Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Promises, Promises

"...I think Governor Romney's going to have a busy first day..."

President Obama drew laughs from the audience with that quip during the first Obama/Romney presidential debate.

Unfortunately, the President then failed to aggressively follow up on the opportunity opened by that lead and didn’t press Romney for details while he had the audience laughing.

And Obama really should have.

Because it’s important.

President Obama was referring to the laundry list of items Mitt Romney has promised to achieve on the first day of his (as yet, theoretical) presidency. In particular the president was making light of the fact that Romney has said repeatedly that he will immediately repeal all of the things democrats have managed to achieve in the four years of the Obama Administration despite the active and vehement opposition of certain members of Congress

And then, on that same day, Mitt Romney will sit down and work hand in hand with those same democrats.

And conservatives made fun of Obama for daring to use the word “hope.” 

Repeal everything democrats worked for, then work with those same democrats?

You’ll excuse me if I maybe roll my eyes a little in disbelieving skepticism at this point.

I guess it could work though.

Depending on Romney’s approach I mean.  Presumably, when (if) President Romney sits down with Congress, it won’t be to seek common ground, rather it’ll be to dictate terms.

Because I don’t see Romney getting Democratic cooperation any other way.

Given his manner and the nature of the promises he’s made, I strongly suspect that Mitt Romney sees the Oval Office more as CEO of America Inc. and the election as some kind of stock buyout or hostile takeover, rather than as a democratically elected President whose power is constrained by reality.

Take Romney’s first-day-in-office promise to get started on fixing the economy and create jobs.

One of the first things Romney has promised to do is to submit a jobs package to Congress.

Romney’s proposed jobs package contains five bills: 1) Reduce the corporate income tax to twenty five percent, 2) reinstate Fast Track (sometimes called The President’s Trade Promotion Authority), 3) open more land for drilling, 4) end federal programs and return responsibility to the states, and 5) cut non-security discretionary spending in the federal budget by five percent.

Romney’s promised jobs bill comes with a command that Congress act on these ideas within thirty days.

Thirty days.

He will command Congress to act within a month on his bills.


Heh heh. Right.

Or what?

What will CEO Mitt do if Congress doesn’t take up those bills within a month?

Government isn’t like Wall Street, Mitt, what are you going to do? Fire ‘em?

Might want to check with the union, or the Constitution, first.

What will he do if Congress stonewalls and delays and filibusters and doesn’t cooperate? Say like how Congress did with Obama’s promise to close Gitmo on his first day in office. Will Conservatives then hold President Romney responsible for failing to live up to his promises? Like they did with Obama and Gitmo? Or Obama’s own proposed jobs bill? Or Obama and … well, you get the idea.

Or will Conservatives (and Liberals Goddamnit) put the blame where it belongs this time?

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath on that one.

Here’s the thing, President Obama was just talking about something simple, like a prison and a couple of neutered terrorists.

Romney wants to cut corporate taxes, i.e. federal revenues.

Do you really think congress will be able to complete an impact analysis for loss of revenue in a month?

We don’t even have a federal budget at the moment, and won’t until at least March. Think about how cutting corporate taxes might affect the already enormously complex and delinquent and gridlocked budget planning process – something Paul Ryan is supposed to be working on right now. And just for added fun, Romney says he’ll cut non-military discretionary spending too.

I’d be real interested in seeing all of this put to bed in thirty days.

Especially if we end up with sequestration too – you know, just because Congress hasn’t failed enough these last four years.

Hell, I’d be impressed if Romney could get congress to complete a draft budget in thirty days, because that would be some serious mojo indeed.

Next, Romney wants the president to have the power to negotiate treaties.

That’s what Fast Track is. Fast Track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA, allows the president to directly negotiate trade agreements with foreign powers, agreements that Congress can then approve or disapprove but cannot modify, delay, or filibuster – literally, by law there are very specific (and short!) limitations on the amount of time the bill can be in committee, the amount of time the bill can be debated on the floor, and when the final vote has to be returned. This isn’t a new idea, TPA was in effect from 1975 to 1994 and then between 2002 and 2007 – for some reason Congress didn’t want Bill Clinton to have this power, but felt fine with Reagan, Bush Senior, and Bush Junior making trade deals with Mexico and China and India, but I digress. Obama asked for renewal of the TPA in 2012 to complete the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) agreement. Predictably he was stonewalled.

