James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Romney economic plan: necessary but not sufficient

Sep 7, 2011 20:16 UTC

There’s not much I actually dislike about Mitt Romney’s economic plan. I’m even OK with most of the aggressive China trade policy stuff (though probably not the “retaliation if not revaluation” stuff on the currency).

Maybe my biggest problem with what’s in there is that Romney would leave a 10 percentage-point gap between the top marginal income tax rate and the top corporate tax rate, 35 percent to 25 percent.

It’s what’s not in the Romney plan that I have a real problem with. As I read through the 160-page proposal, here are the questions that popped into my noggin:

1. Why not lower the top income tax rate to 25 percent and also clear out many of the tax preferences/breaks/loopholes? Why just hint at broader tax reform? Why not a flat consumption tax?

2. Why not provide a McKinsey-style breakdown on how Romney would achieve four percent annual GDP growth? Adviser Glenn Hubbard comes so close in the foreword that I am pretty certain he’s read this McKinsey report.

3. Why not eliminate all investment taxes along the lines of a tax reform plan outlined by Hubbard in his recent book, “Seeds of Destruction“?

4. OK, Romney would repeal Obama’s healthcare and financial reform plans. Me, too. But what would he replace them with? Again, Hubbard recently wrote a great book on healthcare.

5. And does Romney really think the big problem with Dodd-Frank is that it’s too tough on the banks? Funding statistics should Too Big To Fail still exists. In event of another financial crisis, how would he handle mass insolvency?

6. Nothing about housing. Really? Really?

7. If Romney doesn’t want to go the full Ryan on entitlement, how about at least Ryan-Rivlin?

I guess my core point is that conservative wonks — including his own campaign economists — have been generating loads of interesting tax, entitlement, banking and housing reform ideas over the past few years. But little if any of that stuff is reflected in Romney’s economic plan. Maybe Romney still feels burned by listening to the Heritage Foundation and its support of an individual health insurance mandate.

America faces big short-term and long-term problems. Romney’s economic plan would start to deal with them. Hopefully there will be more to come. But maybe there won’t be. Maybe Romney is following the Chris Christie election model. Make the incumbent the issue and don’t show much of your hand until in office. But I don’t see how that approach creates momentum for substantive change.


James, this was a jobs plan. You wanted more, perhaps tax policy, spending policy, foreign policy, energy policy,domestic policy, etc? Are you this piggish with all the candidates or just Romney?

Perry you got nothing, Huntman you got slightly more. Bachman, nothing. Cain you got talking points. Why the double standard?

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Romney’s “green” economic advisers

Sep 6, 2011 16:10 UTC

Later today Mitt Romney will unveil his 59-point economic plan. From what I read in Romney’s preview op-ed in USA Today, it looks a lot like his 2008 plan. For instance, it has an investment tax cut for the middle class just like the one offered three years ago. And Romney wants to cut corporate taxes. Last time he wanted to lower the rate to 20 percent. We’ll see this time around. One area where he could really separate himself is housing. Economic adviser Glenn Hubbard has a housing plan that would allow underwater homeowners to refinance at today’s superlow interest rates.  (In a recent chat, I talked to Hubbard about his views on economic policy: TARP, taxes, trade.)

And earlier today, Romney announced both Hubbard and Greg Mankiw of Harvard as his economic advisers. Interesting to see if his GOP opponents point out that Hubbard has supported cap-and-trade in the past, while Mankiw favors a carbon tax to limit greenhouse gases. As for their boss, here is what I recently wrote about his climate change position:

Romney is clearly in favor of limiting carbon emissions — at least in theory — but does not want to cripple the U.S. economy or spend trillions of dollars for “extreme and expensive measures” like cap-and-trade to do it. He mentions the work of Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg who believes “addressing the remediation of the effects of global warming [is] far more economic and far more humane than massive spending to reduce emissions.”

Romney also spends considerable time in his book explaining the pros and cons of a carbon tax-payroll tax swap, a plan favored by economist and Romney adviser Greg Mankiw and many other Republican-leaning economists. Among the positives, he says:  1) revenue neutrality; 2) higher energy prices would encourage energy efficiency; 3) industry would have a predictable outlook for energy costs; 4) profit incentives rather than government  subsidies would encourage the development of “oil substitutes and carbon-reducing technologies.”


