Monday, October 22, 2012

Fox News' Family Ties Hypocrisy

I see you a Romney and raise you a Biden.
Charlie Gasperino recently wrote an exclusive for Fox Business claiming a new subsidiary of Hill International, a construction management firm, had seen some relative success and that when the president of Hill International, David Richter, was asked in a private meeting with investors regarding the success of the subsidiary, HillStone International, he responded that it helped having "the brother of the vice president as a partner" (according to an unnamed source of course).

Gasperino then continues his piece by attacking the vice president's brother, James Biden.

James Biden’s bio on the Hill website touts his “40 years of experience dealing with principals in business, political, legal and financial circles across the nation and internationally” that “enable him to understand the needs and perspectives of government, financial and development leaders to effectively negotiate and implement low-cost housing objectives both domestically and abroad.”

But the bio cites no specific business-related post that he has held in the past, though it says that at “the age of 22, (James) Biden was the finance chairman of his then 29-year-old brother's bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Delaware and successfully enlisted the support of national unions, political leaders and financiers across the country.”

Also not disclosed is that he is a minority partner in HillStone, in line to earn significant sums of money if the project is completed, Richter conceded in an interview.

And James Biden might have his brother Joe to thank, at least according to Wall Street analysts who cover the company. In discussions with analysts, Hill International officials haven’t been bashful about pointing to their connections to the Obama Administration when explaining why they remain hopeful that even after months of delay they believe the Iraq project will begin, possibly as early as the end of the year.

“When asked about these topics, David Richter has said that the company has access to senior levels of government,” said one analyst.
So based off of the words of analysts and speculation, James Biden's only experience was being a finance chairman for his brother's senatorial race.

Why is this article interesting?

The New Republic recently issued an interesting piece regarding Tagg Romney and the success he achieved by using his familial connections for business gain, but with one major difference between that article and Gasperino's - four times as long, The New Republic piece goes farther then just the words of some anonymous analysts and some dredged up tidbits from some old stories mentioning James Biden, or any other Biden for that matter.

Gasperino talks a little about the business dealings of James Biden and HillStone International but he offers nothing more than speculation.

"For the HillStone partners -- including Biden -- it was potentially lucrative as well. Hill International was slated to receive 51% of the $1.5 billion in revenues," wrote Gasperino.  "That meant the partners, including Justice and James Biden, would be divvying up roughly $735 million, minus expenses."

Just how many other partners are there?  What are the expenses that would be subtracted from the rough $735 million?

While Gasperino's hard-hitting exclusive summarizes a bio page from a website, Noam Scheiber's article for The New Republic goes through Tagg's resume in great detail, from internet startup eGrad to his private equity firm Solamere Capital, which depends on the Romney name for its competitive edge.
Solamere’s business model is perfectly legitimate but only available to people who are exceptionally well-connected, even by Wall Street standards. Most private-equity firms raise money from investors so they can buy up companies or stakes in companies. But Solamere invests most of its money with other private-equity firms, acting as what’s known as a fund of funds. It takes a high-powered Rolodex to enter this business, for the simple reason that the most profitable private-equity funds are extremely choosy about the money they accept. “Tagg being who he is, it helps him get into funds others wouldn’t be able to get into,” says Davis.
That sounds about as damning as Gasperino's damning line against the vice president's brother:
“Listen, his name helps him get in the door, but it doesn’t help him get business,” Richter said of Biden. “People who have important names tend to get in the door easier but it doesn’t mean success. If he had the name Obama he would get in the door easier.”
Why is the Tagg piece worth reading as opposed to the Fox News hit piece?

Because James Biden isn't flapping his gums to every major news outlet and he isn't stumping around the nation for his brother and his running mate.  Tagg Romney is and part of Tagg's sstump speech is the reinvention of his history.  Scheiber gives a little perspective into the revisionism Tagg spouts on the campaign trail while Gasperino just aims to throw some cold water on the Democratic candidate to give Mitt Romney a fighting chance in a couple weeks at the polls. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fox News Edits Crowley Fact Check Against Romney


The second presidential debate got pretty heated Tuesday night.  Obama was alert and passionate offering details as to how he would proceed with a second term.  Romney skipped on specifics and went for Obama's jugular, talking over the moderator declaring his own terms for the debate and at times directing his comments towards the president in an overly aggressive manner, talking over the president when he attempted to respond.  In one particular instance, when Romney insisted the president failed to call the attack on the American consulate in Libya an act of terrorism until two weeks after the September 11th raid on the complex, the president and the moderator called Romney out on his lie.
ROMNEY: I think (it's) interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That's what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying? OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir.
Obama did indeed call the attack on the consulate an "act of terror."  On September 12th, Obama made the following statement in regards to the attack:  "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."

Apparently that is not good enough for Fox News.  According to their "fact check," "Crowley went on to side with Romney about the administration's confusing account."

Fox News glosses over what Crowley stated after she fact checked Romney on live television, instead going on to say Obama never really meant the Libyan attack when he uttered the phrase "acts of terror" and discussed the "four more Americans" who were killed in "this terrible act."

"But Obama also hadn't explicitly labeled the Benghazi strike as an 'act of terror' as early as he claimed, though his comments on Sept. 12 in the Rose Garden indeed included that phrase."

So because Obama did not mention the words "Libya" or "Benghazi" in a speech mourning the deaths of an American ambassador and consulate staff, Fox News comes to the conclusion that Obama must have been referring to other terrorist acts.  This conservative rebuttal seems to have traveled fast.  On an article on The Huffington Post, I engaged a commenter regarding their disbelief in the assertion by the president that he did in fact call the attacks an "act of terror."
OP:  Read the transcript, Obama did not call the attack on the embassy an attack.
He blamed it on a nonexistant riot caused by the YouTube video.
His lackies repeated this deception for 2 weeks.

TMR:  "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done."

One day is not two weeks.

OP:  But he was talking about the 9/11/01 attack, not 9/11/12.
For 14 days he claimed he did not know it was not caused by terror but instead it was the YouTube video!
What did Fox News edit out of their report?
CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror... 
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? 
CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that. 
ROMNEY: This -- the administration -- the a 
CROWLEY: It did. 
ROMNEY: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest -- am I incorrect in that regard, on Sunday, the -- your secretary --
While Crowley admitted that there was some time for the intelligence on the entire situation to come to light, she also clearly indicated that Romney, who was attempting to bulldoze the president with his lies, was in fact lying.  What makes this lie even more egregious is that right before Crowley's smack down, Romney admitted that the origins of the situation were uncertain.

"There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration, or actually whether it was a terrorist attack," said Romney, before criticizing other officials for citing demonstrations as the cause.  Apparently Romney is able to smell a terrorist act before anyone else not privileged to classified information can.  Romney then shifted his line of attack on the president's actions following this event.
ROMNEY: But I find more troubling than this, that on -- on the day following the assassination of the United States ambassador, the first time that's happened since 1979, when -- when we have four Americans killed there, when apparently we didn't know what happened, that the president, the day after that happened, flies to Las Vegas for a political fund-raiser, then the next day to Colorado for another event, other political event.

I think these -- these actions taken by a president and a leader have symbolic significance and perhaps even material significance in that you'd hope that during that time we could call in the people who were actually eyewitnesses. We've read their accounts now about what happened. It was very clear this was not a demonstration. This was an attack by terrorists.
So even though the president, like Romney, is running a presidential campaign, he is not allowed to campaign because of an overseas tragedy?  Remind me what Romney was doing the week following the September 11th attacks?

On September 12th, Mitt Romney attended a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida.

On September 13th, Mitt Romney hosted a rally in Fairfax, Virginia, and an event in Ronkonkoma, New York.

On September 14th, Mitt Romney attended a fundraiser in New York City and then hosted a rally in Painesville, Ohio.

On September 16th, Mitt Romney hosted a rally in Pueblo, Colorado.

And on September 17th, Mitt Romney spoke in "brown face" to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

How is it that a man seeking the highest elected office in the nation doesn't believe he should be held to the same standards he sets for the person currently in that position?  Romney felt it was appropriate for himself to gallivant around the nation fundraising and hosting rallies in the wake of a tragedy but for his opponent to do the same is just not fair, and to be clear, Romney actually held more events then the president did in that week following the terrorist attack in Benghazi, but who's counting (except for Romney).

This was basically Romney's line of attack throughout the entire debate - deflect and criticize.  When called out by the moderator, Romney just fine tuned his attack on the president by begrudgingly stating that Obama never declared a particular terrorist group responsible for the attack.  Romney probably would have not even been satisfied had Obama gave the names of the individual people responsible.  Basically, Romney was doing exactly what Obama criticized him for doing on September 11th: "You don't turn national security into a political issue."

And for that Fox News felt it was their responsibility to "fact check" Candy Crowley and give their boy a pass.

Update! - As can be expected, conservatives were quick to jump on a post-debate interview with moderator Candy Crowley, in which she explains her fact check to CNN's Anderson Cooper.  Conservatives seem to latch onto her agreement with Romney in regards to the mixed messages coming from the administration post-September 11th.

"So I knew that the president had had said you know 'these acts of terror will not stand' or whatever the whole quote was," said Crowley.  "And I think actually - because I did turn around right after that and say 'but you are totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape and that there was a you know this riot outside the Benghazi consulate which there wasn't."

So because after she fact checked Romney she agreed with something he said, she nullified her fact check altogether and now the conservative blogosphere has something to cling to until the next debate - more media bias against their candidate.  Even Reince Priebus seized on this non-moment to call Obama the liar!

Media Matters also caught onto the conservative whining.

It seems that Republicans are aware that Romney lost the debate and will probably lose his momentum he gained from the first presidential debate - the momentum that had stalled after Biden defeated Ryan in last weeks debate.  It only makes sense for them to cry foul - the only way they could lose, in their eyes, is if someone cheated.  Check the chat rooms and message boards - the moderator was in the bag for Obama and the audience was cherry-picked by the Democrats, hence the applause when Romney was called out on his bullshit, or so they say.


Update #2! - It seems the right is working overtime to save Romney from his debate debacle.  They are trying really hard to discredit Crowley's "fact check," now moving on to the applauding audience and the girl who asked the question.  It appears the girl who asked the question has a similar name with a woman associated with the liberal organization Code Pink.  Katherine Fenton, spelled with a "K," was a young girl appearing to be in her early twenties asked the question at the debate.  Catherine Fenton, with a "C," is in her late thirties and is obviously not the young girl we saw on television today but that wont stop those adamant to prove Obama was a liar and Romney was a saint last night.  On Reddit, a commenter posted the following link as proof the girl was a Code Pink plant placed their by Gallup despite the fact that the link they posted included an update stating that it appeared the girl was different then the one from the conspiracy theories.

So it seems despite even more facts the right is eager to ignore reality once again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walmart Hedges Bets, Counts On Obama Win

Facing numerous labor strikes, especially on major shopping holidays like Black Friday, Walmart released an internal memo on October 8th - and obtained by The Huffington Post - issuing instructions to salaried employees on how to respond to such a strike.
The memo makes clear that Walmart, the world's largest private employer, views the labor protests as a serious attack, a message that runs contrary to the company's public comments that the strikes are mere "publicity stunts," as Walmart's vice president of communications David Tovar told The Huffington Post Tuesday.

"As you know,” the memo opens, “activists or union organizers have been trying for years to stop our Company’s growth and to damage our relationship with our customers and members. One of the activists’ or union organizers’ tactics is to try to disrupt the business by urging our associates to participate in a walkout or other form of work stoppage.”

The majority of the memo is aimed at instructing managers not to violate workers' legal right to engage in concerted activity, or non-union labor organizing. Managers are directed not to “discipline” employees who engage in walkouts, sit-ins or sick-outs.

Legal experts said the confidential memo shows an unprecedented level of caution from a company that has taken harsh stances towards employee attempts to organize in the past.

“Walmart probably has in mind that the Obama NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] often sides with unions over management,” said Lance Compa, a labor law professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Relations in Ithaca, N.Y. “So they’re being extremely cautious.”
What makes this memo interesting is that Walmart is that despite the Walton heirs lining up behind Mitt Romney, such as Sam Walton children Jim and Alice, both giving hundreds of thousands to Romney-backed super PACs and the maximum allowable direct contribution to the Romney campaign.  If the Waltons were so confident that Mitt Romney would win the election, why would they be bracing themselves for a run-in with the Obama NLRB?

Obama got into hot water with Republicans earlier this year over blocked NLRB appointments.  During a controversial recess in January, Obama made three appointments - two Democrats and one Republican - to the board allowing the board to reach quorum and resume functioning.  This was the first time the NLRB was able to perform its duty since 2010.  If these strikes were to occur and Walmart would face action from the NLRB, it would most likely be in 2013, and by then the new president would be sworn in.  If Mitt Romney were to win, as preferred by the Walton family and Walmart, Romney would certainly allow Obama's recess appointments to expire returning the NLRB to gridlock, meanwhile pushing his own, most likely pro-management candidates for the open positions.

Walmart is hedging its bets.  Right now Obama is still ahead by a decent margin, especially in swing states, which Romney needs to reach 270 electoral votes.  Right now Romney is nowhere achieving victory and the billionaire heirs of Walmart know this so despite their thousands in contributions to help elect Romney, they are preparing for four more years of an Obama administration.  That is why this memo is interesting.

Monday, October 15, 2012

CEOs Threaten Workers Over Presidential Vote

"If you vote for Obama I may have to sell my gold chair." 
Last week David Siegel, the CEO of Westgate Resorts, emailed all of his employees telling them that if Obama were to win the presidential election, their jobs will be threatened.  Siegel based his letter off a similar chain letter that circulated before but changed the letter to fit his circumstances.  Here is a breakdown of his letter (you can read the entire letter here):
As most of you know our company, Westgate Resorts, has continued to succeed in spite of a very dismal economy. There is no question that the economy has changed for the worse and we have not seen any improvement over the past four years. In spite of all of the challenges we have faced, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job.
Siegel makes some contradicting statements in his opening paragraph.  He claims the economy has gotten worse over the four years that Obama has been president but that his company has been able to succeed and that the present state of the economy, which he declared as "has changed for the worse," does not pose a threat to his employee's job security.
What does threaten your job however, is another 4 years of the same Presidential administration. Of course, as your employer, I can’t tell you whom to vote for, and I certainly wouldn’t interfere with your right to vote for whomever you choose. In fact, I encourage you to vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best.
This is where Siegel threatens his employees.  A vote for the president would "threaten your job," but Siegel then tries to reassure his employees that he isn't trying to tell them who to vote for and that he encourages them to "vote for whomever you think will serve your interests the best."  Siegel just told them their interests -  an Obama win means their jobs will be threatened.  He then tries to explain to his employees what is in their best interest.
However, let me share a few facts that might help you decide what is in your best interest.The current administration and members of the press have perpetuated an environment that casts employers against employees. They want you to believe that we live in a class system where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
The real facts are that executive pay has outpaced workers' wages for sometime now.  Sarah Anderson and Chris Hartman of The Progressive explain it quite simply: "Here's one way to put the increase in CEO pay in perspective: If the minimum wage, which stood at $3.80 an hour in 1990, had grown at the same rate as CEO pay over the decade, it would now be $25.50 an hour, rather than the current $5.15 an hour. If the average annual pay for production workers had grown at the same rate since 1990 as it has for CEOs, these workers would have earned $120,491 instead of $24,668 in 2000."
They label us the “1%” and imply that we are somehow immune to the challenges that face our country. This could not be further from the truth. Sure, you may have heard about the big home that I’m building. I’m sure many people think that I live a privileged life. However, what you don’t see or hear is the true story behind any success that I have achieved.
You can however watch the documentary about Siegel and his family, titled "The Queen of Versaille," which details his quest to build the largest home in America despite being downgraded from a billionaire to a hundred-millionaire.
I started this company over 42 years ago. At that time, I lived in a very modest home. I converted my garage into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you. We didn’t eat in fancy restaurants or take expensive vacations because every dollar I made went back into this company.

I drove an old used car, and often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Meanwhile, many of my friends got regular jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a nice income, and they spent every dime they earned.

They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into this business —-with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford to buy whatever I wanted.
Edward Ericson Jr. wrote the following for Baltimore's City Paper explaining just how Siegel's fortune started:
Siegel tells his story of suc­cess, found­ing the com­pany 42 years ago and dri­ving an old car, work­ing hard from his garage while his neigh­bors worked 40 hours and “spent every dime they earned.” It’s an inspir­ing story. It con­trasts, how­ever, with the story he told me and Jeff Bill­man in his office in the sum­mer of 1999 as he tried (erro­neously, it turned out) to evict the ten­ant in his $22,000-per-month house. That was quite an inter­view, and the link is still live.

Siegel, 1999, recall­ing the rent-to-own store he opened in the early ‘60s in Miami:

“Soon Siegel had a store in Lib­erty City and a fleet of Volk­swagon vans. His sales­men offered the refur­bished sets to the area’s African-American res­i­dents for $10 down and $5 a week, he says, adding, ‘I only had about $10 in each one.’

Those $5 pay­ments soon financed three stores, a gas sta­tion, a house with a pool and a Buick con­vert­ible. ‘My goal was to make $125 a week,’ Siegel says. ‘I usu­ally exceeded that.’”

To be fair, he didn’t say whether the Buick con­vert­ible was new.

Shock­ingly, Siegel’s store got burned down in the riots and he ended up in Cen­tral Florida sell­ing swamp land to gullible “investors.” He quickly went on his own and in a few years (if his 1999 rec­ol­lec­tion is to be believed) made mil­lions on those unde­vel­opable acres, mostly by tout­ing their prox­im­ity to Dis­ney World–but also by draw­ing up bogus devel­op­ment plans and occa­sion­ally clear­ing a dirt road. He sold to peo­ple in New Jer­sey, Mex­ico, and as far away as Bel­gium. State reg­u­la­tors and the fed­eral Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Urban Devel­op­ment came after him, but he lawyered-up and stared them down. Most of the buy­ers of his prop­er­ties (includ­ing the young man who would go on to become musi­cal direc­tor of Glo­ria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine) had lit­tle or noth­ing to show 20 years later.
 So Siegel started his business by duping people with bum land.  He did well for himself but for Siegel not well enough.

Even to this day, every dime I earn goes back into this company. Over the past four years I have had to stop building my dream house, cut back on all of my expenses, and take my kids out of private schools simply to keep this company strong and to keep you employed.
What?  He had to put his lavish 90,000 sq. ft. home building on hold and pull his kids from private school so he could keep running his business?  What a swell guy making so many sacrifices to keep his employees employed.
Just think about this – most of you arrive at work in the morning and leave that afternoon and the rest of your time is yours to do as you please. But not me- there is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself.
I unfortunately do not have that freedom. I eat, live, and breathe this company every minute of the day, every day of the week. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour.

I know many of you work hard and do a great job, but I’m the one who has to sign every check, pay every expense, and make sure that this company continues to succeed. Unfortunately, what most people see is the nice house and the lavish lifestyle. What the press certainly does not want you to see, is the true story of the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made.
But I thought he didn't have a lavish lifestyle.  I thought he spent all his time at the office.
Now, the economy is falling apart and people like me who made all the right decisions and invested in themselves are being forced to bail out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed 42 years of my life for. Yes, business ownership has its benefits, but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.
Talk about hypocrisy.  The guy is building the largest home in America but had to stop because the economy went south.  Now he is resuming building his home and he doesn't want to stop again? Scott Maxwell wrote the following for The Orlando Sentinel:
Only here's the thing: Siegel's company started tanking before Barack Obama was ever elected.

The Sentinel carried its first headline — "Westgate Resorts to lay off hundreds" — in September 2008.

Back then, Siegel was quick to assign blame — not to himself, of course, but to Wall Street and Washington, where George W. Bush was presiding.

Those cuts were followed by stories about Westgate closing a call center in Missouri and Houston. Then 600 more jobs. Soon, an additional 1,000.

By December, Westgate had announced 4,000 layoffs — and the company was such a mess Siegel was urging employees to ignore rumors of bankruptcy.
So now his economic woes are caused by Obama?
Unfortunately, the costs of running a business have gotten out of control, and let me tell you why: We are being taxed to death and the government thinks we don’t pay enough. We pay state taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, sales and use taxes, payroll taxes, workers compensation taxes and unemployment taxes.

I even have to hire an entire department to manage all these taxes. The question I have is this: Who is really stimulating the economy? Is it the Government that wants to take money from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not, or is it people like me who built a company out of his garage and directly employs over 7000 people and hosts over 3 million people per year with a great vacation?
He had to hire people to manage his business?
Obviously, our present government believes that taking my money is the right economic stimulus for this country. The fact is, if I deducted 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, that’s what happens to me.

Here is what most people don’t understand and the press and our Government has chosen to ignore – to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Instead of raising my taxes and depositing that money into the Washington black-hole, let me spend it on growing the company, hire more employees, and generate substantial economic growth.
So Siegel wants more money to be kept in his pocket and why?  To build his massive house?  To take out more loans to build more resorts?
My employees will enjoy the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But that is not what our current Government wants you to believe. They want you to believe that it somehow makes sense to take more from those who create wealth and give it to those who do not, and somehow our economy will improve.
In the last four years, in the period that Siegel himself described as continued success, did Westgate employees experience increased wages and promotions?

If anyone can remember, a couple years ago Westgate Resorts got into some trouble for apparently not paying their associates appropriate wages at all (maybe Siegel should hire another department to manage that).  The U.S. Department of Labor said that an investigation had determined that 1,065 company employees were not paid at least the federal minimum wage for all of the hours they worked. The agency also said that the workers' premium pay did not include commissions, overtime was incorrectly computed, and Westgate failed to keep accurate time-card records.  How about the sexual harassment lawsuit against Siegel, in which he was found guilty after a former employee claimed Seigel offered millions to have sex with her.  Is this Siegel's idea of trickle down economics?
They don’t want you to know that the “1%”, as they like to label us, pay more than 31% of all the taxes in this country. Thomas Jefferson, the author of our great Constitution, once said, “democracy” will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
This falls into the same area as Mitt Romney's "47 percent"' comments and Paul Ryan's "makers and takers" comments, where he insists those who earn less are simply not as motivated as the job creators like Siegel.
Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate business, not kill it. However, the power brokers in Washington believe redistributing wealth is the essential driver of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change they want.
How will businesses succeed if nobody can afford to purchase their products?
So where am I going with all this? It’s quite simple. If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company. Rather than grow this company I will be forced to cut back. This means fewer jobs, less benefits and certainly less opportunity for everyone.

So, when you make your decision to vote, ask yourself, which candidate understands the economics of business ownership and who doesn’t? Whose policies will endanger your job? Answer those questions and you should know who might be the one capable of protecting and saving your job.

While the media wants to tell you to believe the “1 percenters” are bad, I’m telling you they are not. They create most of the jobs. If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the “1%”; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country.

You see, I can no longer support a system that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.
Did Siegel just call his employees, those who have helped him amass his fortune, "unproductive?"  Is Siegel saying that if Obama is elected he will no longer feel the desire to make money and finish his mansion and become a billionaire again?

This is just ridiculous, but not to everyone.  Arthur Allen, CEO of ASG Software Solutions felt inspired by Siegel to write an email to all of his employees threatening them with termination unless they vote for Mitt Romney.  
Many of you have been with ASG for over 5, 10, 15, and even 20 years. As you know, together, we have been able to keep ASG an independent company while still growing our revenues and customers. But I can tell you, if the US re-elects President Obama, our chances of staying independent are slim to none. I am already heavily involved in considering options that make our independence go away, and with that all of our lives would change forever. I believe that a new President and administration would give US citizens and the world the renewed confidence and optimism we all need to get the global economies started again, and give ASG a chance to stay independent. If we fail as a nation to make the right choice on November 6th, and we lose our independence as a company, I don’t want to hear any complaints regarding the fallout that will most likely come. Remember, in the world of business, companies are consolidators or they get consolidated; so far ASG has been a consolidator, completing over 60 acquisitions in our 26 year history. When we buy a company, we eliminate about 60 percent of the salaries of the employees of that company. If we lose our independence and get consolidated, the same thing would happen to ASG’s employees.
I thought Allen's email particularly interesting for a couple reasons.  He claims they have been a successful independent company but then claims that if Obama wins, other companies will buy them out and cut employees.  As a point of reference, Allen talks about how he is responsible for eliminating employees of companies he acquires.  Basically, he praises his company for creating jobs while at the same time explaining that his company kills jobs.

In some ways, he does more to discredit himself than the delusional Siegel.  He admits that he is not really responsible for job growth.  He basically doesn't want to become someone else's employee and face the same threats that he is placing on his workers.

Maybe this is Mitt Romney's newest method of getting votes.  Romney has hit the millionaire fundraising circuit to a point that he is running out of millionaires so now those millionaires are resorting to threatening their employees to vote.  I bet next step is forcing them to vote for Romney like a coal worker being forced to attend a Mitt Romney event without pay.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Conservative Media Attack Biden, Avoid Issues

It seems Joe Biden won the debate.

How can you tell?

Fox News is attacking the body language of the vice president and not the actual message he delivered.

Joe Biden attacks with "a barrage of grins, guffaws, snickers and interruptions?"

Biden's "demeanor during debate called disrespectful" and his "smiling and laughing inappropriate?"

Fox News even included this headline on their website: "Biden's Mom and Dad Taught Him Many Things, But Not Manners."  Remember when Harry Reid referenced George Romney saying Romney's "poor father must be so embarrassed about his son?"  Conservatives had a a bitch fit.

Anyway, all these criticisms against Joe Biden seem peculiar when considering what they said, or rather did not say when Romney interrupted his way through last weeks debate.  Fox News bent over for the Romney campaign, publishing everything from attacks on other media for not publishing more positive stories for their candidate to articles attacking what they call "lies" against Romney.  Those "lies" were actually all the numerously debunked talking points Romney steamrolled during the debate.

And then there is this:

The Fox News poll identifies Ryan as the winner of the debate with an overwhelming 82-point lead.  Not really a surprise though.  It is probably safe to say the respondents to this poll cannot articulate a single position Romney holds, but then neither can Romney.

Even on the issues Fox News seems to leave out some important facts.  Take Libya for example.  Fox News claims Biden placed the blame of the terrorist attacks solely on the intelligence community and that the administration denied security requests but is completely absent of the fact that Paul Ryan voted against budget increases for security at foreign embassies, and in another article, Fox News attacks the Obama response to the Romney response on September 11th.

It is interesting when comparing this response to the response made by Democrats and liberals when Obama seemingly lost the debate - they focused on the facts and attacked the numerous points.  Sure they criticized Romney's demeanor and the weak moderation, but almost everyone said the same thing, that is except for people like Fox.

Here are some of the other conservative media headlines:

DEBATE: Paul Ryan Admits Romney Win Would Lead To War

"I promise to be the most radical (in the 80s sense of the word) vice president ever... right after I finish these reps and meet up with Zack, Slater, and Screech at The Max."
Paul Ryan participated in his first and only debate with Vice President Joe Biden Thursday night and there were many stand out moments. It was clear that Biden was the victor of this debate, with each establishing a clear difference between the candidate they support. While there were many statements made on either side that I would love to dissect and analyze, there were a couple particular related statements made by Ryan that I felt required immediate attention - Ryan's criticism of the administration's Iranian policies and his later explanation of when American military force would be used.

Ryan responded to Vice President Biden by expressing his opinion that Iran poses a security threat to America and that their quest to acquire nuclear capability needs to be thwarted, preferably by a President Romney:
We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. Now, let's take a look at where we've gone -- come from. When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material -- nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They're racing toward a nuclear weapon. They're four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.
Ryan then discussed the administration's sanctions against Iran claiming that Romney proposed sanctions against Iran five years ago and that Ryan himself had been personally fighting for sanctions since 2009, despite objections from the administration.
Mitt Romney proposed these sanctions in 2007. In Congress, I've been fighting for these sanctions since 2009. The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.

Imagine what would have happened if we had these sanctions in place earlier. You think Iran's not brazen? Look at what they're doing. They're stepping up their terrorist attacks. They tried a terrorist attack in the United States last year when they tried to blow up the Saudi ambassador at a restaurant in Washington, D.C....
Then, Ryan insisted that because of the feet-dragging of the administration, the delayed sanctions have diminished the credibility of the administration's tough stance with Iran and that the threat of military action is no longer viewed as serious by the ayatollahs.
And so, in order to solve this peacefully -- which is everybody's goal -- you have to have the ayatollahs change their minds. Look at where they are. They're moving faster toward a nuclear weapon. It's because this administration has no credibility on this issue. It's because this administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions, tried to stop us for putting the tough sanctions in place.

Now we have them in place because of Congress. They say the military option's on the table, but it's not being viewed as credible. And the key is to do this peacefully, is to make sure that we have credibility. Under a Romney administration, we will have credibility on this issue.
Fast forward to the end of the debate when moderator Martha Raddatz revisits the matter of Iran and national security, asking Ryan "What's your criteria for intervention?"

Paul Ryan responded with the following:  "What is in the national interests of the American people."

When pressed about intervention for humanitarian interests Ryan elaborated, where he seemingly implied that if Mitt Romney were to be elected president, America would go to war with Iran.
Each situation will -- will come up with its own set of circumstances, but putting American troops on the ground? That's got to be within the national security interests of the American people.

That means like embargoes and sanctions and overflights, those are things that don't put American troops on the ground. But if you're talking about putting American troops on the ground, only in our national security interests.
Now if you watched the entire debate, you might remember that in the beginning of the debate Ryan stated that Iran was a national security interest.  When asked which was worse, "another war in the Middle East, or a nuclear-armed Iran," Ryan responded with the following:
A nuclear-armed Iran which triggers a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is the world's largest sponsor of -- of terrorism. They've dedicated themselves to wiping an entire country off the map. They call us the Great Satan. And if they get nuclear weapons, other people in the neighborhood will pursue their nuclear weapons, as well.
So by Ryan's own definition, would a President Romney commit American soldiers to another Middle Eastern war because it is in the interest of our national security, or would he continue the route of using sanctions and embargoes, which is what the current administration has been doing?

Considering every answer Ryan gave the moderator was some elusive response, as opposed to the direct statements Vice President Biden made to the American people, I think it is safe to say that a Romney/Ryan ticket would lead to World War III.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paul Ryan: We Need To Civilize Inner Cities

"The path to prosperity is to civilize these savage inner cities... but ignore everything  Romney and I had said prior to the debate."
Adam Goldberg wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
Paul Ryan sat down for an interview on Monday with ABC 12 in Flint, Michigan, and things didn't go quite as planned.

In the clip, which was removed from ABC 12's website but captured and posted by BuzzFeed, the station's reporter asks Ryan, "Does this country have a gun problem?'

The GOP vice presidential candidate responds that "this country has a crime problem." When the reporter asks for clarification, Ryan explains that "good, strong gun laws" are currently on the books, "but we have to make sure we enforce our laws."

He goes on to clarify:
"We have lots of laws that aren't being properly enforced. We need to make sure we enforce these laws. But the best thing to help prevent violent crime in the inner cities is to bring opportunity in the inner cities, is to help people get out of poverty in the inner cities, is to help teach people good discipline, good character. That is civil society. That's what charities, and civic groups, and churches do to help one another make sure that they can realize the value in one another."
ABC 12's reporter then offers a somewhat odd retort, asking, "And you can do all that by cutting taxes? By...with a big tax cut?"

"Those are your words, not mine," answers Ryan. A voice off-screen then implies that the interview is over, telling the reporter, "thank you very much, Sir."

Ryan then abruptly stands up and removes his microphone, immediately ending the interview and telling the reporter, "That was kind of strange. You're trying to stuff words in people's mouths?"
Essentially, in response to a question regarding firearms and crime, Paul Ryan shifts to poverty in the inner cities, with a solution of civilizing these people by teaching them "good discipline" and "'good character."

Logically, the reporter related Ryan's comments to the policies advocated by himself and his running mate - tax cuts.  The reporter didn't specify tax cuts on who but just tax cuts in general, but Ryan wasn't having it - his handlers off screen put the kibosh on the interview and Paul Ryan left calling the question "strange."

Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck later told BuzzFeed: "The reporter knew he was already well over the allotted time for the interview when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts. Ryan responded as anyone would in such a strange situation. When you do nearly 200 interviews in a couple months, eventually you’re going to see a local reporter embarrass himself."

The Ryan response is interesting.  He blames the reporter for linking gun violence to tax cuts despite Ryan being the one to say that the "best thing to help prevent violent crime" is to "help people get out of poverty in the inner cities."  He then attacks the reporter personally and insists his interview was well over the time limit.

So if Ryan intended this to be a strictly guns answer, was he proposing increasing the amount of guns in the inner cities to lift these people up out of poverty?

Ryan's initial response is more in line with Romney's "47 percent" comments secretly recorded earlier this year and Ryan's own "welfare state" comments.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said at a fundraiser in May. "All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

"Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want their welfare state," Ryan said. "Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers."

Sounds to me like Ryan's response to the ABC reporter was one not about guns but about taxes and what Republicans classify as "personal responsibility," where the "takers," as Ryan would put it, have no "discipline," "character," or "value."  Ryan's handler probably realized that the real Ryan was coming out in the interview and was not inline with moderate Debate Romney so he pulled the plug.  

Monday, October 8, 2012

GOP Tries To Buy Votes With Promise To Stop Annoying Robo-calls

Updated October 9th, 2012! 

 I have uploaded a video recording of one of these nuisance robo-calls Mitt Romney has been using to raise money and badger people into voting for him. Check out the video below!

It appears the Orange County Republican Party of Florida have decided to take a different approach in convincing Central Floridians to vote Republican this election cycle - bribe voters with the promise of ending robo-calls.

That is correct.

The Central Florida GOP are sending out massive "voter guide" mailings to voters telling them that they can "stop the robo-calls by voting absentee" and then instructing voters to order their absentee ballots by contacting the supervisor of elections and if they have any more questions to contact the local Republican party.

This new scheme seems to be in violation of Florida electoral statutes:
104.012 Consideration for registration; interference with registration; soliciting registrations for compensation; alteration of registration application.

(1) Any person who gives anything of value that is redeemable in cash to any person in consideration for his or her becoming a registered voter commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. This section shall not be interpreted, however, to exclude such services as transportation to the place of registration or baby-sitting in connection with the absence of an elector from home for registering.

(2) A person who by bribery, menace, threat, or other corruption, directly or indirectly, influences, deceives, or deters or attempts to influence, deceive, or deter any person in the free exercise of that person's right to register to vote at any time, upon the first conviction, commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, and, upon any subsequent conviction, commits a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.   
The Republican Party is seeking to indirectly influence the election by giving voters a "guide" filled with Republican candidates and then telling them they can prevent nuisance phone calls if they just vote as soon as possible.  The GOP goes as far as to even promote candidates for non-partisan positions such as property appraiser, sheriff, tax collector, supervisor of elections, school board, judicial candidates, and soil and water management.

These newest tactics are interesting when also considering other efforts undertaken by Florida Republicans, such as the recent voter purge, which disproportionately targets Democratic voters, hiring absentee ballot brokers, and the hiring of a firm engaging in fraudulent voter registration activities.

And does anyone find it peculiar that Republicans opened up an office directly across the street of the polling location in affluent Dr. Phillips, Orlando (down the street from prominent neighborhoods like Bay Hill)?

The same polling place was also where the following  photocopied drawing was distributed back in 2008?

What do you think?

Update! - Check out this video of one such robo-call!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Romney Debate Analysis

Updated October 8th, 2012!
Is there an award for record amount of flip flops?

The presidential debate is over and the media has pretty much declared Mitt Romney the winner of the first round between himself and the president.  Romney did in fact have a strong performance, going on the attack from the beginning, stomping all over moderator Jim Lehrer in the process and issuing several whoppers to the American public, but why should he care?  Many Americans don't do their own research and the Romney camp is fully aware of this.  It is for this reason that Romney's campaign has made comments dismissing fact-checkers and declaring Romney the "Etch-a-Sketch" candidate.

Well, now that everyone has had a chance to comb through the debate and pick it apart bit for bit, The Midnight Review has decided to do it's own analysis of the debate, focusing on the comments made by Mitt Romney.

Why just Mitt Romney?

During the debate the president offered more details and sources to find even more information but when Romney was asked even "yes or no" questions regarding his support for an issue, Romney refused to answer.  It also seemed that Romney has decided to shake the Etch-a-Sketch for the debate because many of his positions that he espoused to the nation seemed to directly contradict comments he had made as early as a few days before the debate.

So, without further ado, here is the analysis (Romney's comments will be highlighted in a different color).

"My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about 4 million jobs.

Number two, open up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Crack down on China, if and when they cheat.

Number three, make sure our people have the skills they need to succeed and the best schools in the world. We're far away from that now.

Number four, get to us a balanced budget.

Number five, champion small business. It's small business that creates the jobs in America, and over the last four years, small business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business because new business startups are down to a 30-year low."

Unlike fellow Republican Rick Perry, it looks like Romney was able to remember all the points to his plan, but is Romney really offering up an accurate portrayal of his policies to the American public?

Romney's first point, energy independence is interesting because during the debate he praises green energy but criticizes the president for investing in green energy, and at one point, Romney seems to defend tax subsidies for the oil industry.

Romney's second point, international trade is interesting because throughout the campaign trail, Romney has criticized manufacturing losses under the president but now he would want Americans to purchase goods from other nations, especially Latin American ones?  Mexico is already America's second biggest trading partner (right behind Canada), and a good portion of imports consist of cheaply manufactured goods.  By opening up trade with Latin America, Romney would risk increasing the exodus of American manufacturing jobs.

Romney's third point, regarding education was interesting.  Romney actually admits American schools are far from being number one.  America is ranked 31st in mathematics and 23rd in science globally. China is first in both categories.  The only problem is that Debate Romney supports education while Campaign Trail Romney attacked investment in education.  On June 8th, Romney said of Obama, "he wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."

Later in the debate Romney seemed to reject the notion that he was against increasing the number of teachers, saying "I love great schools" and then stating that he rejects "the idea that I don't believe in great teachers or more teachers," and that it is best left up to the states to make such decisions.  He also criticized the presidents' green energy initiatives, claiming that with the money spent on things like solar and wind energy America could have hired two million teachers.  So is he for or against education and green energy?

Romney's fourth point, wanting a balanced budget, is interesting considering he later declared that you cannot balance the budget with increasing taxes and that he had no desire to increase spending (except for the military).  How does that math work out?

Romney's last point, championing small business, is just a flat out lie.  Romney claims that new businesses are at a thirty year low but according to studies, particularly one by the Erwin Marion Kaufman Foundation - the world's largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship, business creation has actually increased under President Obama.

Another interesting aspect of the study was that most new job creators are started by America's immigration population, which Romney wants to crack down on.

"First of all, I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don't have a tax cut of a scale that you're talking about. My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They'll do fine whether you're president or I am."

Forbe's Len Burman said it best with the following:
Previously, Governor Romney has said that his tax plan would cut all individual income tax rates by 20%, eliminate the AMT, eliminate the estate tax, and eliminate taxes on investment income for low- and middle-income taxpayers. He would also extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.

Those tax cuts would reduce federal revenues by $480 billion in 2015 over and above the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts. Allow for some growth in income, and the total comes to over $5 trillion over ten years.
Romney's admission that the wealthy will do fine under the Obama administration is interesting when considering his secret tape where he claimed he didn't have to worry about half of America, which would imply that he is really trying harder for the wealthy vote, hence the elimination of things like the estate tax - a benefit that disproportionately affects the rich.

"At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up. Food prices are up. Health care costs have gone up by $2,500 a family. Middle-income families are being crushed."

Romney seemed to forget a time back in 2008 when gas prices were higher under President Bush then they are now, with the price per barrel of oil skyrocketing due to speculation to close to $150 before crashing to $30.  Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for, stated that a president has little effect on the price of gasoline and the price drop was more because of "recession/depression, collapse of consumer confidence, collapse of DEMAND, nothing else."

That statement has been confirmed by other news outlets, including CBS News, the San Jose Mercury News, and the New York Times.

"The second area, taxation, we agree, we ought to bring the tax rates down. And I do, both for corporations and for individuals. But in order for us not to lose revenue, have the government run out of money, I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions, so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth."

Romney seems to think that he can close enough loopholes and deductions to completely erase the loss in revenue from cutting taxes across the board.

"The third area, energy. Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. But not due to his policies. In spite of his policies.

Mr. President, all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. If I'm president, I'll double them, and also get the -- the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I'll bring that pipeline in from Canada.

And, by the way, I like coal. I'm going to make sure we can continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent so we can create those jobs."

The first thing I noticed from Romney's comments were that he excluded drilling off the coast of Florida - a politically detrimental position to take when trying to court voters from a state dominated by tourism and ecologically sensitive areas.  Back in August Romney issued an energy plan that called for more offshore drilling, but he seemed to exclude Florida from his debate performance, most likely to try and increase his chances in winning the state's massive number of electoral votes.

Another thing is that Romney attacks the number of drilling permits issued by the administration, claiming all increases in production has come from private land.  This is interesting when considering Romney's attack on the administration for not being conducive to energy production or job creation, but then using an instance of private industry doing well under the administration, and while Romney paints a pretty picture regarding the Keystone pipeline, the Canadian firms responsible for it expect the impact of the pipeline to increase prices by reducing the problem of "oversupply" and getting oil to the export markets.  Romney's overall statement just happens to be false as well.  Oil production has been up since 2007 and private enterprises are sitting on  7000 approved permits but are doing nothing with that opportunity to increase energy independence.

"Well, but -- but virtually -- virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate."

What was this in response too?

President Obama said the following about Romney's tax plans:
When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper-income individuals can -- are currently taking advantage of, you take those all away, you don't come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending.

OBAMA: And that's why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Governor Romney's pledge of not reducing the deficit or -- or -- or not adding to the deficit is by burdening middle-class families. The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more.

Now, that's not my analysis. That's the analysis of economists who have looked at this. And -- and that kind of top -- top-down economics, where folks at the top are doing well, so the average person making $3 million is getting a $250,000 tax break, while middle-class families are burdened further, that's not what I believe is a recipe for economic growth.
So Obama virtually described his plan inaccurately?  That would mean that he literally described the plan, right?

"So if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I'd say absolutely not. I'm not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I've said is I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That's part one. So there's no economist that can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan."

So because Mitt Romney says his tax plan will not add to the deficit, it won't, and economists would be forced to fall in line with the candidate?

"Look, I've got five boys. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true."

So Romney's five sons, who are also his campaign's surrogates, are liars?

"And number three, I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it's completely wrong. I saw a study that came out today that said you're going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.

There are all these studies out there. But let's get at the bottom line. That is, I want to bring down rates. I want to bring the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth, so we keep getting the revenue we need. And you'd think, well, then why lower the rates."

Romney brings into the debate "'six other studies" that studied Obama's study and declared that study to be wrong.

This is funny because back in September, Mitt Romney claimed there to be just five studies that proved him right, so he must have picked up a study somewhere, but Romney's claims back then were declared by Politifact to be "mostly false," while declaring Obama's study to be "mostly true."
The Romney campaign sent us links to five items. One was a Wall Street Journal article from Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist and an adviser to the Romney campaign; one was from Harvey Rosen, an economist at the Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies at Princeton University; one was by Matt Jensen, an economist with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank; and two were Wall Street Journal editorials...

Romney said that five studies show that his tax plan can cut rates and still bring in the same amount of money as today without raising taxes on the middle class.

Romney is using the word "studies" generously. Two items on his list are newspaper editorials that can be analytical but are rarely treated as independent research. One article comes from a campaign adviser, a connection that generally suggests a less than independent assessment. That leaves just two reports out Romney’s five.

There is a fair argument to be made that the Tax Policy Center used an arbitrary dividing line of $200,000 to separate high-income households from all others. The same problem lies in setting the breakpoint at $100,000, a choice preferred by at least one of the defenders of Romney’s proposal.

The studies from Feldstein and Rosen use 2009 data. That was an abnormal year and one that made it easier to make the math work for the Romney plan. The analysts could have chosen other years but decided not to.

We see no more than two independent studies out of the five claimed. We rate the statement Mostly False.
It is probably safe to say that those false assessments continue to accurately describe Romney's claims.  The jury is still out for Romney's mysterious sixth study.

"Now, and -- and I've talked to a guy who has a very small business. He's in the electronics business in -- in St. Louis. He has four employees. He said he and his son calculated how much they pay in taxes, federal income tax, federal payroll tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state property tax, gasoline tax. It added up to well over 50 percent of what they earned. And your plan is to take the tax rate on successful small businesses from 35 percent to 40 percent. The National Federation of Independent Businesses has said that will cost 700,000 jobs."

This was one anecdote of Romney's that I found interesting.  He references things like state and fuel taxes, which in Missouri income taxes can go as high as 6 percent, sales taxes are at 4.225 percent, and fuel taxes on both gasoline and diesel 17.3 cents per gallon (one of the lowest rates in the nation and almost the same amount as the federal excise tax).  Not once in Romney's debate did he decry the problem with state taxes, believing the burden of diminished revenue should be placed solely on the federal government.  It is also worth mentioning that Missouri collects $1.32 for every federal dollar spent, meaning a reduction in federal taxes would hurt Missouri overall because the state would see decreased revenues - revenues that come from other states such as New Jersey, New York, Connecticut  New Hampshire, California, Minnesota, or Delaware, to name a few.

"My priority is putting people back to work in America. They're suffering in this country. And we talk about evidence. Look at the evidence of the last four years. It's absolutely extraordinary. We've got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country. It's just -- it's -- we've got -- when the president took office, 32 million people on food stamps; 47 million on food stamps today; economic growth this year slower than last year, and last year slower than the year before."

Romney references slower economic growth this year then last, and that is partially true, but Romney seems to think creating jobs will solve everything.  That is wrong when considering you require market demand in order to warrant a supply.  Part of the slow GDP growth for 2012 was a result from reduced demand from Europe, and as we recall from Romney's five-point plan from the beginning of the debate, he is more interested in trade with Latin America.

"I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I'm going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. But I'm not going to -- I'm not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for. That's number one.

Number two, I'll take programs that are currently good programs but I think could be run more efficiently at the state level and send them to the state.

Number three, I'll make government more efficient and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments. My cutbacks will be done through attrition, by the way."

Romney targeted PBS because it is a popular target among conservatives (remember the hack attack by propagandist James O'Keefe?)

These are low-hanging fruit.  The federal government's subsidies to The Corporation for Public Broadcasting amounted to $445 million dollars a year, which comes to about 1/100 of 1 percent of the federal budget.  Romney of course would prefer to keep the bloated military budget alone.

"Look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That's how we get growth and how we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you'll never get there. You'll never balance the budget by raising taxes."

This is perhaps the most ignorant statement made by Romney in the entire debate.  Just consider this study from the Economic Policy Institute that indicated CEO pay increased 725 percent more, more than more than 127 times faster than worker pay since 1978, and even despite the slow economic growth Romney criticized, 2011 saw executive pay increase while the average worker saw a decrease.  The Department of Labor has also indicated that the productivity of workers had increased in that same period as well.  The problem isn't getting more people to work.  The problem is getting more executives to pay their employees more money (or hiring more employees) instead of hoarding their cash.  It might be good to mention Nick Hanauer's TED Talk on income inequality in America from earlier this year and how they are even more relevant today.
That's why our current policies are so upside down. When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

Since 1980, the share of income for the richest Americans has more than tripled while effective tax rates have declined by close to 50%.

If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs. And yet unemployment and under-employment is at record highs.

Another reason this idea is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough super-rich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the median American, but we don't buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, we go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally.

I can't buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can't buy any new clothes or cars or enjoy any meals out. Or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the vast majority of American families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages.

Here's an incredible fact. If the typical American family still got today the same share of income they earned in 1980, they would earn about 25% more and have an astounding $13,000 more a year. Where would the economy be if that were the case?
"First of all, the Department of Energy has said the tax break for oil companies is $2.8 billion a year. And it's actually an accounting treatment, as you know, that's been in place for a hundred years."

Romney seems to defend oil subsidies, dismissing them as nothing more than an "accounting treatment," not a federal boondoggle, and that since it has been around for a hundred years it seems to be okay.  Obama correctly interjected by saying "It's time to end it."

"And in one year, you provided $90 billion in breaks to the green energy world. Now, I like green energy as well, but that's about 50 years' worth of what oil and gas receives. And you say Exxon and Mobil. Actually, this $2.8 billion goes largely to small companies, to drilling operators and so forth.

But, you know, if we get that tax rate from 35 percent down to 25 percent, why that $2.8 billion is on the table. Of course it's on the table. That's probably not going to survive you get that rate down to 25 percent.

But don't forget, you put $90 billion, like 50 years' worth of breaks, into -- into solar and wind, to Solyndra and Fisker and Tester and Ener1. I mean, I had a friend who said you don't just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers, all right? So this -- this is not -- this is not the kind of policy you want to have if you want to get America energy secure.

The second topic, which is you said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant."

It is funny that Romney attacks Obama's green energy initiatives  by claiming the oil subsidies goes to small business brushing over the fact that companies like ExxonMobil paid a negative tax rate at times, meaning they got corporate welfare at a time of record profits in the billions!

Romney also mentions things like Solyndra, which began under the Bush administration (meaning Republicans picked that loser), and other businesses claiming government investment in new technology is not that good, when success rates for government investment in green firms hovers around 91 percent.

Romney's comments have also attracted negative attention from the investor class.  Romney bashed private venture capital firms that have been largely successful in raising hundreds of millions of dollars as being losers. Ray Lane, a managing partner in the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and a prominent Fisker investor, criticized the GOP candidate citing the fact that because of investors like himself, companies have been able to employ thousands of Americans and create new products for the marketplace.  He also criticized the candidate for inflating figures and attempting to give the appearance that the entire $90 billion was lost.

Lane said that Romney “inflated $500 million lost by Solyndra (one company) to $90 billion of TARP money, a massive leap of logic and corruption of facts.”

"Well, Jim, our seniors depend on these programs, and I know anytime we talk about entitlements, people become concerned that something's going to happen that's going to change their life for the worse.

And the answer is neither the president nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security or Medicare. So if you're 60 or around 60 or older, you don't need to listen any further."

This appears to be a subtle admission that Romney will eliminate Social Security and Medicare to younger Americans.

"But on Medicare, for current retirees, he's cutting $716 billion from the program. Now, he says by not overpaying hospitals and providers. Actually just going to them and saying, "We're going to reduce the rates you get paid across the board, everybody's going to get a lower rate." That's not just going after places where there's abuse. That's saying we're cutting the rates. Some 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes say they won't take anymore Medicare patients under that scenario."

Romney failed to mention that the budget he supported authored by his running mate, Paul Ryan, kept those cuts.  Ryan's defense: Obama did it first.

"What I support is no change for current retirees and near-retirees to Medicare. And the president supports taking $716 billion out of that program."

This was in response to a direct question from Lehrer asking if he supported a voucher system.  Romney seems to indeed support vouchers, just for those who are not current or near-retirees.  Romney then moved on to his love of insurance companies.

"Number two is for people coming along that are young, what I do to make sure that we can keep Medicare in place for them is to allow them either to choose the current Medicare program or a private plan. Their choice.

They get to choose -- and they'll have at least two plans that will be entirely at no cost to them. So they don't have to pay additional money, no additional $6,000. That's not going to happen. They'll have at least two plans.

And by the way, if the government can be as efficient as the private sector and offer premiums that are as low as the private sector, people will be happy to get traditional Medicare or they'll be able to get a private plan.

I know my own view is I'd rather have a private plan. I'd just assume not have the government telling me what kind of health care I get. I'd rather be able to have an insurance company. If I don't like them, I can get rid of them and find a different insurance company. But people make their own choice."

Romney makes some extremely distanced remarks regarding insurance and Medicare.  Romney seems to believe it is easy for Medicare patients to shop around for different insurance policies.  The problem is that those policies Romney would prefer simply don't exist and we have proof of the usefulness of Medicare based on historical evidence, such as the availability of insurance prior to the enactment of Medicare.  From the Medicare Wikipedia page:
Before Medicare's creation, only half of older adults had health insurance, with coverage often unavailable or unaffordable to the other half, because older adults had half as much income as younger people and paid nearly three times as much for health insurance.
"Regulation is essential. You can't have a free market work if you don't have regulation. As a businessperson, I had to have -- I need to know the regulations. I needed them there. You couldn't have people opening up banks in their -- in their garage and making loans. I mean, you have to have regulations so that you can have an economy work. Every free economy has good regulation. At the same time, regulation can become excessive."

Mitt Romney now loves regulation?  Isn't the definition of a "free market" is one without regulation?

"I sure do. Well, in part, it comes, again, from my experience. You know, I was in New Hampshire. A woman came to me and she said, look, I can't afford insurance for myself or my son. I met a couple in Appleton, Wisconsin, and they said, we're thinking of dropping our insurance, we can't afford it."

But I thought Mitt Romney's solution was for individuals to accept greater responsibility in their lives and pay for their own insurance?

"Expensive things hurt families."

Is there something fundamentally wrong with calling insurance and health care a "thing?"  Televisions are things.  Cars are things.  Houses are things.  Romney places the need for living a healthy life on par with purchasing a vehicle or computer.  Remember from his secretly recorded video (which he now declares as wrong) - people should not be entitled to health care or food.

"Fourth, there was a survey done of small businesses across the country, said, what's been the effect of Obamacare on your hiring plans? And three-quarters of them said it makes us less likely to hire people. I just don't know how the president could have come into office, facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the -- at the kitchen table, and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people. It has killed jobs."

If Romneycare is any indicator on job-killing capabilities of a mandate-based health care reform, Obamacare will not cause any job losses for the nation, based on a study by the Urban Institute.

“[T]he trend in Massachusetts’ private-sector employment to working age population ratio is generally similar to trends in the four comparison states and the rest of the nation — falling 4.4 percentage points in Massachusetts, 3.9 percentage points in the comparison states, and 4.8 percentage points in the rest of the nation,” researchers conclude. “The consistency of the trend suggests that the health reform law in Massachusetts had little negative impact on private sector employment in the state.”

"And the best course for health care is to do what we did in my state: craft a plan at the state level that fits the needs of the state. And then let's focus on getting the costs down for people, rather than raising it with the $2,500 additional premium. "

Romney seems to leave out the other important part of his health care overhaul - higher deductibles.  As I had written a couple days ago, Mitt Romney wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that lower premiums but higher deductibles would make health care more accessible by offering variety in the marketplace.

"The result," Romney wrote, "will be patients who can confidently choose the coverage that is right for them, who know and care what healthcare costs."

So for Romney, it is not a matter of what you pay, rather when you pay.  Romney would like people to feel as if they are saving money by experiencing a lower premium but then they will pay more on the back end of the deal by having a higher deductible.  And considering Romney has already started to fawn over positive aspects of Obamacare, such as the elimination of preexisting condition clauses, how exactly does Romney hope for all these wonderful private insurance companies to pay for these potential liabilities?  This is why Romney had to include the Republican-supported mandate in his plan years ago, and why Obama rightly identified the mandate as a conservative idea.

"Governor Romney said this has to be done on a bipartisan basis. This was a bipartisan idea. In fact, it was a Republican idea."

"Well, actually it's -- it's -- it's a lengthy description. But, number one, preexisting conditions are covered under my plan. Number two, young people are able to stay on their family plan. That's already offered in the private marketplace. You don't have to have the government mandate that for that to occur."

This seems to be the default answer from anybody from the Romney camp when asked to explain some of the details of their policy - it is either too long or too boring to explain.

"But let's come back to something the president and I agree on, which is the key task we have in health care is to get the cost down so it's more affordable for families. And then he has as a model for doing that a board of people at the government, an unelected board, appointed board, who are going to decide what kind of treatment you ought to have."

Romney sort of revives Sarah Palin's "death panels" in the debate by referring to these boards, whom by the way have statutory limits and who only act in an advisory position.

"In my opinion, the government is not effective in -- in bringing down the cost of almost anything. As a matter of fact, free people and free enterprises trying to find ways to do things better are able to be more effective in bringing down the cost than the government will ever be.

Your example of the Cleveland Clinic is my case in point, along with several others I could describe.

This is the private market. These are small -- these are enterprises competing with each other, learning how to do better and better jobs. I used to consult to businesses -- excuse me, to hospitals and to health care providers. I was astonished at the creativity and innovation that exists in the American people."

Romney seems to believe that the Cleveland Clinic is an excellent example of an enterprising business hospital and health care provider.  He seems to ignore the fact that they are a non-profit corporation which gives them a bit of an advantage from, say, for-profit corporations.  This reduces some of the overhead involved.  This is partially why government administration costs are lower then private businesses - no profit motive and lower overhead.

"In order to bring the cost of health care down, we don't need to have a board of 15 people telling us what kinds of treatments we should have. We instead need to put insurance plans, providers, hospitals, doctors on target such that they have an incentive, as you say, performance pay, for doing an excellent job, for keeping costs down, and that's happening. Innermountain Healthcare does it superbly well, Mayo Clinic is doing it superbly well, Cleveland Clinic, others."

So instead of a governmental advisory board offering suggestions for preferred treatments and such Romney would prefer an insurance adjuster and facility billing agents determine what is covered and what is not?

Also, the Mayo Clinic is another non-profit organization.

"Which is -- which is my experience as a governor is if I come in and -- and lay down a piece of legislation and say, "It's my way or the highway," I don't get a lot done. What I do is the same way that Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan worked together some years ago. When Ronald Reagan ran for office, he laid out the principles that he was going to foster. He said he was going to lower tax rates. He said he was going to broaden the base. You've said the same thing, you're going to simplify the tax code, broaden the base."

What about that uncompromising position Romney took during the primary debates?  Romney's running mate did refuse to rule out the 10-to-1 cuts recently, which brings us these question: Which is the lie?  Will Romney refuse to compromise on such an issue like cuts-to-revenue increases or will he work with Democrats to find a middle ground, such as a 10-to-1, 5-to-1, or even a 2-to-1 deal?

"In fact, I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That's part of my health care plan."

In actuality, Romney's plan isn't a plan at all.  Romney essentially hopes that on day one of his presidency, after he repeals Obamacare, the individual states would decide to enact something like Romneycare to fill the void.

"Well, first, I love great schools. Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. And the key to great schools, great teachers.

So I reject the idea that I don't believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own."

Again, he criticized the president months ago for wanting to increase the number of teachers.

"First, life and liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and liberties of our people, and that means a military second to none. I do not believe in cutting our military. I believe in maintaining the strength of America's military."

Remember.  PBS is worth cutting.  The military, which takes more then 50 percent (58 percent to be exact) of government spending is not worth a look at all.  Even considering the fact that the United States spends more on defense then the 19 biggest spending nations combined, Romney believes this is off limits.

"Mr. President, Mr. President, you're entitled as the president to your own airplane and to your own house, but not to your own facts."

Was Romney referring to himself?  This line of attack is similar to conservatives criticizing the president for traveling in Air Force One and was probably made for the benefit of the GOP base.

Romney had then gone off on his closing statements summing up everything he stated during the debate.  My conclusion:

Romney did an excellent job debating the president but not informing the public.  He offered a vigorous attack refusing to submit to the rules of the debate or calls from the moderator while the president was calm, avoiding any major attacks against Romney, taking the higher road trying to explain his positions and outline the differences between himself and Romney, most notably that Romney seems to lack any transparency as a candidate.  If you watched the debate you would get the impression that Romney won (although I felt him to be frantic and have a used car salesman sense about him).  This was also in part for the horrible moderation by Jim Lehrer, who essentially allowed Romney to define the terms of the debate.  If you read the debate, it would be close but Obama would come out the winner, and if you read and researched  Obama would be the victor by far.