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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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IPS Blog

Entries tagged "Mitt Romney"

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What Not to Do on Camera

October 4, 2012 ·

I think the Republicans set themselves up for a tough challenge when they cast Barack Obama as the outsider, Kenyan usurper while Mitt Romney was supposed to represent the traditional white establishment. Henry Kissinger even recognized it during the Vietnam War: "The guerrilla army wins by not losing; the conventional army loses by not winning." I'm pretty sure he stole that from Mao, who was a horrible ruler, but a smart guerrilla strategist.

Romney and Obama debateRomney needed to decisively rout Obama, while Obama simply needed to not fall flat on his face. In the end, I don't think many minds were changed. If Big Bird stood out as the most memorable phrase of the first presidential debate of 2012, then Romney's much-lauded performance failed to land an attack that will stick in voters' minds. It was a soft victory, elevated by low expectations going into the debate. Obama should have pushed back on those outrageous lies, but his weakness is that he always tries to stay "above it all," which comes across as aloof.

I watched it on CBS, which used a split screen for almost the entire debate. Romney's privileged smirk and mannerisms probably hurt him more than his own words. I'm curious to see if CBS viewers thought less of Romney because of his "off-camera" behavior compared to other network viewers.

Obama learned in 2008 that what you do when not speaking is matters. It's a lesson I've learned the hard way. I've probably done a hundred on-camera interviews over the years and it took me a long time to learn that I should never look around the room or move my head when I'm not speaking.

The camera can cut to you at any moment. If I'm distracted by the activity in the studio or other shiny things, my eyes dart back and forth. If the camera catches me in that moment, I look as shifty as a cartoon villain. Always look forward at the camera, at the person speaking, or downward while appearing to take thoughtful notes. Otherwise, the viewer doesn't see the distractions you're looking at and — at best — it makes you look disinterested.

Looking at anything the home viewer can't see is dangerous. Perception matters on TV. On the other hand, it's possible to take too many notes and come across as disengaged — as Obama learned last night.

Sanho Tree is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. IPS-dc.org

The Biggest Losers: Big Bird and the American People

October 4, 2012 ·

Who won the first 2012 presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama? If you ask the Twitterverse, Big Bird nailed an easy victory.

Debate memeHuh? In case you missed it, the sole quasi-joke either candidate cracked came when Mitt Romney vowed to choke off the government funding that pays some of Sesame Street's bills. But really, there were no winners tonight.

Moderator Jim Lehrer blew it too, although he seemed to be off to a decent start when he opened the debate with the night's most pressing question of the night: What are you gonna do about jobs?

Obama answered that he loved his sweetie. Romney tried to sound populist but just sounded weird. Things just got worse from there. More lies and insincere etch-a-sketch moments from Romney. More strangely absent and disconnected reactions from Obama.

Lehrer proceeded to let the candidates run roughshod over him, then lost us all when he said "we've lost a pod" as he reprimanded the candidates for taking too long. In an evening devoted to domestic issues, none of the three men ever mentioned women's rights, civil rights, immigration, poverty, climate change, or any other environmental issue.

Most importantly, nobody dared to breathe the truth, lest it actually get out — America Is Not Broke.

That's right, the debate was an exercise in ridiculousness that produced no insight, no plan, no inspiration, no leadership, no truth. We are rich. We have enough money to put nutritious food on the tables of the one in five U.S. kids who are hungry and undernourished. We have enough money to help the laid-off moms and dads make ends meet until they get another job.

We have enough money to keep grandma, sister, and even every child ("future people," as I believe Romney put it) taken care of through their hard-earned benefits of Social Security and Medicare. We have enough money to help the down-and-out in times of sickness and emergency through Medicaid and help low-income families through refundable tax credits and the last shreds of welfare available to some.

We do. We're a rich country. We're not broke. Not only are we not in an economic position, recovering from the Wall Street-induced Great Recession to be able to tolerate the austerity trumpeted by Romney and half-conceded to by Obama, but we don't need to resort to it.

Here's what someone should have said tonight. Here is the truth denied to the American People...and to Big Bird:

1. We can bring in over $325 billion per year if we simply put a tiny tax on risky stock and derivative transactions; tax corporations and stop tax have abuse; and, tax the wealthy fairly, such as Warren Buffet suggested by taxing CEOs at the same rate as their secretaries

2. We can bring in almost $90 billion per year by actually making our environment more green and sustainable through: taxing the polluting carbon content of fossil fuels; and, ending fossil fuel subsidies.

