The Talking Points Debate

When even the MSNBC hosts agree that Romney won last night’s debate with President Obama, and Chris Matthews looked like he had been crying off camera, then yeah, I guess Romney won.  I admit I called this one wrong.  Not that I didn’t think Romney would do well, but I thought no matter how well he did the MSM would call it a tie at best.  I figured they could only call it for Romney if Obama totally screwed the pooch, Obama wasn’t quite that bad (no major gaffes) but I honestly didn’t expect Obama to do as poorly as he did.

Obama was clearly poorly served by his debate preparation team.  His habit of scowling when hearing things he doesn’t like is well known, and he knew he was going to hear things he didn’t like so he should have been prepared for that.  Also his annoying habit of looking down and not looking at his opponent… come on guys, that’s basic freshman Speech class stuff!  All this from someone who allegedly prepared more for these debates, “than any sitting President in the modern era.

Obama didn’t even bother to offer “the audience a sandwich.”

Even Jeff Greenfield, no fan of the right, said:

Yes, it wasn’t the best atmospherics for Obama to look down, purse his lips, appear distracted, while Romney was attentive, engaged, relaxed. But this was much more than atmospherics. This was about one candidate who came with a frame for the evening, and who was prepared to engage on every question; and another who, perhaps because of his documented faith in his own abilities, felt he could wing it with snatches of familiar verbiage.

One really feels the loss of the teleprompter.

But optics and atmospherics aside, the real difference is that Romney came to the debate armed with facts and familiarity with the issues.  Obama came with his talking points, such as the one about the tax break for shipping jobs overseas.

Obama: “But I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas. I want to provide tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States,”
“Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas. I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense. And all that raises revenue.”

Romney: “Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant, but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.” 

There is no tax deduction for moving businesses overseas.  Costs of business are deductible, like closing (or opening) manufacturing plants, but that isn’t a deduction that gives a special break to a company to move overseas.  However this has been a leftie talking point for years.  They listen to themselves repeat the same things over and over until they never doubt the truth of it.  Romney made Obama look like he had no idea what he was talking about, which was actually the case; Obama didn’t know what he was talking about.  Sorry lefties, there is no special tax break for outsourcing American jobs.

 The other issue was that Romney’s tax plan would raise the deficit 5 trillion and raise taxes on the middle class in order to give the rich a tax cut.  Once again, Obama relied on his dubious talking points only to be confronted by a Romney denial that his tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class, lower taxes on the rich, and increase the deficit by 5 trillion dollars.  I know a little something about this issue since I demolished a claim made by the Tax Policy Center in August that Romney’s tax plan couldn’t work as planned.  You can get the details here, however the gist is:

Romney’s plan is revenue neutral, so there is no, I repeat, no cut in tax revenues.

Even though rates are lowered, the deductions and credits are removed to make up the difference.  This makes for a simpler tax code.

The Tax Policy Center admitted that the plan they actually scored, was only similar to Romney’s plans, and they had to make up the details.

The Tax Policy Center counts the 20% cuts in tax rates on top of the Bush tax cuts, which will no longer be in force when Romney would be President.

There were probably more talking point moments by Obama, but these were the big ones.  Meanwhile, over at MSNBC, the gang was apoplectic about Obama not using even more talking points!

Although one debate can probably be dismissed as a bump in the road, I hope that the President does take Chris Matthews advice and start getting his talking points from MSNBC.  Obama armed with even more inaccurate talking points would make the rest of the debates must see TV right up to the election.

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The Left Makes Up Their Own Romney Tax Plan

At one of the web forums I visit, some liberals had caught notice of this bit of news:

(CBS News) President Obama is seizing on a study out Wednesday to support his argument that Mitt Romney is focused on boosting the rich at the expense of the middle class.

The study from the Tax Policy Center looks at the impact of Romney’s tax plan, which he promises will be revenue neutral. Romney has vowed to cut tax rates by 20 percent across the board, repeal the estate tax and get rid of taxes in investment income for those making up $200,000. He says the reduction these tax cuts will have on tax revenue will be offset in part by eliminating deductions and loopholes, though he has refused to say what deductions and loopholes he would eliminate.

The Tax Policy Center – a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute – found that if Romney wants his plan to be revenue neutral, it will result in “large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

They found that would be the case no matter how he ultimately structures the plan. In fact, the group operated on the assumption that Romney would first eliminate deductions and loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.

“Even when we assume that tax breaks – like the charitable deduction, mortgage interest deduction, and the exclusion for health insurance – are completely eliminated for higher-income households first, and only then reduced as necessary for other households to achieve overall revenue-neutrality- the net effect of the plan would be a tax cut for high-income households coupled with a tax increase for middle-income households,” it said.

I read as far as “…a joint project of the Brookings Institution…” when I realized the study being referred to here was a phony.  The Brookings Institution is of course a left-liberal think tank.  Officially, it’s “non-partisan” as is required for a 501(c)3 organization, but it is generally staffed by researchers who are left leaning and provides reports and analysis that supports Democratic Party initiatives.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t do legitimate research, but it’s helpful to know which direction the bias is coming from.

So rather than just accept the CBS news article, as I was meant to, I followed the link to the actual abstract of the Tax Policy Center’s analysis here.   One of the first things I noticed is that they are not even scoring Romney’s plan.  “We do not score Governor Romney’s plan directly, as certain components of his plan are not specified in sufficient detail, nor do we make assumptions regarding what those components might be.”  So rather than score Romney’s plan, they make up a plan similar to what they think the final legislation will be.  And of course, make assumptions as to its components. Now, that should have ended the matter right there, but apparently the non partisan researchers at the Tax Policy Center will be more than willing to fill in any of the blanks themselves.

Another error the author’s make, (and this one is even more egregious than making up their assumptions) is that they assume that Romney’s 20% tax cut is on top of the Bush/Obama tax cuts.  The author’s point to Mitt Romney’s website as the source of this information; however that condition is nowhere on Romney’s website.  In fact, Romney’s site emphasizes that his plan is a variation of the tax plan from the Simpson-Bowles deficit plan, lower marginal rates, with few deductions; exactly what Democrats say they want, until a plan is actually offered.

So given that the authors add two tax cuts on top of each other, it’s easy to see how they came up with a plan that they don’t regard as workable.

This was all information that I dug up in just a few minutes, however I’ve yet to hear this counter argument in the main stream media.  It’s an example of the media’s bias of course, but specifically, confirmation bias.  The press release for this report fit the media’s prejudices so there was no need to even look at the abstract.  It just sounded right.   On Morning Joe this morning they spent 10 minutes talking about the report without anyone, even alleged conservative Joe Scarborough, challenging its assumptions.

The win goes to Obama on this one, but only because the truth was successfully embargoed by the media.