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Current location: New Orleans, LA
Member since: Fri Jul 20, 2012, 10:48 AM
Number of posts: 2,746
by John Nichols, posted on TheNation.com on October 16, 2012
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, the veteran Democratic leader who mentored a young Barack Obama and remains one of the president’s closest allies, was not planning to be at Obama’s side for today’s final round of debate preparation.
Rather, Durban was headed back home to Illinois for a meeting with workers at the Sensata Technologies plant in Freeport, where 170 employees are slated to lose their jobs to outsourcing before the end of the year.
Sensata, which for decades has produced state-of-the-art sensors and controls for Ford and General Motors, is precisely the sort of high-tech operation that a country looking to compete in the global economy of the twenty-first century would want to maintain as a domestic manufacturer. So why are the jobs moving to China?
Because Bain Capital owns the company, and Bain is committed to the industrial development of Chinese provinces—not to states like Illinois. That’s not what most Americans would identify as a smart choice for the nation’s future—let alone “economic patriotism.”
But that is how Bain, which got its operating ethos from former CEO Mitt Romney, operates. Romney still profits mightily from his Bain connection—as The New York Times and numerous business journals have well documented—and he remains closely tied to current Bain executives. So if anyone could get Bain to rethink the outsourcing of the Sensata jobs, it’s Mitt Romney.
At least, that’s what Illinoisans think.
In July, the Freeport City Council voted unanimously to ask Romney to come to Freeport, meet the workers and intervene with Bain on their behalf. Freeport Mayor George Gaulrapp even offered to host a debate between Romney and President Obama at the local historic site where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas once debated.
In September, Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn visited Freeport and issued a similar call.
Now, on the day of the critical second debate between the presidential candidates (in Hempostead, New York, rather than Freeport), Durbin is headed to the community workers have dubbed “Bainport.”
And rightly so.
What’s happening in Freeport is a small piece of a big story: that of outsourcing technology jobs—the high-tech positions that should be powering America’s economic renewal—from the United States to China. And that issue ought to be on the agenda for Tuesday’s debate.
As Paul Gaulrapp, a thirty-three-year employee at the factory that was once honorably operated by Honeywell, says: “It’s time to draw a line in the sand on the outsourcing of good, American jobs.”
Moderator Candy Crowley, a savvy CNN correspondent who cannot be unaware of the Freeport fight, should raise the issue.
If she does not, President Obama can and should put it in the mix. Obama does not need to abandon his medium-cool persona to define the direction of tonight’s debate. He just has to raise the right issues. He can do that by putting a human face on the issue of outsourcing—and Bain Capitalism.
Few stories are more instructive with regard to America’s outsourcing crisis—Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing says the US has lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000, overwhelmingly to China, as 50,000 factories have closed—than that of the Sensata workers in Freeport. And none does more to highlight the Republican presidential nominee’s record of promoting job growth… in China.
Indeed, as the United Steelworkers union illustrates with a dramatic new video on the outsourcing fight: “Mitt Romney and Bain Capital are profiting by selling out American workers shipping US jobs to China.”
Romney should be confronted on this issue. He should have to answer questions and provide explanations. But he won’t do that in Freeport. Indeed, he has studiously avoided the town—even when a June bus trip across southern Wisconsin put him in close proximity to the northern Illinois community.
Mitt Romney’s “Every Town Counts” bus tour scrupulously avoided towns where Romney’s Bain Capital continues to put the hurt on American workers.
When Romney stopped in Paul Ryan’s Janesville, Wisconsin, and then traveled to Dubuque, Iowa, on Monday, June 18, he was just up the road from Freeport.
But Romney did not stop in Freeport, a town that like Janesville and Dubuque has been hard hit by trade and fiscal policies that encourage corporations to shutter US factories and ship jobs overseas—and that has been even harder hit by speculators who buy up factories, strip the assets and close them.
On the day Romney was busing across the region, Sensata workers gathered in front of the factory with handmade signs that read:
“Romney! Stop Bain Outsourcing to China”
“Mitt Romney Save Our Jobs”
“Romney: Instead of talking about JOBS, just don’t ship MINE to China”
The workers had every reason to be upset with Bain—and with Romney.
Their plant has always been innovative and productive. It was owned for decades by Texas Instruments, and then by Honeywell, before being sold in 2010 to Sensata Technologies Holding, N.V, a firm based in the Netherlands but majority-owned by Bain Capital.
The workers at the plant pleaded with Romney to make a slight detour on his bus trip and take a look at the devastation being caused by Bain’s machinations at a plant where many of them had been employed for more than thirty years.
Even then, the plant’s operations were rapidly shrinking as crews removed safety equipment from machines that were being prepared for shipment from Illinois to China.