Romney can’t just “reinstate” the TPA, he has to ask Congress for it, and the request would have to be placed on the agenda, debated by both House and Senate, and voted on.

Question, why would you give Romney TPA but not Obama? Unless it’s for strictly partisan reasons? But, again, I digress, since apparently the majority of Americans seem to be fine with this double standard.

But the real question is this: what does Romney want with TPA? Why make it an election item? Who is driving this and who is this promise for?

You might want to think about that. 

No, you all might want to really think about that.

Americans should maybe ask Romney about his intentions with regards to TPA.

Again, it’s important.

Did you ever wonder how you ended up with all those free trade agreements? The ones that shipped all of your jobs overseas and made it easy for companies to off-shore themselves and avoid paying certain taxes? Did you ever wonder how that business environment that so benefits strategic capital firms at the expense of domestic industry came about?

Did you ever wonder how come the shelves at Wal-Mart are filled with cheap goods made in other countries?

TPA, that’s how.

Now, you want to give a guy who pals around with corporate CEOs (to paraphrase a turn of phrase from the last election cycle) the power to negotiate treaties with countries who specialize in off-shoring American jobs?


As I said, you might want to think about that. You might want to think about who that benefits, because it damned sure isn’t you.

Americans would do well to start asking a few questions in this regard. I’m just saying. Of course, it won’t happen, we’re more interested in keeping gay people away from marriage and in other people’s reproductive systems. And yes, I’m cynically digressing.

Speaking of good paying American jobs, another promise Mitt Romney has made for his first day in office is to start the process of repealing the Davis-Bacon Act.

Now, surely you’re familiar with Davis-Bacon.


Davis-Bacon (the DBA) is a federal law passed in 1931 that requires the payment of prevailing wages on any public works project. What does that mean? It means that the government must pay laborers on state and federal construction projects no less than the average wage and benefits that are standard for the locality.  In other words, the government can’t bring in cheap outside labor to build roads and bridges, national parks and monuments, federal buildings, military construction, and so on. This law came about because back during the Great Depression, Senator James Davis and Representative Robert Bacon watched state governments hire dirt cheap labor from the impoverished South to build public works projects in New York and other northern states, this was done so that the government didn’t have to pay local labor at the much more expensive prevailing wage for the area.

Now, it’s likely that the Davis-Bacon Act wasn’t passed out of any sense of fairness or actual concern for the working man, Davis and Bacon were concerned that the pork barrel spending they’d fought for wasn’t creating the promised jobs in their districts (Pennsylvania and New York respectively), and thereby translating into the corresponding votes those jobs would bring. Instead the project managers were importing cheap African-American labor from south of the Mason-Dixon Line (mostly from dirt poor Alabama) to the detriment of white New Yorkers.

Modern republican critics of the law cite the possible racist intent of the original act as a reason to abolish it. There’s more than a touch of irony in that both Davis and Bacon were Republicans.

Whatever their intent, Davis-Bacon protects fair wages and benefits for federal workers against predatory labor practices that would use cheap imported labor (of any ethnicity, including illegal immigrants) to underbid local businesses and contractors.

Repeal of Davis-Bacon might make public works projects cheaper, but it would be at the expense of local business and labor.

But then again, cheaper public works.

That’s a good thing, right?

Wrong. Repeal of Davis-Bacon would clear the way for creation of new national companies that specialize in public works using cheap migrant labor. Repeal of Davis-Bacon might create jobs, but they aren’t the kind of jobs you’d want or the kind that benefit the local community.

Repeal of Davis-Bacon could have the opposite effect as well, since the law prevents cronyism and the hiring of outsiders at the expense of local companies (at least on governmental projects), repeal might end up costing you more both in local jobs and in tax money.

We’ve got some experience with that here in Alaska, whenever Exxon talks about how they’ll create “Alaskan” jobs if we just give them another tax break, what they actually mean is jobs in Alaska for shitkickers from Texas and Oklahoma – now imagine if you coupled federal money to that. 

You might want to give that a little thought too.  Again, you might want to think about who a repeal would benefit, because again, it sure isn’t you – unless you’re the kind of person who has dinner with the Koch Brothers.

