2016.

    Back to McCain…picking Palin was a red flag. There’s bold, and then waking up to greet the winter wind buck ass naked bold, and she struck me as more of the latter choice. McCain needed someone young, someone to appeal to the base, someone with executive experience. If it had been presented to him as “Experience, Energize the base, Young…pick two”…I think he would have gone with Pawlenty or Portman, but dude reached with Palin. And frankly, had he not, Palin herself would be in a nice position to go after the 2016 ticket as well IMO…Palin wasn’t the worst pick he could have made, and she did energize the base (and drive Andrew Sullivan into drooling snits, that’s bonus points right there…), she was a choice that fit the “maverick” role McCain had been crafting.

    Then McCain suspended his campaign to go back to Washington during the Banking crisis. I know he did it to try and help, but he shot himself and his party in the foot, and then kept on shooting. Being outspent four to one when his campaign was being run by the B team didn’t help either. (Tangent…in KC there’s an afternoon drive show on the political station that’s decidedly conservative. They contacted the McCain camp to see if they could get an interview with him, and were told no, McCain had already done the AM drive in show a month earlier. Now, this was the McCain campaign, turning down free air time for their candidate to speak. In Missouri. In 2008.)

    The more I listened to Obama, the more I liked him. I thought if he surrounded himself with a good team, he could get some things done. McCain increasingly looked more and more like Bush 2.1 Beta…So, November 6th came around, and I had to make a choice: Which politician was going to screw the country and my life up the least the next four years. At that time, McCain had done enough things that made me go “Yeah…no.” that I voted for Obama. I disagreed with Obama on many things, but I agreed with him on many things, and honestly, change can be a good thing. Maybe Obama could be the politician to effect that change. Maybe I drank to kool-aid. Based on what I knew then, I voted for the guy who I thought would screw up the least. To be honest, it was a short honeymoon. Winning the Nobel Prize after being in Offcie less than a month told me there were a lot of people putting a lot of unreal expectations on him, and after all, he’s human, he’s going to screw up, it’s a given.

    I will always contend that Obama ran too early. I think, to borrow a phrase from Bujold, that Obama thought he was ready to inhabit the office of the President. What he was not ready for was to work at the desk of the President.

    Question for me know is, has he learned enough on the job to do better (because honestly, by some metrics can he do worse?), or is it time to see what the other guy can do (because honestly, by some metrics could Romney do worse?) This time around, it’s not so much the choice of the evil of two lesser’s, but the difference between a President whose leadership has become…feckless…and the other candidate who has many of the “Next Old White Republican Guy to run.” motifs hanging around him. As of now, Romney seems to be of two extremes: I think picking Ryan as a running mate was a good move. Anyone who can fluster Geithner that easily, and repeatedly, is OK in my book. The other extreme is alienating potential voters with relative ease, but that’s not a trait he has a monopoly on. And being a successful business man, especially in today’s economic environment, is not a negative. I’m not sure Romney’s ready for the Office of the President, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be able to get a handle on the desk faster.

    Then again, I’ve been wrong before…

    Dav

  248. @ Kat,

    It’s late, and I only skimmed up far enough to read part of your response, but given the tone of what I read, I feel certain that it’s no different than the rest of your anti Romney screeds…although I will admit some confusion as to why you think a congressional minority is responsible for Obama not being able to get what he wanted, but a Democratic minority/split house (should Romney win) will not be able to stop him from enacting all of your worse fears…anyhow… we obviously disagree on many things, and while I like a good back and forth, it’s getting away from the OP…and I am ok with disagreeing.

    However, as I did a paper for school on Fast and Furious not to long ago, I’d appreciate it if you could clarify something for me.

    Operation “Wide Receiver” was the first “Gunwalking” program the ATF conducted, and it ended in late 2007. A great many sources confirm this. When Obama took office, the new DoJ conducted a review of “Wide Receiver”, found that guns in the program had made their way into the hands of the cartel, a violation of law, and the Holder DoJ Indicted nine people for their role in that Operation starting in 2010.

    A meeting at the DoJ in October of 2009. Every executive in that meeting was (re-)nominated to their position by Obama, or appointed by AG Holder. Numerous sources (The Washington Post, LA Times, Judicial Watch, The Congressional Joint Staff Report of ATF Agents Accounts (available online even)…others) all verify that at that meeting, the decision was made to focus on the entire cartel arms trafficking network as a whole as opposed to focusing on the low level buyers that “Wide Receiver” had targeted . After that meeting, ATF supervisors brought up the idea of “gun walking”, it was incorporated into the program (and not without controversy), and the program itself was not known as “Fast and Furious” until November of 2009. Well after “Wide Receiver” had stopped in 2007.

    Now, the present administrations never disputed the dates of that meeting, and seeing as how “Wide Receiver” had clearly ended before Bush left office (As attested to by transcripts of statements at the “Wide Receiver” trials) and “Fast and Furious” did not start until after Bush had left office, how could it be the continuation of an existing program? Is it the equivalent of me losing weight this week because I started that diet two years ago, and not because i walked my kid to school and back every day this week, or more like “World War Two was a continuation of World War One?”

