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Romney Turning Up the Heat?

-The article was originally published at The American Spectator.

In what is both a solid attack and an appeal to the better minds of voters, Romney threw a nice punch in a recent speech in Iowa. Washington Post national reporter Philip Rucker has the quote:

Romney in Iowa: “President Obama, bless his heart, has tried to substitute government for free people, and it has not worked.”

The phrase drew some immediate reactions from both the left and the right. Within 30 minutes, the world of social media was set atwitter:

@daveweigel RE: Stump speeches — I haven’t heard Romney say this before

@jedlewison @daveweigel I sure hope “free people” send out those Social Security checks on time.

Since then, Romney’s phrase has been reported on by ABC Newsgleefully recounted at American Thinker, and added to Real Clear Politics’ list of political videos. For me, a conservative who is wary of Romney — he’d make a much better president than Obama, but will he actually do much good with regards to our debt problems? — it is good to see that the awkward Romney in the primaries has been replaced by the speech-savvy, stick-and-move Romney so many conservatives wanted to see. Between this attack, his pick of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as VP, and his well-played whiteboard comparison of his and Obama’s Medicare plans, it appears conservative fears that Romney would be too nice for the general election may have been overblown. Here’s hoping he throws some good policy proposals on top of his thus-far solid general election campaigning.

Note: The American Thinker piece claims that “bless his heart” is a devastating insult in the South. As a New Hampshire native, it struck me as a kind word to Obama’s well-intentioned, if woefully inadequate, efforts to get our economy back on track. Can any Southerners help me out with this?

The Key Phrase in the CBO’s Newest Budget Report

-This article was originally published at Hot Air.

In and around all of the language in the CBO’s newest report on the budget, released today, is this important closing to its summary (emphasis added):

Under the alternative fiscal scenario, deficits over the 2014–2022 period would be much higher than those projected in CBO’s baseline, averaging about 5 percent of GDP rather than 1 percent. Revenues would remain below 19 percent of GDP throughout that period, and outlays would rise to more than 24 percent. Debt held by the public would climb to 90 percent of GDP by 2022—higher than at any time since shortly after World War II.

Real GDP would be higher in the first few years of the projection period than in CBO’s baseline economic forecast, and the unemployment rate would be lower. However, the persistence of large budget deficits and rapidly escalating federal debt would hinder national saving and investment, thus reducing GDP and income relative to the levels that would occur with smaller deficits. In the later part of the projection period, the economy would grow more slowly than in CBO’s baseline, and interest rates would be higher. Ultimately, the policies assumed in the alternative fiscal scenario would lead to a level of federal debt that would be unsustainable from both a budgetary and an economic perspective.

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Bloomberg: Tax increases needed for budget to hit ‘primary balance’

-The article was originally published at The American Spectator.

Yesterday, a Bloomberg editorial looked at the fiscal challenges facing the federal government. While the editorial was fairly solid in a number of ways, it also had a number of errors and misstatements that should be corrected.

First, however, the Bloomberg editorial deserves praise for its recognition of fiscal and political reality: namely, that if either Obama or Romney wish to cut the size of our deficits in a meaningful way, yet also take reforms to entitlements off the table, tax revenue increases will be required to make up the difference. However, the editorial fails to mention that the Romney campaign is very willing to reform Medicaid. Since the program makes up nearly ten percent of the federal budget, reducing this spending will have a measurable impact on future deficits.

The editorial’s next error is to say that tax increases on the middle class are necessary to bring the budget to “primary balance,” meaning that the budget is in balance if one ignores interest payments on the debt. It also says it is a “canard” that tax cuts would stimulate enough growth to eliminate the deficit. These two statements are canards in and of themselves. For example, bringing the budget to “primary balance” means deficits of over $500 billion and growing. Such massive deficits, larger than any in American history prior to Fiscal Year 2008, would be unsustainable if consistent economic growth fails to materialize, especially if interest rates climb as expected later this decade and the national debt grows between now and when “primary balance” is achieved.

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Is PolitiFact Campaigning for Obama?

-This article was originally published at Breitbart.comHot Air, and Right Wing News.

