Friday, July 06, 2012

Willard sez: If you think it's so E-Z to be a 24/7 lying sack of doody, let's see YOU try it, why dontcha?


"Mitt Romney didn't personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have. He was, however, an enthusiastic and very well remunerated participant in the process of destruction."
-- Paul Krugman, in his NYT column today,
"Off and Out With Mitt Romney"

by Ken

Today the New York Times noted editorially ("Mr. Romney Changes His Mind, Again") the embarrassing switcheroo in the Incorporated Willard's frothing declarations that the requirement that those who can afford health insurance buy it or pay a penalty -- a cornerstone of the system Willard instituted as governor of Massachusetts, now incorporated in the revised federal health-care system -- is on the one hand a penalty not a tax and on the other hand, two days later, a tax not a penalty.
Why the switch? As he has on so many issues, Mr. Romney caved to Republican conservatives who want him to campaign on the falsehood that the mandate is a vast tax increase on the middle class. The Supreme Court’s decision that the law is constitutional was disastrous to their cause, so they distorted its basic reasoning. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote that the mandate is legal under the Congressional taxing power, which Republicans took a step further, saying the mandate must now be a tax. And not just a tax, but a huge, oppressive tax, one of the largest in history.

It is, of course, no such thing. . . .

The tax-vs.-penalty debate is a legal and semantic issue that has no practical impact on the public, but making this argument says a great deal about Mr. Romney’s inch-deep position on health care. Since the beginning of his campaign, he has fled from his significant achievement in Massachusetts, hoping to attract conservatives who never trusted him. . . .

Also this morning, the Washington Post's Phllip Rucker reported ("Romney to bolster communications team amid conservative tempest"):
WOLFEBORO, N.H. -- Mitt Romney is planning to fortify his communications and messaging team by adding seasoned operatives, advisers close to the campaign said Thursday, after withering criticism from prominent conservative voices that his insular team has fumbled recent opportunities.

Romney’s advisers insisted that he would keep his inner circle intact amid growing concerns about the Republican presidential candidate and his campaign. The tempest began with a weekend tweet from media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and burst Thursday onto the pages of his newspaper the Wall Street Journal, as its conservative editorial board opined that Romney’s advisers were “slowly squandering an historic opportunity” to beat President Obama. . . .

Ah, you see, it's all just a messaging problem, a communications snafu. Just get some better communications people in there, and all will be well.

Regular Willard-watchers understand that none of this has anything to do with what Willard believes, whatever that may be. (He certainly has no intention of sharing it with us.) Unfortunately, it doesn't necessarily matter, because the lug has made it abundantly clear that on matters he doesn't feel terribly strongly about personally, he's willing to sign on to whatever position will do him the most personal good. This is frightening on a whole range of social issues, which don't appear to have much to do with whatever it is that makes Willard, um, what he is. Unless I've misjudged him wildly, which I don't believe I have, this is likely to go well beyond campaign rhetoric. Once he's in the White House, he's going to be utterly dependent on securing congressional Republican votes, and I shudder to think what he'll be willing to do to secure the support of "his" party.

But as we're seeing, it goes well beyond social issues. Beltway pundits have been insisting that Willard was shrewd in sidestepping the health-care issue as much as possible in the Republican primaries, knowing that there was no way it could be a winning issue for him but it also couldn't cost him the Republican nomination. The only problem with that reasoning is that its success landed him right back where he was before: having to hold together a mob of Republicans who have been bred to be the perfect mixture of ignorance and insanity. As he must already be learning, there's no talking to those people! Just imagine what it will be like if and when he's in the Oval Office. (I assume Willard's people were assuming that the Robert court would deal with the health-care issue for him by striking down the ACA. Of course then he would be under the gun to say what kind of health-care system he would support.)

