Monday, October 29, 2012

George McGovern


George McGovern was the most decent man to run for President in my lifetime. By a long shot.

In 1969, before he was publicly running for President, I walked into his office in Washington and asked to do volunteer work. They sent me to a basement office, where I sat at a typewriter and typed in addresses that got punched onto a long tape. They weren't too interested in seeking my counsel and advice on political issues. And the rest is history.

I'm proud to be a card-carrying member of the McGovern Million Member Club. The idea was that if a million people sent him $25, he'd have enough to challenge the large donations being gathered by Nixon's people – an idea that was later perfected in Obama's first campaign. A million people didn't, and Nixon outspent McGovern two-to-one.

I could only afford $10, but they sent me a card anyway.

I still have it. When my turn comes, I intend to show it to St. Peter.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ugh!


Okay, call me old fashioned, but I just don't like my political ads to be sexual double entendres.




Addendum: I have to admit that I have no idea who Lena Dunham is, so clearly I'm on the far side of old fogeydom. Looking at her Wikipedia entry, I have no idea what greenlit means, as in "Dunham's television series, Girls, was greenlit by HBO in early 2012." I think it's probably a good thing if you're Lena Dunham.

Later addendum: Looking at this again, I'm just amazed that Obama's reelection team, who are pretty darn smart guys, approved this. It really creeps me out.

What it's screaming is: Obama thinks your daughter is going to have premarital sex. And not just with one guy, because "first" implies "second, third, fourth, ... two hundred and thirty-second!"

"Oh my gosh! Obama thinks my daughter is a ...."

Really, Obama guys. I hope this thing got a lot of 20-somethings lined up for you. Seems kind of high risk to me, though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Debate in Song


Thanks to the NY Times for making this Songify version of Tuesday's debate available for pathetic bloggers:



Clueless


I've been reading a lot about the First World War lately, trying to figure out what my grandfather might have experienced then as a private in the French infantry. In the first months of the war, it quickly became apparent that the old rules no longer applied. Machine guns and mechanization had changed everything.
In the Russo-Japanese War [1904-05] an English observer, the future General Ian Hamilton, reported that the only thing the cavalry could do in the face of entrenched machine guns was to cook rice for the infantry, causing the War Office to wonder if his months in the Orient had not affected his mind. [The Guns of August, Barbara W. Tuchman]
So I was on my feet cheering last night when, during his debate with Mitt Romney, President Obama pointed out why comparing the number of ships in the U.S. Navy in 1916 was missing the point in a very significant way. If you didn't see the exchange, this is a MUST WATCH segment:



Now, I must say that I originally thought the President was going a bit too far when he started explaining that we now have ships that planes can actually land on. That's piling on and really talking down to him, I thought.

Then Paul Ryan opened his mouth:



These guys are colossally ignorant.

Add to that Romney's explanation that Syria is Iran's "route to the sea." Steve Benen has a good post on this, headlined "Flunking Geography 101," and I'll steal his map:


The further out we get from this debate, the worse Romney's performance looks.

It is no surprise that Romney's foreign policy team is composed mostly of John Bolton and his band of chuckleheads.  Like George W. Bush, Romney is a blank and clueless slate, upon which they can write whatever they please.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Odds & Ends


Three great quotes, via Andrew Tobias.

David Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan:

"Bain’s billions of profits were not rewards for capitalist creation; they were mainly windfalls collected from gambling in markets that were rigged to rise.
"Nevertheless [he continues], Mitt Romney claims that his essential qualification to be president is grounded in his 15 years as head of Bain Capital, from 1984 through early 1999. According to the campaign’s narrative, it was then that he became immersed in the toils of business enterprise, learning along the way the true secrets of how to grow the economy and create jobs. The fact that Bain’s returns reputedly averaged more than 50 percent annually during this period is purportedly proof of the case—real-world validation that Romney not only was a striking business success but also has been uniquely trained and seasoned for the task of restarting the nation’s sputtering engines of capitalism.
Except Mitt Romney was not a businessman; he was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses. He did not build enterprises the old-fashioned way—out of inspiration, perspiration, and a long slog in the free market fostering a new product, service, or process of production. Instead, he spent his 15 years raising debt in prodigious amounts on Wall Street so that Bain could purchase the pots and pans and castoffs of corporate America, leverage them to the hilt, gussy them up as reborn “roll-ups,” and then deliver them back to Wall Street for resale—the faster the better.
That is the modus operandi of the leveraged-buyout business, and in an honest free-market economy, there wouldn’t be much scope for it because it creates little of economic value. But we have a rigged system—a regime of crony capitalism—where the tax code heavily favors debt and capital gains, and the central bank purposefully enables rampant speculation by propping up the price of financial assets and battering down the cost of leveraged finance.
So the vast outpouring of LBOs in recent decades has been the consequence of bad policy, not the product of capitalist enterprise. I know this from 17 years of experience doing leveraged buyouts at one of the pioneering private-equity houses, Blackstone, and then my own firm. I know the pitfalls of private equity. The whole business was about maximizing debt, extracting cash, cutting head counts, skimping on capital spending, outsourcing production, and dressing up the deal for the earliest, highest-profit exit possible. . . .

