Thursday, July 5, 2012

Last Call

Josh Marshall thinks the Romney offshore account story is a backbreaker.

I’ll just say it: I don’t think the political pundit class understands just how toxic the Swiss/Caymans/Bermuda accounts issue is for Romney. Not that they don’t know it’s a liability at all. But I don’t think they realize the extent of it. 

On the contrary, Josh, I believe they do.

Fair or not, it just rolls off the tongue. Immediately understandable. And assuming you’re not talking to the deeply ideological committed or hyper-partisans, how exactly do you understand that a man running for president has parked a lot of his money in offshore tax havens?

You get Democrats like Cory Booker to come on Meet the Press and explain to us how companies like Bain Capital are awesome, and that Democrats should quit attacking people like Mitt Romney for his economic success.   This story isn't going away, but neither will the Dems get any traction out of it.  Pretty soon we'll have Glenn Kessler attacking Dem ads based on this story as "Four Pinocchio" lies even though it's the truth, it then becomes "both sides do it" to the people in the swing states and they'll tune it out altogether.

It's a nice fantasy, but one that will be drowned out by Romney's team and a compliant media.

Stamp Of Disapproval

So what's ahead in the next phase of battles in Congress? House Republicans are champing at the bit in order to kick nearly 2 million people off of food stamps (because only "those" people need food stamps) and give the money saved to more government farm subsidies.  The plan won't save a dime of money as the Republicans are immediately giving every bit of the savings to Big Agriculture.  But it'll sure teach those young bucks selling food stamps for drugs (which is every minority on the program of course) a lesson.

House Republicans have spent the years since the Great Recession clamoring for “reform” of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, cutting funding from the program in budget after budget. But now that a top House Republican has drafted a deal that would make the program’s basic requirements even more stringent than Texas — a state with notoriously strict eligibility standards — conservative Republicans are balking at the deal in favor of a requirement even they admit is “out of date.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), in an effort to push food stamp reform that would have a fighting chance in the Senate, made sizable changes to SNAP in the House version of the farm bill. Lucas’ draft reins in state eligibility requirements by ending what is known as “categorical eligibility” for all non-cash-assistance food programs. The Lucas version of the bill would save billions but kick nearly two million people out of the program, following the footsteps of Republican efforts over the last two years. But that isn’t enough for his fellow Republicans, who want to make deeper, “symbolic” cuts that have no chance of passing the Senate...

But that doesn't matter.  Punishing those who choose to vote for Democrats matter.  There are no poor people in America, no hungry people, no people who go without food in this country, only lazy people who aren't working 80 hours a week at minimum wage.  America is the greatest country in the history of everything!

Come to think of it, why do you need a minimum wage, anyway?  Just work more hours, you lazy bums!


Drowning In BS

As lifeguards are paid and trained to do, Tomas Lopez rushed down the beach to rescue a drowning man — and then got fired for it.
The problem: Lopez stepped out of the beach zone his company is paid to patrol, a supervisor said Tuesday.
Topics Companies and Corporations Hallandale Beach Aventura "I ran out to do the job I was trained to do," said Lopez, 21, of Davie. "I didn't think about it at all."
At least two other lifeguards have quit in protest. "What was he supposed to do? Watch a man drown?" asked one, Szilard Janko.
Company officials on Tuesday said Lopez broke a rule that could've put beachgoers in his designated area in jeopardy. The firm could ultimately have been sued, officials said.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," said supervisor Susan Ellis. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
The company doesn't say they had to fire him, so it must still be a choice, right?  This guy barely makes over minimum wage and saved a dying man, only to lose his job.  That makes no sense whatsoever, and the fake tone of regret doesn't help a bit.

What a crock. No company worth a damn fires a man for saving a man drowning right in front of him, because someone else may have chosen that minute to drown.

Life After Independence Day

This is just a freebie, the normal 3:30 will be following.

I'm sure just about everyone has seen Independence Day with Will Smith.  It was a great movie, and the battle speech still gives me chills when I'm in the mood.

