Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hillary Clinton Dances the Night Away in Colombia

Apr 15, 2012 2:16pm

gty hillary clinton columbia jt 120415 wblog Hillary Clinton Dances the Night Away in Colombia
STR/AFP/Getty Images
CARTAGENA, Colombia — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kicked back Saturday night, dancing and drinking beer at a local hotspot after a day of summit meetings in Cartagena.
The AFP/Getty got images of the Secretary dancing at Café Havana with her hands up in the air and swigging a local brew with friends.
Clinton and President Obama are spending the weekend in the resort town for the Summit of the Americas, along with the leaders of 33 Latin American countries.

Democrats Play The Transparency Card Against Romney (The Note)

Apr 16, 2012 9:05am

ap mitt romney women event thg 120411 wblog Democrats Play The Transparency Card Against Romney (The Note)
(Image Credit: Steven Senne/AP)
By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

President Obama and his allies want Mitt Romney to come clean on everything from his tax returns to his plans for the U.S. economy.

They say — or at least want to create the impression — that Romney is hiding something, and Team Obama got a big gift last night when a few intrepid reporters overheard Romney’s remarks to a well-heeled crowd of south Floridians at a private fundraiser in Palm Beach.
There, as the Wall Street Journal’s Sara Murray reports, the presumptive Republican nominee, “offered the first details of deductions he would eliminate or limit in order to offset the income tax cut he has proposed for all taxpayers.”

Those details included cutting the budget of the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as eliminating or lowering tax deductions for Americans who own second homes.
Is this a joke. Eliminate HUD,  cutting the budget for Dept of Ed, and lowering /eliminating deductions for second homes, well that would give Mr. Romney a very nice deduction, would it not. They are talking about sending Education back to the states, good God, the states can not do their budgets now, or maintain help for the people, and they want to do away with welfare(food stamps, medicaid, and monetary help for those who need and deserve it).  What is happening to our country. Liar Liar Republican pants are ablaze.

A spokesman for the Obama re-election effort, Ben LaBolt, sent news clips of the fundraiser around with the message:  “Apparently Gov. Romney believes only high dollar donors have a right to know what programs he will cut.”

And, as many Americans spent the weekend putting the finishing touches on their tax returns, two Democratic-allied super PACS, American Bridge 21st Century, and Priorities USA Action, have jointly released a new website:

The site, with a headline that reads, “What’s Mitt Hiding?” invites users to sign a petition demanding that Romney release his returns. Last week his campaign announced the Romneys had filed an extension on their taxes, allowing them to file anytime over the next six months.
So far, the Romney campaign’s response has been to announce a conference call on what they are calling “President Obama’s tax and spend culture” with former senator Jim Talent, a senior economic adviser to Romney.

But we’ll get a chance to hear a much fuller response from Romney when ABC’s Diane Sawyer sits down for an exclusive interview with the former Massachusetts governor at Fenway Park in Boston today.

In addition, Ann Romney, who has been at the center of the two parties’ so-called “war over women,” will join her husband for this conversation with Sawyer. It marks the couple’s first joint network interview of the election year.

TUNE IN: ABC’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE ROMNEYS: The exclusive network interview will air Monday on “World News with Diane Sawyer” with the extended interview airing on “Nightline.” Portions of the interview will also be featured across ABC News broadcasts and platforms including “Good Morning America,”, the Newsmakers series on Yahoo!, and ABC News radio.

TODAY ON THE HILL. Yahoo News’ Phil Pruitt notes that Congress is back in session and has a few items of business to take care of.

–The Senate is scheduled to take up the “Buffett rule” proposal to increases taxes on millionaires. Republicans, who call the “Buffett rule” a political distraction and a job killer, are expected to block the bill. But Democrats are eager to hold repeated votes on it this election year in an effort to demonstrate that they favor economic equality while Republicans prefer coddling the wealthy. We know that the senate did not proceed with this bill, they slammed it.

–Over in the House, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing titled “Addressing GSA’s Culture of Wasteful Spending.” Witnesses include General Services Administration Inspector General Brian Miller and former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson. Johnson fired two of her deputies and then resigned earlier this month after an inspector general’s report revealed excessive spending for a 2010 Public Buildings Service regional training conference in Las Vegas.

–There’s nothing scheduled in Washington regarding the Secret Service scandal in Colombia, but, with Congress back, there is bound to be talk on Capitol Hill and more could come out of the White House. Obama said Sunday said he will be “angry” if allegations prove true that Secret Service personnel and military service members cavorted with prostitutes and engaged in excessive drinking ahead of his trip to Colombia this weekend.

GOP COUNTER-PROGRAMMING. The Republican National Committee this morning released a new video and research piece focusing on what they say are the excuses for the slow economic recovery we’ve heard from President Obama even after he promised to be held accountable. From the RNC: These Obama Promises: “I will be held accountable… I’m not going to make any excuses.” Don’t Mesh With These Obama Excuses: “Recession deeper than anyone realized…worst recession since Great Depression…string of bad luck…earthquake in Japan…Arab Spring…European headwinds…automation…globalization…’not his program.’” VIDEO: “From Hope to Hypocrisy: Excuses, Excuses” 

VIDEO OF THE DAY: WELCOME TO OBAMAHA: ABC’s senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper explains why Obama is doing well in reliably red Omaha, Neb. It’s one sliver of the country that could tip the scales for Obama in the 2012 election. WATCH:

With recent polls showing Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney neck-and-neck, the Obama campaign isn't taking any chances, even sending money and staff to the reliably red state Nebraska.
Why Nebraska? Wouldn't that just be wasting money? After all, the state has voted for the Republican presidential candidate in every election since the Lyndon B. Johnson landslide of 1964.
Well, not exactly. A sliver of Nebraska actually voted for Obama in 2008, and that's why the Obama campaign is zeroing in on Omaha, because Nebraska is one of two states -- the other is Maine -- that awards electoral votes according to congressional district.
In 2008 winning one district was enough to garner one of Nebraska's five electoral college votes.
"President Obama won the second congressional district in Omaha by about 3,400 votes," said Vic Covalt, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
Covalt says that district -- and hence that one electoral college vote -- is winnable for Obama this time around, too. It's a vote that could tip the scales for the president, because a 269-269 electoral vote split is not as unlikely as you might think.
"It's mathematically possible that that'd be the deciding vote," said Covalt.
We break down the math for you in this week's Political Punch.
And as for Obama's presumptive competition, current front runner Mitt Romney?
"I haven't seen a sign of him," said Covalt, "I don't think he knows we exist."

“THIS WEEK” REPLAY: TIM GEITHNER CALLS ROMNEY’S CLAIMS ON OUT OF WORK WOMEN ‘RIDICULOUS’ Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner verbally smacked GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney Sunday morning on ”This Week” – calling his assertion that the policies of the Obama administration have hurt women and resulted in major job losses for them — fiction. “It’s a ridiculous argument.  Ridiculous.  It’s been largely debunked this week by the people who have looked at it,” Geithner told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “It’s a ridiculous way to look at the problem.  And this is a political moment and you’re going to be seeing — just to borrow a line from Mario Cuomo — ‘you’re going to see a lot of politicians choose to campaign in fiction.  But we have to govern in fact.’” Geithner was responding to recent allegations by Romney that the Obama administration had waged a “war” on women. Romney said earlier this week that the “real war on women has been waged by the policies of the Obama administration…did you know that of all the jobs lost during the Obama years, 92.3 percent of them are women.  During the Obama years, women have suffered.” George asked Geithner about the technical accuracy of the Romney claim and he explained “this crisis was a very damaging crisis, hurt everybody.  And it began in, as you know, in early 2008.  And a lot of the early job losses in 2008 affected men, because they affected construction and manufacturing. And as the crisis spread and state and local governments were forced to cut back on services and fire a lot of teachers, that caused a lot of damage to women, too.”
Watch the full interview

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

OBAMA RAISED $53 MILLION IN MARCH. As the money race for the general election heats up, President Obama’s re-election campaign reports raising $53 million in March, picking up pace from the month before, ABC’s Devin Dwyer notes. The total reflects funds collected by OFA, DNC and two joint fundraising accounts. In February, they reported $45 million combined. Obama raised $42 million on his own in March 2008. “People are building this organization five and ten bucks at a time to take on Mitt Romney,” says Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a campaign video announcing the total.  The video showcases Obama’s grassroots volunteers and donors, who the campaign says are what set it apart from their Republican rival.

