Category Archives: Mitt Romney

Election Wrap

I was in a subway station yesterday when I heard a very outspoken woman, about 20 feet away, talking to her friend.  She had voted for Obama because Romney, if he had been elected, would take away food stamps, Section 8 housing vouchers, and all other manner of government goodies.

New York was always going to go for Obama, so much so that there was very little campaigning or advertising by either candidate.  While the Romney camp talked about cutting government spending, I don’t remember anything about serious cuts to existing programs.  Yet it was easy enough to read between the lines and believe that a Romney victory would lead to cuts in food stamps.

It’s a powerful argument to vote for Obama if your life depends on government subsidies, but is was almost entirely unspoken, other than the response to Romney’s remarks about the 47% who pay no Federal income taxes.

I can’t begrudge this lady her vote: she voted in her rational self-interest, as all of us do.  But to her, it doesn’t matter whether the economy does well or badly, or whether unemployment is 5% or 15%, as long as the government goodies keep flowing.

That there may not be enough productive activity to support these government goodies in the future, however, is another question.

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I was in Amsterdam for a professional conference this week, and conversation often devolved into discussions about Sandy and the US Presidential election.  Generally, Europeans were expecting that Obama would be re-elected, and some people looked questioningly at me when I told them I had voted for the other guy.  Certainly, Obama is closer to the European image of what a President should be than Romney.

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I don’t expect good things to come from Obama’s re-election: more economic stagnation, and a resurgence of price inflation.  But at least it’s over.

Alas, Campaign 2016 begins next week.

They’re Both Losers

A few days ago, a video came to light in which Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential candidate, made the following remarks earlier this year:

There are 47 percent who will vote for the President, no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on the government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it…. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And so my job is not to worry about those people — I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

And to some extent, he’s right:

  • About 47% of Americans pay no Federal income tax.
  • About 47% of Americans (actually somewhat more) live in a household receiving financial aid from the government in one form or another.
  • About 47% of the electorate will vote for Obama no matter what.
  • Some percentage of Americans, though probably not 47%, see themselves as victims deserving compensation.
  • Some percentage of Americans have absolved themselves of personal responsibility for their actions.  (This is one of the reasons we have the highest prison population of any nation on Earth.)

Nevertheless, it was an unwise thing to say: the way it came out, it suggested that the only worthwhile Americans were the 53% who paid income tax.  But we already knew that Romney has a tin ear for how his remarks will resonate with the public.

What’s worse is that these remarks confirmed what we suspected about Romney: that he lives in a bubble surrounded by like-minded advisors who don’t recognize that, for example, many of the 47% who don’t pay income tax are simply people trying to make a living, or retirees receiving Social Security.  (But then, Obama lives in a similar bubble.)

Romney also said, this past week,

A tape came out a couple of days ago, with the President saying, yes, he believes in redistribution.  Well, I don’t!  I believe the way to lift people, and to help people have higher incomes, is not to take from some and give to others, but to create wealth for all of us.

It’s an admirable sentiment, to be sure, but how does he plan to accomplish it?  (And don’t say ‘tax cuts.’)

I’m disgusted with Romney.  Unfortunately, the alternative is even worse.

President Obama has been an abject failure as a leader.  The first signs of this appeared in 2009, even before he was inaugurated.  He had said that there should be a stimulus, and then threw the matter over the fence for Congress to hash out.  Congress, in turn, ran around like kids in a candy store, spending money on this and that, and in the end doing very little to get the economy producing again.  It was the Obama administration’s efforts in Libya (with ‘kinetic military action’) that introduced ‘leading from behind’ into our political lexicon.

And this week, our President remarked,

Obviously, the fact that we haven’t been able to change the tone in Washington, is disappointing….  So I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson that I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside.  You can only change it from the outside.

If that isn’t an admission of defeat, I don’t know what is.  (Change from the outside?  You mean, like, invasion by a foreign army?)

Sarah Palin Had Better Legs

My television is still sitting on the floor where the movers left it last March, so I doubt that I will be watching either convention.

It’s a strange election year for the Republicans, at least from my perspective.  The Republicans have nominated a ticket that reminds me of my history teacher, who modeled underwear for the Sears catalog, and the guy who ran the AV club. 

We never really do leave high school. 

