Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ryan and Romney's Magic Tax Plan

   In keeping with the spirit of the Ryan/Romney plan, I blog with little detail and a whole lot of opinion. Why? I like to broaden the discussion to the "big picture". And, like the Ryan/Romney plan, the big picture is ever-evolving and not bound to the "fact-checking" that pesky details can attract.
  Today we heard Willard Mitt Romney explain his "tax plan". Make no mistake, Mitt assures Americans that the wealthiest will continue to pay their exceptionally low taxes AND everyone else will pay even lower taxes! Or did he say "the Middle Class" will get a tax cut? Oh, my mistake, the ever-shrinking Middle Class will get a "tax cut", he says. So that first leaves us wondering, "what about the working poor and the poor?" I suppose Mitt or Paul will fill in that detail later, although a quick review of their vague and ambiguous "budget plan" (which is a plan to develop a budget based on some generalities and a budget that has passed the House although that budget isn't really the budget that Romney and Ryan propose) suggests that the working poor and the poor will contribute more in taxes and lose pretty much any benefit from a "safety net" they may be currently receiving or have been promised in the future. But that is only "suggested" of course and shouldn't be considered as fact, although the "safety net" is most assuredly going "broke" anyway due to President Obama's "failed leadership" according to the Republican candidates...are you getting the picture?
   It's hardly an exaggeration of the typical Romney or Ryan interview, really. A whole lot of words built around a talking point that might or might not apply to the actual question. Sure, it happens all the time with pundits, but these two "yay-hoos" are supposed to be taken seriously as candidates for Leading the Free World. And speaking of diplomacy, in relation to the Free World, Mr. Ryan has developed a bad habit of beginning his rambling dissertations with the statement, "You are mistaken". In diplomatic terms, that's called a brick wall. From that point forward, no one is listening on either side of the argument and in the case of Face The Nation, it BECOMES an argument instead of a simple interview. Not Ready For Prime Time Ryan is in for a shock, he really isn't considered "credible" beyond the Fox News "bubble" and even Fox is beginning to doubt his integrity. The debate with Joe Biden should be compelling TV and I'm fairly certain it will be a historic meltdown. Be sure and tune in.
   But here's the thing that has me so very curious. What exactly is the premise for Romney's burning desire to reform the tax code while assuring Americans it will mean either "no changes to your taxes" or a "tax cut for the Middle Class". I mean, doesn't that sound like a whole lot of legislator time to "not change" things? There's more than one explanation, but what if he's thinking of making those tax shelters and tax havens less attractive? Of course, if this was the premise then Mr. Romney-bucks is going to avoid any mention of the Caymans, isn't he? In fact, he's avoided any mention of his repatriation plan altogether. To the point that no one even bothers to ask about it...or maybe they're prohibited from asking when they sign the obligatory Romney "prenuptial agreement" before being granted his presence before a microphone? Either way, he's smart enough to know there's a HUGE chunk of wealth outside of our economy that belongs IN our economy, including his own. Does that sound too "reasonable"? That he's planning to increase revenues by taxing a massive increase in Capital Gains after a "freebie" repatriation? While Ryan proposes no or low Cap Gains tax, Romney says he's sticking at 15%. While I have little reason to believe Romney really has ANY plan, it's entirely possible he's stupid enough to keep this somewhat "moderate" proposal all to himself...until the debate. And then he wouldn't be so "stupid", unless our President has cut him off at the pass.
   There's a million reasons I could be way off base, but that's the beauty of the Big Picture and projected outcomes. It's ever-evolving and fact-checking will never dictate the conversation. Tomorrow, Paul Ryan's plan to open the Janesville Plant, Nationalization of General Motors!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Jobs - Jobs - Jobs