On climate change, Romney is pretty consistent

Aug 25, 2011 16:49 UTC

What Mitt Romney is saying today about climate change is pretty much what he’s been saying all along. First, here is what he said yesterday:

Asked about global warming at a town hall meeting in Lebanon, New Hampshire, Romney said he believed the world is getting hotter and humans contribute in some way to the change — but could not judge to what extent. ”Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

“What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”

In June, a day after launching his second bid for the White House, Romney caused a stir by saying he thought humans had contributed to climate change to some extent. At that time he made a call for a reduction of “emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that might be significant contributors” to climate change — a suggestion that was not made on Wednesday.

A Romney aide said the candidate has not altered his position on climate change.

Still, using additional domestic nuclear, natural gas, and other resources could have a side benefit of cutting carbon emissions, Romney said. “My view is pursue a strategy which gets us into energy independence which has as a byproduct it gets us into less CO2 emitting.”

He criticized a bill backed by President Barack Obama that would have capped carbon emissions and allowed polluters to buy and sell rights to emit carbon. ”I do not believe in cap and trade and I do not believe in putting a carbon cap” on polluting industries, Romney said.

In his book “No Apology,” Romney describes his position this way, far more directly:

I believe that climate change is occurring — the reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control. … Internationally, we should work to limit the increase in emissions in global greenhouse gases, but in doing so we shouldn’t put ourselves in a disadvantageous position that penalizes American jobs and economic growth.

Romney is clearly in favor of limiting carbon emissions — at least in theory — but does not want to cripple the U.S. economy or spend trillions of dollars for “extreme and expensive measures” like cap-and-trade to do it. He mentions the work of Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg who believes “addressing the remediation of the effects of global warming [is] far more economic and far more humane than massive spending to reduce emissions.”

Romney also spends considerable time in his book explaining the pros and cons of a carbon tax-payroll tax swap, a plan favored by economist and Romney adviser Greg Mankiw and many other Republican-leaning economists. Among the positives, he says:  1) revenue neutrality; 2) higher energy prices would encourage energy efficiency; 3) industry would have a predictable outlook for energy costs; 4) profit incentives rather than government  subsidies would encourage the development of “oil substitutes and carbon-reducing technologies.” And there is this:

Comparative analyses of the tax-swap plan with a cap-and-trade system have demonstrated that the tax swap is likely to be five times as effective in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and, presumably, five times as effective in reducing energy consumption.

Romney does add, however, that “a great deal of work needs remains to be done if it is to become a viable option.”

Bottom line: Romney wants to use markets and incentives to reduce carbon emissions and lower U.S. dependence on overseas oil, not net tax hikes or mandates or regulations. This is not the Rick Perry position, of course. So the issue marks an interesting contrast between the two candidates. Grover Norquist puts it this way: ”If Perry was president, one of the things I’d not worry about is a carbon tax. I’d worry about big spiders eating New Jersey first.”


Sounds like Mitt doesn’t know much period.

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Perry vs. Romney on Ben Bernanke

Aug 16, 2011 19:03 UTC

Gov. Rick Perry’s tough comments on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke are another sign that the Fed and monetary policy will be big topics in the Republican primaries and the general election. There is certainly a stark difference between how Perry talks about the Fed, and how Mitt Romney does. First, here is Perry from yesterday:

If this guy prints more money= between now and the election, I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we — we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous — or treasonous in my opinion.

Now here is Romney from April on CNBC’s The Kudlow Report:

Kudlow: What kind of job is Ben Bernanke doing right now? The guy is depreciating the dollar, we’re seeing this huge inflation of energy prices, including gasoline prices at the pump. What do you think of Ben Bernanke?

Romney: I think Ben Bernanke is a student of monetary policy. He’s doing as good a job as he thinks he can do in the Federal Reserve. But look, I’m not going to spend my time going after Ben Bernanke. I’m not going to take my effort and focus on the Federal Reserve. I gotta focus on my effort on the administration.

Romney’s comments kind of reflect what many mainstream Republican-leaning economists believe, that overall Bernanke has been an effective central banker, particularly during the nadir of the financial crisis. Romney’s comments may also reflect a belief in the value of maintaining Fed independence. And I highly doubt Romney wants to “end the Fed” as Ron Paul does.

On substance, Perry is correct. A strong argument can be made that the Fed’s bond buying caused inflation to flare, squeezing consumers and slowing the economy. (Interestingly, the president of the Dallas Fed is also against more QE3 bond buying.) But on style, Perry didn’t need to go there. I think that sort of loose talk sets a bad tone for the political debate. Also, if Perry should become the 45th president, he’ll need a Fed comfortable with eventually withdrawing stimulus without looking over its shoulder at the politicians. So if Perry’s savvy, maybe he’ll offer Bernanke an apology – and maybe send over a big mess of Texas barbecue while he’s at it. But I doubt it. Here is Perry spokesman Mark Miner:

The Governor was expressing his frustration with the current economic situation and the out of control spending that persists in Washington. Most Americans would agree that spending more money is not the answer to the economic issues facing the country.

