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City Lights

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Home country: United Corporations of America
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Member since: 2001
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Conservatives Freak Out Over Romney’s Kryptonite: Money Mitt Romney

Benjy Sarlin January 20, 2012, 5:28 AM

Sometimes Mitt Romney can seem like Superman versus the rest of the GOP field, more powerful than a locomotive against President Obama, able to leap fundraising targets in a single bound. But like the Man of Steel, he has a glaring weakness that instantly negates his abilities on contact. It’s green, hard to come by, and his opponents are always plotting new schemes to use it against him. No, not Kryptonite — money.

In Thursday’s debate he awkwardly stumbled over questions about his tax returns, at one point drawing boos from the audience for wavering on whether he’d release multiple years.

For those watching Romney on the trail, the awkward response was nothing new. In the span of just a few short weeks, Romney has had a parade of cringe-inducing moments: “pink slips,” “I like being able to fire people,” “quiet rooms,” and claiming his $375k-a-year speaking fees are “not very much” are all moments he’d probably rather forget.

Conservatives are becoming increasingly concerned about the issue as the general election grows closer and as Romney faces a renewed round of pressure to release his tax returns.

Read the entire piece at TPM.com

George Romney, Mitt’s Father, Paid A 37 Percent Effective Tax Rate

By Pat Garofalo on Jan 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Mitt Romney yesterday finally admitted that he pays a tax rate of about 15 percent, though he continues to put off releasing his full tax returns. However, when Mitt’s father, George Romney, ran for President in 1968, he released 12 years of tax returns, which revealed that he paid a 37 percent effective tax rate. From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, November 25, 1967:

Romney became a millionaire on company stock options after he introduced a compact car as president of American Motors Corp. The figures show his adjusted gross income ranged from $661,427.68 when he was president of American Motors Corp. to a low of $78,483.85 last year. The figures indicate he paid $1,099,555.18 in taxes on an income of $2,972,923.58.

These numbers show Romney paying a 36.9 percent effective tax rate (but this was also a time when the top income tax rate was 70 percent). Lee Fang noted that the returns also “showed that George Romney donated 19 percent of his income to church, 4 percent directly to charity, and most surprisingly…that the Michigan governor ‘seldom took advantage of tax loopholes to escape his tax obligations.’”

Romney, meanwhile, is the beneficiary of a huge tax loophole that lets private equity managers like himself pay a lower tax rate on their earnings than millions of middle class families. He has also advocated a tax plan that would cut his own taxes nearly in half, while raising taxes on half of middle class families with children.

Link to piece at ThinkProgress.org

TPM: Hospitals Step Up War On GOP’s Cuts For Payroll Tax Package

Sahil Kapur January 19, 2012, 5:38 AM

Hospitals are reigniting a battle with House Republicans that grew bitter last month after the GOP pushed to offset its payroll tax cut package with deep cuts to hospital payments under Medicare. The undercurrents of this fight are deepening fissures between hospitals and Republicans over the passage and future of the Affordable Care Act.

The American Hospital Association, the industry’s top lobbying group, on Friday issued an action alert — provided to TPM by a source — to its roughly 40,000 members, mobilizing them against some $14 billion in cuts pushed by the House GOP to hospital bad debt payments and outpatient services to help fund a longer payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance and a two-year Medicare doc fix. A hospital source told TPM the cuts are very much in play.

“These critical issues, and others, will still be on the table when Congress returns,” the AHA alert read. “Please contact your representative and senators and urge them to reject cuts to Medicare payments for hospital services as part of any final agreement to extend the SS tax holiday, UI benefits and physician fix.”

After the GOP bill was unveiled in December, AHA and other hospital advocacy groups, shocked at the magnitude of the cuts, immediately pushed back and embarked on an ad campaign casting the prospective reductions as ominous for seniors and hospital care.

Read the entire piece at TPM.com

Joan Walsh: Juan Williams stands in for Obama at Fox debate

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012 1:00 PM UTC

The GOP celebrates MLK day by booing the black pundit as Gingrich belittles him for asking tough questions on race

By Joan Walsh

The Fox News debate began auspiciously, with moderator Bret Baier noting that it was our national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Then his actual question had nothing to do with Dr. King. But those of us who feared the debate would duck racial issues worried for naught. The night climaxed with the South Carolina crowd giving Newt Gingrich a standing ovation for smacking down Fox’s leading black contributor, Juan Williams, for his impertinent questions about race.

Williams asked for it, of course. What was he thinking making tough racial queries at a GOP debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.? First, he asked Romney how he squared his harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric with his own family’s story of moving to and then from Mexico seeking religious freedom. He asked Rick Santorum, who purports to care about poverty, what he would do about high African American poverty rates. He asked Ron Paul whether he thought the nation’s harsh drug laws were bad for black people. Then he made the mistake of asking Newt Gingrich about his comments that poor urban children came from communities that lacked a “work ethic,” and his calling Barack Obama “the food stamp president.”