TMZ tracked down the adorable little boy who played Vivica A Fox's son (Will's soon to be stepson) and gave us a little "where is he now."  Hint: he's still adorable.  He also makes me acutely aware that I have aged too much since I watched Independence Day in the at the movies.

TomKat's Divorce Will Get Interesting

Katie Holmes has been very smart.  According to sources, she had planned this for a long time.  When Tom Cruise had to leave the country, it was her chance to act.  She had a place to live lined up, physical custody of Suri, and a plan.  She is acting like a concerned parent, and the independent woman that many claimed was lost when she married Tom Cruise.  She is also acting like a terrified woman, which is a bit alarming.  She went to the press, that's breaking the first rule of Celebrity Divorce Club.  She contacted the press before just about anyone, my only assumption is that it was to protect her from any abuse from Cruise or the church.  She surely knows better than we do, and for her actions to be so methodical and thorough, it makes sense she may know something that put her in fear for her life, or safety.

TMZ is running new info, this is what they live for.  Harvey must have taken my advice, the typos have been better.  Anyway, here is the most recent nugget of terror about Scientology, courtesy of the TMZ website:

Ex-Scientologists call the process "sec checking."  Here's the way it works.  The subject holds electrode handles on a device called an e-meter and is then asked a series of personal questions that help the Church locate "areas of spiritual distress."
Some ex-Scientologists claim the questions include:
-- What has somebody told you not to tell?-- Have you ever decided you did not like some member of your family?-- Have you ever bullied a smaller child?-- Have you ever lied to a teacher?-- Have you ever done something you were very much ashamed of?-- Have you ever refused to obey an order from someone you should obey?-- Have you ever gotten yourself dirty on purpose?
During the process, a person called an "auditor" collects e-meter readings. 

They interrogate children, to get them to betray their parents and any family secrets that may be lurking.  They interrogate children.

This could be the death of Scientology, and maybe the one last card Holmes has to play.  "Leave me alone or I blow the lid off everything" is a mighty weapon for an organization that has so much to lose.

Romney's Offshore Shell Games

Nick Shaxson's devastatingly brutal Vanity Fair piece on Mitt Romney's offshore bank account shell games is your must-read holiday assignment for this evening, and you'll want to tackle the piece sober.

Then you'll want to share it with your friends.  It's that important.

To give but one example, there is a Bermuda-based entity called Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors Ltd., which has been described in securities filings as “a Bermuda corporation wholly owned by W. Mitt Romney.” It could be that Sankaty is an old vehicle with little importance, but Romney appears to have treated it rather carefully. He set it up in 1997, then transferred it to his wife’s newly created blind trust on January 1, 2003, the day before he was inaugurated as Massachusetts’s governor. The director and president of this entity is R. Bradford Malt, the trustee of the blind trust and Romney’s personal lawyer. Romney failed to list this entity on several financial disclosures, even though such a closely held entity would not qualify as an “excepted investment fund” that would not need to be on his disclosure forms. He finally included it on his 2010 tax return. Even after examining that return, we have no idea what is in this company, but it could be valuable, meaning that it is possible Romney’s wealth is even greater than previous estimates. While the Romneys’ spokespeople insist that the couple has paid all the taxes required by law, investments in tax havens such as Bermuda raise many questions, because they are in “jurisdictions where there is virtually no tax and virtually no compliance,” as one Miami-based offshore lawyer put it.
That’s not the only money Romney has in tax havens. Because of his retirement deal with Bain Capital, his finances are still deeply entangled with the private-equity firm that he founded and spun off from Bain and Co. in 1984. Though he left the firm in 1999, Romney has continued to receive large payments from it—in early June he revealed more than $2 million in new Bain income. The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.

Trust Mitt.  He and Ann have paid all the taxes on his offshore millions, according the blind trusts set up by his own personal lawyer, and with zero accountability or oversight.  You'll just have to take his word for it.  Oh, but it gets worse.

