The Binders That Bind
The most revealing moment last night came as Ann Romney walked toward her husband onstage at the end. That expression on her face. I thought she looked like a woman in a binder.
It is, I suppose, poetic justice for Romney that an obviously misspoken phrase of that sort is the catch phrase from last night. But the phrase, while generating hilarious witticisms, is not the reason why Romney won’t recover. Instead, it is the binders that Romney has placed himself in that surely became clear to many of his new-found fans of the last two weeks—the binders that underlie his entire campaign.
Most significantly, in my opinion, that his tax plan is, rather than the new math—as he’s been claiming—actually is no math.
And that he takes contradictory positions at the same time—starkly, last night, for example, that he’s proud that because of him, virtually everyone in Massachusetts has healthcare insurance, yet Obamacare must be repealed because it’s keeping employers from hiring. (There were others that surely became clear to a lot of people, but this one just bowled me over, because he said these two things within a few minutes of each other.)
And—yes; finally!—that he habitually plucks statistics out of their context and misrepresents their meaning, although the most clearly illustrative one was one that Obama wasn’t able to make fully clear last night because of time constraints on his reply to Romney’s allegation. It will be easy for him to do so now, though.
That statistic: Romney’s claim that Obama has reduced oil production from drilling on federal lands by 14% by denying drilling permits and leases. Romney first claimed, falsely, that there has been a 14% reduction in oil production from drilling on federal lands since Obama took office. After Obama repeatedly interjected that that was false and that the level of that oil production actually had increased during his administration, Romney finally qualified his claim; production had decreased by 14% over the past year.
I loved it that Obama stepped forward—literally—and explained that the leases and permits that his administration had revoked were ones that the leaseholders and permit holders had not been using, and that that was the reason for the revocations; he wanted the leases and permits to be reissued to others, who would use them.
That was a great moment, albeit one that probably won’t get much attention. But even more important is that, as Andrea Mitchell explained during the NBC recap and analysis, the 14% reduction occurred (as Romney finally acknowledged) only in the last year—and that the reason for the drop was … a fire at, and consequent shutdown, of a major refinery in Texas! And, even with that 14% drop in the last year, production from drilling on federal lands has increased more than 10% since Obama took office.
I think the Obama campaign should do an ad on this, saying that apparently Romney thought it was Obama administration policy to have a fire at a major refinery. And that Romney’s so inept at math that he doesn’t know the difference between a 10% increase and a 14% decrease.
The public will get the point. Romney is trying to game them. Not a particularly attractive trait in a presidential candidate.
But one misuse of a statistic by Romney came earlier in the debate, and it downright shouted sophistry, thanks to Obama’s unmasking of it: Romney’s comparison of gas prices in January 2009 and gas prices now. When Obama pointed out why gas prices were so low when he assumed office—and why they’ve doubled since then—I knew Obama would win the debate. And when, later, during the discussion of the policy similarities between G.W. Bush’s policies and Romney’s proposed ones, Obama cleverly said Romney probably would send gas prices falling, by crashing the economy and thus lowering demand for oil, I thought then that Obama won the election last night.
And in the light of today, I’m pretty sure of it.
“But the phrase, while generating hilarious witticisms, is not the reason why Romney won’t recover.”
“The public will get the point.”
OK, the first sentence implies that Romney won’t recover, and more to the point, that Beverly Mann is in a position to know that Romney won’t recover, and why he won’t recover. The second sentence also implies that Beverly Mann is in a position to know stuff about the future.
Beverly Mann is in no such position. Beverly Mann does not have the knowledge to write the things she writes, and I wonder why she pretends.
I found Romney’s very convoluted statement about what would happen to taxes for the rich interesting.
“Now, how about deductions? ‘Cause I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.
The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same.”
A: I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now
B: The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects.
B: Is meant to precicely define what he means in A.
But, of course, if you read carefully there B doesn’t mean at all what A implies.
