Friday Open Thread [11.16.12]

Filed in Open Thread by on November 16, 2012

Mitt Romney is still an out of touch, elitist, greedy asshole.

Steve Kornacki at Salon: “Romney and Ryan have an excuse, of course: It was only last week that they lost, so the wounds are still raw. The question is whether they’ll end up like John McCain, who is still clearly not over his loss to Obama four years ago. […] For years, McCain was one of the most popular politicians in the country. His reputation took a hit in ’08, but he had an opportunity to restore it in defeat. Instead, he’s behaved like an embittered partisan warrior. And so far, it’s an example that Romney and Ryan are following.”

Josh Marshall at TPM:

[O]n balance America has never had party leaders in the way that is natural in parliamentary systems. And in recent years, with nominees usually having little organic connection to party infrastructure or deep base of support, the pattern [of being shuffled off the national stage after a electoral loss] has become even more merciless and total.

Michael Dukakis is perhaps the most glaring example since he had so little national profile to return to and was viewed as such a poor candidate. But something similar, if less extreme, can be said of John Kerry and Walter Mondale and Bob Dole and John McCain.

But I think we may be in even new territory with Mitt Romney’s shuffle off the national stage. It’s not too much to say that Romney is now uniting the country across party lines that he’s someone who should leave as soon as possible and not say anything publicly again. Actually scratch that. Democrats are starting to think that having Romney around and continuing to dump on a broad range of Americans might be pretty awesome.

More seriously, it goes without saying that Romney was never more than a tolerated transplant among professional conservatives. His bonafides were doubted. We know all this. So it’s ironic that Republicans are uniting in calls to get off the national stage once and for all precisely because he’s continuing to make the kind of makers-and-takers type statements you might hear on a particularly feral and untethered rightwing blog.

It’s an amazing denouement. It puts the whole race in a new, if not surprising, perspective.

James Rainey at The Los Angeles Times: “The onetime private equity magnate would have an “optics” problem if he wanted to run for office ever again. But since he’s done with politics, his latest moment of unintended public candor goes down, instead, as testament to how little Romney understood politics and the American people.”

Freshman Congressional Orientation is just like high school and college orientations:

“When they welcomed Leader Pelosi and everyone stood up to applaud, a frantic new member got up — breakfast plate in hand — rushed over to me and asked, ‘Wait … what meeting is this?!’ I said, ‘This is the Democratic Caucus.’ He said, ‘Oh s—, I’m in the wrong meeting. Where are the Republicans meeting?’” the anonymous tipster said of the mini-drama. The confused caucuser? Rep.-elect Chris Collins, R-N.Y.

The Republicans don’t want to retool their message, which is excellent news for us:

“Two weeks after their presidential election defeat, Republican Party leaders are falling into roughly two camps as they struggle to explain what happened and devise ways to broaden the party’s base. Some top GOP officials worry their message is wrong for a rapidly diversifying population, and that fundamental shifts in policy may be required. But the more dominant voice, and the one gaining currency within the center of the party, says such drama isn’t necessary. It asserts that Mitt Romney’s loss to President Barack Obama was primarily a tactical failure, a combination of poor articulation of GOP positions and a weak effort to register voters and move them to the polls. Better execution on both, they say, would have swung the few hundred thousand votes in a few states that would have tipped the presidential election the other way.”

Maybe they will learn in 2024, after two terms each of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, while facing Texas Governor Julian Castro.

“In chess you have fixed rules and unpredictable results. In [Russian politics] it’s the opposite.” — Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, quoted by the Daily Beast, on why he’s not running for political office.

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  1. mediawatch says:

    Found this exchange on FB, under a link to Soledad O’Brien taking apart a Nevada Rethug. Definitely worth sharing:

    Tom Durkin · Top Commenter
    This is a rhetorical question: Why do Rs put their most stupid people on the Intelligence, and their most scientifically clueless on Science?
    Chunx OfEarth · Top Commenter
    Rhetorical answer: They want to take their country back?

