Tag Archives: Romney

Blatant Class Warfare Makes Republicans Far More Dangerous

With the presidential election just about upon us, I am in a state of real worry.  If Obama wins, there are certainly profound dangers such as militarism abroad which sooner or later will revisit us in future 9/11′s, climate change, and continued concentration of power in a small, wealthy elite.  But if Romney wins, the right is just going to punch the working and middle classes in the face.  The repeal of the Affordable Care Act would not only set back chances for bringing down health care costs for Americans, but would be a blow to future attempts to create social welfare policies.  In a 1954 letter to his brother, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower said the following:

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things…Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

He was saying they were stupid because trying to end such welfare state programs would be political suicide, but times have changed and Republicans can wage blatant class warfare with little difficulty.  Hence Romney/Ryan’s desire to make Medicare a voucher system and cut huge swaths of social spending.   Progressives and leftists still have serious work to do if Obama is reelected, but that work will be much harder and the obstacles greater if Romney does.

View of Republicans as Deficit Hawks Continues to Be False

I’m repeating a point from a previous post, but it is really worth repeating since we hear the opposite so often.  A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed

…more of the registered voters surveyed picked Romney as the candidate who would best deal with the federal government’s budget deficit, at 34 percent, to 29 percent for Obama.

The facts show that there is no reason to feel confident that a Romney administration would do better on the deficit than Obama.  Why?  Because, as I described in a previous post, every Republican administration in the past 30 years (Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II) saw the deficit increase as a percentage of GDP when they came into office.  Clinton reduced the deficit to GDP ratio into a surplus.  The deficit to GDP ratio ballooned in the past four years because of the economic downturn, the Iraq and Afghan wars, TARP money, Medicare Part D and the Obama stimulus.  One could criticize Obama for the the stimulus, but the fact remains that 6 of 9 major studies support the conclusion that the stimulus had a positive effect on the economy, while only 2 say that it didn’t work at all.  One could also criticize him for the Afghan surge (for more than just economic reasons), but he did share that war with Bush II.  More specific to Romney, as Paul Krugman has pointed out, Romney plans to offset his tax cuts by closing tax loopholes, but has not specified how he will do that and experts on the subject have said it’s unrealistic to be able to make up the gap.  Republicans have the image of being better on the debt because they say they don’t like it, while what they actually do shows they are happy to govern with higher deficits.

DEFICITS AS % OF GDP

 

Political Theater Is Absurd

 

Much has already been said about Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as the VP candidate. While it isn’t even hidden that Ryan’s plan will cut services to the poor, while decreasing taxes on the wealthy, that is not what I want to focus on here. What gets me is how orchestrated these political campaigns are for public relations effect. Introducing Paul Ryan in front of a battleship? The inspirational music that keys in as he approaches the podium? It is all so phony and fake with absolutely zero political content.

Not to put this all on Republicans. When Obama introduced Joe Biden in 2008 in what was so clearly aimed at making Biden appear as a working class guy. Obama referred to Biden as a “Scrappy kid from Scranton.” Joe Biden came out to Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” (go to 12:50 of this video).

My concern is not just that this is corny and cheesy, which is obviously the case. What really gets me is that politics has become like any other kind of marketing, where campaigns follow the polls and say the right things at the right time and play the right kind of music, so that someone will be more likable. Trying to reach people on an emotional level like this devoids politics of content and real debate.

The reality is that the debate is complicated. For example, I have a hard time understanding all the different aspects of economic policy, whether presented by Democrats or Republicans. But we should learn about them and discuss them. Not distract ourselves with petty showmanship. This partially explains the results of a December 2010 study by World Public Opinion. 56% of voters in the November national elections said they had “encountered information that seemed misleading or false.” What’s worse is that people were misinformed on the issues. 40% thought TARP was initiated under Obama, not George W. Bush. Liberals had their own misinformation, believing that the US Chamber of Commerce was using large amounts of foreign money to fund campaigns.

The part of the study we should be most concerned about is that people who watched less news were less likely to be misinformed!!! The mass media is terrible on political theatrics, buying right into it. They will discuss image and personality until the cows come home. What if they asked candidates, “Is it really necessary to make political events so theatrical?” They could be far better gatekeepers for the public. Perfect example of terrible media coverage right here.

 

It’s Not The Wealthy That Are The Problem, It’s Those Welfare Queens…

This is truly sad.  Romney can’t dispel his image of being an out of touch rich guy, so he tries to say Obama is in favor of  keeping lazy people on welfare.  Are we supposed to believe people from Romney’s class aren’t the problem, it’s lazy welfare recipients and their dependency-loving ally in the White House?  It doesn’t surprise me that Romney put an ad like this out.  What get me is that people may actually believe it and vote for him because they think we have way too many lazy poor people.  This is class warfare at its finest.  Sorry this post isn’t as research-based as most of them, but this kind of stuff just gets to me.  I’m curious to hear who people think this ad is targeted at?  How many people might it actually sway?  Let me know what you think…

 

Romney Praises Another Country That Does the Opposite of What He Wants

Romney on Poland:

“Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means…Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.”

