Friday, August 10, 2012

Mitt Romney Economic Advisers Draft White Paper To Back Up Job Creation Predictions

Posted:  Updated: 08/05/2012 11:05 pm

Mitt Romney Jobs
WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney's campaign released a paper by four of its top economic advisers on Thursday to back up its assertion that Romney's tax reform and fiscal plan would create "millions of jobs," as an adviser earlier in the day had stated.
The paper argued that Romney's policies would produce about 250,000 jobs a month in the U.S. economy, for roughly 12 million new jobs by the end of Romney's first term as president.
"The Romney economic program will change the direction of policy to focus on economic growth," the advisers wrote. "Its pro-growth effects will work in two basic ways: It will speed up the recovery in the short run, and it will create stronger sustainable growth in the long run."
The paper was less actuarial work with raw data and specific numbers, however, and more of an economic philosophy argument based largely on the premise that simply by undoing much of what President Obama has done since taking office, the economy would recover at a faster pace than it has been from the recession that began in late 2007.

The Romney Program for Economic Recovery_ Growth_ and Jobs
"By changing course away from the policies of the current administration and ending economic uncertainty, as proposed by the Romney plan, we expect that the current recovery will align with the average gains of similar past recoveries," the advisers stated. "History shows that a recovery rooted in policies contained in the Romney plan will create about 12 million jobs in the first term of a Romney presidency."
The Romney economists wrote that in a normal recovery, such as that of 1974-75 or of 1981-82, the economy created about 200,000 to 300,000 jobs a month.
In focusing on broader measures of economic growth and of what a traditional recovery looks like, the Romney campaign is seeking to avoid getting bogged down in a debate over how much individual taxpayers would pay under the Romney plan in year one or two.
But Romney did appear on conservative radio host Sean Hannity's show, where the presumptive GOP candidate said that the president has been mischaracterizing his economic and tax plans.
"My plan does not reduce the share of taxes paid by wealthy people. That's one of the first principles of my plan, which is high income people will continue to pay the same share of taxes they pay today," Romney said.
"And if anyone's going to get a break, a tax break, it's going to be middle-income Americans. They're the people who deserve it," he said. "But he, you know [Obama] has a way of putting out a false statement and then attacking it and making it sound like it's mine, which of course it's not. And he knows better than that."
The Romney campaign sent the 8-page paper to reporters Thursday afternoon, after holding a morning phone call with the press when Romney advisers talked about having data showing evidence of their job claims, but did not provide it.
The paper's authors were Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia University's graduate business school; Greg Mankiw, a Harvard University economics professor; John Taylor, a Stanford University economics professor; and Kevin Hassett, of the American Enterprise Institute. Both Hubbard and Mankiw had roles in former President George W. Bush's White House.
Romney has come under attack from Obama this week after a think tank released a paper that said the Republican presidential candidate's tax proposal would result in a huge tax cut for the most wealthy Americans while causing the tax burden for middle- and low-income earners to grow.
Obama has also told audiences at campaign stops this week that Romney wants to make middle-class families pay $2,000 more a year so that high-income earners can get a $250,000 tax break.
Romney says he wants to lower everyone's taxes by 20 percent. The complicating factor for him is that many lower- and middle-income Americans pay little or no federal income taxes, in part because of deductions for things like mortgage interest or children. So if the rates are lowered for those Americans, but tax deductions or exemptions are taken away from them as part of what is referred to as broadening the base, then that would be a net tax increase.
The Tax Policy Center paper released on Wednesday said that Romney would be forced to take away deductions and exemptions from middle- and lower-income Americans if he did not want to add to the federal deficit by cutting taxes, keeping investment tax rates low and lowering the corporate rate.
The Romney campaign has countered that they could make the tax cuts "revenue neutral" -- a technical term meaning it would not add to the deficit -- by cutting spending, eliminating loopholes and exemptions for corporations and high-income individuals, and by increasing revenues from enhanced economic growth sparked by lower tax rates.
"The fact is that if you can create jobs then you're going to have an enormous positive impact on income distribution because people who don't have a job right now have an income of about zero," Hassett said earlier Thursday.
But until now, the Romney campaign had offered only vague assurances that their plan would produce the kind of economic growth that would result in, as Hassett referred to it, "millions and millions of jobs."

First Thoughts: It's not an even race - Obama's ahead 

Friday, 10 August 2012 06:18:00 PDT
Things have changed. It’s not an even race right now -- Obama’s ahead … Does Romney go bolder in his veep pick because of it? … Speaking of bolder, was he hinting at picking someone like Paul Ryan yesterday in his interview with NBC with talk of “vision” and adding to the “political discourse about the direction of the country?” … Romney’s pledge to stay away from personal attacks … The flap over the out-of-bounds Priorities ad carries risk for Obama’s image. … Obama campaign pushes back against the dubious Romney welfare ad with an ad … GOP conservative concern is growing … And more evidence Romney makes his VP pick AFTER the bus tour.

By NBC’s Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro

Jack Dempsey / AP
President Barack Obama talks to supporters during a campaign rally at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., Thursday, Aug, 9, 2012.

*** It’s not an even race – Obama’s ahead: The Olympics are wrapping up and, at the end of July, when the Olympics began, we wrote that we were basically at halftime of the general election -- and Obama had a narrow lead. Well, it’s a little bigger than that now. (People may want to quibble, but you can’t dismiss every poll on sampling.) There’s clearly movement toward the president and clearly problems for Romney personally. We had found it in our polling for the last month and it hadn’t shown up everywhere yet. Now it has. The latest evidence: three new polls out today – from CNN, Fox, and Reuters/Ipsos – all showing President Obama leading Romney by seven points or more and at or near 50%. (CNN 52-45%, Fox 49-40%, Reuters/Ipsos 49-42%). What’s more, Romney continues to have an image problem. In CNN, Obama’s fav/unfav is +14, Romney’s -1. And in Fox, Obama’s +12, Romney’s +1. (Ipsos didn’t ask fav/unfav.)