    Then again, lets say that it was a Bush Administration program that continued after he left office. If that’s true, then the Obama DoJ not only knew about it, but continued it, thereby assuming responsibility for it and it’s results, good or bad.

    Dav

  249. Todd:

    “As of now, Romney seems to be of two extremes: I think picking Ryan as a running mate was a good move. Anyone who can fluster Geithner that easily, and repeatedly, is OK in my book. The other extreme is alienating potential voters with relative ease, but that’s not a trait he has a monopoly on.”

    One of the biggest problems I have with Romney is that much of his executive experience is based in a trade that keeps the bottom line in the black, by any means necessary. There are some investment practices that I think should be against the law, but those that aren’t, aren’t. And, I’ve got no real problem with playing the game by the rules (to be amended slightly in a moment). But, when you match some of the painfully indifferent rhetoric he’s exhibited towards those outside his economic class up with the fact that professionally he has no problem breaking up companies and ending jobs chasing the profit . . . well, disconcerting is most the charitable word.

    I’ve also got a problem voting for a candidate for President who not only made his mark off the trade that crashed our economy (hedge fund managing/investment banking/no risk lunacy) but is using it to justify his competence for the office. There are serious rules that need to be put back in place to prevent that sort of behavior, and I sincerely doubt that will ever be a worthwhile pursuit as far as Romney is concerned. Not that I’m super thrilled with the present state, but man. There’s no way that sort of trading doesn’t get worse under President Romney.

    I understand and agree that Romney does not have a monopoly on alienating voters. Obama has had his share of blunders (guns and god and the static cling, oh god). But, I cannot agree that Obama and Romney are legitimately in the same league with the kind of verbiage Romney has let off about half the American population. Not to mention the general McCarthyism rant the Republicans have been on.

    I don’t have a beef with a highly successful rich guy. Hate the game, not the player. Good for him. But, his notion of unemployed – ha ha – is earning 14 million dollars via someone else’s money management and, you know, a few hundred k speaking publicly, or whatevs.

    Meanwhile, his notion of unemployed for everyone else is, you know, boot straps young men and women! Hard work. Because that’s the only way!

    I do think picking Ryan was a good move for him. But, the thing with the VP pick is that it’s all downside and no upside for success. He did great. Ryan is a competent running mate. And I’m sure his base is reassured with the selection. But, for the other 47%, the group of Americans that make use of federal aid and the least wealthy among us, it isn’t such a great sign. It says to me that a guy who’s largely clueless on what ordinary Americans live on a day to day basis has picked an advisor – nay, second in command – who thinks they’ve sucked enough free money, because MATH.

    I mean, when you have to call yourself a “compassionate” conservative, you know you’ve got a branding problem. Liberals get called bleeding hearts all the time, because PEJORATIVE VIEW of fairly discernable policy preferences. On the other hand, you’ve got Romney and Ryan mounting their steeds, named Compassionate and Conservative, to ride to the White House. “Don’t worry, we’re here to COMPASSIONATE you! Try our C-Rations of DIGNITY. Now with ALL DIGNITY.”

    As for Obama, well. No way he was going to hit the bar that was set for him. But, I’ll say this. I think he has made big attempts, or actually hit, most of his campaign promises. And, while he’s missed a few, I think you can look at what he said he’d work on and compare it to what he did work on and find that they line up pretty well. And I don’t like the idea of voting for Romney assuming he’s NOT going to do what he says. To his base. Because they think he’s shifty too.

    I don’t particularly agree that Obama’s leadership has been “feckless”. But, if we disagree on the policies, I’m not sure how we substantiate whether or not he’s been feckless. I do think he’s done more showing instead of telling when it comes to Deciding.

    I guess the short of it is I don’t see how you can vote for Romney if you even agreed with half of what Obama ran on. I mean, their health care is the same. I think that at the very least Obama has displayed a nuanced understanding of foreign policy, even if I haven’t always agreed with it. Meanwhile, Romney has pretty much gone “Ah HAH. Foreign Policy Quip for the steal. Ah. Hah. The economy is AWFUL! You there, day-laborer (points to Sys Admin), don’t you think this is awful?” And the idea of letting his neo-con advisers anywhere near Iran at the Presidential level gives me heart palpitations. Their actual economic policies, well. Whatever. Obama’s demonstrated he’s anything but a socialist. But, if you disagree there, well. No point in hashing that out.

    Either way. Thanks for taking the time to break that down a bit.

    TL;DR: no one should vote for a cybertronic robot from the future with defective emoting software who would genuinely like to know, hey, who let the dogs out, right?

  250. @ Other Bill

    My last job, I worked with a guy, You’d show him a project, he’d look it over and say “You’ll want to do this here, and this here, and that there, and pay attention to this as well. Smart Guy (if you didn’t believe him, he’d tell you). If you put him in charge of that project, he’d run it into the ground, because while he was smart and knew what to look for, he had no skills in making sure the project would run they way it was supposed to, and if something came along that threw his plans out of whack, he’d lock up like a deer in headlights, and instead of making a good decision, he’d try and make the best decision, setting himself and the project up for more failure…Obama reminds me of that.

