Michael Tomasky: Mitt Tells Voters in Video to Drop Dead …. Sure it was a dumb move for Romney to denounce half of America. But he was just channeling today’s GOP.
…. Can he really believe this? It’s incomprehensible. And yet it’s not. This is the story conservatives have been telling themselves over and over in the Tea Party age … An inevitable consequence, I suppose, of campaigning among these people for all these years. You marinate a cherry in cheap whiskey long enough, the stink attaches.
…. It’s hard to judge the impact of this comment just yet ….. I would expect we’ll see “Obama voter — and I’m not a victim” and “I pay a higher tax rate than you, Governor!” signs at rallies by tomorrow. Indeed, the average person pays more in mere payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare (15.3 percent) than Romney paid in total taxes for the year he released his returns (13.9 percent).
I suspect an impact that’s fairly big. People on the right will blame the media. But the real culprit is the words themselves. They slander millions of hard-working Americans ….. When Romney is licking his wounds on Nov. 7, that party and movement will fire all its arrows at him. He’ll deserve a lot of them. But they will have buried him with the ignorance and rage they demanded he adopt. His chief crime will have been his weakness in failing to confront them.
Oh, my. Mother Jones has what it says is a video of Mitt Romney talking to donors; it sure looks and sounds real. And it reveals a candidate who despises half the country….
….. Actually, if you look at the facts, you learn that the great bulk of those who pay no income tax pay other taxes; also, many of the people in the no-income-tax category are (a) elderly (b) students or (c) having a bad year, having lost a job — that is, they’re people who have paid income taxes in the past and/or will pay income taxes in the future. The idea that half of Americans are just grifters is grotesque.
Jonathan Capehart: Back in February, Mitt Romney stuck his ample silver foot in his mouth when he told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” He went on to say, “We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling, and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”
….. That one-minute-seven-second clip lays waste to Romney’s concern “about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.” Worse, it reveals it to be a lie. He couldn’t care less about them, it seems. That condescending clip shows a contempt for half the country that demands an explanation from Romney.
NYT: …. Mr. Romney is absolutely correct that about half of American households do not pay federal income tax. (He is also tapping into a now long-running vein of conservative anger at those households.) But he is missing some crucial context on why they do not pay federal income tax.
The nonpartisan and highly respected Tax Policy Center derived the 47 percent number and published an excellent analysis of it last summer.
It found that about half of the households that do not pay federal income tax do not pay it because they are simply too poor…. The other half consists of households taking advantage of tax credits and other provisions, mostly support for senior citizens and low-income working families.
Put bluntly, these are not households shirking their tax liabilities. The pool consists mostly of the poor, of relatively low-income working families and of old people.
Mediaite: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney held a surprise late-night press availability to address the maelstrom surrounding hidden camera video that surfaced …
Romney offered no apology, other than to concede that his point was “not elegantly stated,” and drew a distinction between a “political process” and what he says in front of people he knows can hear him.
Nothing Romney said at the ultra-brief presser was nearly as newsworthy as the very fact that he held it, a sign of the seismic panic this clip has caused. The campaign was already reeling from a Politico story about campaign disarray that had already dominated much of today’s news cycle. The hidden camera video, taken at a May 17 fundraiser at the home of hedge fund manager Marc Leder, is only the tip of the iceberg. Mother Jones’ David Corn has over an hour of footage from the event, which he says he will begin rolling out “soon.”
….. The decision to hold a surprise press conference at 10 pm eastern time (Romney was speaking from California) underscores the type of damage the Romney campaign fears from this tape, but it would have helped if Romney had said something that… helped….
Today: The President will welcome WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House to honor the team and their 2011 WNBA Finals victory. In the afternoon, the President will travel to New York City for campaign events. While in New York City, the President will tape an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. The President will return to the White House in the evening:
11:15: Jay Carney briefs reporters at the White House.
11:30: VP Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, IA.
1:10: President welcomes the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House.
3:00: VP Biden delivers remarks at a campaign event at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA.
4:40: President Obama tapes an interview for the “Late Show with David Letterman” at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, NY.
7:40: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY.
9:45: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at the 40/40 Club in New York, NY.
Republicans are frantically trying to get Representative Todd Akin to drop out of the United States Senate race in Missouri after his remark about abortion and rape, but not because it was offensive and ignorant. They’re afraid he might lose and cost them a chance at a Senate majority next year. He would surely be replaced by a Republican who sounds more reasonable but holds similarly extreme views on abortion, immigration, gay rights and the role of government because those are the kinds of candidates the party nominates these days in state after state.
