Monday, August 13, 2012

Bob Schieffer Interviews Romney & Ryan on 60 Minutes

I wasn't overly impressed.

Allow me to excerpt from the segment and explain why.

Bob Schieffer: There's no question your campaign has been trying to make this election a referendum on Barack Obama. Now, some people are saying you are making it a referendum on Paul Ryan's budget plan.

Mitt Romney: Well, I have my budget plan as you know that I've put out. And that's the budget plan that we're going to run on. At the same time, we have the record of President Obama. If people think, by the way, that their utility bill has gone down, they should vote for him. If they think jobs are more plentiful, they should vote for him.

Luckily for Romney, Schieffer didn't follow-up with asking for specifics on the Romney Plan. Even luckier... Schieffer didn't say, "Well, sir, your running mate's budget blueprint has already pass the House; why not build on that... and if you don't plan on building on that, why not - what's wrong with the Ryan Budget Blueprint?"

See, folks... this is that thing - I have no idea what, or when, this "Romney Plan" calls for specifically? Do any of you reading this...??? Now since my complaint about the Ryan Plan is that it moves too slow... is far too timid... imagine how I and people like me will feel if it turns out that the "Romney Plan" is even less effective in terms of cutting spending and reaching a balance budget not in decades... but within two to four years?

Folks... if Romney has a plan to balance the budget within the next two to four years I'm not aware of it - are any of you?

Folks... if Romney doesn't plan on getting spending under control within his first term... better yet within his first two years... what's the point?


Bob Schieffer: Does fairness dictate that the wealthiest people should not be paying the lowest taxes because that's what happening many times?

Mitt Romney: Well, fairness dictates that the highest income people should pay the greatest share of taxes, and they do. And the commitment that I've made is we will not have the top income earners in this country pay a smaller share of the tax burden. The highest income people will continue to pay the largest share of the tax burden and middle-income taxpayers, under my plan, get a break. Their taxes come down. So, we're not going to reduce taxes for high-income people, and we are going to reduce taxes for middle-income people.

Jeezus... where to begin?

OK. Let's start with what Schieffer was actually asking. Schieffer was talking about rates... brackets. He was talking about individual percentages. Romney understood this, but deliberately chose to deflect the inferred question concerning what's known as the "Hedge Fund Manager's Loophole" and other "business" and "charitable" loopholes and instead answered in terms of the (admittedly) much higher percentage of total federal income taxes paid by the Top 1%... Top 2%... Top 5%... Top 10%... vs. the bottom 50%.

Now that's fine as far as it goes, but in my none too humble opinion it's time for Republican politicians to address both sides of the tax coin. And if anything, it's well past time for Romney to speak against the "Hedge Fund Manager's Loophole" and other classic loopholes (private foundations and such which serve as sinecures for family members and others.

As to "fairness," Romney should make clear that tax "fairness" has a TOP as well as BOTTOM percentage number to be paid by every member of society. I don't care how much you make... how is it "fair" to ask any individual to pay more than half his or her income in taxes? Nor do I care how little one makes. Is asking 1% too much as the price of living in a free society?

Finally... as to this nonsense of "middle class taxpayers will get a break under the Romney Plan," how so? Approximately half of American families pay no.. zero... zilch federal income tax nowadays. What's Romney planning... to expand this "deadbeat base?"

Jeezus... enough with the pandering... enough with fewer and fewer Americans paying federal income taxes and more and more Americans getting government "benefits" - everything from the Earned Income Credit to Food Stamps.

Folks... if Romney and Ryan think our existing tax code doesn't require rewriting from scratch... well... then the decline of America will continue apace no matter who is elected in November.

Bob Schieffer: You say of course the wealthiest people pay the larger share, but don't they also pay at a lower rate? When you figure in capital gains and all of that?

Mitt Romney: Well, it depends on the individual, what their source of income is. But if you look at the top one percent or five percent or quartile, whatever, they pay the largest share of taxes. And that's not something which I would propose making smaller.

See what I mean, folks...? The son of a bitch simply won't take a swing at a pitch offering him the opportunity of a grand slam home-run hit!