    I get that he inherited a plate of shit…but then came “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you” and then when it was pretty obvious that the first stimulus plan wasn’t getting it done, it was time to set that aside and work on healthcare. I think it would take the briefest of investigations to show malfeasance at many of the banks that helped bring about the 2008 meltdown, but the Obama DoJ hasn’t done very much (if anything) in that regard, and why is that? The first real big disconnect for me came in the 2010 midterms, when Obama said “We lost because people had not felt the effects of the economic recovery…” Yeah, that’s why you lost…

    Eight Years to early, I’m telling ya…

    Dav

  251. I get that he inherited a plate of shit…but then came “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you”

    Huh? The night he was inaugurated, GOP House and Senate members (Paul Ryan among them) got together and basically made a pact that they were never going to work with the President on anything. And you see evidence of this all of the time, most notably when Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Senate GOP, publicly stated that it was the job of him and his party’s lawmakers to make Obama a one-term President. Not to create jobs, or go after banks, or to come up with a bipartisan solution to economic crises; no, it was kill Obama’s presidency above all else.

    and then when it was pretty obvious that the first stimulus plan wasn’t getting it done, it was time to set that aside and work on healthcare.

    It was never “obvious” that stimulus wasn’t working, and it still isn’t. In fact, the general consensus among most economists seems to be that (a) the stimulus stopped the bleeding from the various financial crises of 2007-8, (b) if anything it was way too small, and (c) that a lot of the effects (for instance, the tax cuts to 95% of Americans) were politically invisible either by design or because of misdirection from the right wing Congress. Sure GOP-aligned think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and libertarian organizations made a big stink about it being a failure, but they were never going to agree with it anyway, just on principle.

    I think it would take the briefest of investigations to show malfeasance at many of the banks that helped bring about the 2008 meltdown, but the Obama DoJ hasn’t done very much (if anything) in that regard, and why is that?

    Because 8 years of deregulation had basically gutted a lot of the enforcement powers of the SEC and DOJ-related arms. A lot of that malfeasance is more or less legal nowadays, because it skirted the edge but never crossed the line into fraud. It was essentially enticement of stupid investors combined with loosening of the rules. “A fool and his money are soon parted” is ethically (and probably morally) wrong, but it’s not illegal. What Obama has done is to sign legislation (notably Dodd-Frank) that tried to restore as much enforcement as he could going up against unrelenting opposition in Congress, as well as create an organization (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) that was meant to go after financial institutions that are taking advantage of citizens. And it’s working, too, as several companies have already been forced to reimburse customers that they had illegally collected fees and penalties from.

  252. I’m not sure Romney’s ready for the Office of the President, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be able to get a handle on the desk faster.

    Where do you get this idea? His jobs policy is that he will create 12 million jobs, which is great and all, but economists predict that 12 million jobs will be created anyway, if we kept policies we have now in place. His Israel policy is that not a single Palestinian wants a two-state solution–he’s off by at least 50%, and maybe as much as 75%–and that we should (in his own words) “kick the can down the road.” His tax policy (what little of it he’s revealed) basically says that he’s giving a bunch of tax cuts to those making more than $250k, and then tax the sh*t out of the poor and middle class. When he gets called on it, his response is basically “trust me” and then dodge when the idea of specifics is brought up again. His policy on Iran is just short of “bomb the crap out of them” (with a wink to business chum Netanyahu, whose opinion on Iran as a threat is not really shared by others in the Israeli government) in private, and identical to Obama’s in public–except when his staff muddles the message. He supports voter ID laws almost indistinguishable from poll taxes (according to GOP officials, this is actually on purpose) that are combatting fraud that is essentially non-existent, and blatantly lies about early voting rights.

    How someone who’s “handle” on the Presidency seems to be a combination of Dana Carvey’s “stay the course, thousand points oflight” George HW Bush impression and 1960s-era Strom Thurmond is a plus is beyond me.

  253. Todd: Ah, the personality of the candidate game. I’ll let Other Bill and Genufett argue the facts further since I’d just be repeating myself. My “screed” on Romney is that the half of possible policy he’s brought forth would send the country into disaster and the other half he won’t talk about exactly what it is. What I care about are the policies of the parties and the spearhead of what a presidential administration will attempt to do. Also, if you don’t understand how Republicans were able to effectively block appointments, legislature and regulation in Congress — as they declared was their chief goal repeatedly, then you might want to take another look at the veterans bill disaster, or the farm bill blockage because Republicans wanted the House bill which gutted the food stamps program. Basically, you’re making the argument that Obama hasn’t fixed things fast enough to suit you, while downplaying the obstacles he’s faced from the other party. That’s your right.