*** Raising the stakes: What does this mean aside from how the playing field has shifted in the last two weeks? All this raises the stakes for Romney’s VP pick and convention. We’ve said August is important for Romney to make a move, and that’s even truer now. He enters what could be the final week of VP speculation. We’re in any-day mode with his running mate selection. And he’s at a point where the running-mate selection, which will change the subject from whatever’s being talked about, is going to be made when Romney’s behind, making it more defining than perhaps he ever wanted it to be. The conventional wisdom had been that Romney was going to be picking a running mate in a coin-flip race. Well that’s not the case now. How does that change his mind? Does it help Paul Ryan? Does Romney go outside the short list and go somewhere else (Rubio, Christie?). The bottom line is in just three weeks, he was going to be picking his running mate from a position of strength (and perhaps that favored a guy like Tim Pawlenty, meaning he could pick a partner and a friend). Now, he’s picking one from a position of weakness.

*** Romney hinting at Ryan? Mitt Romney, in his interview yesterday with one of us, said he wants someone with “a vision for the country that adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country. I mean, I happen to believe this is a defining election for America that we're going to be voting for what kind of America we're going to have.” He added: “[T]his is a campaign of a big choice.” Well, who does that sound like? That probably brought a smile to the face of Paul Gigot. He would argue in the pages of the Wall Street Journal that no one represents a clearer “vision for the country” or “adds to the political discourse” more than Paul Ryan. How would Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty fit into that mold aside from simply being on Team Romney? Romney seemed to say: I do want to say something with my pick. I want to make a distinction. Of course, throughout the entire GOP presidential primary, candidates were saying this was the most important election of our lifetimes. And President Obama has certainly talked about the stark choice this election represents. But this was the strongest hint yet at Romney's thinking.

*** This is business not personal: Romney also said in the interview he would like a pledge (of sorts) with Obama that there be no “personal” attack ads. “[O]ur campaign would be-- helped immensely if we had an agreement between both campaigns that we were only going to talk about issues and that attacks based upon-- business or family or taxes or things of that nature.” (Question: Is Romney really saying that scrutinizing his business record -- which he has held up as one of his chief qualifications to be president -- is personal? But we digress...) He continued: “[W]e only talk about issues. And we can talk about the differences between our positions and our opponent's position.” Romney said of his own campaign: “[O]ur ads haven't gone after the president personally. … [W]e haven't dredged up the old stuff that people talked about last time around. We haven't gone after the personal things.” That doesn’t mean surrogates or Super PACs have, as was brought up to him. Bottom line, obviously, this negative stuff is getting to Romney or he wouldn’t have said this. Campaigns that are winning never complain about the tone of the campaign (although Obama certainly laments “crazy” things outside groups say – more on that below.). There will be more on this from Romney on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown. Did he just offer the Obama campaign an official pledge? See for yourself.

*** Reset your Priorities: Speaking of “crazy” things outside groups come up with. The Romney campaign and RNC have done a good job pushing and highlighting the Priorities ad, which goes too far. The Chicago Tribune today says Obama should denounce the ad: “Mr. President, lift the campaign. Call this ad what it is: a disgrace.” This ad clearly highlights the continued blurring of the lines between campaigns and the outside groups that support them. And the Obama campaign gave the Romney folks and RNC an opening when it denied knowing the man’s story in the ad (they shifted on that yesterday a bit.) The man had appeared in an Obama campaign ad previously and was on a campaign conference call touting his story – all dug up and pushed by Romney/RNC. (Although there’s no proof that the Obama campaign explicitly coordinated and told Priorities to run this ad.) If the shoe was on the other foot, you’d expect the Obama people would ask for Romney to denounce it. Why’s the GOP pushing this story so hard? Because one Obama’s great strengths is that he’s perceived by the public not as a generic, cynical politician, and if some of that luster can rub off, it helps Romney. Obama has a positive “brand,” and he still has more to lose if this becomes a total mud fest than Romney if he’s not careful.

*** Pushback: By the way, it’s worth noting that the Priorities ad still hasn’t actually aired anywhere (except in free cable chatter.) The Romney welfare ad, on the other hand, IS running – and it’s why the Obama campaign responding in kind with an ad of its own – this one called “Blatant,” which notes the fact checks calling the ad “blatantly false” and misleading. There are two ways campaigns respond to negative attacks – (1) via press release if the ad’s not actually airing (which is what the Romney camp and RNC is doing), and (2) Go on air with an ad in defense (which is what Obama’s doing). By the way, with Romney yesterday saying on Bill Bennett’s radio show that there was a time when campaigns used to feel guilted into pulling ads deemed to be false, does that mean he’ll be pulling the welfare ad?

*** GOP conservative concern is growing: Yesterday, we noted how conservative activists reacted to a comment from a Romney spokesperson on health care. Well, they’re also voicing complaints – in blind quotes -- about Romney’s transition team, reports The Washington Post’s Rubin. They’re upset with the addition of former World Bank president and U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Zoellick to the transition team to deal with national security. They accuse Zoellick of promoting “multilateral mush.” Later in the day, on a separate point, John Podhoretz tweeted: “So every day Romney is not talking about the economy is a day lost, campaign says. Are they talking about the economy? No. Thus, the problem.” Rubin wrote that this week “was a lesson that the campaign dare not be oblivious to deep-seated grievances and sensitivities from conservative foot soldiers.” It’s another example of the base’s wariness of Romney and the gap of trust that exists. This is a problem for Romney. How will Romney lead his party if they don’t trust him? His base just isn't allowing him much room – and by comparison, Obama was able to tack to the middle on free trade and even Iraq a bit during the 2008 general. By the way, doesn’t this problem make Ryan one of the “safer” picks for Romney?