“This used to be a very high-volume plant and now it’s pretty much a ghost town… and by the end of the year it will be a ghost town”, Sensata employee Cheryl Randecker told local reporters.
Had Romney come to Freeport, he would have heard how much Bain’s approach has harmed not just the Sensata workers but Freeport and counties along the Illinois-Wisconsin stateline that have suffered more than their share of plant closings.
“Sensata is moving forward with the process of relocating jobs from their operations in Freeport to China,” explains John Blum, the chairman of the Stephenson County Board.
In addition to the “significant human toll on the more than 140 families that will be affected by this loss of jobs and financial security,” says Blum, “The loss of these jobs will have a tremendous impact on our regional economy.”
That’s a story Mitt Romney definitely does not want to focus attention on.
So his bus didn’t stop in Freeport.
Romney will not go near Freeport.
But that does not mean he can or should be able to avoid the issues raised Bain’s outsourcing of the Sensata jobs.
He should be asked a simple question in tonight’s debate, and on the campaign trail going forward:
"Is talk about renewing the American economy credible coming from a man who continues to profit from the plant closings, the layoffs and the outsourcing practices that are crude byproducts of Bain Capitalism?"
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Tue Oct 16, 2012, 03:41 PM (0 replies)
By Adele M. Stan, posted on AlterNet, October 16, 2012
It was hardly love at first sight. But once the Koch brothers threw in behind Mitt Romney, they brought the full force of their political machine.
In the beginning, way back during the G.O.P. presidential primary, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire funders of the Republican right, didn’t seem all that keen on Willard Mitt Romney as he made his bid for the party’s presidential nomination. But now they’re all in behind the Mittster, as evidenced by, as AlterNet reported , the vaguely threatening letter Koch Industries sent to its U.S. employees and retirees, auguring bad things if the wrong guy happened to get (re)elected.
But this was not love at first sight. First, there was that troublesome Massachusetts health-care program -- you know, the one with the individual mandate? -- that bore Romney’s signature. Then there was his inability to move the very base that the Koch brothers had built through Americans For Prosperity and its foundation, the astroturfing organizations founded by the brothers, who own Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held corporation in the United States.
It hasn’t even been a year since Romney addressed an Americans For Prosperity Foundation conference in Washington, D.C., and was received with faint applause by a crowd that went wild for pizza magnate Herman Cain. But ‘round about April, something changed. Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator with interesting ideas about human sexuality, was making life difficult for Romney by showing a knack for winning primaries despite a lack of money and general weirdness.
Romney’s chances for winning the primary in the Midwest Province of Kochistan -- otherwise known as Wisconsin -- were looking iffy. At that point, it seems, the Kochs apparently decided they’d better get behind a candidate who might actually have a shot at beating President Barack Obama. After all, by helping Cain stay in the race as long as they had, via his frequent speaking gigs at Americans For Prosperity events and a campaign staff drawn from AFP’s Wisconsin chapter, they had successfully pushed Romney to adopt an anti-tax position that the Kochs found palatable. So, at last, Romney found the Koch love he so desperately needed.
Here are five indications that Romney is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers’ political enterprises.
1. Papering Koch Industries employees with voter guides and dark predictions. Earlier this month, Koch Industries President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Robertson sent a letter to employees and retirees of Koch Industries urging them to vote with the following scary observation:
If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation and other ills.
Hmmm...wonder who they mean to be maligning right there. Robertson’s missive is actually a cover letter for a packet of materials that helpfully includes a list of candidates running in the recipient’s state who are endorsed by Koch Industries. All are Republicans, and Mitt Romney tops the list.
Also included in the packet is an op-ed penned by David Koch, a handful of essays by Charles Koch from the company publication, Discovery, and an article from the right-wing Investors Business Daily.
To view the Koch voter guide for its Virginia employees and retirees, as well as Robertson’s letter, click here.
2. Wisconsin primary endorsements from the Koch machine. In the weeks leading up to the Wisconsin primary, things were looking bleak for Mitt Romney. Wisconsin’s right-wingers, it seemed, really, really liked Rick Santorum, but the Kochs were apparently not so enthusiastic about the Pennsylvania senator best known for the phrase “man on dog.” And then Romney experienced a change in fortunes, thanks to the endorsements of a string of Wisconsin politicians whose careers were nurtured by the Wisconsin chapter of Americans For Prosperity. Of all of the institutions that he and his brother have funded in the “public policy arena,” David Koch said at an AFP gathering during the Republican National Convention, “the institution I feel the most closely attached to, and the most proud of, is Americans For Prosperity,”
Most prominent among the group of Koch-approved Wisconsin pols who found a sudden love for Romney was Rep. Paul Ryan, who is now Romney’s running mate. In the final days of the Wisconsin primary, Romney was hardly ever seen without Ryan by his side.