The stats, per the campaign:
–190,000 first time donors in March
–567,000 total donations in March
–97 percent of donation $250 or less
–Average donation $50.78

ROMNEY COURTS HILL REPUBLICANS. “Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans moved last week to jump-start the coordination of political and policy messaging after Rick Santorum’s exit from the GOP presidential primary crowned the former Massachusetts governor the presumptive GOP nominee,” Roll Call’s David Drucker reports. “Senior Romney campaign officials are expected to be in constant communication with Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and their staffs, as well as with other GOP leaders and key rank-and-file Members who supported the governor early on in the primary campaign. … Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), who led Romney’s Member-endorsement whip operation, said the goal now includes building relationships between Congressional Republicans and the nominee and his team so that the two groups are prepared to collaborate effectively beginning in January 2013 — if the governor defeats President Barack Obama in November. Blunt, the GOP Conference vice chairman, is expected to serve as a major conduit between Members and the Romney campaign. … From Romney’s Boston campaign headquarters, Policy Director Lanhee Chen and Political Director Rich Beeson are expected to play crucial roles with Congressional Republicans. Chen, who met with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) during a recent visit to Capitol Hill, is expected to handle policy outreach. Beeson is likely to handle political outreach, particularly to Members running in swing districts and states targeted by Romney.”

SHELDON ADELSON TURNS AWAY FROM NEWT, TO HOUSE RACES. “Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy casino owner who has spent millions to boost the presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich, has donated $5 million with his wife to a super PAC for House Republican candidates, according to campaign filings released Sunday,” according to the National Journal’s  Shane Goldmacher. “The Adelsons made their donations in February to the Congressional Leadership Fund, which was formed last year to be  “focused solely and exclusively” on maintaining the GOP majority in the House. The super PAC has the backing of the top GOP brass in the House. Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy were each among the 60 GOP lawmakers who attended the super PAC’s inaugural event last fall. The financial infusion immediately makes the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is chaired by former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman, among the biggest players in the congressional landscape this year.”

OBAMA CALLS FREE TRADE DEAL A ‘WIN-WIN’ President Obama announced today that a free trade deal with Colombia will be fully enforced next month, declaring the agreement a win-win for both countries, notes ABC’s Mary Bruce. “We’re moving ahead with our landmark trade agreement,” Obama announced, standing alongside Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the Summit of the Americas. The announcement, which was largely expected, comes after Colombia enacted a series of protections for workers and labor unions. “Given the actions taken by President Santos and the Colombian legislature I can announce that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will enter into force next month on May 15,” Obama said at a joint press conference with Santos.

ABC POLL: WITHER THE TEA PARTY? From ABC News Pollster Gary Langer: “A major force in the 2010 midterm elections, the movement has stalled in public popularity, its support well below a majority and decidedly lukewarm. And Americans by a broad 23-point margin say the more they hear about the Tea Party movement, the less they like it, rather than liking it more. That negative buzz has worsened from a 9-point gap in an ABC News/Washington Post poll as the movement was gathering speed two years ago. And its avenues for resurgence may be limited: Interest in learning more about Tea Party is down 7 points from spring 2010. This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that six in 10 Americans aren’t particularly interested in additional information about the Tea Party, and 41 percent aren’t interested “at all.” Thirty-nine percent have at least some interest, but just 9 percent are very interested. Among those with interest, moreover, more than six in 10 already support it.”

The Fix Live

April 13, 2012


About the host

Host: Chris Cillizza

Chris Cillizza

Chris Cillizza is the managing editor of PostPolitics and he writes "The Fix," a politics blog for The Washington Post. He also covers the White House for the newspaper and website. Chris has appeared as a guest on NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and CNN to talk politics. He lives in Virginia with his wife and son.

About the topic

The Fix's Chris Cillizza discussed the latest political news.

Follow @PostLive on Twitter

Chris Cillizza :

Good morning to everyone! Sorry for missing last week's chat, I was working on my book. What's that you say? How can you pre-order it?  Well, twist my arm.
Coffee consumed this morning: One au lait, one chai tea latte.  Springsteen playing on the earbuds.  Let's find the darkness on the edge of town.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:04 AM
After reading Rosen's full comment, it seems to be less about Ann Romney not having a job and more about the fact that the Romneys' wealth put her in a position that she did have the same worries that most mothers do about paying the mortgage, affording college, etc. And I think that point is very hard to disagree with; the Romneys don't have the same concerns as the rest of us in that regard. But at this point, the whole thing has taken on a life of its own as 'working' v. 'stay at home' moms.
  • –April 13, 2012 10:32 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I agree that's what she meant but it's not what she said. She said that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life, a statement that is very easily construed as a slap at what stay at home moms do.
For those people saying this is a nothing burger, I would say this: The president and the first lady have come out with statement distancing themselves from Rosen's comments and praising stay at home moms.
So, they must be at least a little concerned...
  • – April 13, 2012 11:06 AM
Hillary Rosen does not serve in the Obama Administration or its reelection campaign, and the President has separated himself from her recent comment about Ann Romney. The Republican assault on women reproductive rights and equal pay for equal work continues unabated. It seems what Ms. Rosen was trying to say in her clumsy choice of words is that Ms. Romney was born of privilege and never had to face the daily struggles of so many American mothers who face double duty in raising children, often by themselves, AND going off to work each day to provide shelter and basic subsistence for their families. It does not seem to me this manufactured dust up does anything to alter the gender gap. Be interested in your take?
  • –April 13, 2012 10:37 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I don't think this one episode alters the gender gap at all. What I do think it does is give Romney a chance to play offense on an issue where has played only defense for months.
For a longer explanation of what this all means, read what I wrote yesterday.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:07 AM
It's just out of control, isn't it. Really, anyone get on TV, say anything at all, and generate a firestorm that requires a response from the President of the United States? Really? Hilary Rosen represents the administration and Democratic Party in no way whatsoever. She spoke for herself. Now let the kubuki theater begin! What a profession of morons! What a national joke, our political commentariat...
  • –April 13, 2012 8:28 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
"The Media Monster" would be a great bad name.  "Political Commentariat" wouldn't be bad either.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:08 AM
I feel like isn't Republicans who are excited about Hilary Rosen's comment, but the press who LOVE "both sides are wrong so let us in the press be the forum to sort it out." Hilary Rosen isn't a congressional committee hearing about birth control or that Mitt Romney himself doesn't know where he stands on this year. Plus the whole issue of whether or not a "homemaker" is a real job isn't the same as reproductive health and birth control so why the press feels the need to bunch them up is pretty awful.
  • –April 12, 2012 6:58 P
A. Chris Cillizza :
Yes, blame the press! Convenient scapegoat!
  • – April 13, 2012 11:08 AM

Now that we have our distraction, when does Mitt Romney need to start providing details around his plans and ideas.
  • –April 13, 2012 10:24 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Well, the Obama team is trying to re-capture the narrative by releasing their tax returns today.  Democrats think Romney's reluctance to release tax returns reinforces his uncomfortableness talking about his wealth. And they are going to push it like crazy.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:11 AM
I was quite pleased with the championship matchup in your 2016 contest. Is it safe to say that a Cuomo-Rubio race would be the dream matchup of 2016? 2 rising stars duking it out. That would be a heck of a race in my opinion.
  • –April 13, 2012 3:13 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
It would be a totally fascinating race. I think Cuomo is the clear 2016 frontrunner right now with Martin O'Malley in the second slot...
  • – April 13, 2012 11:13 AM