*** What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Podhoretz hits on this point -- that the Romney campaign message isn’t quite coming in crystal clear. It was SUPPOSED to be hyper-focused on the economy, remember? But he got hit hard for his tax plan that left a lot of specifics out. He also lamented overseas that he wasn’t being asked about “substance.” So what has the Team Romney message been this past week? Welfare, Israel, negative Super PAC ads and Lech Walesa and the Pope. They've been all over the place. Either they are trying to throw the kitchen sink at Obama -- now. Or they realize they have to do more than just the economy. Or they are trying to hold the ball out to drive daily news cycles until the veep is picked and the convention, which will take the narrative away from Bain or taxes or anything else negative about Romney (like this Bloomberg story about Romney’s time as the head of Marriott’s audit committee, in which “during Romney’s tenure as a Marriott director, the company repeatedly utilized complex tax-avoidance maneuvers….”). Or a combination of all those. It may be the biggest development of the past week.

*** More evidence pick happens end of next week: The Newark Star Ledger has this little nugget in today’s paper: “Although most attention was focused on the possible vice presidential nominee, one person close to the situation said the selection of Christie as the keynote speaker could come from the Romney camp as early as this weekend.” So, one of the little surprises on this bus tour (that already includes appearances with veep hopefuls Bob McDonnell, Marco Rubio, and Rob Portman) that the Romney campaign might have some fun with is that Chris Christie could be unveiled as the RNC keynoter. This is shaping up to be the biggest tease bus trip since Sarah Palin went on her national parks summer vacation. It’s all the more reason to think the pick likely happen at the end of next week. This is all playing out exactly how the Romney campaign would want – milking the speculation and buzz nationally and locally.

*** On the trail: President Obama hosts a Ramadan dinner at the White House at 8:30 pm ET.
Countdown to GOP convention: 17 days

Countdown to Dem convention: 24 days

Countdown to 1st presidential debate: 54 days

Countdown to VP debate: 62 days

Countdown to 2nd presidential debate: 67 days

Countdown to 3rd presidential debate: 73 days

Countdown to Election Day: 88 days

Mitt Romney’s Plan For A Stronger Middle Class

Mitt's plan for a stronger middle class focuses on five points: building energy independence, ensuring Americans have the skills to succeed, opening markets that work for America, cutting the deficit, and championing small businesses.

Presidentialaccountabilityscorecard 1 1 Mit Romney

Battle 2012: Campaign Ads   

          Published on Jul 20, 2012 by
Michael Shure covers the newest presidential campaign ads from the Obama and Romney campaigns. "Tricky Mitt" Ad likens Romney to Richard Nixon. "Mitt Chairman & CEO. Verbatim" Bain Capital controversy. Craig Romney makes a valiant attempt to appeal to hispanic voters in "Los Invito" ad. "Where the money went" attacks Obama on the Solyndra failure.Ad on "Mitt dancing around the issue" of releasing his tax returns.

EDITORIAL: The Civil War of 2016

U.S. military officers are told to plan to fight Americans

Imagine Tea Party extremists seizing control of a South Carolina town and the Army being sent in to crush the rebellion. This farcical vision is now part of the discussion in professional military circles.
At issue is an article in the respected Small Wars Journal titled “Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A ‘Vision’ of the Future.” It was written by retired Army Col. Kevin Benson of the Army's University ofForeign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., andJennifer Weber, a Civil War expert at the University of Kansas. It posits an “extremist militia motivated by the goals of the ‘tea party’ movement” seizing control of Darlington, S.C., in 2016, “occupying City Hall, disbanding the city council and placing the mayor under house arrest.” The rebels set up checkpoints on Interstate 95 and Interstate 20 looking for illegal aliens. It’s a cartoonish and needlessly provocative scenario.
The article is a choppy patchwork of doctrinal jargon and liberal nightmare. The authors make a quasi-legal case for military action and then apply the Army’s Operating Concept 2016-2028 to the situation. They write bloodlessly that “once it is put into play, Americans will expect the military to execute without pause and as professionally as if it were acting overseas.” They claim that “the Army cannot disappoint the American people, especially in such a moment,” not pausing to consider that using such efficient, deadly force against U.S. citizens would create a monumental political backlash and severely erode government legitimacy.
The vision is hard to take seriously. As retired ArmyBrig. Gen. Russell D. Howard, a former professor at West Point, observed earlier in his career, “I am a colonel, colonels write a lot of crazy stuff, but no one listens to colonels, so I don’t see the problem.” Twenty years ago, then-Air Force Lt. Col. Charles J. Dunlap Jr. created a stir with an article in Parameters titled “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” It carried a disclaimer that the coup scenario was “purely a literary device intended to dramatize my concern over certain contemporary developments affecting the armed forces, and is emphatically not a prediction.”
The scenario presented in Small Wars Journal isn’t a literary device but an operational lay-down intended to present the rationale and mechanisms for Americans to fight Americans. Col. Benson and Ms. Weber contend, “Army officers are professionally obligated to consider the conduct of operations on U.S. soil.” This is a dark, pessimistic and wrongheaded view of what military leaders should spend their time studying.
A professor at the Joint Forces Staff College was relieved of duty in June for uttering the heresy that the United States is at war with Islam. The Obama administration contended the professor had to be relieved because what he was teaching was not U.S. policy. Because there is no disclaimer attached to the Small Wars piece, it is fair to ask, at least inCol. Benson’s case, whether his views reflect official policy regarding the use of U.S. military force against American citizens.
The Washington Times



