While Romney promises his base-rubes that he’s going to lower gas prices if he’s elected…
“I don’t think that now is the time, and I’m not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline. I’m very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay.” — Gov. Romney, 2006
”I think you’ll see . . . that I will focus increasingly on finding permanent solutions to the high cost of energy, because we believe that this high cost is not a temporary phenomenon, but has the potential of being a permanent phenomenon.” — Gov. Romney, 2005
LAST NIGHT: (via: USAToday)
Claim: Romney said a gallon of gasoline in Nassau County, N.Y., was $1.86 when Obama took office. It’s now “4 bucks a gallon.” He also said the cost of electricity is up.
Facts: Gas prices were going through a period of exceptional volatility when Obama took office — largely because, as Obama noted, gas prices plummeted as the recession took hold and people drove less. The day before Obama was sworn in, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was $1.83, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). As of Monday, it was $3.71.
But gas prices are still 34 cents below their all-time high during the Bush administration. In the summer of 2008, the national average hit $4.05 a gallon.
Businessweek: “You’d think a man as business savvy as Romney would be more attuned to the fact that markets, not politicians, determine the price of crude oil and therefore gasoline. [...] The U.S. is currently producing 6.6 million barrels of crude oil daily, compared with 5 million when Obama took office. The last time the U.S. was pumping this much oil was in May 1995, when the national average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline was $1.17. Today, it’s $3.81. The difference is the price of a barrel of oil. In 1995, a barrel of oil was $19. Today, it is around $92. [...] High gasoline prices aren’t a production problem; they’re a logistics problem. The U.S. is currently undergoing the biggest recalibration of its pipeline infrastructure since many of those pipes were laid 50 years ago. But here’s the thing: Building more pipes won’t necessarily bring down the price of gasoline. If anything, it’ll make it more expensive on the whole. Once all that cheap domestic crude starts to find more markets, its price will rise, not fall. A commodity that has access to more markets, and thus more demand, will eventually become more valuable.”
Steve Benen: “And how did gas prices get so low in late 2008 and early 2009? Because there was a global economic catastrophe — gas was cheap because the economy had fallen off a cliff. As the economy improved, demand went up, and the price of gas started climbing. It’s Economics 101. As Matt Yglesias explained a while back,
“It turns out that driving to work, ferrying stuff from the warehouse to the store, hauling containers across the Pacific Ocean, and flying around to meetings all takes oil. If you manage to orchestrate a situation in which millions of people lose their jobs, retail sales plummet, stores close, and economic activity generally grinds to a halt, this frees up a lot of extra oil.”
Demand went down, supply went up, so gas prices went down. Then the economy improved, demand went up, supply went down, so gas prices went up. It doesn’t mean we’re watching a flawed energy policy fail; it means there’s a global market that’s affected by recessions and recoveries.”
“…under George W. Bush, the price of gasoline increased from $1.60 per gallon when he took office in January 2001 to $4.40 per gallon in July 2008, a jump of 275 percent.” – GOP Deceptions About Gas Prices
“All of a sudden, this man gets up and says: ‘So how long are you people going to blame the previous administration?’ And I said: ‘Forever.‘” — Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a campaign rally for Pres. Obama
Political Wire: “An excerpt of Where They Stand:The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians by Robert W. Merry in Salon suggests George W. Bush will be ranked near the bottom of all presidents: ”Based on the contemporaneous voter assessments, the objective record, and what we know of history, it’s difficult to see him even in middle-ground territory. History likely will view Bush largely as the voters did after eight years of his stewardship. And so it’s probably just as well that he doesn’t care much about the verdict of history.“
Consider that Mitt Romney, in actions if not in words, is creating a campaign that seems to be an exact duplicate of the Bush Years, from extending tax cuts for the one percent — who’ve already surpassed all other earners in the country with net income advantages, and who’ve hoarded their wealth gains to the detriment of our entire economy — to a neocon foreign policy platform that’s becoming more “Cheneyfied” by the day. What could go wrong?
Ari Berman: “Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. [...] Romney’s malleability is an advantage for his neocon advisers, giving them an opportunity to shape his worldview, as they did with Bush after 9/11. Four years after Bush left office in disgrace, Romney is their best shot to get back in power. If that happens, they’re likely to pursue the same aggressive policies they advocated under Bush. “I don’t think there’s been a deep rethink,” says Clemons. “I don’t think the neoconservatives feel chastened at all. As a movement, the true neoconservatives never, ever give up. They will be back.””