    But on policy again, no one is making an argument for Romney. It’s still just, well he’s a businessman. And thirty years of “well he’s a businessman or well he’s pro-business” is what got us into the mess of Regan through Bush. And if you think Ryan, who would like the U.S. to become a conservative theocracy that throws its seniors on ice flows, is a good idea, then yes, we do fundamentally disagree. That Romney made the statement in the video that was totally a lie on facts doesn’t bother you, and that this is the official policy of his entire political party, that you see that as leadership that is not feckless, well again, we disagree.

  254. Todd:

    “I think it would take the briefest of investigations to show malfeasance at many of the banks that helped bring about the 2008 meltdown, but the Obama DoJ hasn’t done very much (if anything) in that regard, and why is that?”

    Yeah. I get that. This is something that I get worked up about. And see as a major failing point for government in the last three and a half years. But, this is one of the issues where I think to myself – as frustrated as I am with the guy in office – what’s the other party going to do if given the chance? And I don’t see President Romney doing much more than proverbially handing out Medals Of Freedom to a few of his favorite friends.

    “I get that he inherited a plate of shit…but then came “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you” and then when it was pretty obvious that the first stimulus plan wasn’t getting it done, it was time to set that aside and work on healthcare.”

    I’ll repeat that I think if you line up what he talked about working on in the election and what he worked on, they’re fairly close. And much of the stuff that he talked about working on that didn’t go to plan or didn’t get addressed I think can be largely, but not entirely, explained by possibly the Most United Republican Party Ever. Their instransigence has been the stuff of legend. And, good for them. But, given their policy of negotiation via “you do what we say or you get nothing”, I’m not super surprised things went the way they did.

    In much the same way that Republicans demanded sequestration to raise the debt limit and then are now blaming that on Obama, I sincerely believe that the vast majority of “I don’t have to listen” came from the Republicans. Because they, like, said that. But, they’ve been steadfast in their Obama Did It mantra that it’s dramatically shifted the context of the conversation through sheer force of will.

    As far as the Obama Smart Guy, Just Listen To Me syndrome. I dunno. I’m not impressed with that argument. I think that Republicans have pushed the teleprompter joke so consistently because if you just watch the guy talk, it becomes obvious that he’s pretty damn smart. And a fairly charismatic speaker (politician!). Given the opportunity, always turn your opponents strengths into weakness. Obama isn’t a super smart charismatic speaker who can speak intelligently off the cuff about a variety of complex subjects. He’s professorial! A lecturer! Out of touch academic! An elitist! So, this is politics 101.

  255. Todd: then came “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you”

    Fabricating a quote from Obama that shows him indifferent to the people on this thread about Romney dismissing 47% of the American people, takes some balls, sir. Well done.

    and then when it was pretty obvious that the first stimulus plan wasn’t getting it done,

    Because it wasn’t big enough. Rather than add stimulus, Romney would do the opposite, which is cut government stimulus, government spending, and pretty much the Great Depression showed that was about the worst thing we could do.

    Obviously we can’t have a stimulus that is monetarily equivalent to WW2, but bigger is better.

    Unless you don’t think any stimulus was a good idea, I don’t know how Romney would be the better choice here.

    it was time to set that aside and work on healthcare.

    Again, Romney will probably do the exact opposite and kill health care reform. If you think HCR is bad, then that would put you in the Romney camp, but if you think HCR is needed, then Obama would be the better choice.

    I think it would take the briefest of investigations to show malfeasance at many of the banks that helped bring about the 2008 meltdown

    Quoi? Do you think Romney would launch an investigation into this? Not only would Romney NOT investigate, but he would gut any regulations on the banks so that the next time around, the banks could do the exact same thing, but without it even being illegal.

    I’m having a hard time believing you’re being entirely straight here. If you’re really concerned about bank malfeasance, then going with Romney makes absolutely no sense.

  256. @ Greg

    “Fabricating a quote from Obama that shows him indifferent to the people on this thread about Romney dismissing 47% of the American people, takes some balls, sir. Well done.”

    In the first days of the Obama Administration, there was a bipartisan meeting held at the White House to discuss the stimulus plan, and when challenged by a republican Senator over his plan, Obama Said “I won.” People in the room confirmed it after. Aides in both parties reported it. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, a host of blogs within the political spectrum reported it. In what world is that a “Made Up?” statement? Seriously.

    “Because it wasn’t big enough. Rather than add stimulus, Romney would do the opposite, which is cut government stimulus, government spending, and pretty much the Great Depression showed , the that was about the worst thing we could do.”

    Greg…and both the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations introduced bills that not only worsened the Depression, but made it last longer (Smoot-Hawley in 1930 and NIRA in 1933 in particular). And government spending and taxes increased during the depression. Government was anything but austere then.

    “Quoi? Do you think Romney would launch an investigation into this? Not only would Romney NOT investigate, but he would gut any regulations on the banks so that the next time around, the banks could do the exact same thing, but without it even being illegal.”

    Romney might investigate, he might not. But the I highly doubt he’d also be able to pass an executive statement gutting any regulations, it would never stand, and given that as of right now it would appear that if Romney does win, he’ll have a Republican house and a Democratic Senate, getting any sort of bill passed allowing a return to the status quo would be next to impossible.

