Morning Bunker Report: Memorial Day 5.28.2012


“I do not understand the cost-benefit here. The costs are clear. The benefits – what voter is going to vote for him because he’s seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low, and you can still intrude into American politics. But, again, I don’t understand the benefit. What is Romney seeking?” — George Will on Romney campaigning with “bloviating ignoramus” Donald Trump

ALAN SIMPSON SLAMS FELLOW REPUBLICANS for unwillingness to compromise — In his characteristically colorful style, Simpson told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that Republicans’ rigid opposition to new tax revenues has hampered productivity and diminished the chances of reaching an agreement with Democrats on debt reduction. “You can’t cut spending your way out of this hole,” Simpson, who was appointed as co-chair of President Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in 2010, said. “You can’t grow your way out of this hole, and you can’t tax your way out of this hole. So put that in your pipe and smoke it, we tell these people. This is madness.” Simpson continued: “If you want to be a purist, go somewhere on a mountaintop and praise the east or something. But if you want to be in politics, you learn to compromise. And you learn to compromise on the issue without compromising yourself. Show me a guy who won’t compromise and I’ll show you a guy with rock for brains.” — HuffPo

  • Simpson tells GOP: ‘For heaven’s sake, Norquist can’t murder you’“For heaven’s sake, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he’ll defeat you. He can’t murder you. He can’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for reelection. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.” — Raw Story

image: ddssblog

HOW HARD WILL GINGRICH FLIP-FLOP for help to pay off his campaign debt? Newt Gingrich on Sunday defended Mitt Romney from attacks made on his record at Bain Capital. “Bain as an issue doesn’t work because people look at it in balance,” he said on ‘Meet The Press’. “And they say, wait a second, yeah, you can pick a couple companies that lost. You can pick a lot of companies that succeeded. And as even as the governor of Massachusetts said last week, it is a good company.” The former presidential candidate’s defense of Romney’s business record may surprise those who followed his campaign. At one point, Gingrich made Romney’s Bain record a central issue and referred to private equity as “rich people figuring out clever legal ways to loot a company.” — HuffPo

  • “I was very careful,” Gingrich said. “I didn’t go after private equity. … [Obama's] going after all private equity.” The Obama campaign insists it is not “going after all private equity” but merely arguing that private equity experience does not qualify Romney to be president. —

WHO ELSE IS FILLED WITH FLIP-FLOP? Sen. John McCain — Former Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Sunday walked back on his 2008 attacks on current GOP hopeful Mitt Romney for his record of killing jobs as the head of Bain Capital. During a 2008 campaign stop in Florida, McCain had blasted Romney for taking over companies and laying off “thousands of workers.” “I think he managed companies and he bought and he sold and sometimes people lost their jobs,” the Arizona senator explained at a January 2008 debate. [...] “This is the free enterprise system,” McCain insisted. “The only place in the world that I can recall where companies never failed was the old Soviet Union. This is what investors do in the free enterprise and capitalism system.” “And, yes, the free enterprise system can be cruel,” he added.  — Raw Story

ONE WOULD THINK an explicit conspiracy by a sitting governor to remove lawful voters from the rolls in a rather obvious fashion would be a “scandal.” But that’s not how things work. — Duncan Black

IT’S INTERESTING that the Gospels don’t go into any real detail about Jesus’ butler. — Guardian


WHY THE PRESIDENT IS RIGHT to talk about Bain — It seems to me that Obama’s immediate point is wrong: Romney wasn’t primarily about job destruction and corporate plundering. His larger point–that Romney was not so much about job-creation as he was about profit-creation–is correct, though. But the largest point of all is this: private equity capitalism was all about short-term profits–maximizing shareholder value–rather than long-term growth. It ushered in an era of massive executive compensation and bonuses. It prospered because of tax rules that made debt more profitable than equity, and a “carried interest” tax dodge that enabled Mitt Romney to pay a lower percentage in taxes than your average construction worker. It can be a useful tool in restructuring companies and steering them toward profitability, but it is not the sort of model you’d want to apply to the entire American economy. A President has to be about long-term growth, not short-term profits–and to the extent that Barack Obama is using the Bain ads to make this larger argument, he is not “stumbling” or attacking “free enterprise,” but he is steering the conversation toward the most important topic this year: what sort of economy do we want to have and how do we get there? — Joe Klein

DEMOCRATIC LEADERS BACK Obama’s Bain strategy vs. Romney — After nearly two weeks of heated debate over whether President Obama should attack Republican Mitt Romney’s tenure at a private-equity firm, Democratic leaders across the country say they are largely united behind the strategy, even as some concede an uncertain outcome and new polls show Obama has lost ground nationally. [...] “He wanted to have this conversation,” Jim Burn, chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said of Romney, the likely GOP nominee. “We’re going to have it. There should be no hesi­ta­tion or equivocation.” — Washington Post

OBAMA HAS A PRETTY AMBITIOUS stimulus plan. Now the plan won’t pass because Republicans would never vote for it, and everybody including Obama knows this, so we’ve all treated it as a message device because that’s the only function it serves. But I’m confident Obama really would like to sign his stimulus plan if he could. Meanwhile, Romney has no stimulus plan. But he may well propose one if he wins, and it would pass, because plenty of Republicans would flip back to being Keynesians like they were under President Bush. What’s more, Democrats wouldn’t stop it, because Democrats don’t have any history of opportunistically abandoning Keynesian economics when the other party’s neck is on the economic line. So, yes, a President Romney would be more likely to sign strong stimulative legislation than Obama — not because he believes in it more strongly, but because, as David Frum says, we’re all Keynesians during Republican administrations. — Jonathan Chait

“WE ARE IN A DEPRESSION. We are actually in a classic depression. A depression is when nobody wants to spend. Everybody wants to pay down their debt at the same time. Everybody is trying to pull back, either because they got too far into debt, or because if they’re a corporation, they can’t sell because consumers are pulling back. The thing about an economy is that it fits together. My spending is your income. Your spending is my income, so if we all pull back at the same time, we’re in a depression. The way to get out of it is for somebody to spend so that people can pay down their debt, so that we don’t have a depression, so that we have a chance to work out of whatever excesses we had in the past — and that somebody has to be the government….” — Paul Krugman | Video via: Politicususa 

VETERANS ARE STILL STRUGGLING to find employment — While the unemployment rate for veterans has dropped dramatically in the last year…  finding jobs for veterans remains a major issue. Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said there has been “huge progress” on helping unemployed veterans because President Obama has instituted policies to reduce veteran unemployment and Fortune 500 companies are also helping returning servicemembers. [...] Obama’s initiatives are helping to improve the jobs outlook for veterans. That’s more than can be said for Mitt Romney, who has no specific plans to address veterans issues, including unemployment.  — Think Progress

ALLEN WEST WANTS TO KEEP the good parts of Obamacare — In an interview with ThinkProgress, West pointed to three popular provisions of the health care law that he would like to see preserved: [...] WEST: Well you’ve got to replace it. You’ve got to replace it with something. If people want to keep their kid on their insurance at 26, fine. We’ve got to make sure no American gets turned back for pre-existing conditions, that’s fine. Keep the donut hole closed, that’s fine. But what I just talked to you about, maybe 20, 25 pages of legislation. The problem with West’s reasoning is that the pre-existing condition ban can’t function without an individual mandate or some other mechanism for bringing healthy people into the health care system. Without the individual responsibility provision, a death spiral begins whereby only sick people buy insurance and it soon becomes unaffordable for everybody. — Think Progress