By Bob Cesca: Here’s the biggest flimflam the Republican Party will try to get away with this year.
Wait. Let’s qualify that statement. There are quite a few scams in the works right now from the Romney/Ryan/Republican cabal. Some of the more egregious ones include the one in which Romney pretends he didn’t pass healthcare reform that’s similar to Obamacare; there’s also the one about welfare reform; the one about Ohio early voting and military personnel; the one about the president doubling the deficit, and so forth etc, etc, etc.
But these don’t carry the same colossal Orwellian heft as the biggest load of hooey the Romney/Ryan ticket will foist upon us between now and election day. And that’s the idea that the Republicans are the true protectors of Medicare, while the Democrats have tried to kill it.
Yes, the Republicans. The party that’s been trying to destroy Medicare since before it was even signed into law. The party of Ronald Reagan, who famously recorded a screed about how Medicare was a path to a communist dictatorship, and the party that thinks socialized medicine is worse than no medicine at all. They’re the true protectors and defenders of Medicare? That’s rich. Meanwhile, they’ll attempt to convince voters that the Obama administration has gutted the program, and the Democrats, who created Medicare and have defended it for the last 40-plus years, are the villains. Of course none of this is true.
What’s the truth here?
The centerpiece of the Paul Ryan plan, which will likely be adopted by a would-be Romney administration, is as follows. For everyone younger than 54, the Medicare system as we know it will be replaced by vouchers. Retirees will pick their favorite private health insurance plan and the government will pay the private insurer for the premiums and other costs. There aren’t any mechanisms to control costs, there aren’t any caps on out-of-pocket expenses, and there’s nothing in the plan to increase voucher amounts to match rising costs. Oh, and this Medicare boondoggle is part of Ryan’s overall budget plan, which would increase the deficit to $6 trillion in ten years. He’s quite a fiscal hawk, isn’t he?
Paul Ryan thinks this will strengthen the system, but it will only serve as a cash grab for private corporations, with retirees stuck in the middle covering all of the expenses that fall through the cracks. And the objective is clear: continuously sabotage the system until it can no longer function. Slow death.
It’s no wonder the National Republican Congressional Committee issued a memo suggesting that candidates use Orwell/Luntz-style words to describe the party’s approach to Medicare.
“Do not say: ‘entitlement reform,’ ‘privatization,’ ‘every option is on the table,’” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in an email memo. “Do say: ‘strengthen,’ ‘secure,’ ‘save,’ ‘preserve, ‘protect.’”
At the same time, the Republicans have been telling the press and voters that President Obama’s healthcare reform law, the Affordable Care Act, cuts $700 billion from Medicare. They don’t usually get into details or evidence of their claims because they’re entirely untrue. In fact, the ACA cuts just over $400 billion in “waste, fraud and abuse” in ten years, along with cuts to the private Medicare Advantage program for wealthier retirees. In other words:
The Affordable Care Act achieves savings in the Medicare program through a series of payment reforms, service delivery innovations, and increased efforts to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse. The actual projected reduction in Medicare spending is $428 billion over 10 years, after $105 billion in new Medicare spending is taken into consideration. These projections actually extend the life of the Medicare trust fund by about a decade. It is important to stress that none of the payment reforms affect Medicare’s guaranteed benefit packages. The law specifically states that the guaranteed benefits in Medicare Part A and Part B will not be reduced or eliminated as a result of changes to the Medicare program.
Under the funding mechanism in effect before enactment of the Affordable Care Act, MA plans were paid, on average, 9 – 13% more than the traditional Medicare program to provide the same coverage. These extra payments resulted in Medicare Part B premiums being $3.35 higher per month for all beneficiaries in 2009, and resulted in the federal government (and taxpayers) spending $14 billion more than it would have had Medicare Advantage plan enrollees remained in the traditional Medicare program.
By the way, a Romney/Ryan would also repeal “Obamacare,” which would re-open the dreaded Medicare Part-D “donut hole.” Every year under the Bush prescription drug plan that Paul Ryan voted for, if seniors spend $2800 on prescriptions, they have to pay out of pocket for every dollar over and above that amount until they reach $4700 in costs, at which time the government resumes payments. Obamacare has already begun to close the gap, and retirees have saved billions of dollars.