    Back, as in backwards, we presume.

  2. Jason330 says:

    Republicans have admitted that the strategy from here on out is to limit the participation of Democratic voters by: creating impossibly long lines to vote, intimidating voters, and generally make the system seem shaky and suspect in order to practice jury nullification on election outcomes that they don’t like.

    This Presidential election was a setback, but not the end of their efforts.

  3. fightingbluehen says:

    Does anybody feel that a 55% tax on an inheritance over a million bucks is fair play.

  4. Jason330 says:

    Yes. Inherited wealth and class immobility is anti-capitalist and anti- growth.

  5. fightingbluehen says:

    Inherited wealth is anti-capitalist? I can’t see that, and I can’t see how bilking someone out of the family farm creates upward mobility for anyone.

  6. socialistic ben says:

    inheritance in unearned income. It is the ultimate handout.

  7. Dave says:

    Inheritance is neither capitalist or anti-capitalist. As far “bilking someone out of the family farm,” It is true that there are inheritance taxes (much of which are reduced by special provisions: However, to use a pejorative term to refer to farm estate taxes belies the long history of legislation by both parties over the years that have addressed this issue. It’s not “bilking” it’s the law. The law can be change by a Congress willing to make hard decisions and while we are on the topic, would you be willing to trade farm subsidies to get rid of the “bilking?” I mean, as a taxpayer, I paid subsidies for those farms and now you seem to be suggesting that not only do the subsidies pass from generation to generation but the value passes from generation to generation untouched.

    Reminds of me of guy I talked to at the Agave in Lewes, trying to convince me that land being developed for houses are farms and should be exempt from whatever. Farm is both the land and the enterprise. Farms lying fallow are not farms.

  8. fightingbluehen says:

    Somebody earned it, and it was taxed as well.

  9. Tom McKenney says:

    The idea of inheritance tax goes back to Jefferson. He had the wisdom to realize that people would use their wealth to promote their interests while disadvantaging others. Looking at today’s laws and systems you can see he was right. It promotes a meritocracy versus an aristocracy.

    I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who paid a 55% tax on their inheritance. There are too many ways to avoid it.

  10. Tom McKenney says:

    FBH how do you know it was taxed?

  11. pandora says:

    I have reached the point where it seems like middle class Republicans actually believe that wealthy Republicans pay the listed tax rates. Gotta hand it to wealthy Republicans… they know the intellectual limitations of their base.

  12. fightingbluehen says:

    The family farm is sort of a euphemism. You could just as well say the family property. I don’t think there should be a distinction between the two. Some people may be attached to a property or home that their family has occupied for generation after generation. The property may be worth a couple million or so., and the occupants may not be able to afford the 55% tax.
    Are you saying that is just tough luck. Do you really want the government dictating the fate of people in that situation.

  13. geezer says:

    FBH: All money in existence has been taxed somewhere along the line. We don’t tax the money just once. We tax it whenever it is used in a transaction. If I buy something from you and you use the profit to buy something from me, both transactions are taxed.

  14. anon40 says:


    Yes, someone earned it. The heir(s) did not earn it. The inheritance tax is a tax on the transfer of wealth. This is a concept most conservatives and libertarians can’t seem to grasp.

  15. geezer says:

    “Are you saying that is just tough luck. Do you really want the government dictating the fate of people in that situation?”

    Perhaps you have heard of a branch of financial management known as estate planning? There is no reason anyone has to pay the estate tax except for poor planning. People who are too lazy, stupid or stubborn to plan for the future have their fate dictated to them.

  16. fightingbluehen says:

    Of course a reasonable tax is to be expected, but 55% ? That’s highway robbery. The former commies don’t even tax that much. Russia and China have learned from experience that this type of wealth confiscation has no merit. In fact they did away with inheritance tax altogether.

  17. geezer says:

    “The former commies don’t even tax that much. Russia and China have learned from experience that this type of wealth confiscation has no merit.”

