Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
I posted the other day that:
If we want to restore the American middle-class, there is only one path forward. We must consign the fantasies of conservative economics to the ash heap of history forever, and return to the pragmatic solutions of what we know worked for over 50 years. This election is a choice between two competing economic theories: Keyensian economics that works, and conservative economics that is a miserable failure. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
On Thursday, President Obama and Willard "Mittens" Romney gave competing speeches on economic theory in Ohio. President Obama used the stark choice framing above.
Mittens Romney kept to his campaign strategy of not going into any details that can be attacked and, you know, fact checked. His speech is filled with platitudes and ad hominem attacks on President Obama. The Romney strategy is simply to make this election a referendum on how you feel about President Obama without revealing anything at all about Romney.
The feckless media villagers are playing the role of Monty Hall on "Let's Make a Deal" -- "You can keep this fabulous prize, or you can risk it all for what is behind door number 3." Blindly selecting door number 3 without knowing what is behind door number 3 has never turned out well on Let's Make a Deal, and has resulted in disaster for nations that have followed this course.
Earlier this year, RNC spokesperson Alexandra Franchesi confirmed what we already knew: that Romney's economic policies are the "Bush plan just updated." Romney Economic Policies Are "Bush Plan Just Updated" - YouTube. Tax expert David Cay Johnston described the Romney tax plan as "Romney's Tax Plan is George W. Bush on Steroids." - YouTube.
If you listen to Romney closely, you will hear that he is a true believer in the GOP's new religion of Ayn Rand free market capitalism -- a belief in the "invisible hand" of the free marketplace that will magically set the world aright.
Romney is also a true believer in the faith based supply-side "trickle down" GOP economics ("Bushonomics") that has been entirely disproved and discredited over the past twelve years. Romney wants to double-down on the miserable failure of Bushonomics because if our faith is just strong enough it will work this time, really, we promise!
Romney is promising you George W. Bush's third term "on steroids." Repost: The Bush Years Were a Lost Decade.
After viewing both speeches, I have to agree with Lawrence O'Donnell's assessment last night: If you want to know what Romney's economic plan is you have to listen to President Obama's speech.
Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic did a quick fact check of Obama's speech and determined Yes, Romney's Vision for America Really Is That Scary:
Obama made three big claims about Romney’s agenda, starting with a claim about Romney’s proposed tax cut:
an independent study said that about 70 percent of this new $5 trillion tax cut would go to folks making over $200,000 a year. And folks making over a million dollars a year would get an average tax cut of about 25 percent.
That comes straight from a study by the Joint Tax Center, a project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. Just to make sure the citation was correct, I checked with Howard Gleckman, a resident fellow at Urban. He confirmed it.
Obama also talked about the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act and transforming Medicaid into a limited block grant (i.e., giving the states a pre-determined amount of money).
Not only does their plan eliminate health insurance for 33 million Americans by repealing the Affordable Care Act, according to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation, it would also take away coverage from another 19 million Americans who rely on Medicaid, including millions of nursing home patients and families who have children with autism and other disabilities.
As Obama says, this comes straight from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which commissioned a study by experts at the Urban Institute. That study actually produced three separate estimates. Obama could easily have cited the largest of the estimates, that 27 million people would lose Medicaid, above and apart from those who lose coverage if the Affordable Care Act goes away. Instead, he chose the middle estimate of 19 million. (More background on this issue here.)
Finally, Obama described the effects of capping federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product, while setting aside 4 percent for defense spending.
They haven’t specified exactly where the knife would fall, but here’s some of what would happen if that cut that they proposed was spread evenly across the budget.
10 million college students would lose an average of a thousand dollars each on financial aid. 200,000 children would lose the chance to get an early education in the Head Start program. There would be 1,600 fewer medical research grants for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer and AIDS; 4,000 fewer scientific research grants, eliminating support for 48,000 researchers, students and teachers.
Now, again, they have not specified which of these cuts they choose from, but if they want to make smaller cuts to areas like science or medical research, then they’d have to cut things like financial aid or education even further.
Obama's source here is analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Note that he summarized the paper’s finding appropriately, with the necessary nuance: Because Romney refuses to specify where he’d cut, it’s impossible to know precisely which programs would get fewer funds and which would not. Of course, if Romney wants to spare certain programs, he’ll have to cut more deeply into others—just like Obama said.
Do conservatives have an actual response? Do they think the researchers at Brookings, the Center on Budget, Kaiser, and Urban—all of them non-partisan, well-respected institutions—are wrong? Fine. These conservatives should say so and they should back up their arguments with compelling evidence. I'll be surprised if they can.
Greg Sargent at The Plum Line has the most cogent analysis of President Obama's speech that I have run across. Obama to America: Romney’s got nothin’:
1) The central idea in the speech — that Washington is in a “stalemate” about how to move forward that only the American people can break — was the answer to a clear strategic dilemma.
* * *
By casting the current situation as a “stalemate” that the American people need to break, Obama is implicitly arguing that if people do agree with his overall sense of where the country needs to go, they can cast a vote that amounts to more than a protest against gridlock, dysfunction and inaction, which can easily get held against the incumbent. Obama was essentially telling the American people that they have to make their choice clear — hopefully driving home that this election is a choice that will determine the future direction of the country, rather than just an occasion for people to register disgust with the status quo. [i.e., to throw out the obstructionist "less-than-do- nothing" Tea-Publican Congress that is sabotaging the U.S. economy as part of their partisan political strategy]
2) Obama framed that choice as one between GOP adherence to free market and anti-tax fundamentalism on one side, and concerted government action to rebuild the middle class on the other. Crucially, he said the main obstacle to progress on the deficit and on jobs legislation is GOP opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy. “It’s the biggest source of gridlock in Washington today — and the only thing that can break the stalemate is you.”
Obama cast GOP deficit-hawkery as fraudulent, pointing out that Republicans only care about the deficit when they’re out of power, and repeatedly noted that the GOP solution is that the “market will solve our problems all on its own.” In sum, Obama is hoping that swing voters will ultimately decide that he’s the one with their true interests at heart and a sense of the future they can identify with.
* * *
3) Obama made the most explicit case yet that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a plan to fix the crisis. The president cited independent economists who have said that Romney’s plans could make things worse, hoping to elevate a topic media figures seem largely unwilling to discuss — the question of whose ideas would actually fix the economy. [See Jonathan Cohn above]
This was also the idea behind Obama’s prebuttal to the hundreds of millions in ads that are about to be unleashed. Obama told voters to expect ads with “scary music” and a voice telling them Obama is detached from Americans’ suffering and the true state of the economy and that he’s a lightweight with no experience in business. He then said:
“That may be their plan to win the election. But it’s not a plan to create jobs. It’s not a plan to grow the economy. It’s not a plan to pay down the debt. And it’s sure not a plan to revive the middle class and secure our future.”
This was the ultimate appeal in Obama’s speech. He knows economically struggling swing voters are about to get nuked by months of single-minded messaging — the economy stinks and no one seems to be doing anything about it, so get rid of the guy in charge — and he’s trying to get them to ask themselves what Romney is really offering as an alternative.
View President Obama's speech in its entirety.