And, of course, Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

So, to recap, Mitt has promised to cut corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy – and yet somehow reduce the deficit and debt. He wants the power to forge personal trade deals with the countries he outsourced your jobs to. He wants to repeal wage and benefit protection for workers on government projects and legalize the creation of cheap imported labor for public works. He’s also promised to approve the final two phases of the Keystone XL Pipeline without completed environmental impact studies and without validated emergency response measures (because, hey, how often does this stuff blow up anyway? Right? Hello?), more drilling (despite the fact that the Obama Administration has approved more drilling permits than any previous administration, that’s obviously not enough), repeal of environmental protections deemed “restrictive” (methane and fracking chemicals in your water supply is a small price to pay for increased profits folks. Bitching about it is unpatriotic. Besides, we can always buy water from China), and then cut discretionary funding for agencies that actually oversee the environment, safety, and public health – i.e. the things directly impacted by the other stuff. And to top it off, he’ll make sure that once you are sick and out of work, you can’t get affordable healthcare either (because people who don’t have health insurance don’t die in America. Right?).

The good news is that President Romney has also promised to reinstate the Mexico-City Policy on his first day, so you know, we won’t be funding abortions south of the border.

Still think having a CEO running the country is a good idea?

So far, none of this has come up in the debates. Want to bet that any of it will come up in the final debate?

Yeah, me neither.

As I’ve said previously, debates are a lousy way to pick our leaders.


Oh the other hand, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

After all, how often does somebody like Mitt Romney actually keep his promises to people like us?

I mean really?


  1. I don't see any promises to "us"--just to his aging white-man good-old-boy base...

  2. Once again, Jim, you've hit this one out of the park. We'll never see those questions asked, and even if they were, the answer would be a non-answer. Thanks for writing.

  3. "Might want to check the with the union, or the Constitution, first."

    Only one I found.

  4. ... and the folks, submitting the questions are (supposedly) "uncommitted?"
    Perhaps you bull your way in and ask a relevant question .... please !!!!
    Like Molly Ivins said, "...a hammer can be used to build or destroy.": Why give a hammer to people who don't want to build anything ???

  5. The thought of a Romney Presidency honestly scares me. After living through Reagan and the two Bushes (HAH! I'm not the oldest one in the social circle!), I have no desire to see the destruction wrought on the social infrastructure of the U.S. under Executive Mittens.

    That said, there are still those who claim that Obama's just using more lube to fuck us, and there's still that whole "killing civilians with drones" thing that still sticks in an awful lot of craws, including my own. Which is not to say I don't still support all the good that Obama's done; I'm also concerned about some of the nastier things I hear about (NDAA Indefinite Detention, Drones, etc.), because I have no way of gauging whether they're Obama's agenda or as some kind of political compromise to get *anything* done.

    1. Regarding Drones, read this: Consequences. Maybe it will change your mind, or at least give you something to think about.

    2. Huh. missed that one somehow. I agree with your point there, and everything you're saying, but there's reportedly more Drone use than that one instance, on far more civilian targets. Not sure how much of that is alarmist Left-wing firebreathing and political spin, and war is hell, etc... And the fact that human soldiers kill civilians too is not lost on me, but...

      I dunno. Drones still seem like a dangerously impersonal way of conducting war against living targets.

    3. If I had a loved one who was a soldier conducting war, would I rather the soldier or the drone be in the line of fire? Even tho I don't have any specific person on the front line right now, I'd rather NO American soldiers be in the line of fire.

  6. Aw nuts... thanks for the heads up Jim. I wasn't leaning towards Romney anyway, but abominations like TPP passing scares the bejezus out of me.

    Another thing to think about, I read somewhere (gotta dig it up) that whoever holds the office netx term might get to nominate a couple of Supreme Court justices. Do we really want any more Republican nominees? I would prefer to keep a balance of political views, and we just barely about have that now.

    1. ugh... my typing was awful... sorry for the typos and butchered grammar

  7. I'd say my man Barry kicked some CEO ass tonight.

  8. Romney doesn't know why he wants to be POTUS. He really has no plan per se except to watch out for the interests of those that brung him to the dance. Ship jobs overseas - Check. Cut Corporate and upper income taxes - Check. Sell off Federal lands (Nat. Parks and Forests) to extraction industries - Check. This stuff is not new. All this and more has been on the Kock Bros' and 1%ers Xmas list for years.

    What is truly scary and keeps me awake at night are the 2 or 3 Supreme Court seats that will probably be up for grabs in the next 4 years. This is the real prize in this election. A lifetime apointment to SCOTUS for a young and activist Right Wing justice (i.e. Roberts / Alito) is more dangerous than a flash in the pan Tea Party Congressman or even a befuddled Bain executive.