In the end, Romney won Wisconsin by a mere 4 points, despite outspending Santorum by four-to-one, effectively ending Santorum’s bid for the nomination. Had Romney not had the endorsements of the AFP crowd, he very well may have lost Wisconsin to Santorum.
3. The $50,000-a-head Romney fundraiser at David Koch’s summer home. After he locked up the Republican nomination with the help of the Americans For Prosperity, Romney enjoyed the hospitality of David Koch at the multibillionaire’s weekend home in Southampton, N.Y., where the smart set summers. According to a report in the New York Post, Koch introduced Romney with a riff on Greece’s debt problem, with the suggestion that things in America were headed in that direction.
During the fundraiser, MoveOn.org hosted a lively party outside the gates of the Koch estate, and commissioned a small plane to fly overhead bearing a banner that read, “Romney Has a Koch Problem.”
Inside the gates, the Post reported, Romney told the assembled moguls: “I understand there is a plane out there saying Mitt Romney has ‘a Koch problem.’ I don’t look at it as a problem; I look at it as an asset.”
During the event, according to the Post , Romney and Koch had a tete-a-tete:
Koch was given a private audience with Romney before the event started, heading upstairs with their wives for a personal meeting for 30 minutes before “descending back down like two world leaders with their first ladies,” quipped one attendee.
Wonder what they discussed? Maybe a little blue-skying on potential running-mates?
4. The Ryan pick. If you were choosing a running mate in order to reassure elderly voters, who tend to skew Republican, that you were the most trustworthy leader into which to place the country’s future, Paul Ryan, the guy who wants to fundamentally end Medicare and Social Security , probably wouldn’t be your pick. Unless somebody -- somebody whose support you desperately need -- made you.
(Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich denounced the Ryan budget plan as “right wing social engineering” -- before he walked it back.)
When Romney announced Ryan as his vice presidential pick, I wrote: “Looks like the Koch brothers are going to have to throw a whole lot of money at this thing to make it work for them. But we know they've got plenty of that.”
Now, I don’t know that David Koch made Mitt Romney pick Paul Ryan as his running mate, but I suspect that Ryan wasn’t a name that Romney came up with on his own.
You see, it's not just money for his own campaign that Romney needs from the Kochs. He needs the engagement of Americans For Proserity to turn out the vote for him on the ground, an aspect of campaigning for which the Obama campaign is seen to have a great advantage. You'll recall that AFP proved its ground-game prowess in the 2010 congressional elections, and in the Walker recall election in Wisconsin.
Ryan’s political career -- really, the only career he has ever known -- is virtually a product of the Koch machine . Until Americans For Prosperity began building its Wisconsin infrastructure, Ryan was a little-known congressman who got elected at a tender age. But after the entrance of AFP to his state, the Ayn Rand acolyte ’s fortunes grew exponentially, leading to him ultimately winning the chairmanship of the House Budget Committee at the tender age of 40.
As AlterNet documented, in 2008, the Wisconsin AFP chapter gave Ryan its Defending the American Dream award -- presented to him by a callow county executive named Scott Walker.
5. Scott Walker’s advice taken. No sooner had Romney named Paul Ryan as his number two than he started running from his running mate. Maybe it was Ryan’s roundly-denounced l ie-laden speech to the Republican National Convention, or the way Ryan was being hounded by the Nuns on the Bus. But in mid-September, a month after he named Ryan as his running mate, when Romney’s poll numbers were slipping, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker -- who survived his recall election with a lot of help from Americans For Prosperity -- took to the airwaves to lay down the law.
Romney, Walker said, in successive appearances on talk radio and Fox News Sunday, needed to to stop running from Ryan and campaign with him. Walker’s Fox News Sunday interview took place on September 23; on September 25, Romney and Ryan went on the road together for a bus tour of Ohio.
As arranged marriages go, Paul Ryan came with quite a dowry; the inlaws apparently expect to see it used to good effect.
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Tue Oct 16, 2012, 03:01 PM (1 replies)
The 25 funniest tweets about the VP debate, By Brandon Griggs, CNN, Fri October 12, 2012
(CNN) -- When he wasn't laughing, Joe Biden sounded like a belligerent old man.
Paul Ryan sipped from a cup and looked like a beleaguered altar boy.
Fair or not, those were just two characterizations of Thursday's vice presidential debate on Twitter, where a Greek chorus of jokesters kept up a witty commentary throughout the 90-minute throwdown. As with any live TV event in the social media age, the people of Twitter let no gaffe or verbal tic go unnoticed.
GuyEndoreKaiser -- "Tonight's debate is scheduled for ninety minutes, but Paul Ryan is already claiming he can finish in fifty something".