    But as of now, with regards to banking at least, the choice is a Guy whose had four years to do something and hasn’t, and a guy who won’t, that’s pretty much a wash to me.

    Dav

  257. Todd: As Bill Clinton said: “It is my opinion that no president, not Barack Obama, not Bill Clinton, not anybody who served before us… nobody who had this job could have repaired that much damage to this economy in just four years.” — Obama is not a magical unicorn. He did some things, he was blocked from doing others, there is still more stuff that needs to get done. Pretending he hasn’t done anything is ignoring the facts. Pretending that unemployment hasn’t declined, the recession hasn’t ended, and that the stock market isn’t doing amazingly well is ignoring the facts. The economy is in the pits, but it’s growing back slowly.

    When Obama said “I won,” he was reminding the Republican Senator that he was president and so was not going to be ordered about, not that he wouldn’t listen. And he was doing so to say that he was not going to abandon his plans for a stimulus. But the stimulus was far smaller than it needed to be and than Obama wanted because he did listen to and negotiate with Republicans who wanted no stimulus at all, to get it through Congress.The reality is that Obama only had a super majority in the Senate for about a month, between Franken finally being seated and Kennedy becoming deathly ill. All the rest of the time, the Republicans have been able to filibuster in the Senate and have done so. In the first two years, the Blue Dogs aligning themselves with Republicans often made progress difficult, In 2010, Democrats lost the House and deadlock legislatively has occurred ever since — which Republicans have admitted is their policy goal. So right now, you’re arguing at the same time that Obama did not do enough stimulus, and that Obama should have listened to the Republicans and had no stimulus.

    Romney, meanwhile, says that he’ll work as President to repeal Dodd Frank — one of the few checks we’ve managed to get through Congress on the banks, that he’ll gut “reform” Fannie and Freddie while leaving the main banks who caused the disaster alone, and he wants to make foreclosures easier to do. So Obama — did some things that halted the slide and slowly is turning the economy around and is still trying to do more things to help the economy like the veterans jobs bill the Republicans shot down; and Romney — wants to return to the policies of Bush, only gut things even more when it comes to bank regulation and social aid programs that have kept people afloat during the crisis. And that’s a wash? And the Republicans still refuse to name what tax loopholes they’d close to pay for even more tax cuts for the rich that will supposedly spare the middle class a tax hike over it. Because they’re not planning to close any. That’s what Romney was reassuring the rich people at the dinner about.

    What Romney was really saying in that speech is that he had no leverage to be able to lie to the 47% that he’d lower their income taxes and make things better for them, since he wants to cut their aid, Social Security and Medicare, so he was going to concentrate on the middle class, lie that the 47% were all poor ungrateful folk taking their money and that if the very wealthy keep getting tax cuts, it will trickle down to them. Which we’ve been hearing and not having work since 1980. If you think Bush’s strategies were good — because Romney is offering you the same plan but more drastic with most of the same advisers — then vote for Romney.

  258. In what world is that a “Made Up?” statement?

    In a world where that’s not what you said the quote was. “I won” is not equal to “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you.” You may argue the meaning is identical, but that’s not the same quote.

    Greg…and both the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations introduced bills that not only worsened the Depression, but made it last longer (Smoot-Hawley in 1930 and NIRA in 1933 in particular). And government spending and taxes increased during the depression. Government was anything but austere then.

    You’re being non-responsive to Greg’s point. The NIRA was not a success, but most of the rest of the New Deal was a stunning success, such that GDP growth in 1934 was 10.9. 1935, 8.9. 1936, 13.1. All figures based on constant-2005 dollars. That’s a Keynesian recovery in full-blast, and boy does it look good.

  259. In the first days of the Obama Administration, there was a bipartisan meeting held at the White House to discuss the stimulus plan, and when challenged by a republican Senator over his plan, Obama Said “I won.” People in the room confirmed it after. Aides in both parties reported it. The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, a host of blogs within the political spectrum reported it. In what world is that a “Made Up?” statement? Seriously.

    And as I mentioned, several days before that, the GOP (including the current candidate for VP) plotted to say no to pretty much everything no matter what, and then proceeded to do just that, even if it meant bringing the country to the edge of default for doing something every modern President, Republican or Democrat, had done as a matter of course. If you want to play a “he said, they said” game, no one comes out looking good, but the Congressional Republicans come out looking like the worst of the assholes.

  260. Todd: when challenged by a republican Senator over his plan, Obama Said “I won.”

    Romney dismisses nearly half the US population.
    Obama tells one Republican senator to stuff it.

    Again, well played, sir.

    Romney might investigate, he might not

    What are you smoking? Of course he won’t investigate.

    Pretending maybe he will, maybe he won’t, is trying to give Romney the possibility of looking far more reasonable than his “let them eat cake” sorry ass deserves.

    And government spending and taxes increased during the depression. Government was anything but austere then.

