Here are some of the people writing about some of the stuff I wish I had time to write about, for June 26th through July 2nd:
- Three Articles Paint Ugly Picture of How Mitt Romney Made His Millions –
Mitt Romney loves to tout himself as someone whose "real world" experience will fix the American economy and create jobs.
But three substantial pieces in major U.S. newspapers in the last few weeks show a man who was anything but a job creator or someone who lifted others while lifting himself. Instead, they paint a picture of a successful businessman who used calculated greed and questionable moral judgment to build his empire at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded and led until 1999.
While these charges have been leveled before, much of the carefully documented evidence in these articles is new. A friend and colleague, Roger House, brought them to my attention recently
"Do you think these stories… will impact media/public perceptions?" he asked in an accompanying e-mail. More on that later. Let's start with the evidence.
- Mitt Romney’s Bain Problem –
While the Supreme Court's upholding of the health-care law was last week's most important event in historical terms, it will not be the decisive event of the 2012 election. In the long run, polling in swing states suggesting that Mitt Romney's tenure at Bain Capital is hurting him could have larger implications for where this campaign will move.
It's certainly true that had the court knocked down President Obama's signature domestic achievement, the defeat would have been woven into a narrative of ineffectual leadership and mistaken priorities. Instead, the president found vindication not only from the court's liberals but also from Chief Justice John Roberts.
But precisely because the decision saved the president from disaster on health care, it only reinforced the importance of the economic argument Obama and Romney have been having for months. And here is where Romney's Bain problem kicks in.
- No, ‘Obamacare’ isn’t ‘the largest tax increase in the history of the world’ (in one chart) –
So no, the Affordable Care Act isn't the "biggest tax hike in history." It's not even the biggest tax hike in the past 60 years. Or 50 years. Or 30 years. Or 20 years.
But it does include a number of tax hikes. The individual mandate, however, isn't one of the big ones. It's only expected to raise $27 billion during the next decade. The largest tax increase in the law is on high earners, who will see their Medicare payroll taxes increase by 0.9 percentage point and who will also pay a slightly higher rate on investment income. That raises more than $200 billion. There's also the tax on unusually expensive health insurance plans, which raises $30 billion in the first decade, and much more in the second. There's a $60 billion tax on insurance companies. You can find the whole list here.
- Poll: Most Americans want to keep Obamacare in some form –
In the wake of the Supreme Court's health-care decision, what do Americans think should happen next? Gallup posed the question last week and found that the majority of Americans don't think that full repeal of the law is the answer: 38 percent either want to keep the law in place as it is or expand the government's role, while 21 percent want to repeal parts, but not all, of the Affordable Care Act.
Gallup notes, however, that health care isn't likely to sway most people's votes one way or another come November: only 21 percent of voters (and 18 percent of independents) say the candidate must share their views on health care to receive their support.
- Gay Rights are Human Rights –
This week, in the runup to World Pride in London on Saturday, Kaleidoscope is launching a campaign – "What if it were illegal for you to be you?" Imagine if it were illegal to have blue eyes, or be under 5ft 10ins, and if breaking this law meant you could go to prison, or face attack or even death.
In Ukraine and elsewhere, gay people don't have to imagine it. They already face the very real prospect of being criminalised for their sexuality. In no fewer that 78 countries around the world homosexual acts are still illegal. In five of them the maximum penalty is death.
Until equality is respected everywhere and there is universal acceptance of human rights for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, I will continue to speak my mind. I have the freedom to do so and nobody can take it away from me. Every other gay person in the world deserves the same.
- Mitt Romney’s America –
Does not include you. Or your children.
"I think this is a land of opportunity for every single person, every single citizen of this great nation. And I want to make sure that we keep America a place of opportunity, where everyone has a fair shot. They get as much education as they can afford and with their time they're able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot of realizing their dreams."
This is actually a step backwards from April, when Romney suggested that students who weren't sufficiently independently wealthy to pay for a college education could always borrow the money from their parents. Now, apparently, Romney's position has evolved; you shouldn't get an education at all unless you, personally, can afford it. If you don't have the time and money yourself, prospective students don't deserve "a fair shot," or a chance to "provide for their family" or "have a shot of realizing their dreams," no matter how much money your parents might lend you.
- White Men. « Jack & Jill Politics –
What’s up with so many white men who disagree with a political position or policy calling it unconstitutional?
I find it annoying.
- The GOP’s Dead-End Marriage Program | Mother Jones –
"With congressional Republicans beating the drum about profligate and wasteful government spending, they may want to take a hard look at a federal program pushed by a host of top GOPers during the Bush-era and reauthorized in late 2010, as the Republican deficit craze took hold. Originally championed by Republican lawmakers including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and current Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a federal initiative to promote marriage as a cure for poverty dumped hundreds of millions of dollars into programs that either had no impact or a negative effect on the relationships of the couples who took part, according to recent research by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Launched during the Bush administration at the behest of evangelical Christian activists and with the aid of congressional Republicans, the federal Healthy Marriage Initiative was designed to help low-income couples put a little sizzle in their marriages and urge poor unmarried parents to tie the knot, in the hopes that marriage would enhance their finances and get them off the federal dole. Starting in 2006, millions of dollars were hastily distributed to grantees to further this poverty reduction strategy. The money went to such enterprises as "Laugh Your Way America," a program run by a non-Spanish speaking Wisconsin minister who used federal dollars to offer "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" seminars to Latinos. It funded Rabbi Stephen Baars, a British rabbi who'd been giving his trademarked "Bliss" marriage seminars to upper-middle-class Jews in Montgomery County, Maryland, for years. With the help of the federal government, he brought his program to inner-city DC for the benefit of African American single moms.
The marriage money was diverted from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (formerly known as welfare), and much of it went to religious groups that went to work trying to combat the divorce rate in their communities by sponsoring date nights and romance workshops. In some cities, the local grantees used their federal funds to recruit professional athletes to make public service announcements touting the benefits of marriage. Women's groups were especially critical of the marriage initiative, largely because it was the baby of Wade Horn, a controversial figure who Bush installed at HHS as the head of the Administration for Children and Families and the administration's official "marriage czar.""