I’m trying to avoid making the posts about the GOP candidates about the horse race. While Mittens seems to still have a lock, conservatives are still not thrilled with him. Since Romney is on track to being the nominee it is a better use of my time to focus on Romney’s view of what is wrong with the economy, foreign policy, education, the environment, unemployment and so forth, and his policy prescriptions should he become president. Conservatives pundits have taken turns swearing that every candidate that has had a surge is the candidate that Obama and Democrats are most afraid of. None of them pose a particular threat to president Obama’s reelection. They each have so much baggage they could have alternate carriers in bad reality based soap operas. Should I get wavering independents passing by I highly recommend becoming a right-wing conservative. While there have been a few surprising attacks on their own, conservatives are remarkable in their ability to pretend their side has made no mistakes. Imagine being able to go through life with very little criticism from your peers – constructive or otherwise. You can be a total screw-up and be as corrupt as any crime family in history. Conservative actually make organized crime look like pansy amateurs. You’ll be able to make all the contradictory statements and factless assertions as you like. You can can this to the extremes of absurdity – Obamacare is Romneycare which was based on a study done by the extreme right-wing conservative Heritage Institute. Ethics, humility, honesty with self, ability to understand and convey complex issues- especially economic are not requirements. There is a script to memorize – that taxes trump everything else as an issue. No wants to or should want to pay excessive taxes, but they are far from the only issue a nation and its citizens should concern itself with,
The problem of anti-social corporate behavior, behavior which though legal, seriously harms the public interest (for example, the environment, human rights, the public health and safety, the dignity of employees or the welfare of our communities), is a serious problem which so far both political parties have largely chosen to ignore.
There are many ways to make money, but some companies make money while damaging the public interest and others make money without damaging it. Until now, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been prone to ignore the latter. This no doubt has something to do with the billions of dollars the abusers spend each year on lobbying and financing political campaigns.
I have come to realize, thanks to the conservative debates, that there is a huge secret that conservatives do not know, are oblivious to or cover their ears and sing “Dixie” when someone spills the beans. They do not know that to operate a complex free market economy takes a lot of different parts of a vast machine in order for them to have the dollars they worship like a god. It is not just the infrastructure like bridges, air traffic controllers and firefighters. We need an educated population. We need what should seem obvious – clean water, land that has not been turned into a toxic dump, we need a population that has access to affordable health care, we need a justice system that does not discriminate against people of color or those who belong to religions of which conservatives do not approve. I don’t know we can survive as a democratic republic governed by people whose highest priority is making sure wealthy people – whose wealth is frequently not due to meritorious behavior – get even more wealth. Smooth Sailing for Mitt
The conservative candidates, each ostensibly vying to be the race’s alternative to Romney, backed off the former Massachusetts governor, allowing him to take the stage—and command it—on questions about the economy. “What I’m concerned with this president is that he’s taking America to somewhere we wouldn’t recognize. I think he is moving us in the direction of a European social-welfare society,” said Romney, in an obvious pivot to the general election.
This goes over well with the lead helmet crowd. For those concerned with facts: 1. Obama has in no way moved us toward the amazing success of European countries such as Sweden Finland or Germany. 2. What does Mitt think would be so terrible about learning from – not necessarily imitating – those countries. The Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology
The Nordic countries maintain their dynamism despite high taxation in several ways. Most important, they spend lavishly on research and development and higher education. All of them, but especially Sweden and Finland, have taken to the sweeping revolution in information and communications technology and leveraged it to gain global competitiveness. Sweden now spends nearly 4 percent of GDP on R&D, the highest ratio in the world today. On average, the Nordic nations spend 3 percent of GDP on R&D, compared with around 2 percent in the English-speaking nations.
The Nordic states have also worked to keep social expenditures compatible with an open, competitive, market-based economic system. Tax rates on capital are relatively low. Labor market policies pay low-skilled and otherwise difficult-to-employ individuals to work in the service sector, in key quality-of-life areas such as child care, health, and support for the elderly and disabled.
The results for the households at the bottom of the income distribution are astoundingly good, especially in contrast to the mean-spirited neglect that now passes for American social policy. The U.S. spends less than almost all rich countries on social services for the poor and disabled, and it gets what it pays for: the highest poverty rate among the rich countries and an exploding prison population. Actually, by shunning public spending on health, the U.S. gets much less than it pays for, because its dependence on private health care has led to a ramshackle system that yields mediocre results at very high costs.