Andrew Sullivan: “When you check reality, rather than the alternate universe constantly created by Fox News and an amnesiac press, you find that Bush had a chance to pay off all our national debt before we hit the financial crisis – giving the US enormous flexibility in intervening to ameliorate the recession. Instead, we had to find money for a stimulus in a cupboard stripped bare – its contents largely given away, by an act of choice. I’m tired of being told we cannot blame Bush for our current predicament. We can and should blame him for most of it – and remind people that Romney’s policies: more tax cuts, more defense spending are identical. With one difference: Bush pledged never “to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.””
WHAT ROMNEY / REPUBLICANS STAND FOR———————————————
“Governor Romney is a tremendous improvement. I think we could have been even more of an improvement, but that’s, you know, that’s, that, that, that, that issue was passed. Uh, Governor Romney is an important and dramatic improvement, and that’s why we’re behind him.” – Rick Santorum’s fiery, pulse-pounding, and inspirational endorsement of Mitt Romney
Fox “News” disappears Romney’s attack on Teacher, Firefighter, and Police Hiring – Fox & Friends is shielding Mitt Romney from scrutiny after the GOP presidential candidate suggested that we don’t need “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers,” selectively editing an interview with Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod to excise out his criticism of what Romney said. In doing so, Fox avoided a discussion of the merits of Romney’s comments: that we should not address or rectify the severe and unusual loss of public sector jobs or a conversation about how public sector job losses are hurting the overall economy. – MMFA
It’s absurd that Romney doesn’t know the federal government DOES, in fact, pay for teachers, firefighters and cops — “That’s a very strange accusation,” Romney said on “Fox & Friends.” “Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that is completely absurd.” In fact, the federal government spends huge amounts of money to support all those professions. [...] In all, the federal government pays for nearly 11 percent of the country’s public school costs. Uncle Sam also funds thousands of police jobs ever since the Community Oriented Policing Services program was created in 1994. [...] The feds have doled out less for firefighters, but the money is still substantial. – HuffPo
Romney Mocks Stimulus For Saving Jobs – When Mitt Romney mocks the Obama Administration for using stimulus funds to “protect government,” who he’s really attacking is police, firefighters, and teachers. The overwhelming majority of stimulus funds distributed to the states were used to prevent layoffs of public employees. Over 3 million public employees were in danger of losing their jobs following the onset of the recession, but the stimulus afforded states the funds they needed to avoid handing out massive amounts of pink slips. Pink slips that would have gone to police, firefighters, and teachers. As far as Romney is concerned, if you are a public employee then you are a leech, and he thinks you should be out of a job. Ensuring that you lose your job as an employee of the state is now a centerpiece of his campaign. As far as he’s concerned, the money used to employ you would be put to better use by passing another tax cut for himself. That’s not conjecture or hyperbole. That is his platform. – JM Ashby
Romney confirms he’ll deny insurance to millions with pre-existing conditions if Obamacare is struck down — Mitt Romney confirmed on Tuesday that he would allow insurers to deny coverage to millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare later this month. ROMNEY: So let’s say someone has been continuously insured and they develop a serious condition. And let’s say they lose their jobs or they change jobs or they move and go to a different place, I don’t want them to be denied insurance because they have some pre-existing conditions. So we’re going to have to make sure that the law that we replace Obamacare with ensures that people who have a pre-existing condition, who have been insured in the past, are able to get insurance in the future so they don’t have to worry about that condition keeping them from getting the kind of health care they deserve. – Think Progress
WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————
“Everybody knows that government creates jobs.” — Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), citing infrastructure programs and the hiring of private contractors.