Do you think if the ticket is Romney-Portman, that the Republicans can put Ohio away? Portman won overwhelmingly in 2010, and has a strong base in the greater Cincinnati area.
  • –April 12, 2012 11:08 PM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I don't think anyone -- including Portman -- can "put Ohio away" for either side. Yes, he is popular and yes his base in Cincy is real.  But, people vote for the presidential candidate not the vice presidential candidate. Portman could help at the margins but he is not going to win Ohio for Romney.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:14 AM
How does anyone, let alone the guy who goes out of his way to talk about the "New Jersey Giants," Chris Christie, fall asleep during a Springsteen concert?
  • –April 12, 2012 11:51 PM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Kind of brutal.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:14 AM
Happy Friday the 13th! Can you break down your list of likely Indie candidates this fall?
  • –April 13, 2012 10:43 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
1. Ron Paul
2. David Walker
3. Jon Huntsman
  • – April 13, 2012 11:15 AM
They may not be in Washington, but are those Rocket Scientists in North Korea going to have a Wost Week?
  • –April 13, 2012 10:59 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Good one. Allen West and Bobby Petrino also had strong cases to make.
My Bobby Petrino question: Do you REALLY think people aren't going to find out? And , if so, do you live in the real world?
  • – April 13, 2012 11:16 AM
It seems like we have so many faux wars going on right now (women, religion, drugs, etc.) that it's a scandal. This being Washington, is it time for War Gate?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:00 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
There are very few molehills anymore. Everything is a mountain (or at least people act like it is).
  • – April 13, 2012 11:17 AM
Click here!
While this could have been the perfect time for all of Obama's People to show up with their Etch-a-Sketches, it got killed by this one consultant who isn't even afiliated with their campaign. Does this portent of a summer of immediate and heavy reaction to every possible misstep by a possible supporter, even if its from Jim the Plumber from Springfield, OR?
  • –April 13, 2012 10:58 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I fear it might. It could b a very long next seven months.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:17 AM
Still taking in the glow... What were Rick Santorum's Polls telling him about the possibility of losing his "home" state of Pennsylvania? (He lives in NOVA now)
  • –April 13, 2012 11:02 AM
A.   Chris Cillizza :
Well done. Bashing Duke is a sure fire way to get me to answer your question.
I think Santorum recognized that while polling was basically tied, he had no money and Romney had lots left. And that meant he was going to endure a two week assault that would mean he would lose -- and possibly lose badly.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:18 AM
Did someone tell Rick Santorum that you don't surrender in Gettysburg? You surrender at Appomattox!
  • –April 13, 2012 11:04 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
  • – April 13, 2012 11:20 AM
Do you think Cory Booker has a bigger political future after being mayor of Newark?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:04 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Yes.  Options:
1. Gov 2013 against Christie
2. Senate 2014 if Lautenberg retires
3. Presidential 2016.
The third option might be a little too big a lift for him. But who knows?
  • – April 13, 2012 11:20 AM
Hi Chris, Is there any truth to the rumor that Mitt will be using "Death to My Hometown" as his campaign song?
  • –April 13, 2012 10:28 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
  • – April 13, 2012 11:21 AM

She isn't giving special advice to Hillary Rosen today, is she?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:06 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Who? Hax? Never heard of her.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:21 AM
Click here!
How much of a surprise to you? How much driven by his daughter's illness? (It sounded as though she was actually getting better -- let's hope so, no matter what we think of her father -- but might that not be the case?) How much driven by ominous poll numbers in Pa.?
  • –April 13, 2012 9:32 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Not that much of a surprise because there was a) no way he could win the nomination and b) a real possibility he would lose in PA.
In politics, it's always better to go out on your own terms. That's what Santorum did.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:22 AM
Hi Chris -- thanks for taking questions today. It seems to me that, regarding the Rosen flap, the point she was trying to make (before she went too far) was this -- when it comes to understanding issues related to women, Romney has to outsource that to his wife, which only reinforces his inability to connect to real people. In other words, she was trying to show a pattern of behavior that shows him once again as inauthentic and out of touch. Why she felt the need to take a swipe at Mrs. Romney, who knows, but if she hadn't gone there she made have scored some points. What do you think?
  • –April 13, 2012 10:26 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Don't disagree.  But, how you say it matters...
  • – April 13, 2012 11:23 AM
Q. Romney
How does Romney attract independent voters without losing his base? Seems like he can't really win without independents.
  • –April 13, 2012 10:25 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Let's see. He just became the GOP nominee on Tuesday.
I think he can win them by focusing relentlessly on the economy and trying to paint Obama as ineffectual on it.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:23 AM
When does Romney pick his VP?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:08 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Sometime right before the convention in August. If history is any guide that is...
  • – April 13, 2012 11:24 AM
Q. Book
When will Fix Aaron be around to sign your books?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:07 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
HA!  He won't actually sign them. Just hold the books open for me to sign. I AM KIDDING!  Everyone knows Fix Aaron and Fix Rachel are the brains of the operation. I am, of course, the looks.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:25 AM
Next Governor of New Jersey?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:07 AM
A.  Chris Cillizza :
Talk to Chris Christie and his sky high approval ratings...
  • – April 13, 2012 11:25 AM
No more Dana Milbank chat and Hax chat cancelled today. Where is the competition??
  • - April 13, 2012 11:07 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I am in the ring. Who will challenge me? You, DC squirrel???
  • – April 13, 2012 11:26 AM
Do you think Obama will end up with pretty much the same map as 08 or do you think it's going to be more so a Gore/Kerry map? Btw, huge fan! Follow me? @Smere89
  • –April 13, 2012 11:08 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Think this map will look a lot more like Bush-Kerry 04 than Obama-McCain 08. Two exceptions: VA and NC will be genuinely competitive this time ... and they weren't eight years ago.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:26 AM
The Democratic primary is on May 8. Does Barrett have the edge going into May?
  • –April 13, 2012 3:15 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I think so. But, his feud with labor unions doesn't bode well in a Democratic primary...
  • – April 13, 2012 11:27 AM
Q. Truth
What can you as the media and we as the public do to force these politicians and Super Pacs to be honest. I am not referring to the regular spin, but to the out and out lies that are told. Lying is an epidemic with some of these people. Probably the main reason I will not vote for Romney. He and the truth are very distant cousins.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:10 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Me and coolness are very distant cousins.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:27 AM
I know you're not into Jessica Sanchez, but how the heck does she end up with the fewest votes? More importantly, is there a political analogy where a bad turnout for a talented candidate shocked the pundits?
  • –April 12, 2012 11:22 PM
A. Chris Cillizza :
BB Chez has become my least favorite person on Idol. She is a ROBOT. And that's why people don't vote for her. It's like a presidential race -- it's who you are as much as what you say tha matters. And she is just not relateable at all.
Also, while I think she might last a few more shows, she ain't going to win. Has anyone who had to be saved ever won before? I don't think so.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:29 AM
Q. Music
When is your music Tumblr launching?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:15 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
  • – April 13, 2012 11:30 AM

Re Rosen's comment: When we said "the press" 30 years ago, we meant broadsheet newspapers, Time and Newsweek and the news departments at the 3 broadcast networks. But now there's a ravening maw of cable outlets, web sites, blogs and talk radio that demands fresh meat every single day. What used to be a stupid thing somebody said that no one remembered in a week, now gets blown up into something that earnest partisans debate endlessly until the next stupid thing is said by someone named Khardashian, then we run off to fight about that. All stupidity is now equal in the 24 hour news universe.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:16 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
"Ravening maw". Well said.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:31 AM
Obama has numerous paths to get to 270 (I think Virginia will be the important one this year) but Romney has a very limited path to win. Do you think he even has a chance, just based on that?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:16 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Yes, he has a chance. And, yes, Obama has more paths to 270.
One thing to remember: Obama got 365 electoral votes in 2008. That means he can lose 95 electoral votes in 2012 and still win.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:32 AM
Ann Romney has not worked. Staying home is NOT working.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:18 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Um....have to disagree.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:33 AM
How likely is "likely?"
  • –April 13, 2012 11:19 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Not very. But more likely than anyone else I see mentioned.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:33 AM