Recently, the fact-checking organizations PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org failed to properly analyze an ad by President Obama claiming that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than the average American. Just Facts President Jim Agresti and I subsequentlyhammered both organizations for what appears to be a severe case of intellectual dishonesty.

Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common problem at PolitiFact. Conservatives rightly point to a liberal bent at Fact Check, but the organization is pretty solid at analyzing what’s going on with claims by members of both major political parties. On the other hand, with the arrival of the general election and the otherwise politically-quiet month of August, PolitiFact seems to have gone from being a respectable, if liberal-leaning, organization to a campaign slot for Obama.

This Obama bias was shown in a recent claim by PolitiFact Wisconsin (PFW) that a Tweet by Obama national co-chair and actress Eva Longoria about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is “half-true.” From the Tweet:

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What Government Budget Cuts?

-The article was originally published at The American Spectator.

On Saturday, Washington Post blogger Suzy Khimm wrote about “draconian budget cuts” in state and local governments “throughout the recession.” Unfortunately, Khimm’s analysis is wrong in several ways, which is pretty impressive considering how short the post is.

First, there haven’t been budget cuts at the state and local level over the last several years. I wrote about this to refute Paul Krugman a while back, but the facts bear repeating:

First and foremost, local and state government spending hasn’t gone down since the recession started. The linked chart does show that government spending went down in from 2009 to 2011 as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, but in pure numbers (also seen at the link) only 2009 saw a drop, and the spending in 2010 more than matched the 2009 drop.

Second, Khimm claims that government employment has gone down ignores context — namely, that government employment went up during the recession that officially ended just over three years ago. Such context is provided by an April 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis of the 2007 to 2009 recession, which says government employment went up 0.8% in that time. Further context is provided by Ed Carson, who pointed out the following in Investor’s Business Daily:

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Media Bias 101: Abortion & Paul Ryan

-This article was originally published at Hot Air & LifeNews.com.

With the announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the running mate of Mitt Romney, the Obama campaign and its liberal media counterparts have been churning out opposition research on Ryan. Unfortunately, this has now moved from the outright liberal media into the mainstream media, as highlighted by an articlethis morning by CBS reporter Stephanie Condon that looked at the abortion stance of Ryan. While the article initially appears objective by quoting groups on both sides of the issue, as well as both Presidential campaigns, its loaded and manipulative language show a clear bias against those who consider themselves pro-life, and against the subject of the article, Rep. Ryan.

Below is a point-by-point refutation of several points made in the article.

1. The article cites “some evidence” that President Obama’s strategy to use “reproductive rights to shore up his already remarkably large lead among women voters in key states….could work.” The so-called evidence? A poll by the Kaiser Foundation showing less than one-third of American women “believe there is a broad effort to limit women’s reproductive health choices and services.”

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Did PolitiFact Lie About Romney’s taxes?

-This article was originally published at Hot Air.

The Obama campaign is running an ad claiming that Mitt Romney pays a lower tax rate than that of the average American.  Following the ad’s release, PolitiFact published an article rating it as “Half-True.”  From the article:

There are two main ways to make this calculation, and they lead to opposite conclusions. While we believe that including payroll taxes in the calculation offers a more accurate picture of what the American public pays the IRS, it’s also true that the Obama ad didn’t specify which measurement it was using, and in fact used a figure for Romney — 14 percent — that was based on income taxes alone. On balance, then, we rate the claim Half True.

Unfortunately for PolitiFact, their analysis completely misses the boat.  First, as pointed out by Just Facts in rebutting FactCheck.org last week, Romney pays substantial corporate taxes, something both FactCheck.org and PolitiFact fail to account for in their respective analyses.  According to Just Facts President James Agresti in a phone discussion:

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Ryan VP Pick Should Not Be Cut and Dried for Conservatives

-This article was originally published at Hot Air and Race42012.com.

Over the last few months I have ticked off a number of people by writing that Mitt Romneymay not earn my vote in November. With Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) now on the ticket as the nominee for Vice President, I am now far more open to supporting Romney than I was one week ago. Picking Ryan shows a significant amount of political courage and risk-taking, since Democrats and liberals will obviously declare both men want to throw Grandma off of a cliff. With Ryan on the ticket, though, the GOP has a candidate who can articulately point out that if we don’t change Medicare, Grandma is going off the cliff anyway.

