#Sandy Reminder: Mitt Romney Would Abolish FEMA

As the Frankenstorm batters almost the entirety of America’s east coast, many of the affected states have already declared states of emergency (including all of New York), and the federal government has made formal disaster area declarations in many of them, as well. 

As the eastern half of the country cleans up the damage, federal aid will likely be requested and granted. When that happens, remember that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney would shut FEMA down, because 10th Amendment or something. 

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”

“Including disaster relief, though?” debate moderator John King asked Romney.

“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids,” Romney replied. “It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”

So, there you have it. Even though FEMA routinely contracts with private industry to provide needed relief goods and services, Romney would shut FEMA down and make states and municipalities cover the cleanup on their own. It’s “immoral to pass on debt” to future generations, but it’s ok of those future generations live in a disaster zone and wade to school amid downed power lines. 

If someone asked Romney today about that FEMA answer, he’d deny ever saying it, and he’d pledge to strengthen FEMA. That’s because he’s in full Etch-a-Sketch mode and has shifted to the center, but in such a brazen way that he will quite literally say whatever he thinks his immediate audience wants him to hear. 

Thrifty Rent-a-Carl

I recently received yet another one of Carl Paladino’s pieces of spam masquerading as a political statement. This one contained a compendium of conspiracy theories about Barack Obama’s alleged socialism, Marxism, Kenyanism, Islamism, etc., ad infinitum. It’s clear that Carl Paladino and his crew are full-on birthers, and when Barack Obama wins re-election in a couple of weeks, that boom you hear won’t be a miniscule Olcott earthquake, but the sound of heads exploding throughout Paladinoist WNY. About a week ago, I wrote a post that included this:

6.  If you own any of these:

 

Then chances are you’re white, male, and over the age of 45. You think Sean Hannity is great, you hate that Bauerle tolerates gay people, and you think that Carl Paladino is God’s gift to politics. You read WND.com as either a primary or secondary news source. You stopped going to Free Republic a couple of years ago, but you think that Michelle Malkin has the right mixture of sarcasm and gravitas. Also, you completely freaked the fuck out when the country elected a black (you insist on calling him mixed-race or half-black) President in 2008. You believe that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii, but was born in Kenya to devoted communists, and set up through a wide conspiracy – that’s taken place over 50 years – by Democrats, the SDS, Kenya, world Islam, Indonesia, the KGB, and an associated roster of communist cadres to take away the United States and replace it with a Leninist dictatorship. You self-identify as a tea party activist, but in reality you’re just a racist omniphobe who has – at least once – uttered the phrase, “keep the government out of my Medicare”. 

Click to enlarge

The lawn sign – those are available courtesy of Paladino henchman, Rus Thompson. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the “Vote for the AMERICAN” bumper sticker – which suggests, obviously, that Mexican-American anchor baby Mitt Romney is American, while African American Hawaiian-born natural born citizen Obama is not – is being affixed to cars rented from the Thrifty and Dollar rent-a-car franchises at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport

The Thrifty and Dollar rent-a-car franchises at Buffalo Niagara International Airport are owned by, 

Westover Car Rental, a subsidiary of Ellicott Development, a Buffalo holding company controlled by Carl Paladino, the Tea Party-affiliated businessman who lost the 2010 gubernatorial race to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Two visitors (no word on whether they were cultural tourists here to see our beautiful architecture, museums, and dining), told the Huffington Post,

“We noticed a bumper sticker on the car and in the dark lot we thought it was a promotion to “buy American” — but didn’t think about it until the next morning when we went to the car for additional luggage,” Wingate, who rented the car the weekend of Oct. 13-14 to attend her daughter’s wedding, told The Huffington Post in an email. “After reading it, we realized what it said/meant and were horrified.”

Wingate said she was “embarrassed” to drive the car and that she complained to an employee when she returned the car. She said the employee said the franchise owner wanted the stickers kept in place and that he had asked the staff to vote for Romney. Wingate also said she noticed other cars with the stickers at the Thrifty franchise.

And another woman Tweeted, 

 

You know, my family has rented cars in full-on Communist countries, and those Zastavas didn’t proselytize or propagandize to us. If I rented a car somewhere and it had a political sticker of any kind on it, my reaction would be to say, “WTF is this?” and ask that it be removed so I wouldn’t get charged for putting it there and its removal. What a disgusting and embarrassing way to treat customers and represent our region as idiotic, backwards, ignorant birthers. 