I think an Ann Romney-Natalie Portman ticket is just what this country needs right now.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:21 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
HA!  I did love Natalie Portman in that movie with the Shins music and the dude from the hospital comedy.  (And yes I just sounded a lot like my mom. Oh lord.)
  • – April 13, 2012 11:34 AM
Why is it only a "distraction" when the democrats are the ones under fire? I can literally find you 30 so-called journalists that have tweeted their discontent over this "manufactured" gaffe (Rosengate). Funny that NOBODY outside of conservative commentators said the same with the Rush/Fluke story. Dems sure love to dish it out and the media sure likes to gleefully cover it, but when the roles are reversed, all of a sudden we should only talk "substance." Bull.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:23 AM
A.  Chris Cillizza :
Also, caterpillar.
And, yes, the media is evil and everything -- including the North Korea missile test -- is our fault. This is an indisputable fact.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:35 AM
Your colleague Jen Rubin is reporting that Hilary Rosen is going to be on Meet the Press this weekend, which, Rubin correctly notes, will only serve to keep her inane comments in the public's eye. So much for her as a PR strategist!
  • –April 13, 2012 11:25 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
She is not going on MTP. She apologized again on Twitter today and said she isn't going on.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:35 AM
Though I haven't lived in Indiana for 40 years, I still have a certain interest in politics there. I'm wondering what are the prospects for the Senate and Governor's races. Will Lugar get knocked off by a Tea Party candidate? Will the Dems have viable candidates for either race? What sayest thou?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:26 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I think Lugar is 50-50 at best against Richard Mourdock in the primary. And, if Mourdock wins, I think he is a very likely winner in the fall.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:36 AM
Q. Idol
Who SHOULD go on Idol? Hollie has been subpar lately but the precious PhiPhil is channeling his inner Scotty McCreery by delivering the same performance week after week.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:29 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Phil's "I don't need to ever change anything because that's not true to who I am as an artist" schtick is wearing thin.
I now believe Colton is the likeliest winner.  Maybe Schyler.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:37 AM
I was hoping he'd have his own chat again. Cillizza vs. Squirrel: The Sequel.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:28 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I see movie possibilities.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:37 AM
we all know you're a sucker for two-time hall of famer Ric Flair, but who, on the current roster, is your favorite?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:31 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
CM Punk. Not close.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:37 AM
How much do members of the press and officials, staffers, etc. socialize in DC? Do they hang out with people just in their own groups, just with people in politics, or do they hang out with people in law, business, etc.?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:31 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I socialize with Mrs Fix, Fix Jr and the guys I play pickup basketball with. And that's it.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:38 AM
The primary should be interesting, but def. advantage Barrett. Falk's basic problem is that no one really likes her--her previous run at statewide office was notably lukewarm in every way and she hasn't exactly lit the world on fire since then.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:35 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
  • – April 13, 2012 11:38 AM
Not gonna lie...I love the title
  • –April 13, 2012 11:37 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
How could you not???
  • – April 13, 2012 11:38 AM
Now that Santorum's dropped out, there's no chance it'll be a brokered convention. Now it'll just be another heavily-scripted pageant.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:35 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
True enough.  But we'll always have Ybor City.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:39 AM
In order to not be crushed in the press like Gore in 2000, Romney has to pick someone personable as VP. Two stiff politicians barnstorming America, awkwardly interacting with voters while Obama and Biden smile, will not work. Start from there and someone whose resume isn't thin like Rubio. In other words, Thune.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:35 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Interesting theory. What about Christie? He's personable.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:39 AM
How many Justices may retire over the next four years?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:39 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
  • – April 13, 2012 11:40 AM
Your willingness to admit this makes you WAY COOL!
  • –April 13, 2012 11:38 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Yes, nerd sheek is my only option as a backdoor into coolness. That and the fact that Mrs. Fix is WAY cooler than me. It's a Julia Roberts-Lyle Lovett setup.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:40 AM
Do you not socialize with Fix Aaron as well?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:40 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
NEVER. We are sworn enemies.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:41 AM
The Simpsons is based on the West Coast. Family Guy is East Coast. This definitely calls for a crossover episode where Homer and Peter have a violent feud like Tupac and Biggie.
  • –April 13, 2012 11:40 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I couldn't love this idea anymore.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:41 AM
Will George Allen EVER live down his "macaca moment" from 2006? Or will it become the permanent albatross of his electoral career?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:38 AM 

A. Chris Cillizza :
He has a chance to make good if he can win this fall. If he loses to Kaine in the Senate race, I think we will be talking about macaca as the thing that destroyed a once promising career.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:42 AM
Cillizza AND Squirrel. If he's truly from DC, that squirrel undoubtedly has opinions on the political news of the day. And if he truly lives in the DMV, Cillizza undoubtedly has opinions on squirrels...
  • –April 13, 2012 11:41 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Oooh. That has possibilities.
I am thinking a joint Fix-Hax chat. We could call it Fax. She could give good relationship advice and I could give bad relationship advice. Nothing but readers!
  • – April 13, 2012 11:43 AM
The Romneys need to take another tack. They laughably unconvincing as "folks next door".
  • –April 13, 2012 11:39 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
Car elevators are people too, my friend.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:43 AM
Who do you favor right now as the best to beat Walker?
  • –April 13, 2012 11:33 AM
A. Chris Cillizza :
I think Barrett. But would not fall over dead -- hopefully -- if Falk won.  Either way, it's going to be VERY close against Walker.
  • – April 13, 2012 11:44 AM

Chris Cillizza :

Ok folks. I have to run a little bit early to finish up my rankings -- from worst to best -- of the nine Republican presidential candidates.
Stay tuned. Shouyld be posted on the Fix shortly. Thanks as always for joining the chat!
  • –April 13, 2012 11:44 AMm

The 9 swing states of 2012

at 11:51 AM ET, 04/16/2012

Our favorite part of the general election campaign is fiddling with the electoral map to puzzle out the paths to 270 electoral votes for each of the candidates. (And, yes, there’s an app for that.)

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., second from left, points toward a map of the US during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 21, 2012, to urge the House to pass a bipartisan transportation bill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 We did a fair amount of noodling on the map over the weekend for our Monday Fix newspaper column — yes, we write in the newspaper occasionally too! — and came up with our initial analysis of the playing field.

To our mind, there are nine truly swing states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — where the election will be decided. Those states will hand out 110 electoral votes in November, roughly 41 percent of the 270 votes President Obama or former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney need to win.

Obama starts with the edge in these swing states. He carried all nine in 2008 with an average margin of victory of 7.6 percentage points. But, six of the nine states went for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004.

Our quick take on each of the nine states is after the jump. We will be revisiting our swing states — and the broader electoral map — lots between now and November so stay tuned!

* Colorado: One of the six of our swing states that Bush carried twice, Colorado seemed relatively immune to the Republican wave that swept the country in 2010. While two House Democrats fell, Democrats won the governor’s race (due, at least in part, to a Republican candidate disaster) and a very contested Senate race. The battle, as it always is in Colorado, will come down to the Denver suburbs.

* Florida: President Obama’s three-point victory in 2008 was quickly erased in 2010 when Republicans won the governorship, the open seat Senate race and four U.S. House seats. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is not at all popular but if Romney puts Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on the ticket it could be the tipping point that Republicans need to win.