PoliticoLobbyists Ready for a Comeback Under Romney

President Barack Obama’s gone further than any president to keep lobbyists out of the White House — even signing executive orders to do it.
But the mood on K Street is brightening.
Industry insiders believe that Mitt Romney will unshackle the revolving door and give lobbyists a shot at the government jobs their Democratic counterparts have been denied for the past four years, a dozen Republican lobbyists said in conversations with POLITICO.

Nicholas Kristof

I wrote in my last column about my uninsured college roommate, Scott Androes, and his battle with Stage 4 prostate cancer — and a dysfunctional American health care system. I was taken aback by how many readers were savagely unsympathetic.

“Your friend made a foolish choice, and actions have consequences,” one reader said in a Twitter message. 

As my column noted, Scott had a midlife crisis and left his job in the pension industry to read books and play poker, surviving on part-time work (last year, he earned $13,000). To save money, he skipped health insurance. 

A year ago, he encountered difficulties urinating and didn’t see a doctor in part because of the cost. By the time the prostate cancer was detected, it had spread to his bones. 

“I blew it,” Scott told me several times. He repeatedly acknowledged that he should have bought insurance and should have seen a doctor as soon as his symptoms appeared.

[snip]

That’s in part what this election is about. If President Obama is re-elected, Obamacare will stay in place and health insurance will become close to universal in 2014. In contrast, Mitt Romney has promised if elected to work to repeal Obamacare — and any American who made a bad health care decision would continue to suffer. 

To many of my readers, that’s fine. 

“Not sure why I’m to feel guilty about your friend’s problem,” Terry from Oregon wrote on my blog. “I take care of myself and mine, and I am not responsible for anyone else.” 

Bruce wrote that many people in hospitals are there because of their own poor choices: “Smoking, obesity, drugs, alcohol, noncompliance with medical advice. Extreme age and debility, patients so sick, old, demented, weak, that if families had to pay one-tenth the cost of keeping the poor souls alive, they would instantly see that it was money wasted.” 

That harsh view is gaining ground, particularly on the right. Pew Research Center polling has found that the proportion of Republicans who agree that “it is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves” has slipped from 58 percent in 2007 to just 40 percent today. 

Let me offer two counterarguments. 

First, a civilized society compensates for the human propensity to screw up. That’s why we have single-payer firefighters and police officers. That’s why we require seat belts. When someone who has been speeding gets in a car accident, the 911 operator doesn’t sneer: “You were irresponsible, so figure out your own way to the hospital” — and hang up. 

To err is human, but so is to forgive. Living in a community means being interconnected in myriad ways — including by empathy. To feel undiminished by the deaths of those around us isn’t heroic Ayn Rand individualism. It’s sociopathic. Compassion isn’t a sign of weakness, but of civilization. [Okay, my emphasis.]

My second argument is that if you object to Obamacare because you don’t want to pay Scott’s medical bills, you’re a sucker. You’re already paying those bills. Because Scott wasn’t insured and didn’t get basic preventive care, he accumulated $550,000 in bills at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, which treated him as a charity case. We’re all paying for that.

Scott and I spoke on Sunday morning about whether his story might move some critics of health care reform. He was weakening and mused that he probably didn’t have long. A few hours later, Scott slipped into a coma. He died Monday morning. 

We can’t be certain that the cancer would have been found earlier, when it was more treatable, if Scott had been insured. But it’s a reasonable bet. Researchers have estimated that one American dies every 20 minutes for lack of health insurance

In other countries, I’ve covered massacres, wars, famines and genocides, and they’re heart-rending because they’re so unnecessary and arbitrary. Those massacred in the Darfur genocide in Sudan might be alive if they had been born in Britain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Binders Full of Women!