    My god. Stimulus at the beginning of the Great Depression headed the economy towards recovery. Republicans went apeshit and demanded cutbacks. When cuts were made, the recovery slowed down. It didn’t pick up again until the stimulus package that was WW2 kicked in, and then the economy fully recovered, and turned into the amazing economy that was the 50’s.

    Stimulus works.

    The only question is whether a particular stimulus is big enough for the economic situation.

  261. Hey, Todd, speaking of Stimulus and how Obama can’t get his act together to get us out of this recession:

    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/ad-lib/2012/sep/23/republicans-turn-their-backs-veterans-vote-down-jo/

    thanks to the Republicans, Congress left town without passing a jobs bill that would have benefited our returning veterans … The Republicans ensured the bill would go down in defeat by preventing it from reaching the magic number of 60 votes that would have made it filibuster proof. Instead the Veterans Jobs Corp Act, S. 3457 went down 58-40

    And why would Republicans vote against jobs for veterans when unemployment among veterans is around 11%? Because if they keep unemployment numbers up, they can point at Obama and say he isn’t doing enough to get us out of the recession.

    Thanks, Republicans. Always a class act.

  262. oh, that vote was 58-40, in favor of the bill. But Republicans were obstructing it with a fillibuster, so it needed 60 votes to get through.

  263. Oh, it gets worse (emphasis mine):

    As proposals go, this should have been a no-brainer. The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), sought to lower unemployment among military veterans, giving grants to federal, state, and local agencies, which in turn would hire veterans — giving priority to those who served on or after 9/11 — to work as first-responders and in conservation jobs at national parks.

    The bill was fully paid for, and entirely bipartisan — Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) had his own set of ideas for the bill, and Murray incorporated all of them into her legislation.

    And yet, all but five Senate Republicans voted to kill it anyway, 48 days before a national election. Even Burr sided with his party to defeat the bill, and it was filled with his provisions.

  264. As one of Ms Murray’s constituents, and a Marine brat, can I just say how epically pissed we all were that a shoo-in, bipartisan, helpful bill was ass-fucked by Congressional Republicans. Really, dudes, this was epically stupid.

  265. @Xopher Halftongue

    “So Todd, if we take quote Romney as saying “47% of the people will never vote for me, so we should let them all die,” you’d be OK with that?”

    No, but then I also don’t believe that’s what he was saying, or implying, or inferring. This is part of the video that doesn’t get much play:

    “These are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. What I have to do is to convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not……”

    I think he was saying 47% of the population receives some sort of assistance from the government, and the Democrats have done everything they can to convince everyone in that 47% (which I still say is too high a number), that if Romney is elected, he’s going to take all that money, give it to his rich friends, and then live stream the video from Necker Island as they take the humongo pile of cash, set it on fire and dance till the dawn….or something similar. Given that, why is he going to spend time and advertising money trying to convince those 47% that he’s got a better plan for helping them than Obama does, as chances of swaying any appreciable percentage of that group to vote for him is too small. The message he is trying to put out will not impact or resonate that 47%, nothing (or very little) he says will get them to vote for him, so why is he going to worry about their vote? He’s going to spend a lot of his time, energy and ad money on where the majority of that 5 to 10 percent lives, because that’s who his message is geared towards.

    It’s election calculus, and it may be bad calculus at that, but consider the following:

    This campaign cycle Obama has been to Vermont, Puerto Rico, Oregon, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Montana once, and has not visited Kentucky, Tennessee, Wyoming, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah and South Carolina at all. Of that list, four states are reliably democratic (well, three states and Puerto Rico). By not visiting and barely spending any money in many those states, are Obama and the Democratic Party simply forgetting about them and writing most of them off? Or is the Obama campaign doing some election calculus of it’s own?

    Dav

  266. Xopher: Romney as saying “47% of the people will never vote for me, so we should let them all die,” you’d be OK with that?”

    Todd: No, but then I also don’t believe that’s what he was saying, or implying, or inferring.

    Dude, it is TOTALLY what he’s saying.

    He just went on 60 Minutes to say that the government shouldn’t be regulating health care and people without insurance can just go to the emergency room if they’re really sick:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/23/mitt-romney-60-minutes-health-care_n_1908129.html

    Romney health plan: Don’t get sick. And if you do, die quickly.

    Also, great bit from the article:

    This constitutes a dramatic reversal in position for Romney, who passed a universal health care law in Massachusetts, in part, to eliminate the costs incurred when the uninsured show up in emergency rooms for care. Indeed, in both his book and in high-profile interviews during the campaign, Romney has touted his achievement in stamping out these inefficiencies while arguing that the same thing should be done at the national level.

    Romney is a complete bullshitter.

  267. I think he was saying 47% of the population receives some sort of assistance from the government, and the Democrats have done everything they can to convince everyone in that 47% (which I still say is too high a number), that if Romney is elected, he’s going to take all that money, give it to his rich friends, and then live stream the video from Necker Island as they take the humongo pile of cash, set it on fire and dance till the dawn….or something similar. Given that, why is he going to spend time and advertising money trying to convince those 47% that he’s got a better plan for helping them than Obama does, as chances of swaying any appreciable percentage of that group to vote for him is too small. The message he is trying to put out will not impact or resonate that 47%, nothing (or very little) he says will get them to vote for him, so why is he going to worry about their vote? He’s going to spend a lot of his time, energy and ad money on where the majority of that 5 to 10 percent lives, because that’s who his message is geared towards.