Gingrich couldn’t believe his luck. With a gleam in his eye, he thrashed Williams, and Steve Kornacki believes he may have given his candidacy one last shot with his savvy thumping of Fox’s leading black commentator. It hurt to watch. If Newt gets the nomination – he won’t, but a Democrat can dream – he’ll have to thank Williams at the GOP convention in Tampa, even before he thanks Callista.

Sure, Santorum took his chance to demagogue on race, telling Williams that it only took three things to stay out of poverty in America: “Work, graduate from high school, and get married before you have children.” He didn’t allow that any residue of racism or discrimination might make it harder for African Americans to work, graduate from high school or marry. Santorum also made unfounded allegations, again, about the Obama administration forbidding certain federal programs from talking about marriage. But at least he answered Williams with some personal respect.

Read the entire piece at Salon.com

Think Progress: On MLK Day, Romney Campaigning With Anti-Immigrant Official Tied To Hate Groups

By Amanda Peterson Beadle posted from ThinkProgress Justice on Jan 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

On a day set aside to honor civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitt Romney plans to tout his extreme immigration positions during a campaign stop in South Carolina today — with Kris Kobach, the author of Arizona’s and Alabama’s immigration laws, at his side. He will attack his competitors Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for their softer immigration stances, which could resonate with South Carolina voters who support that state’s harmful immigration law.

“Mitt Romney stands apart from the others. He’s the only one who’s taken a strong across-the-board position on immigration,” Kobach said, and he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto that Romney was much farther to the right on illegal immigration than his fellow presidential candidates. Watch:

Considering Kobach’s own opinions and associations, however, his endorsement may not be one Romney wants to tout.

Before he became Kansas’ secretary of state, Kobach worked for Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal branch of Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled as a “nativist hate group.” One of FAIR’s main goals is to overturn the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which “ended a decades-long, racist quota system that limited immigration mostly to northern Europeans.” FAIR’s founder John Tanton has said that he wants the U.S. to remain a majority-white nation through limiting the number of non-whites who enter the U.S.

Read the entire piece at ThinkProgress.org

TPM: GOPers Suddenly Want To Wrap The Nomination Up… Fast

Pema Levy January 16, 2012, 5:30 AM

If there was one clear message from the Republican establishment this weekend, it was this: If Mitt Romney wins in South Carolina, he will be the nominee.

On Sunday, less than a week from the January 21 primary in South Carolina, Republicans were explicit in framing Saturday’s primary in the Palmetto State as the last chance for the other candidates to stop Romney’s momentum or concede defeat. They were also clear about one other thing: they want Romney to wrap up the nomination ASAP.

“If Romney wins South Carolina, I think the game’s over,” Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) said on Meet the Press Sunday. “This is the last stand for many candidates.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, appearing with Scott on the show, echoed this sentiment: If ” Mitt Romney wins South Carolina, no one’s ever won all three, I think it should be over. That would be quite a testament to his ability as a candidate and a campaigner, and I’d hope the party would rally around him if he did in fact win South Carolina.”

On other networks, the message was the same. “It`s kind of a last stand for a lot of the candidates,” South Carolina’s other Senator, Jim DeMint, said on Face the Nation. On CNN, Rick Perry sounded optimistic about his prospects there but wouldn’t completely rule out suspending his campaign if he did not do well in South Carolina. Going on to Florida is “our intention,” he repeated.

Read the entire piece at TMP.com

Think Progress: Chamber Of Commerce Drops Call For Health Care Repeal From Annual Policy Address

By Igor Volsky posted from ThinkProgress Health on Jan 14, 2012 at 9:00 am

Tom Donohue signaled that the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce may be softening its attacks against President Obama’s signature accomplishments like the Affordable Care Act and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Kevin Hall reports that Donohue is pledging a “wait-and-see approach” towards the new agency and has not decided if the organization will challenge the recess appointment of Richard Cordray as its director.

During his annual State of the Business address yesterday, Donohue also adopted a more moderate tone towards health care reform. “The health care law established 159 new agencies, panels, commissions, and regulatory bodies,” Donohue said, but did not echo his 2011 call for repealing the law in its entirety. Consider the contrast:

DONOHUE IN 2011: By mid-December, HHS had already granted 222 waivers to the law—a revealing acknowledgement that the law is unworkable. And, with key provisions under challenge in the courts by states and others, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Last year, while strongly advocating health care reform, the Chamber was a leader in the fight against this particular bill—and thus we support legislation in the House to repeal it. We see the upcoming House vote as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at health care reform—and to replace unworkable approaches with more effective measures that will lower costs, expand access, and improve quality.