Von Hayek was wrong. In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness.
This is also a well kept secret among conservatives, life doesn’t have to be this hard. It is a basic tenet of conservatism that suffering is good for America and the more suffering the more good. Conservative policies thus make life extremely easy for the top ten percent, but life difficult for everyone else. Those at the top are there because they deserve it. There is no acknowledgement of being born into riches, luck, inheritance. merit, which conservatives say they stand for is generally just bunk. Their beleif that the cream of America just riaises to the top by some natural law of nature is why they are not the least concerned with charts like this:
Mitt has drunk the kool-aid. The rich keep getting richer yet their taxes keep coming down. In Bush-Romney-ConWorld this is supposed to mean jobs for everyone and streets paved with gold. What is about these failed policies that compel Mittens and conservatives to double-down and seek even more tax cuts for people whose wealth is unmatched by any modern history(even some them want higher taxes). You have to go back to the time of Richard III to find people who claimed they deserved their extreme wealth, even justifying their policies by claiming their deity also wants things this way. Conservatives hate modern Europe with its combination of free markets and strong social safety net, but they love ye Old Europe and its elite aristocracy. David Brooks was kind enough and honest enough to admit as much in a recent column about Romney,
In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move.
Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days. We disdain elitism, political experience and explicit God-talk. Great failure is considered “baggage” in today’s campaign lingo.
Please vote for Romney the aristocrat so that he can continue to keep the uppity middle-class and working poor in their place where they belong.
Most of George Packer’s new column is stuff that most of you have read elsewhere, though there was an interesting twist and a reminder — Running on Inequality
Last week, a White House official named Alan Krueger gave a speech in Washington about inequality. Krueger is a Princeton professor who specializes in labor economics, and the speech was dense with statistics and terms of art, but the headline was striking: inequality has made upward mobility difficult, if not impossible, for more and more Americans. And the present trend will only get worse. “The persistence in the advantages and disadvantages of income passed from parents to the children is predicted to rise by about a quarter for the next generation as a result of the rise in inequality that the U.S. has seen in the last twenty-five years,” Krueger said. “It is hard to look at these figures and not be concerned that rising inequality is jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity. The fortunes of one’s parents seem to matter increasingly in American society.” Finally, he argued, inequality and the resulting lack of mobility pose a serious threat to economic growth.
In other words, whether you think it’s the result of vulture capitalism or the healthy workings of the free market, inequality is bad for the country, and it’s going to get worse.
If it is ever implemented the way it should be – conservatives keep blocking appointments for administrators the health care(the Affordable Care Act) reform passed by Democrats and Obama – is as Packer reminds us – perhaps one of the greatest programs geared toward leveling the playing field since Johnson’s war on poverty. The ACA needs some tweaks to make it work better and be available to more Americans. That step toward giving more Americans a chance at upward mobility will be killed if there are not more Democrats in Congress in 2013.
Mitt Romney likely gets a huge tax break on his income, even though he’s a mega-millionaire, because of a strange and unfair law that gives special privileges to private equity managers …
..Former Office of Management and Budget Director and current Citigroup Vice Chairman of Global Banking Peter Orszag said that the carried interest loophole is akin to a famous actor’s portion of a movie’s revenue being taxed as capital gains, a proposition that most people would hopefully find absurd. Citizens for Tax Justice opined that carried interest “is clearly compensation for services and not a return on investment,” and that private equity managers “should pay income taxes at ordinary rates on their compensation, just like everyone else, from the folks who sweep their floors or answer their phones to CEO’s exercising stock options and professional athletes getting playoff bonuses.”
Thanks to a lucrative retirement package, Romney is still making millions from Bain, much of which is likely being taxed as carried interest. (While Romney has refused to make his tax returns public, he’s said that all of his income is taxed at investment rates.) Analysts have estimated that Romney’s tax rate is about 14 percent, lower than that of many middle class families.
Mittens should wait. If he releases his tax records now there might e time to smoke and mirror them away – probably to include some gobbledygook about being a producer that creates jobs. Now or later he will have to explain to middle-class America struggling to pay for new tires or Tommy’s braces why he pays a lower tax rate than they do.