Like many Republicans, including the vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, Mr. Akin opposes abortion even when a woman has been raped….
…. The principal difference between Mr. Akin and most other Republican candidates is that they would be more decorous in inventing reasons to stripping women of their abortion rights….
…. The Republicans pressuring Mr. Akin to leave the race didn’t seem to care when he said he doubted that Medicare was constitutional or warned that same-sex marriage would destroy civilization. If the party wanted to end these kinds of embarrassing moments, it could return to the days when it nominated mainstream candidates.
TPM: Politico has pulled Dave Catanese from the publication’s Todd Akin coverage over the reporter’s tweets about the embattled Missouri Republican Senate nominee. After Akin ignited a firestorm by claiming women who are victims of “legitimate rape” have biological defenses to prevent pregnancy, Catanese took to Twitter to defend the tea party candidate “for argument’s sake.”
First Cameraman: The first official White House videographer, Arun Chaudhary, chronicles his time capturing behind-the-scenes moments of the president and his administration in his book “First Cameraman: Documenting the Obama Presidency in Real Time.”
First Lady Michelle Obama and guests applaud as Big Time Rush performs during the Kids’ State Dinner in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)
Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House and two campaign events at the W Hotel in Washington DC.
Wednesday: Will travel to Denver and Grand Junction, Colorado for campaign events.
Thursday: Will travel to Pueblo and Colorado Springs, Colorado for campaign events.
Friday: Will attend meetings at the White House.
Eugene Robinson: Mitt Romney’s defiant secrecy about his personal finances looks like a cross Republicans will have to bear all the way to Election Day. To put it mildly, the burden seems to chafe.
Apoplexy is not the tone politicians generally seek to project. Yet there was GOP chief Reince Priebus on ABC’s “This Week,” calling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a “dirty liar” for his claim about how little Romney may have paid in taxes….
It was a coordinated Sunday morning display of righteous indignation …. But in making such a show of denouncing Dirty Harry’s foul calumny, all Republicans succeeded in doing was draw attention to Romney’s stubborn refusal to release more than a year’s worth of tax returns ….
Reid was a boxer in his youth, and what he did to Romney was the equivalent of a head butt. ….If he is being as cynical and mendacious as Republicans charge, Romney could demolish the majority leader’s credibility — and put the whole issue to rest — with a single phone call instructing his accountant to release the returns….
…. The fact that he won’t — even when continued secrecy clearly hurts the campaign, if only by diverting attention from other issues Romney would rather be talking about — clearly means there’s something embarrassing, inappropriate or just plain ugly in there.
You don’t need a secret source to tell you that. Common sense will do.
David Firestone (NYT): For the last four years, Republican lawmakers around the country have diligently tried to eliminate early-voting periods, which give people a chance to vote at their convenience. The reason is simple: early voting was wildly popular in 2008 – comprising a third of the vote – and many of the people who took advantage of it voted for Barack Obama.
More than half of Florida’s early voters in 2008 were Democrats, and many black voters went right from their church pews to the ballot box on the Sunday before Election Day. That’s why the state’s Republicans severely restricted the practice last year, and specifically banned voting on that final Sunday. Similar restrictions were also passed in Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Ohio, part of a movement to restrict voting that includes tough voter ID requirements.
Now, the Obama campaign’s attempt to fight the measure in Ohio has led to one of the lower moments of this year’s presidential campaign. The state legislature cut back on the early voting period, and banned it in the three days prior to Election Day. (Even though 93,000 Ohioans voted in those three days in 2008.) An exception, however, was made for military personnel, who tend to lean Republican.
The Obama campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit last month in federal court, saying the practice violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit asked the court to restore to everyone the right to vote in the last three days.
Then, in an extraordinary lie, Mr. Romney issued a statement Saturday turning the lawsuit around to accuse Democrats of trying to end early voting for the military….The lawsuit does nothing of the kind…..
7:10: President Obama awards Shimon Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a dinner at the White House; President Obama and President Peres deliver toasts; Michelle Obama and the Bidens also attend.
Democratic candidate Ron Barber celebrates victory with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and supporters at a post election event, June 12
ThinkProgress: Pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson announced today that they are dropping their membership from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Johnson and Johnson has been facing mounting pressure following a push from Color of Change and other progressive groups to leave the conservative agenda-setting group.