    Most Congressmen and Senators are already investment properties owned by the 1%. But if the oligarchs can run SCOTUS, then they have all the keys to castle. The Righties cry crocodile tears over Obama "shredding the Constitution", but once they own SCOTUS they can write a whole new one written in our sweat and blood. Fuck em. - Tommy D

    1. Scares me to death too... I think I'd have to move to Canada if he wins...

    2. If it doesn't scare you to death, it should. I believe this is one of the strongest arguments to vote for Obama. SCOTUS is a life-time appointment, and the next President may be in a position to change the country for many years. Scary, indeed.

    3. Tommy and Everyone,

      As a resident of Tennessee, we have Early Voting as do many other states. Rachel showed last night that 1/3 of voters in Iowa and Ohio have already cast their votes for President Obama.

      I am taking the suggestion that "if you live in an Early Voting state, Vote Early". This will preclude the necessity of long lines and by voting at your local courthouse or election board, no votes can be "lost in translation/transport/tossed in trash" because you can actually see where you ballot goes~we had problems with some new VoteBook tablet thingy in Davidson County (Nashville) during the primary that "somehow" automatically defaulted to RePiggery. The Evangelibaggers took over the Gov's office and statehouse in 2010 insanity. Those new-fangled tablets will NOT be used due to outcry by the masses of Democrats in Blue Nashville. This is a problem that probably would have not seen the light of day EXCEPT the Davidson County Sheriff is a Democrat and was subjected to the RePig ballot and he had the ability to get on the newschannels and bitch. The GOP is making every attempt at voter suppression, intimidation, illegal activity they can get away with all over US America and we must be DILIGENT.

      Jim, hope you realize just how much you are appreciated out here by the unwashed masses.

  9. Excellent points on things like DBA and TPA, which are not on the mental radar of a lot of folks. Thanks.

  10. I'm 64, and my husband is 80. We don't even want to believe that people will vote for the next recession under a Romney presidency. When people ask us, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" our answer is, "Hell, yes, and you are, too, if you invested any money in anything. For God's sake, do you have any investment accounts? Do read about how the market has rebounded, and in fact, at least doubled? Yeah, my investments are a whole lot better than they were four years ago -- a whole sh**-load better." Just sayin'.

    Thank you, Jim, I read your posts frequently, and I love you dearly. Keep up the good work. Did I mention that I love you? (But not as much as I love my husband, who is still unbelievably smart, and also a Navy veteran.)

    1. Am I better off? No, I lost a job the likes of which I'll never see again (for the record I'm 65 and not looking real hard). My IRA is up, but the house is down more, but not under water. Local taxes are going to drive me out in a few years. Local police chiefs are making $250,000 and up.

      Are we better off, yes.

  11. All excellent points, Jim. But especially scary as one hears the post mortems of the debate last night. Romney's big gains in the polls after the first debate don't seem to be halting anytime soon. Although with any luck they will at least slow. Unfortunately that may not be enough to lose him the election.

    As the election antics continue, it seems that everyone has decided to just ignore sequestration as it creeps closer. I imagine the screaming won't start until the effects of the cuts begin. Critical thinking and analysis by our electorate seem to be in shorter supply than in years past or maybe I am just remembering years past with a nostalgic haze.

    It is going to get much worse before it gets better.

    Old Navy Comm O

    PS. Only found one down in the Davis Bacon section, I.e., it should be at the expense (not the expensive) of local companies....

  12. One thing a theoretical Romney presidency won't have to contend with is a determined opposition. So he's got that going for him.

  13. "Government isn’t like Wall Street, Mitt, what are you going to do? Fire ‘em?"

    I think that's pretty much what the right wing wants to do, yes. Just like an English King disbanding Parliament. They would love an autocratic regime, so long as their guys are in charge. Wouldn't be the first time an aspiring right wing autocrat disbanded a legislative body. There was Mussolini, for instance. Also...

  14. North Woods Free ManOctober 17, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Your comment on Davis Bacon was spot on.We up here in the North Woods have been building paper mills,power houses,refineries,and large industrial complexes for over 150 years, and no one I know has said that someone from Texas rode up here on horse back to give us a hand.

    1. Be thankful Texans don't come up there. Ever seen one try to drive in the snow?

  15. Jim, a small quibble, but in the sentence, And conservatives made fun of Obama for daring to use the work “hope.” I expect you mean word not work? Excellent piece I agree completely.

