Spain. Please, Mr. Obama, talk about Spain. Please.
ROMNEY: Look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That’s how we get growth and how we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you’ll never get there. You’ll never balance the budget by raising taxes.
Spain — Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We’re now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don’t want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work with more money coming in because they’re working.
LEHRER: But — but Mr. President, you’re saying in order to — to get the job done, it’s got to be balanced. You’ve got to have…
Romney doesn’t want to go down the path to Spain? Oh? Well, since, actually, the percent of Spain’s total economy that they spend on government has nothing at all to do with Spain’s situation now, and instead has everythingto do with the fact that they had a huge, huge housing bubble, worse even than ours, and since their housing bubble is—like ours—the main cause of their economic problems, and since Romney wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Mortgage-lending regulations and replace them with regulations that favor Wall Street … then, yes, Romney does want to go down the path of Spain.
Or at least down the path we took during our deregulation juggernaut.
OK, here’s the thing: Romney and his campaign aides recognized that that debate forum would present a perfect opportunity for him to just rattle off statements without any challenge. Just a steady stream of nonsense, without any real risk of being confronted with actual challenges to any of it. They knew, as I did, that Lehrer—I still remember his nauseating role in the first Bush/Gore debate in 2000—does nothing but ask the candidates to state their positions on whatever. Open-ended questions in which each one is supposed to state his policy proposal on, say, taxes, or “jobs.” There’s no actual questioning about the proposal. None. None.
So, Romney gets to state, free and clear, a completely false inference of fact about the cause of Spain’s economic problems. And he gets to say, free and clear:
Look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That’s how we get growth and how we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you’ll never get there. You’ll never balance the budget by raising taxes.
Really? You’ll never balance the budget by raising taxes? Oh? Didn’t we do exactly that during the Clinton administration?
And, the revenue he gets is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes? Oh? Through the same policies as George W. Bush did? Really?
And so forth.
Like, that Romney is going to cut tax rates across the board by 20%. But he’s not going to lower tax revenue from the wealthy at all. And so forth.
What Obama needs to do—really, really needs to do—is put up a series of ads juxtaposing Romney’s earlier statements with his gibberish from last night. (I strongly urge using a clip from Romney’s speech to the Detroit Economic Club in February, and a similar speech that same week in Arizona; Michigan and Arizona had their primaries on the same Tuesday.) But rather than just suggesting that Romney is a slippery liar who’s trying to trick voters into putting into office a team that would put in place drastic, basic changes that he knows a substantial majority of the public doesn’t want, Obama should pretend that Romney just doesn’t know the facts and can’t do simple math. He is, in other words, not very smart, or at least not very well-informed.
The public, of course, will recognize that Romney’s a sleaze bucket. But Obama can just say, for example, that if Romney doesn’t know that during the Clinton years, we had a balanced budget, he’s too ill-informed to be president.
And, about that Spain thing: The final debate will be about foreign policy. Which, Obama should point out, requires some knowledge of such things as what actuallycaused Spain’s economy to crash. And then he should educate the public about it. He can do that in two or three sentences of medium length. If he wants to see how it’s done, he can read any one of several Paul Krugman columns in which Krugman did exactly that. It’s not rocket science. It’s not even economic science. It’s simple, established fact. Of exactly the sort that not long ago Romney’s pollster said the Romney campaign wouldn’t trouble itself about, and that it would instead continue to make up its own facts.
Speaking of good way for the Obama campaign to get a message across in an ad ….
The bottom line: Obama can easily turn Romney’s performance last night into a plus.
they had a huge, huge housing bubble, worse even than ours, and since their housing bubble, like ours, is—like ours—the main cause of their economic problems, and since Romney wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Mortgage-lending regulations and replace them with regulations that favor Wall Street … then, yes, Romney does want to go down the path of Spain.
Or at least down the path we took during our deregulation juggernaut.
If you’re going to comment on hte Spanish economy might help if you knew something about it.
The big three banks, the equivalent of the Wall Street ones? They’re just fine.
Know which part of he banking system screwed up? The Main Street one. The one that was run not for profit (the cajas were not for profits, usually owned by a charitable foundation). Run by hte local politicians in fact. The community organisers you might say.
That’s the part of the Spanish banking system that is hopelessly bust. Not a single piece of deregulation in sight. No CDOs, no CDS, no nothing except too many loans out to people who cannot repay.
This may be many things but a rerun of Wallt Street in the 90s and 00s it ain’t.
Hmm, Tim. Did you say in your comment that the percentage of the Spanish economy that is spent on government has even the slightest thing at all to do with the economic situation in Spain? Was that in code language somewhere in what you said? If so, I didn’t pick it up.
And, if there was no a single piece of deregulation in sight—No CDOs, no CDS, no nothing except too many loans out to people who cannot repay—then maybe it’s that there wasn’t enough regulation of the banking system, to begin with? And I’m sorta wondering what the difference in outcome was between a bank controlled by pols who screwed up (in Spain) and pols controlled by a banking system (here)? And, y’know, what all it has to do with the percentage of the economy that is spent on government—which is what Romney claims.
Conflation and non sequiturs, thy name is Mitt Romney. Remove the incessant conflations and non sequiturs, and what do you have, Tim? Do tell.
Yes, government spending plays a role. Spains biggest problem right now is potentially destrutctive public borrowing costs, which are driven by lenders/investors’ perceptions of the solvency of the Spanish treasury. One way of looking at it is that purchasers of Spanish treasuries are funding curent and future outlays made by the Spanish government that they fear will never be repaid…so yes, obviously the size of those outlays matters.
If you’re going to use a snarky condescending tone, be able to back it up. Parusing the thesaurus for big words doesn’t make you understand fiscal solvency or macroeconomics in general. Was Romney’s statement an oversimplification? Yes, for sure, and you would be correct to point out that we can afford more gov’t spending than Spain for a number of reasons, including the fact that we have better growth prospects and enjoy wide usage of the dollar as a reserve currency internationally. Most statements you’ll hear out of Obama and Romney will probably be somewhat intellectually dishonest.
Your argument about Clinton vs Bush? come on now, if you’re going to make that point do it right. Evidence shows we’re on the “wrong” side of the Laffer curve for Romneys statement to make sense. I agree that Clinton was a better fiscal steward than GWB, but let’s call a spade a spade. Clinton balanced the budget because the economy boomed under his tenure, and he benefitted from a huge asset bubble…the empirical argument just doesn’t suffice there.
If smaller banks were the problem, and the TBTF banks are fine, then why did the Spanish govt bail them out?
The lenders would have got cents on the euros.
I think something is missing here.
Beverly Mann: “You’ll never balance the budget by raising taxes? Oh? Didn’t we do exactly that during the Clinton administration?”
Economic growth played a big role.
Beverly Mann: “And, the revenue he gets is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes?”
Romney is right about that. We should grow our way out of this depression.
Beverly Mann: “Oh? Through the same policies as George W. Bush did? Really?”
You are right. Romney has the wrong policies for growth. We need to get money into the hands of the 47%, something that sticks in Romney’s craw.