“We all thought it was offensive,” DiBiase said. “If it was a general Mitt Romney sticker, it would be upsetting, but it would not be offensive.”

DiBiase said she again raised her complaint when returning the Toyota Prius and said a staffer told her that the stickers were placed there by the owner and that the one she took off would likely be replaced. She said Thrifty’s corporate office replied to her various tweets saying they would look into the matter, but she has not heard back.

The Huffington Post called over to the Buffalo Thrifty franchise and got a runaround, and of course Carl doesn’t speak with liberals. But now you know to add the Buffalo Dollar and the Thrifty franchises in Buffalo and Rochester to your Paladino boycott list. 

Horses and Bayonets on the Morrow

In debate the first, Alpha Romney showed up and stylistically, if not factually, defeated a sleepy Obama. In debate two, electric boogaloo, Romney and Obama both came to the knife fight with guns a-blazing. 

Last night, in debate number three, Alpha Obama went on offense against a stammering, sweaty Romney who, at times, seemed as if Sarah Palin had helped with debate prep. When Obama criticized Romney’s incoherence on various foreign policy matters, Romney whined, “attacking me is not a plan”. It was repeated at least twice, and sounded weak, sorrowful, and pathetic. Obama’s cross-examination of Romney on his prior inconsistent statements was effective and decidedly well-hinged.

For instance, at the first debate, Romney had complained that the 2014 deadline to leave Afghanistan was something he agreed with, except insofar as it telegraphs to our enemy that all bets are off after that. It’s a disingenuous weasel answer, and one that Romney completely abandoned last night, instead claiming to back the 2014 date. From TPM, Obama

You said that first we should not have a timeline in Afghanistan, then you said we should. Now you say maybe or it depends. Which means not only were you wrong, but you were confused and sending mixed messages to our troops and allies.

In 2008, Romney said we shouldn’t move “heaven and earth” to get Osama bin Laden, and that we should first ask Pakistan for permission.  Obama recounted meeting the daughter of a 9/11 victim, which reaffirmed to him that moving heaven and earth was exactly the right thing to do; “worth it”, 

“[Y]ou said we shouldn’t move heaven and earth to get one man,” Obama said. “If we would have asked Pakistan for permission, we wouldn’t have got him.”

On Russia: 

“I’m glad that you recognize al Qaeda is a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked the biggest threat facing America, you said Russia,” Obama said. “The Cold War has been over for 20 years. But governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

Later Obama said directly to Romney, “You indicated that we shouldn’t be passing nuclear treaties with Russia, despite the fact that 71 senators, Democrats and Republicans, voted for it.”

Romney repeatedly claimed to be the candidate of peace – he rebutted the elimination of Osama bin Laden with “we can’t kill our way out of this mess“. Romney tried to attack Obama from the left on this, and everything about it reeked of phoniness. The guy who has John Bolton on his foreign policy team isn’t the McGovernesque peace candidate.  On Iran, Romney actually suggested that some unnamed “world court” indict Ahmadinejad for genocide. That’s nice, but the United States has nothing whatsoever to do with the International Criminal Tribunal. And how does that jibe with the Republican anti-world-government, anti-UN, US must do everything mantras? It’s a desperate ploy by a desperate candidate. 

If, at the foreign policy debate, Romney can get no traction on his Libya attacks, he’s lost. 

Throughout the night, Alpha Obama was the calm, rational, factual counterpoint to Romney’s rushed stream of consciousness. He also gave Romney nary an inch to repeat falsehoods or reinvent history. Obama pre-empted Romney’s predictable attacks about Israel with yet another “Libya moment”. One of Romney’s clumsiest attacks was to accuse Obama of weakening our military by pointing out that the Navy has fewer “ships” now than it did in 1916(!). Obama snarkily obliterated that argument, and it was a highlight of the night – a “you’re no Jack Kennedy” moment. 

Funny aside – someone on Facebook mentioned that Fox News “fact-checked” the assertion that the military doesn’t use bayonets anymore by pointing out that Marines have them. Except for the fact that the President said “fewer”, not “none”. Now we’re fact-checking deliberately false fact-checking. 

But except when they veered to domestic policy issues that are swing-state friendly, it was astonishing just how much Romney agreed with every foreign policy thing Obama’s doing, or has done. He liked everything! Romney was reduced to using long strings of words to say he’d do exactly the same thing, only perhaps louder or faster. 