One of the points of hilarity in last night's debate was Mitt's assertion that he asked for the names of women qualified to be appointed to political posts in the Massachusetts government, and got "binders full of women." People have been having a lot of fun with that.

The most telling part of Mitt's story, as it turns out, is that it's not true. Imagine that!

How He'll Do It


RomneyTaxPlan.com.

Thanks to Charlie for passing on the link.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Did I Miss Something?


When I was a young man I worked for the Social Security Administration in a town called Ironton, Ohio. There were many good things about living in Ironton, like, um, the cost of living was really low, which was a good thing, because my annual salary was $8,303.  Don't feel bad for me, though, because I thought I was rich, and in the most important ways, I was.

Living in Ironton gave me several good stories, which I have repeated in the ensuing years so often that there is probably no one who knows me that hasn't heard them so often that they fail to be good stories.

One of them is this: I interviewed a man whose name was something like John Jones II. John Jones II had a son, whom he had named John Jones II, Jr.

That's the kind of knee-slapper that only an effete East Coast pseudo-intellectual can appreciate.

That story came back to me today when I read a story about one of the slimier right-wing personalities, Dinesh D'Souza. If you're not familiar with D'Souza, it should be enough to say that he wrote an article in Forbes magazine which claimed that Obama's foreign policy was based on his Kenyan father's anti-colonialism. Awesome stuff. Breathtaking scholarship. Forbes magazine. The editors' mothers must be so proud.

Well, D'Souza, as you might have imagined, is an evangelical Christian. And, as you might have imagined from that, he's all for "family values." And as you might have imagined from that, he's been stepping out on his wife, Dixie. Well, that's between him and Dixie and his daughter, I guess.

But get this: the name of the lady he's been stepping out on his wife with is – are you ready for this? – Denise Odie Joseph II.

Denise Odie Joseph the Second? What's with that? When did THAT start?

It appears that "King's College," of which D'Souza is "president," has some problems with DOJ II.

It's easier to feel schadenfreude when there aren't innocent people (current wife and daughter) affected.

10/18 Update: D'Souza has resigned from the presidency of "Kings College," which reportedly netted him $1 million a year. Oh, to be a member of the meritocracy!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

We've Come a Long Way in Four Years


It's easy to forget.

☑  Get bin Laden
☑  Save the American auto industry
☑  Improve health care
☑  End DADT
☑  Out of Iraq
☑  Give Afghans a shot at a decent country
☑  Restore relations with our allies
☑  Stop the bleeding from the 2008 economic scandal



Paul Ryan Endorses Stimulus Spending


I've never had a high opinion of Paul "Pinocchio" Ryan. Maybe he's no more dishonest than your average politician, but he's the prototype of the modern-day Republican: Head stuck in the 19th century, and more interested in defeating the Democrats than in serving America.

Think I'm being kind of hard? Over-the-top? Extreme?

See what Paul Ryan says about stimulus spending when it's proposed by a Republican president. [Sorry about the commercial that precedes it. But it's worth the wait.]


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


The clip is from the MSNBC program Up with Chris Hayes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Brave New World


Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned yesterday of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" attack on the United States.

“An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches,” Mr. Panetta said. “They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”
Defense officials insisted that Mr. Panetta’s words were not hyperbole, and that he was responding to a recent wave of cyberattacks on large American financial institutions. He also cited an attack in August on the state oil company Saudi Aramco, which infected and made useless more than 30,000 computers.
But Pentagon officials acknowledged that Mr. Panetta was also pushing for legislation on Capitol Hill. It would require new standards at critical private-sector infrastructure facilities — like power plants, water treatment facilities and gas pipelines — where a computer breach could cause significant casualties or economic damage.
In August, a cybersecurity bill that had been one of the administration’s national security priorities was blocked by a group of Republicans, led by Senator John McCain of Arizona, who took the side of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and said it would be too burdensome for corporations.
The most destructive possibilities, Mr. Panetta said, involve “cyber-actors launching several attacks on our critical infrastructure at one time, in combination with a physical attack.” He described the collective result as a “cyber-Pearl Harbor that would cause physical destruction and the loss of life, an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability.”
It's enough to make you want to fill your basement with Spam. The whole NY Times story is here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Categories


I still recommend a Netflix subscription to people who don't have one, although with less enthusiasm than two years ago. The whole DVD/streaming controversy really steamed me, and the upshot is I'm paying too much for the service now. Although they supposedly have tens of thousands of movies available for streaming, most of it is cr.... uh, not worth watching. So you have to have a DVD subscription if you want to see some really interesting movies.

