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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fox News has published an article today that characterizes the Ryan speech last night as “Deceptive.” So maybe Fox News has decided to be fair and balanced after all.

On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was  Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.

Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.

Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president said. Period.

Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.

Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both parties should hold themselves to that standard. Republicans should be ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but sadly, there were many.

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The Republican convention is using that totally-out- of-context phrase “You didn’t build it” to great advantage. Banners and speeches are all about “You built it, not the government.” Which of course, wasn’t the President’s point, but it makes a lovely straw man. So, as someone who appreciates a good rant, here is a comment I found on the New York Times website. What did the GOP build? This:

They built it by changing the rules of the game by ravaging the middle class. They built it by unfettered and uncontrolled capitalism. They built it by creating more tax loopholes one could fly a stealth bomber through. They built it by offshoring jobs and importing cheap foreign labor. They built it by off shore, tax exempt accounts. They built it by depressing worker salaries. They built it by allowing Wall Street to run unchecked. They built it by playing the housing market like a casino. They built it by trickle down economics. They built it by empire building.

What did they build? The Great Recession, “too big to fail”, CEOs making 100 times a regular worker, worker wages keep going down adjusted for inflation, splintering the country along social and economic lines, created an imperial armed forces, hid their heads and waited for 9/11 to happen, took away basic rights under the Patriot Act, made many wealthy people more wealthy, made the middle class and working class more poorer, wiped out the savings at least three times by creating three deep recessions, polarized the country, created more foreign enemies then friends and made the United States no longer the envy of the world.

This is what they built.

In a down economy, with high unemployment, you would think that Mitt Romney would have plenty to wag his finger about. So why does he spend so much energy making stuff up to falsely accuse President Obama? Alec MacGillis of the New Republic ponders this bizarre phenomena:

(Romney in Ohio)

“I want you to know I heard something the other day that really surprised me… What I heard is that the president is taking the work requirement out of welfare. (Boos.) Yeah. We value work, our society which celebrates hard work, we look to a government to make it easier for jobs to be created and people to go to work. We do not look for a government that tries to find ways to provide for people who are not willing to work. And so I’m gonna put work back into welfare and make sure able-bodied people can get jobs.”

Romney proceeded straight from this into a retelling of Obama’s “you didn’t built that” line, but even that did not get the applause the welfare riff did. After the speech, several in the audience told me that their favorite part had been Romney’s calling out Obama for weakening welfare work requirements. Yes, one of the more depressing parts of the job of being a political reporter is watching an audience fully absorb a blatant and knowing lie. Which is, of course, what this is. Countless factcheckers—here is one of many—have unequivocally rejected the assertion that Obama has ended the work requirement. His administration has instead granted more leeway to states, including several with Republican governors, to explore new ways to get people onto welfare into jobs, with the proviso that their new approaches must increase the share of recipients with jobs.

But this has not stopped Romney (the son of a pro-safety net former HUD secretary!) or Paul Ryan, who is also using the line on the trail. Meanwhile, the campaign has launched two ads with the welfare charge, which are running in heavy circulation. Clearly, the campaign has reason to believe the attack is working, and why not? It’s no secret that working-class Americans deeply resent those just below them on the economic ladder whom they see as getting undeserved assistance; it’s also no secret that politicians have been especially effective at stoking this resentment among white working-class voters, such as the all-white audience in Beallsville, toward an unseen nonwhite other.

But at least in the glory-days of welfare-bashing, the attacks had some grounding in reality—the system had grown rapidly was in need of some sort of reform. Now, at a time of drastically reduced welfare rolls, the attack is utterly unfounded. And Romney just keeps using it, at stop after stop, in ad after ad.

It’s almost like there is no thou shalt not bear false witness in the Book of Mormon, huh?

Seriously? Who plans a political convention on Gulf Coast beachfront property during hurricane season? Who does that? Not exactly a brilliant call, Mitt. There must be only one explanation: God is judging the GOP. Can I get an “Amen,” Rev. Robertson?

I always love how Republicans are so intent on simplifying the tax code. We need a flat tax! We need a tax form that fits on a 3×5 card! We need to uncomplicate things!  Have you ever wondered what they think is so complicated about the tax code? It favors the poor and middle class. Matthew O’Brien does the easy math associated with Paul Ryan’s plan for simpler taxation:

Matthew O’Brien of The Atlantic calculated last week that under Ryan’s proposals Romney would have paid not 13.9 percent but .82 percent, or just $177,000 or so on $21 million earned. In fairness, I should note that the Ryan proposal isn’t the same thing as the Romney proposal–the Ryan plan eliminates all taxes on capital gains (the main source of Romney’s income), while Romney’s position is to continue to tax rich peoples’ capital gains, albeit at a lower rate than presently. So Romney under Romney’s plan would pay more, but less than 13.9.

Most of the reports on Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his V.P. point to how he resonates with the GOP’s base. Ryan is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative whose Draconian budget cutting ideas square him with the Tea Party wing. Romney whose opportunistic wavering between liberal Massachusetts Governor and Morm-again conservative Bane executive has left the true believers skeptical of his core. Ryan is the real thing. But this analysis sells Ryan short. Rep. Ryan, unlike the rigid idealogues that the Tea Party has brought to congress is a pragmatic deal broker. Ross Douthat explains:

If the Republican ticket triumphs in November, having Ryan on-side will help Romney, a non-Washingtonian, navigate the complexities of Capitol Hill. But here it’s important to keep in mind that Ryan is an ideologue and a Beltway wheeler-dealer, attuned to both the possibilities for bipartisanship (recall that his latest Medicare proposal is co-sponsored with a Senate Democrat) and the need to sometimes swallow hard and take one for the team (hence those Bush-era votes for TARP and Medicare Part D). Thus if Romney wants to push an aggressive agenda in his first hundred days or year in office, Ryan will be a natural point person — but if the Romney White House then needs to compromise well short of conservative objectives, Ryan will be capable of negotiating the deal and ready and willing to sell it to a reluctant base.