Elizabeth Warren meets some Republicans (with update)

Here is cartoonist Dan Wasserman’s take on Senator Elect Elizbeth Warren and her potential assignment to the Senate Banking Committee.  Of course, some of us think this is exactly why she needs to be appointed.  Are you listening Harry Reid?  (update: Looks like he listened!)

banking and warren

Cartoonists look at Mitt and the 47% and his quest for the White House

Some of my favorite cartoonishs came out with their takes on the Mitt Romney remarks about the 47% who are victims and think we are entitled to food and shelter, plus we don’t pay taxes.

Tony Auth depicted some of the people who don’t pay taxes.

Dan Wasserman

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Signe Wilkerson showed Romeny supporters.

Signe Wilkinson's Editorial Cartoons 09/19

Finally Tom Toles with Mitt trying to figure out how to get to the White House.

It is hard to figure out how Mitt Romeny goes from here.  The latest polls in the swing states are not looking good for him.  The President’s approval rating is at or near the magic 50%.  And given his track record, I’m not sure how he wins a debate with Obama.  The Republicans are saying that he needs to be specific.  Well, I think he was plenty specific in the the fundraiser video tape.  He told us what he thinks and what he wants or doesn’t want to do.  I am not calling the race yet, because one never knows what can happen in the the month, but I will say that he has dug himself a hole that I don’t think he has the skills to get out of.

[And I’m sorry that Dan Wasserman’s cartoon isn’t very clear.  His website moved and now I can’t edit the pictures.]

Can we take Mitt seriously?

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is difficult to peg.  I’m not sure that he is interested in governing based on his track record here in Massachusetts while Governor.  Romney spent large hunks of his time running for President and not showing much interest in the state.  He seems to understand capitalism as practiced by companies like Bain Capital, but is really uninterested in what goes on with ordinary middle class and the working poor.  He can’t seem to hit the right notes and for the left is all too often the butt of jokes.  Here are two.

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Dan Wasserman on Mitt and Harvard.

Then there is Calvin Trillin.

The Republican National Committee Selects a Campaign Slogan

Our slogan’s been chosen.
We think it’s a hit.
We’ll shout from the rafters,
“We settle for Mitt!”

There is the dog on the roof, the liking to fire people, etc. etc. etc. 

But he is going to be the nominee for the Republicans and we need to find out what we can take seriously.  Greg Sargent writing in the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog took at stab at it today.

A few days ago, Mitt Romney chatted with a bunch of firefighters, who told him about their struggles in the Obama economy. As Romney recalled it: “I asked the firefighters I was meeting with, about 15 or them, how many had had to take another job to make ends meet, and almost every one of them had.”

Of course, firefighters are public sector workers. And Romney has said that public sector workers are getting paid too much, not that they’re getting paid too little. As Jonathan Chait puts it:

Romney’s position is that these fine public servants are luxuriating in excessive pay, a fact that, unlike swelling income inequality, constitutes a major source of unfairness in American life. (“We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve,” he said last week.)

This is actually a policy flashpoint between the two parties. Public employment has cratered in recent years, with public sector jobs continuing to decline even as private sector jobs rebound, exerting a continued drag on the sluggish recovery. Obama’s position is that the federal government ought to provide aid to state governments to rehire some of the laid-off teachers, cops, and firefighters. Republicans oppose this. Romney seems to have forgotten that the firefighters he came face-to-face with are one category of Americans whose economic pain he’s supposed to be in favor of.

Steve Benen takes this further, adding that the episode and the attendant contradiction reveal the failure of Romney’s “transactional politics.” Romney is looking to take things away from public sector workers, students who rely on Pell Grants, those who rely on entitlements and government programs that might be cut, and the like:

His is an agenda of austerity, a sharp reduction in public investments, and hostility towards government activism in general. In a transactional sense, Romney has to hope most voters aren’t looking to make a traditional electoral trade, because he doesn’t intend to give them anything.

What we can take seriously is that Mitt doesn’t care about anyone who isn’t rich.  We can take seriously that he and today’s Republican Party want to take women back to the 1950’s and even further.  We need to wake up to the fact that today’s Republican Party offers the 99% nothing.  We need to take Mitt at his word and vote for him at our peril.

 

Ryan’s Budget and the 2012 Election

 Dan Wasserman sums up the Ryan Budget.

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President Obama called the Ryan Budget “Social Darwinism” quoting that wise Republican, Newt Gingrich.  Mitt Romney called it “marvelous”.  Paul Krugman calls it “Pink Slime Economics”

Here is Krugman

And when I say fraudulent, I mean just that. The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit — but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.

And we’re talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

This budget fight and the election to come are about what we want the country to be.  The Republicans have that much right.  Will we become a country with the rich hiding in gated communities and getting richer or will we a a country where everyone has a chance to succeed, where the less fortunate get help, and where there is a robust middle class?  Democracies thrive in countries with an educated middle class.  Look at the driving forces behind the Arab Spring.  The choices this election will be clear. 

The budget fight is also about whether or not a deficit is important right now.  Yes, we can’t continue to grow the deficit indefinitely, but it seems to this non-economist, that the way to deal with the deficit is not through draconian cuts to the domestic budget, but spend on things that result in jobs.  When people work they pay taxes and the deficit can begin to come down.  But cutting food stamps, unemployment insurance, job retaining programs, aid to education, are all key to growing jobs or helping those who can’t find them.

Andrew Rosenthal put it better in today’s New York Times.

He ticked off some of the budget’s most near-sighted assaults: financial aid cuts to nearly 10 million college students; 1,600 fewer medical grants; 4,000 fewer scientific research grants. Starting in 2014, it would cut around 200,000 children from the Head Start program and 2 million mothers and their young children from a food assistance program. “We wouldn’t have the capacity to enforce the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink or the food that we eat,” he said.

Medicaid would be gutted, Medicare would be turned into a voucher program – but the Republicans would still cut taxes by $4.6 trillion over the next decade. The cuts, as usual, would mostly benefit the wealthy.

Mr. Obama noted that the stated purpose of the Republican budget is to reduce the federal budget deficit, but he called it a Trojan horse and “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” The real purpose is to cripple government. And he said, because it guts “the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last – education and training, research and development, our infrastructure – it is a prescription for decline.”

The Republican response to Mr. Obama – that the nation is in a debt crisis and the president doesn’t get it – just made his point for him. We don’t have a debt crisis. We have a medium- to long-term budget problem, driven largely by rising health costs combined with an aging population. Health care reform is an honest attempt to deal with that. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire, starting with the high-end ones, would be an honest attempt to deal with that. Then there’s our lack of jobs, lack of income growth, diminishing prospects and dwindling opportunities.

And we shouldn’t forget that George W. Bush told us we didn’t need to raise taxes to pay for the war in Iraq because it would pay for itself through oil revenue.  He cut taxes for the 1% instead and created a deficit.  This probably wouldn’t have been so catastrophic except that the economy collapsed in 2008.  Here is a link to a nice chart.

So the Ryan Budget will be at the heart of the election this fall – especially if Paul Ryan is Romney’s VP.  It will be interesting.

 

Belichick, the Pats, and the 2012 Campaign

I am not a big football fan, but you can’t live in New England without knowing about Bill Belichick, the Patriots coach, and his monosyllabic style.  Here is it captured perfectly by Dan Wasserman.

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The Pats lost yesterday as we know here in Boston, but one of these guys will be the next President.