If income taxes for the middle are to be reduced income taxes for the top must also be reduced to keep their share of income tax receipts constant. So there would be income tax cuts for the rich.
Further it uses the common trick of switching artfully between “taxes” and “federal income taxes” to mislead the listener.
Much of the taxes paid by the rich isn’t “federal income tax” it is capital gains and inheritance taxes, both of which Romney has said he wants to slash.
Much of the taxes paid by working people is in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes. Romney doesn’t plan to reduce those.
So it is entirely possible for the share of “the income tax the nation collects” from the top 5% to remain the same while the top 5% gets a much larger tax cut than the bottom 95%. The bottom 95% could easily see a large tax increase and still hold to that condition.
Romney became very very rich negotiating deals where the benefits flowed first and most to himself. Watch very carefully what you are agreeing to with him.
Jeff Fisher, I heard the very same thing last night, but I guarantee you 98% of the listeners did not. Personally, I continue to think this has all the earmarks of Reagan wiping out Carter in 1980.Carter had been ahead in all the polls until the debates and was still ahead going into the last few weeks when everyone broke for Reagan and it was a wave election. Romney has one soundbite and he repeated it every chance he got–“We have tried your policies for 4 years and look where we are” It is only a slight variation on Reagan’s “Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?” line. That is the one line that Obama has been unable to rebut and carries with it the potential not only for a Romney victory but a substantial Romney victory. To be sure Obama has a few advantages Carter did not have–No hostages in Iran, no failed rescue plan, and no strong third party candidate where people who could not bring themselves to vote for Reagan could go instead of voting for Carter. On the other hand, the country has suffered a lot more economically under Obama (I know he inherited a much worse situation than Carter) than under Carter and there are a whole bunch of people who will vote against him because of the color of his skin. Bottom line, I do not think Romney’s mendacity sinks him and I think he may well be on his way to victory.
I have to agree that Obama will probably win. Good news for those who support more oil drilling, who don’t care about global warming, who want the war budget increased, who want to ignore the massive human violations in American prisons and many other places, who want to perpetuate a for-profit health insurance system, who want to continue to allow Wall Street to operate entirely without any fear of prosecution for crimes, who want to increase the gap between rich and poor, who want to protect the interests of the 1%, and who want things as they are in the US to continue. They must be very happy.
Ergo, vote for Romney. He would do so much better on these issues… or not, just whole lot worse no matter how terrible.
Hey, guys, this post has been linked to by a FRENCH financial-commentary blog, at http://lagazetteonline.blogspot.com/2012/10/philippe-bechade-goldman-sachs-sait.html.
Tout suite. (Or may just tooting my own horn? Oh, well.)
Kharris, you are soooo wrong. I absolutely DO have a crystal ball. It’s from the same manufacturer as the ones used by the other political commentators.
Which is why I decided not to include a warranty with my post. Whew. Good idea.
Yeah, Jeff. Ditto. Great post.
I was surprised and disappointed that Obama didn’t point out more clearly that Romney is actually saying, when he says that the wealthy will continue to pay the same share of the federal tax receipts that they do now, that they WILL be getting big tax cuts. Obama did say that someone with a—what was it? A $3 million income?—would get a (I think) $260,000 tax cut. Something like that.
But he said that before Romney made the statement you quote. I wish Obama had pointed out then that that itself means the wealthy will be getting a huge tax cut. But I suspect that one thing that came out of the debate last night, for a whole lot of people, is that Romney’s statements are nonsense. That’s one reason why I think the pundits are underestimating the effect of last night.
Beverly, thank you for letting me know you hold yourself to the standard of “what other political commentators do”. I will adjust my filter accordingly.
This isn’t something I want to debate further, but by the very nature of political commentary, it’s opinion and personal analysis, including projections. I’m at a loss to understand why anyone would think that statements that are clearly political analysis and political projections also are representations of fact, or guarantees, or whatever it is that you’re saying they are.