Ana Marie Cox -- "I actually happen to have "malarkey" in the drinking game! Oh geez..."
Bill Maher @billmaher "Hello 9 1 1? There s an old man beating a child on my tv"
Morgan Murphy -- "Biden's teeth are so white they're voting for Romney". #VPDebate
Patton Oswalt -- "Ryan is a nervous Walmart manager. Biden is an irate customer with the receipt, the warranty & he's friends w/ the store owner". #debate
Indecision -- "Joe Biden would very much like for Paul Ryan to get off his lawn." #vpdebate
kelly oxford @kellyoxford "While Ryan speaks, Biden looks like he's trying to order a drink at the bar and the bartender is ignoring him". #vpdebate
Paul and Storm -- "You can't make Joe Biden look bad. He is your favorite uncle. He pulls quarters from behind your ears." #VPDebate
Seth Masket -- "Actually, this is like if Aaron Sorkin wrote an exchange between the Skipper and Gilligan". #vpdebate
Joe Mande @JoeMande "Whoever is tickling Biden's feet needs to stop it". #VPDebate
Paul Ryan Gosling -- "Hey girl, I'm not taking nervous sips of water, I'm drinking every time Biden laughs at me". #vpdebate
Jose Antonio Vargas -- "Before this #VPDebate, @JoeBiden had a Venti macchiato and two cans of Red Bull".
James Garrett -- "I kind of feel like Joe Biden is Kanye and Paul Ryan is Taylor Swift". #VPDebate
Peter Schultz@pete_schultz "This is like Alex and Mr. Keaton in season 30 of Family Ties" #VPDebate
National Review -- "Wait, is Biden yelling at Martha Raddatz right now? I thought he was debating Paul Ryan..."#VPDebate
Brent Black -- "I HAVE HAD A CHILD IN THE SHAPE OF A BEAN PLEASE INTERRUPT ME "#VPDebate
more at: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/12/tech/social-media/funniest-vp-debate-tweets/index.html?hpt=hp_bn5
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Fri Oct 12, 2012, 11:34 AM (3 replies)
Who do you think fared better in the vice presidential debate?
Biden 61% 17,778 votes
Ryan 39% 11,157 votes
Total votes: 28,935
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Fri Oct 12, 2012, 11:22 AM (3 replies)
So let me see if I've got this straight:
CONGRESSMAN Ryan, now that you're on the big boy stage and you're afraid of the negative connotations that go along with the word 'Congress', you want to be called 'mister'? You've spent your entire adult life in DC, most of it as a CONGRESSMAN, sucking on the gubment teat the entire time, CONGRESSMAN Ryan.
You're actively running for reelection for CONGRESS in your home state, for crying out loud! And you want us to forget your title?!? It's blatantly obvious to everyone that you're trying to run from your record as a repuke CONGRESSMAN. Do you think we're really going to let this slide, CONGRESSMAN Ryan?
I hope Joe slips at least once and calls you 'CONGRESSMAN'. What can they do to him, put him in time out? rMoney was allowed to bring a cheat sheet, exceed his allotted time, interrupt both the POTUS and the moderator, and lie out of his ass.
Please, Joe, just once I want to hear the words "CONGRESSMAN Ryan, that is a LIE"!!!
You EARNED the title 'CONGRESSMAN', so fucking OWN it, you coward!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Thu Oct 11, 2012, 07:39 PM (4 replies)
Biden 'fired up and ready to go' for debate, By NBC's Ali Weinberg, 10-11-12, from nbcnews.com
Vice President Joe Biden is “fired up and ready to go” for the debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Traveling with reporters to Miami for President Barack Obama’s campaign events, Psaki said the president and campaign has “great confidence in the vice president’s performance.”
She added later that the president called Biden on Air Force One during the flight to wish him luck tonight.
Psaki pushed back, however, on the notion, that it’s up to Biden to blunt the momentum Mitt Romney built up after his performance in last week’s presidential debate, from which he emerged, by most accounts, the winner.
Indicating, perhaps, Biden’s line of attack against Ryan, she said the real question was “which Paul Ryan will show up this evening,” saying he has a tendency to be misleading about his positions on Medicare and tax cuts. But she also noted that, as the opponents will be sitting down, the debate will likely be "more of a conversation" than the first presidential debate, which featured both candidates sparring from podiums at opposite sides of the stage.
At the president's campaign event later in Miami, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson was much more bullish when previewing the vice president's debate performance, saying he would make "mincemeat" of Ryan Thursday night.
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Thu Oct 11, 2012, 04:52 PM (0 replies)
I apologize if this has already been posted . . . it's a great article about a horrible man . . .