Read the entire piece at Think Progress.org

Sirota: America’s dangerously removed elite

Friday, Jan 13, 2012 1:00 PM UTC

It's easy to cut public education funding when your kids go to private school. Just ask Christie and Emanuel
By David Sirota

Last week, my local Twittersphere momentarily erupted with allegations that Denver’s public school superintendent, Tom Boasberg, is sending his kids to a private school that eschews high-stakes testing. Boasberg, an icon of the national movement pushing high-stakes testing and undermining traditional public education, eventually defended himself by insisting that his kids attended that special school only during preschool and that they now attend a public school. Yet his spokesman admitted that the school is not in Denver but in Boulder, Colo., one of America’s wealthiest enclaves.

Boasberg, you see, refuses to live in the district that he governs. Though having no background in education administration, this longtime telecom executive used his connections to get appointed Denver superintendent, and he now acts like a king. From the confines of his distant castle in Boulder, he issues edicts to his low-income fiefdom — decrees demonizing teachers, shutting down neighborhood schools over community objections and promoting privately administered charter schools. Meanwhile, he makes sure his own royal family is insulated in a wealthy district that doesn’t experience his destructive policies.

No doubt this is but a microcosmic story in a country whose patrician overlords are regularly conjuring the feudalism of Europe circa the Middle Ages. Today, our mayors deploy police against homeless people and protesters; our governors demand crushing budget cuts from the confines of their taxpayer-funded mansions; our Congress exempts itself from insider-trading laws and provides itself healthcare benefits denied to others; and our nation’s capital has become one of the world’s wealthiest cities, despite the recession.

Taken together, we see that there really are “Two Americas,” as the saying goes — and that’s no accident. It’s the result of a permanent elite that is removing itself from the rest of the nation. Nowhere is this more obvious than in education — a realm in which this elite physically separates itself from us mere serfs. As the head of one of the country’s largest urban school districts, Boasberg is a perfect example of this — but he is only one example.

Read the entire piece at Salon.com

TPM: The Perfect Storm That Could Sink Romney’s Hispanic Vote Hopes

Pema Levy January 11, 2012, 5:26 AM

Romney may have just become the first Republican candidate to win both Iowa and New Hampshire — and is looking increasingly like the eventual nominee — but the primary is about to spread to the rest of the country where the Latino vote is significant. Once in the general election, that vote becomes crucial. But Romney is not on track to win over the requisite number of Latino voters, who will be key to winning swing states like Florida, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Moreover, the Democrats may have stumbled into a neat situation that could give them an unusual boost.

In the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney made what could prove a fatal error: as president, he said, he would veto the Dream Act. Designed to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, the Dream Act is so intensely popular that it’s hard to see Romney winning 40% of Latino voters, the crucial threshold Republican pollster Matthew Dowd said Bush had to hit in order to win crucial swing states in 2004. Bush, who pushed for immigration reform, barely hit 40% and won. McCain fell short.

Before the 2010 midterm elections, Latino voters ranked immigration reform as “one of the most important issues” on election day 2010.” Throughout 2011, about 85% of Latino voters supported the Dream Act and wanted to see it passed, a series of Latino Decisions poll found. Further, 59% of Latinos said they were less likely to vote for candidate whose economic views they agreed with if they used negative rhetoric about immigrants.

In addition to a growing population in crucial swing states, the Latino community is working hard to play a big role in the 2012 election. Tuesday, in one of many efforts to mobilize the Hispanic community, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition launched an initiative in the crucial I4 corridor in Florida to register young Hispanic evangelicals to vote. In the coming months, they intend to partner with churches and colleges in key swing states moving from Florida to Ohio, then Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. There are an estimated 10 million to 11 million young Latino evangelicals, many of voting age, and they want them to vote. For this evangelical community, their top issues are not abortion or gay marriage but immigration reform, as well as poverty and education. And they’re partnering with pro-Dream Act group Campaign for an American Dream. The GOP candidates’ stance on immigration “is a political error and deeply alienating to our community,” said the Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. “They should reconsider their position. Any candidate who doesn’t see the writing on the wall is committing a serious, serious” error in judgment.

Read the entire piece at TPM.com

TPM: The Rapid Economic Recovery Republicans Are Praying Against

Brian Beutler January 9, 2012, 5:20 AM

Everything that’s supposed to happen in politics this year, and everything that has happened for the last several months, has been premised on the tacit, but seemingly safe assumption: The economy will remain weak for years.

This has underlined Congressional jobs bill theatrics, campaign rhetoric about Obama’s record, debates about who’s to blame for high unemployment, and which party best represents the interests of the middle class.

But what if that assumption is wrong?

A contrarian school of thought holds that it is wrong — and its proponents have a growing cache of evidence to back them up.

Read the entire piece at TPM.com
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