Conservative ads in Spanish tell a different story to Hispanics

By Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times Thursday, August 9, 2012

Photo by: Pablo Martinez Monsivais
**FILE** President Obama greets people Aug. 2, 2012, outside Lechonera El Barrio, a local restaurant in Orlando, Fla. Obama won the 2008 election with 66% of the Hispanic vote and, according to polls, his popularity among the crucial voting bloc remains the same. (Associated Press)

Polls show President Obama holds a clear advantage among Hispanic voters this year, but a new Spanish-language television ad, running in Nevada and sponsored by a conservative group, aims to peel away those supporters by arguing that his administration set records for deporting illegal immigrants.
It’s a message that could backfire if it were in English — deporting illegal immigrants is a popular stance in many conservative communities. But English-speaking voters likely will never see the ad, which is running on two major Spanish-language networks in Las Vegas.
The Hispanic ad market is one of the least-studied but among the most important in politics.
“Our goal was to come up with an ad that would really engage Latino voters and make them think,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Values, which is affiliated withNevada Hispanics, the group running the ads.
Mr. Aguilar said Mr. Obama has not lived up to campaign promises to sign legislation granting illegal immigrants a path to citizenship. The ad says the president is not interested in Hispanic issues and “only wants our vote.”
Indeed, Mr. Obama has set records for deportations, removing about 400,000 immigrants each year for the past three years. That figure has drawn fierce fire from immigrant rights activists.
But advocates said they hoped Hispanics won’t buy the ads’ message, saying there’s no comparison when the choice is between Mr. Obama and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“When a Republican-leaning group runs an ad on immigration that tries to pretend a Republican administration would somehow be different, it just doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Lynn Tramonte, deputy director ofAmerica's Voice Education Fund. “If I were them, I wouldn’t keep spending money on this type of advertisement.”
Mr. Obama continues to do well among Hispanic voters, with a 63 percent approval rating in the Gallup tracking poll — nearly 20 points above his national average.

Neither the Obama campaign nor the Romney campaign responded to requests for comment on the campaign’s state of play on Spanish-language airwaves.
Tailoring messages to an audience is common. It’s often a matter of geography — talking corn in Iowa, for example. Other times it’s issues-based, such as when Mr. Obama called for common ground on abortion at Notre Dame University’s graduation ceremony in 2009, or when Mr. Romney spoke to Hispanic leaders in Florida this year and focused on expanding legal immigration.
But language adds another wrinkle because it can send a message to one community without necessarily reaching the broader voting public.
The Spanish-language ads also fall outside of some disclosure requirements, such as the new rule that requires the major networks in the country’s top 50 markets to post all ad contracts online. Those rules don’t apply to Spanish-language networks, even though in cities with large Hispanic audiences such as Los Angeles and Miami, the English-language networks regularly trail their Spanish-speaking counterparts in ratings.
Like the conservative deportation ad, Mr. Obama’s allies are taking advantage of the language barrier by running an ad last month in Spanish that tried to contrast Mr. Romney’s refusal to release more the past two years of his tax returns to his support for state laws requiring immigrants to demonstrate that they are in the country legally.
“He wants us to show him our papers. But he doesn’t show us his,” the ad says in Spanish. “How can we trust Mitt Romney?”
That ad is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union’s Committee on Political Education and by Priorities USA, a super PAC run by a former Obama staffer.
The campaigns themselves are staying more positive in their Spanish-language pitches.
Mr. Obama is running commercials featuring Cristina Saralegui, whom some papers have labeled the “Latino Oprah,” in which the talk show host says Hispanic voters should reward the president for signing the health care legislation and for his work to revive the economy.
“It makes me laugh when some say that President Obama has done nothing,” she says in Spanish in the ad.
Mr. Romney has run ads featuring his son Craig telling voters in Spanish that the candidate’s father, George Romney, was born in Mexico. Craig Romney also said his father would work toward a long-term solution to the nation’s immigration system.
Mr. Aguilar said Republicans do have problems reaching Hispanic voters, but that the Romney ad is a solid effort.
“That is an ad that can have impact because, again, it says to Latinos, [the president] failed you and is not willing to work with Republicans. My dad hasn’t had a chance. He’s willing to,” Mr. Aguilar said.
Ms. Tramonte, though, said the spot tries to hide Mr. Romney’s stances from the primary campaign, such as his support for Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
“President Obama has a pretty good response to those ads, which is, he’s the only one who’s taken action to try to do something on immigration in the last four years,” Ms. Tramonte said.
Nevada, where Mr. Aguilar’s group is running its ads, is a hot spot for immigration politics, and the debate is playing out in the state’s Senate race, too, where Ms. Tramonte accused Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, of tailoring his immigration message for Spanish and English audiences on his Web page.
The Republican incumbent’s English page includes an “immigration” section that says Mr. Hellerwants to enforce existing immigration laws and boost the Border Patrol, and that he opposes “amnesty.”
But his Spanish-language page, which is part of the main website, doesn’t talk about enforcement and instead focuses on fixing the difficulty of navigating the legal immigration system.
Mr. Heller’s spokeswoman, Chandler Smith, said the senator doesn’t try to hide his stances.
Dean Heller has been open and honest with the Hispanic community about his position on a wide range of issues, including immigration reform. He is not afraid of this discussion,” the spokeswoman said. She said Democrats are turning to immigration as an issue to try to recapture Hispanic voters who are backing Mr. Heller over his Democratic challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley.

