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October 09, 2012


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He has only done what his corporate masters have told him to do. Unfortunately, Obama has said mean things about them and upset them, so they've thrown their money behind a Randian wetdream. At this point it doesn't matter whether a Kook or a Wimp gets in, the end of the American Empire is fast approaching. I wonder which one of Romney's sons or grandsons will be sacrificed to the military. Bets?

The only news that makes me happy these days is the WalMart strike.

More bad news, The movie Arbitrage described reality.


The good news is that Rodriguez the "Sugar Man" is alive.

This is weird. Is he not motivated enough? Or was it really the mile-high air in Denver? Huge ego and intellect but something is missing.

David Remnick tells a story of Obama's short time in the Senate. Supposedly he wrote a note saying "I'm bored." or "Shoot me now!" or something to that effect while the Senate was in session.

Could it possibly be that Obama is bored by the hardest job in the world because it hasn't gone as planned?

A piece in the New York Times Magazine about Obama'a mother (quite a while ago) described his life in Indonesia and his struggles as a black kid. The way he learned to deal with bullies was to avoid conflict at all costs and just not engage. Sound familiar?

Having shuttled back and forth between college in Iowa and home in Denver (thanks to the Rock Island railroad) I can attest to how the altitude change dragged me down for a few days . . even in the prime of my youth! But such a simplistic explanation is not likely to satisfy those with more sophisticated points of view.

Bullies, So this was Romney giving Obama a hair cut? A learned activity? So this election is down to a close shave and the party that has the electronic voting machines wired wins the after shave lotion?

A Romney victory will affirm the the Romney Campaign Doctrine: Say anything on the record to any group without being held to that statement at the next stump speech. His debate performance being in stark contrast to his prior appearances went without notice to most commentaries.

The close is all that matters in amnesia America.

Our problem is that white people in this country are bitterly resentful of "those people" getting "handouts". Obamacare is the apotheosis of that, so of course it enrages them. Even among the socially liberal/fiscally conservative so called moderate Republicans the fiscally conservative part rarely is about anything macro like tax rates or monetary policy. 99 times out of 100 they are "economically conservative" because of welfare and all the lazy black people they believe to be on it. No white people cared that much about "spending" and "the deficit" until the black President got into office and it looked like he might be handing their hard earned white money to his fellow blacks and slutty women.

And I'm sure many of you saw the CNN survey about what Americans think federal funds are spent on. 7% of Americans actually think that more than 50% of the federal budget goes to PBS. This is why we can't have nice things like renewable energy and rail projects. Because Americans vote for the guy who promises to "shrink the gubmint" and stop spending all that money on silly lady and kiddie things and welfare.

What the Obama campaign needs to do is kick ass at all the upcoming debates, obviously, but stop bothering with moderate soccer moms and idiot swing voters and focus on turning out the base. Single women, minorities, LGBT, unions, pro-choice voters, etc. Just get out the damn vote.

And lefties need to take a cue from the wingnuts and learn to work the refs and the crowd fergodssake! Bush supporters were not this mopey in 2004 after he completely stepped on his dick in his first debate with Kerry. They brushed it off and moved on to continue attacking Kerry. Who, if you will all recall, got a big swing in the polls after that debate. Which was brought to a screeching halt when Darth Vader beat Johnny Goodhair in the VP debate. All these leftie pundits committing seppuku over Obama's supposedly poor performance (you try debating a glib pathological liar sometime and get back to me) should have been laser focused on nothing but Romney's lies.

U get my vote Donna.

Donna wrote:

"All these leftie pundits committing seppuku over Obama's supposedly poor performance (you try debating a glib pathological liar sometime and get back to me) should have been laser focused on nothing but Romney's lies."

Yeah, but that would take work. You have to do research and try to understand things, and that takes time.

However, the debate does give us some information about the development of the country: we know for sure that the national Democratic Party of the future lacks the technical ability to send a highly prepared, sharp-tongued debate cyborg ("that's what he does... it's all he does") back in time to kick Romney's ass (from the podium, of course).