In their closing arguments, Obama pivoted back to hope and staying on a path to move forward, rather than back. Romney did his best Reagan impression, but ended up sounding and looking more like a more WASPy Billy Fucillo, who really wants to see you in this purple Hyundai with low miles and EZ-terms. 

Some highlights: 

In response to Romney’s accusation about an “apology tour” where Obama purportedly ignored Israel. This was quite the Libya moment. Please proceed, Governor:

Closing with hope :

Registration Fraud + Poll Tax

The Sprouls with Mr. Romney

This isn’t as big a story in the mainstream media because it hasn’t hit Drudge and Fox – most likely because it involves a pricey, private, Caucasian consultancy rather than “new Black Panthers” or ACORN or just regular folks. 

You won’t see this story on Drudge and Fox because it can’t be spun to show Black people to be lawless savages who have the nerve to participate in our electoral process. 

But while the Republicans press for a poll tax to dissuade poor folks from voting (using “voter fraud” as a pretext), and although that sort of voter identity fraud has almost never happened, ever, we now have a brewing swing-state scandal where that consultancy hired first by the RNC – then fired when fraudulent registrations popped up in Florida, Colorado, and Virginia.  The Virginia Republican Committee quickly hired the firm that had been hiring workers for the fired consultancy, and somehow, some of those registrations have been found in a Pennsylvania dumpster

Strategic Allied is owned by Nathan Sproul, an Arizona political consultant for Republicans whose companies have faced charges in past elections of submitting forged forms and of dumping Democratic registrations. None of the charges were proved, and Sproul continues to do get-out-the-vote work for conservative causes this election.

In fact, the RNC has paid Sproul’s Strategic Allied $1.3 million over the course of the 2012 election to “register” voters. The RNC fired them after a bunch of fraudulent registrations popped up in Florida. Over the last nine years, that number has been $21.2 million.  

It also appears that the arrested former Strategic Allied worker, Colin Small, was re-hired by PinPoint Staffing, which Strategic Allied had used to hire people. The Virginia GOP in spite of – or because of – the allegations against Strategic Allied, retained PinPoint to provide staffers to “register” voters. Imagine you stop at your college’s student union to re-register to vote at your current address, and when the deadline passes you check to make sure everything went through, and nothing had changed

It’s a two-front war to help disenfranchise the poor and minorities, and therefore help Republican candidates. Long gone are the days of the GOP’s big tent – now, the tent door is shut, and it has reverted to agitation for a poll tax on the one hand, and ignoring or encouraging registration fraud on the other.  The Brad Blog goes into excruciating detail

Gas and the Dow

During the second Presidential debate, this exchange happened

MR. ROMNEY:…If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then the strategy is working. But you’re paying more. When the president took office, the price of gasoline here in Nassau County was about a buck eighty-six a gallon. Now it’s four bucks a gallon. Price of electricity is up.

If the president’s energy policies are working, you’re going to see the cost of energy come down. I will fight to create more energy in this country to get America energy-secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia where the people want it.

MS. CROWLEY: Let me —

MR. ROMNEY: Those things will get us the energy we need.

MS. CROWLEY: Mr. President, could you address — because we did finally get to gas prices here — could you address what the governor said, which is: If your energy policy was working, the price of gasoline would not be $4 a gallon here. Is that true?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, think about what the governor — think about what the governor just said. He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was 1.80 (dollars), 1.86 (dollars). Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse; because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney is now promoting. So it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices, because with his policies we might be back in that same mess. (Audience murmurs.)

I’ve seen a bunch of Republicans make this charge – that it’s Obama’s fault that gas prices have skyrocketed from a reasonable $1.80/gallon to the current $4.00/gallon. But that is so fundamentally misleading – such a basic symptom of Romnesia

If it’s Obama’s fault that gas prices have gone from $1.80/gal in February 2009 to $4.00/gal in October 2013, then it’s also his fault that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has skyrocketed from 8,000 to 13,300 in that same time. 

 

What else? Well, let’s take a look at some more trends

Retail Sales: 

 Unemployment: 

Car sales: 

Highest since 2007: 

So, don’t listen to the doom and gloom, and don’t succumb to Romnesia, whereby you completely forget what happened in 2008. 

