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Joe Klein: Obama stumbles? Why the President's Right to Talk About Bain

The meme of the day in journo-world is that President Obama has stumbled at the outset of the general election campaign. The evidence for this? Well, uh, there isn’t very much, really–except that a few Democrats have criticized his campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital and that Obama’s fundraising is merely humongous, instead of obscenely humongous. The two phenomena are linked, of course: Obama isn’t getting the usual haul from Wall Street because he has outrageously–outrageously!–tried to regulate the bankers who did so much to crash the economy in 2008. The handful of Democrats squawking are people who either (a) get money from private equity firms or (b) have retired and joined Mondo Casino. But there is another side to this story:

I suspect that these Bain attacks are working. Indeed, I suspect the reason that the Obama campaign–and the President himself in an extraordinary moment at the NATO press conference last week–is so adamant about pursuing this tactic is that it (a) lays the predicate for the anti-Romney campaign to come and (b) has been extremely effective with focus groups. And so, what we may be seeing here is the exact opposite of a stumble.

But are the attacks fair? No and yes. The job losses associated with the private equity brand of capitalism are, in fact, the least important long-term aspect of the story. It’s true, contra Krugman today (although Paul is absolutely right about his larger point, the bogus nature of the bankers’ narrative), that a great many American companies had become stagnant and bloated in the 1970s and that transitions had to be made to keep them profitably, especially in the area of information technology, and these transitions wiped out a lot of middle management jobs but made those companies more productive. Consultants like Bain suddenly became prominent and profitable because they helped companies through this transition.

Romney took Bain to the next logical step–investing in companies that Bain improved. There was nothing wrong, and much that was right, about this in each individual case. Romney is telling the truth as he sees it: sometimes these investments didn’t work out, but often they did and the profits were huge. It’s also true that sharkier sorts, seeing the profits that could be wrung up in debt for equity swaps, jumped into the market in a far less responsible way than Bain had and engaged in the vulture capitalism–we’ll always be grateful to Rick Perry for that term–that has helped to hollow out the economy.

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/05/25/obama-stumbles/?iid=sl-main-arenapage

Ezra Klein: If Romney’s policies come from business, where do Ryan’s come from?

If Romney’s policies come from business, where do Ryan’s come from?

Posted by Ezra Klein at 11:52 AM ET, 05/24/2012

“Having been in the private sector for 25 years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created that someone who’s never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn’t understand,” Mitt Romney told Time.

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., introduces Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (M. Spencer Green - Associated Press)

But then how does Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has spent his entire career in politics, understand job creation so well? Ryan and Romney, after all, have proposed essentially the exact same economic policies. And Ryan proposed most of them first. If Romney’s ideas are informed by knowledge you can only collect in the private sector, how come they don’t differ more from the ideas of career Republican politicians?

Politicians of different parties tend to have very different ideas. But politicians of different backgrounds differ less in their policy preferences than you might think. Opening a small business, working as a community organizer, and running a private-equity firm are all valuable life experiences, but they don’t tell you how fast to bring down the deficit, or whether the mix should tilt toward taxes or spending cuts, or what sort of reforms could improve Medicaid, or what Congress will accept, or what sort of fiscal policy is appropriate given the risks from Europe, or how to weigh the long-term risks of climate change.



Luckovich nails the media today!

Salon's Steve Kornacki: Cory Booker: Surrogate from Hell

Cory Booker, surrogate from hell
What Cory Booker has to gain by calling President Obama’s attacks on Bain Capital “nauseating”


If Cory Booker went on “Meet the Press” on Sunday with the intent of helping President Obama, then his appearance was an utter failure. But anyone who’s followed the enormously ambitious Newark mayor’s career closely knows he’s not one to pull a Joe Biden. He’s just too smart and too smooth to screw up so epically.

More likely, Booker went on the show to help himself and to advance his own long-term political prospects. And on that score, his appearance was a success.

Playing up Romney’s Bain record is, of course, central to Obama’s general election plan. Romney is running as a business-savvy “job creator” and relying on the public’s tendency to associate private sector success with economic competence. There is no overstating how vital it is for Obama and his campaign to break that link, and to establish that Romney’s real expertise is in making investors rich – not adding jobs and improving the quality of life for middle class workers.