Folks... I accept progressivity - to an extent, and with limits - as it applies to income taxes. Yes, in theory I'd love a totally flat tax, but we're not gonna get that and I bow to that reality. However... the "Hedge Fund Manager's Loophole" is "progressivity" in the OPPOSITE direction! The rich... the real rich... millionaires and billionaires are "earning" money taxed at 15%! Romney NEEDS to address this!

Now... one bright spot; Ryan actually broke in to "help" Governor Romney out:

Paul Ryan: What we're saying is take away the tax shelters that are uniquely enjoyed by people in the top tax brackets so they can't shelter as much money from taxation, should lower tax rates for everybody to make America more competitive.

Great! But for God's sake... be prepared to be specific! And for God's sake... Romney must take the lead on this! He's the presidential candidate! He's the rich guy!

The interview ended with Ryan "supporting" Romney's decision to publicly release only his past two years worth of tax returns and stating that he'd follow Romney's lead. (You folks know my opinion on this, so... nothing more to say on this.)

Anyway... will last night's interview "hurt" Romney/Ryan. Nah...

What's sad, though... it COULD have helped them. It won't. It's basically white noise.

To end on a positive note, here are Ryan's best moments from last night's interview:

What I see happening is the president has a terrible record so he can't run on that. He didn't moderate his positions whatsoever throughout his term, so he doesn't really have much to run on, so he's gonna try and run on these distractions. He's going to try and divide people to distract people to try and win this election and that's why these attacks against a [Romney] record that is outstanding. It's a record of creating businesses and turning around struggling businesses. That's what we want to see happen throughout the country because it creates more jobs, it creates better take home pay, it gives people better futures. Why wouldn't we want a leader like that who knows how to make those kinds of executive decisions in the White House to help us turn this economy around.

President Obama has not provided the kind of leadership we need to bring people together. The Senate hasn't passed a budget for three years, even though we have a budget law that says you have to pass a budget every year. So it's dysfunctional. What we want to do, and we think we've done this in the House, is we're planting the seeds for bipartisan compromises on the big issues of the day to be realized next year so we can get things done. And that's why we think we need to have an election to give the country a choice to put our country back on the right track and then we need leadership to bring people together. [Mitt Romney] has proven, when he was governor of Massachusetts, he had to work with Democratic legislatures to get things done. He did that.

Obviously Ryan has it in him to be a key component in a Romney victory. The question is... will Romney allow Ryan to be Ryan? We'll see.

1 comment:

William R. Barker said...

According to the ever-accurate E-Mail Outrage Sensor, CBS edited this clip when the Romney/Ryan interview went to air...


[I]f it’s true that the show didn’t use the last part of the clip, maybe they were saving it for the network news tonight, or for their morning show today?

Romney answered critics who say Ryan’s Medicare plan will hurt the ticket’s chances, especially in Florida.

“There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call ObamaCare,” Romney said.

“What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors. No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, “We’re going to give you a bigger choice.” In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That’s how we make Medicare work down the road.”

*** This is the part that readers claim was edited out of the broadcast, which if true would be journalistic malpractice:


Ryan added, “My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida. Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms. That have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late ’90s.”

Ryan’s plan doesn’t affect those already eligible for Medicare. In fact, one of the conservative criticisms of the plan was that he didn’t give current Medicare recipients the option to choose a private-insurance plan, as younger Americans will get once they become eligible.


That’s a pretty newsworthy detail, no?

* YEP!

The Ryan budget proposes the partial privatization of Medicare by turning it into a premium-support system within a federal exchange, where insurance companies compete for business while meeting coverage requirements. That’s really no different than Medicare Advantage, which puts market power into cost control and gets the government out of paying providers over a period of several years. It’s not a perfect solution, as it maintains the third-party-payer system that interferes with pricing signals, which is the main problem driving the cost spiral. (However, it’s as close as we can get to a good political solution, since there is absolutely no support for dismantling Medicare entirely, and it at least lessens the problems of price-signal opacity.)


This demonstrates the advantage that Romney gets in picking Ryan as his running mate. Democrats would have hung the Ryan plan around his neck anyway. Now Ryan himself gets to answer those attacks on the biggest stage, and the more people hear what Ryan actually proposes, the more apt they are to like it.

*** Update: The CBS broadcast transcript shows pretty clearly that none of this actually aired on 60 Minutes last night. The E-Mail Outrage Meter got this one right.