I find it hard to believe that Americans will elect a guy who is promising tax cuts for the already abundantly wealthy and misery vouchers for themselves.

Electing Romney is like shooting yourself in the face...
I mean really???

And the crowd chanted in a rising tide of euphoria at his inauguration:

"Tax cuts for the rich"
"Tax cuts for the rich"
"Tax cuts for the rich"

For reals?
If American choices that...
I say unto you:
The country is worthless and not worth worry over ever again.

I've got limited online time and I'm almost out for today, but here is an attempt to debunk a couple of Romney's debate claims that stood out at me. The full text of the debate can be read here:


Romney: "You've been president four years. You said you'd cut the deficit in half. It's now four years later. We still have trillion-dollar deficits. The CBO says we'll have a trillion-dollar deficit each of the next four years."

Here's what the CBO actually says, in its most recent report:

"The 2012 deficit was equal to 7.0 percent of gross domestic product, CBO estimates, down from 8.7 percent in 2011, 9.0 percent in 2010, and 10.1 percent in 2009, but greater than in any other year since 1947. CBO’s deficit estimate is based on data from the Daily Treasury Statements; the Treasury Department will report the actual deficit for fiscal year 2012 later this month."


And from its broader August report:

"What Is the Budget and Economic Outlook for 2014 to 2022 If Many Current Policies Are Continued (As in CBO’s Alternative Fiscal Scenario)?

"Under the alternative fiscal scenario, deficits over the 2014–2022 period would be much higher than those projected in CBO’s baseline, averaging about 5 percent of GDP rather than 1 percent."


Note that a cut of the deficit from 10 percent of GDP to 5 percent of GDP is in fact "cutting the deficit in half".

Note also that the administration (Office of Management and Budget) projects budget deficits to drop well below a trillion dollars in absolute terms (about $600 billion by 2015), or about 3.4% of GDP as compared to the CBO's 5 percent.

To compare the two, CBO's figure is an average over the 2014-2022 period, not a single year; and also, the administration's figures may incorporate assumptions that CBO didn't build into its alternattive fiscal scenario, such as Obama's proposed allowing of the Bush tax cuts to lapse for those making more than $200,000 a year ($250,000 a year for married couples); and economic assumptions may differ between the two parties also.

Romney: "Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We're now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don't want to go down the path to Spain."

Fiscal year 2011 Total (United States) government receipts: 25.5% of GDP; federal government receipts 15.4%; state & local government non-interest receipts 10.1%

(See Table 15.1)


Fiscal year 2011 Total (United States) government spending: 35.4% of GDP; federal government spending 24.1% (historically about 20%); state & local government spending 11.3%

(See Table 15.3)

Government spending in Spain is 43% of GDP (up from 39% in 2007 and 2000); *apparently* this is total government spending. Note that in 2007 Spain had a "general government surplus of 1.9% of GDP and a gross consolidated debt of just 36.2% of GDP".


Contrary to Romney's claims here and elsewhere, Spain's problems stem not from spending in excess of revenues, but from a housing crash even bigger than in the United States.

And there it is:

"a housing crash even bigger than in the United States."

In other words, a whole bunch of imaginary money went back home...to everyone's imaginations.

When you have a world economy running on imaginary money, lots and lots of it, and it goes home from whence it came, thin air, there is no replacing it.

What has to change is the human behaviors that grew up in that imaginary environment. Good luck with that.

Some want to restart the imaginary money generators.

Others want to cut spending of real money.

Individuals, cities, counties, state, countries were living in a dream world.

Then the alarm clock went off.

It's a new morning. If you slept with your money under your pillow, you're OK. If not, too bad for you.

P.S. For those of you who are upset because Presidents and politicians lie, I would like to wish you a happy one day birthday, because you were obviously born last night.


Read my post.

The way to win this is not to discuss the minutiae of Spain's budget. That's a morass of numbers for the average twit. Its academic. Sure Romney lies. But numbers are as slippery as Romney himself. And obviously, the Wall Street Flim Flam man has a mouth full of forked numbers. He's a slick little slut when it comes to that...