* Iowa: If there was a single adopted home state for Obama in 2008 it was Iowa where he won the caucuses in January and then swept to a convincing nine-point win in the fall. But, like much of the upper Midwest, Republicans made major gains in Iowa in 2010 — including defeating a Democratic incumbent governor and easily reelecting Sen. Chuck Grassley (R). Obama’s convincing victory in 2008 also belies the inherent competitiveness of the Hawkeye State. Bush carried it in 2004 and then Vice President Al Gore eked out a .3 percentage point win in 2000.

* Nevada: This is the most competitive small (by population) state in the country. Obama’s 12-point margin in 2008 obscured an in­cred­ibly competitive state where Bush won in 2004 and 2000. The collapse of the housing market (and the general economic struggle) has its epicenter in the state where the February unemployment was at 12.3 percent, the highest in the country.

* New Hampshire: New Hampshire has a very interesting electoral past. It was the only state that Gore lost in 2000 that Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry won in 2004. (Much of that has to do with regional loyalty, wethinks.) Obama carried the state by nine points in 2008 but Republicans won both House seats and an open Senate seat in 2010.

* North Carolina: Of our nine swing states, Obama’s winning margin was narrowest in the Tar Heel State. (He won by .4 percentage points.) The Obama team clearly signaled that they believe they can win again in 2012 by putting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The central question is likely to be whether Obama can turn out as many young people in this college-heavy state as he did in 2008. With massive 18-29 turnout, North Carolina looks doable for Obama. Without it, probably not.

* Ohio: Of the larger (population) swing states, Ohio may be the toughest for Obama. Why? It’s an older and whiter population than, say, Florida, and those two constituencies have long been Obama’s weakest. And, while he won in 2008, it wasn’t by the overwhelming margin with which he carried other swing states. (Obama won Ohio by four.)

* Virginia: If you are looking for the swingiest state in the country, the Commonwealth has a very good case to make. On the one hand, Obama was the first Democrat to win it since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. On the other, the massive growth of northern Virginia population-wise has changed the electoral calculus for the better for Democrats. If Romney puts Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on the national ticket, that tells you all you need to know about the importance of Virginia.

* Wisconsin: The Badger State will play host to not one but two major national elections this year. The first will the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker (R) in June; the second will be the presidential race in November. Democrats rightly note that they have carried Wisconsin in each of the last five elections and that Obama won it by a whopping 14 points in 2008. But, if you believe 2012 will look a lot like 2004 when it comes to the electoral map — and we do — then there is reason for Republican optimism. That year, Bush lost Wisconsin by just .4 percentage points to Kerry.

Women job losses: A deeper look at the data

at 06:00 AM ET, 04/17/2012

(Tim Boyle/Bloomberg)
“And if you look at the damage early on, you know, most of the early job losses were in construction and manufacturing, and disproportionately affected men. But as the crisis intensified, as it did over the course of 2008 — again, before the president came into office — the damage spread and you saw state and local governments, for example, cut back into teachers, fired a lot of teachers, let a lot of teachers go. And a lot of women teach, so you saw the composition of those job losses change over the course of the recovery.”

— Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” April 15, 2012

We criticized Republicans last week for promoting the “true but false” assertion that under Obama, women have lost seven times as many jobs as men. This did not stop the Mitt Romney campaign from trying to promote this idea, which Treasury Secretary Geithner on Sunday labeled “ridiculous and deeply misleading.”

 We did not think much of the GOP claim because, even though the numbers added up,  it is silly to think any economy begins or ends with a presidency. Over the course of the recession (December 2007 to June 2009), the number of jobs declined by just over 5 million, with women accounting for nearly 1.8 million of that figure.

 Still, since the recession ended, 2.2 million jobs have been added under Obama, with women accounting for just 284,000 of that figure. So something’s going on. Geithner’s theory — that women started to lose jobs later in the recession — is an interesting one, so we decided to dig deep in the Bureau of Labor Statistics database for some answers.

The Facts

 Teaching (listed in the BLS database as “local government-education”) represents about 9 percent of the jobs held by women in the United States. The data show that, since Obama became president, a larger proportion of the overall job loss by women — 22.7 percent — has been in teaching positions.

In fact, more than a third of female job losses have been in local government jobs; the number of female-held jobs in the federal government has also declined by about 51,000, while state government declines have been marginal. (Since the numbers in the local government section of the database are not seasonally adjusted, we compared figures for January 2009 with January 2012. Comparing figures of the same month is more accurate, especially in teaching.)

 Interestingly, the data suggest that local teaching positions held by women climbed by 124,000 in the year before Obama became president, even as the rest of the economy was collapsing. This made the decline feel even steeper when teaching jobs began to decline in earnest toward the beginning of 2010, as federal stimulus money from 2009 began to fade and local governments ran short of funds.

 Okay, that kind of supports Geithner’s narrative, though he seemed to suggest that much of this happened before Obama became president, not after. Moreover, it does not explain where the rest of the jobs for women have gone during Obama’s presidency. 

 That’s because women have not just lost public-sector jobs under Obama. Women have also lost private-sector jobs — some 243,000, compared to a gain of 82,000 in the same period for men.

 Clicking through the various job categories, one finds one negative number after another for women — in construction, in manufacturing, in financial services, in retail, in information and so forth. These categories do not even show any uptick from the end of the recession. 

 One of the few bright spots for women is professional and business services (which includes lawyers, accountants, computer systems and the like), which shows a gain of more than 400,000 jobs since the recession ended. The leisure and hospitality industry also shows a marginal gain.

 While Geithner said that “early losses” were in construction and manufacturing, slightly more construction jobs have been lost after Obama became president rather than before; manufacturing jobs also have continue to drop sharply. A large chunk of the gains for men has also come in professional and business services, as well as durable goods (such as building automobiles) and in transportation. Women, meanwhile, have continued to lose jobs in durable goods and transportation.
 A Treasury Department official defended Geithner’s statement, but would not do so on the record. 
“One feature of the recovery is that while employment in the private sector has started to come back, government employment is still falling,” the official said. “Moreover, of those changes in government employment, a large share are accounted for by changes in local government educational services (i.e. teachers).”

The official added: “If you compare employment changes from December 2007 to January 2009 versus January 2009 to March 2012, government represents the only sector that has performed much worse. Every other industry has either had relatively similar job changes on net across the two time periods (e.g. construction) or is doing much better (e.g. manufacturing, professional and business services, retail trade, leisure and hospitality, transportation and warehousing, mining and logging, etc.).”

“Every sector is doing better from February 2010 – March 2012 (most substantially so) than they were from January 2009 – February 2010, while government job losses have accelerated over that period,” the official said. “Teachers represent a large proportion of these state and local government job losses, which is why the Secretary highlighted them.”

The Pinocchio Test

 Geithner’s explanation appears incomplete. Certainly the decline in teaching — and government — jobs has been a drag on overall employment for women in recent months, but it’s not the whole story. We continue to frown on measuring job losses or job gains from the start of a presidency, but even our preferred metric of dating the trends from the start of the recovery suggest that women are not faring as well as men in this economy. 

 We were tempted to say this was worth a Pinocchio, simply because Geithner’s explanation seems so facile. The data suggest a more complicated picture. But given that the data change depending on the dates used, we remain reluctant at this point to attach too much significance to the results. Certainly, the trends are worth watching.

 Verdict Pending

(About our rating scale)

MEMO: 12 Things We Could Learn From Previous Romney Tax Returns

  • Derek Pearce
  • Jan 27, 2012
    3:43 pm
I do not know anything about taxes, loop-holes, advantages, off shore investments, but some where there is alot more to this than meets the eye. And Romney needs to come clean.
Several factors have played into Romney’s precipitous drops with the most recent focused on his taxes — from his initial refusal to be open with the American people, to releasing only one year which showed overseas investments and a 13% tax rate, to the latest revelation that his release was riddled with errors and omissions.