Romney’s Math Doesn’t Add Up

The Democratic Party put up a funny website that is designed to look like something from the Romney/Ryan campaign, and pokes fun at the fact that Romney’s tax plan is backed up by a complete absence of any salient details. 

Now, those dirty redistributive Kenyan socialists at Forbes and the Council on Foreign Relations have an even bigger bombshell to share. Romney/Ryan promise to reduce the income tax on the wealthy by 20% – this costs America $2.5 trillion. They promise to eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, costing America $700 billion.  A repeal of the high-income payroll tax will cost another $300 billion in revenue. Corporations will get another $1 trillion tax cut. 

So, how does the government pay for that, and not affect the deficit? Here’s what Forbes’ Robert Lenzer has to say

Then, comes the problem, the headache, or maybe its the head fake. No identification of a single loophole that will be closed. No concrete exposition about raising the capital gains tax on rich people. Our friends at the Democratic Party headquarters have estimated the savings for “ending all tax benefits for the wealthy” at $1.7 trillion; eliminating ALL corporate tax benefits to offset the corporate tax cut- $1.1 trillion and then another $1 trillion of middle class tax benefits to pay for the middle class cut=- another $1 trillion.

Imagine the chaos, the bitterness, the social unrest that would occur. But, then realize these measures only get back $4 trillion. There’s another $1 trillion to go.

Even studies by that staunch Republican economist Martin Feldstein and Princeton economist Harvey Rosen “concede that paying for Romney’s tax cuts would require large tax increases on families making between $100,000 and $200,000. So much for campaign rhetoric favoring the 1% over the 99%.

 The Forbes article cites this one from the Council on Foreign Relations, which adds a chart to help aid in the analysis. 

At the VP debate, candidate Paul Ryan said that his ticket would lower marginal tax rates by eliminating $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions for high-income taxpayers. But the chart above shows those loopholes and deductions, and a full 30% of that $1.1 trillion has been deemed by Romney to be untouchable. So, they only account for $770 billion of their promised $1.1 trillion. 

Mitt Romney can lurch to the center all he wants, but he doesn’t want to change the system to benefit the middle class and the working poor – he’s done quite well under the status quo and has no incentive to change a thing. Romney and his running mate can brazenly lie and make promises that don’t mathematically add up, and seldom does it meet with much pushback because seriously, most people – most journalists – aren’t economists. 

Politicizing Security

Orwellian

In August 2004 – in the immediate aftermath of the Democratic National Convention, any momentum Senator Kerry had coming out of it was halted by the Bush Department of Homeland Security raising the terrorist threat level from yellow to orange for financial institutions in some cities. It reeked of petty political opportunism and dirty Karl Rove trickery. As it turns out, former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge later admitted it was exactly that

The threat level reverted to yellow just a week after Bush’s re-election. Mission accomplished, as they say.

The idiotic threat level system – designed for simpletons, by simpletons – has since been abolished. 

When we talk about fraud and political opportunism, we should have longer memories. The world didn’t begin in 2008.

America, Romney, and the Middle Class

I realize that Chris linked to this in today’s Grumpy, and I apologize for the redundancy, but it really deserves to be highlighted on its own because it involves a local company – Delphi – and its buyout, bailout, and retirees. Delphi still operates in Lockport, and it has a long history in western New York back to the days of Harrison Radiator. Like Trico, it has taken advantage of Mexico’s maquila system, whereby American companies send parts to Mexico for assembly, and can repatriate the finished products duty-free thanks to NAFTA. Despite taking advantage of cheap Mexican labor, Delphi still found itself in deep trouble. 

When in the midst of the global financial meltdown of 2008, GM was facing imminent collapse, the liquidation of Delphi would have been catastrophic. To replace Delphi’s supply pipeline would have cost GM tens of billions of dollars and many years. Had Delphi been allowed to go under, GM’s rescue would have been impossible – bailout or no. 

Rattner could not believe that Delphi’s management—now effectively under the hedge funders’ control—would “want to be perceived as holding GM hostage at such a precarious economic moment.” One Wall Street Journalanalyst suggested that Singer was treating Delphi “like a third world country.” Rattner likened the subsidies demanded by Delphi’s debt holders to “extortion demands by the Barbary pirates.”