3. We can save about $130 billion by making our country and globe safer through: closing out our war operations completely in Iraq, closing a third of our global military bases and ending drone attacks; and by ending military waste

AH Neill/FlickrThese commonsense approaches would garner savings of over half a trillion a year — far more than either candidate or any Bowles-Simpson scheme would save and would allow us to preserve our earned benefits, safeguard our safety net, keep our nation secure and create millions of good-paying green jobs.

America Is Not Broke. That is the missing story. Until we admit this, we all lose...and, you can definitely kiss Jim Lehrer and that big ol' yellow bird goodbye.

Karen Dolan is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. For more details, please see the IPS report, America Is Not Broke.

Romney Versus Realonomy: A Peek Inside the Bubble

October 2, 2012 ·

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been roundly criticized for being a wooden, out-of-touch plutocrat who pays a lower effective tax rate than the vast majority of Americans yet believes that 47 percent of Americans merely mooch off the government.

It's no secret that Romney favors tax cuts that will mainly benefit the very rich. And why shouldn't he? He has a long record of seeking to minimize his own taxes.

But what about the rest of his economic program? Mitt Romney is no one-dimensional "tax cuts are always the answer" Republican. He has a 160-page, seven-part "plan for jobs and economic growth" that includes sections on taxes, regulation, trade, labor, human capital, government spending and energy.

Read the rest of Salvatore Babones' Truth-Out breakdown of the Romney Plan by clicking here.

A Ditty on Newt Gingrich: The Apogee of a Would-be Nominee

May 3, 2012 ·

Newt assured us:

I Will be the Nominee
I Will beat Mitt Rominee
I Will create a Moon Colony
I am not full of Baloney


Fortunately only the last is true
But losing you still makes us blue
We’ll miss having you to tease
We’ll miss our jokes about Tiffany’s

We'll carry on with Barack and Mitt
But we lament that you called it quits

Somebody vs. Someone Else vs. Obama

February 24, 2012 ·

Phew. Those 20 debates felt like they'd never end. Now that they're over, however, the Republican Party isn't particularly close to selecting its presidential nominee.

Given the distractions caused by the candidates' many gaffes and their stunning assertions, it's hard to notice that the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination may become the most unpredictable for either major party since the GOP settled on Barry Goldwater in 1964. And most voters probably don't realize that it looks like three heavily funded candidates will be on the ballot in November.

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have each won at least one primary. Ron Paul came close to winning Maine's non-binding caucus. So, it's no longer OK, as Santorum might say, to treat Romney as the frontrunner. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Googled is ahead of Romney in at least one national poll and essentially tied with him in another.

Most voters probably presume that Romney will ultimately claim the nomination. That's why the formerly moderate former Massachusetts governor won the reactionary American Conservative Union's straw poll at CPAC. Meanwhile, national opinion polls indicate that Obama would beat Romney or Santorum in a two-way contest.

One growing possibility is a brokered convention, where the delegates themselves would pick a different nominee. America hasn't had one since 1952, when Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson clinched the Democratic nomination primarily because he gave a great speech. If by August polls still point to a loss for the GOP frontrunner in November, this could happen at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Brokering would make political junkies, who get bored by conventions that are really just coronations, very pleased.

If this happens, the party's brass would choose a new candidate they deem capable of beating Obama. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels would be the most popular options, according to a recent poll by Quinnipiac University. But none of them seems any more viable than Romney or Santorum, so don't be surprised if someone else gets on the ballot. But since the same poll found that more Republican and Republican-leaning voters oppose the brokered option than support it, that kind of maneuver could prove costly for the party.

Meanwhile, those Super PACs unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling are spending unprecedented sums of money, which will ensure that campaign 2012 remains volatile until Election Day. Plus, thanks to a wave of vote-suppressing legislative gimmickry across the country, it's quite likely that Obama will lose out on votes that he would otherwise win.

Then there's Americans Elect, an initiative bankrolled by big hedge-fund money. It's spending more than $22 million to get its own yet-to-be-named candidate on the ballot across the nation. This undemocratic scheme is canvassing voters via the Internet but reserving the right to pick its own winner if the moneybags behind it reject the people's choice.

Despite not being a real political party, Americans Elect is already on the ballot in 14 states. Only time will tell who will run on that ticket and whether this candidate will help or hinder Barack Obama. Or the Republican nominee. Whoever that's going to be.

Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies. OtherWords.org

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