In the first two years after “Obamacare” was signed, Medicare reforms in the law saved seniors a total of $3.4 billion in prescription drug costs by bridging a coverage gap, according to official figures.
Over 220,000 beneficiaries have saved an average of $837 in the first three months of 2012, the Medicare agency said Monday. That’s on top of $3.2 billion in savings enjoyed by some 5.1 million seniors in 2010 and 2011 thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to the advisory on the new figures.
The savings were wrung through a combination of discounts on Medicare prescription drugs — 50 percent on brand names, 7 percent on generics — and rebates for seniors who fell under a coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”
That’s huge, and hardly amounts to “cuts” in the system, unless of course we’re talking about making seniors pay less for life-saving healthcare.
President Obama is preserving the current system, while increasing its longevity by another decade simply by catching Medicare cheaters and over-payments. Everything is intact and all the advantages of a government-run system remain. For example, Medicare’s overhead is around 3% — a fraction of private insurance companies — and that translates to lower premiums for retirees. The Ryan plan sells out future retirees to private corporations. (You might’ve noticed that Ryan’s plan is similar to the ACA’s insurance exchange program, but there’s a big difference: it’s all about trajectory. Bear in mind that the ACA is a step towards a universal single-payer system, while Ryan’s plan is a huge step away from government-run insurance.)
So when you hear a Republican screeching about the president’s “cuts” to Medicare, nail them on this one. Nail them to the wall. The ACA didn’t cut Medicare by $700 billion. It didn’t cut Medicare at all. The president didn’t cut benefits or hand the system over to behemoth corporations. And why are the Republicans against tackling waste, fraud and abuse?
Democrats need to push these guys on Medicare — and hard. Otherwise, the GOP Medicare matchstick men will win the debate.
The Daily Banter Headline Grab (via the Huffington Post):
Chris Christie, the sometimes abrasive but always entertaining governor of New Jersey, is set to be announced Tuesday as the keynote speaker for the Republicans’ national convention later this month.
Christie, who considered a 2012 presidential bid of his own before endorsing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is already at work on his speech to the convention in Tampa, Fla. His record of cutting his state’s budget, curtailing public sector unions and dealing with a Democratic legislature with disarming and combative confidence all were expected to be on display as he looked to fire up his party’s base.
The scheduling decision was first reported online by USA Today early Tuesday and confirmed by Republican officials directly involved in convention planning. The Republican officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the formal announcement was not planned until later Tuesday.
“I’ll try to tell some very direct and hard truths to people in the country about the trouble that we’re in and the fact that fixing those problems is not going to be easy for any of them,” Christie told USA Today in an interview announcing his speech. He said he will describe his experiences in New Jersey as evidence that “the American people are ready to confront those problems head-on and endure some sacrifice.”
By Bob Cesca: The smartest thing about the choice of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate is that in order to criticize him, Democrats will have to get wonky about it.
There’s nothing wrong with being wonky, of course, but details about policy — especially budget and economic policy — don’t tend to resonate as well with casual observers of news and politics who simply tune out halfway through the word “fiduciary.” Meanwhile, there’s clearly no legitimate way to say he’s a doofus who can’t talk without choking on his own tongue, as Democrats could with Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin. It would be a stretch to create an evil supervillain narrative around Ryan as was done with Dick Cheney.
So where are Paul Ryan’s most accessible weaknesses?
Primarily, Ryan is cut from a similar cloth as Romney. Both sides of the ticket hold current positions that are in direct conflict with their previous agendas, and since this is an existing problem for Romney, it’s not a stretch to exploit Ryan’s weakness here as well.
We know for sure that Ryan will be an attack dog on the president’s record regarding the stimulus, government spending, the deficit and the debt. But as a member of the House, it’s extraordinarily difficult for him to justify the fact that part of his job — written into the Constitution, in fact — is to vote on appropriations (one of the reasons why hardly any members of the House are successful presidential candidates). So he has a considerable record of voting for legislation and policies that literally created the current deficit and debt.
Let’s do the list of the biggies.
TARP. Surely the Republicans will continue to demonize the “bailout” in 2008, otherwise known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008) and inexplicably blame it on the Democrats even though it was the Bush White House that proposed the bailout. Paul Ryan voted yes for the bill and, with his vote, $700 billion was handed over to the nation’s financial institutions in order to keep them in business.