ALEC is responsible for crafting voter suppression legislation that has been used in state houses across the country, and the “Stand Your Ground” law that originally protected Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Johnson and Johnson is the latest in a huge wave of groups leaving ALEC.
Steve Benen: For the last few months, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has had quite a bit of success driving the major political discussions of the day. Team Romney says Hilary Rosen’s comments matter, so for a short while, the political world obsesses over Hilary Rosen. They say Cory Booker’s comments matter, so for a short while, the political world obsesses over Cory Booker. They say Solyndra matters, so for a short while, the political world obsesses over Solyndra.
This week, President Obama’s campaign wants to know if they can work the refs, too (see video above)
ThinkProgress: 5 Facts About The Massachusetts Economy Under Mitt Romney
1. Ranked 47th in job growth …. The state’s total job growth was just 0.9 percent, well behind other high-wage, high-skill economies in New York (2.7), California (4.7), and North Carolina (7.6). The national average, meanwhile, was better than 5 percent.
2. Suffered the second-largest labor force decline in the nation: Only Louisiana, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, saw a bigger decline in its labor force than Massachusetts during Romney’s tenure as governor…..
3. Lost 14 percent of its manufacturing jobs …. The loss was double the rate that the nation as a whole lost manufacturing jobs. In 2004, Romney vetoed legislation that would have banned companies doing business with the state from outsourcing jobs to other countries.
4. Experienced “below average” economic growth and was “often near the bottom”….
5. Piled on more debt than any other state: Romney left Massachusetts residents with $10,504 in per capita bond debt, the highest of any state in the nation when he left office in 2007……
Today: The President will sign the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank at the White House. This important step will help American businesses create jobs here at home and sell their products around the world – all at no cost to taxpayers. Last year marked the highest level of financing in the Bank’s 77-year history, as they supported thousands of U.S. companies, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and brought us closer to the goal the President set of doubling our nation’s exports by the end of 2014. Also today, the President will host a Jewish American Heritage Month reception at the White House.
10:30: PBO attends an annual hurricane preparedness briefing
11:40: Signs the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank
2:00: Jay Carney briefs the press
5:00: PBO hosts a Jewish American Heritage Month reception
Steve Benen: …. The U.S. economy added 120,000 jobs last month, while the overall unemployment rate dipped slightly to 8.2%. For the first time in a very long while, public-sector layoffs were less of a drag on the overall totals: the private sector added 121,000 jobs in March, while government lost only 1,000.
By any measure, today’s disappointing totals are a real setback. While it’s never wise to overreact to one report, March’s job totals were the weakest since October, and reverse a three-month trend in which over 200,000 jobs were being created each month….
While 120,000 new jobs would have been considered great in, say, late 2009, it’s not even close to good enough now …. Ideally, policymakers would see data like this and take steps to boost job creation, but given Republican efforts in Congress, that’s no longer an option.
WSJ: …. Job growth came from a variety of sectors. Manufacturing employment rose by 37,000, led by gains in the auto industry. Health care, financial services and professional and business services saw big gains.
….. In a promising sign, workers’ wage growth picked up. Average hourly earnings rose by five cents to $23.39. Wages were up 2.1% year over year – a faster pace than previous months. Also, a broader measure of unemployment, which includes job seekers as well as those in part-time jobs, clicked down to 14.5% from 14.9%.
The Fix (Washington Post): The tea party may have won Republicans the House of Representatives in 2010. In 2012, it’s looking like it could help Democrats retain the White House …. it has fallen out of favor with Americans. And Democrats are prepared to use it against Republicans in the 2012 election…..
“I’m Bill Pascrell, and this is why I’m running: To stop the tea party,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) says in a new ad. Pascrell faces a primary with fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman after their districts were merged by redistricting. The tea party is also being used against in a major way against Reps. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.)….
….. “It’s no longer viewed as a populist, grassroots organization, but a dangerous group with extremist views that don’t reflect the mainstream values of America’s middle class,” said Democratic media strategist John Lapp. “The Republican establishment allowed the inmates to run the asylum in 2010. And now they’re paying the price electorally.”
Washington Post: Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whose wealth has become a central issue in the 2012 campaign, has taken advantage of an obscure exception in federal ethics laws to avoid disclosing the nature and extent of his holdings.
By offering a limited description of his assets, Romney has made it difficult to know precisely where his money is invested, whether it is offshore or in controversial companies, or whether those holdings could affect his policies or present any conflicts of interest.
