Romney’s Real Life Story

The Article: Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital by Matt Taibbi in The Rolling Stone.

The Text: The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn’t stand for anything. He’s a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who’ll say anything to get elected.

The critics couldn’t be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He’s closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big: We’ve just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we’ve been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is that Romney’s run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect political hypocrisy, which he’s somehow managed to keep hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – like himself, a self-righteously anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who’d be honored to tell Oliver Twist there’s no more soup left. By selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential race.

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The PBH Network’s Weekend Must List

Post image for The PBH Network’s Weekend Must List

5. Oh, You! Dog

Those eyes, those cheesy, over-the-top puns. Man’s relationship with his canine compadre has never been funnier–or fitter for the Internet. Oh, you.

4. The Beautiful Banff Park

Banff Park

Winter holidays aren’t that far away — and neither is Canada’s stunning Banff Park.

3. The Horrors Of Facebook’s Past

Facebook Past

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Big Bird’s Confusing Clarion Call

The Article: Romney’s Threat to Big Bird Sows Confusion Abroad, and Feeds It at Home by Robert Mackey in The New York Times.

The Text: Mitt Romney’s promise, during Wednesday debate, to cut into America’s debt by ending the federal subsidy for public broadcasting generated an Internet backlash, and at least one popular new Twitter account, largely because the former management consultant appeared to suggest that the beloved “Sesame Street” character Big Bird was surplus to requirements.

Mr. Romney’s decision to run against Big Bird gladdened American conservatives, who have long complained of a liberal bias on public television and radio channels, but puzzled many viewers abroad, where local versions of the educational program are popular and well respected. In France, Le Monde reported that the slight against le Gros Oiseau threatened to spiral into “l’affaire Big Bird,” after President Obama — experiencing a certain esprit d’escalier — came up, a day late, with the retort: “Thank goodness somebody is finally getting tough on Big Bird. It’s about time. We didn’t know that Big Bird was driving the federal deficit.”

The German magazine Der Spiegel explained to readers that Mr. Romney’s threat to the character that viewers of “Sesamstrasse” know as Bibo generated a Twitter-Sturm during the debate that reached maximum intensity in just 20 minutes.

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A Final Word On Romney’s Tax Plan

The Article: The Final Word on Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan by Josh Barro in Bloomberg.

The Text: Mitt Romney’s campaign says I’m full of it. I said Romney’s tax plan is mathematically impossible: he can’t simultaneously keep his pledges to cut tax rates 20 percent and repeal the estate tax and alternative minimum tax; broaden the tax base enough to avoid growing the deficit; and not raise taxes on the middle class. They say they have six independent studies — six! — that “have confirmed the soundness of the Governor’s tax plan,” and so I should stop whining. Let’s take a tour of those studies and see how they measure up.

The Romney campaign sent over a list of the studies, but they are perhaps more accurately described as “analyses,” since four of them are blog posts or op-eds. I’m not hating — I blog for a living — but I don’t generally describe my posts as “studies.”

None of the analyses do what Romney’s campaign says: show that his tax plan is sound. I’m going to walk through them individually, but first I want to make a broad point.
The Tax Policy Center paper that sparked this discussion found that Romney’s plan couldn’t work because his tax rate cuts would provide $86 billion more in tax relief to people making over $200,000 than Romney could recoup by eliminating tax expenditures for that group. That means his plan is necessarily a tax cut for the rich, so if Romney keeps his promise not to grow the deficit, he’ll have to raise taxes on the middle class.

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When Capitalists Cared

The Article: When Capitalists Cared by Hedrik Smith in The New York Times.

The Text: IN the rancorous debate over how to get the sluggish economy moving, we have forgotten the wisdom of Henry Ford. In 1914, not long after the Ford Motor Company came out with the Model T, Ford made the startling announcement that he would pay his workers the unheard-of wage of $5 a day.

Not only was it a matter of social justice, Ford wrote, but paying high wages was also smart business. When wages are low, uncertainty dogs the marketplace and growth is weak. But when pay is high and steady, Ford asserted, business is more secure because workers earn enough to become good customers. They can afford to buy Model Ts.

This is not to suggest that Ford single-handedly created the American middle class. But he was one of the first business leaders to articulate what economists call “the virtuous circle of growth”: well-paid workers generating consumer demand that in turn promotes business expansion and hiring. Other executives bought his logic, and just as important, strong unions fought for rising pay and good benefits in contracts like the 1950 “Treaty of Detroit” between General Motors and the United Auto Workers.

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