Let me also add that I don’t think Bernanke will serve another term as Fed chairman beyond the current one. First, I hear he doesn’t want another term. Second, he probably couldn’t make it out of a GOP-controlled Senate or even one where Republicans have enough votes to filibuster. Certainly among Tea Party activists, there is a strong belief that the Fed should be shuttered.



I disagree with the policies of Bernanke of just printing money with out capital that what Bernanke is doing is trecerous agreeing with Gov Rick Perry from Texas.

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Like a Texas storm, Perry swamps Iowa straw poll

Aug 13, 2011 23:25 UTC

Congratulations to Michele Bachmann, but the big political winner Saturday wasn’t in Ames, Iowa. That politician was half a country away in South Carolina, completely scrambling the Republican presidential race.

1) Online betting markets have already decided that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is no flash in the Panhandle — another Fred Thompson or Wesley Clark who sparks a flurry of interest but quickly fades. To bettors, it’s a two-horse race and a dead heat between Perry and Mitt Romney. But anyone listening to Perry’s well delivered, muscular, high-energy speech in Charleston, S.C., would probably draw the same political conclusion. He hit tea party-friendly themes and hit them well:

The change we seek will never emanate out of Washington…it must come from the windswept prairies of Middle America…the farms and factories across this great land…the hearts and minds of God-fearing Americans who will not accept a future that is less than our past…who will not be consigned a fate of less freedom in exchange for more government. … And I will work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your lives as I can.

2) Unlike the other candidates who were competing to win the Iowa Straw poll, Perry can easily make a persuasive case that he has the real-world solutions to what most Americans believe is the nation’s biggest problem: high unemployment. He could have probably spent his entire speech rattling off the Lone Star State’s impressive job-creation statistics. (On Perry’s official Texas government web site, they’re listed under the “Bragging Rights” section.) It’s that record of results that lends gravitas to his rhetoric and philosophy and makes him a leading contender for the GOP nod. As Perry noted, “Since June of 2009, Texas is responsible for more than 40 percent of all of the new jobs created in America. Now think about that. We’re home to less than 10 percent of the population in America, but forty percent of all the new jobs were created in that state.” That’s a helluva good story for a presidential candidate to tell.

3) The anti-Perry case is obvious, and liberals are already making it, such as blogger Kevin Drum of Mother Jones magazine: Everyone looks good before they get into the race. He’s too Texan and George W. Bush-like. He’s too mean. He’s too dumb. He’s too smarmy. He’s too overtly religious. Policywise, he’s too radical, even for Republicans. The strength of the tea party-wing is overrated. The Texas economic miracle is a mirage. Republicans want to beat Obama, and Perry isn’t electable.

4) The next six months of campaigning will start to show which, if any, of those charges has any merit or substance. Neither Romney nor Perry will likely hesitate in, shall we say, contrasting their records. Romney will play up his business career as a successful private equity investor and venture capitalist and slam Perry as a “career politician” and “crony capitalist.“ And Perry will counter with attacks on Romney’s Obamacare-esque healthcare plan in Massachusetts, as well as stressing his own inspirational life story (son of tenant farmers to presidential candidate). One big issue: Perry will need to explain just how far he takes his 10th Amendment embrace. He’s seemed to suggest in the past, for instance, that entitlements like Social Security and Medicare should be sent to the states based on his reading of the U.S. Constitution. Just how small does he want the federal government to be? What is the proper role for government? If Romney doesn’t ask about that, surely President Barack Obama will if Perry is the nominee.

Assuming no other heavy hitters join the race. Perry-Romney is shaping up to be an epic brawl between two aggressive candidates with impressive resumes, both able to raise boats loads of campaign cash. Let the Austin-Boston battle begin.



Now if Parry would just slither back to the swamp.

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Why Romney’s right that ‘companies are people’

Aug 11, 2011 22:00 UTC

Liberal groups, like Think Progress, are jumping all over Mitt Romney for this (via TP):

Mitt Romney completed a rowdy campaign stop at the Iowa state fair, before a key Republican debate tonight and an upcoming Iowa straw poll. At the end of his speech, a Q&A session quickly devolved into a shouting match during which he defended the rich, argued for cutting entitlements, and equated corporations with people. Romney told a group of angry Iowans that raising the retirement age to protect corporate tax breaks is appropriate. “Corporations are people, my friend,” he said.