   Every Media pundit will say the "real issue the people want to hear about is jobs, jobs, jobs". I think that is only partly true. It's more accurate to say we want to hear how the policy positions relate to creating jobs.
    We've all seen the latest jobs report and it was only a "bad" jobs report if we compare it the Clinton era. When compared with the Bush era, it was a pretty standard report with one BIG item missing. That big item being Public Sector hiring. The other big item that goes unaddressed, in my opinion, is the "trigger" for growth. In the 80's, America was faced with a "gas crisis", it wasn't recognized as much as an energy crisis since the major impact was only realized at the gas pump in long lines, rationing and soaring prices. America responded by retooling and producing new autos with higher gas mileage and high-tech parts, WE invested in Public Transportation and adjusting speed limits to promote fuel efficiency, Corporations responded by offering fluctuating shifts and introducing "work-at-home" positions. This response created a whole lot of jobs and opportunities.
   In the 90's, America made a drastic shift toward e-commerce. The goal of limited travel and the cost savings associated with it inspired the creation of an infrastructure we take for granted, the "virtual marketplace". While most of us tend to focus on the "bubble" and the massive "wealth destruction" that marked the completion of a functioning e-commerce infrastructure, in the final analysis there were over 20 million NET JOBS created and the internet continues to drive our economy and contribute heavily to economic expansion. But once again, it was the demand for lower energy costs that provided an essential "trigger".
   In the "Lost Decade", the energy "crisis" was once again at the heart of our economic expansion. Although terribly slow with anemic job creation, the invasion of Iraq fueled our economy with a flood of money. Instead of paying for the War that was supposed to pay for itself with control of the Strait of Hormuz and the largest untapped oil reserves in the World, America chose the Bush Doctrine of an "Ownership Society". Anyone and everyone could now buy a home on the "promise" to make timely payments. No job? No problem! We have plenty of money to throw around! We even sent a pallet of Millions somewhere and we don't care if we EVER find it! Okay, enough all know what happened. The Republicans looked for the easiest short-term solution and the Easy Mortgage plan fit the bill. For two years, it went swimmingly. So well, that auto manufacturers abandoned fuel efficiency with the promise of Iraqi oil wells and huge Equity Loans to substitute for a raise or a job for the consumer. It was the best of times...and the demand for more energy was the "trigger".
   So here we are. Our "trigger" lays dormant. Sure, there's been progress in auto manufacturing, but not until after they restructured and there is still the challenge of "tight" credit requirements on new auto loans. But the biggest obstacle of all is not socialism or welfare or the Banks, it's the politics. We have a bigger demand than ever for new and different sources of energy. For some, it's a matter of environmental awareness. For others, it's a matter of practicality. For even others, it's just a matter of wanting to see innovation. But to nearly every "conservative", it's a matter of principle that any energy source other than a fossil fuel is simply "not American". In defiance of all their "market competition" blather, they staunchly defend the oil monopoly and even the Government subsidies of the Multinational Oil Corporations. If we want to "unleash" the Private Sector, we need to first "unleash" our "trigger" and demand a competitive market for energy sources and the systems for delivery. In the 2012 elections, your vote for energy alternatives is essential to an American Economy that is truly Built To Last...and if it slows climate change? That's definitely a nice bonus.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bring on the Big Mo'!

   While I'm not expecting a big bump from the Convention, no matter how wildly successful it has been, I can't help but believe there is a momentum building.
   A basic premise that I subscribe to is the notion that a movement, a campaign or a marketing plan cannot succeed if the foundation is built on a negative. Imagine Apple advertising to "not buy Samsung" matter how flowery the prose, the basic message doesn't inspire the consumer. To make matters worse, Apple continues the ad by saying Samsung phones cause cancer and we hate cancer so you must hate Samsung. It just doesn't have that "ring" to it, ya know? Get it?
   It's Day Three of the Democratic National Convention, but it's really Day One of the Campaign to reelect President Obama. Until last night, it's been primarily a game of rope-a-dope. The President has allowed the Republicans to go way out on the limbs with only minor push-back on flagrant lies. In fact, less of a push-back and more of an exercise in narrative building. Forcing the Republicans to dig in their heels on the issues that divide, rather than promoting new ideas on policy. The Republican National Convention reflected the message President Obama wanted (and most Democrats expected) the Nation to see...a very offensive, angry message of "We are taking America (back) from YOU". The entire theme was built around the idea that Republicans are the "owners" of America and the rest of the citizens? They really don't matter. They aren't pure enough or qualified enough or wealthy enough or Christian enough...a very exclusive club. Ironically, it's the Republicans that are fond of using the term "Plantation", seems to be more projection, doesn't it?
   I'm not trying to say President Obama is this masterful politician that has Republicans doing everything and anything he desires. The obstruction is certainly NOT something the President desires. I am saying the President and his team have done a masterful job at converting political stunts and ploys into a language that the average American voter can understand and evaluate. And I'm fairly confident that when it comes to the issue of trust, the President has earned that "likeability" with more than his crooning or his contagious smile. And it's that trust that will win this election for America. It's a trust that isn't granted because of wealth. It's a trust that cannot be bought. It's a trust that isn't fleeting. It's a trust that can bring momentum.

Enjoy the Convention