Nine ways Mitt is morally bankrupt, By Adele M. Stan, Alternet, Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 05:50 PM CDT
In the psychic make-up of any politician, the phenomenon of compartmentalization is common, but rare is the politician who proudly makes an art of it, as has Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Even as he publicly celebrates his squeaky-clean personal life, Romney lauds his own brutal record as a leveraged buyout specialist and lies with impunity on the stump, often in terms laden with race-baiting code.
To Romney, it seems, personal morality amounts to a roster of good personal habits (no smoking or drinking, a faithful marriage, generosity and compassion for ailing members of his faith community) that add up to a kind of personal exceptionalism that trumps whatever havoc his business behavior or political policies may wreak on the life of any poor schlub who should should cross his path.
Romney’s sense of morality seems to be based on a kind of fierce individualism, in which he apparently believes himself to be morally superior by dint of his own personal habits, and assumes no responsibility for the fate of those less rigorous in their personal code, should they find an appeal to their baser instincts in the words and actions of the beyond-reproach church leader, dutiful husband and father of five.
It all amounts to a kind of moral bankruptcy, in which the former Massachusetts governor presumes he is entitled to a morally superior reputation for which he has not kept up the payments. It’s not that hard to be good to your family and friends. If true morality is evidenced by how one treats strangers, Romney’s reputation as a moral actor should be under water.
Here are but nine bits of evidence of the moral bankruptcy of Willard Mitt Romney. There exist many more, but life is short.
1. The smug non-smoker took big bucks to push smoking on Russians. No one is more satisfied with his Ivory-soap self-image (99.43% pure) than Romney, and one aspect of that is Romney’s evident pride in never having been a smoker. But that didn’t stop him, while CEO of Bain & Company, from seeking a consulting deal, beginning in 1992, with the British American Tobacco company to help the death merchants crack the Russian market after the fall of the Soviet Union.
According to a blockbuster report by Huffington Post reporter (and AlterNet alum) Zach Carter and his colleague, Jason Cherkis, Romney appears to have been deeply involved in helping to increase the numbers of Russian smokers on behalf of BAT.
From Carter and Cherkis’ report:
In 1992, reports showed that only 7 percent of Russian women smoked. Since BAT and other Western companies have taken over Russian markets, that number has more than tripled. In 2009, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, cited by the World Health Organization, reported that nearly 22 percent of Russian women had taken up the habit.
The same survey found that smoking rates among Russian men — already high before Communism’s fall — have also risen since Bain’s tobacco exploits of the early-’90s, with percent now smoking. Nearly 44 million smoke in Russia, a country of 142 million. Dmitriy Yanin, the head of a consumer protection non-governmental organization in Moscow, said there are 400,000 smoking-related deaths each year in Russia. BAT, largely locked out of the cigarette market before Bain got involved, now controls nearly a quarter of sales. BAT remains close with top government officials.
2. Slams government economic investment despite having taken government contracts. As a presidential candidate, Romney is fond of slamming the Obama administration’s stimulus program, and other government investment in the economy. “Government doesn’t create jobs. It’s the private sector that creates jobs,” Romney said at a South Carolina campaign event in January. The auto industry, he said, should have been left to bottom out in the wake of the Bush crash, instead of being brought back to health by the loans provided by the administration. Never mind that Romney himself got a nice windfall from a government contract, according to Carter and Cherkis:
In March 1993, the American government gave Bain & Co. a $3.9 million contract to advise Boris Yeltsin’s administration on the privatization of the Russian economy, according records detailing the arrangement uncovered by The Huffington Post.
3. Opposes abortion, but invested in company that disposes of aborted fetuses. Just because Mitt Romney would make it illegal to have an abortion doesn’t mean he minds making a profit on other people’s abortions. In 1999, while Mitt Romney was still CEO of Bain Capital (a leveraged-buyout firm spun off from Bain & Co.), the company invested tens of millions of dollars in Stericyle, a medical waste firm that, among the vast array of medical waste services it provides to medical facilities, is the disposal of aborted fetuses. The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein broke the story in January, writing:
Stericycle, a massive medical waste disposal service company, received a $75 million investment from Bain Capital in 1999 and soon became an industry leader. Today, it has more than 485,000 customers worldwide. Its clients include hospitals, blood banks, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. But it has also helped dispose of medical waste from Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics — waste that included aborted fetuses — and that has attracted the ire of the pro-life community and establishment Republicans.
4. Decries corruption in other countries but facilitated it in his own. In his address to the Clinton Global Initiative in September, Romney bemoaned the state of affairs in developing countries, saying, “We see stories of cases where American aid has been diverted to corrupt governments.” But when it comes to good ol’ domestic corruption, Romney seems to be all for it — at least when it’s in his own interest. In fact, it could be argued that he even gave out an award for it.
