The politics I love and hate, wrapped up in a conundrum.

WHEN Mitt Romney was governor of liberal Massachusetts, he supported abortion, gun control, tackling climate change and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, backed up with generous subsidies for those who could not afford it. Now, as he prepares to fly to Tampa to accept the Republican Party’s nomination for president on August 30th, he opposes all those things. A year ago he favoured keeping income taxes at their current levels; now he wants to slash them for everybody, with the rate falling from 35% to 28% for the richest Americans.

All politicians flip-flop from time to time; but Mr Romney could win an Olympic medal in it (see article). And that is a pity, because this newspaper finds much to like in the history of this uncharismatic but dogged man, from his obvious business acumen to the way he worked across the political aisle as governor to get health reform passed and the state budget deficit down. We share many of his views about the excessive growth of regulation and of the state in general in America, and the effect that this has on investment, productivity and growth. After four years of soaring oratory and intermittent reforms, why not bring in a more businesslike figure who might start fixing the problems with America’s finances?

Details, details

But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind. America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper. The convention offers Mr Romney his best chance to say what he really believes.

From Gawker:

…more than 950 pages of internal audits, financial statements, and private investor letters for 21 cryptically named entities in which Romney had invested—at minimum—more than $10 million as of 2011 (that number is based on the low end of ranges he has disclosed—the true number is almost certainly significantly higher). Almost all of them are affiliated with Bain Capital, the secretive private equity firm Romney co-founded in 1984 and ran until his departure in 1999 (or 2002, depending on whom you ask). Many of them are offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Together, they reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth, the exotic tax-avoidance schemes available only to the preposterously wealthy that benefit him

After watching the latest news today I am very concerned about the possible devastation that may be headed for the Tampa community in the coming week. I am also worried about the hurricane.

—My friend Joe K.

For someone who has made his business acumen and expertise with finance a cornerstone of his presidential run, that Mr. Romney’s signature campaign proposal doesn’t add up may be the most telling fact voters need to know about him.

—Bruce Bartlett, senior economics adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush I, writing in the New Yorks Times’ business section.


Writing an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune, she’s a former federal tax judge who picks apart Romney’s greatest hits in his “apparent disdain for tax obligations.”

You know how Romney keeps saying he has paid “at least 13%” in taxes?

Romney’s 2011 return shows a deduction of $1.55 million for state income and property taxes (we know how many properties he owns). This is on taxable income of $15 million, which equates to 10.3% right there. That could potentially leave 1.7%, or only $255,000, left to make it to his claim that he’s “paid at least 13%."  Notice he never says what kind of taxes, but he certainly wants you to think he’s talking about federal income taxes.  I am convinced that there is a significance in him never saying “federal income taxes,” which along with his irrational secrecy, means what everyone thinks: that he is paying barely any federal income taxes at all.  Both he and his wife say they are not going to release any more tax returns because it will only be used against them. Duh.

  • He hasn’t “run the numbers” as chair of the House Budget committee
  • He voted for budget busting bills when George Bush was President (two tax cuts, two wars, No Child Left Behind, Medicare part D, oil company subsidies), but in his budget proposals, the poorest among us have to pay for that spending spree
  • He rails against government programs of any kind, but took Social Security death benefits when his father died and banked it for college.
  • He forgets to report a million dollar trust. Would you forget a million dollars?


Actually Paul Ryan and my plan for Medicare I think is the same—if not identical it’s probably close to identical.

Mittens Romney, taking his sixth or seventh position in a few days on his Medicare plans (I use the word “plans” loosely)

Governor Romney’s comments tonight seemed unhinged and particularly strange coming at a time when he’s pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben Labolt, referring to Romney accusing President Obama of “smashing  the country apart” and ranting that he should “take his hate back to Chicago.”

Seriously, someone this thin skinned and imperious is unqualified to be county commissioner, let alone President of the United States.


The Height of Arrogance

In order to apply for the job with Romney, Paul Ryan submitted “several years” of tax returns for the vetting process. But in order for the American voter to have the same opportunity, he’s only going to release two years of tax returns.  Recall that Romney submitted 23 years of returns to the McCain campaign in 2008 for his own V.P. application, and is barely releasing two to the public in 2012.

The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular.

—One of 36 GOP strategists interviewed for a Politico piece on the general fail of a decision to choose Ryan as Romney’s VP.

Did you hear Paul Ryan was an Oscar Meyer salesman who drove one of those Weinermobiles?

In other words, he peddled baloney. 

That’s actually good experience for the Romney team.

Mitt Romney said back in May that we should consider changing the Constitution to require the President to have three years experience working in business.  So Romney picked as his Vice President, one heartbeat away from the Presidency, someone who he actually thinks isn’t qualified.