Another disturbing aspect of Netflix is that they keep track of the movies you've watched, and put them into very weird categories, then use those categories to recommend other movies to you. If you have a 10-year-old girl watching movies at your house, it makes for some interesting choices.

But even excluding that, I had no idea that my movie interests tended to:

• Sentimental Romantic Movies Based on Books

• Comedies Featuring a Strong Female Lead

• Quirky Biographical Documentaries

• Classic Dark Movies from the 1970's

and my favorite so far,

• Heartfelt Independent Dysfunctional-Family Movies.

Not just ANY dysfunctional family movie will do. It has to be heartfelt. And independent.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Margaret and Helen Do the Debate


Thanks to my friend Dave for spotting this and linking to it on his Facebook page:

Do not miss Margaret and Helen's coverage of the debate.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Manipulating Labor Statistics


The Washington Post reminds us there once was a President who tried to manipulate data coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
As first recounted by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their 1976 book “Final Days,” the frequently paranoid president [Nixon, in case you're too young to remember] — who had a history of anti-Semitic outbursts — became obsessed with the idea that a “Jewish cabal” at BLS was undermining him by issuing negative labor numbers. Nixon ordered his subordinates to tally up the number of Democrats and Jews in the agency.

“There’s a Jewish cabal, you know, running through this,” Nixon fumed in July 1971 to his chief of staff, H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, according to White House tapes. “…And they all — they all only talk to Jews. Now, but there it is. But there’s the BLS staff. Now how the hell do you ever expect us to get anything from that staff, the raw data, let alone what the poor guys have to say [inaudible] that isn’t gonna be loaded against us? You understand?”

According to journalistic accounts and documents, the task fell to Nixon aide Fred Malek, who first counted high-ranking Democrats at BLS using voter registration lists and then identified employees with “Jewish-sounding” names. He reported the resulting statistics to Nixon in a 1971 letter that became known as the “Jew-counting” memo, identifying 25 Democrats and 13 employees who “fit the other demographic criterion that was discussed.”
The rest of the article is here.

Krugman is a partisan, of course, but he's also a man who knows something about the BLS reports.
For the record, it’s ridiculous to imagine that the Obama administration could arrange (on short notice, no less) to cook the jobs numbers. The sheer logistics would be impossible, plus these are civil servants who have to live under both parties.
But conspiracies are more fun than being a grownup and facing the truth.

Update: Elsewhere in the Post, Ezra Klein runs on Krugman's theme:
Let’s get one thing out of the way: The data was not, as Jack Welch suggested in a now-infamous tweet, manipulated. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is set up to ensure the White House has no ability to influence it. As labor economist Betsey Stevenson wrote, “anyone who thinks that political folks can manipulate the unemployment data are completely ignorant of how the BLS works and how the data are compiled.”
Gee whiz, do you mean that in one stupid tweet Jack Welch turned from a business titan into a doddering old fool? Time to find a replacement on the corporate boards.

Mandatory


I first read about this situation a month or more ago, and wondered why more wasn't made of it. Now the Obama campaign has made a television ad from it. As far as I know, it's running only in Ohio. Why not run it in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Southern Illinois?

Yes, I know West Virginia and Kentucky are solidly in the Romney column, but just the same they need to know. And yes, Illinois is solidly in the Obama column, but just same, ditto.



Great Jobs Report


At 8:30 a.m. ET the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Monthly Jobs Report, showing that the unemployment rate is now at 7.8 percent.
Adding to the positive news, job gains were revised upward by 40,000 for July (to 181,000) and by 46,000 for August (to 142,000), which had been considered a disappointing month, casting a slightly rosier hue on the summer slowdown.
- NY Times
Cool! But Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, can't control his sphincter and tweets: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers."

Just for the record, yesterday Gallup indicated their own measurements were showing movement in the same direction:
Gallup's unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.9% in September -- down from 8.1% in August and the lowest monthly average since Gallup began measuring it in January 2010. Of course, part of the reason for this improvement has to do with temporary hiring for Halloween -- now a major sales event for the nation’s retailers -- and the Christmas holidays.
Gee, I didn't know there was THAT much temporary hiring for Halloween. But just the same, I guess Gallup is in on the conspiracy Mr. Welch has spotted.

