Mother Jones: With Hurricane Sandy set to make landfall in the Mid-Atlantic, Mitt Romney’s policies for federal emergency management seem as relevant as ever. And the candidate’s budget, as described below, isn’t the only indication Romney would slash funding: As the Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim noted, the presidential candidate suggested during a GOP primary debate that he would diminish [FEMA's] role and leave responsibility for helping imperiled Americans to the states.
Huffington Post: [Mitt Romney was asked by John King, the debate moderator] if FEMA should be shuttered so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response.
Mitt Romney: “Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?…”
John King: “Including disaster relief, though?”
Romney: “We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
Mother Jones (cont): “The Ryan budget makes no mention of FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security of which it’s a part. In fact it makes no mention of any specific cuts to non-entitlement programs. We can’t say for sure, in other words, the extent to which disaster funding would be scaled back. But the overall math suggests that it would be drastic. The Ryan budget proposes reducing total non-entitlement spending from 12 percent of GDP to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2050. As my colleague Kevin Drum put it:
Defense spending alone amounts to 4% of GDP, and it’s vanishingly unlikely that this will ever fall much below 2-3% of GDP. This means that all domestic spending will decline from about 8% of GDP to 1-2% of GDP by 2050. That’s prisons, border control, education, the FBI, courts, embassies, the IRS, FEMA, housing, student loans, roads, unemployment insurance, etc. etc. It’s everything. Whacked by about 80% or so.
“[...] the GOP ticket’s likely cuts to disaster management and weather forecasting budgets would come at a time in which, fueled by climate change, natural disasters are becoming increasingly more potent and expensive. There were 14 billion-dollar disasters in the United States in 2011—the most on record.“
It’s all part of the austerity measures that Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan would implement to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthy and greater military spending than is necessary. Those things, to Mitt Romney, are not an “immoral” debt — those debts makes sense to Mitt Romney.
Those are the Republican Party’s priorities — what are yours?
“It’s easy to say that ‘My plan is to eat ice cream sundaes and chocolate cake and hamburgers as much as I want, my plan is to lose 60 pounds, and my plan is to avoid painful exercise, and those are all my objectives and I’m committed to every one of them.’” — Larry Summers: Romney Tax Plan The Equivalent Of A Hamburgers And Ice Cream Diet (via: robot-heart-politics)
via: cartoonpolitics – “It was a highly inconvenient thing for the Republicans that in our debates I was just a country boy from Arkansas, and I came from a place where people still thought two and two was four” .. Bill Clinton at the 2012 DNC .. he added .. “It’s arithmetic”
“The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.”
— Paul Krugman, Death by Ideology
“Mitt’s economic “plan” is just a set of goals. Imagine I came up with a plan to become rich that went: write bestselling novel, start hit restaurant chain, invent next Internet.” — Michael Tomasky
Think Progress reports:
“Romney’s corporate tax reforms would also provide Adelson’s casino company approximately $1.2 billion in tax breaks on overseas profits and $565 million from Romney’s proposed shift to a territorial tax system. Adelson’s share of that, the report says, would be upward of $900 million, nine times what he pledged to spend to get Romney to the White House.“
No wonder Adelson and the other billionaires consider the millions they’re throwing at Romney a sound business investment — Adelson stands to get NINE TIMES what he’s giving to Romney’s campaign. $900 million! Naturally, someone’s got to pay for Adelson’s windfall… and that will be you and me, the peasantry:
“While Romney’s tax plan would further enrich billionaires like Adelson, it would have to raise taxes on middle class families by as much as $2,000 if Romney were to keep his plan to maintain current levels of revenue.”
Summary: if you’re a billionaire / millionaire looking to keep even more of your income by paying even less in federal taxes, then it makes sense that you’d vote for Romney. However, if you’re an ordinary working stiff who earns less than $250,000 and you want to vote for Romney, check yourself into the nearest hospital for a thorough evaluation. You’re obviously suffering some kind of head and/or psychological trauma.
- Romney’s tax plan would personally save Sheldon Adelson a total $2.3 billion in taxes.
- It saves Adelson approximately $1.5 million in tax cuts on his CEO salary.
- In one year, Adelson could more than earn back his $100 million in political donations, since Romney will save him $120 million on dividend taxes.
- His casino company would get $1.2 billion in tax cuts.
- By eliminating the estate tax, Adelson would get a $8.9 billion windfall for his heirs.
Don’t like the thought of the wealthy elite buying our the Republican Party and our elections? Guess what: you can do something about it. Vote.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you make the math work without eliminating the big deductions that middle-class families rely on?
