The President's Weekly Address:
Paul Krugman discusses a political model for redistribution of wealth -- which is what governments always do. Because the majority of Americans have a huge incentive to demand that money be "redistributed" to them, the rich "... do everything [they] can to exaggerate the disincentive effects of higher taxes, while trying to convince middle-income voters that the benefits of government programs go to other people. And at the same time, [they'd] do everything they] can to disenfranchise lower-income citizens, so that the median voter has a higher income than the median citizen."
Matt Yglesias of Slate: Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) gives a lesson in how to kill a bill even if its main purpose is popular with both Republicans & Democrats.
Jim Kuhnhenn of the AP: "Obama was traveling Saturday to Wisconsin, a state that his campaign had considered safely in his column but which Obama aides seem eager to fortify in case Romney's running mate, Wisconsin native and congressman Paul Ryan, can erode the president's support. The trip is Obama's first to the state since February. Romney ... was staying away from swing states Saturday and raising money in California instead, eager to recover his fundraising advantage."
President Obama campaigning in Virginia Friday. The joke he tells at the beginning is terrific:
Friday Afternoon Mega-News Dump. Brad Malt , the Romneys' trustee: "This morning, Gov. and Mrs. Romney filed their 2011 tax return with the IRS. At 3:00pm today, the Romney for President campaign will be posting the 2011 return online.... Also posted will be a notarized letter from the Romney' tax preparer, PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP (PWC), giving a summary of tax rates from the Romneys' tax returns for the 20-year period of 1990-2009.... The campaign will also be posting on the same website physician letters for both Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan, making public their current state of health." Via Daily Kos. ...
... Update: the Washington Post has pdf's of the Romneys' 2011 & 2010 returns here. ...
... Tom Raum of the AP: "Democrats say Mitt Romney manipulated his deductions to keep his overall 2011 federal income tax rate below a certain level for political purposes. The Republican presidential nominee is certain to face new questions about his finances.... The Romneys' tax bill could have been lower. They gave $2.6 million in cash to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the documents show. They gave just over $2 million in non-cash charitable contributions ... to a family trust." CW: Huh? One of you accountants help me out, please. He got a "charitable" tax deduction for "contributing" to his own family? How does that work? ...
... Mark Maremont of the Wall Street Journal, writing in this "live audit" of the Romneys' returns (post is at 5:31 pm ET): "In January, [the Romneys & their advisors] estimated the Romneys' 2011 adjusted gross income had been $20.9 million. But when the actual tax return was filed Friday, their AGI was significantly less, at $13.7 million. The main differences were capital gains, which were reported as $6.8 million, vs. the $10.7 million earlier estimate, and income from partnerships, S corporations and other entities, reported as $120,000, vs. an earlier estimate of $2.8 million. It's not clear why the Romneys' income was so much less than had been earlier expected." CW: So either they're foolishly optimistic, can't add & subtract, or, you know, they hid $7.2 million or so. ...
... ** Jed Lewison at Daily Kos: "Mitt Romney's attorney says he overpaid his 2011 taxes: '... The Romneys ... limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor's statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13% in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.' Mitt Romney in July said if he overpaid his taxes he wouldn't be qualified to be president:" Lewison includes in his post a tweet from Dan Froomkin of the Huffington Post: "If Romney had taken all his deductions, he wd have paid closer to 9% tax in 2011. He paid extra VOLUNTARILY just for optics." ...
... Caveat. Michael Shear of the New York Times: "It is possible, however, that Mr. Rommey [sic.] could still deduct the unclaimed amount of his charitable donations in future tax years, experts said." ...
... Perpetuating the Aristocracy. Nick Baumann & Adam Serwer of Mother Jones: "David Cay Johnston, a Reuters columnist, tax expert, and Pulitzer Prize winner, tells Mother Jones that without the taxes Romney paid on his sons' trust funds, which are worth around $100 million combined, 'his rate would be much lower.'"
The information released today reveals that Mitt Romney manipulated one of the only two years of tax returns he's seen fit to show the American people -- and then only to 'conform' with his public statements. That raises the question: what else in those returns has Romney manipulated? -- Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Majority Leader
... Joan Walsh of Salon says the Romneys would have paid at a rate of about 12.1 percent if they took the charitable deduction they are entitled to. "There's something both hilarious and pathetic about a presidential candidate manipulating his deductions so he ends up paying what he considers a more politically appropriate tax rate. But it's especially ludicrous in light of Romney's numerous claims that he's always paid the government exactly what he owes, 'and not a dollar more.' ... As has been pointed out numerous times this week, the average worker's payroll tax rate equals 15.3 percent of their income. So even with the jiggering, Romney paid a smaller percentage of his income as taxes than many members of the 47 percent he trashed in his Boca Raton, Fla., speech to fundraisers." ...