    Setting aside the fact that he’s either lying or twisting the truth–47% pay no federal income tax, but pay payroll taxes, or state and municipal taxes, as well as sales tax and SS and MC/MA deductions–you’re still dodging the question. That 47% includes a lot of people who would usually be considered strongly Republican, including retirees (who don’t pay federal income tax but get SS and MC), active duty soldiers and veterans, and the 7 red states in the 10 who have the most people not paying federal income taxes.

    And also, you’re engaging it quite the selective quoting yourself. Here’s the full quote, with what you conveniently deleted in bold:

    “These are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is to convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not……”

    The important part of that statement isn’t that there’s 47% that Romney doesn’t believe will vote for him: It’s that he shouldn’t worry about them at all, that they’re moochers who never take responsibility for themselves. Never mind that something like 95% of them are people who are working poor who aren’t making enough to hit the threshold, or are retirees who have already spent their lives working hard and are taking a well-deserved retirement, or are active duty soldiers getting their asses shot at to protect him and the rest of us, or are mentally/physically disabled (and likely unable to get treatment thanks to our crappy health care system) to the point that they can not work. He thinks all of them are worthless; that he, as a potential president, should not just ignore them as a voting bloc, but as “productive” members of society. That’s the messed-up part of this. The rest of the video, with the casual racism and admission that he’ll exploit an international crisis for political gain and lies about Palestinians and claims that he’s been poor, that’s all just filling in the rest of the gaps of how messed-up his worldview is and how unready he is to step onto the national stage, let alone the international one.

  268. “I think he was saying 47% of the population receives some sort of assistance from the government,” — Yes, he was. Which is a lie. Which is what Scalzi was calling him out on. 47% of the population does not pay income tax. That includes people like Mitt Romney who only have investment income, taxed at the lower rate. It includes students who are spending money in the economy on their education, but not necessarily making much money to be taxed. It includes working class folk who are not using welfare, but may make so little or be able to have some deductions, like mortgage interest, that ends up giving them no owed income tax (but they pay other taxes.) It includes seniors who retired after a lifetime of paying taxes, who still pay other taxes and who live on Social Security that they paid for during their worklife and on investment income. It does not mean that 47% of the population is on welfare. Romney was simply touting the welfare queen myth, with people who know it’s a myth but they wanted to see that Romney would continue to try and get them tax cuts (not that they really need them since they hide their money from tax easily enough.)

    Every non-partisan tax assessor agency has explained that further and continued tax breaks for the very wealthy as Romney plans means tax hikes for the middle class to pay for it. Romney continues to offer no explanation for how he’d avoid this. He’s also playing the canard that tax cuts and the reduction of the capital gains tax rate stimulate economic growth. This is economically ridiculous. Tax cuts and capital gains tax cuts stimulate personal asset accumulation providing an income stream or asset bubble. They don’t put money into the economy. They don’t grow anything. They are not related to economic investments in business but to personal financial ones. And they reduce revenue to the government, reducing the amount the government can put into the economy to lend money, invest in capital (infrastructure, etc.) and provide services that then lessen costs (like healthcare,) to make business and the economy grow. It’s magic pixie dust economics and it’s created an investor class at the top and flattened the household worth and wages growth of everyone else below. Romney was simply saying that he’s going after wealthy voters who want to protect their money from tax.

    Because tax cuts for the wealthy is all they have as an economic policy, because they literally do not care what happens to the rest of the population. It doesn’t effect them because they and their assets don’t have to stay in the country. We saw that in the crash and we continue to see it. The reality is if you’re in the upper middle class, you’d have way more money in wages (and thus savings,) and the economy would be much stronger if we had not had the Bush tax cuts, because they stagnated these things. The deficit certainly would have been lower. But Romney wants to continue Bush’s economic policies and go even further. He is setting your money on fire. But he knows you aren’t going to get that, so you’re the voter he’s going for. Congratulations.

  269. Todd, you’re totally missing Xopher’s point. Which is, no, you shouldn’t be ok with anyone quoting Gov. Romney saying, “47% of the people will never vote for me, so we should let them all die.” Because that’s not what he said. That’s what quotation marks mean, Todd. They represent a reproduction of someone’s actual words. Putting something they didn’t say into quotes is bullshitting.*

    Which is why we’re not going to be ok with you quoting Pres. Obama saying, “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you.” Because that’s not what he said, either. One standard will do just fine, Todd, ok?

    *Not to be confused with scare quotes, which are just rhetorical bullshitting, but at least not outright lying.