Facts (from the World Bank):

Government Final Consumption as a Percent of GDP—Poland:  19%    US: 17%  Canada: 22%

Tax Revenue as a Percent of GDP—Poland:16.3%   US:  9.3%    Canada: 11.9%

Total Tax Rate of Commercial Profits—Poland: 43.6%  US: 46.7%   Canada: 28.8%

Central Government Dept as % of GDP: Poland: 48.1%  US: 76.1%   Canada: 52.6%

They are little better than US and Canada on debt, but that is not an automatic indicator of economic health.  France is at 83.5% and Germany at 47.6%.  So if government spending is a larger percent of GDP in Poland than in the US and only a bit smaller than Canada, tax revenue is a much greater portion of GDP than here or Canada, and the tax on profits is about the same as ours and far more than Canada, where is this free enterprise?  See more in the AP article linked at the top of this post.

 

Obama Not Much Better Than Romney–fascinating poll data of Arab world

My recent post on Mitt Romney’s “tough talk” on Israel was only one side of the coin.  On Friday, before Romney’s trip, Obama signed the US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, increasing military ties between the two countries.  A Haaretz blog points out that this is largely political and that the act itself won’t do a whole lot, but a few key assumptions deserve scrutiny:

 

1) Obviously this was political, since Obama had Jewish senators and leaders of AIPAC by his side during the signing.  What does it say if the way our politicians try to get the Jewish vote is by showing how much they believe in giving military aid to Israel?  Iran is consistently put out as the main threat to Israel, and thus made to justify all this military aid.  But as Losang made an excellent point of in a recent post, even the US military sees Iran’s military as largely defensive, not offensive.  A terrible regime to be sure, but they are not the lunatics they are made out to be.  But if you can portray the Iranians as part of the irrational, Islamofascist, anti-Semitic conspiracy, then the US becomes the savior of Israel through massive military assistance.  Is this really the only way to get the Jewish vote?

2)  The US-Israel relationship is based on military (and economic) ties.  Is military aid really going to make Israel safer?  Israel has far more power militarily than the Arab world combined and the message that is sent when giving more aid is “The US and Israel will dominate these region with force.”  So the Arab world can do what we say or face the consequences.  This results in some very interesting trends in Arab public opinion.  The Brookings Institution released polls they did of the Arab world (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and United Arab Emirates) in 2011, which found the following:

  • When asked “What two countries do you think are the biggest threat to you?”   71% said Israel, 59% said the US, and only 18% said Iran.  59% view the US either “somewhat” unfavorably or “very” unfavorably.
  • When asked which leader outside one’s own country you admire the most, a plurarity of 22% said Erdogon of Turkey, 13% said Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, and 13% said Ahmadinajad of Iran.  Obama came in at 4%, which sadly couldn’t even beat Saddam Hussein at 6%, who has been dead for several years.
  • A 64% majority say Iran has the right to develop a nuclear program, even though a 52% majority think it is for nuclear weapons and not for peaceful purposes.  A 35% plurality think nuclear weapons would have a negative impact on the Middle East.
  • Perhaps most telling of all, respondents were asked to pick two items from the following list as what they thought were driving US policy in the Middle East.  Next to each item is the percentage who chose each factor: controlling oil (53%), protecting Israel (44%), weakening the Muslim world (32%), preserving regional and global dominance (29%), promoting peace and stability (8%), fighting terrorism (8%), preventing the spread of nuclear weapons (7%), spreading human rights (5%), and promoting democracy (5%).
  • Moreover, it is not some irrational hatred of Jews that leads to these attitudes.  67% say they are ready for peace with Israel if Israel is willing to return the 1967 territories, including East Jerusalem.

 

What this all means is that what is called US support for Israel is progressively alienating the Arab population, who in some areas at least (oil especially) seem to understand motivations for US policy better than the US population.  That such a serious issue is campaign fodder is horrendous.

Romney Thinks He Can Stick it to the Arabs Better than Obama

A Romney aide said that a President Romney would “respect” Israel’s decision should it attack Iran to stop it from developing a nuclear weapon.  So the implied narrative seems to be “The world has abandoned Israel so we can abandon the UN charter and allow Israel to do what it pleases.  Israel only ever goes to war in self-defense, so we can just assume their motives are just.”

Romney also says the US should move its embassy to Jerusalem.  It is shameful what people will do when vying for votes.

Romney Visits Israel: What does this say about the United States?

The shameful part about Romney’s visit to Israel is that he can actually make Obama look weak.  There is a competition here on who will protect the Jews more, which has taken on twisted mentality since protecting Jews apparently means being the most willing to let Israel expand and knock over whoever gets in their way.  Exhibit A is the Israeli government asking its Supreme Court for permission to demolish Palestinian homes.

 

For more info: Say what you want about his style, but Norman Finkelstein is the best analyst of Israel’s human rights record, as well as comparison of its actions with international law.