Perhaps the reason Republicans always screw everything up is because they just can't separate their emotions from their brains. They don't like evolution, so it's not true. They don't like global warming, so it's not true. Saddam Hussein MUST have weapons of mass destruction, therefore Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. They haven't caught Osama bin Laden, therefore it's not really important to catch Osama bin Laden. They don't like arithmetic, so use pixie dust instead. They just don't like the BLS statistics, so the statistics must be fraudulent.

You just can't base policy on that kind of thinking, guys.

The Debate


It was clear to anyone watching, I think, that Romney "won" the first debate. The question is, does it matter?

Since televised debates began, only one sitting president was said to have won the first debate with his challenger. So even before the debate, there were several stories about how debates don't matter, that historically they don't seem to actually affect how people vote. I'm not so sure of that, but there's some interesting evidence from this debate that supports it – focus groups.

A blog called No More Mister Nice Blog has this round-up:
* Priorities USA's Colorado focus group of "weak Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2008 but who remain open to switching" thought Romney wasn't specific last night; they warmed somewhat to his tax ideas, but "there was a doubling in the number of respondents who said that Obama has good ideas for improving the economy.... 63% of respondents said at the end that Obama expressed good ideas for improving the economy, compared with 27% who said the same about Romney...."

* In a focus group of independents on MSNBC, not one switched to Romney after the debate. (Hat tip: Never Ben Better in comments.)

* In another Colorado focus group of undecideds assembled by pollster Stan Greenberg, Romney gained somewhat -- 27% leaned his way before the debate, 44% afterward. But Obama held his ground -- 30% or 31% before (the link is ambiguous), 33% afterward. I read that as a 15-point swing -- but translated nationwide, it suggests that, if something like 5% of voters are undecided, Romney's getting less than a 1% gain. And that's in the immediate afterglow of the debate, which will wear off by Election Day.

* Oh, and if you believe this sort of thing is meaningful, Twitter comments about Romney leaned extremely negative last night, while comments about Obama leaned positive.

Beyond that, Obama had built up a bigger cushion than we thought before the debate: Gallup shows him up by 4 over Romney today (that's averaged over the seven pre-debate days), while his approval rating (over the three pre-debate days) has leaped to 54 percent.
 Feel better now?

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Grasping at Straws


There were two signs of GOP desperation that surfaced today. First, they tried to make some kind of hay out of this statement by Vice President Biden:

“How they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that has been buried the last four years?”

That doesn't even rise to gaffe status, though Mitt and Pinocchio have been jumping up and down like they'd caught him admitting a big secret.  Well, duh, guys. But they're trying. Guess they'll try something else tomorrow.

Then, there was this "explosive" video of Obama talking to a black audience at Hampton University (not to be confused with The Hamptons) about American black history. I'm not sure what they saw there that was so explosive. They must not get out much. This video appears to have been on YouTube since 2007.

What do you think?



And to add to your racist hysteria, here's Obama giving a shout out to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Again, in 2007.



It's just awesome that there are still people who think Obama is a black bogey man.

Bulletin to conservatives: Romney's already got the votes of the people these videos are going to upset.  They've been looking under their beds for Muslims for four years! But hey, go ahead.

A Difficult Subject


Don't miss this story from yesterday's NY Times about children and grandchildren of Auschwitz survivors who, as a sign of respect or remembrance, have had their elders' concentration camp numbers tattooed on their own arms. There are thousands of ways (more than six million, I'd guess) to respond to the Holocaust. I found this one to be particularly moving.

When I was growing up in New Jersey, I had several friends whose parents were concentration camp survivors. I thought this was "cool," as a bank employee said to one of the people in the video that accompanies the story. When I asked my boyhood friends about it, they invariably said their parents "never talk about it." In the past 10 or 15 years, though, there has been a lot of effort to record these people's stories before they pass from the scene.

Don't miss the slide show and the video that accompany the story. The first three photographs upset me for another reason. To me, they are too edgy, like something out of a Colors of Benetton ad, so the impact is something different than I think is appropriate. Emily disagrees with me.

Odds & Ends


Eric Cantor in Trouble?