The 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which Romney oversaw, were renowned for their outsized expense. Some of that was incurred before Romney took the helm — he was brought in after reports of rampant overspending and corruption — but not all of it. In 2001, Sports Illustrated reported that the millionaires and billionaires of Utah got some sweetheart deals, at government expense, served up with roses on Romney’s watch.
One example among several given is the nice little land swap that billionaire Earl Holding wrangled out of the National Park Service that netted him a prime parcel and a government-built access road. So it made total sense that he would build a high-end resort on that bucolic expanse. Here’s how Mother Jones‘ Tim Murphy described the deal:
Snowbasin, the site of the downhill skiing championships in 2002, was one of the more notorious examples of a well-connected Utahn getting a sweetheart deal in the name of the Olympics. Earl Holding, a billionaire oil baron, pressured the Forest Service into giving him title to valuable land in Park Valley in exchange for land of “approximate equal value” elsewhere in the state. But Holding drove a hard bargain; he got Congress to foot the bill for a new—and arguably unnecessary—access road (cost: $15 million), and received more than 10 times the 100 acres that were necessary for the Games. That would allow him to turn what was once protected federal land into a massive, and lucrative, mountain resort.
The government was so instrumental in making the Olympic games happen that Romney created a special award, the “Order of Excellence,” to honor public servants who had helped them pull it off. Among the recipients: John Hoagland, the US Forest Service official responsible for the land transfer of the Snowbasin downhill skiing site.
5. Insults low-income Americans for not paying federal income tax, while not paying federal income tax on almost all of his income. Romney famously described people whose income level (or status as members of the armed forces) exempts them from paying federal income taxes as takers who “see themselves as victims.” In a secretly recorded video, exposed by Mother Jones, of Romney speaking to other rich people at a campaign fundraiser, he described such people, many of whom are elderly and on Social Security, as those “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. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”
But Romney doesn’t pay ordinary income tax on his annual income, either; he pays federal capital gains taxes — taxes on paid on investment income at a much lower rate than those paid on salaries and wages (otherwise known as money earned from work). That explains why Romney paid only 14 percent on the gazillions he took in in 2011, while a middle-income person may pay almost double that percentage. Asked by 60 Minutes reporter Scott Pelley whether Romney thinks that’s fair, Romney said, why yes. As I recounted Pelley’s interview on September 23:
“Now, you made on your investments last year about $20 million personally, and you paid 14 percent in federal taxes,” Pelley said. “That’s the capital gains rate. Is that fair to the guy who makes $50,000 and paid a higher rate than you did?”
“It is a low rate,” Romney said, “and one of the reasons the capital gains rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once, at the corporate level — as high as 35 percent.” (Unless your windfall comes from any of the numerous private enterprises that enjoy government subsidies or tax breaks, of course.)
“So you think it is fair,” Pelley said.
“Yeah — I think it’s the right way to encourage economic growth — to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work.”
Actually, there’s scant evidence to suggest that lower capital gains rates have any effect on either job creation or economic growth.
And while he demeaned as moochers regular Americans who pay no income tax because the law exempts them, he sings a different tune when tax law advantages rich guys like him. “I pay all the taxes that are legally required, not a dollar more,” he said, according to Vanity Fair. But if you’re poor and you do the same, in Romney’s moral desert, that makes you a leech on society.
6. Calls for more transparency from his opponent while hiding his own tax returns, squirreling millions offshore and using accounting tricks to lower his tax rate. Romney’s call for the Obama administration to be more forthcoming about everything from the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, to the cross-border gun-tracking program known as Fast and Furious would be more credible if Romney wasn’t such a sneak when it comes to matters pertaining to how he makes all that money. For a guy who hasn’t had a job in 10 years, he sure does rake it in — $20 million last year alone.
As repeatedly noted on this site and throughout the news media, Romney has released only two years of his tax returns and has said he will release no more. “We’ve given you people all you need to know and understand about our financial situation…,” Romney’s wife, Ann, told Good Morning America in August.
The Romney reticence on all matters of personal finance has only fanned the flames of investigation and speculation, yielding a picture of a tangled web of offshore shell companies, a Swiss bank account, and shady tax-filing tricks.
Vanity Fair‘s Nicholas Shaxon notes that Romney appears to have closed his $3 million Swiss bank account before filing his 2011 tax return, but reports that he still maintains an interest in 12 Bain Capital funds registered in the Cayman Islands, the details of which, Shaxon says, are “hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers.” Of particular interest to reporters has been a Bermuda firm owned by Romney known as Sakaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which Shaxon writes, is raising eyebrows:
While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.