RYAN: Well, first of all, that — those claims have been pretty discredited. There have been five different studies –
STEPHANOPOULOS: How have they been discredited?
RYAN: — that show — that this — that this plan works. So the analysis you’re citing wasn’t even an analysis of the Romney plan.
But here’s the point I am trying to make here, George. We think the secret to economic growth is lower tax rates for families and successful small businesses by plugging loopholes.
Now the question is, not necessarily what loopholes go, but who gets them. High-income earners use most of the loopholes. That means they can shelter their income from taxation. But if you take those loopholes, those tax shelters away from high-income earners, more of their income is subject to taxation. And that allows us to lower tax rates on everybody — small businesses, families, economic growth.
Here’s where the president wants to take the country. He wants to add a job-killing small-business tax increase on top of the current code, add even more loopholes and deductions to the code, more Washington picking winners and losers. That will crush jobs. You have to remember, George, that most of our small businesses, they pay their taxes as individuals. Most of our jobs come from these successful small businesses. So we’ve shown — look, the Princeton study, the Harvard analysis, they have shown that you can lower tax rates, broaden the tax base, and, yes, there is still room left for broad-based policies that the middle class enjoy so that nobody has a tax increase. We just stop picking winners and losers in the tax code.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Congressman, as you know –
RYAN: When Reagan did this, it worked –
STEPHANOPOULOS: — many say it’s difficult –
RYAN: Go ahead, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: — to accept your word if you’re not going to specify which tax loopholes you’re willing to close. Don’t voters have a right to know which loopholes you’re going to go after?
RYAN: So Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress to do this. That’s how you get things done. The other thing, George, is–
STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn’t that a secret plan?
RYAN: — we don’t want to — no, no. No, no. What we don’t want is a secret plan. What we don’t want to do is cut some backroom deal like ObamaCare, and then hatch (ph) it (ph) to the country.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But why not specify the –
RYAN: We want to do this –
STEPHANOPOULOS: — loopholes now?
RYAN: — out in the open –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not say right now –
RYAN: — because we want to do this –
RYAN: — we want to have this — George, because we want to have this debate in the public. We want to have this debate with Congress. And we want to do this with the consent of the elected representatives of the people, and figure out what loopholes should stay or go and who should or should not get them.
And our priorities are high-income earners should not get these kinds of loopholes. And we should have broad-based policies that go to middle-class taxpayers, to make sure we can advance things that we care about, like charities. But that is a debate we shouldn’t cut in a back room, shouldn’t hatch a secret plan like ObamaCare. We should do it out in the public view where the public can participate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That’s exactly what I’m suggesting, having it in public before the election so voters can have that information before they make up their minds.
RYAN: We think the best way to get — look, I’ve been in Congress a number of years. I’ve been on the Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. And we think the best way to do this is to get this framework in place, and then negotiate, work with Democrats, work with people across the aisle, have these kinds of hearings, have this conversation to get this objective.
There are really only two ways to look at this refusal to specify which loopholes they plan to do away with:
1) they really have no plan, no idea what they’re going to do — they might as well say they want to ride a unicorn over Rainbow Bridge to Ice Cream Sundae Land and if you vote for them, you can go too. Or,
2) Lyin’ Paul Ryan is asking that you trust him and Etch-a-Sketch. Just trust that they’ll be looking out for YOUR best interests if they’re elected. And pay no attention to the fact that their budget doesn’t add up with any arithmetic in the known universe — or that those tax cuts for the rich (which Romney says are not tax cuts for the rich) will have to be paid for somehow.
For the record, yesterday in an interview with Mitt Romney, David Gregory got no information from Romney either, on the Secret-Awesome Romney Plan or the loopholes he plans to shut down.
Here’s the truth of the matter:
…and the billionaires (and their Republican politicians) certainly don’t care about your little social issues either. That’s called ‘lip service’ to get you into the voting booth.
From a Pew study showing that America’s middle class is receiving less of the nation’s income than it did 40 years ago — 17% less:
The new study reviewed 2010 data from the Census Bureau and Federal Reserve, defining “middle class” as the tier of adults whose household income falls between two-thirds and double the national median income, or $39,418 to $118,255 in 2010 for a family of three. By this definition, “middle class” makes up about 51 percent of U.S. adults, down from 61 percent in 1971.
