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Obama Straps Romney To Top of His Campaign Bus for Long Reelection Ride
I’m so glad that Romney thought Seamus enjoyed his 12 hour ride strapped to the top of the family car, because from where I’m sitting, Romney is allowing himself to be metaphorically strapped to the top of Obama’s campaign bus for a very long trip. Perhaps some empathy will result.
Mitt Romney is running a very sluggish campaign; his Boston boys always seem a step behind Barack Obama- if not being led around by the nose by Obama.
Last week, Romney faced criticism for his weak handling of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act. Stuck as he was between his own state mandate “tax” and the Obama mandate, Romney refused to embrace conservatives’ newest talking point/criticism against Obama Care, that it is a “tax”. (For the breakdown on how ACA will impact you, click here – warning, they refer to ACA as tax credits.)
Romney decided he’d rather run on the economy. But this, too, is troubled water for the presumed nominee. For in the wake of the historic healthcare ruling, several investigations about Romney’s time at Bain surfaced that revealed that he was actually in charge long after his campaign claimed he left.
This meant that not only was Romney in charge during conservative-hated Stericycle’s handling of aborted feti, but also suggests that Romney was in charge during Bain’s outsourcing of jobs, a claim the Romney camp has denied.
You can see how the Obama camp led Romney down the jobs path, calling out his time at Bain as a job-killer in early attack ads. Romney denied the charges and even some Democrats got upset, defending private equity managers instead of looking at the real issue.
But the real issue is at the forefront now, because Romney wasn’t honest about his time at Bain. Either he misled the public or he filed inaccurate SEC filings. It turns out that Romney was around during the some of the job killing and job-outsourcing. So now, not only is Romney a job-killer, but he is also branded with his choice to mislead the American public about his time at Bain. It’s another Murky Mittens Moment.
Back when the Obama camp started the ads, Obama put Romney in the position to either defend his job killing or deny it. Romney chose to deny it. Now it’s a going to get more attention precisely because Romney denied it.
Rupert Murdoch can see what the Romney camp refuses to see, and that is that Romney is not managing his campaign strategy well. Murdoch tweeted “Met Romney last week. Tough O Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros. Doubtful.” He followed this up the next day with, “Romney people upset at me! Of course I want him to win, save us from socialism, etc. but should listen to good advice and get stuck in!”
That panicked sound is the right realizing that Romney is not the man to carry their mantle of obstruction and negative politics all the way to the White House in 2012. Yes, Romney can do negative — it’s all he’s doing, in fact. But Romney is a waffler whose relentless refusal to be upfront allows the Obama campaign to define him.
Romney changed his position on the individual mandate being a penalty as he described it when he was in charge of his own individual mandate to calling it a tax late in the game. But Romney doesn’t want to talk about the Affordable Care Act. Murdoch and others should have seen that coming – it’s not as if Romney is the best person to lead a charge against ACA, and it’s hardly as if Romney’s changing positions with the wind is a new phenomenon.
Another thing they should have seen coming was the inevitable Cayman Islands problems. See, way back when Romney decided to grace us all with one tax return, something he had never done before in spite of his own father setting the precedent for transparency by releasing twelve years of his own returns when he ran for President, it was obvious that Romney most likely wasn’t even paying the just below 15% tax rate everyone was upset about.
Yes, the 15% rate was low, based as it is on the taxation rates for investments versus earned income. But I wrote then that Romney was most likely paying an even lesser percentage of his taxes, since his Cayman’s holdings are not subject to tax. Romney holds more in the Caymans than we knew (Vanity Fair guesses at $30 million in Bain holdings alone). We aren’t likely to find out more about Romney’s Cayman holdings either, as he has played rather fast and loose with disclosures – many of his holdings were left off of earlier ethics reports, a legal but dubious practice for someone who wants to be President. However, Vanity Fair questions whether or not all of Romney’s fine skating around tax laws is indeed legal. At any rate, since they won’t allow us to check on it, skepticism is warranted.
As for that blind trust he put his holdings in, it turns out his lawyer runs it and the lawyer invested money in Romney’s son business, so it’s not as blind as the word ‘blind’ would suggest. Nor does it meet federal blind trust requirements. Murky, murky Mittens.