Credit: Tom LeGro/NewsHour
To: Interested Parties
From: Rodell Mollineau, President American Bridge 21st Century
RE: Sunday Show Memo- 12 Things We Could Learn From Previous Romney Tax Returns
Date: January 27, 2012

Mitt Romney is in a very dangerous position. According to a Washington Post/ABC survey released on Tuesday, in the last two weeks Romney’s favorability/unfavorability rating has completely inverted, and now stands at 31% favorable and 49% unfavorable. An NBC/WSJ poll released Thursday shows similar results with only 31% of voters saying they have a positive view of Romney. If Romney is able to get out of the primary, having such high unfavorabilities will be incredibly damaging with independent voters.

These factors have only succeeded in raising more questions than answers. It cannot be stated enough: One year of taxes is simply unacceptable. It is too easy to scrub these returns, and one year does not paint an accurate picture for the voters of how Romney amassed his personal fortune.

Below are 12 questions that Mitt Romney needs to answer by releasing his previous years’ tax returns.

1: What was Romney’s tax rate in earlier years? Romney’s 2010 tax rate was 13.9%, but was it even lower in previous years?

Romney Paid A 13.9 Percent Tax Rate In 2010 On $21.7 Million In Income. According to Bloomberg, Romney “earned $21.6 million in 2010 and paid 13.9 percent of that amount in income taxes, using the preferential rate on investment income and charitable deductions to pay a smaller share of his earnings than top wage earners typically do. The former private-equity executive and Massachusetts governor earned more than half of his income from capital gains and dividends, which are taxed at a top rate of 15 percent, rather than the 35 percent top rate for ordinary income. […] Romney’s income puts him near the very top of U.S. taxpayers.” [BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, 01/24/12]

2: What other foreign bank accounts did Romney hold? As has been widely reported, Romney held accounts in Switzerland, Ireland, and the Grand Caymans. How many more are hidden in previous years’ returns?

Romney Held Much More Funds in Foreign Accounts in Previous Years Than He Did in 2010 And 2011. According to Mitt Romney’s 2011 estimated taxes, he paid $67,173 in foreign taxes in 2010. However, he also discloses that in 2005, he paid $333,149 in foreign taxes; paid $276,386 in 2006; $275,288 in 2007; and $151,015 in 2008. [Romney 2011 Tax Estimate, page 81]

Additionally: Romney failed to disclose IRS form TD-F 90-22. Holders of foreign bank accounts are required to complete this form and submit it separate from their tax returns. Romney opted not to disclose the form.

Romney Listed A Swiss Bank Account On His 2010 Tax Return. According to the Boston Globe, “Advisers to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are acknowledging that he once had a Swiss bank account but that it was closed in 2010 as prepared to enter the race for the White House. The Swiss account is listed on Romney’s newly released 2010 federal income tax return. It had been opened by a Boston lawyer who oversees the Romney family investments and a blind trust containing millions of dollars in assets.” [Boston Globe, 01/24/12]

3: In a surprising revelation, Romney’s tax returns indicated a continuing (and confusing) relationship with Bain Capital, even though Romney claims to have severed his relationship in February 1999. His previous tax returns could shed more light on this ongoing relationship.

The Ann D. Romney Blind Trust Listed A Partnership Interest In Bain Capital Partners (Am) X, Lp. Mitt Romney’s tax returns included a transfer notice of a Bain Capital Partners (AM)X LP to the Ann Romney trust. The value of the property at election was listed as $0. According to the document “The interest in the future appreciation of the Partnership’s business to which I am entitled pursuant to my partnership interest is subject to forfeiture if I cease performing services for the Partnership.” The document was signed by Romney trustee Bradford Malt. [Mitt Romney 2010 Tax Filing Pg. 131-132]

4: Did Romney pay the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) tax on his multi-million dollar IRA? If not, do Romney’s earlier taxes shed light on using off-shore “blocker” corporations to avoid the UBIT Tax) on his multi-million dollar IRA?

Mitt Romney Obtained A Multi-Million Dollar Ira By Investing Retirement Funds In Bain Capital. According to Wall Street Journal, “Like many Americans, Mitt Romney has an individual retirement account. Unlike most Americans, Mr. Romney has between $20.7 million and $101.6 million in it, a big chunk of his fortune. Experts on estate planning said it is highly unusual to accumulate such a considerable sum in an IRA, an investment vehicle restricted by annual contribution limits. It appears that Mr. Romney’s grew so large mostly because it holds investments in Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped start.” [Wall Street Journal, 1/19/12]

Investments In Companies That Use Debt To Buy Companies Would Normally Be Subject To The Ubit Tax. According to Wall Street Journal, “Under current tax law, anybody investing an IRA in a private-equity fund, as Mr. Romney did, would likely incur a hefty special tax on ‘unrelated business income,’ also known as UBIT. This tax, assessed at a maximum 35% rate, is meant to discourage tax-exempt entities such as an IRA, pension plan or endowment fund from unfairly competing with for-profit, taxpaying entities by operating a business without paying taxes on it. Investing in a partnership that uses debt to buy companies would trigger the tax, experts said.

It Is Unknown If Romney Paid The Ubit Tax, But He May Have Avoided It By Using An “Offshore Blocker Corporation.” According to Wall Street Journal, “It isn’t known whether Mr. Romney paid UBIT. His filings suggest use of a strategy involving offshore funds sometimes employed to avoid it, according to several experts. One method used by tax lawyers is to have the IRA invest through an offshore affiliate of the private-equity firm, known as an offshore blocker corporation, which in turn invests the same money in the private-equity partnership. The tax is avoided because the IRA technically is investing in the offshore corporation, not in a private-equity partnership.’ [Wall Street Journal, 1/19/12]” [Wall Street Journal, 1/19/12]

5: To which additional charities did Romney contribute? Did those charities contradict his publically stated values? Already his returns showed contributions to anti-gay groups, even though he previously sought the endorsement of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Romney’s 2010 Tax Returns Showed He Contributed $35,000 To Anti-Gay Groups “Massachusetts Family Institute” And The“Beckett Fund.” According to Human Rights Campaign, “The tax returns for Mitt Romney’s charitable foundation reveal that the GOP presidential hopeful has given at least $35,000 in recent years to groups actively working to halt the spread of LGBT equality and, in some cases, intentionally demonize LGBT people. [According] to CNN, Romney donated to the extremist group Massachusetts Family Institute, as well as the Becket Fund. The Massachusetts Family Institute received $10,000 from Romney in 2006, while the Beckett Fund received $25,000 in 2009. The donations came from the Tyler Charitable Foundation, set up and funded by the Romneys. The Massachusetts Family Institute has long been a vocal opponent of marriage equality, and believes sexual orientation is a choice that can be cured. From their website: ‘Our compassion is for those struggling with same-sex attraction and we encourage the healing of individuals who wish to change their choice of lifestyle…’ The group also is ruthless in its dedication to distorting programs intended to reduce bullying and make schools safer, more welcoming environments for all students. It says gay-straight alliances may violate the Constitution and parental rights, and says associated programming pushes a radical, pro-homosexual agenda.” [Human Rights Campaign, 01/24/12]

Romney Received The Log Cabin Republicans Endorsement After He Assured Them That He Would Provide More Effective Leadership Than Kennedy On Establishing “Full Equality For America’s Gay And Lesbian Citizens.” “Shortly after he won the GOP nomination to run against US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, conservative businessman Mitt Romney – who is viewed with suspicion by some gays – wrote to the Log Cabin Club, a group of politically active gay Republicans, to assure them that ‘as we seek to establish full equality for America’s gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent.’ The group has since endorsed Romney.” [Boston Globe, 10/17/94]


6: Did Romney claim tax deductions that were part of the stimulus? In 2010, Romney claimed a Making Work Pay Tax Deduction, although the source of that deduction is unclear without the release of additional K-1 Forms. Did any of Romney’s businesses claim tax deductions from the stimulus? Did Romney derive additional benefits from the stimulus in other unexpected ways?