Now I don’t think Romney was making a legal argument about corporate personhood, which is well established concept in US law:

In the United States, corporations were recognized as having rights to contract, and to have those contracts honored the same as contracts entered into by natural persons, in Dartmouth College v. Woodward, decided in 1819. In the 1886 case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U.S. 394, the Supreme Court recognized that corporations were recognized as persons for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment

Rather, I am pretty sure he was trying to say that corporations are made up of people, but not in a Soylent Green sort of way. Rather they are comprised of workers generating goods and services for customers. And when you punish corporations, you punish workers and shareholders and customers. A few additional points:

1) Here an interesting bit from an OECD paper on taxes and economic growth

Corporate taxes are found to be most harmful for growth, followed by personal income taxes, and then consumption taxes. …  A second option is to reform corporate taxes, as they influence productivity in several ways. Evidence in this study suggests that lowering statutory corporate tax rates can lead to particularly large productivity gains in firms that are dynamic and profitable, i.e. those that can make the largest contribution to GDP growth. It also appears that corporate taxes adversely influence productivity in all firms except in young and small firms since these firms are often not very profitable.  … Lower corporate and labour taxes may also encourage inbound foreign direct investment, which has been found to increase productivity of resident firms. In addition, multinational enterprises are attracted by tax systems that are stable and predictable, and which are administered in an efficient and transparent manner.

2) And here is economist Greg Mankiw addressing the topic in his popular economics textbook:

Many economists believe that workers and customers bear much of the burden of the corporate income tax. To see why, consider an example. Suppose that the U.S. government decides to raise the tax on the income earned by car companies. At first, this tax hurts the owners of the car companies, who receive less profit. But over time, these owners will respond to the tax. Because producing cars is less profitable, they invest less in building new car factories. Instead, they invest their wealth in other ways—for example, by buying larger houses or by building factories in other industries or other countries. With fewer car factories, the supply of cars declines, as does the demand for autoworkers. Thus, a tax on corporations making cars causes the price of cars to rise and the wages of autoworkers to fall.

The corporate income tax shows how dangerous the flypaper theory of tax incidence can be. The corporate income tax is popular in part because it appears to be paid by rich corporations. Yet those who bear the ultimate burden of the tax—the customers and workers of corporations—are often not rich. If the true incidence of the corporate tax were more widely known, this tax might be less popular among voters.

3) Finally, economists Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur on who bears the burden of corporate taxes: “The results in this paper suggest that corporate tax rates affect wage levels across countries. Higher corporate taxes lead to lower wages. A 1 percent increase in corporate tax rates is associated with nearly a 1 percent drop in wage rates.”






Thomas Paine said it best in The Rights Of Man in 1791.

“It has been thought that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed; but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.”

Thomas Paine and others of the Revolutionary Era realized that any institution made up by and of humans – from governments to churches to corporations – must be subordinate to individual living people in terms of the rights and powers held by the institution.

Corporations only gained equal status with people after decades of assault on the Constitution by the railroads in the 1800′s. The peak year for their legal assault was 1877, with four different cases reaching the Supreme Court in which the railroads argued that governments could not regulate their fees or activities, or tax them in differing ways, because governments can’t interfere to such an extent in the lives of “persons” and because different laws and taxes in different states and counties represented illegal discrimination against the persons of the railroads under the Fourteenth Amendment.

In 1886 the Supreme Court ruled on an obscure tax issue in the case Santa Clara County vs. Union Pacific Railroad, but the Recorder of the court, a man named J. C. Bancroft Davis, himself formerly the president of a small railroad wrote into his personal commentary of the case that the Chief Justice had said that all the Justices agreed that corporations are persons. This, in fact, was not true at all.

In so doing, he – not the Supreme Court, but its clerical recorder – inserted a statement that would change history and give corporations enormous powers that were not granted by Congress, not granted by the voters, and not even granted by the Supreme Court. Davis’s headnote had no legal standing, but was taken as precedent by generations of jurists, including the Supreme Court who followed and read the headnote but not the decision.

The Founders never intended corporations to have the same rights as citizens. It doesn’t matter how many rationalizations the right wing think tanks disseminate to their armies of bloggers and pundits. It is only because of an obscure headnote written by a corrupt Supreme Court clerk in an obscure railroad tax case that took place in 1886 that they have been able to excercise such power, and to the detriment of the People.

