Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Matt Taibbi provides what may be the definitive take on Mitt Romney - as the plutocrat running as a deficit nag made his own personal fortune loading up businesses with debt and charging millions for the privilege:
And this is where we get to the hypocrisy at the heart of Mitt Romney. Everyone knows that he is fantastically rich, having scored great success, the legend goes, as a "turnaround specialist," a shrewd financial operator who revived moribund companies as a high-priced consultant for a storied Wall Street private equity firm. But what most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America's top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth.

By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you'll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie. It's almost enough to make you think he really is qualified for the White House.
- Meanwhile, Diane Roberts discusses how Romney and his ticket-mate see religion as an excuse for neglecting anybody who doesn't share their luck in life. And Joseph Stiglitz sees Romney's tax avoidance - along with Ryan's plans to virtually eliminate any taxes the likes of Romney would otherwise pay - as contrary to fundamental fairness.

- Mark Sumner comments on how the Republicans (like their Conservative cousins) are perfectly happy to trash their own government in order to serve their long-term plans to get it out of the governing business altogether:
Mitch McConnell told you the goals for this season from the outset. There's no mystery here, not even more than a token attempt to misdirect. The Republican aim -- the announced, undisputed goal -- is simply to see that the economy does not recover. Not to pass legislation, or promote any plan, but to just make sure that things stayed as bad as possible. To that end, they took every opportunity to crush anything that might help.

Why? Not just because it would help President Obama, but because any recovery that could be connected to government action might show that government can be an effective, helpful force. That's what Republicans can't allow.

The One True Narrative, forged when the land was young and Mitt Romney just an abusive son of privilege living off a portfolio of stocks, is this: government is the problem.

Everything that Republicans have done in the last thirty years is meant to serve that theme.

Government agencies, whether they are FEMA or MSHA, must be weak and ineffective. Government regulations, such as those that guard markets and protect workers, must be harmful. No government action can be seen as competent, much less exceptional. And absolutely nothing the government does can possibly be beneficial to the economy.
To that end, Republicans only have to gum up the works. Democrats have to show results. Republicans, despite appearances, aren't so stupid that they don't understand the advantage this gives them.
- Finally, Ian Welsh offers up a depressing but all-too-plausible view of where our economy stands now, as well as where it looks to be headed in the decades to come.

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