Romney has slammed the bailout as a payoff to the auto workers union. But that certainly wasn’t true for the bailout of Delphi. Once the hedge funders, including Singer—a deep-pocketed right-wing donor and activist who serves as chair of the conservative, anti-union Manhattan Institute—took control of the firm, they rid Delphi of every single one of its 25,200 unionized workers.

Of the twenty-nine Delphi plants operating in the United States when the hedge funders began buying up control, only four remain, with not a single union production worker. Romney’s “job creators” did create jobs—in China, where Delphi now produces the parts used by GM and other major automakers here and abroad. Delphi is now incorporated overseas, leaving the company with 5,000 employees in the United States (versus almost 100,000 abroad).

Third Point’s Daniel Loeb, whose net worth of $1.3 billion owes much to his share in the Delphi windfall, told his fund’s backers this past July that Delphi remains an excellent investment because it has “virtually no North American unionized labor” and, thanks to US taxpayers, “significantly smaller pension liabilities than almost all of its peers.”

This article goes into excruciating detail about what happened with the auto bailout and Delphi retirees. It explains how the auto bailout was far from being a sweetheart deal for labor, but instead ended up being a winning lottery ticket for predatory hedge funds, which profit off of destitution and failure. It is vulture capitalism at its cruelest, and revolutions have been fought for less. 

Mitt Romney has personally – likely knowingly – profited from this particular series of events, and he and his billionaire allies are trying to expand their financial profit into political benefit. If the interests of the vulture capitalists can be married to the federal government, the sky’s the limit. It was under the Reagan Administration that growing the middle class took a back seat to tax breaks for the wealthy – trickle down, supply-side economics has been an utter disaster for middle income Americans. The notion that helping the rich would benefit everybody has been a colossal failure at satisfying those aims; the economy has thrived when the very rich were taxed more

So, please read this story, as it has a local effect, it’s shocking, it’s depressing, and it should make you very, very angry.  Here’s a taste: 

Mitt Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout has haunted him on the campaign trail, especially in Rust Belt states like Ohio. There, in September, the Obama campaign launched television ads blasting Romney’s November 2008New York Times op-ed, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” But Romney has done a good job of concealing, until now, the fact that he and his wife, Ann, personally gained at least $15.3 million from the bailout—and a few of Romney’s most important Wall Street donors made more than $4 billion. Their gains, and the Romneys’, were astronomical—more than 3,000 percent on their investment.

and:

By the end of June 2009, with the bailout negotiations in full swing, the hedge funds, under Singer’s lead, used their bonds to buy up a controlling interest in Delphi’s stock. According to SEC filings, they paid, on average, an equivalent of only 67 cents per share.

Just two years later, in November 2011, the Singer syndicate took Delphi public at $22 a share, turning an eye-popping profit of more than 3,000 percent. Singer’s fund investors scored a gain of $904 million, all courtesy of the US taxpayer. But that’s not all. In the year since Delphi began trading publicly, its stock has soared 45 percent. Loeb’s gains so far for Third Point: $390 million. The gains for Silver Point, headed by two Goldman Sachs alums: $894 million. John Paulson’s fund, which has already sold half its holdings, has a $2.6 billion gain. And Singer’s funds and partners, combining what they’ve sold and what they hold, have $1.29 billion in profits, about forty-four times their original investment.

Yet without taking billions in taxpayer bailout funds—and slashing worker pensions—the hedge funds’ investment in Delphi would not have been worth a single dollar, according to calculations by GM and the US Treasury.

The Randian John Galt fantasy in America is just mythology. The makers and captains of industry would never withdraw from the American economy and go live in a gulch to let the moochers and takers fail. They have the system stacked in their favor; they have the most compliant government money can buy. They have successfully changed the American narrative so that a great many middle-class and working poor will happily vote against their own interests. 

I don’t think this is how America was meant to work. I don’t think that this is the sort of country the Founders envisioned – where the super-rich get richer at the direct expense of the bourgeoisie; where an idle vulture class exploits everybody with the purchased assistance of the political elite, and the whole thing goes largely unnoticed thanks to a lowest-common denominator news media. 

Our country’s founding was a revolution of the bourgeoisie, overthrowing the shackles of feudal royalty based not on political legitimacy, but on fictional divine providence. 

Disingenuous or ignorant Republican hacks can question Obama’s patriotism, birth, and faith, but truth be told, Romney’s America isn’t

Tea Party Friend, A Question About Medicare

I’d like a Constitutionalist tea party type to explain to me exactly how the Romney/Ryan plan to voucherize Medicare for people not already receiving Medicare jibes with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. 