The way to win this is to fixate on the haves talking even more from the have nots. It's to talk about some in the country having Medicare and the others having shitty Ryan Romney vouchers. How is that going to unite things? Why should anybody be happy with the prospect of that?

Its about tax breaks for the 1%. It's about the enormous wealth the 1% already are in possession of. What is it? The top 10% have 80% of the nation's wealth. The bottom 90% have 20% of all financial wealth. And that Romney seeks to enrich the rich them even more...

It's about the 47% comment.
It's about his support of it. How he stood by it...
It's about Hannity's support of it...
It's about him walking it back on Hannity's show...
It's about him apologizing for it again...
It's about the audacity of mendacity....

It's about the big things that people can understand.
And what they say about Captain Bullshit's values.
And lack thereof...

The stinky little numbers?
Go fish.

Thanks Koreyel for two posts in one day?
I am with you on this.
I believe the numbers favor Obama but I am concerned about the counting.


A while back Mr. Talton mentioned his age. I can't remember exactly the number, but I do remember figuring on the fly, that he was on the wrong side of the Romney-Ryan voucher line by inches...

Am I correct Jon?
Are you a Romney-Ryan voucher sloucher?

If so how would that hard line make you feel as you approach 65? Like a third class citizens and more than a bit outraged I bet. I can see someone with cancer, and crappy vouchers, picking up a gun and going and getting themselves some. Having lost everything, they would have nothing more to lose.

And who could blame them?
Not me...

Bravo Koreyel!

Most people do unfortunately have to worry about America's future unless of independent means and a viable exit strategy from residing in the US.

Romney said in the debate that anyone under 60 would see no changes in their Medicare. Prior to the debate, the cutoff was 55 years old.

Sorry anyone over 60 would see no changes to their Medicare. The cutoff prior to that had been 55 years old.

The Arizona State Retirement System currently offers a voucher or health insurance premium support system for retirees who haven't reach Medicare age. The premium support is between $50-200 per month with premiums starting at approximately $650 per month. The premium support has not increased with yearly premium increases.

I am 56, but don't tell the ladies. I am opposed to Romney/Ryan because it shreds the inter-generational social compact. It wouldn't matter if I were 65 or (my preference) 25.

Donna Gratehouse and Koryel make a lot of sense. Trying to parse the torrent of "facts and data" is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Let's focus on the big stuff, like Mr. Plastic's mea culpas on his 47% comments. A good debater could nail his knickers to the wall!

I'll be making 56 a couple of weeks before a Romney swear-in, if it should come to that (and I still think it won't - this "bump" that he's gotten from the first Presidential debacle has come a couple of weeks too soon to matter on election day.) But I'm with Mr. Talton, I'm offended by these proposed "save Social Security" changes, regardless of where I fall.

(I did let out a "whew," though. Hey, I'm only human - to use one of the more odious cliches in the vernacular.)

morecleanair writes:

Let's focus on the big stuff, like Mr. Plastic's mea culpas on his 47% comments. A good debater could nail his knickers to the wall!

Exactly. It might be a shrewd writing exercise (and it would make a terrific contest) to construct one or two paragraphs that you would say to Romney if you were in Obama's shoes.

And as Jon points out: You have to imagine you are talking to people who watch TV 35 hours a week. So these paragraphs have to be good, because you are going to have to repeat them at least 4 times, in various flavors, to get them to penetrate. People that watch TV are used to hearing the same commercials over and over. So repetition is key.

Regarding tomorrow's Biden/Ryan debate, I won't write two paragraphs, but I will suggest that Biden should refer to Ryan as:

•"The guy who wanted to privatize social security as recently as 2010.

•The guy who wanted to send our social security funds to the Wall Street casino.

•Here's some brass for you: Ryan went to college on social security money he got from the government for his deceased dad. And now he wants to cut the benefits, raise the age, and send the fund to Wall Street. How's that for "paying it forward"?

Joe needs to hammer this "upstart crow" like that. The key is to find the biggest emotional cudgel you can, and beat the snot out of Ryan with it. Over and over and over again...