  270. @ Doc

    “Because that’s not what he said”

    Odd, judging by some of the comments on this thread you’d have though he said exactly that…

    Obama said “I won.” What people in the room took that to mean probably depended on which side of the aisle they were on, and if someone wanted to hear that as “I won, so go fuck off while I do my own thing here.” they could. They could also be wrong.

    @Kat

    “He’s also playing the canard that tax cuts and the reduction of the capital gains tax rate stimulate economic growth. This is economically ridiculous.”

    The Kennedy Tax cuts lowered the top end rate from 91 to 70 percent (and the lowest rate at the time was around 22 percent IIRC). After those cuts were enacted from 1964 to 1970, the economy expanded by more than 42 percent and tax revenues rose by the 33%, those in the top brackets saw their share of the tax burden climb to 15.1 percent from 11.6 percent. In the Reagan administration the top marginal rate was cut to 28 percent, and the cuts were phased in slower than the Kennedy cuts. Revenues from personal income taxes increased 28 percent (adjusted for inflation) by 1989. And yes, the rich wound up paying more in. Of total income tax revenues, the top 10 percent share grew to 57.2 percent from 48 percent. The share for the top 1 percent was 17.6 percent in 1981, in 1989 it was 27.5 percent. Taxes got cut and the rich paid more, odd but true.

    In the 90’s, Ireland lowered it’s capital gains rate to 12.5%, which started the “Celtic Tiger” Boom, which benefited more than just a few Irishmen (and women).

    All of those could just be coincidences, economic oddities as it were. You could counter with Clinton raising taxes in the 90’s, which would be a great argument, if not for the fact that Clinton actually reduced government spending from 22% to 18%, Gas prices were a lot lower than they are now (around $12 a gallon) and the 1997 capital gains cut had a lot to do with the growth of private investment in the tech field, which was booming at the time. All events that I don’t see happening under an administration that’s already increased the debt by a five trillion dollars.

    As for the welfare queen myth, no. Having seen more than a couple up close and personal, they are out there, in greater numbers than Democrats probably want to acknowledge and in lesser numbers than Republicans want to believe, but there are those out on both sides of the economic spectrum abusing the system for their own advantage.

    Dav

  271. Todd: Reagan raised taxes twelve times (and Bush Senior then had to do it again,) because his initial tax cuts helped grow his deficit large, just like Bush Jr. did. Try again. There is a difference between financial investments, especially personal asset ones, and economic investments. There is a difference between speculating on the rise and fall of markets and currencies and actually doing venture capitalism. Not every wealthy person is an entrepreneur making jobs, (and entrepreneurs are often not making jobs;) and when Repubs make that argument, they’re lying.

    Look, vote for Romney if you like. Scalzi’s point was 1) the 47% who don’t pay income tax, and only income tax, are not all on welfare; and 2) the 47% who don’t pay income tax are not all Obama supporters. So Romney was simply lying in the speech and unnecessary lies at that, but maybe making his donors feel good by them all pretending for a moment that the lie was real and drat those Latinos. His speech was not simply bad election calculus. It was about laughing that nearly half of America must be liberal parasites. It’s a crude game and it works with some people who want to believe that the poor and working class, particularly minorities, somehow run the world’s markets and are responsible for every crash and others who want to pretend to them that this is so and want assurances from politicians that they will use those tactics. We all use government aid, all the time, and the attitude of Craig T. Nelson’s poster quote: “I was on food stamps and welfare. Nobody helped me.” is getting tiresome: http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/we-are-the-96-percent/?smid=tw-share

  272. Todd: Obama said “I won.” What people in the room took that to mean probably depended on which side of the aisle they were on, and if someone wanted to hear that as “I won, so go fuck off while I do my own thing here.” they could. They could also be wrong.

    Dude, now you’re cheating. You shortened the quote to “I won”. The problem that you can’t seem to grasp is that your original fabricated “quote” was this: “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you”

    Obama didn’t say all that. Saying “I won” is not the same as saying “I won, so I don’t have to listen to you”. You fucked up.

    Now, you can either man up and own your mistake, OR you can keep pulling this bullshit you’re pulling about how it’s about everyone else being wrong but you.

    Given how you’ve been entirely impervious to facts that contradict your statements on this thread, I imagine what’s most likely to happen is you’ll either respond with another impervious-to-facts comment (perhaps with a defiant statement that “I won” isn’t that much different from your fabricated quote and we’re all just picking on you), or you’ll rig for silent running and leave the thread (perhaps with a defiant flounce before hand about how everyone else but you is biased.). But so far, your behavior does not suggest any ability whatsoever to acknowledge you are wrong about anything.

    No one is buying your bullshit. The only question is whether you keep shoveling or try to clean it up.

  273. Check out these freeloading moochers in a deep blue state full of filthy hippies and other Socialist sympathizers that is going to Obama by a wide margin that voted two-to-one note to give up their precious entitlement programs.

    Oh, wait. I’m sorry, that’s Alabama, which has only one Democrat out of seven US House seats and two US Senate seats, a GOP governor and large GOP majorities in both houses of the state legislature, and which went to McCain by over 20 points in 2008 and is almost as red for Romney this year.

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