AUTO BAILOUT. Paul Ryan also voted for President Bush’s 2008 $14 billion bailout of the auto industry (separate from President Obama’s subsequent $60 billion bailout).
THE 2008 BUSH STIMULUS. What the hell? You mean Bush passed a stimulus? Why, I thought “stimulus” was horrible trespass against conservatism! Oh, and Paul Ryan voted for that one, too. It turns out that prior to January 20, 2009, presidents of both parties routinely passed stimulus programs to jump-start economic growth. Contrary to modern conservative dogma, stimulus plans aren’t just the purview of commie Kenyans.
MEDICARE PART-D. Ryan also voted for President Bush’s Medicare Part-D prescription drug program, which, like most of Bush’s policies, wasn’t paid for — the fiscally responsible thing to do. Instead, he voted for $16 trillion in unfunded spending added to the national debt. (The Republicans appear to have only discovered the existence of the national debt on January 20, 2009. Prior to that, and based on 2000-2008 spending habits, I’m not sure they were aware of the concept.)
THE IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN WARS. Yes, Paul Ryan voted for both wars and all of the various supplemental spending bills along the way. At least $1.5 trillion in deficit spending without any budget offset or pay-as-you-go legislation that ultimately accounts for around 10 percent of our long-term national debt. Paul Ryan voted yes all along the way.
THE BUSH TAX CUTS. And of course Paul Ryan voted for the Bush tax cuts. As of last year, the tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans cost the government $1,034,424,338,581 in revenue, thus significantly contributing to deficit and the debt. If the Bush tax cuts are renewed for the richest Americans, they’ll be the largest contributor to the deficit and debt by 2019 — by a trillions of dollars, more than all of the other debt-drivers combined.
Everything here, minus President Obama’s stimulus, has contributed to most of the current deficit and national debt. And regarding the president’s stimulus package, Paul Ryan voted against it, and yet by every economic indicator (short of the slow-to-recover unemployment rate) it absolutely worked. GDP, job creation, the stock market, housing and so forth have all rebounded as a direct result of the economic recovery sparked by the stimulus.
Okay, so all of that stuff was still pretty wonky. But the broader, more accessible point remains: like Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan has no choice but to run away from his record in order to continue the ruse for the sake of the tea party base. And the Democrats would do well to emphasize the Romney/Ryan duplicity.
I’ve never understood the compulsion by liberals to adhere to some fictional higher standard while losing the fight for political power. In politics, there isn’t even a certificate of participation for coming in second place. You just lose.
This is why, while I often agree with Kevin Drum, this post of his strikes me as so amazingly out of touch with politics as it is practiced in reality. Drum is among those tsk-tsking Sen. Harry Reid for his repetition of allegations about Mitt Romney. Nevermind that Romney could shut Reid and other doubters by simply releasing the same amount of tax returns that every candidate for the last 40+ years has done. Simple!
What’s the gain here? Is there any upside to keeping your nose out of the dirt, as a practical matter in American politics? I would love if our politics was about a set of densely worded highly detailed policy proposals presented side by side to diligent voters, with the policy with the most supporters winning the fight. That isn’t the real world, however.
We’ve recently had Democratic presidential candidates who have refused to go “there” against Republicans, and were applauded by the mainstream press and Republicans for being such swell guys. President Gore and President Kerry had really consequential presidencies, didn’t they?
And gee whillikers, it isn’t as if the right has engaged in a non-stop smear campaign against Barack Obama since he became a national figure, right?
For a lot of Americans, the change in leadership in the country really matters. Mitt Romney as president would be substantially, detrimentally different. The desire to be the good guy won’t change that, it won’t undo the damage that would be done by Republicans run amok — again. I wish some of our liberal friends would understand that.
The Daily Banter headline grab (from Boston.com):
Can President Barack Obama raise the money he needs to hold onto the White House?
Money wasn’t supposed to be a worry for the president’s campaign, which smashed fundraising records in 2008. But Mitt Romney’s team has hauled in more than Obama and his allies for a third straight month, raising the once-unthinkable question.
While the race for voter support is tight, according to polls, Romney’s robust fundraising and a crush of money from Republican-leaning political action committees have forced the president’s campaign to spend heavily through the summer.
Highlighting the challenge for Obama, Romney on Monday reported a July fundraising haul of more than $101 million along with the Republican National Committee, compared to the $75 million that Obama’s campaign said it had brought in along with the Democratic National Committee.