Which is all to suggest: If the takeaway from tomorrow's debate isn't: "Ryan wants to privatize Social Security", then we've lost another one...

•"The guy who wanted to privatize social security as recently as 2010.

•The guy who wanted to send our social security funds to the Wall Street casino.

And I would add that the most important and enduring aspect of the message would be to firmly embed in the brains of the "Vouchers! Vouchers!" crowd is that:

"Privatization" = "Wall Street casino."

And also (while admittedly a bit broad in scope for purposes of these particular debates, it is germane,) some way of articulating that the "incentivizing" that the profit motive famously brings is lost on simple and understood functions (like distribution of pension funds, or loan-processing), and merely results in what is in effect a skimming operation. There's a whole lot of stuff that would be better served by being public utilities where all of the monies were used only for service and the barest infrastructure.

And, yea... that's "socialist."

Buried in this discussion is the uncomfortable reality that many of us retirees and near-retirees do not have much in the way of financial cushioning. Emil probably has access to average net worth and income figures. The point is that many of us have done a piss-poor job of planning for the future . . . and this is not limited to the duhs and the ignos. Corporate pensions have shrunk and been re-jiggered. Housing equities have tanked. And on and on . . . I have great concerns for our collective futures unless we're independently well-fixed.

As you should, Morecleanair.

At least you people backing one of the lame-stream party candidates have a wall to back up to.

Those of us backing real change candidates don't even have a wall to back up to, only a cliff.

Robert Reich has a new piece up talking about how Biden should attack Ryan. Some good and not so good advice. I like the "reverse robin hood" line.

Beyond everything should be this:



AZRebel, I'm increasingly of the opinion that "real change" candidates only remain that way due to their distance from access to power. There's a built-in Quixotian paradox in nudging them into the system.

Bottom-up (and bottom's up) is the only way to go.

Koreyel makes some very good points but I'll have to respectfully disagree with his conclusions.

First, the question isn't the minutiae of Spain's economy: it's how much the federal government is spending: Spain was only a comparison (and a false one). Why do you suppose Romney made a point of emphasizing this? Because the national debt is one of the Republicans' chief scare-weapons.

Romney and Ryan claim that the country will drown in deficits and debt if Obama is reelected. Like it or not, that resonates with many voters. So, it's important to point out that the deficit will have been cut in half by 2014, under Obama's policies, according to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that Romney himself used as a source, and that CBO estimates that from 2014 to 2022 the average deficit will be 5 percent, roughly the same as the 4.2 percent that it was under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; and that it would be lower still if Congress could be persuaded to pass Obama's income tax hikes for the top 2 percent of households.

People have heard about vouchers since the beginning of the campaign. Obama himself said in the debate that Medicare vouchers wouldn't keep pace with inflation and would cost the average senior $6,000 a year. That's an important point. Romney countered that he plans to keep Medicare as an option so that when people who are young now reach retirement age, they will have the choice between a private plan with vouchers, and traditional Medicare; he claimed that because he offered a choice, there could be no $6,000 expense because they don't have to choose vouchers.

Romney also said that "to save Medicare" he wants "to have the benefits high for those that are low income, but for higher income people, we're going to have to lower some of the benefits. We have to make sure this program is there for the long term."

Did you see the debate? Try reading the transcript I linked to above.

Now, you can't make Romney look bad on this without getting into facts and details. He's offering "choice" while maintaining the traditional safety net. (Well, he's not, but you can't prove that by shouting "vouchers!" over and over.)

As for Romney's trickle down economics, do you remember Ronald Reagan? The guy who made all those tax cuts to the income tax and to capital gains taxes, only to reverse them by a gargantuan increase in payroll taxes (annually indexed to inflation, so always with us), as well as passing other huge tax increases (you see the effects of the telecommunications taxes every time you pay your phone bill and look at all of those federal charges tacked on); and after this huge shifting of taxes from rich to working and middle class, he STILL managed to run deficits that were bigger as a percentage of GDP than any since WW II or any since until the last year of Bush Jr. when the Great Recession hit full force.

