Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Colbert on Romney/Ryan

Wait, I thought it was "the economy stupid"? It is, and the GOP's plans are worse--so lets not talk about it...

**updated--never try to rush out a blog post at 3am before going to work** 

Many Republicans I know have spent a lot of time gloating on how Obama "was in trouble" because he was going to have to start explaining himself for the terrible economic performance.

These, "its the economy, stupid" Republicans I know have been caught off guard by Romney picking such a radical right wing VP because this clearly changes the narrative that the Romney campaign had been preparing them to expect.

Now, we've shifted gears and this election is no longer about Obama's job performance, its now about a "choice" of priorities between Ayn Randian radicalism vs moderate conservatism of Obama.  

Rather than move to the center and try to win over independents Romney has made a radical shift to the right to mobilize his base and highlight differences between the GOP and Obama; as a way of distraction, sadly, from what really is the most important issue this generation faces--mass unemployment and unutilized economic resources.

What happened?  

Well the economic recovery continued--too slow for comfort, but onwards never the less--and it became clear to the Romney camp that the "Obama recovery" was not going to stall out before election day. The job numbers for July saw the economy add 163,000 jobs which was its fastest rate of job growth since February and many experts are projecting job growth to average 160,000-180,000 a month for the rest of the year.

Bear in mind that the Federal government could do something right now to get Americans back to work. But that is not a discussion Romney wants to have as it runs counter to his narrative and would further frustrate his base who don't care about the unemployed.  

The Romney camp realized they had to shift away from talking specifics about the economy or Obama's job performance because campaigning against Obama on the economy is just not going to be a winning sell--the job growth is too strong and any solutions that legitimate economist would propose to spur on growth would tick off his base.  

What's this you say?  The Obama recovery is stronger than the Bush recovery?!?  I know, you probably didn't realize that.  I personally blame liberal media bias for the fact that people don't know this recovery is better than Bush's.  But it is really important to point out.  

I ran over to the Minneapolis Fed and ran the numbers side by side (as posterous doesn't seem to want to upload my screen shot i'm sending you to twitter).

If Romney spent a lot of time digging into Obama's economic preformace all team Obama would need to do is remind voters that the "Obama recovery" has been stronger than the Bush recovery of 2001-2004 and "what exactly, Mr. Romney, are you proposing we do different?"  So Romney had to change the subject.
Romney's economic team was built directly from Bush administration, so the stewards of the "Bush boom" are speaking from experience and its not one that most Americans want to relive.  I think the media was starting to take note and dig deeper into the "Romney plan" only to find that there wasn't one--as he's provided zero specific's to allow the Congressional Budget Office to even score his economic plans.  

In the end it was becoming more and more clear--and much easier to point out to voters who aren't happy with the "Obama recovery"--that  the Bush recovery was worse and Team Romney was providing a prescription for heading us down a path of weaker economic performance and tax cuts for the 1%.  

Ergo enter Paul Ryan. 

Wait, I thought it was "the economy stupid" (it is, and the GOP's plans are worse)

So a lot of Republicans have spent a whole lot of time explain how Obama "was in trouble" because he was going to have to start explaining himself for the economy.

So many of these "its the economy, stupid" that I know have been caught off guard by Romney picking such a radical right wing VP because this clearly changes the narrative that the Romney campaign had been prepping them for to expect.

Now this election is about a "choice" of priorities between Ayn Randian radicalism vs moderate conservatism of Obama.

What happened?  Well as the economic recovery continued--too slow for comfort, but onwards never the less--and it became clear that the "Obama recovery" would remain stronger than the Bush recovery of 2001-2004.

What's this you say?  I know, you probably didn't realize that.  I personal blame the liberal media for the fact that people don't know this recovery is better than Bush's--so all of those "the sky is falling cause Obama has destroyed the economy" types are--yes making it up.
The fact that Romney's economic team was built directly from the Bush administrations people in the media were starting to comment and take note on the fact that those who aren't happy with the "Obama recovery" would have absolutely hated the Bush recovery which was worse.

I ran over to the Minneapolis Fed and ran one of their comparison charts so you can see for yourself.