Is Romney's campaign stalled?

By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
updated 5:08 PM EDT, Fri August 10, 2012

Obama pulls ahead in new CNN/ORC poll

  • GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign has struggled to gain traction
  • President Barack Obama's campaign attack ads have taken a toll
  • Polls show Romney lags on what experts say should be his strongest area: the economy
  • Romney will have to choose a strong running mate, give great convention speech
Washington (CNN) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is trying to shift into high gear, but elections experts say his campaign seems to be stuck in second.
With just weeks before the nominating conventions and his national debut before a broader electorate, Romney's struggles to make the case that he is best equipped to pull the nation out of the economic doldrums could derail his quest for the presidency.
Romney's biggest challenge? Turning the conversation back to the weak economy and poor job growth and away from President Barack Obama's re-election campaign's attacks on his tenure at private equity firm Bain Capital and refusal to release more tax records.
Romney has stalled at this. Given the ailing economy, Romney should be faring much better, political experts say.

"One way to measure this is -- given the conditions of the country and the economy -- one would think the challenger would be ahead and he's not," said CNN senior political analyst David Gergen.
His tax plan, the release of which was intended to offer a punctuation mark on how he'd handle the economy, was criticized by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The plan would provide large tax cuts to the very wealthy while increasing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes. It would make it tough to recoup lost government revenue, according to the Brookings study.
And those campaign attack ads from Obama's campaign and those supporting it aren't helping.

According to a CNN/ORC International poll of likely voters released Thursday, Romney's unfavorable rating jumped to 48% from 42% a month ago, a drop which followed a period in which the Obama campaign hammered the GOP presidential hopeful with a deluge of advertising and news stories about his time at Bain and calls for Romney to release more of his tax records, which he has refused to do.
Obama now leads Romney by seven percentage points in the poll with 52% of registered voters questioned in the survey saying that they'd vote to re-elect the president and 45% backing Romney.
Worse, political experts say, is the somber news for Romney that only 45% of those polled by CNN said that the economy would get better if Romney were elected -- two percentage points below Obama's number.
A recent Fox news poll has Obama garnering 49% of the vote and Romney 40% if the election were held today. Obama's lead in that poll comes from an 11% lead among independent voters.
In a Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times swing state poll released recently, more than 50% of voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio said they do not feel Romney "cares about the needs and problems of people" like themselves. More than 50% of voters polled in those two states said Obama cares about their needs and problems.

"I think the Obama campaign is outmaneuvering the Romney campaign. They've kept him on the defensive on his taxes and on Bain, which is a key foundation for his campaign," Gergen said. "This rat-a-tat of advertising, this avalanche of advertising has taken a toll."
And in some cases, Romney has also been his own worst enemy, said Marc Hetherington, political science professor at Vanderbilt University.
"Romney hasn't helped himself by not putting these issues to bed with the tax situation and has allowed these issues to linger," Hetherington said. "This could have been a two-day story. That's time we're spending not talking about what Romney wants to talk about, which is the economy. He's put himself in a tough box here."
Romney will have to pull out all the stops if he wants to change the narrative the Obama campaign has crafted, political experts say.
"He has to capture the agenda back and remind people, 'I'm the businessman who made a lot of money, and I can help you make lots of money,'" Hetherington said. "If he doesn't do that soon these ideas people have about him will harden.
"Every step Romney makes — including his running mate — has to be getting back to where Obama is weak, and that's the economy."
But there are pitfalls in Romney's choice.
"(Former Alaska Gov. Sarah) Palin is a classic example," said Matthew Continetti, author of "The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star."

"You see a motivating force for conservatives. Palin was electrifying. The downside is, is the candidate ready to have the spotlight shined on them? Are they ready for the tough questions such as Palin with Katie Couric? Are there holes in the biography that can be filled in by myth?"
Romney's best bet to help him shore up his conservative bona fides and flagging support is to choose someone who appeals to middle-class white voters without college degrees who understands them, Continetti said.
The types of voters who have been hard hit by the economic downturn live in swing states and are the target of the Obama campaign's ads on what it casts as the human costs of Romney's financial success.
It's a big task.
The Obama campaign has tried to define Romney before he's had a chance to do it for himself. As a result, Romney's convention speech will be more important than ever, Gergen said.
"It's going to be his first chance to introduce himself to the country in terms of values and lay out his plan for the future... He's got to do that to close up this gap," Gergen said.
"It's now clear that Romney can't win this election by default. It's not an apple that's going to fall into his lap because the economy is weak. He's got to take it away from (Obama)."