In 48 accounts from Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded in Boston, Romney declined on his financial disclosure forms to identify the underlying assets, including his holdings in a company that moved U.S. jobs to China and a California firm once owned by Bain that filed for bankruptcy years ago and laid off more than 1,000 workers.
Jonathan Alter (Bloomberg): …. Romney has so lashed himself to Ryan, an Ayn Rand libertarian, that there’s talk of Ryan going on the ticket. The Ryan-Romney plan – from slashing federally funded scientific research to forcing seniors from nursing homes because of draconian Medicaid cuts – will be wildly unpopular if Obama and his team find the resonant language to exploit it.
…. on two other critical issues – women’s health and immigration – Romney clearly went further than was necessary to claim the nomination. These issues happen to be of great concern to the two constituencies that account for his lagging behind Obama in the polls. If Romney can’t break 40 percent with women and Latinos, it’s hard to see how he wins.
….. does his attendance at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 1994 and previous support of abortion rights really compel him to race to the other extreme and proclaim that he would “get rid of” Planned Parenthood? Over the last 40 years, this organization provided the first birth control to millions of middle-class swing-vote suburban women. They haven’t forgotten.
…. What Romney thought was de rigueur in the primaries may bring rigor mortis in the general. He seems to have forgotten that everything he said to win the nomination is now etch-a- sketched in stone.
TPM: If the week of April 2, 2012, goes down in political history, it’ll be for the fact that Republicans suddenly rediscovered their reverence for the third branch of government. What brought about the change of heart? President Obama’s comments on Monday and Tuesday in which he opined that an adverse Supreme Court ruling on his health care law would represent an extraordinary act of judicial overreach.
On Tuesday, in an extraordinarily unusual step, three Republican appointees to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals went toe-to-toe with the president in the political sphere. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell advised Obama to “back off.” The courts’ authority is to be respected, regardless of outcome, he said.
This is a rich new twist for the GOP, which has made decades of sport out of attacking an out-of-control judiciary for legislating from the bench. You literally only have to look back to this GOP presidential primary to find examples of Republicans questioning the courts’ legitimacy and even threatening to neuter them using powers reserved for the other two branches of government. Here’s a brief digest:
NYT Editorial: In ruling on the constitutionality of requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, the Supreme Court faces a central test: whether it will recognize limits on its own authority to overturn well-founded acts of Congress.
… The court has no authority under the Constitution to judge the merits or effectiveness of the health care law. That is Congress’s job.
…. If the Supreme Court hews to established law, the only question it must answer in this case is modest: Did Congress have a rational basis for concluding that the economic effects of a broken health care system warranted a national solution? The answer is incontrovertibly yes.
Greg Sargent: If you want to understand what’s really at stake in the battle over Obamacare you need to watch Mitt Romney’s appearance on Jay Leno last night.
It comes down to this: Should the federal government play any meaningful role at all in helping the millions of uninsured who can’t get coverage — particularly those with preexisting conditions?
On Leno, Romney repeated his vow to transfer health reform back to the states. But he was also repeatedly pressed to say what he would do for those with preexisting conditions if Obamacare were repealed. Without saying how, Romney replied that people with preexisting conditions should continue to get insurance — as long as they’ve been insured in the past. He refused to say what should be done about those who have never had insurance.
Washington Post: Half of all Americans now express unfavorable views of Mitt Romney, a new high for the GOP presidential hopeful in Washington Post-ABC News polling…
….. Negative impressions are up eight percentage points in the past week, nudging past the previous high …. 50 percent of all adults and 52 percent of registered voters express unfavorable opinions of Romney…
…. 53 percent of Americans hold favorable views of the president; for Romney, that number slides to 34 percent …Romney is underwater with independents: 35 percent view him favorably, 52 percent unfavorably.
TPM: A set of three new swing state polls from Quinnipiac University show President Obama leading Mitt Romney in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. His smallest lead is in Pennsylvania, where Obama holds a small three point advantage at 45 – 42, and he leads in Ohio 47 – 41. Obama leads outside the margin of error in Florida, a state which Romney has done well in previously, at 49 – 42.
“President Barack Obama is on a roll in the key swing states. If the election were today, he would carry at least two states. And if history repeats itself, that means he would be re- elected,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a release. “The biggest reason for the president’s improving prospects probably is the economy. Roughly six in 10 voters in all three states think the economy is recovering. Moreover, voters blame the oil companies and oil-producing countries for the rise in gasoline prices and only about one in six voters blame them on President Obama.”