But these matters, while important and certainly lending a secretive veil to Romney’s public persona, are much too complicated to take root for their specific transgressions of transparency. But what will stick is outsourcing jobs; that’s why Obama opened the door.
So we come back to Romney’s big plan. Romney intends to make this election about the economy, not ACA. But when it comes to the economy, Romney’s own history at Bain reveals a person who is ruthlessly good at stripping a company apart and making a profit off of it, but it does not show a job creator. Even if America were a business, and it’s not, would we want someone as President who is known for dismantling the business they are in charge of?
And when it comes time for Republican governors to run, will Romney be able to convince them to keep their good economic news to themselves per his request, in order to make the President look bad? He is banking on it. Romney is also banking on Congressional Republicans leaving ACA on the sidelines, but the Tea Party faction has no intention of doing that. They can’t appease their base if they leave ACA untouched.
If Stericycle wasn’t enough to get the Christian Conservatives upset, thrown into this already troubling Romney week was a story that was trending for two days about 150 Mormons leaving the Mormon church en masse due to its policies in a moment they described as their declaration of independence from the church. In this story, the culture of “obedience” was much discussed, as was the culture of intimidation, with the defectors noting that they had to be “careful”. Reasons cited for leaving the church were the “church’s political activism against gay marriage and doctrinal teachings that conflict with scientific findings or are perceived as racist or sexist.”
Buried in this story was the revelation that the Mormon Church sees itself as the “one true Christian faith”. While Romney has been handed the Christian conservatives on a Tea Party platter, it’s up to him to keep them, and if they find out about this, I’m not sure he can. Then again, if Fox tells them it’s okay, they’ll likely find a way to justify Romney’s religious beliefs, while we note that they refuse to accept Muslims’ religious beliefs. Rock, hard place, squeeze.
I know and like plenty of people like Mitt Romney. They know tax law and they know how to get around it. They make a lot of money and they’re so confident in their ability to dodge things that trip the little people that it’s sometimes tough to sit across the table from them, especially when they natter on about high taxes. But one thing is different about Romney. Romney knew he was going to run for President.
It’s one thing to duck and dodge your taxes, legally if not exactly in a way that makes one a stellar American, but it’s another to do that when you know you are going to run for President, and when you know, because your own father made it an issue, that transparency will be called for.
Mitt Romney knew that everyone else showed his or her tax returns, but he figured he didn’t have to. When Republicans pushed him in the primaries, he deigned to show us one year, but one year can be cherry picked – it could have been amended and refiled- it could have just been filed after lots of shuffling. We would need a few years at the very least to have any idea what Romney really has where – and even then, we wouldn’t know about the Caymans. It’s the assumption that he can get around what is expected of everyone else that disturbs me.
It’s an arrogance befitting a King, not a President. Barack Obama is the President and he reveals his taxes. That’s how we do things here in America. We want to know where someone’s financial interest lay and how much he or she is making and what they’re doing with it. It matters because we are entrusting that person to put our interests ahead of their own financial interests, so we have to know what exactly their interests are.
But Mitt Romney operates like Sarah Palin and Richard Nixon in his secretive, paranoid and aloof sense of entitlement to deference. The rules don’t apply to Romney. He has told us this in his refusal to follow disclosure requirements.
If the rules don’t apply to Romney now, and he’s not President yet, how would he govern?
Mitt Romney never sees Obama coming. He allowed the President to corner him regarding his jobs record at Bain. Had Romney never denied being involved during the massive job killing, perhaps no one would have investigated just when he left. But they did, and it turns out he was still listed as in charge on SEC filings. This led to the combing of the Caymans and Stericycle. It doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon, and if I know Barack Obama, this is all going someplace much worse for Mitt Romney.
Rupert Murdoch is right about Romney’s campaign. The Boston boys know how to go negative, but they don’t know how to lead. At every step they are behind Obama, playing catch up. If Republican governors decide to save their own skin by talking about how their state’s economies have improved, Romney’s last button will be as murky as his financial holdings.
Image: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images