  16. I know when I was bidding jobs I would always add a percentage above D-B wages in our proposals...It assured us a good group of contractors and union halls to work with...I worked for a time without DB and learned some lessons...It is a humane and just law...we need more labor protections in the USofA as the corporations have been abusing us for years...Jim...thanks...

  17. Did the same guy who promised to create jobs as soon as he gets into office, while complaining that Obama hasn't created enough jobs, really end the debate last night with, "Government doesn't create jobs! Government doesn't create jobs!"

    1. Yup. He set a record for his own flip-flopping. Less than three hours from one position to the other.

  18. I live in Massachusetts and my word to you all is that the health plan that Mitt created here is mostly working well. Now, he disowns it. Mitt the Shit most likely owns a big old yacht, registered in Delaware, thank you, no taxes on registered yachts in that state and he will never stay the course because he's so much more concernd about which way the political wind is blowing. He's nohing more than a bully and has no plan that he an articulate or complete. A freakin' junior sailor can plot a course, know the reference points, read the chart and the wind and still stay on course. Mitt has been hired by a captain and a first mate, neither of them cheap, and he owes them big time.

    1. I think the best description of Mitt Romney in politics was by John Fugelsang. He called him a "political wind sock". Pretty well describes Mitt to a tee.

    2. His yacht is registered in the Caymans, where he keeps his money.

  19. In regards to the second debate and the raging Mittster meme I direction your attention to:

    People were truly inspired.

    1. Kerry,

      Absolutely. The Amazon commenters showed a great sense of snarkiness and humor regarding all us "gals" in BinderLand.

  20. Wow! Mitt Romney said he would "command" Congress to do something? Seriously? Did he really say "command"? Because if he did it will be the most upsetting thing he has said during this entire campaign. Does he think he can "command" Congress to do anything? "Command"? Congress? Does he really think that's how it works? That he can "command" Congress to do his bidding? I am seriously upset here. Our country is not a dictatorship and the President does not "command" Congress to do anything. Does he think he will "command" the Supreme Court too?

    Please, Jim...please tell me you were just exercising literary license.


  21. The fact that there are still undecideds out there astounds me. I'm not sure there has been - in my voting lifetime- a bigger difference of candidates and their policies; at least those that we can get out of Mitt.

    Thanks, yet again, Mr. Wright. Excellent.


    1. IDK. The chasm between BHO and Snippy McCain was pretty broad. And the one between Mr. Gore and the Boy King was even larger.

  22. Thank you, yet again, for an excellent essay. You really are my hero.

  23. Jim,

    Your writing makes me happy and more disgusted with RePiggery Evangelibaggers. One suggestion tho: "active and vehement opposition of certain members of Congress" should be changed to "complete obstructionism and treason committed by the entire RePig Team". Thanks.

  24. Jim ,

    We will see how President Romney does ? He sure can't do any worse than the guy you will vote for ! You are not in the job market . You have no idea how bad things have been under Obama .

    1. You've made a number of assumptions, Anonymous, all of which are wrong.

    2. Jim ,

      I have been assuming for months that the election would turn to the Governor 3 or 4 weeks before voting day.Thanks to you I won't believe the polls now.

  25. Romney would have another problem regarding this whole rigmarole. He says that he wants to cut federal programs and move those programs back to the states. Do you know which states currently benefit the most from federal spending? That's right, with virtually no exceptions it is "conservative" states. Virtually every single "conservative" state in the nation receives more in federal spending than they put in, in some cases much more. Virtually every single "liberal" state in the nation pays more to the federal treasury than they receive. The principle even has a name: Red State Socialism. It's called that because it was a deliberate attempt by the Gingrich-led Congress in the mid-90s to engage on socialistic wealth redistribution by region to wean federal monies away from blue states and towards red states as a punishment for voting for Clinton. And they were successful in doing that.

    Now, if Romney reverses all of that and dumps everything back on the states, the states that are going to be hit the hardest are all the states that are probably going to vote for him. The Deep South. The Great Plains. The Mountain West. Alaska. All extremely conservative states and all currently on the federal dole. (Texas wasn't but that may have changed after Perry accepted the bailout from the feds to balance the state budget) So, Romney plans on stripping federal funds away from the states that voted for him and give it back to the states that won't vote for him. Does he think that is really going to go over well with Republicans in their core?

  26. Was just reading your post, and looked up at TV just in time to see an ad for "Atlas Shrugged II" THE MOVIE. GAAAAH!


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.