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Club for Growth slaps Romney economic record

Jun 7, 2011 15:25 UTC

Very tough Club for Growth analysis of Mitt Romney’s economic policy record as governors of Massachusetts. Here is the group’s conclusion:

Because of his long tenure in public life, especially his presidential run in 2008, Mitt Romney is considered a well-vetted candidate by now. Perhaps to his consternation, he has developed an unshakeable reputation as a flip-flopper. He has changed his position on several economic issues, including taxes, education, political free speech, and climate change. And yet the one issue that he doesn’t flip on – RomneyCare – is the one that is causing him the most problems with conservative voters. Nevertheless, he labels himself as a pro-growth fiscal conservative, and we have no doubt that Romney would move the country in a pro-growth direction. He would promote the unwinding of Obama’s bad economic policies, but we also think that Romney is somewhat of a technocrat. After a career in business, quickly finding a “solution” seems to be his goal, even if it means more government intrusion as a means to an end. To this day, Romney supports big government solutions to health care and opposes pro-growth tax code reform – positions that are simply opposite to those supported by true economic conservatives. How much Romney’s philosophy of governance will affect his policy goals if elected, we leave for the voters to decide.

Look, Romney was never going to be the favorite of the Club for Growth. But I didn’t know about this:

In 2003, the Governor refused to endorse the Bush tax cuts, earning the praise of Massachusetts liberal congressman Barney Frank, and was even open to a federal gas tax hike. His strident opposition to the flat tax is most curious and difficult to explain since Romney wasn’t a political candidate at the time. In 1996, he ran a series of newspaper ads in Boston, New Hampshire, and Iowa denouncing the 17% flat tax proposed by then presidential candidate Steve Forbes as a “tax cut for fat cats.” In 2007, Romney continued to oppose the flat tax with harsh language, calling the tax “unfair.”

But the polls today have some great new for Romney (via the WaPo): “Among all Americans, Obama and Romney are knotted at 47 percent each, and among registered voters, the former governor is numerically ahead, 49 percent to 46 percent.”






All I know is this—-Clinton raised taxes, and we had the best Economy in decades, surplus instead of deficit, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS !

As for Romney—How do you look at his taking his State down to #47 in the Nation in Job Creation, and the fact that he raised FEES on everything in the State as to a good Economic Record???? You don’t ! Romney sucked at Economics, and he will do so with the National one.

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2012 might be one deal Romney can’t close

May 13, 2011 16:57 UTC

During his private equity career, Mitt Romney was famous as a supersalesman who could dazzle clients with data. But his PowerPoint mastery may not be enough to make him U.S. president. Thursday’s slide-show defense of the controversial health plan he created as Massachusetts governor likely failed to satisfy conservative critics.

Judged purely as political theater, the hour-long, televised presentation Romney gave at the University of Michigan was impressive. The faltering Republican frontrunner speedily navigated through the healthcare problems facing the Bay State when he took office and how he went about devising a solution. He explained that before his 2004 reforms, almost a half million state residents were uninsured. Now it’s down to 100,000 thanks to the government programs he started, Romney said. And he didn’t need to raise taxes to do it. Few of his 2012 rivals can match his policy knowledge.

Right-wing Republicans didn’t consider Romneycare as a disqualifier when the former Bain Capital chief ran for the party’s nomination back in 2008. But it’s Romney’s bad luck that a key feature of his healthcare plan can also be found in President Barack Obama’s: a requirement all citizens purchase health insurance if they can afford it. A decade ago, some conservatives pushed the idea as a matter of “personal responsibility.” And as smart economics, too. They saw it as a way of stopping a free-rider problem since American emergency rooms will treat whomever walks through their doors.

In the more libertarian Tea Party GOP of 2011, however, the “individual mandate” is considered a grievous breach of personal liberty, whether it applies at the state level or federal. Indeed, the rule’s constitutionally is the heart of legal challenges to Obamacare. And Romney’s continued support for his version has seriously damaged his White House prospects. To conservative activists, it’s about values not economic results. His deluge of numbers, no matter how elegantly displayed, is politically irrelevant.

Romney, well financed and with a crack campaign team behind him, could still be the nominee. Some voters will surely like that he’s sticking to his guns. But if someday Romney gives a PowerPoint on how he failed to win the GOP nod in 2012, there’s no doubt what will be on that first slide.