The Stimulus Contained Tax Increased Benefits For Businesses Including The Making Work Pay Tax Credit, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Cobra, Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy Initiatives, And Net Operating Loss Carryback. According to the IRS, “Making Work Pay Tax Credit. The 2010 withholding rates, contained in Notice 1036, reflected reduced withholding. An optional withholding procedure was available for pension plan administrators. Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This expanded credit added returning veterans and “disconnected youth” to the list of new hires that businesses may claim. COBRA: Health Insurance Continuation Subsidy. The IRS has extensive guidance for employers, including an updated Form 941. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Incentives. See what businesses can do to reap tax rewards. Net Operating Loss Carryback. Small businesses can offset losses by getting refunds on taxes paid up to five years ago. Find information on carrybacks, an expanded section 179 deduction and other business-related provisions. The Worker, Homeownership And Business Assistance Act Of 2009 (WHBAA) expanded the five-year NOL carryback to most businesses.” [IRS, Viewed 1/24/12]

In 2010, Romney Claimed A Work Opportunity Credit – Provided No Documentation Of The Source Of The Credit, But It Passed Through A Corporate Entity. According to Romney’s Form 5884 filed with his 1040, Romney claimed a making work pay tax benefit for an employee “from partnerships, S corporations, cooperatives, estates, and trusts.” The form does not indicate which Romney entity employed the worker, not does it indicate any information about the worker. The form indicates the credit would be part of a K-1 filing, which Romney did not release. [Mitt Romney 2010 Tax Filing Pg. 77]

The Stimulus Expanded Eligibility For The Work Opportunity Tax Credit.  According to the IRS, “The following Recovery Act provisions affect businesses: …Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This expanded credit added returning veterans and “disconnected youth” to the list of new hires that businesses may claim.” [IRS, Viewed 1/24/12]

7: How many additional household workers did Romney employ? Did he pay them fair wages?

Romney Paid $20,603 Total In Wages To Four Household Workers In 2010. According to the Huffington Post, “IRS forms released Tuesday by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign show that despite reporting income of $21.7 million, the couple paid only $20,603 in taxable wages for household help in 2010. This figure was divided among four women: Rosania Costa ($4,808), Kelli Harrison ($8,667), Susan Moore ($2,238) and Valerie Cravens Anae ($4,890).” [Huffington Post, 01/24/12]

Romney Paid Only Half Of The Lowest Range Of An Average Housekeeper’s Salary For Only One Of Romney’s Three Houses. According the Huffington Post, “According to a number of Boston-based domestic staffing agencies, the salary range for a housekeeper is between $20 and $30 an hour, which adds up to an annual salary of $40,000 to $50,000 based on forty-hour weeks and two weeks of paid vacation a year. But this number is only for one house, and the Romneys have three houses — a 2,000 sq. ft. townhouse in Belmont, Mass., a 5,400 sq. ft. lake house on 11 acres in Wolfeboro, N.H., and a beach house in La Jolla, Calif., that is undergoing renovations to double its size. Even if the Romneys avoided spending time in La Jolla in 2010, they spent plenty of time in New Hampshire, with regular visits in the summer from five sons and their families. Yet the Romneys still paid only half of the lowest range of an average housekeeper’s salary, which raises the question of who cleaned the Romney houses the other 50 percent of the time.” [Huffington Post, 01/24/12]

8: What was Romney’s tax relationship with previously reported tax havens? In 2007, the LA Times reported Romney’s connection to funds in Bermuda and the Caymans. His tax returns for previous years could shed light on his relationships with those funds.

Romney Was “Listed As A General Partner And Personally Invested In BCIP Associates III Cayman,” A Fund That Was Registered As A Post Office Box In The Cayman Islands And Paid Him $1 Million In 2006. According to the LA Times, “In the Cayman Islands, Romney was listed as a general partner and personally invested in BCIP Associates III Cayman, a private equity fund that is registered at a post office box on Grand Cayman Island and that indirectly buys equity in U.S. companies. The arrangement shields foreign investors from U.S. taxes they would pay for investing in U.S. companies. Romney still retains an investment in the Cayman fund through a trust. Campaign disclosure forms show the investment paid him more than $1 million last year in dividends, interest and capital gains.” [LA Times, 12/17/07]

Romney “Served As President And Sole Shareholder” Of Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. In Bermuda—The Fund Had No Staff In Bermuda And “It’s Only Presence Consists Of A Nameplate At A Lawyers Office.” According to the LA Times, “In Bermuda, Romney served as president and sole shareholder for four years of Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd. It funneled money into Bain Capital’s Sankaty family of hedge funds, which invest in bonds and other debt issued by corporations, as well as bank loans. Like thousands of similar financial entities, Sankaty maintains no office or staff in Bermuda. Its only presence consists of a nameplate at a lawyer’s office in downtown Hamilton, capital of the British island territory. ‘It’s just a mail drop, essentially,’ said Marc B. Wolpow, who worked with Romney for nine years at Bain Capital and who set up Sankaty Ltd. in October 1997 without ever visiting Bermuda. ‘There’s no one doing any work down there other than lawyers.’ Investing through what’s known as a blocker corporation in Bermuda protects tax-exempt American institutions, such as pension plans, hospitals and university endowments, from paying a 35% tax on what the Internal Revenue Service calls ‘unrelated business income’ from domestic hedge funds that invest in debt, experts say.” [LA Times, 12/17/07]

9: What did Romney’s taxes look like before his assets were in blind trusts?  Did they change dramatically as he prepared for a political career?

2003: Romney’s Investments Were Transferred Over to Blind Trusts.  By 2003, Romney’s investments were placed into a blind trust managed by attorneys from law firm Ropes & Gray.  Details of the holdings of Romney’s blind trust were not required to be disclosed according to statutes of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.  Romney’s family trust disclosures read, “Various investments and securities at the discretion of the trustee.  Under the terms of the blind trust, the Governor may have no knowledge of the specific holdings or management of the trust, except that the beneficiary may direct, and the trustee may report, investment allocation and performance of the trust by broad categories (i.e. publicly traded stocks, publicly traded taxable bonds, public traded tax exempt bonds, etc.).”  [Statement of Financial Interests, Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, 200320042005]

10: What was Romney’s relationship with Bain Capital affiliate Mesoamerica? Mesoamerica was a Costa Rican based investment fund that housed investments in Central American businesses. What was Romney’s tax rate on those investments?

2001-2002: Romney Held an Equity Stake in a Costa Rica-Based Private Equity Fund Which Invested in Central American Businesses.  Romney’s 2001 and 2002 Statements of Financial Interests indicate that he held 1.09 percent stake in MesoAmerica Fund I LP, a private equity fund based in Escazu, Costa Rica.  The fund invested in business located in Central America.  The fund’s office was located at Plaza Roble, Edificio El Portico, Piso , in Escazu, Costa Rica.  [Statement of Financial Interests, Massachusetts State Ethics Commission, 20012002; MesoAmerica, "History of Investments,"]

Mesoamerica’s Shared Investment Strategy Of “Sister Organizations Bain & Company And Bain Capital.”  According to Mesoamerica’s website, “The origins of Mesoamerica are based on a clear focus on strategy that we share with our sister organizations Bain & Company and Bain Capital.  Mesoamerica began in 1996 as a private equity fund; the investment banking and strategic consulting practices were added in 1998 with the creation of Mesoamerica Investments, founded by Harry Strachan, Luis Javier Castro, Alejandro Lozano and Julius Landell-Mills.”  [MesoAmerica, “About MesoAmerica,”]

11: How much did Romney save from the Bush tax cuts? Romney supports extending the Bush tax cuts permanently. It’s only fair to ask how much it saved him personally. Releasing tax returns from earlier years would facilitate a calculation.