    The “former Commies” (China still is partly communist, but never mind) are also former hereditary dictatorships, or “kingdoms,” a situation each enjoyed (or not) before communism and, in China’s case, for several thousand years (only one thousand or so for Russia).

    So unless you’ve got a link somewhere in which officials actually claim that as their reasoning, I’m gonna go with backsliding into ancient royalist habits as a more likely explanation.

  18. fightingbluehen says:

    This is the Wikipedia of Inheritance law of Russia. I hate to say it, but theirs seems more fair than ours.

  19. socialistic ben says:

    so move to Russia.

  20. Dave says:

    @FBH, “Of course a reasonable tax is to be expected, but 55% ? That’s highway robbery.”

    I would be inclined to agree, if it were that simple. However, The gift tax exemption is now equal to $5,000,000. And in 2010 the law was change to allow a surviving spouse to use that portion of the pre-deceased spouses credit that was not previously used, which could provide and exemption total of $10,000,000. Plus if the estate includes property that was inherited from someone else within the preceding 10 years, and there was estate tax paid on that property, there may also be a credit for property previously taxed.

    I could go one but the point is, the top tax rate is 55%, but no one pays that. It is a similar argument to the corporate tax rate that (which is the highest in the world) that allowed Bank of America to pay zero in 2010 followed by 2011 where we have Exxon Mobil – 2%
    Chevron – 4%
    Apple – 11%
    Microsoft – 18%
    JP Morgan – 14%
    WalMart – 19%
    Wells Fargo – 14%
    ConocoPhillips – 8%
    IBM – 1%
    GE – 5%

    Discussions about “tax rates” are really pointless unless one wants to discuss the totality of the tax environment that allows major coporations to pay a lower effective rate than I pay.

  21. geezer says:

    FBH: The law you consider so fair is based on an aristocracy — they were the ones with anything of value to pass on. I’m glad to see you folks are now acknowledging that your value system is not based on democratic values but societies with inherited privileges for a special class — you know, the kind of society the Founders consciously broke with.

    Conservatives always talk about self-sufficiency but practice it in very limited context. Free money for others? Bad. Free money for themselves? Good.

  22. fightingbluehen says:

    “The gift tax exemption is now equal to $5,000,000.”

    Set to go to $1,000,000 in about a month. Many more people will now not be exempt. Probably would be wise to kick that can down the road for the time being. Hopefully the Democrats will agree to do that.

  23. fightingbluehen says:

    “FBH: The law you consider so fair is based on an aristocracy ”

    Not so sure about that. I think there is a lot of recently self made wealth in Russia. The only aristocracy I have heard of in Russia were people connected to the old Soviet ruling class. The people who didn’t have to wait in line for toilet paper and the like. I’m pretty sure that the traditional aristocracy either left or their belongings were confiscated or they were killed.

  24. cassandra_m says:

    You know — both Republicans and Democrats voted for the temporary extension of a variety of tax cuts, which includes this reversion to a higher estate tax. So you’d think that they did that for a reason, right? You should have had this conversation two years ago, before these people decided that it was in your best interest to let their work sunset.

    And kicking the can down the road is a silly move. See above observation. Either you want to avoid the fiscal cliff or not. So you will work on that or you don’t. Everything else is Bullshit.

  25. Dave says:

    “Set to go to $1,000,000 in about a month.”

    Actually, set to got to $1,000,000 for each spouse ($2M total) in about a month.

    Still, remember the credits, market values and other factors which affect the bottom line. Still one should consider what is a reasonable and fair rate.

    However, it should be noted that in 2011 the highest earning taxpayers paid an effective tax rate of 20.3%. We could argue that the money is wasted but consider the top marginal rate is 35% which no one pays, 20.3% does not seem excessive. The same group (in fact all income groups) paid an astonishing effective estate tax rate of 2%, not 55%. Again my point is if one wants to discuss tax rates, it needs to be the the effective tax rates because no one (except the low income with no deductions) pays the post tax rate.