Saturday, September 29, 2012

Football and the 2012 Campaign

We've all seen football games where one team has a two point lead. In such games, it is relatively easy for the lead to change: a field goal would do it.

Some games are three pointers, so that same field goal would only tie things up, and possession changes on the following kickoff.

Other games take a touchdown to tie up or take the lead. These metrics become more and more critical as the clock counts down the quarters.

In terms of the 2012 presidential campaign, we are just starting the fourth quarter and Obama has a nine point lead. It isn't enough for Romney to get a TD, even with a two-point conversion.

Romney must take over the conversation, take control of the field, and retain it for the duration of the campaign. He must also prevent the Obama team from scoring ANY points, or at least limiting them to field goals.

Put briefly: Romney must dominate the debates (doubtful), cough up budget specifics (what for?), keep his mouth shut on current foreign affairs (breaking with tradition), and figure out some way to present himself as a human being with greater-than-zero empathy (laughable). Breaking with one or two of his party's extremist tropes would be good, too (start with that dumbass Norquist pledge--he has anyway).

Good luck with that, Mitt.

I predict Obama winning with 55% of the popular vote and >325 electoral votes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mitt Romney: Anything It Takes

Anyone who has been watching Mitt Romney throughout the Republican presidential race has seen dozens of instances of him saying whatever it takes to appeal to whatever audience he finds himself addressing.

Some examples, in no particular order:

- As he told CPAC attendees early this year, in a blue state with a solidly Democratic state House and Senate, he was a 'severely conservative' governor in Massachusetts. So conservative, in fact, that he was pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights, repeatedly raised taxes and fees, and did basically nothing to stop same-sex marriage in that state. When it suited his ambitions, he was actually a moderate.
- In front of several dozen millionaire donors at a $50,000/plate fundraiser, he accused nearly half of Americans of being moochers who feel entitled to government handouts and who refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives. You know, the working poor, veterans, active-duty military, the elderly, etc. This was, in context, an effort to fire up those donors to raise money because Mitt believes his sole hope of being elected isn't through an intellectual debate about specific policies, but rather by focusing on the 7% or so of voters who are independents.
- In several of the Republican debates, he almost always sided with his fellow candidates on social issues, only breaking ranks when it came to his private sector experience. Remember ALL of them vowing to veto any tax increase even if it was offset by a factor of 10 in spending reductions?
- When seeking the VP nod from McCain in 2008, he coughed up over 20 years of tax returns, but after clinching the nomination has been steadfast in his refusal to do the same for the American voters.

This last one has only very recently changed: the campaign will be releasing his final 2011 return as well as a statement from the manager of his trusts with generic averages and estimates which invite as many questions as they don't answer.

The same guy who deducted over $70,000 for his wife's dressage horse in 2010 is the same guy who gave generously to charity ($4 million or so), but only deducted $2.25 million in order to GET A DOUBLE-DIGIT EFFECTIVE TAX RATE.

What the hell? Two years ago, $77,000 lousy dollars was important enough to itemize as a deduction against over $20 million in income: a 0.385% reduction in liability.

We have already seen Mitt completely change his story, his style, his history, and his message whenever it suited his election ambitions. Now we are seeing him tweak his tax numbers so his effective rate isn't embarrassingly low.

If he had been as determined to avoid taxes for his 2011 filing as his 2010 filing, his effective tax rate would have been under 10%. Once again, in playing to a particular audience (in this case, the ~70% of voters who think the Buffett Rule is a good step in the right direction), he just changes how he works.

And this is the guy whose plan is to reduce rates on the highest earners, increase rates on the middle earners, and probably close dozens of popular tax benefits in the process? And we are to believe that this will: reduce the deficit, reduce the debt, create an average of 250,000 jobs per month for his entire term in office, magically return us to 4% annual GDP growth, save Medicare, preserve Social Security, keep America safe, promote innovation, strengthen education, renew and improve infrastructure, solve our immigration problems, bring jobs back to America, establish energy independence, and develop the American economy of the future??????

No wonder this guy is short on specifics. No set of specifics anywhere by anyone could possibly translate to any randomly chosen 3 of the above-stated goals of the Romney campaign based on his "plan" as outlined thus far. His plan is to say and do whatever it takes to get elected. Full stop.

He'd better be one HELL of a debater.