Romney, Classist Bigot

The Article: Romney’s Class Bigotry by John Stoehr in The Washington Spectator.

The Text: On Wednesday, USA Today published an op-ed with the byline “Mitt Romney” that accused President Barack Obama of presiding over a “stagnant economy that fosters government dependency.”

It was a clear attempt to cover his ass after Mother Jones posted the now-infamous video showing the Republican presidential nominee saying—during a $50,000-per-plate fundraiser right after clinching the primaries—that 47 percent of voters will never support him because they are “victims…who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Romney’s op-ed focused on the fact that unemployment remains stuck at around 8 percent and that 47 million Americans now depend on food stamps. But his original remarks were not directed at government programs. They were directed at people. As Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall rightly observed: “This isn’t about the role of government. And it’s certainly not a comment about electoral politics. It’s an attack on people with deformed personal character. Who make up, according to Romney, half the population.”

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The New American Math

The Article: 5 Obscene Reasons Why Richest Americans grow Richer As Middle-Class Declines by Les Leopold in Alternet.

The Text: If you want to see what’s wrong with America take a good look at the nauseating list of the 400 richest Americans – the Forbes 400 [3]. While the economy struggled to create jobs, it was another banner year for the super-rich. They increased their collective wealth by a whopping $200 billion, which is more than enough to provide every student in the country with free higher education.

Meanwhile, the median middle-class family – the one smack in the middle of the income distribution — saw its net worth (assets minus liabilities) drop from $102,844 in 2005 to $66,740 in 2010 according to the U.S. Census Bureau [4]. So while the richest 400 Americans increased their wealth by 54 percent since 2005, the median middle-class family saw its wealth decline by 35 percent. Welcome to the new American math.

It’s not easy to wrap our arms around so much financial fat. The numbers involved are truly mind-boggling. Here’s more new math:

The richest 400 Americans have as much combined wealth as 25.5 million middle-income Americans. 400 = 25.5 million!

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Where Do Tax Cuts Lead? Not To Growth

The Article: Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic.

The Text: Here’s a brief economic history of the last quarter-century in taxes and growth.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush raised taxes, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 1993, President Bill Clinton raised the top marginal tax rate, and GDP growth increased over the next five years. In 2001 and 2003, President Bush cut taxes, and we faced a disappointing expansion followed by a Great Recession.

Does this story prove that raising taxes helps GDP? No. Does it prove that cutting taxes hurts GDP? No.

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Mitt Romney: A 100 Percent Ruling Class Jerk

The Article: A 100 percent ruling class jerk by Danny Katch in Socialist Worker.

The Text: THERE ARE many delicious ironies to savor from Mitt Romney’s now infamous remarks at a private fundraiser in May that were secretly recorded and released to the public by Mother Jones magazine.

If hypocrisy is your thing, you can feast, as Jon Stewart did, on the image of a room full of millionaires with offshore tax havens getting offended by people too poor to qualify for even the lowest tax bracket.

Personally, I like this part:

What I have to do is convince the 5 percent to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon, in some cases, emotion–whether they like the guy or not.

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Capturing The Real Romney

The Article: The Real Romney Captured on Tape Turns Out to Be a Sneering Plutocrat by Jonathan Chait in NY Mag.

The Text: Presidential campaigns wallow so tediously in pseudo-events and manufactured outrage that our senses can be numbed to the appearance of something genuinely momentous. Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded comments at a fund-raiser are such an event — they reveal something vital about Romney, and they disqualify his claim to the presidency.

To think of Romney’s leaked discourse as a “gaffe” grossly misdescribes its importance. Indeed the comments’ direct impact on the outcome of the election will probably be small. Romney repeated the wildly misleading but increasingly popular conservative talking point that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. The federal income tax is, by design, one of the most progressive elements of the American tax system, but well over 80 percent of non-retired adults pay federal taxes. But most people hear “income taxes” and think “taxes,” which is why the trick of using one phrase to make audiences think of the other is a standard GOP trick when discussing taxes. For that very reason, it won’t strike many voters as an insult: Most people who don’t pay income taxes do pay other taxes, and fail to distinguish between them, and thus don’t consider themselves among the 47 percent scorned by Romney.

Instead the video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined. Here is the sneering plutocrat, fully in thrall to a series of pernicious myths that are at the heart of the mania that has seized his party. He believes that market incomes in the United States are a perfect reflection of merit. Far from seeing his own privileged upbringing as the private-school educated son of an auto executive-turned-governor as an obvious refutation of that belief, Romney cites his own life, preposterously, as a confirmation of it. (“I have inherited nothing. Everything I earned I earned the old fashioned way.”)

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