consultants are sandburs

Monday, October 22, 2012

More good Romney stuff. JOE VOTER, before guessing over the next four years, ask yourself whether your portfolio is your cash source, or whether it is your sweating to earn.

NYT's Timothy Egan, analyzing the clearly entitled anti-entitlement mystery man and something he said during the second debate that resonated with some

Tuesday, he reappeared — the petulant, unlikable and bullying corporate persona that is Mitt Romney’s default mode.

With his feigned slights, his constant squabbling over the rules, and his arrogance that he alone has a trust-me-it’ll-work business plan to right the country, Romney was the very picture of a C.E.O. used to getting his way. Meeting over. All opposed, take a hike.

The Mitt Romney of the second debate, to use Mike Huckabee’s memorable phrase, “looks like the guy who fires you.” He exposed, once again, his biggest fault: that he has no idea what it’s like to be middle-class and struggling in 2012 America.

To take just a couple of examples, here was Romney explaining the benefits of his tax program, the breaks that you’ll get on your stock dividends and mutual funds. As he outlined it with all the mercenary gusto of the visiting suit with a PowerPoint, Romney said, “Every middle-income taxpayer will no longer pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains.” And, a bit later, “If you’re getting a statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have, you don’t have to worry about filing taxes on that.”

No kidding. In Romney’s world, and throughout his own tax return, the money earned from money — as opposed to money earned from working — is the chief source of wealth. And it’s already taxed at a lower rate than middle-income earnings. Getting rid of those taxes altogether does nothing for the warehouse manager, schoolteacher or insurance sales person taking home a salary and being taxed at a full rate for making a living. But it’s great for someone living off mutual fund dividends.

Another example: When asked a perfectly normal question, one roiling the soft minds of the undecided voters, about what would happen if the numbers in his secret budget-and-tax plan didn’t add up, Romney went full boss-in-a-snit mode.

“Of course they add up!” He was offended at the mere suggestion that they would not. “I was someone who ran a business for 25 years.” That, alone, was supposed to exempt him from explaining how he will cut taxes for the rich, add to defense spending and eventually balance the budget.

That's only a part, so read the entire Egan item.

Okay people, given how mainstream media overlooked that bit of showing the real Romney, to real folks; who took notice? Well, economists, who know what they know, (not the one from SCSU who barely stumbled his way into the legislature by a handful of votes but at least argues for sunset law as a way to reexamine things done last session, or the session before that). Beverly Mann, at Angry Bear. Brad DeLong. Each with a comment thread. DeLong, quoting a part of the fuller quote presented above.

Do go to the original NYT item. The lead image alone is worth it. Romney the Roman, kind of that thought triggered in my mind by that image. If casting the Gladiator film again, he'd be selected to play the protagonist's spoiled antagonist, if I headed casting.

Looks to me like the guy who enjoys himself, firing you.

One of the Angry Bear contributors:

Linda Beale: Linda is a law professor at Wayne State University Law School who teaches various courses in the area of federal income tax, such as introduction to federal income tax, corporate taxation, partnership taxation, international taxation and perhaps in the future a course in statutory interpretation focussed on tax.

Her philosophy is that "the tax system should reflect the values of ordinary Americans and our long-held belief in principles of liberty, equality and community. I fear that we have instead tended to give too much credence to purportedly "objective" ideas about taxation based on the rationales of law and economics and unverified theories about economic growth, and too little credence to human needs for community that require allocating the burdens and benefits of the tax system fairly among the people and entities that make up our system." She maintains her own blog ataxingmatter as well.

That blog is worth reading. An example, a recent posting, stating in large part

Romney's Tax (Mis)Calculations: if your two and two don't add to four, pretend the laffer curve gives you more

Romney's plan is pure market fundamentalism--a mistaken view that the "market" will take care of all problems and vigorously grow to elevate everyone's livelihood just so long as government regulators stay out of the business of regulating and allow business owners and managers (particularly huge multinational corporate owners and managers) to do whatever they want, including fire workers, outsource business assets, and engage in complex schemes to turn tax laws into tax avoidance bonanzas. Oh, and the government should provide all kinds of subsidies to aid those businesses at minimal or no (tax) cost--from interstate roadways to easy rights to exploit national lands owned by the public; from localo fire protection to federally funded international security; from state-based contract protection to federal courts that provide handy forum choices to the wealthy and big corporations; from state and local property tax exemptions and waivers to federal intellectual property rights that provide monopoly power and stifle innovation (exactly the opposite of the Founders' dream).

And when Romney claims that he can "simplify" the tax system and lower everyone's rates without increasing the deficit, reducing the taxes paid by the upper crust, or increasing the taxes paid by the middle class, while at the same time increasing the military budget and striking more threatening poses a la the Bush neo-cons on Iran? That's gibberish, as many respected studies have shown.

So to his rescue comes one of those propaganda tanks in the guise of an intellectual "institute"--the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI). The Institute puts out a "Tax Bytes" newsletter/blogpost supporting right-wing, market fundamentalist, Friedman-lite tax policies. Not surprisingly, the Institute is sanguine about making a Reagan-style across-the-board rate reduction program work even in an economy that is still in transition back from the brink that the Bush market fundamentalist tax and fiscal policies put us in. That is, in spite of the fact that Romney-Ryan stand for things like making the Bush tax cuts permanent, eliminating the estate tax, maintaining the preferential rate structure for capital gains and carried interest, and even extending that very low rate preference to all other capital income (like interest) for those earning less than $200,000 (who don't have much capital income to worry about though, since the vast majority of it goes to the people in the very top 5% who make millions, not thousands)--the Institute says "increased private sector growth" will make the plan work. See "Of Course It Can Work", IPI, TaxBytes 9.25 (October 17, 2012). That's just the Laffer Curve idea at its worst--the wacky concept that when you cut taxes, there will be more tax revenues because of all the wonderful things that a self-regulated market does for economies.

So IPI thinks you can cut government revenues even more than Bush did (when the Bush tax cuts of 2001-2003-2004 (and the rest) amounted to about one-third of the cause of the Great Recession). It buys into the fairy tale that has been used by the far right to justify obstructionist, non-realistic policy positions and that has created the fiscal debacle we are still climbing out of.

That is but one recent post. It hangs together well, as I read it, and is balanced in that a link was provided by Prof. Beale, so you can read the counter rationale offered by others. And she does that not in a "strawman" manner. She does not build any straw concoction to knock apart. Instead, read what gets published by an ongoing operation that thinks differently than Beale does. Find truth for yourself after reading both sides. "Of Course It Can Work." Sure. Pigs fly. But that's truth to me, and you have the links, so form your own judgments.

Note, Beale's original text cited the Wikipedia "market fundamentalism" entry; which in turn links to an online 330 page item, published as an Australian National University e-book,

Boldeman, Dr. Lee. The cult of the market: economic fundamentalism and its discontents. PDF (1.60 MB); 2007, Canberra: The Australian National University ANU E Press.

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