In belittling this strategy, Booker isn’t just breaking with Obama, he’s breaking with just about everyone who’s ever run against Romney – including Ted Kennedy, who used criticisms of Bain’s treatment of workers to pull away from Romney in their 1994 Senate race. Essentially, Kennedy created the blueprint that Obama is now using. Booker is also providing Republicans with a dream talking point: A top Obama surrogate not only disapproves of Obama’s use of Bain, he finds it nauseating!

It wouldn’t be surprising if Booker has already heard from the White House, and surely he’s now in for a world of abuse from Obama supporters. But that hardly means he made a mistake, at least in terms of his own ambition. Financial support from Wall Street and, more broadly speaking, the investor class has been key to Booker’s rise, and remains key to his future dreams.



Tom Toles: Romney and 'Bushonomics'

Tony Auth on Republicans and 'Austerity'

Mitt Romney’s claim that 100,000 auto jobs have been lost under Obama rates 4 Pinocchios

Mitt Romney’s claim that 100,000 auto jobs have been lost under Obama
Posted by Glenn Kessler

— Mitt Romney, interview on Hot Air, May 16, 2011

The 100,000 jobs is back! The presumptive GOP nominee all but stopped mentioning he created 100,000 in the private sector after we declared in January that claim was untenable and unproven. The biggest problem is that Romney is counting all the jobs added by companies long after he had left the leadership of Bain Capital — and even after Bain’s investment in the companies had ended.

In the Hot Air interview, Romney even made this claim while at the same time arguing that a recent Obama campaign commercial slamming the job losses at a particular Bain investment was unfair because “the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there, so that’s hardly something which is on my watch.” (Technically, Romney had not completely extricated himself from Bain but that’s another story.)

The logic there escapes us. Romney appears to be saying it is okay to count jobs created after he left Bain, but it’s not okay to count jobs lost after he left Bain. As we have said, Romney “certainly has a good story to tell about knowing how to manage a business, spotting opportunities and understanding high finance.” But if he wants to wall off companies that failed after he stopped managing Bain, he also has to stop counting jobs created after he left Bain.

So Romney gets a “repeat offender” award — our crack graphics staff is still developing the icon — for once again saying he created 100,000 jobs. But let’s also look at his claim that 100,000 jobs were lost in the auto industry “on the president’s watch.” That’s a new one.

The Facts at link below...

The Pinocchio Test


Read Rollingstone's Matt Taibbi and then sign Elizabeth Warren petition to bring back Glass-Steagall


Congress must put Wall Street reform back on the agenda

Wall Street investment bank JP Morgan took risky bets and just lost two billion dollars of other people's money.

Elizabeth Warren says: "With the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, I'm calling on Congress to put Wall Street reform back on the agenda and to begin by passing a new Glass-Steagall Act. This was the law that stopped investment banks from gambling away people's life savings for decades -- until Wall Street successfully lobbied to have it repealed in 1999."

Join Elizabeth Warren on this petition, which we will deliver to Congress -- sign on the right.

It's time for Congress to put Wall Street reform back on the agenda. We support passing a new Glass-Steagall law to prevent too-big-to-fail Wall Street banks from taking huge risks with people's life savings -- and then expecting taxpayer bailouts.


TPM: Pro-Obama Super PAC Goes After Romney's Bain Record

7:24 AM EDT, TUESDAY MAY 15, 2012
Pro-Obama Super PAC Goes After Romney’s Bain Record

Pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action is up with a new $4 million ad campaign attacking Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital in five swing states. Like the Obama campaign’s ads which came out yesterday, the Priorities USA Action ad uses the example of GST Steel in Missouri closing under Bain Capital.

The ad features Pat Wells, a former employee of GST Steel who lost his job and benefits when the Kansas City plant closed.

“If we lost, they made money. If we survived, they made money. It’s as simple as that,” Wells said. “He promised us the same things he’s promising the United States. And he’ll give you the same thing he gave us. Nothing. He’ll take it all.”

At the end of the 30-second spot, text on the screen reads “If Mitt Romney wins, the middle class loses.”

The ad campaign is airing in Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia and includes both an online and TV presence.



Buzzfeed: A Mitt Romney Gay Rights Timeline

A Mitt Romney Gay Rights Timeline

President Obama came out in support of gay marriage yesterday. Here's a look at Mitt Romney's early support for some gay rights, and his move away from that.

posted May 10, 2012
Andrew Kaczynski
BuzzFeed Staff

Mitt Romney's 1994 letter to the Log Cabin Republicans saying he supports ENDA, ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, and will be better on gay rights than Ted Kennedy

more of Romney's gay rights timeline...

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