Then there’s the matter of a funky accounting practice known as management fee-waiving, which was all the rage at Bain. Leveraged buyout firms such as Bain collect management fees from the companies they take over (whether or not those companies turn a profit, thanks to the LBO firm’s sage advice). Left to their own devices, those fees would be taxed as ordinary income, at the ordinary-income rates paid on wages and salaries. But if wave the magic waiver wand over them, those fees turn into “investments,” which are taxed as “carried interest” at the lower capital gains rate. Here’s how Nick Confessore, Julie Creswell and David Kocieniewski of the New York Times assess the practice, as used by Bain:
The tax strategy — which is viewed as perfectly legal by some tax experts, aggressive by others and potentially illegal by some — came to light last month when hundreds of pages of Bain’s internal financial documents were made available online. The financial statements show that at least $1 billion in accumulated fees that otherwise would have been taxed as ordinary income for Bain executives had been converted into investments producing capital gains, which are subject to a federal tax of 15 percent, versus a top rate of 35 percent for ordinary income. That means the Bain partners saved more than $200 million in federal income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes.
Then there’s the matter of Romney’s individual retirement account, which he seems to have converted into an individual tax haven. As the Boston Globe‘s Michael Kralish and Beth Healy told it in an August report:
It is one of the most striking elements of Mitt Romney’s financial fortune. He has used the seemingly bland investment vehicle known as an individual retirement account — established by Congress to help average Americans save a modest amount for retirement — to shield at least $20 million and as much as $100 million from initial taxes.
So much for transparency.
7. Painted his opponent as a fibbing child while building an entire campaign on lies. In the first presidential debate between Romney and Obama, the Republican presidential candidate compared the African-American president to his “boys,” who, when they were little, he said, would pile fib upon fib thinking they could fool their dad. It was an audacious tack for the truth-challenged Romney, whose most furious attacks on Obama have been based almost entirely on lies.
The very theme of the first night of the Republican National Convention was built around a deliberate misrepresentation of the president’s words regarding the role of government in building small businesses — a false narrative that Romney repeated often on the campaign trail, alleging that the president had insulted the work of small business owners, saying of their businesses, “You didn’t build that.” (Actually, Obama said they hadn’t built the roads and bridges that brought customers to their doors.) The convention was themed “We built that,” and featured a deceptively edited video of Obama’s inelegant attempt to echo a message originated by Democratic U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren, Mass., meant to shine a light on all of the infrastructure built by government that is necessary for economic success: roads, bridges, railroads, schools.
On the very day of the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, Romney falsely accused the president of sympathizing with the attackers. Stevens’ body had not yet been returned home for burial.
Then there was the race-baiting welfare lie, in which Romney falsely accused the black president of removing the work requirements for welfare recipients that were enacted in the Clinton-era welfare reform law. That was one particularly despicable lie, since Romney seized upon an effort by the administration allow states new ways of increasing the numbers of welfare recipients who worked, and twisted it to suggest that the black president was on a mission to give handouts to people on welfare, who, among members of the Republican base, are mistakenly believed to be primarily black.
This is a mere sampling of the mendacity the Mittster has served up along the trail. In the debate alone, ThinkProgress counted 27 myths delivered by Romney over the course of 38 minutes, and AlterNet’s own Alex Kane picked his own list of Romney’s top 10 debate lies. And lest you think this Romney lie narrative to be an alternative-media conspiracy, just look at what CNN found when its fact-checkers examined Romney’s statements.
I’ve only scratched the surface here on the Romney lie front, but I know you don’t have all day.
8. Claims to have the “best interests of the African American community” in his heart while running a race-baiting campaign. When Romney appeared before the annual conference of the NAACP this summer, he assured its members that, if they knew what was good for them, they would vote for him. (For some reason that didn’t go over all that well.) “I believe that if you understood who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real, enduring best interest of African American families, you would vote for me for president,” Romney told the skeptical crowd.
The speech is remembered mostly for the boos Romney received with his promise to “repeal Obamacare” — boos he surely expected to elicit. Given the context, it’s hard not to read Romney’s very appearance before the crowd as a cynical, race-baiting exercise, performed to reinforce the racial resentment of the white, right-wing Republican base. Part of that context was provided just hours after that appearance by the candidate himself when, at a fundraising event, he referred to the less-than-appreciative audience as a group who wanted “free stuff” from the government.
But from the get-go, Romney has run a campaign heavily laced with racial coding, from comments by his surrogate, John Sununu, depicting Obama as “lazy” and “foreign,” to Romney’s own appearance at the side of the birther Donald Trump. Asked to repudiate Trumps claim that Obama was not legitimately the U.S. president, Romney refused, saying that he needed 50.1 percent of the vote. As if that was an excuse. A month later, he made a crack that no one has ever asked him for his birth certificate.
Neither has Romney repudiated the endorsement of washed-up rocker Ted Nugent, whose idea of a good time is to wear a shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag, and call for the African-American president to “suck on my machine gun.”