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Then, I’d like an explanation about this very simple question: 

If Romney/Ryan’s plan for privatizing Medicare is so fantastic, why not make it applicable to current recipients

Romney vs. Obama: Colorado

On style, Mitt Romney ran away with the debate. President Obama barely showed up, and seemed to be completely disengaged and bristly. Romney denied and attacked consistently and constantly, and Obama sort of repeated himself and backed off of capitalizing on huge entrees. 

Then again, debates don’t win elections – zingers and good performance don’t win debates. Dan Quayle defeated Lloyd Bentsen, you guys. George W. Bush was one of the least articulate candidates in history, with a superficial grasp of issues and he defeated Al Gore and John Kerry. 

But here’s the thing – Obama is weakest on the economy. This performance may have been a strategic choice. After all, we still don’t know how Romney will pay for his tax plan, do we? We still don’t know the details of what he’d replace Obamacare with. We don’t know how he’s going to get insurers to cover pre-existing conditions without Obamacare/Romneycare’s promise of more customers through a mandate. 

Instead, Romney started in with death panels again, and Obama meekly defended the Affordable Care Act’s advisory groups that would streamline care and make it more efficient for patients. Instead, Romney repeated the “take $716 BN from Medicare” lie. 

The Republicans are demonizing efficiency and cost-cutting. 

When Romney somehow tries to claim that Obamacare differs from Romneycare, he’s lying. When your lie is caught and you then devolve to a state’s rights argument – why should people in Iowa have worse access to care than people in Massachusetts?  If health insurance universality is worth doing, it’s worth doing universally. Obama’s failure was in not confronting Romney on his blatant lies

“I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don’t have a tax cut of the scale you’re talking about. I think we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I won’t reduce the share of tax paid by high-income people. … I’m not looking to cut massive taxes and to reduce revenues going to the government. My number one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit. I want to underline that no tax cut that will add to the deficit.”

So who’s right?

Romney has run for months on a plan to lower everyone’s tax rates by 20 percent — an amount that independent analysts have concluded will reduce revenues by $5 trillion over 10 years.

Romney has also insisted that his plan will be deficit neutral and that it won’t increase taxes on the middle class. But according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and other analysts, Romney won’t be able to make good on both of those latter promises.

According to TPC, even if Romney closes all loopholes and deductions for high-income earners, that alone will not account for all the revenue he loses because of the rate cut. Thus, to make the overall plan deficit neutral he’d have to raise the tax burden on middle income Americans.

If Obama had the attack line on deck, responding to the lying denial should have been ready to go in the dugout. It never came to the plate. Obama got a few good lines in, delivered sleepily. Obama asked whether Romney was “keeping the details of his plan secret because they’re too good?” Under Obamacare, insurers will no longer get to “jerk you around”.  On substance, Romney seemed to pretend that the world began in 2008, and Obama did practically nothing to disabuse him of that notion. 

Obama said, “budgets reflect choices. If we ask for no revenue, we have to get rid of a lot of stuff…severe hardship for people, and  no growth.”  It was too wonky by half. The poor economy is most people’s central issue. Selling the successes and benefits of health insurance reform is critically important. Obama whiffed on all of them. He didn’t strongly defend his administration’s record, he didn’t strongly enough rebut Romney’s lies and promises, and he simply sleep-walked through the thing. 

On a side note – Jim Lehrer also barely showed up. I have never seen a less structured debate or a less forceful moderator. At times, he was simply trying to get a word in edgewise, saying, “um…hey….guys”. Perhaps someone slipped something in Obama’s and Lehrer’s drinks. 

Twice, Romney claimed that Obama wanted “trickle-down government”. Along with his tax claims and his health care obfuscation, I suspect that this is a line that will come back to haunt him.

It’s easy to be confident and outperform your debate opponent when you’re lying. Romney tried to remake himself last night as a champion for the middle class – this is the same guy who opposed the auto bailouts and denigrates 47% of the population as victim moochers. Time will tell how this will play out, but debates aren’t game-changers.  Coming up: 

Thursday, October 11 – Vice Presidential Debate

Tuesday, October 16 – Second Presidential Debate (Town Hall)

Monday, October 22 – Third Presidential Debate

1 2 3 4 7