No Worries

I may be in the minority among the left, but I’m not at all worried about tonight’s debate (or the election). During the last debate, it seemed clear to me that Obama was deliberately holding back thinking it would be more wise to muddle through the debates in an attempt to preserve his lead than try to be bold and risk shaking up the race. Now that it’s clear a “tie favors the incumbent” strategy isn’t going to cut it, I think Obama will be much more forceful and won’t leave as many arrows in his rhetorical quiver. Add to that the fact that tonight’s debate will be a town hall format and will presumably cover more than two issues, I think there are a ton of opportunities for Obama to reconnect with voters (or at the very least, for Romney to stumble badly and say something patronizing to a poor person).

Let’s face it, with the breadth of issues that could be discussed, the fundamentals still favor Obama. Despite how much he’d likely deny it, Mitt Romney is still the guy who would veto the DREAM Act, wants to make life so horrible for immigrants that they “self-deport”, opposed the auto-bailout, would repeal Obamacare and take away the insurance of tens of millions, wants to transform Medicare from a guaranteed benefit to a “here’s a coupon, fend for yourself” program, gut funding for Medicaid, prevent women from having their birth control covered by private insurance, says a trip to the emergency room is adequate to treat chronic illnesses, denies that poor people die due to lack of health insurance, and thinks that 47% of Americans are “victims” who aren’t willing to work hard.

The facts are already on his side. All Obama needs to do to win is to connect with voters and *say* this stuff.


It’s a damn shame John Edwards was killed by a freak meteor strike in 2008 and replaced with a sleazy, philandering look-a-like shortly thereafter, because the old John Edwards (and not that other asshole) had some great things to say :

(h/t Amanda Marcotte)

Vampires mostly kill people who were just gonna die anyways…

This bit from Ezra Klein is the most compelling defense I’ve seen of private equity, but that’s not saying much :

On the other hand, many of the companies that Romney closed needed to be closed. It was better for them to die quickly, and for the money to go to productive uses in the economy, than for them to decline slowly. The Obama administration has presided over layoffs in the federal government, not to mention the auto industry, and it would surely argue some of them were necessary.

At its best, private equity acts as an accelerant of needed creative destruction. At its worst, it’s a particularly heartless form of vulture capitalism that kills companies that don’t need to be killed in order to enrich investors who are already very rich. The truth often lies somewhere in the middle.

An “accelerant of needed creative destruction” is an incredibly kind way of describing the modus operandi of companies like Bain. I think Robert Reich puts a finer point on it here :

Guys like Mitt Romney are vulture capitalists. They’re greedy gambling addicts who fool themselves into thinking hoarding wealth is the same as “creating” wealth. They don’t create anything. At all. The “creative destruction” they bring to the economy is a tangential benefit far outweighed by the unemployment they create, the tax burden the rest of us have to share, and the ever-widening income gap.

Mitt Romney may be a friendly person and a loving family man with a terrific sense sense of humor, but beneath that weird laugh is a scumbag who’s unwilling to acknowledge the pain businessmen like him cause and candidates like him let fester. As Ezra Klein put it :

What he could have learned from that experience is that, just as creative destruction is important for moving an economy forward, a safety net is important for catching those who are left behind. As head of Bain, Romney fired a lot of workers who were perfectly good at their jobs, who were committed to their companies, who had families they needed to support. That was his job as head of a private-equity giant. But his job as president of the United States would also be to look out for those workers.
. . .
Romney’s national platform, however, calls for doing less for the victims of the global economy. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would guarantee that workers would get health insurance even if they lost their jobs in, say, a private-equity led restructuring. He wants to pay for large tax cuts and more defense spending by cutting funds for Medicaid, for food stamps, for worker retraining, and for housing subsidies. He wants to cut Social Security benefits. He has no detailed plans to improve the continuing education system, or worker retraining programs, such that displaced machinists have a better chance to find a new job.