In 1970, the share of U.S. income that went to the middle class was 62 percent, while wealthier Americans received just 29 percent. But by 2010, the middle class garnered 45 percent of the nation’s income, tying a low first reached in 2006, compared to 46 percent for upper-income Americans.
Since 2000, the median income for America’s middle class has fallen from $72,956 to $69,487.
You know the median incomes of the wealthiest didn’t fall in the past 40 years — and they get to take home more of their incomes because of the way they’re taxed compared to the way we’re taxed ($77,000 deductions for horses, for example). Look at these numbers:
- 1970: middle class share of U.S. income was 62% to a 29% share for the wealthy.
- 2010: middle class share of U.S. income was 45% to a 46% share for the wealthy.
Let’s not pretend Romney and the billionaires who want to buy the White House aren’t looking to take most, if not all, of that remaining 45% income share that’s currently going to the dying middle class.
But let’s keep pretending there isn’t a massive, ongoing bottom-to-top income redistribution happening — just keep saying job creators and trickle down.
We can thank patriots like this for supporting their own demise over the past several decades:
Robert Reich laments the insanity that has taken over the Republican Party (emphasis below is mine):
We’re witnessing the capture by fanatics of what was once a great and important American political party.
The Republican Party platform committee now includes a provision calling for a constitutional amendment banning all abortions, without an exception for rape or incest. This is basically Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s position. (At least the GOP platform doesn’t assert that women’s bodies automatically reject “legitimate” rapists’ sperm.)
Paul Ryan, Romney’s selection for vice president, has co-sponsored 38 anti-abortion measures while in the House of Representatives, including several containing no exception for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
But the GOP’s fanaticism goes far beyond the its growing absolutism about abortion.
Ryan’s proposed budget, approved by almost all House Republicans, is also an exercise in fanaticism. It replaces Medicare with vouchers that won’t possibly keep up with rising healthcare costs — thereby shifting costs directly on to the elderly.
That budget also harms the poor and rewards the rich, but does little or nothing to reduce the federal budget deficit. Over 60 percent of its spending cuts come out of programs for lower-income Americans. Its tax cuts for the rich reduce revenues by $4.6 trillion over the decade while saving the typical millionaire hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The GOP’s looniness doesn’t even stop there. Republicans remain unwaivering in their support of state laws allowing or encouraging the profiling of Latinos. And unrelenting in their war against gay rights.
It’s not just women, seniors, budget hawks, the poor, Latinos, and gays who are catching on to the Republicans’ extremism. Americans who don’t fall into one of these categories are becoming alarmed, too — as they should.*
Although the GOP lurch to the right-wing margin of America may bode well for Democrats this coming Election Day, it bodes ill for America. The capture of one of our great parties by fanatics is nothing to celebrate. A democracy needs at least two sane political parties.
*See: GOP War on the Middle Class: the RNC dumps support for the mortgage interest deduction
Businessweek reports that ahead of the Republican National Convention, the GOP dumped the mortgage interest deduction from its platform (but kept donations to “charity” – like to the Mormon Church!):
While Romney was caving to pressure from Paul supporters, the platform committee itself made a surprising move. The GOP refused to put itself on record as supporting the mortgage interest deduction, writes my Bloomberg News colleague James Rowley. The idea is that Romney’s tax plans rest on eliminating deductions and loopholes he has not specified, so the party wants to give a President Romney ample room to maneuver by taking interest on mortgages off its protected list. However, on the same day, the platform group voted to retain its support for deductions granted to charitable donations.
The mortgage interest deduction is the nation’s largest tax benefit. The government forgoes about $90 billion per year to the millions of American homeowners that claim it. It is cherished by the middle class, and some economists consider it the bedrock of the housing market. The mortgage interest deduction has many critics, but by virtue of its popularity among voters, killing it would amount to political suicide. That’s why you’ll find plenty of politicians who advocate getting rid of tax credits and loopholes, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a single one publicly opposing the mortgage interest deduction. (via: sarahlee310)
It seems the faithful Fox / Rush audience of the Republican voting base won’t wake up until the GOP actually punches them in the gut. I wonder if this news might be that gut punch.
Think Progress reports that “the non-partisan Tax Policy Center released an analysis this month showing that, in order for to Mitt Romney to achieve all of the goals he had laid out in his tax plan, he would have to raise taxes on everyone making less than $200,000, including a $2,000 annual tax increase on middle class families.”