Dishonoring Dad: The Romney Campaign Blows Racial Foghorn

August 10th, 2012 1:23 amJoe Conason
Mitt Romney has long boasted – with dubious accuracy but laudable pride – that his father George marched against segregation with Martin Luther King, Jr. But the Romney campaign of 2012 is dishonoring those filial sentiments as its strategy of racial polarization unfolds – with the latest and most blatant example emerging in a blatantly false attack on the Obama Administration’s welfare policies.
Suspicions that Romney might seek to inflame racist anger toward America’s first black president began to arise when his campaign strategist Stuart Stevens – a scion of Mississippi’s Republican Party – coined the slogan “Obama Isn’t Working,” which sounded to some like code for ethnic stereotyping. Others charitably attributed the gaffe to mere insensitivity typical of the Republican campaign’s insular, monochromatic staff.
Then came the candidate’s speech to the NAACP convention, which seemed to have been drafted to elicit booingfrom the African-American audience – a reaction instantly framed by Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing propaganda machine as an assault by blacks on Romney simply “because he is white.” Nevertheless some observers, including members of the NAACP,  still gave him credit merely for appearing before what he had to expect would be a skeptical if not hostile audience.
But now the Romney campaign – and the candidate himself – have seized upon welfare, the classical subject of racial stereotype, to divide the country against Obama with false accusations. With a new political advertisement claiming that the president has tried to eliminate work requirements from the Transitional Assistance to Needy Families program, or TANF, Romney and his allies are directly appealing to the ugliest emotions of their Tea Party base.
This isn’t a muted dog-whistle.  It’s a deafening foghorn.
The supposed basis for the Romney claim is a recent presidential directive permitting state governors to seek a “waiver” from the specific bureaucratic requirements of the welfare reform passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996. But as Clinton himself noted in a sharp response to Romney’s ad, Republican governors in Utah and Nevada originally requested that waiver.
Worse still, Romney sought precisely the same kind of flexibility in rules when he was governor of Massachusetts in 2005 (along with one of the Fox News hucksters now supporting his campaign, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee). Back then, Romney signed a Republican Governors Association letter to Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader, pleading for “state flexibility” implementing TANF, with “increased waiver authority.”
Even Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker and Romney antagonist who popped up to back the welfare attack, was forced to admit on national television that there is “no proof” for the charge that the Obama administration is seeking to “gut” TANF work requirements. There is substantial evidence, however, that the changes were designed to improve and even strengthen welfare-to-work.
Perhaps stung by Clinton’s fierce statement, which described the Romney ad as “untrue,” “misleading” and “disappointing,” the Republican candidate has followed up by pointing out that Obama, as an Illinois state senator, once voiced doubts about welfare reform. But the truth is that the president reassessed that view openly and courageously in 2008, when he said that TANF’s results were better than he had anticipated – and that work should be a central part of any government assistance program for poor families.
But this is not a policy dispute, because there is clearly no significant difference in policy between Clinton and Obama – and no real cause for concern that these new regulations would endanger welfare reform. There can be only one reason for the Romney campaign to focus on this tangential issue – the same old racial strategy, now used to recruit blue-collar white voters who otherwise find their candidate’s plutocratic profile repellent.

Why Does Mitt Romney Like Firing People? Because He Made $20,000 On Every Laid-Off Worker

June 15th, 2012 10:35 pmAxel Tonconogy
Mitt Romney would prefer for you to recall just one number regarding his record at Bain Capital. That would be 100,000 — the number of jobs that the Republican candidate  claims he created during 15 years at the private equity firm.
But now there is a more interesting, plausible and relevant number: $20,000. That’s how much money Romney is estimated to have made from each worker laid off during Bain’s many corporate takeovers.
In fairness, Romney’s goal at Bain was never to create jobs but to reap the biggest returns for their valued investors. Judging by that metric, he did exceedingly well, as even Bill Clinton accidentally admitted when discussing Romney’s “sterling” business career. And of course, Romney’s fortune, estimated somewhere between $190 million and 250 million, attests to that assessment.
But over the course of the Romney’s years at Bain Capital, at least five of the companies he took over eventually went bankrupt, while still  rewarding Bain investors handsomely:
• American Pad & Paper: Bain invested $5 million in the Ohio paper company in 1992, and reportedly collected $100 million in dividends on that investment.  But AMPAD went bankrupt in 2000, resulting in 385 employees losing their jobs.
• Dade Behring: Bain invested $415 million in a leveraged buyout in 1994, borrowed an additional $421 million, and ultimately walked away with $1.78 billion. Dade filed for bankruptcy in 2002, and laid off 2,000 employees.
• DDI Corporation: Bain reportedly invested $46.3 million in the electronic parts manufacturer 1997, earning $85.5 million in profits plus $10 million more in management fees. When the company went bankrupt several years later, 2,100 workers were laid off.
• GS Industries: In 1993, Bain invested $60 million in the Kansas City steel maker, borrowed a lot of money, and then took $65 million in dividends. But GS eventually went bankrupt in 2002, and 750 workers lost their jobs and pensions.
• Stage Stores: Bain invested $5 million to purchase the Houston-based retailer and took it public in the mid-’90s, reaping $100 million from stock offerings. In 200o, following Romney’s departure from Bain, Stage filed for bankruptcy and 5,795 workers were reportedly dismissed.
While it is true that some of those companies went under after Romney had left Bain, the job growth for which he now seeks credit also occurred after his departure in 1999. But the bankruptcies — and the bust-out scenario that helped Bain to profit anyway — are not news.  What AOL’s Daily Finance has contributed to the Bain debate is asimple calculation:  Bain Capital booked $1.995 billion in profits from the layoffs of 11,030 workers at various firms. And by that scoring, Romney earned roughly $20,000 himself for each of those fired employees. Nice work if you can get it (or take it away from someone else).

Taking Apart ‘The Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs’

August 10th, 2012 12:00 amBrad DeLong
A point-by-point response to Romney economic advisors Kevin Hassett, Glenn Hubbard, Gregory Mankiw, and John Taylor, authors of  “The Romney Program for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs” – also known as HHMT (abridged from the blog of J. Bradford deLong, Berkeley economics professor and former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for Economic Policy).

HHMT: We are presently in the most anemic economic recovery in the memory of most Americans, with significant joblessness and long-term unemployment, as well as lost income and savings.

