Details, Please

Mitt Romney has been campaigning on the premise that he has a better grasp of economic issues than President Obama.  Basically, his premise has been “I’m a business guy, I know about money; therefore you should hire me to fix the economy.”  Admittedly, he looks like the Central Casting version of a businessman in a suit, and that’s likely to persuade some voters.

But Romney has provided few details, other than supporting deregulation and similarly returning to the Bush-era economic policies that drove us into the deep recession that we’re still trying to dig our way out of.  He’s offered plenty of vague platitudes about knowing how to fix the economy, but he offers as proof of his ability only his questionable record at Bain Capital.

He claims that his time at Bain was as a job creator, though his record in the private sector consists largely of shutting down companies and siphoning money out of them for himself and his cronies.  The number of jobs that he claims to have created seems to vacillate from day to day, state to state, speech to speech.

When challenged in any way on the very record that he holds up as his primary qualification, he whines that he is the victim of “character assassination.”   According to Romney and his campaign, it’s somehow off-limits to infer that Romney and Bain were part of the byzantine investment banking structure that was responsible for the collapse of the economy and yet which remains completely unpunished.

Oddly, Romney similarly doesn’t want anyone to talk about his record in the public sector, which logically would have more bearing on his qualifications for the job that he is seeking.  Maybe that’s because his jobs record as governor of Massachusetts consists of helping his state plunge to the position of 47th out of 50 states in job creation.

The fact remains that Romney hasn’t described with any specificity how he will create any jobs.  If GOP history is any indicator, they’re seemingly only intent on reducing the size of government, which only reduces the number of jobs.  Mitt and his team are still spouting the Reagan era ideology of supply-side trickle-down economics, even though there is not a scrap of evidence that such economic policy has ever provided any benefit to anyone except those who are already prosperous.

Obama has taken the cesspool of an economy that he inherited upon taking office and he has made it significantly better.  Unemployment was at >10%; job losses were mounting.  Unemployment has been moving consistently downward and is currently at 8.1%.  Job creation is significantly up.

Blue collar job numbers are worse than the overall job numbers.  Yet Republicans in Congress have blocked attempts at creating more jobs in this sector when the Obama administration proposed infrastructure programs that would have employed the unemployed as well as dealt with the nation’s crumbling bridges, roads, and other infrastructure.

More than 5,000,000 jobs have been added since Obama took office, despite a reduction of hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs that various state Republican legislatures have been championing.  Obama has managed to show overall job growth in spite of that decline in public sector jobs.

So, in order to cast a vote for Mitt Romney, isn’t it fair to require Romney and his campaign to provide specific assurances not only for how he’s going to create jobs but also for how he’s going to do better than Obama has done?  Sounds fair to me.

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Today’s Numbers

[column col=”1/3″]

The number of cents per gallon that gasoline has dropped since this time last month.[/column]

[column col=”1/3″]

The number of cents per gallon that gasoline has dropped since this date last year.[/column]

[column col=”1/3″]

The number of Republicans who previously blamed Barack Obama for rising gas prices who sent Barack Obama a note of congratulations or thanks for now lowering them.[/column]

 

* This number is not official, but it’s a pretty safe bet.

Mitt’s Business Acumen

Back in January, before Mitt Romney was the presumptive Republican nominee, I posted a tweet about the applicability of his business skills to the role of President:

I also published a more detailed (and only slightly less snarky) post on this blog on the same subject. While I was being just a tad sarcastic to make a point, my basic premise was deadly serious.

The Obama campaign today released a six-minute video that makes the same point a little more concretely, detailing the real-world consequences of Romney’s business philosophy while at Bain Capital:

There are lots of us in the middle class who are relieved (a) that Obama and his team are now campaigning in earnest, and (b) that they’re taking on this issue head-on.

Romney and his surrogates have been claiming that they don’t want to talk about social issues like women’s health and marriage equality (even though they’re usually the ones who are bring those subjects up). They keep claiming that their campaign forte is the economy.

Judging by today’s campaign video, it looks like Obama is welcoming that challenge.

Holding a Losing Hand?

The headlines today concerning the Republican politicians’ response to President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality either refer to a tepid, tiptoe response or make note of the general lack of response altogether.

While a few foolhardy mouthpieces tried to frame Obama’s statements as some kind of a flip-flop on gay issues, most GOP politicians were uncharacteristically quiet or guarded about their response.  (The usual suspects in the “religious” right wasted no time in mouthing off, but that’s par for the course.)

I’m sure there are a number of theories circulating as to why this has happened.  But my guess is that the Republican politicians are relatively certain that they cannot win by focusing on this issue.  I suspect that many of the Republicans have LGBT staffers, know LGBT people, perhaps even have gay family member (except for the occasional member of Congress who boasts overconfidently that they don’t).  I’d like to believe that there is sufficient conscience remaining in at least some of the GOP not to continue the tradition of claiming that their personal beliefs are one thing and their policy decisions are completely detached from those personal beliefs.  That “some-of-my-best-friends-are-gay” line will not work in this day and age.

The only outcome for Republicans if they raise a stink about this issue is that they will make themselves look even more extreme than they already have.  There may still be some Republicans who have a concern for their respective political legacy.  As many others have said, they’re clearly on the wrong side of history.

Pundits today have been talking about the risk that Obama took today, and there may indeed be some.  But the Republicans need to attract moderate voters in the upcoming election, as well; the risk may be even greater for them than for the President.  They’ve already done their best to drive away women, Latinos, and the LGBT community.  If they veer much farther to the right, they may go over a cliff.


Read more on Politico about the GOP’s silence:

Afterglow Reality Check

The LGBT community and progressives are understandably celebrating yesterday’s interview with Barack Obama in which he announced his support for marriage equality.  He did so with considerable political risk, because he knew that, in addition to galvanizing support among LGBT folks, he would also galvanize his opposition among the uber-conservatives.

With his announcement, everything change and nothing changed.

Everything changed, because for the first time, an American president has publicly stated his full support for true equal rights.

Nothing changed, because in practical terms, the needle hasn’t moved one bit between May 8th (the day before he made the announcement) to May 10th (the day after he made the announcement).

There are still monumental hurdles to be overcome before LGBT people enjoy the same rights and freedoms that the rest of Americans enjoy.

How and when that parity is to be achieved is still to be determined.  If it’s via the legislature, there’s truly a steep uphill climb to convince many of our less-than-forward-thinking Senators and Representatives to move away from the dark side.  If it’s via the courts, there are likely years of court battles and challenges ahead.

But we can take a moment to feel pride and relief that this president has chosen to be on the right side of history.