Mysteries also arise when one looks at Romney’s individual retirement account at Bain Capital. When Romney was there, from 1984 to 1999, taxpayers were allowed to put just $2,000 per year into an I.R.A., and $30,000 annually into a different kind of plan he may have used. Given these annual contribution ceilings, how can his I.R.A. possibly contain up to $102 million, as his financial disclosures now suggest?

The Romneys won’t say, but Mark Maremont, writing in The Wall Street Journal, uncovered a likely explanation. When Bain Capital bought companies, it would create two classes of shares, named A and L. The A shares were risky common shares, to which they would assign a very low value. The L shares were preferred shares, paying a high dividend but with the payoff frozen, and most of the value was assigned to them. Bain employees would then put the exciting A shares in their I.R.A. accounts, where they grew tax-free. With all the risk of the deal, the A shares stood to gain a lot or collapse. But if the deal succeeded, the springing value could be stunning: Bain employees saw their A shares from one particularly fruitful deal grow 583-fold, 16 times faster than the underlying stock.

So when Mitt bankrupted companies like Kay-Bee Toys to make his millions, he didn't just clean up, he made sure he would have tens of millions in retirement cash, tax free, while the employees in the companies he shredded for profit saw their jobs and retirement accounts and their savings completely wiped out.  He didn't just make a mint, he made a mint and paid zero taxes on it.  Zero.

And now this asshole is running for President.  Even worse, people who make jack squat for wages will vote for this guy "because he's good for business."

Do you see why now you need to share this article with your friends?

The Fight Ahead On Medicaid Expansion

There's two schools of thought on how to approach the notion of red states opting out of Medicaid expansion in the ACA.  The first, championed by wonks like Ezra "Charts" Klein and Kevin Drum, basically says that there's so much in health care industry cost savings (and in new customers for insurance giants) that lobbyists and economic reality will drive states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida to take the money and run.  In other words, economics trumps politics.

But given the Republican Party's behavior over the last four years, I question that.  Not only do I question that, I outright laugh at the notion.  I may not agree with FDL's Marcy Wheeler and David Dayen on Obama, but they are both absolutely right about how the GOP will play the race card on this for as long as it's politically expedient, no matter what the economics say.  Politics trumps economics.  First, Wheeler:

Already, my anecdotal experience is that a proportion of voters in the states in question claim that the first black President has spent his first term making sure that people of color get more than their fair share of benefits (I think they make this argument based on expanded food stamp usage, though of course the argument is not coherent). The GOP frame for the Medicaid argument will not focus at all on insuring the uninsured. It will not breathe a word of how insured people subsidize uninsured people who use emergency rooms for care. Rather, it will extend and enlarge on this argument about a black President giving free stuff to black people (or Latinos in states like Texas). And I believe that will remain true even if Obama loses in November.

Dayen also agrees with this assessment:

But that’s arguing with logic. I don’t know why, given shared history, anyone would believe that logic will rule the day, and red state governors will go against their entire ideological worldview and spend taxpayer dollars – however small – to cover poor people, in many states largely people of color. And if you rely on this numbers game, if you never make a moral argument for WHY poor people shouldn’t have to choose between food or medical care, you have a whole bunch more problems than just this Medicaid expansion.

Democrats, Dayen argues, must now be prepared to go full out and assault GOP governors and say "Here's your death panels, boys. We know that being uninsured leads to people dying earlier, and the Republicans are sentencing millions of the poor to die rather than lift a finger to help just to spite President Obama.  It's the same thing they did with jobs and fixing the economy.  They'd rather score political points than fix anything.  They don't care about saving their states money.  They'd rather kill or drive off all the poor to make them somebody else's problem."

This is where I'm in complete agreement with the FDL guys. Now, the expansion of this logic over at Digby's place inevitably leads to OBAMA FAILED US ON SINGLE PAYER because Medicaid will be seen as unpopular welfare rather than a universal program like SS/Medicare, and I argue that single payer never had a chance here least not until next time.

But it has more of a chance than it did before Obama.  Then again, as Yellow Dog points out, the red state that will benefit the most from Obamacare?

Kentucky.  And you better believe Dinosaur Steve will take the money here.


Related Posts with Thumbnails