This is a message from the MailScanner E-Mail Virus Protection Service
The original e-mail attachment "The Recession .png"
is on the list of unacceptable attachments for this site and has been
replaced by this warning message.

Due to limitations placed on us by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers
Act 2000, we were unable to keep a copy of the original attachment.

At Wed Aug 15 00:45:34 2012 the virus scanner said:
Very long filenames are good signs of attacks against Microsoft e-mail packages (The Recession .png)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

#RadicalRyan #Math -->Redistribute wealth from working people to CEO's...


Doubling the out of pocket costs of the average 65 year old so that Paris Hilton can get a larger tax cut than some will see in their lifetime of earnings is going to go over great with voters. 

Right now, government protectionism's redistribute millions of dollars of wealth from citizens to health care companies and Romney/Ryan want to erode what little protection working people currently have. 

GOP budget plan’s real target: Medicare

The GOP are so very clever.  Their efforts to attack Medicare cuts (which don't impact patients) when at the exact same time supporting Medicare cuts which will be used to give the 1% tax cuts.

Robert Reich has the breakdown:

Stumping in Florida yesterday, Mitt Romney charged President Obama’s Affordable Care Act will “cut more than $700 billion” out of Medicare.

What Romney didn’t say was that his running-mate’s budget — approved by House Republicans and by Romney himself — would cut Medicare by the same amount.

The big difference, though, is the Affordable Care Act achieves these savings by reducing Medicare payments to drug companies, hospitals, and other providers rather than cutting payments to Medicare beneficiaries.

The Romney-Ryan plan, by contrast, achieves its savings by turning Medicare into a voucher whose value doesn’t keep up with expected increases in healthcare costs — thereby shifting the burden onto Medicare beneficiaries, who will have to pay an average of $6,500 a year more for their Medicare insurance, according to an analysis of the Republican plan by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

Moreover, the Affordable Care Act uses its Medicare savings to help children and lower-income Americans afford health care, and to help seniors pay for prescription drugs by filling the so-called “donut hole” in Medicare Part D coverage.

The Romney-Ryan plan uses the savings to finance even bigger tax cuts for the very wealthy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

1% having been getting massive handouts for decades. This election they want to kick it into overdrive...

One challenge that political campaigns have when taking on the 1% and their apologists, which I learned during my State Senate campaign in 2010, is that it can be very hard to get people to recognize that the debate we are having (or at least should be having) is not really a big gov. vs. small gov. debate.  As the economist Dean Baker notes in the opening line of his book The End Loser Liberalism, "Money does not fall up," and the massive transfer of wealth that has occurred over the past 30 years wasn't inevitable or via "natural market forces," it occurred because of specific policies that undermined the level playing field which the New Deal had created for the middle class. 

The more we can talk about how Government has been redistributing massive amounts of wealth upwards over the past 30 years, the more we can talk about the ways the 1% have loaded the deck to come out on top, the stronger the case will be for Progressive candidates up and down the ballot.
Conservatives love to use Government policy to redistribute wealth upwards, but they often do so in a ways (via how they structure the market) that aren't as obvious as sending a check. So it appears as if its natural, or "earned."  But there is an important debate we are not having when we accept this right wing framework.

We have to debate these core issues because they are actually core values--does hard work get rewarded or do we continue to allow the 1% to buy off politicians and set the rules of the game so that only they can win?  Is that the America we want where hard work and determination have nothing to do with your outcome of success?

In fact I think Paul Krugman makes a really good point about why Romney choose Ryan--not to have a debate, but to avoid one:

It is not about satisfying the conservative base, which was motivated anyway by Obama-hatred; it is not about refocusing on the issues, because R&R are both determined to avoid providing any of the crucial specifics about their plans. It is — as Jonathan Chait  also seems to understand — about exploiting the gullibility and vanity of the news media, in much the same way that George W. Bush did in 2000.

Like Bush in 2000, Ryan has a completely undeserved reputation in the media as a bluff, honest guy, in Ryan’s case supplemented by a reputation as a serious policy wonk. None of this has any basis in reality; Ryan’s much-touted plan, far from being a real solution, relies crucially on stuff that is just pulled out of thin air — huge revenue increases from closing unspecified loopholes, huge spending cuts achieved in ways not mentioned. See Matt Miller  for more.