However, I have significant concerns about the effusive praise conservatives have had for Ryan since he was picked as the nominee. In his acceptance speech, Ryan talked about both parties being part of the problem at times. Here’s the thing – Paul Ryan should highlight himself when saying that. Since entering Congress in the late 1990s, he voted for NCLB, the Medicare drug bill, funding for two badly-run wars, the Bush auto bailout, and TARP. Granted, he offered an alternative plan to TARP, and opposed the initial plan, but in the end he voted for it. He also voted for the Budget Control Act in 2011.

Paul Ryan as VP under Romney means entitlement reform – should they win in November – will be pushed off for another ten years. It means defense spending will continue to go up. It means the GOP is supporting a VP nominee who went from working for politicians to being a politician – a true establishment pick, which is not necessarily bad, but I am surprised so many anti-establishment Republicans are ignoring this fact about Ryan. It does mean the campaign is indeed picking the most articulate defender of entitlement reform in the nation, even if his budget plan is extremely centrist and takes decades to eliminate the deficit.

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Greg Sargent Gives a Thumbs-Up to Political Dishonesty

-This article was originally published at Hot Air and Race42012.com.

Recently, a terribly misleading ad from Priorities USA Action essentially accuses the actions and leadership of Mitt Romney of leading to the death of the wife of a man who used to work for a company taken over by Bain Capital. The ad, which has been proven factually inaccurate by CNN, was given approval by Washington Post Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent despite its inaccuraciesFrom the post (emphasis added):

Priorities USA Action has released a widely discussed ad that implies Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital is to blame for the death of a laid off steelworker’s wife. I think the ad goes too far…Joe Soptic’s wife died five years after his plant closed. She had her own health insurance — for a time — after he lost his job….But the circumstances of her illness are so unclear…that there’s simply no way to determine whether she would or wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t been fired.

The ad doesn’t quite say outright that Romney is to blame for her death….But the ad could have been a bit more specific in recounting what happened with her illness — and it does imply that she died partly because of Bain, which, again, is unsupportable at best.

The larger story here is this: Even if this ad makes unsupportable charges — and even if you think there’s nothing objectionable about Bain’s conduct — the ad dramatizes a larger story about what has happened to the middle class in this country….Obama believes in aggressive federal action to cushion the blow of market outcomes like the one that hit families like the Soptics with such force. Romney…is promising to roll back government protections for families like theirs. Whatever you think of the ad, that’s the more important larger argument to be having here — and it has been clarified this week.

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Fun on a Slow News Day – Debunking Liberal Memes

-This article was originally published at Hot Air.

With Congress in recess, things are kind of slow this week. So when I ran across a Bloomberg op-ed with exaggerated attacks on the Tea Party, and two typical Think Progressblog posts, I thought I’d have a little fun taking them down.

First, the Bloomberg piece. The author’s basic thesis is that the Tea Party is going to shut down Congress, and it’s only the extremist, “virginal” Republican conservatives who are winning in Senate Republican primaries. She cites the Texas run-off election, the Connecticut Senate race, and the Nebraska and Indiana Senate races. Of course, she seems to forget that Rep. Akin (R-MO) — no moderate or liberal, but not backed by the Tea Party or Sarah Palin, either — won the Republican Senate primary in Missouri. Did she miss Senator Hatch’s (R-UT) victory, or former Senator George Allen’s in Virginia? I guess she must have missed those races as well.

Of course, the author’s summary of criticisms against former Rep. Chris Shays in Connecticut and David Dewhurst in Texas is pretty simple — they reached across the aisle! They associated with leadership! Never mind that Dewhurst was bashed for being part of a corrupt system in Texas, and for supporting amnesty and a wage tax. Also, never mind that the author’s “across the aisle” example for Shays was campaign-finance reform…meaning she thinks it’s a good idea to support a candidate who voted at least once for a very unconstitutional law.

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