Just Another Tax Loophole

I’ve written in these pages about what I consider the horror of ‘health care reform.’  We have a serious problem with health care in this country: it costs too much.  And nothing in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will do anything useful to make care affordable.

I empathized with my conservative friends who considered it unconstitutional.  I wanted to believe myself that the requirement to purchase insurance went beyond the Federal government’s constitutional power to regulate commerce.  But I couldn’t quite believe that the Supreme Court could strike it down, although I couldn’t say way.

But the Supremes upheld Obamacare for the reason I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  The penalty for not having health insurance is a tax, Obama’s minions’ protests to the contrary notwithstanding.  Consider:

  • The penalty will be administered by the IRS;
  • You’ll pay it as part of your income taxes;
  • You won’t suffer any other consequences for failing to carry health insurance and paying the ‘penalty.’  You won’t get locked up, or lose your right to vote, or your professional licenses, or even get points on you driver’s license.  Hell, you won’t even lose your right to get medical care as an uninsured person.
  • If you don’t carry health insurance, and fail to pay the penalty, the government will come after you for… failing to pay your taxes.

If it looks like a tax, and quacks like a tax, well, it’s a tax.  It’s a selective tax, meant to encourage you to do something, and in that sense it’s hardly unique.  The tax code is filled with thousands of provisions to ‘adjust’ one’s tax liability in response to this or that.

It’s also telling that the Supreme Court didn’t touch any of the administrative apparatus of Obamacare.  They had no problem with the government defining what an acceptable health insurance plan consists of.  But then again, government has been regulating for over a century: what’s new about that?

Well, that settles one thing: I’m off the fence, and voting for Romney.  I don’t like either of the candidates, and for the most part I can’t see any meaningful difference between them.  But Romney acknowledges that health care reform is trouble, and at least pretends that he will do something about it.   (And yes, I know that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney pushed a similar health insurance plan to become law there.  But he’s allowed to acknowledge that it was better in concept than execution.)

Alas, I don’t expect the effort to repeal Obamacare to get much traction.  Not because of backlash from the other side, nor for the useful bits of the law that nobody wants to lose.   The big money will realize that Obamacare will marshal trillions of dollars to pay for health care, and they’ll want their share.  The result will be a big burst of investment in health care: new hospitals, pharmaceutical plants, and thousands and thousands of jobs.  (I can hear Senator Schumer now: ‘A vote to kill Obamacare is a vote to kill jobs.’)  It will pull the economy out of the doldrums–happy days are here again!–and last for two or three years, maybe four.

And then they’ll realize that nobody can afford to pay for health insurance, and the government is broke, and it will all implode.

Whom Do I Vote For?

For a while now, I’ve refused to vote in elections for the New York State Assembly or Senate.  I’ll go to the polls and vote for President or Governor or US Representative or Senator, and simply skip voting for Assemblyman or State Senator.  I’ve realized that whomever I vote for, the New York State Legislature will do whatever it pleases.  At best, they do nothing; at worst, they make my life miserable.

A few years ago, I made an exception and voted for an earnest young man who was running for state Senator.  He won the election, and is now in his second term.  He proposed a law requiring motor vehicle dealers in New York State to disclose mileage in terms of gallons per mile, as well as miles per gallon.  The measure died in committee in his first term, and I doubt it will go any further this time.

This year, I am seriously considering not voting for either of the candidates for President.

I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and am now thoroughly disgusted with him.  He hasn’t done anything useful to help the economy, not even to admit that, perhaps, ‘fixing the economy’ is something beyond the power of our government, and We the People need to do something ourselves.  His signature achievement, health care reform, is an abomination that may be thrown out by the Supreme Court.  And for the last three years, the government has had to borrow one out of three dollars that it spends.

But the Republican presumptive candidate, Mitt Romney, isn’t any better.   He talks a great game, but except for health care reform, I can’t see any real policy differences between him and Obama.  OK, maybe Romney wants tax cuts.  But what good does it do for me to get a few dollars more a week if everything else is still going to hell?  And maybe a Romney administration will have a slightly less inept foreign policy.  But we’ll still continue with the charade of the War on Terror.  (How can you go to war against an emotion anyway?)

Maybe something will come out to push me one way or the other during the conventions and the debates.  But if I had to go to the polls next Tuesday, I wouldn’t bother voting for either of them.