Saturday, October 13, 2012

Republican Arithmetrick

For all those who have been upset because I’ve been so mean to the most powerful man in the world, and for all those whose “likes” of Mitt Romney keep appearing on my Facebook page, it is worth taking a moment to emphasize that no critique of Barack Obama and the Democratic party can or should be used to suggest that it is acceptable to support Romney, Ryan, or the Republicans.

The contemporary Republican Party is an amalgam of plutocratic economic fanaticism, talibanesque Christian religious fanaticism, delusionary and dangerous fanatical American chauvinism, infantile fanatical cultural and sexual no-nothingism, and only-intermittently-disguised white supremacism.  Anyone without a secure, inflation-proof income of about a half-million dollars who gives their support to Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans, and does not understand that they are cutting their own socio-economic throats by doing so is a fool.  Anyone outside the plutocracy who understands this and thinks it worthwhile to sacrifice him/herself in this way because there is something righteous about imprisoning women who have abortions, embracing Randian glorification of plutocracy and contempt for people like themselves, and/or defending white and/or Christian and/or American supremacism, is a brave fool.  (Brave “saint,”of course, for those who believe in the righteousness, rather than seeing the foolishness, of such causes.  Saints who will, then, prayerfully embrace the glory of their self-sacrifice in the emergency room they might get to if the “makers” deign to pave the roads that fiscal year.)

Romney-Republican foreign policy is “all war all the time.”  But most of his supporters know that, and relish it.  Anyone, however, who thinks that there is some economic rationality to be found in this “businessman” and “job creator” is in denial at best.  If intellectually honest Obamicans need to acknowledge, for example, that their man is a war criminal, intellectually honest Romnulans need to acknowledge that their man (besides aspiring to be a war criminal) is blowing smoke with his tax and fiscal policies.  Andrew Fieldhouse and Isaac Shapiro lay it out quite nicely in a recent article:

In combination, over the next decade the Romney budget plan would necessitate $11.1 trillion of spending cuts and tax increases. It specifies just $2.4 trillion of these, thereby hiding $8.7 trillion of painful decisions. The Romney budget blueprint details all the specific proposed tax cuts, so the public knows how it might specifically benefit from this part of his plan, while leaving out 78 percent of the details that would let the public gauge how its taxes might increase and how government benefits and programs would be cut.

In other words, Romney and Ryan are happy to tell you in detail about all the money you’ll save in taxes, but want to insist that it’s impossible to say anything specific about the hits you’ll be taking from spending cuts. And, of course, “you” wouldn’t actually be getting any tax cuts at all, since, “if in fact the specific tax cuts are offset in a revenue neutral fashion [as he now insists they will be]…, there are simply not enough high-income tax expenditures (or loopholes) available for offsets, so tax expenditures for middle-class households would have to be targeted.”

So Romney’s, “I’ll cut tax rates for everybody, while keeping the same net tax bill for the wealthy, while lowering everyone else’s – all while increasing defense spending to unprecedented levels” is misleading and dishonest, and supporters of Romney who aren’t on his paid staff should acknowledge such.  It is a simple mathematics that: “The claims Romney makes about providing net tax cuts for the middle class, having all the tax cuts be revenue neutral, reducing all tax rates by 20 percent, and adopting the specific high-income tax cuts he has proposed, cannot all be accomplished at the same time.” And the Democratic critique of this, when they get around to making it coherently, is spot-on.

If you want to say you believe in Mitt Romney personally to the extent that you think he can pull some magic solution out of his magic underwear or his magical “entrepreneurial” brain, or that you have to vote from him because of your fear of Muslim-Socialist-Kenyan-Black Obama, go ahead, but don’t pretend there’s any kind of honest economic logic to this.  For anybody else, it’s a ruse for suckers.

Unfortunately, none of this will matter much, either to the bulk of Romney-Ryan supporters or to the course of the campaign debates.  As Jonathan Bernstein quite sharply points out, a “lazy mendacity” has become the accepted norm in these discussions.  Bernstein rightly pillories the Romney and Ryan instances of this, but it infects the Democrats, too.  It is a function, ultimately, of the induced political ignorance of the electorate, and of the substance-free, personality driven campaign system that has been built to sustain the two-party system in our country.

Links Cited:

Matthew Rothschild, “Romney’s Foreign Policy Speech: All War All the Time” (

Jonathan Bernstein, “Substance-free Republicans default to lazy mendacity” (

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