And, as noted in item #7, Romney has tried to falsely link the black president with a (non-existent) loosening of welfare-to-work requirements.
There’s more, lots more, where that came from and, lucky for you, AlterNet has documented much of it, here and here.
9. Wears the mantle of protectionist, China-battling job creator after having put thousands of U.S. workers out of jobs and bought into a giant Chinese sweatshop. Romney likes to portray his work at the helm of Bain Capital as a mission of job creation. In truth, Bain exists for no other reason than to extract profits for its investors, and sometimes the best way for a leveraged buyout firm to make a profit is to bankrupt the company. You see, the buyout guys get management fees whether the company wins or loses, so even if you load it up with a crushing level of debt, you still come out a winner. Sometimes Romney’s deals created jobs; other times they put people out of work. ThinkProgress estimates that as many as 6,000 Americans lost their jobs under Bain, which was an early proponent of shipping jobs overseas.
Writing at Bloomberg News, private equity specialist Anthony Luzzatto Gardner examined Romney’s record at Bain, concluding that of the 67 major deals the company made during Romney’s tenure, a mere 10 of them accounted for 70 percent of the company’s profits. Of those 10, four ended in bankruptcy, Gardner writes, along with others amid the remaining 57. This kind of “casino capitalism,” as Gardner calls it, is not a recipe for job creation.
Meanwhile in China, Romney and Bain invested in a factory that employed 20,000 young women in deplorable conditions, trapped within the factory complex by barbed wire and guards posted in towers. As AlterNet’s Lynn Parramorereported:
From April 1998 through August 2000, Romney and his Brookside Capital Partners Fund, a Bain affiliate, poured around $23 million into the Global-Tech sweatshop in Dongguan, China. Among the details outlined in the report were the following:
•Factory workers made 24 cents an hour in 1998 and less than $2 a day. Wages in Global-Tech were less than 2 percent of U.S. wages.
•As CEO, Romney appears to have been uninterested in calling for improvements at the facility. Today, the sweatshop is still a horror where starvation wages prevail and workers’ rights are nonexistent. Overcrowded, filthy dormitories; rotten food; routine 15- to 16-hour shifts; and backbreaking 105- to 112-hour, seven-day workweeks are the norm.
•The appliance factory has 800 student “interns” — 16-years-olds forced to work repetitive, exhausting 15- to 16-hour shifts on assembly lines with no overtime pay.
Not exactly the kind of jobs Americans are looking for.
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Thu Oct 11, 2012, 03:11 PM (0 replies)
This is MiitWit we're talking about here . . . how long do you think before trips over his own tongue and face plants right on the stage?
Or, better yet, another secret video will surface. Chill everyone . . . this is gaffe man !!! If we were a week from the election, I might be more concerned, but rMoney has plenty of time to offend everyone again. I have faith in him !!!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Mon Oct 8, 2012, 10:34 PM (9 replies)
for 10 full years . . . no bullshit summaries, but the actual, full returns!
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Mon Oct 8, 2012, 12:38 PM (1 replies)
If Trump is still ranting about the unemployment numbers, that tells me rMoney's bounce isn't all that real, or the repukes don't want anyone paying attention to MittWits foreign policy speech . . . Trump is the 'mis-director' extraordinaire . . . the repukes want to divert our attention again . . .
Donald Trump: ‘Monkey business’ on jobs
By KATIE GLUECK, Potsed on POLITICO 10/8/12
Donald Trump on Monday dismissed the latest unemployment figures, saying he didn’t “believe” that the rate ticked down from 8.1 percent to 7.8 percent, and that the numbers were altered through “a lot of monkey business.”
“I don’t believe the number and neither do any of the other people that have intelligence,” Trump said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends.” “Because that number came out of nowhere.”
Trump seconded an assessment from former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who on Friday tweeted, “Unbelievable jobs numbers…these Chicago guys will do anything…can’t debate so change numbers.” Welch later said he should have added a question mark to the end of the tweet.
Trump said he agreed with Welch’s statement about the numbers.
“I do, I do,” Trump said. “And I think that they did…a lot of monkey business. I’m telling you, in a month and a half from now, they will do a readjustment like has been happening for the last year and a half. They will do a readjustment and the number will be 8.2 or more.”
When pressed on whether he really thought President Barack Obama’s administration cooked the numbers, Trump doubled down.
“Everyone knows he didn’t want to lay off certain workers in certain categories, and that’s been well-documented and well-reported that he didn’t want to lay off certain workers in certain categories until after the election,” Trump said. “I mean, that’s monkeying with the numbers.”
Posted by fleur-de-lisa | Mon Oct 8, 2012, 10:34 AM (5 replies)