During a fundraiser in Stamford, Conn., Obama said Romney’s tax proposal would benefit the wealthy at the expense of many middle-class families. ‘‘It’s like Robin Hood in reverse,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s Romney Hood.’’ Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams countered that Obama was the only ‘‘candidate in this race who’s going to raise taxes on the American people.’’
The president also warned that his campaign faced a deluge of Republican money.
‘‘Over the course of the next three months, the other side is going to spend more money than we have ever seen on ads that basically say the same thing you’ve been hearing for the past three months,’’ Obama said, then summarized their argument as ‘‘the economy is not where it needs to be and it’s Obama’s fault.’’
Before Romney’s summer surge, Obama had not been outraised by an opponent since 2007.
In an email to supporters after the July numbers were announced, the Obama campaign said, ‘‘If we don’t step it up, we’re in trouble.’’
The Daily Banter headline grab (from the San Fransisco Chronicle):
Mitt Romney said Sunday that preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capability should be America’s “highest national security priority,” stressing that “no option should be excluded” in the effort.
“We have a solemn duty and a moral imperative to deny Iran’s leaders the means to follow through on their malevolent intentions,” Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, told an audience that including a large contingent of American donors. “We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option.”
The speech was short on policy prescriptions, as Romney tried to adhere to an unwritten code that candidates not criticize each other on foreign soil. But there were subtle differences between what he said and the positions of his opponent.
While the Obama administration typically talks about stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Romney adopted the language of Israel’s leaders, who say Tehran must be prevented from even having the capability to develop one.
And while President Obama and his aides always acknowledge Israel’s right to defend itself, they put an emphasis on sanctions and diplomacy; Dan Senor, Romney’s senior foreign policy aide, went further Sunday, suggesting that Romney was ready to support a unilateral military strike by Israel.
“If Israel has to take action on its own,” Senor said in a briefing before the speech, “the governor would respect that decision.”
By Bob Cesca: Throughout the previous decade, anyone who claimed that there was no real threat of terrorism was hectored, accused of hating America and temporarily driven out of politics, even though the numbers vindicated them.
According to a study by Nate Silver, your odds of dying in an airplane-based terrorist attack are around one in 10,408,947. Statistically, that’s pretty close to zero. Conversely, your odds of dying by suicide are around one in 121. In other words, you’re significantly more of a threat to yourself than any terrorist ever.
And yet for the last 10 years, we’ve spent countless trillions of dollars fighting terrorists while enacting dubious laws like the USA PATRIOT Act, along with warrantless wire taps of American citizens, torture, two wars and illusory airport security measures that include disposing of your potentially explosive bottle of water in a trash bin that sits in the middle of a crowded line of passengers waiting in line.
Why? It’s a means of controlling the population through fear, while subsidizing security and defense contractors who’ve made a fortune because we think there’s a serious chance we’ll be killed in another 9/11 style attack.
The same thing is happening with Voter ID laws. Republicans have passed law after law forcing Americans to, in effect, pay a poll tax through the acquisition of government-issued photo IDs in order to vote this year. That’s on top of the usual voter registration process. As I’ve detailed here many times, the laws are entirely intended to suppress Democratic turnout in order to stack the deck in favor of Republicans like Mitt Romney.
How do we know this? Basic deduction from the standpoint of a near zero rate of actual voter fraud. It simply doesn’t exist. Study after study has turned up at most 13 instances of possible voter fraud nationwide over the last 10 years in innumerable elections and, repeating something I reported here last week, the Bush Justice Department searched for voter fraud for five whole years and turned up nothing.
This week, the Pennsylvania Voter ID law went to trial in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and the NAACP, and in a pre-trial agreement, Pennsylvania attorneys admitted to nonexistent voter fraud in that state.
“There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states,” the statement reads.
According to the agreement, the state “will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” nor will it “offer argument or evidence that in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absense of the Photo ID law.”
Astonishing! So why the new Voter ID law? The answer is obvious and was confirmed by PA House Republican Leader Mike Turzai who said that the Voter ID law was designed to get Romney elected.
A similar confession occurred in Wisconsin yesterday. State Senate Minority Assistant Leader Glenn Grothman, a Republican, blurted out the truth on the Alan Keyes radio show.