WRONG: We are in the worst downturn, but we are not in the “most anemic” recovery–the recovery of 2001-2004 was more anemic. HHMT should know:  Three of them held high federal office in the George W. Bush administration that managed that recovery, and back then all four attempted (unconvincingly, in my humble opinion) to rebut claims from people (like me) that the early 2000s recovery was anemic and that more stimulative policies were then needed.
Why don’t HHMT make the true claim that we are in the worst downturn? Why do they make the wrong claim that we are in the most anemic recovery? Because they do not want to talk about how back when they were in office, they played their role in failing to use their leverage to argue for more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to speed the then-recovery.
Why weren’t HHMT arguing, back in 2001-2004, either inside or outside the government, for more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to speed the then-recovery? I don’t know.
Those of us who were so arguing would have found their help most welcome.

HHMT: The Obama administration says that the economy’s awful performance reflects the reality of the aftermath of a financial crisis and that the administration’s policies generated what little recovery we have seen from the severe 2007-2009 recession – Americans should stay the course. But the historical record is clear: Our economy usually recovers quickly from recessions, and the more severe the recession, the faster the subsequent catch-up growth…

DOES NOT FOLLOW: The argument that recovery is highly likely to be slow in the aftermath of a financial crisis is a powerful one—made by many who are not Obama administrationflunkies, including the well-respected Reinhart and Rogoff (2010) and the International Monetary Fund (2011). Their “But” sentence does not rebut this powerful argument—although HHMT mean for their readers to think that it does.

HHMT: The Romney economic program will change the direction of policy to focus on economic growth. Its pro-growth effects will work in two basic ways: It will speed up the recovery in the short run, and it will create stronger sustainable growth in the long run.

WRONG: There is no Romney program—a program is complete, coherent, and scoreable; Romney has repeatedly said that his statements are not scoreable. In order to estimate the economic effect of any program, you have to know what its pieces will do–you need to have it scored. Until Romney presents a complete and coherent program with scoreable pieces, HHMT have no basis for asserting anything about its economic impact.
One of the most annoying things here is the partisan asymmetry: the rules of the game seem to be that Democratic proposals have to be scoreable and coherent, while Republican proposals don’t.
It would have been very nice if HHMT had done what we Democratic economists do–told their political masters that they could not estimate economic impacts until they were given a coherent, complete, and scoreable plan.
Why they did not do this I do not claim to know.

HHMT: Declines in business investment and employment were particularly sharp in this recession. Far from being a lightning bolt hitting a smoothly running economy, the crisis was exacerbated by structural biases against business investment (from the tax code and regulation), financial imbalances (particularly fueled by biases against private saving and by the need to borrow abroad to finance our government deficits), and regulatory choices (excessive promotion of housing investment and inadequate attention to existing financial regulations and the rise of and consequences of shadow banking). No single party or administration is responsible for structural headwinds to growth, but the Obama administration’s errors and choices exacerbated the economy’s structural problems and weakened the recovery.
FRED Graph  St Louis Fed 1

DOES NOT FOLLOW: The argument that America has over the last two decades suffered from structural biases against business investment in categories like equipment and software simply does not follow at all. Business investment grew at a very healthy pace during the Clinton administration—and has grown twice as fast under Obama as it did in the years of what National Review used to call the “Bush Boom”.

The pieces of autonomous spending that are right now far below the values seen before the crisis and the downturn are (i) primarily residential construction, and (ii) secondarily government purchases–these are the results of a broken housing finance system and of Republican austerity programs, not of an anti-business climate.
The pieces of autonomous spending that are responsive to the business climate–the willingness of businesses to purchase equipment and the confidence of businesses that make them willing to export–are doing just fine right now. If residential construction and government purchases were doing as well, we would be out of this current mess.

HHMT: Rather than focusing on the structural problems revealed by the financial crisis and the ensuing recession, the Obama administration focused on short-term fiscal ‘stimulus.’

FALSE: I am sorry, but here I just have to escalate from “WRONG” to “FALSE”, because this is not just wrong, this is false–and knowingly false.
Obama administration attempts to focus on the structural problems revealed by the financial crisis were hobbled by Republican obstruction to the reform effort that eventually yielded the Dodd-Frank banking reform bill.
HHMT were conspicuous by their absence in the lobbying for reforms to deal with the defects of existing financial regulations and with the rise and consequences of shadow banking.
Why they were conspicuous by their absence I do not claim to know.

HHMT: The negative effect of the administration’s ‘stimulus’ policies has been documented in a number of empirical studies. Research by Atif Mian of the University of California, Berkeley, and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago showed that the cash-for-clunkers program merely moved new car purchases ahead a few months with no lasting effect.

DOES NOT FOLLOW: Such policies are supposed to shift demand forward in time into periods where the crisis is acute from future periods in which, it is hoped, demand is less slack. When Mian and Sufi present their work, they characterize it not as showing the failure but rather the success of programs like cash-for-clunkers.

HHMT: The Obama administration chose to emphasize short-term fixes – ineffective stimulus, cash-for-clunkers, myriad housing programs that went nowhere, and a rush to invest in ‘green’ companies irrespective of cost – rather than restoring long-term growth and productive private-sector job creation.

FALSE: The Obama administration from December 2009 on focused on the long run—on rebalancing the long-run financing of America’s social insurance state. Their attempts to strike a bipartisan deal to match future spending with future taxes were blocked by obstructionist Republicans, who believed that Obama must on no account be allowed to accomplish anything.
It was my view—and the view of others—that this pivot to the long-term structural was a mistake and was premature.
But for HHMT to claim that Obama did not so pivot is false, and knowingly false.

