Policy and the Personal

There’s a lot of tut-tutting about the focus on Mitt Romney’s personal history. But it’s not a diversion; it’s a way to bring real policy issues to the forefront.

Comments: 284

  1. I am impressed by the Obama campaign's willingness to ignore the inane chattering classes and to continue to push the questions about what Mitt is hiding.

    The simple reality is that questions about Romney's refusal to release his pre-2010 tax returns, Romney's responsibility for the vulture capitalism and offshoring carried out by Bain, Romney's $100 million IRA, and Romney's offshore bank accounts and investments are all legitimate both as a matter of politics and policy. And the reason is that these stories all perfectly illuminate that Romney is an active participant in and cheerleader for the type of economic policies that have helped dismantle the once-secure middle class in America. As the Obama campaign has said "Romney is not the solution to our problems. He is the problem."

    To the critics who claim that the Obama campaign is being unfair, I'd ask how would you react if the shoe were on the other foot? What would you say if Obama refused to release his tax returns? Or if Obama had stashed a sizeable fortune away in offshore accounts. Or if Obama had been at the forefront of outsourcing and vulture capitalism? Would you be arguing that President Obama should be given a pass? Somehow I doubt it.

    It is beyond time for Romney to come clean. Until then, the question remains - What are you hiding, Mitt?



  2. If Obama off-shored his income to reduce his taxes then he would be a hypocrite. Romney was just being an ordinary rich person.

    In the end, Americans are going to vote for the candidate whom they believe will be able to best restore the economy, because will be the strength of the economy that will determine how many jobs will be created. If attack ads on Romney don't address his ability to run the nation's economy then they will miss the mark.

  3. W.P.,

    The shoe is on the other foot! Where are the inditements of those responsable for the financial meltdown? Not an investigation into a British Bank, but an investigation into the Americans that stole from their countrymen. It has been 4 Long Years and no one has gone to jail!. Why don't we talk about that?

  4. The same people who say it is unfair that Obama demands Romney release his tax returns demanded that Obama release his "real" birth certificate.
    This is beyond a double standard--it's approaching psychosis territory.


  5. Making Mitt the poster boy for the oligarchy is a fine starting-off point for substantive policy discussions. He is a made-for-TV cartoon character -- Snidely Whiplash to Obama's Dudley Do-right. He's a two-dimensional parody of a villain that even the low-information voter can learn to despise.

    Professor Obama perhaps can explain to the American people how income disparity, as espoused by nihilist Republicans. has historically destroyed great civilizations. Maybe he can even put his money where his mouth is, and have his Justice Department squeeze in a few bankster indictments -- well before Election Day.

    Perhaps he can demand transparency in the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership talks now being conducted under his watch, and which Romney and the U.S, Chamber of Commerce want passed, pronto. According to the consumer watchdog group Public Policy, it is "Nafta on Steroids" and nothing less than a global corporate coup d'etat, giving multinationals carte blanche to bypass domestic laws, trashing the environment and public health and human rights. And jobs.

    Since Romney is already accusing the president of being anti-business, Obama might as well oblige him by siding with the 99% in substance as well as rhetoric. If he wants to play Captain Ahab, he can go a lot further than fighting Mitt the Great White Minnow in scathing TV ads. He -- and we -- must gather our courage and harpoons. The sharks are in the water, and we are the bait.


  6. Dang! The name of the group is Public CITIZEN. Above link is correct.

  7. "He's a two-dimensional parody of a villain that even the low-information voter can learn to despise."

    That's one more dimension than I would give him and it's enough for me to despise him.

  8. If he could show them to John McCain, why can't Mr. Romney show his tax returns to us the voters? If he was asking for Sen. McCain's trust, it is equally the case that in asking us for our votes, Gov. Romney is asking for our trust. If it was that Romney felt compelled to disclose his tax returns to another politician in order to be considered for advancement and he was willing to do it for someone structurally above him, well, it's supposed to be government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and I think he should feel the same compulsion if not more when the people demand to see the tax returns, too.

  9. Mitt Romney apparently learned his lesson when he showed his tax returns to John McCain and was rejected for doing it.

  10. McCain's eyes must have popped out of his head when he saw R-money's tax returns and looked under the hood. It's amazing that R-money would even consider throwing his hat into the ring given he was passed up be McCain, by someone like Palin! Come on Mitt, hand 'em over!! Let's all take a look!!