So whence comes the Ryan reputation? As I said in my last post, it’s because many commentators want to tell a story about US politics that makes them feel and look good — a story in which both parties are equally at fault in our national stalemate, and in which said commentators stand above the fray. This story requires that there be good, honest, technically savvy conservative politicians, so that you can point to these politicians and say how much you admire them, even if you disagree with some of their ideas; after all, unless you lavish praise on some conservatives, you don’t come across as nobly even-handed.

The trouble, of course, is that it’s really really hard to find any actual conservative politicians who deserve that praise. Ryan, with his flaky numbers (and actually very hard-line stance on social issues), certainly doesn’t. But a large part of the commentariat decided early on that they were going to cast Ryan in the role of Serious Honest Conservative, and have been very unwilling to reconsider that casting call in the light of evidence.

So that’s the constituency Romney is targeting: not a large segment of the electorate, but a few hundred at most editors, reporters, programmers, and pundits. His hope is that Ryan’s unjustified reputation for honest wonkery will transfer to the ticket as a whole.

I think that could be correct.  If so, I think that social media can play a major roll on twitter and facebook by forcing policy issues to go viral.  

There have been many cultural shifts in recent years and the capacity of twitter to change the agenda, or bring up questions that the media are not asking is hugely important at a time when the 1% will likely spending a billion dollars to defeat Obama and get Romney/Ryan into office.  Millions of Americans are struggling and the 1% want to change the subject.

Its going to be pivotal for people to start getting out of their comfort zone and start engaging others publicly--as far too many people are more worried about keeping the peace than in making sure that the facts are out there for all to see.

The parasites want to change the subject--its up to us to stop them.

John Nichols rocks. John Nichols goofed---Paul Ryan doesn't support "free trade" edition.

I love John Nichols.  

So when I see this slight slip up cross my twitter feed I shall merely say: John Nichols goofed.

John is right.  Paul Ryan is no friend of labor.  John is also right to point out Ryan's horrid neoliberal trade policy votes.  

But John is not correct to label them "free trade" deals--as any economist worth their salt would point out that these trade deals are full of protectionisms.

A few days ago Dean Baker jumped all over a recent column by Eduardo Porter in the New York Times for making a similar mistake:

Eduardo Porter seriously misrepresents the issues in the trade debate in his column  today. First of all, he misrepresents recent trade deals by referring them as "free trade" agreements.

While advocates of these trade pacts like to call them "free trade" agreements in the same way that President Reagan wanted to call the MX missile the "Peacekeeper", that doesn't make the assertion accurate. A major part of all the trade deals the United States has negotiated over the last two decades has been provisions that require stronger patent and copyright protection in our trading partners. 

Patent and copyright protection is a form of protectionism; it is not free trade. In fact, patent and copyright protection are extremely inefficient forms of protectionism that lead to far higher prices and much greater economic distortions that the types of trade protection that typically concern policymakers.

While tariffs or quotas rarely raise the price of a protected product by more 20 or 30 percent, patent and copyright protection raise the price of the protected items by many thousand percent. In the case of prescription drugs, patent protection raises the price of drugs that would sell for $5-$10 a prescription in a free market to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per prescription. The total gap between patent protected drug prices that we pay and their free market price is in the neighborhood of $270 billion a year.  

As economic theory predicts, this sort of interference in the market leads to rent-seeking behavior by drug companies that make the economic distortions even larger. In fact, the NYT has run numerous articles on efforts by drug companies to market drugs for inappropriate uses or to conceal evidence their drugs are ineffective or even harmful. (Here 's the NYT's latest installment in its series on abuses caused by patent monopolies in prescription drugs. And yes, there are other ways to finance prescription drug research.) These are exactly the sort of abuses that economic theory predicts would result from this sort of government granted monopoly.

Paul Ryan is no champion of free markets.  He is a champion of the 1% and has a voting record to prove that he is more than willing to use government policies to transfer wealth.  So I had to cringe when I saw John Nichols tweet.

For Paul Ryan, free trade is for factory workers in Ohio not the 1%.  John knows this--at least I think he does--he just goofed this time.