Eric Cantor might be in trouble in Virginia this year. His opponent, Wayne Powell, is a long shot, but if the swing state swing to Obama continues, who knows what could happen?

If you've got $25 burning a hole in your pocket, and you want to send it somewhere where it might help knock off one of the worst, consider Wayne Powell.


Even a Broken Clock ...

I am no fan of Al Sharpton. His behavior during the Tawana Brawley episode was inexcusable. Period. Full stop. I do not for the life of me understand why MSNBC has given him a platform. Wait, yes I do. He's a "celebrity."

That said, Sharpton was right about this:
When you look at the Ryan budget, tax hikes for the rich can’t be on the table, but we can put on the table Social Security, we can put on the table Medicare, we can put on the table Medicaid.  So we’re really saying: we can’t touch the rich, we can’t touch the elite, but seniors and those that are most vulnerable — they’re up for discussion.  That’s why this election is not about Obama.  It’s about yo mama.
That first sentence frames it just right, and is how it should be presented in Wednesday night's debate. President Obama: are you paying attention? (I think you are, because I get an email from you and Michelle every day.)


Michele Bachman in Trouble?

Speaking of Michelles, a recent poll (commissioned by her opponent) showed Michele Bachmann ahead of Democrat Jim Graves by only two percentage points. Reason enough to send Jim Graves some dough.


Looking for Scandalgate

One rather remarkable thing about Obama's first term is how free of scandal it has been. You can call Fast and Furious a scandal, but after that, the pickin's are slim.

When I say it's remarkable, I mean in a historic sense. George W. Bush certainly had his share in his first term. Clinton had Whitewater, Travelgate, and Filegate. George H. W. Bush had Iran-Contra, which was a holdover from the Reagan administration. Reagan had too many to mention, but they're listed here. Carter had Bert Lance. Ford had Earl Butz and the Nixon pardon.

Ironically, Nixon had a good record in his first term. But in the second term: the original -gate scandal.

But you have to hand it to the Republicans, they're trying hard to create one for Obama. Steve Benen has found six different "scandals" they've likened to Watergate.

Paul Ryan: Boy Policy Wonk


The tide is finally turning on Paul Ryan. Somebody turned on a fan and blew away the smoke. The mirrors have cracks in them. The Washington Post:
The Republican ticket says it could pay for its tax cut by eliminating loopholes. But the biggest loopholes are popular: the exclusion from taxation of employer-sponsored health insurance and the deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes. Pressed by the assiduous Mr. Wallace about which of these Mr. Ryan would limit, the nominee pleaded a lack of time. “It would take me too long to go through all of that,” he said.
The GOP wants voters to think that only the rich would be affected by its loophole closing. “And don’t forget that the higher-income people have a disproportionate amount of the loopholes that they use,” Mr. Ryan said. Well, actually, no. Higher-income people reap a “disproportionate amount” of the benefit of lower rates on capital gains and dividends — households earning more than $200,000 a year receive 90 percent of the benefit. But the Romney-Ryan plan would leave that break in place. Most of the remaining major tax breaks flow primarily to households earning $200,000 or less. For example, more than two-thirds of the benefit of the deduction for home mortgage interest goes to those making less than $200,000 a year. [Italics are my emphasis.]
Paul Krugman is shocked!
Way back in 2010 I took a real look at Paul Ryan’s much-praised plan, and quickly determined that it was essentially a fraud. I pronounced him a flimflam man. And according to my sources, the Very Serious People of Washington were greatly annoyed. They had decided that Ryan was a Brave Truth-Teller; you weren’t supposed to question that premise. Indeed, months later Ryan received a “Fiscy” award for fiscal responsibility.
So you’ll forgive me if my eyes popped a bit on seeing VSP Central, aka the Washington Post, publishing an editorial titled, yes, Paul Ryan’s budget flimflam, accusing him of faking it and “hiding behind a flimsy scaffolding of pseudo-wonkiness.” Quite.
Look, I’m glad to see this sinking in. As Jonathan Chait says,
Paul Ryan’s selection as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate is subjecting him to all manner of strange new indignities, such as questions about public policy that are different than those that his own press staff would have written.
And the results aren’t pretty.
But can I suggest in future that if I say that somebody is a fraud, the VSPs at least consider the possibility that I know what I’m talking about?
Paul Krugman is also no stranger to self-esteem. I guess having a Nobel Prize can do that to a person.