You may think you’ll see a rather clear and obvious correlation to those rising costs and the time in which the federal gov’t stuck their noses into the healthcare system–but you would have it backwards. Healthcare costs began to rise as the “market” for healthcare was given over to private hospitals, private health insurance companies, a protected pharmaceutical monopoly, and fee-for-service physicians.
Some free market. Racket is more like it.

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Romney: Values vs. data

May 12, 2011 17:48 UTC

A very tough WSJ editorial today looking at RomneyCare, but it was the summary that really caught me:

For a potential President whose core argument is that he knows how to revive free market economic growth, this amounts to a fatal flaw. Presidents lead by offering a vision for the country rooted in certain principles, not by promising a technocracy that runs on “data.” Mr. Romney’s highest principle seems to be faith in his own expertise.

More immediately for his Republican candidacy, the debate over ObamaCare and the larger entitlement state may be the central question of the 2012 election. On that question, Mr. Romney is compromised and not credible. If he does not change his message, he might as well try to knock off Joe Biden and get on the Obama ticket.

If a series of studies somehow (unlikely) showed that high taxes and nationalization of business would produce a higher standard of living, would I be for those policies? I would not, because that sort of society would be a far more oppressive one where a person would not be free to pursue happiness as he or she saw it.  While numbers should inform decisions, it’s not always about following the data wherever it takes you. Not at all. I remember talking with a libertarian econ professor who said he used to believe that his side “had the better studies.” As he got older, he became a bit less sure of that. But he also really didn’t care since at the core of cosmology was a belief in the value of freedom.


Talk about no factual argument given, just platitudes…

Tell us exactly how much money is going to pay exactly which commissars [or is it czars], which union kickbacks, which political favors, and which other graft. And be specific.

This is the usual spoon fed babble the ditto-bots get drummed into their little heads every day, two hours ever morning, and four hours every afternoon, followed by three hours of prime time, every single day.

So yes, let’s look at all the examples around the world, and compare them to America’s system. America treats healthcare as a risk, while the rest of the civilized word treats it as a cost. That’s why Americans pay twice as much for health services as the rest of the world, and get results that are no better.

There is no risk of getting sick. Disease does not care if people have health “insurance” or not. People get sick, they get care, and society pays the COST. Adding a layer of for-profit business to “manage the risk” is insanity.

And yet, Republicans are willing to spend whatever capital, political or otherwise, to protect this racket.

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Romney 2012: Is U.S. ready for its first buyout president?

Apr 12, 2011 16:12 UTC

Mitt Romney’s campaign launch for the Republican presidential nomination predictably avoided mentioning the Obamacare-like health plan he created as Massachusetts governor. But it also gently tiptoed around his financially successful career as a buyout boss. With the financial crisis still raw to voters, selling them on the first president to be drawn from the buyout barony will be tough.

Of course, if not for his successful run at Bain Capital, Romney wouldn’t be a leading player in the 2012 sweepstakes for the White House. It made him fabulously wealthy and provided a full BlackBerry of Wall Street and corporate contacts to tap for campaign cash. The eventual GOP nominee will need a bursting wallet as he or she faces off against a sitting president who might raise $1 billion to fund re-election.

Just as importantly, Romney’s time at Bain lets him uniquely position himself as a venture capitalist and corporate turnaround artist who understands how private-sector jobs are created. The messaging: A Mr. Fix-it for the U.S. economy vs. rivals who are all creatures of government.

But even Romney knows it isn’t quite that simple. During his video announcement, he pointedly says, “Sometimes I was successful and helped create jobs. Other times I wasn’t.” While Romney will highlight his winning investments, such as Staples and The Sports Authority, aspects of his business record are vulnerable to attack. Fixing companies, after all, sometimes means firing workers. During Romney’s failed 1994 U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democrat Ted Kennedy ran a series of ads with laid-off workers savagely denouncing him. “Basically, he cut our throats,” said one.

Romney also expects to be portrayed as little more than a financial engineer who made money for himself and partners by forcing acquired companies to take on debt to pay them a special dividend. To the average American, that may sound a lot like the exotic financial strategies that helped lead to the bank meltdown. Romney will counter, of course. But as the saying goes, a politician who is explaining is one who is losing.

Then there’s his healthcare plan, which the White House says, with what appears a hint of sarcasm, was a model for theirs. To many Republican voters, that alone disqualifies Romney from higher office. Back at Bain, he was known as a super-salesman. Selling Romney Inc. will be his most challenging pitch yet.