Of course it's not just health care where Willard talks an unbroken stream of double talk and plain nonsense. As Paul Krugman points out in his NYT column today, "Off and Out With Mitt Romney," while "bitterly denouncing the Supreme Court for upholding the constitutionality of his own health care plan," rests "his case for becoming president . . . on his claim that, having been a successful businessman, he knows how to create jobs."
This, in turn, means that however much the Romney campaign may wish otherwise, the nature of [his] business career is fair game. How did Mr. Romney make all that money? Was it in ways suggesting that what was good for Bain Capital, the private equity firm that made him rich, would also be good for America?

And the answer is no.

At this point PK inserts an extraordinarily important qualification:
The truth is that even if Mr. Romney had been a classic captain of industry, a present-day Andrew Carnegie, his career wouldn't have prepared him to manage the economy. A country is not a company (despite globalization, America still sells 86 percent of what it makes to itself), and the tools of macroeconomic policy -- interest rates, tax rates, spending programs -- have no counterparts on a corporate organization chart. Did I mention that Herbert Hoover actually was a great businessman in the classic mold?

"In any case, however," he continues, "Mr. Romney wasn't that kind of businessman."
Bain didn't build businesses; it bought and sold them. Sometimes its takeovers led to new hiring; often they led to layoffs, wage cuts and lost benefits. On some occasions, Bain made a profit even as its takeover target was driven out of business. None of this sounds like the kind of record that should reassure American workers looking for an economic savior.

"And then," PK writes, "there's the business about outsourcing."
Two weeks ago, The Washington Post reported that Bain had invested in companies whose specialty was helping other companies move jobs overseas. The Romney campaign went ballistic, demanding -- unsuccessfully -- that The Post retract the report on the basis of an unconvincing "fact sheet" consisting largely of executive testimonials.

What was more interesting was the campaign's insistence that The Post had misled readers by failing to distinguish between "offshoring" -- moving jobs abroad -- and "outsourcing," which simply means having an external contractor perform services that could have been performed in-house.

Now, if the Romney campaign really believed in its own alleged free-market principles, it would have defended the right of corporations to do whatever maximizes their profits, even if that means shipping jobs overseas. Instead, however, the campaign effectively conceded that offshoring is bad but insisted that outsourcing is O.K. as long as the contractor is another American firm.

That is, however, a very dubious assertion.

Which brings PK to "one of Mr. Romney's most famous remarks: 'Corporations are people, my friend.'"
When the audience jeered, he elaborated: "Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets." This is undoubtedly true, once you take into account the pockets of, say, partners at Bain Capital (who, I hasten to add, are, indeed, people). But one of the main points of outsourcing is to ensure that as little as possible of what corporations earn goes into the pockets of the people who actually work for those corporations.

Why, for example, do many large companies now outsource cleaning and security to outside contractors? Surely the answer is, in large part, that outside contractors can hire cheap labor that isn't represented by the union and can't participate in the company health and retirement plans. And, sure enough, recent academic research finds that outsourced janitors and guards receive substantially lower wages and worse benefits than their in-house counterparts.

Just to be clear, outsourcing is only one source of the huge disconnect between a tiny elite and ordinary American workers, a disconnect that has been growing for more than 30 years. And Bain, in turn, was only one player in the growth of outsourcing. So Mitt Romney didn't personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have. He was, however, an enthusiastic and very well remunerated participant in the process of destruction; if Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits.

In short, what was good for Bain Capital definitely wasn't good for America. And, as I said at the beginning, the Obama campaign has every right to point that out.

It would be helpful, as the political pundits and reporters ritually report the Incorporated Man's predictably smug response to the predictably unencouraging jobs data released today, to remember that not only does he have no history of creating jobs, and quite an extensive history of killing them, but it is, in fact, his official position that while "outsourcing" is problematic, "offshoring" is hunky-dory. It either hasn't occurred to him, or else he just doesn't care, that the people thrown out of work are out of work either way.

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At 7:34 PM, Blogger pbriggsiam said...

Where could I get a high quality version of that Willard graphic? I'd like to use it to make a few signs to put up in front of our house.

Thanks in advance,


At 8:45 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

I liked it too, Patrick, which is why I pilfered it in the traditional blogorific way.

It would be great if someone could point us to the creator. Here at least is a 653x960 version.



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