... CW: I've seen estimates that the Romneys would have paid from 9 percent to 12.2 percent had they taken the deductions they were allowed. I'm going with the New York Times report by Nicholas Confessore & David Kocieniewski, who write, "Had he claimed all the deductions to which he was entitled in 2011, his effective rate could have dipped to near 10 percent, contradicting his past assurances that he had never paid below 13 percent." The Times report contains a number of other interesting tidbits.
... Daniel Gross of Newsweek: "... the optics on this are still pretty bad. Yes, the Romneys give a lot of money to charity. But somehow a guy who was unemployed for virtually all of 2011 managed to make $13.7 million -- and pay an effective tax rate of less than 14 percent on it. And we're the ones who aren't contributing our fair share?"
Dan Amira of New York magazine lists the highlights of Mitt Romney's physician's report, also released today. This page on the Romney campaign site links to the doctors' reports for Romney & for Paul Ryan.
Steve Benen chronicles Mitt's Mendacity during Week 35.
Paul Krugman: in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove asked Mitt Romney to do the impossible -- show how his 5-point "middle-class tax plan" would actually benefit the middle class. Guess what? It wouldn't.
Shushannah Walshe of ABC News: "Senior citizens at the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, boo'ed [Paul Ryan] throughout most of his speech [at their New Orleans gathering], especially when he delivered his signature promise to repeal the president's health care plan, or 'Obamacare." Thanks to contributor James S. for the heads-up on the clip:
... AND Digby also sees Paul Ryan's inner/outer Eddie Haskell. Ryan's Eddie mannerisms & speech inflections are particularly noticeable in his AARP speech. ...
... Here, BTW, are the President's remarks to the AARP, delivered via satellite.
Follow the Money. Dan Eggen of the Washington Post: "The financial tide has turned against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his key allies, who spent more than they brought in and were outraised by President Obama during the month of August, according to disclosures filed Thursday.... The numbers signal a financial shift away from the Republicans after a summer of Democratic hand-wringing over fundraising. The Obama campaign argues it is likely to be outmatched by conservative super PACs and nonprofit groups, which can raise unlimited funds from wealthy individuals and corporations...."
James Surowiecki of the New Yorker argues that the ground game is more important than TV ad buys. He thinks Obama has a better ground game.
Ron Brownstein of the National Journal: "President Obama has opened a solid lead over Mitt Romney by largely reassembling the 'coalition of the ascendant' that powered the Democrat to his landmark 2008 victory, the latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found. The survey found Obama leading Romney by 50 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, with key groups in the president's coalition such as minorities, young people, and upscale white women providing him support comparable to their levels in 2008."
A "40-year-old white guy who didn't go to college & gets all his news from monitors at gas stations" is not required to have a photo ID to vote in the presidential election:
Confessions of a Ralph Nader Voter. Erik Loomis of Lawyers, Guns & Money on how incredibly stupid it is to vote for vanity candidates like Nader. The best idea for progressives is to follow the lead of conservatives, who learned that the presidency isn't the be-all to end-all & worked to gain power at the local level.
Andrew Taylor of the AP: "The most partisan, least productive Congress in memory has skipped out of Washington so lawmakers can make their case for voters to re-elect them. The Senate closed the Capitol not long after sending President Barak [sic.] Obama a spending bill that will make sure the government won't shut down Oct. 1, the start of the new budget year. The measure passed early Saturday by a 62-30 vote."
Peter Applebome of the New York Times: the Connecticut Senate race " between Linda E. McMahon and Representative Christopher S. Murphy, has become a high-stakes and high-dollar brawl increasingly focused not on policy issues but on personal ones, with both candidates fending off embarrassing lines of inquiry."
New York Times: "Commanders of the Free Syrian Army, the main umbrella group for fighters opposing President Bashar al-Assad, said Saturday that they had moved their headquarters from Turkey into 'liberated areas' inside Syria, in what they portrayed as a major step forward in their efforts to aid, coordinate and control disparate groups of rebels."
Al Jazeera: "Up to four people have died and dozens of others injured after demonstrators in Benghazi stormed the compounds of militias based in the eastern Libyan city. Protesters seized the headquarters of the Ansar al-Sharia militia and evicted its fighters from its military bases in the city on Friday night. The confrontation appeared to be part of a co-ordinated sweep of militia headquarters buildings by police, government troops and activists following a mass public demonstration against armed groups earlier in the day." ...
... AP: "The heavily armed extremists who laid siege to the U.S. Consulate in Libya used military-style tactics that may have steered Americans toward a waiting ambush, U.S. officials said Friday as they pieced together details about how the compound was overrun."
Reuters: "Thirteen employees of the U.S. Secret Service were entangled in a prostitution scandal in Colombia earlier this year but their actions did not compromise the safety of the president, a Department of Homeland Security investigation found."