President Obama: Debt, deficits were ‘baked into the cake’ with Bush’s tax cuts and the wars – “I love it when these guys talk about debt and deficits,” Obama told supporters in Baltimore. “I inherited a trillion dollar deficit. We signed two trillion dollars in spending cuts into law,” Obama said. “Spending under my administration has grown more slowly than under any president in 60 years.” Obama said that the country’s budget deficits and big debt were the result of the George W. Bush’s two tax cuts, as well as the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “They baked all this stuff into the cake with those tax cuts… and the war,” Obama said. “It’s like somebody goes to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, a martini and all that stuff, then just as you’re sitting down they leave and accuse you of running up the tab,” Obama said – POLITICO
Claims that President Obama’s policies have hurt businesses are greatly exaggerated — “Let’s start with the idea that the Obama administration sees businesses as piggybanks. Since 1950, corporate tax receipts have averaged 2.7 percent of GDP. In the Obama years, they’ve averaged 1.16 percent of GDP… Going forward, the Obama administration’s budget envisions corporate tax receipts rebounding to about 2.4 percent of GDP — again, beneath their historical average… After taxes, corporate profits amounted to 6.9 percent of GDP in 2010 — their highest level since 1966… That’s a mighty odd outcome for an administration that supposedly sees the existence of private businesses as an unpleasant side effect of the government’s need for tax revenues, don’t you think?” — Ezra Klein
How Obama’s ‘Doing Fine’ Gaffe May Help Him – Americans may hate the idea of government in the abstract, but they like it in the specific. The Republican strategy is always to keep its discussion of government programs general — with a handful of exceptions, like foreign aid and programs that help the poor — while Democrats try to make it as specific as possible. Firing police officers, firefighters, and teachers is way less popular than firing government bureaucrats. Obama has taken great care to turn the question into one of those specific job categories, and Romney has inadvertently helped him. Also, and perhaps more important, the entire controversy has fixed the attention of the news media on the very point that Obama was trying to make: There are many fewer government employees now than there were when Obama took office. Romney is trying to attack Obama for changing his mind on the merits of this fact, but in so doing he is helping to drive home the very existence of this fact. [...] What’s more, this debate fulfills a second goal of Obama’s: to place himself in opposition to the economic status quo. The broader purpose of his Friday press conference was to remind America that he has an economic plan that Republicans won’t enact. Romney’s general strategy is to force Obama to own everything that has happened to the economy, even those things that have happened over his opposition. Now Romney is endorsing the status quo, and Obama is against it. That is surely the opposite of what Romney wants. — Jonathan Chait
WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STANDS FOR TODAY—————————–—
“I like competition, and I think the game is like a sport for old guys. I mean, you know, I can’t compete in competitive sports very well, but I can compete in politics, and there’s the—what was the old ABC ‘Wide World of Sports’ slogan? ‘The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.’ The only difference is victory is still a thrill, but I don’t feel agony in loss.” – Mitt Romney, comparing the presidential election to a game, in an interview by Peggy “Drunk at” Noonan, published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s all in the game, yo. All in the game.” Omar Little
Romney argues big spending cuts would cause ‘Depression,’ contrary to Tea Party activists – While rival schools of economic thought have never agreed on each other’s fundamental principles, over the past several decades, the notion that more government spending helps during a recession had gained broad acceptance. But it has been rejected by Tea Party members of Congress and conservative interest groups like the Club for Growth, who have bemoaned Obama’s stimulus package and other efforts to boost the economy as job-killing government spending. Club for Growth declined to comment for this article. The rhetorical thrust of a sharp distinction between the Tea Party’s demand for big cuts and Obama’s supposed propensity to spend has been a central tenet of the GOP’s political messaging over the past two years. And Romney has run afoul of budget-cut purists before, recently over comments he made during a campaign stop in Michigan. “If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy,” Romney said, according to MSNBC. That comment prompted this response from Club for Growth lobbyist Andy Roth: “It’s hogwash. It confirms yet again that Romney is not a limited government conservative.” — HuffPo
A top Mitt Romney campaign adviser on Friday disavowed conspiracy theories pushed by Donald Trump, one of Romney’s most high-profile supporters. The adviser said the campaign could not be held responsible for everything that Romney supporters say. Trump is a birther. He clings to the notion that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, despite the fact that this theory has been proven to be baseless. Next week, Romney will be holding an event with Trump. In a CNN interview on Friday, Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom said the campaign was going ahead with the May 29 event despite Trump’s birther views. — HuffPo
Let the eagle soar! Paid sick leave for workers: ILLEGAL — Last year, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and Wisconsin’s Republican legislature approved a law making it illegal for Wisconsin’s cities to require that businesses provide their workers with paid sick days. Milwaukee had crafted a law mandating paid sick leave for workers within the city, but Walker and Wisconsin GOP nullified it. A judge, in ruling that the state had the ability to preempt Milwaukee’s law, said “I don’t feel real good about how this happened politically.” Louisiana’s legislature is now considering a similar bill to preempt local efforts at requiring paid leave for workers… [...] Just a few cities in the country — Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle — along with the state of Connecticut require that workers receive paid sick leave. The United States is all alone in the industrialized world in not requiring some form of paid leave as a matter of national policy. Each year, the U.S. economy loses $180 billion in productivity due to sick employees attending work and infecting other workers. — Think Progress