In September, 2011 Mitt Romney Said He Would Keep The Bush Tax Cuts In Place. The Associated Press reported that “Romney said he would keep the Bush-era income tax cuts unchanged.” [AP, 9/6/11]

CBO: One-Third of The Bush Tax Cuts Went To People With the Top 1% of Income, Who Earn On Average $1.2 Million. “Fully one-third of President Bush’s tax cuts in the last three years have gone to people with the top 1 percent of income, who have earned an average of $1.2 million annually, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to be published Friday… The new estimates confirm what independent tax analysts have long said: that Mr. Bush’s tax cuts have been heavily skewed to the very wealthiest taxpayers.” [Washington Post, 8/13/04]

12. In what other countries did Romney pay taxes and claim a foreign tax credit?

Romney’s Tax Returns Showed Foreign Tax Credits And Investment In International Financial Instruments. According to Washington Post, “Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s newly released tax return shows sprawling international financial interests, from Bain Capital entities based in Luxembourg to a Goldman Sachs fund in Dublin. It discusses a foreign currency transaction and details foreign tax credits. But one of Romney’s biggest foreign investments is sheltered from U.S. taxation, partly because it is based in the Cayman Islands. […]Regulatory filings show that the partnership, related to Romney’s career at the corporate buyout firm Bain Capital, is registered in the Cayman Islands. The offshore arrangement could have spared Romney a form of U.S. tax that can apply even to individual retirement accounts, experts say.” [Washington Post, 01/24/12]

Romney Claimed A Foreign Tax Credit Of More Than $120,000. According to the National Journal, Romney claimed a foreign tax credit in 2010 of more than $120,000. [National Journal, 01/24/12]

UPDATED: For Tax Day 2012 (4/13/12)

3. Why did Romney’s trust claim to provide services to Bain Capital when the Romney campaign is now saying that the claim was a false statement? Does Mitt Romney think providing false information to the IRS is insignificant or was the original tax statement actually correct?

Romney’s Taxes Contained Seemingly Unnecessary Section 83(B) Elections In Connection With Romney’s Use Of The Carried Interest Tax Loophole. According to the New York Times, “Much of the Romneys’ income comes from carried interest, an unusual tax provision that allows employees and executives of private equity firms to pay low taxes. While those executives do not invest in the partnerships that buy and sell companies, they are compensated out of the partnership profits and allowed to treat the proceeds as capital gains, which are taxed at just 15 percent. That is the principal reason the Romney tax rate is so low. Mr. Romney was allowed to keep getting carried interest on new Bain partnerships for many years after he left the firm, and in 2010 he assigned the proceeds from a couple of partnerships to the Ann Romney trust. In the tax return for that trust, Mr. Malt signed letters electing to use Section 83(b) of the tax code in connection with Mr. Romney’s carried interest from two Bain partnerships. Such an election may or may not be legal, but it is certainly unnecessary. The section is normally used to let executives pay taxes on profits from restricted stock grants at capital gains rates. Since carried interest is already taxed at those rates, there would seem to be no reason to file that form.” [New York Times, 1/26/12]

Romney’s Trustee’s 83(B) Letter Indicated Carried Interest Was “Subject To Forfeiture If I Cease Performing Services For The Partnership,” But The Romney Campaign Backtracked Claiming The Statement Was A Falsehood.  According to the New York Times, “Moreover, to qualify for Section 83(b) treatment, the grant must involve restrictions. Mr. Malt’s letters stated that the carried interest “is subject to forfeiture if I cease performing services for the partnership.” Just who was that “I” is not clear. The trust performed no services, and neither did Mr. Malt. Nor do the Romneys claim to have done any work for the partnerships. Moreover, the Romney campaign says the interest is not subject to forfeiture. In other words, the letters are untrue. When asked, the campaign conceded as much, but said there was no harm in filing the false statements since the tax obligation was not affected. It appears that Mr. Malt signed some letters he took to be boilerplate without bothering to read or understand them.” [New York Times, 1/26/12]

The Ann D. Romney Blind Trust Listed A Partnership Interest In Bain Capital Partners (Am) X, Lp. Mitt Romney’s tax returns included a transfer notice of a Bain Capital Partners (AM)X LP to the Ann Romney trust. The value of the property at election was listed as $0. According to the document “The interest in the future appreciation of the Partnership’s business to which I am entitled pursuant to my partnership interest is subject to forfeiture if I cease performing services for the Partnership.” The document was signed by Romney trustee Bradford Malt. [Mitt Romney 2010 Tax Filing Pg. 131-132]

The Ann D. Romney Blind Trust Listed A Partnership Interest In Bain Capital Partners (Am) X, Llc. Mitt Romney’s tax returns included a transfer notice of a Bain Capital Partners (AM)X LP to the Ann Romney trust. The value of the property at election was listed as $0. According to the document “The interest in the future appreciation of the Partnership’s business to which I am entitled pursuant to my partnership interest is subject to forfeiture if I cease performing services for the Partnership”  The document was signed by Romney trustee Bradford Malt. [Mitt Romney 2010 Tax Filing Pg. 133-134]

4: Did Romney pay the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) tax on his multi-million dollar IRA? If not, do Romney’s earlier taxes shed light on using off-shore “blocker” corporations to avoid the UBIT tax on his multi-million dollar IRA?

Mitt Romney Obtained A Multi-Million Dollar Ira By Investing Retirement Funds In Bain Capital. According to Wall Street Journal, “Like many Americans, Mitt Romney has an individual retirement account. Unlike most Americans, Mr. Romney has between $20.7 million and $101.6 million in it, a big chunk of his fortune. Experts on estate planning said it is highly unusual to accumulate such a considerable sum in an IRA, an investment vehicle restricted by annual contribution limits. It appears that Mr. Romney’s grew so large mostly because it holds investments in Bain Capital, the private-equity firm he helped start.” [Wall Street Journal, 1/19/12]

Romney Would Likely Incur The UBIT Tax Because His IRA Invested In Private Equity Funds. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Under current tax law, anybody investing an IRA in a private-equity fund, as Mr. Romney did, would likely incur a hefty special tax on ‘unrelated business income,’ also known as UBIT. This tax, assessed at a maximum 35% rate, is meant to discourage tax-exempt entities such as an IRA, pension plan or endowment fund from unfairly competing with for-profit, taxpaying entities by operating a business without paying taxes on it. Investing in a partnership that uses debt to buy companies would trigger the tax, experts said.” [The Wall Street Journal,1/19/12]

It Isn’t Known Whether Romney Paid UBIT; Experts Say His Filings Suggest A Strategy Using Offshore Funds To Avoid The Tax. According to The Wall Street Journal, “It isn’t known whether Mr. Romney paid UBIT. His filings suggest use of a strategy involving offshore funds sometimes employed to avoid it, according to several experts. One method used by tax lawyers is to have the IRA invest through an offshore affiliate of the private-equity firm, known as an offshore blocker corporation, which in turn invests the same money in the private-equity partnership. The tax is avoided because the IRA technically is investing in the offshore corporation, not in a private-equity partnership. .” [The Wall Street Journal, 1/19/12]

The Use Of Offshore Blocker Corporations To Avoid UBIT Costs The Us Treasury Nearly $1 Billion Every Decade. According to The New York Times, “The issue revolves around ‘blocker corporations,’ set up in tax havens like the Caymans to help nonprofit giants avoid the unrelated business income tax, which was created to prevent nonprofits from straying into profit-making ventures that compete with taxpaying companies. Although not illegal, so-called UBIT blockers cost the United States Treasury nearly $1 billion a decade, according to Congress’s bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.” [The New York Times, 2/7/12]

Romney’s Campaign Has “Come Close” To Admitting That Romney’s IRA Uses Blocker Corporations, But Have Not Said It Directly. According to The New York Times, “The Romney campaign has not said whether the candidate’s I.R.A. investments are in a blocker entity, but they have come close. A campaign statement said Mr. Romney’s I.R.A. ‘uses investment structures just as those commonly used by charities and pension funds, including union pension funds, to maintain their tax-exempt or tax-deferred status.’” [The New York Times, 2/7/12]