Romney, after first trying to paint the organization as ideologically opposed to him (despite one of the study’s authors being a former official in the George H.W. Bush administration), then took to attacking the study itself. The Romney camp complained that TPC “did not sufficiently account for the potential benefits of Mr. Romney’s separate proposals to lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent, reduce other business taxes and cut domestic spending deeply.” However, TPC re-ran the numbers to include these provisions, and found that they make Romney’s plan even worse for the middle class and low-income Americans:
[...] If, instead, we had included the reduction in the corporate tax rate (which would reduce revenues by $96 billion in 2015 in the absence of base-broadening), the result would have been an even larger tax cut on high-income individuals, requiring even larger cuts to tax expenditures, and correspondingly larger increases in taxes on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.
TPC also noted that the spending cuts Romney has in mind would likely hit middle class families the hardest. So between Romney’s plan and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s budget, the GOP ticket has a pair of proposals that would raise taxes on the middle class in order to cut them for the rich.
Mitch’s plan (courtesy of Letterman)
Think Progress reports “The group behind the Nuns On A Bus tour that highlighted the ill-effects of the House Republican budget in congressional districts across the country is now setting its sights on the party’s presidential candidate, inviting Mitt Romney to spend a day with the nuns to learn about the plight of America’s poorest citizens.”
“Romney has endorsed the House GOP budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It was that plan, which includes deep cuts to food stamps and other safety net programs that benefit the middle class, that NETWORK’s Nuns On A Bus tour targeted, with [Sister Simone] Campbell and other sisters blasting it as “immoral” at the tour’s conclusion in Washington D.C. Romney has also proposed massive tax cuts for the rich that would likely come at the expense of lower- and middle-class families, which would see higher taxes or significant cuts to the programs they depend on.
“Those policies, Campbell told ThinkProgress, show that Romney “doesn’t have clue” about the struggles the poor face. “The fact is, his policies shift wealth to the upper class,” she said. “Yes, it hurts the middle class, but it devastates those at the margins of our society.” If Romney were to accept their invitation, Campbell said she would take him to places like St. Augustine’s in Cleveland, where food programs “provide a hand up” to the community’s neediest members. “He thinks they’re lazy,” Campbell said, in reference to Romney’s misleading welfare reform ad. “It is hard work to keep things together when you’re poor. He doesn’t have a clue. Let him talk to them, and maybe they’ll touch his heart. And his mind too.”
“The Romney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Campbell said she “lives in hope” that he will accept, even if he spends only an hour with the group. “I’ll take whatever I can get,” Campbell said. “He should accept.””
Unfortunately Mitt, more than most, does need to step outside the gates of his lavish lifestyle to understand exactly how the peasantry lives. But spending time with nuns in service to the poor is something that will never happen. There’s no upside to this kind of PR for a Republican candidate, and especially for Willard Romney — even if it’s very clear that he could benefit from some experience and education on America’s working class and income / poverty:
Flashback (July/2012): Romney completely unaware of what waiters and waitresses earn, calls them “middle class”
Ezra Klein dismantles the pure fantasy behind Romney’s fuzzy budget claims as logistically impossible (emphasis below is mine):
But Ryan’s budget includes more than $700 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade, Romney’s budget won’t. And Romney promises that there will be no other changes to Social Security or Medicare for those over 55, which means neither program can be cut for the next 10 years. But once you add up Medicare, Social Security and defense and you’ve got more than half of the federal budget. So Romney is going to make the largest spending cuts in history while protecting or increasing spending on more than half of the budget.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indulged this idea back in May. If Social Security and Medicare are spared from cuts, then to get federal spending under 20 percent of GDP while holding defense spending at 4 percent of GDP, “all other programs — including Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, education, environmental protection, transportation, and SSI — would have to be cut by an average of 40 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2022.”
Consider what the Romney campaign, then, is saying: If Romney is elected, then by his third year in office, every single federal program that is not Medicare, Social Security, or defense, will be cut, on average, by 40 percent. That means Medicaid, infrastructure, education, food safety, road safety, the postal service, basic research, foreign aid, housing subsidies, food stamps, the Census, Pell grants, the Patent and Trademark Office, the FDA — all of it has to be cut by, on average, 40 percent. If Romney tried to protect any particular priority, it would mean all the others have to be cut by more than 40 percent.
And don’t forget that Romney also wants to extend tax breaks for the one percent — meaning the ongoing lack of revenue has to be made up somehow as well. Taking more taxes from lower incomes or cutting programs and services which people who are not in the top one percent depend upon — just so the wealthy can continue to enjoy paying less federal tax on their incomes — how is that not income redistribution?
The federal budget in 2011 – click for larger: