The First Presidential Debate and A Look Into Romney’s Past

I saw Romney was leading in the polls a few days ago according the Pew Research Center after the first presidential debate last week. The debate was nauseating to watch in its entirety, so I figured I’d weigh in so that you don’t have to put up with it if you haven’t already watched it. There is really no reason to watch it.

There was hardly an intellectual debate or a rational exchange of points and counterpoints between Romney and Obama. There was little building on ideas. Romney had his monologues. He pandered to jingoists and people who are are actually struggling with his phony sentimental rubbish about his fondness for the middle-class, the country, and a couple he met from the adorable town of Appleton Wisconsin, and when Obama called him out on something erroneous, he would change his position entirely.

Romney’s backtracking on his tax proposal was case in point. His tax plan is to reduce federal income by 20%. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center’s estimates of Romney’s tax proposals predicated a loss of revenue of $480 billion by 2015. Extended over a decade, it was projected by the Obama administration to result in a loss of five trillion dollars. The cuts would mostly benefit the wealthy. In addition, Romney wants to reinstate the Bush tax cuts and funnel an additional two trillion dollars of tax payer money to the military. The military budget would be 4% of America’s GDP to ensure the racket of war and America’s hegemony is spread further across the globe. To reduce the deficit, he said he would “close loopholes and deductions” without identifying to which loopholes and deductions he was referring. Obama rightly pointed out that there is no way all of this could be done without raising the deficit and cutting tax deductions for the middle and working class like the mortgage interest deduction. Romney countered by explaining he would not make any cuts that would increase the deficit. But he never said exactly how this could be done because he has no answer. As Obama said, “For 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan, and now five weeks before the election he’s saying nevermind.”

Romney’s “revenue neutral” tax plan would never be implemented if he became president. He would almost undoubtedly give tax breaks to the rich alone. Obama was painted by Romney as some kind of tax hiking socialist. But in reality he has lowered taxes for 98% of families. Only the top two percent of families have seen an increase and he pointed out that he “cut one trillion from discretionary domestic budget, the largest cut since Einsenhower.”

Obama also stated under his tax plan “97% of small businesses would not see their income taxes go up.” Only 3% of the largest businesses would see an increase of 5%, which Romney is sure would hurt the middle class because according the Romney, the top 3% percent employ “half of all the people who work in small business.” [He means the largest ones.] They employ one quarter of all the workers in America.” But that is the problem. Big business should not be this big. Only a few corporations corner each market by using the most exploitative practices to produce the cheapest products possible, and small businesses that are run more fairly can’t compete. If tax cuts for the wealthy means job cuts for the middle class, that’s because of the greed of the wealthy. If large business weren’t able to monopolize industries, we could stop working for them and create our own small businesses that would be able to be stable and profitable in the absence of corporate empires. Creating jobs isn’t always constructive because not all jobs provide fair income or are good for the planet, of course. There’s a large difference between creating exploitative, temporary jobs that only pay a few dollars an hour and creating stable jobs that benefit the planet and that people actually want to do.

Romney and Obama both agreed the corporate tax rate was too high. Obama stated, “We want to lower it, particularly for manufacturing, taking it down to 25%.” However, he then said “I want to give tax breaks for companies that keep jobs in America,” which Romney certainly wouldn’t do. Obama wants to encourage job growth in America while Romney wants job growth to occur wherever it’s most profitable for CEOs of American corporations, regardless of the human cost, even if that means exporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and employing people overseas for pennies on the hour.

It was large corporations that created this massive recession in the first place. They have the most resources to affect inequality and they should have the largest financial burden to reverse the recession. But because money buys elections, both candidates showed their allegiance to the truly governing corporate class.

The words “middle-class” and “middle-income” were used 22 times by Obama and Romney in the debate. But the working class and the low-income class were only mentioned a few times, and impoverished people and the homeless were never mentioned once.

Most of the criticisms Romney made of Obama are actually among his few accomplishments. Romney argued that Obama put $90 billion dollars of tax-payer money into green energy companies, as if that is something he should hide. Subsidizing small, green-energy companies can ensure they will grow. Green energy will ultimately be cheaper than fossil fuels when enough funds are allocated to the research of more efficient, green technology. Romney stated that “all of the increases in natural gas and oil have happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, they have cut the number of permits and licenses in half.” Again, this would be an accomplishment if it were true, but Obama has actually increased drilling on federal land. Obama pointed out, “the oil industry already receives $4 billion a year in corporate welfare.” But Romney proudly stated that if he was president he would double the number of permits and licenses and also get oil from Alaska and create a pipeline from Canada and then mentioned, as if in passing, “By the way, I like coal.”

Romney also said he would overturn “Obamacare” (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) immediately should he be elected. He stated “I’d rather just as soon not have the government telling me what kind of healthcare I should have.” But he boasted in the same speech that he helped construct and sign the Massachusetts Healthcare Reform Act, which is almost identical to the ACA. The ACA does offer Americans some benefits. It prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more for having preexisting health conditions, and it prevents them from dropping customers when they become ill. It also allows young adults to remain on their parent’s healthcare plan until they reach 26 years of age and requires insurance companies to provide essential health benefits, preventative care, and screenings for no additional co-payment or deductible. However, the ACA also mandates everyone must have health insurance or face a financial penalty. This might not concern those who can afford health insurance or those who are eligible for Medicaid (taxpayer funded health insurance) but what about those in between? A single person must make no more than $18,075 to be eligible for Medicaid, which is under the poverty line. Health insurance can cost thousands per year so the requirement to buy healthcare for a person who only makes $20,000 per year is an unreasonable burden that can force them to sacrifice other essential services. Ultimately, it would be far better for the state to provide health insurance to everyone regardless of income instead of the private marketplace, and the state could easily pay for it using the trillions they extort from us via taxation.

In the debate Romney lied about how the ACA increased healthcare costs by “up to $2500 per person” when, in fact, it has lowered prescription drug costs for most seniors. He also claimed 20 million people would lose their coverage under Obamacare. He was citing a Congressional Budget Office report that made various estimates on how many people would gain or lose health insurance provided by their employer due to the employer responsibility provision of the ACA. But Romney neglected to mention that the report states losses of employer coverage would be due to employees voluntarily changing their insurance to cheaper options made available by the ACA.

Romney wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program. He believes the private marketplace can provide better insurance than the government can but private insurance companies exist to make a profit. Government services, on the hand hand, are supposed to provide basic services and not run them for profit. (They often run them for profit anyway but at least there is some more potential accountability.) Medicare has lower administrative costs than private insurance companies do, so to insinuate that patients would be better off finding insurance in a for-profit marketplace isn’t accurate. Doctors provide care for patients, not the owners of hospitals and insurance companies. But doctors end up being as exploited by health insurance companies as much as patients do. Doctors, not insurance companies, should be incentivized to provide care, and this is not what Romney says he would do, nor is it what Obama is doing.

There are very legitimate criticisms to be made about Obama. He signed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act this year, which allows the secret service to designate any area as illegal for protest. Obama also hasn’t followed through on many campaign promises. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act doesn’t go nearly far enough to reign in Wall Street. This act has protected and helped millions of people, but corporations still run amuck in country and control nearly every fiscal arm of the government.

Romney made one other legitimate criticism of Obama, which is the fact that he has increased the deficit, but he lied about the extent to which he has. Romney said Obama doubled the deficit when he said he would halve it. Obama did say he would halve the deficit but the deficit has increased from $11.9 trillion in 2009 to about $16 trillion today. In fairness, however, he didn’t authorize every loan and expenditure that did increase the deficit.  Many other officials have the authority to borrow money from foreign countries and thereby increase the deficit. The Department of the Treasury is one such department and it can’t be controlled completely by the president.

It is worth mentioning that the only reason Romney has come this far is because he is cheating. He has the money to do so from his personal fortune and the enormous campaign contributions he has been given by large corporations, (as Obama has). He is hiring people to register unregistered voters to vote solely for him, which is illegal. He and his cronies are also making it harder for the elderly, young people, and minorities to vote, just as Bush did in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Conservative pundits have called Obama “soft on terrorism” but in reality Obama is war-mongerer like every other US President. He has ordered more drone strikes than any President in history, increased troop levels in Afghanistan (despite campaign promises to withdraw troops) and ordered U.S. involvement in Libya and Central Africa. He also ordered Operation Neptune Spear, which killed Osama Bin Laden, a task Bush said he would accomplish but never did in his 8 years in office.

A Look at Romney’s Past 

If you look at Romney’s background alone, his character is clear. He has made a fortune doing expensive consulting work, hanging on like a leech to big corporations, and making leveraged buyouts and, in essence, making money from debt. He quickly bought many failing companies and resold them for enormous profit. It is greedy, bureaucratic corporate rulers like him that are responsible for America’s current recession. If Romney were to win, he would deepen the recession and stretch the economic divide between rich and poor to even greater extremes.

To discover Romney’s true character, one need not look further than his business career. He was born rich and his career started just after finishing a joint program with the Harvard law school and the Harvard business school. His father was elected three times as governor and served on the Nixon Administration. Romney joined the Boston Consulting Group in 1975 where he consulted large corporations about their assets and allocation of spending. Romney was hired by Bain and Company in 1977. He became vice president in 1978 and worked with companies like Monsanto, Corning Inc., and the Outboard Marine Corporation. In 1984 Romney left Bain and Company and created a completely separate, spin-off private equity firm called Bain Capital. They received $37 million in funding mainly from wealthy backers with private offshore companies. Bain Capital invested in venture capital opportunities, one of which was Staples, a company that became a franchise mainly because of Romney. He was on the Staples board of directors for more than a decade. Romney was also on the board of directors of Damon Corporation, which was later found to be defrauding the government. The company was sold, tripling their investment, and the fraud was discovered by the new owners after Romney had walked away with their cash. He then focused on leveraged buyouts and growth capital to expand large corporations and buy out smaller ones.

Romney and Bain took over the Brookstone corporation in 1991. In 1992 Bain Capital acquired Ampad and after experiencing large losses, many layoffs were made and facilities were closed in 1997. While the workers suffered, Romney and his cronies made large profits, and the company eventually went into bankruptcy. Dade International, another group of investors from Bain Capital also merged with Behring Diagnostics in 1997 to create Dade Behring. They received an eightfold return from the merger and subsequent dealings with the company, but they eventually laid off over 1000 workers and went into bankruptcy for a period. (Dade Behring was acquired by Siemens AG in 2007.) Bain Capital then acquired Experian, the consumer and business credit reporting business and sold it just months after to make a profit of about $700 million dollars. Dominoes Pizza, the Sealy Corporation, and Artisan entertainment were all later acquired by the firm. Ampad workers went on strike and Romney told them he couldn’t help. The firm then focused on acquiring steel manufacturers like Armco Worldwide Grinding System steel plant where workers went on strike at the Kansas City plant in 1997. In 1998 an affiliate of Bain Capital then bought Global Tech, a Chinese appliance maker that employed workers under sweat shop conditions. By the year 2000, Bain and Capital had $4 billion under its magement. Bain Capital became one of the largest firms in the nation and from the company Romney’s fortune grew by $190 to $250 million. Most of this money has been put in “blind trusts” since 2003. Some of his money is also held in offshore accounts to avoid taxation. (From 1990-2009, his tax rates have been as low as 13.7%.) Although Romney took a leave of absence in 1999 from the company, he was the CEO and President until 2002. He was also the sole shareholder. When he finally left, he arranged a ten-year deal providing him with millions annually as a “retired partner.”

Romney was the richest of all of the Republican candidates and the one most likely to advance American corporate interests, which is the only reason he is debating the president now. He is also a fifth generation member of the church of Latter Day Saints, a church that excluded black people up until 1978. He tried to proselytize people all over France as a missionary before his business career and largely failed. He also supported the Vietnam war and hindered progressive protests at his college during the 1960s until he realized his father, politician George Romney, was against the war. He avoided being drafted because he qualified for the 4-D exemption, which lets ministers formally recognized by a church to avoid service, even though he was never a minister. Romney and his VP have all the charm of a date rapist from ChristianMingle.com.

Americans must become vigilant of all of the propaganda and lies. There is no good candidate in this race. There should be no President or government. We must wake people up and abolish the corporate state or forever live in chains.

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