Reagan was elected TWICE. His 1983 deficit of 6 percent of GDP was about the same as 2012's deficit of 7 percent of GDP, under an economy considerably less stressed by a nationwide housing crash, a huge run-up of consumer debt, a financial crash that nearly brought down the nation's (and the world's) banking system, and other structural problems specific to 2007 forward.

You can't argue economics convincingly (and there are those undecided voters to be appealed to) without arguing history and involving some numbers. And that's what this comes down to: a battle between realism, and the same old voodoo economics that has been discredited in the scholarly world but not in the popular imagination.

You say, Obama should talk about the haves and have nots. He has. So did Jimmy Carter. Lots of good it did him. People wanted jobs. Reagan talked about growing the economy by lowering taxes. More jobs mean more revenue; and if economic growth is large enough, the additional tax revenue is larger than it would have been under higher tax rates but lower growth. That's a simple, powerful, and completely misleading argument that can only be demolished by a patient explanation of the facts and of tax policy history.

You say that Obama should concentrate on Romney's proposed tax breaks to the rich, which will be made up by shifting the burden on to the middle and working classes, either directly by taxes and fees, or indirectly through the loss of services which will require more out of pocket from them. (And watch those fees: fee increases are a favorite among Republicans who don't want to be vulnerable to accusations of raising taxes.)

Obama DID. Read the debate transcript. Here is Romney's counter:

ROMNEY: "What I've said is I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That's part one. So there's no economist that can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan. Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keep saying that and I know it's a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it's just not the case... All right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans. And number three, I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families."

OK, now tell me how you counter that by simply shouting "vouchers!" and "tax cuts for the rich!" ? You don't. You have to get into the nitty gritty. Romney did well in the debate not because Obama did poorly in his own right (though he may have), but because Romney was able to redefine himself and Obama was ill-prepared with the facts necessary to shoot down the lies. If the debate is simply reduced to a shouting contest between two candidates offering contrasting slogans, I suggest that Republicans' simplistically appealing but factually erroneous version of the world will charm more ignorant voters than the Democrats' platitudes about "investing in our future" and increasing the budget of existing bureaucracies.

morecleanair wrote:

"Emil probably has access to average net worth and income figures."

Not even remotely.

"Let's focus on the big stuff, like Mr. Plastic's mea culpas on his 47% comments. A good debater could nail his knickers to the wall!"

Old news. Are you by any chance Republican, morecleanair? Ever read the Uncle Remus story about the Tarbaby?

A debater attempting to make this comment the focus of domestic policy differences would simply give Mitt Romney a chance to "explain" himself (bet he's got that covered) and redefine away the residue of the controversy and the remaining ill-will toward him.

Emil: CNN Money indicates that the average net worth of folks 65 and over is $232,000. Am told that much of this still can come from home equity, so it is revealing . . . at least to me. I'm a middle-of-the road guy politically but very concerned about how my contemporaries would fare under Romney/Ryan's "smaller government". (This year, my Christmas gifts are going to food banks.)

Watch the Vegas odds to see where this is going. (But not Jimmy the Greek)

Personally I have been telling folks younger than me and the REB, to downsize. DOWNSIZE.

Emil I didn't write that Obama should yell "tax cuts for the rich" and "vouchers" at Romney. I imagined Romney's supporters chanting that at him in glee at his inauguration.

My posts are all about finding the most emotional simple cudgel you can and beating them over the head with it until you make a punch drunk tattoo on their foreheads.

I didn't write too much about what that might be with Romney. I think with Ryan it is all about making sure that no in America who tunes in tomorrow night, doesn't know by evening's end, with 100% certainty, that Ryan wrote a bill that privatized Social Security as late as 2010.

I would work that in at least 6 or 7 times in various ways. And I would talk about the fact that he went to college that way, and that this is the way he shows his appreciation. And that character is a lot about "paying it forward". And that Ryan's bill thus speaks greatly to his character. Are you in the game of politics for yourself and your rich friends and 600 dollar bottles of wine with lobbyists? Or are you higher motivated to serve the 47% who bust their butts everyday?