KEYES: If it were upheld and in place in time for the November election, do you think — polls have shown a pretty razor-thin margin — do you think it might ultimately help Romney’s campaign here in the state?
GROTHMAN: Yes. Right. I think we believe that insofar as there are inappropriate things, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.
KEYES: So if these protections are in place of voter ID, that might ultimately help him in a close race?
GROTHMAN: Right. I think if people cheat, we believe the people who cheat are more likely to vote against us.
But there isn’t any evidence of “inappropriate things” anywhere. So how the hell can Grothman know that Democrats are somehow more responsible for them? Clearly, he can’t know. Because there aren’t any numbers or prosecutions or arrests indicating anything. I mean, this is like saying, “Let’s pass an anti-hobbit law! Even though hobbits don’t exist, they’re totally gonna steal your veggies and hurl your jewelry into volcanos. Yeeehaw! Fuck hobbits!”
300,000 registered voters — mostly low income Democratic-leaning voters in Wisconsin don’t have a photo ID required to vote. In a tight race, that’s the election.
At the end of the day, this could end up electing Mitt Romney and, potentially, a Republican Senate majority. And they’re telling us that Democrats are the “people who cheat?” They’re digging up the corpse of Jim Crow in order to steal this election. Who’s the cheater again?
By Bob Cesca: By way of a follow-up to my column yesterday about the Republican effort to disenfranchise millions of poor, elderly and working class Americans by passing Voter ID laws that require a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, I’d like to cover a well-worn Republican political tactic that’s suddenly been tossed into the ID mix by everyone’s favorite nitwit, Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Rewind to last week. I’m not sure how I missed this, but Attorney General Eric Holder rightfully described Voter ID laws as a poll tax — a primary feature of the century-long Jim Crow era in which white lawmakers disenfranchised black voters by passing laws that made it extraordinarily difficult for them to vote and, ultimately, to be harassed, arrested and enslaved (see Douglas Blackmon’s extraordinary Slavery By Another Name) in the white South.
Specifically, Holder referred to laws that forced voters to pay a fee to vote, thus making it difficult for low-income black voters to cast a ballot. In Louisiana, for example, only one-half of one percent of the black population was actually allowed to vote in 1910 due to Jim Crow laws. Jefferson Parish in Louisiana charged a fee of $1 to vote, the equivalent of around $18 today. Now, if you’re dirt poor and you’re faced with a choice between feeding your kids for a week and voting in a comparatively trivial election, which would you choose? Clearly, you stay home on Election Day. Mission accomplished.
Likewise, and as I argued yesterday, Voter ID laws force potential registered voters to pay a fee to attain a photo ID. They’re also forced to lose wages by missing work in the process and they have to arrange a transport to the state government ID location or DMV — and, in the case of driver’s licenses, they actually have to pass the test while providing a stack of documentation to prove their identity. All for the right to vote.
If this isn’t a poll tax, I don’t know what is. And the Republicans know it. They did this to prevent potential Democratic voters from entered a voting booth and casting a ballot against the GOP — and they admitted it, too.
Yesterday, Texas shit-kicker and George W. Bush 2.0 proto-doofus Rick Perry said, “In labeling the Texas voter ID law as a ‘poll tax,’ Eric Holder purposefully used language designed to inflame passions and incite racial tension. It was not only inappropriate, but simply incorrect on its face.”
See, this is precisely how Modern Republicans play the game. They engage in one tactic or another that deliberately injects race into the discourse. Let’s do the list: President Obama is a Kenyan and a foreigner; Limbaugh called the president a “little black man child”; “Obama Isn’t Working” banners — the decades-long, well-documented Southern Strategy. In this case, it’s a specific law that will prevent African Americans from voting for their likely candidate, President Obama. More broadly, Republicans have systematically sought to make the process of voting a privilege of those who have the means to jump through the exponentially increasing series of bureaucratic obstacles before pressing the dubiously privatized electronic touch-screen for their candidates of choice. The greater the financial means, the more likely the voter is going to choose a Republican. (Incidentally, it’s worth noting that the Republican Party putatively hates government bureaucracy. But waiting in long DMV lines and enduring piles of state and local red tape is totally okay.)
But as soon as they’re called on their glaringly obvious efforts to alienate and suppress minority influence in politics, they insist that liberals are the ones who are playing the race card.