HHMT: As a consequence of [Obama's] short-termism, uncertainty over policy – particularly over tax and regulatory policy – limited both the recovery and job creation. One recent study by Scott Baker and Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven Davis of the University of Chicago found that this uncertainty reduced GDP by 1.4 percent in 2011 alone, and that restoring pre-crisis levels of uncertainty would add 2.3 million jobs in 18 months.

LIE: I am sorry, but I have to escalate from “FALSE” to “LIE”.  The phrase “particularly over tax and regulatory policy” makes this a lie.
As Simon van Norden writes:
Note the phrase ‘this uncertainty’: [HHMT] is talking about uncertainty ‘particularly over tax and regulatory policy’.  Now read the analysis by Baker, Bloom and Davis – or consider this from their abstract: ‘The index [of uncertainty] spikes around presidential elections and major events such as the Gulf wars and the 9/11 attack. Index values are high in recent years and show clear jumps associated with the Lehman bankruptcy, the 2010 midterm elections, the Euro crisis and the U.S. debt-ceiling dispute.’ Uncertainty over regulatory policy? No mention. Uncertainty over tax policy? No mention…

HHMT: The Obama administration has made choices to bypass reforms that would jumpstart long-term growth and job creation. Such reforms would address our anti-competitive tax code and unsustainable trajectory of federal debt – but the president ignored his own deficit commission and submitted no plan for entitlement reform.

FALSE: The Affordable Care Act—ObamaCare—is by itself a major, major entitlement reform, scored by CBO in its current-law fiscal scenario as removing two-thirds of the long-run fiscal gap. Other Obama proposals—many other Obama administration proposals—have been rejected by Republicans in Congress for no reason other than their political decision to make sure Obama accomplishes as little as possible.

HHMT: The president’s choices cannot be ascribed to a political tug of war with Republicans in Congress. President Obama and Democratic congressional majorities had two years to tackle any priority they chose.

LIE: I am sorry. I think we have to escalate from “FALSE” here.
There were at least seven Democratic senators in 2009-2010 — Baucus, Landrieu, Lincoln, Bayh, Nelson, Pryor, Spector, Webb — who were “professionally bipartisan” in that they would not vote for cloture in any but the most extraordinary circumstances without Republicans voting by their side. Unless the Democrats could peel off a Collins, a Snowe, or a Voinovich, they had not a filibuster-proof working majority of 60 but rather a filibuster-vulnerable working majority of 53.

HHMT: The epitome of the deviations from basic principles is the self-inflicted fiscal cliff where many important provisions of the tax code change at the end of 2012.

DOES NOT FOLLOW: HHMT were conspicuously absent in 2010 and 2011 from the ranks of those of us arguing that the economy was being harmed by the debt-ceiling debate, the debate that produced the “fiscal cliff” as the only outcome congressional Republicans could be induced to accept.
Those of us who were arguing then for consistent and coherent long-run fiscal policies would have found their help most welcome.

HHMT: Policy responses in the early 1980s aimed not just at overcoming the 1981-1982 recession, but at overcoming the structural problems of the 1970s. By reducing domestic discretionary spending, setting out a three-year program to reduce tax rates, and alleviating the regulatory burden, policymakers sought to make it profitable to invest in America again. These principles match those in the Romney plan. Governor Romney would reduce the size and cost of the federal government. He champions a reduction in marginal tax rates in the context of a general tax reform. Particularly powerful are his proposals to reduce marginal tax rates on business income earned by corporate and unincorporated businesses alike.

DOES NOT FOLLOW: As noted above, there is no business unwillingness to invest in America. Our problems are insufficient investment by government—the results of austerity programs—and insufficient investment in residential construction—the results of a broken and unfixed housing-finance system.
And the embarrassing reality underlying the Reagan years 1981-1989 is that the rate of growth of America’s productive potential, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, was no faster over 1981-1989 than it had been over 1973-1981. If Reagan administration policies were truly aimed at boosting American growth, they failed—in large part because of the drag placed on investment by the high real interest rates that businesses had to pay in the Reagan years, as they competed for scarce pools of capital left over after the U.S. government had financed the Reagan deficits.

If you want to make it more attractive to invest in America, you simply do not take Ronald Reagan’s economic policies as your model.**

HHMT: The Romney plan will achieve these objectives with four main economic pillars…. reduce federal spending as a share of GDP to 20 percent – its pre-crisis average – by 2016; reduce individual marginal income tax rates across-the-board by 20 percent, while keeping current low tax rates on dividends and capital gains… [r]educe the corporate income tax rate… to 25 percent… broaden the tax base to ensure that tax reform is revenue-neutral;… reduce growth in Social Security and Medicare benefits… block grant the Medicaid program to states; remove regulatory impediments to energy production and innovation… repeal and replace the Dodd-Frank Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…

DOES NOT FOLLOW: Repealing Dodd-Frank — with not a hint as to what will replace it — does not decrease but increases regulatory uncertainty. Repealing ObamaCare — also with not a hint as to what will replace it — does not decrease but increases regulatory uncertainty, especially as up through the middle of 2009 what we now call ObamaCare was then calledRomneyCare, and its biggest booster was Mitt Romney. How can uncertainty fail to be generated by would-be President Romney’s declaration that he opposes RomneyCare and seeks to replace it with something else that he will not reveal?
Similarly, Romney has not even the outlines of a plan for how to reduce federal spending to 20 percent of GDP, or how he could possibly broaden the tax base to keep his tax cuts for the rich revenue-neutral.
If you do indeed fear uncertainty about tax and regulatory policy, you need to vote against Romney as you would vote against the plague—and urge everybody you know to vote against Romney, and urge them in the strongest possible terms.