And if Ryan says he no longer favors privatisation. I'd be locked and loaded on that: Something about "c'mon folks do you believe a 42 year old leopard can change its spots overnight? Do you really want to put a proven predator in charge of the hen house?

One thing I wouldn't do is drone on with a mouth full of numbers about Spain's economy and why that is relevant to the US economy. People will be looking into Ryan's pretty blue eyes while you try to fill their ears with that..

Intellectualism is overrated by intellectuals. We are at core emotional sexual creatures who enjoy a good brawl and pretty polished stones. We like to see rich guys get their comeuppance at movie's end. We like to see liars exposed and ridiculed. We like to see pretty boys get a pie in the face and their asses kicked.

Biden has got to attack and attack and attack. And find a way to reach thru Ryan and put an ugly bruise on Romney's character too...

Here's the "big picture" and here's what Obama needs to do:

Many voters, including large numbers of undecided swing voters, as well as many who would otherwise be sympathetic to Democrats, just don't understand why the economy has been so slow to add jobs. Since Obama came into office (i.e., since the Great Recession) nearly every poll has shown the economy to be the Number One concern of voters. This should not surprise anyone under the current circumstances. Remember the slogan which James Carville coined for Bill Clinton's successful campaign against incumbent George H.W. Bush? "It's the economy, stupid." That was in 1992. Guess what the issue is in 2012 with unemployment nearly 8 percent and a sluggish economy for the entire first term of President Obama?

Obama needs to explain how we got here; why it could have been so much worse; what his policies are doing to improve the economy; and when full recovery is expected: and he needs to tie all of this together with a coherent narrative.

He needs to explain that consumer demand drives the economy; that consumer demand was badly mauled by foreclosures and bankruptcies; by a huge loss in housing equity; by huge losses in the stock market -- yes, it has largely recovered, but many non-institutional (i.e., household) investors sold at or near the bottom of the market to avoid further losses; by massive job layoffs and by forced reduction of hours worked by employers trying to reduce costs to keep their businesses afloat; by the tightening of credit standards and conditions by lenders after the biggest financial system crisis since the Great Depression; and that for nearly a decade under Bush most consumers had been substituting easy access to credit and appreciating home values for stagnant or declining real income (i.e., adjusted for inflation).

He needs to explain that it was only government intervention that prevented the deepest recession since WW II from sliding into a second Great Depression and which shortened that recession to a mere two years; and that even now it is only federal spending that is keeping the economy from shrinking in the face of weak continued consumer demand.

He needs to explain that despite the need for federal spending to take up the slack in the economy, the deficit is under control, having decreased by more than a third as a percentage of GDP from the deficit he inherited from Bush's last year in office, and is already projected, both by the administration and by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), to decrease by fully half (as promised) -- or more -- by 2014.

He needs to explain that despite economic slowdown in China and Europe, America's economy is finally beginning to pick up, because of the correction of structural economic factors such as the rise in average home prices and the partial relaxation of lending standards by lenders, as well as the recovery of the stock market; and that his opponents, the Republicans, hope to be swept into office just as the economy is picking up momentum, and after passing a little razmataz (which may well sabotage the recovery at a particularly vulnerable point) will take credit for the speedup of recovery that is already currently expected by economists to take place within the next two years; riding the President's coattails even while deriding the policies that handed them a ready-made economic recovery to crow about.

Koreyel: jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs!

Your "fox in the henhouse" theme is perfectly valid provided that Obama establishes his bona fides on the economic front first and foremost. Otherwise, all of that uncertain, faraway stuff about the future of Social Security and Medicare which Romney has already DENIED during the debate -- never mind what Ryan might have proposed years ago; positions change and Ryan is not running for President -- is just going to pass in one ear and out the other.

P.S. I forgot to add the fact that state and local governments (under Republican governors and legislatures) have cut public sector jobs by three percent instead of increasing them by 8 percent per the historical average for the last nine post-WW II recession recoveries; if they had instead followed the historical average the unemployment rate would have been 6.5 percent as of August 2012. It's a lot easier to row upstream when there isn't a pair of dumbasses sitting in the stern rowing backwards.

Excellent comments!

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