USA Today: The White House is again unleashing Vice President Joe Biden on the campaign trail, this time to attack Mitt Romney over manufacturing policy …. It’s the third in a series of four campaign speeches Biden is delivering on the economy. The vice president previously discussed the auto bailout in Ohio and Medicare policy in Florida, attacking Romney and other Republican candidates along the way.
Today at PCT Engineered Systems in Davenport, Iowa Biden plans to stress the 430,000 new manufacturing jobs created since January of 2010 …. The Obama campaign has released other excerpts from Biden’s speech:
“Mitt Romney has been remarkably consistent – as an individual investor, a businessman, as Governor of Massachusetts, and now as a candidate for President.
Washington Post: The Obama 2012 campaign unveiled a Barack Obama Pinterest page on Tuesday, taking advantage of the fast-growing social network by sharing images of Obama and his family, campaign supporters and paraphernalia and visuals that support administration policies.
The page, run by the Obama 2012 campaign staff, features eight “boards.” (For those of you not among the 17.8 million Pinterest users last month, boards are like folders where users categorize “pins,” or images they collect and share on the site).
Five of the boards feature lighter fare: ”Obama-inspired recipes” shows the family chili recipe and cupcakes with images of the president on them. The first family and pets wearing Obama gear get their own boards, and merchandise from the Obama campaign store is featured in another. The more substantive boards include pinned infographics on job growth and the health-care act, and another with images of people supporting or affected by the administration’s initiatives.
MTV: Michelle Obama will appear at Nickelodeon’s 25th annual Kids’ Choice Awards to present a special award to Taylor Swift. The first lady will be on hand to honor Swift with the Big Help Award, in recognition of her philanthropic efforts, including work with U.S. tornado and flood survivors. Obama herself was the recipient of the award in 2010, in recognition of her Let’s Move! Campaign…
…. The 25th annual Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles air live Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.
Steve Benen: The general trend on initial unemployment claims over the last few months has been largely encouraging, despite occasional setbacks, but today’s report is the best we’ve seen in quite a while.
About a month ago, initial jobless claims matched a four-year low, and as of today, they managed to get even better, exceeding expectations by dropping to the lowest level since February 2008:
The number of Americans who filed requests for jobless benefits fell by 5,000 last week to 348,000, the lowest level since February 2008, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday…..
Greg Sargent: How Romney used to respond to high gas prices: An important scoop from Alex MacGillis, who discovers that Romney (who is now bashing Obama over high gas prices) responded to them when he was Governor of Massachusetts just as Obama has been:
Befitting his profile as a moderate Republican who cared about the environment, Governor Romney responded to price spikes by describing them as the natural result of global market pressures and by calling for increases in fuel efficiency – the same approach that he now derides Obama for taking as president.
Key Romney quote from 2006: “I don’t think that now is the time, and I’m not sure there will be the right time, for us to encourage the use of more gasoline. I’m very much in favor of people recognizing that these high gasoline prices are probably here to stay.”
Steve Benen: When Eric Fehrnstrom, the communications director for Mitt Romney’s campaign, appeared on CNN, he couldn’t possibly have predicted how much trouble he was about to cause for his boss.
…..Tabitha Hale tweeted this afternoon, “This Etch-A-Sketch situation is not going to go away… maybe ever.”
I’m very much inclined to agree. The knock on Romney since Day One has been that he’s a shallow, unprincipled politician, willing to say anything to anyone to win. “Etch A Sketch” is so perfect a metaphor, it’s extraordinary that it came from the candidate’s own communications director.
Howard Kurtz: ….. In a phrase so potentially damaging it might have been hatched in a laboratory by James Carville, Romney communications director Eric Fehrnstrom bobbled a routine question on CNN….
….. His response: “Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-a-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.”
The unmistakable image: Romney has no fixed principles. Forget about what he’s saying in the primaries, all we have to do is hit the reset button. His positions are no more firmly held than the leaden particles that form those boxy images on the screen and then dissolve with a mere shake.
ThinkProgress: During an interview with Public Radio International’s Marketplace, President Obama defended the individual health insurance mandate and reiterated that likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney enacted a very similar policy as governor of Massachusetts. “[W]e designed a program that actually previously had support of Republicans,” Obama told host Kai Ryssdal, “including the person who may end up being the Republican standard bearer and is now pretending like he came up with something different.”