It’s yet another example of the Pee-Wee Herman “I Know You Are But What Am I?” strategy. And it’s been hugely successful. For example, during the eight years of the Bush administration, the Republicans stacked up piles of deficit-spending and debt, while subverting democracy and augmenting the unitary executive by granting the president nearly unfettered war powers. All of those things I just noted about George W. Bush? Karl Rove and the Republicans have accused President Obama of the exact same thing, but without any real evidence to back it up. They’re petulant children playing a silly round of payback.
So we’re to understand that whenever they employ a tactic that deliberately incites racial tension, Democrats and liberals who take notice are actually the ones injecting race into the debate. Uh-huh. Put another way, let’s say the Republicans are punching kittens and someone says, “Hey! That pack of mouth-breathing Republicans are punching a kitten!” And one of the mouth-breathing Republicans replies, “Why are you always talking about violence against kittens? [Punch, punch, punch.]”
Subsequently, in the aftermath of the back and forth, people — especially press people — who happen to be exhausted with race and racism as an issue sigh and resign themselves to the “it’s so hard to determine racism so who the hell knows?” cop-out. But the reality is clear: where there’s Southern Strategy smoke, there’s racially-oppressive politics and policy.
By Ben Cohen: If you wondered how nasty Mitt Romney was going to get in this Presidential election, the news that he is going to a fundraiser at Dick Cheney’s house today should give you ample understanding of the type of campaign it will be going forward. From CBSNews:
In one of a series of high-profile Thursday political events, Mitt Romney will head to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where former Vice President Dick Cheney will open his home for a fundraiser for the candidate.
Cheney, an influential if controversial figure in the Republican party, has yet to appear with Romney in public. And while the two are not known to be close confidants, the joint event is a signal that Cheney and his allies in the GOP are willing to lend their influence in the interest of getting Romney elected – and that Romney is willing to accept the help.
In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had a rocky relationship with Cheney, made an effort to keep his distance from him. But in doing so, he likely missed out on substantial fundraising opportunities. The Thursday event is expected to raise more than $2 million for Romney, according to the Washington Post.
It’s not as if Romney has been taking it easy on Obama thus far – his campaign strategy has been based on disagreeing with Obama on literally everything regardless of whether he supported it in the first place (Obamacare being the most glaring example of this). Romney has accepted support from the idiotic Donald Trump and has made overtures to the Tea Party, but saddling up to Dick Cheney takes it to a whole new level.
Cheney represents a far nastier approach to politics – he’s the overlord of the neocon movement and an advocate of hard power at all costs. To Cheney, there is never room to negotiate with the other side. He’s right and everyone else is wrong, and he has no qualms telling everyone exactly how he feels. Dick Cheney appeals to the base of the Republican party, the establishment right wingers who instinctively hate everything about liberals. Romney was once a moderate Republican, but once reaching the national level, he realized he had no hope of winning a Presidential election being nice to liberals.
Conventional wisdom dictates that candidates move to the center during Presidential campaigns. The Democrats do this instinctively, but Republicans in recent times have done the opposite. George Bush and John McCain ran way to the right of their opponents – a tactic that has had mixed results.
Romney’s dalliance with Cheney is also an indicator that his team have a limited amount of ideas for this campaign. The Republicans haven’t changed policy position on anything in decades – it’s tax cuts, spending cuts, deregulation and banning gay marriage, all of which appeal to Republicans, and Republicans only. Unless he tabs Marco Rubio for VP, Romney will probably give up completely on going for minority votes as Obama has beaten him to the punch on Latino voters, and his ratings with African Americans are beyond pathetic (his speech at the NAACP will show you why). That means he needs to get the base out in droves.
This is a typical Rovian strategy and it may be the only one that makes sense for Romney. Cheney provides money and contacts deep inside the base, but association with him does come at a cost. When you think Cheney, you think Bush, and the left has not forgotten the decade he presided over that saw two horrific wars, the dismantling of government, spiraling inequality and a massive economic crash.
Romney’s inability to connect with voters on a human level is a big problem and the only way to counter it is to get as nasty as possible. No one will buy into a positive image of Romney, mostly because he’s so unlikeable but also because he doesn’t have any positive ideas. He’s not bad at being nasty, but figures like Cheney do it better so Romney will be bringing them on board to make this campaign as vicious as possible.
It’s not exactly inspiring, but negative campaigns can work. At least that’s what team Romney is hoping.