House GOP plans August vote to extend Bush tax cuts – “Knowing that comprehensive reform will take time, we must ensure that while Congress is working to bring about competitive change, government does not increase the cost of business,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote in a note to Republican representatives on Friday. “Before we leave for August, I expect to schedule a vote on legislation preventing the largest tax increase in history.” – Raw Story
Damage done: The Romney campaign seems to have decided that it can’t repair the damage to his chances with Hispanics post-primary and he’ll focus on getting votes elsewhere. – TPM
WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————
“[T]he rate of spending – federal spending increase is lower under President Obama than all of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, including all of his Republican predecessors. That is a fact not often noted in the press and certainly never mentioned by the Republicans. [T]his President has been – has demonstrated significant fiscal restraint and acted with great fiscal responsibility. That is also why he has put forward a balanced plan to further reduce our deficit and debt by over $4 trillion….. I simply make the point, as an editor might say, to check it out; do not buy into the BS that you hear about spending and fiscal constraint [sic] with regard to this administration. I think doing so is a sign of sloth and laziness.” – White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, speaking to the press corps on Wednesday aboard Air Force One
An Obama Spending Spree? Hardly. – The fact that the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion under Obama’s watch makes for easy partisan attacks. But the vast bulk of the increase was caused by a combination of revenue losses due to the 2008-09 economic downturn as well as Bush-era tax cuts and automatic increases in safety-net spending that were already written into law. Obama’s policies, including the much-criticized stimulus package, have caused the slowest increase in federal spending of any president in almost 60 years, according to data compiled by the financial news service MarketWatch. — TPMDC
Obama calls Romney speech ‘a cow pie of distortion’ – The president said there may be value in Romney’s experience in corporate buyouts, “but it’s not in the White House.” He also noted that the former governor doesn’t talk about his record in Massachusetts. Speaking directly to Iowans, Obama used local lingo to slam Romney: “Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week and warned of a prairie fire of debt,” he said. “But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion.” Then he quipped, “I don’t know whose record he twisted the most – mine or his.” — MSNBC
Bill Maher: Obama ‘is a lousy socialist’ — Maher ended Friday night’s “New Rules” segment by calling out the Right’s ridiculous mischaracterization of the President. “…Newt Gingrich called Obama the most radical Leftist President in history. Senator Marco Rubio called him the most divisive figure in American history. Michelle Bachmann said Obama is the most radical President we have ever seen in the history of the country …John Bolton said Obama just doesn’t care about national security. Honestly, there are Mexican drug mules who don’t pull this much stuff out of their ass,” Maher said. Maher, expressing disappointment in Obama’s accomplishments, then said, “If Obama were as radical as they claim, here’s what he would have already done: Pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us ‘Medicare for all,’ ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to the Hague.” – Raw Story
“Do not slow down the recovery that we’re on. Don’t muck it up.” – President Obama, speaking directly to Congress during a speech centered on jobs and the economy on Friday in Arlington, Virginia. The economy added 243,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate fell to 8.3%, much better than analysts expected. (tpmmedia)
8.3% Unemployment In Context — or how can the GOP turn this around to make it worse before November? (Source: politicalwire.com)
Steve Benen: “After years of jobs reports that were only considered encouraging when compared to where we’ve been, January’s totals is objectively good news. Indeed, this is one of the best — if not the very best — jobs reports since the recession began four years ago.”
Ezra Klein: “The bottom line is that this isn’t just a good jobs report. It’s a recovery jobs report. It’s showing the sort of numbers that win elections.”
More Steve Benen: And with that, here’s the homemade chart I run on the first Friday of every month, showing monthly job losses since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction — red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.
Rising debt, un- and underemployment, and dim job prospects have forced many Millennials to postpone the key decisions that historically marked entry into adulthood. Nearly half of the 25- to 34-year-olds surveyed said they’ve put off purchasing a home; 29 percent say they’ve delayed starting a family; and 26 percent still live with their parents. These decisions have long-lasting effects.
Someone who is forced to delay purchasing a home until their 30s will likely not have that house paid off by the time they retire in their late 60s. Those who have to put off starting a family will still be paying for kid-related expenses until their late 50s or early 60s (or later, if their own children are unemployed and living with them in their 20s). Millennials’ parents, the Baby Boomers, were able to buy their first homes and start their careers and families in their late teens and early 20s, right out of high school or college, with little or no debt.
These issues are something completely new to our youngest generations – our NEXT generations. If you don’t think something needs to be fixed after reading this, or if you really believe the solution is to cut spending to lower the deficit right now, you’re completely insane.
“There’s now a generation of young workers who are in danger of being permanently sidetracked in the labor markets and disconnected from society. Research shows that the long-term unemployed tend to be depressed, suffer greater health problems and even have shorter life expectancy. The youth unemployment rate is now 24%, compared with the overall rate of 9.1%. If and when these young people return to work, they’ll earn 20% less over the next 15 to 20 years than peers who were employed. That increases the wealth divide that is one of the root causes of growing political populism in our country.” — What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths – TIME
Meanwhile, the Republicans are fighting for tax cuts for the wealthy, at the same time that the wealthy have so much money that the luxury goods market is currently ‘zooming’.
Here’s TIME’s five destructive myths, with partial info from the article on two that seem to be the ones that the teahadists are constantly insisting will ‘save’ us):