  11. The inference is that the McCain folks, who to their eternal shame went on to pick The Wicked Witch of The North, saw something in the tax returns that put them off.

  12. For 3 years, I looked closely at the ideas and behaviors Paul argues as failed or the way forward. He details how, I'm interested in why; for example, lies are an insecure cry for an approval. Paul points out they are replete.

    Why have we ignored the foreign policy implications of Romney's private offshoring? Balance sheets and boilerplate avoid the issue of charcter Paul rises, which I think should be elevated to the world's stage. The idea of an elected leader of a macro democracy having a large portion of personal wealth out-of-country brings into play values of leadership, conflicts of interest, and foreign policy impact. How would Mitt win respect—and replace the inner secret, mocking laughter--of Cameron, Merkel, Jinbao, Rouseff, Singh about a leader of the world's largest economy who has signaled his own compromise with American policy and power by placing his own fortunes offshore? Is this the image and character of the loyal patriotic leader or the wimp chasing an obsession with wealth?

    Yes, it's private money, but America's public ridicule, the appearance that America's public virtue is for sale and what counts is the international loop hole with the best interest rate or tax rate. This is not 1999. Those accounts are still in place.

    Blind dislike for Obama justifies any violation of values.The disconnect–and disrespect– is obvious–to anyone expect those so blind they forsake loyalty and patriotism for an agenda of defeat.

  13. "On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters."

    The Obama campaign is taking the fight right to the Republicans and Democrats in down ballot races should follow their lead. The Bain Capital, Swiss Bank account and outsourcing attacks, as Dr.Krugman so brilliantly explained, expose the Republican agenda of giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy and crushing the rest of us. The Tax Policy Center estimates that the Romney/Ryan tax plan will substantially increase taxes for middle class Americans making between $49,000 and $70,000 while reducing the tax burden of high earners by as much as $250,000 a year. Though true, that seems so outrageous that most Americans don't believe it. But they do believe that people like Romney are tax cheats, are so rapacious in their need to increase their wealth they'd ship every American job overseas if they could and that people who shelter money overseas and refuse to open up their tax returns have something to hide and are not to be trusted. This is the only way to drive in what the consequences of a Romney presidency would mean "in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance."

  14. Although the coming campaign should really focus on issues, that seems to be a non-starter in today's political arena, as Professor Krugman suggests. Personalities, especially their real or imagined failings, are the order of the day, thanks to people like Lee Atwater and his acolyte Karl Rove. I guess when you're in Rome, you have to do as the Romans do.

    It's a bit eerie how Romney's corporate life fits so well with his recently announced political stands. He has certainly taken full advantage of the tax laws, so it seems, and got away with a 14 percent tax rate in 2010, less than the rate many middle-classers had to pay. And his record at Bain Capital neatly encapsulates what's wrong with corporate buyouts and leveraging. A lot of people lost their jobs thanks to such practices. The fact that Romney hasn't broken any laws says something about our lax regulation and oversight of corporations and our tax laws that favor the rich.

    So it does seem appropriate to use these personal issues to highlight Romney's avowed stand to defend the interests of the one percent (or .01 percent) against those of the other 99 percent who dare to think that government is there to serve them too. At least the Democrats are not charging Romney with sexual infidelities or that sort of thing, unlike what the Republicans did to Bill Clinton, or fabricating presumed misdeeds out of whole cloth, as in Kerry's swiftboating. That kind of personal attack should be beyond the pale.

  15. The Mitt Boson (Dog Particle) must be considered in its Quantum Political state.

    The uncertainty of Romney's position and momentum expressed by wave functions of flip-flopping, mendacity, evasiveness, and pandering can only be resolved by analysis of results from the Large Taxation Collider.

    Without these results we may never know what is the nature of the dark matter that appears to account for 73% of the wealth-mass-energy of Mitt Romney.

  16. Brilliant!! Very well expressed!

  17. I'm thinking of another dog, one Toto. Mitt Romney has to worry if the curtain he's hiding behind is openable by a mere dog.

  18. "the Romney plan would reduce the annual taxes paid by the average member of the top 1 percent by $237,000 compared with the Obama plan; for the top 0.1 percent that number rises to $1.2 million."

    Combine that with Citizens United allowing unlimited contributions, and you can see the abuse is unavoidable. You can see who is buying what.

    This is the sort of extreme systemic corruption that destroys countries. Governments can be replaced. Sometimes they must be, because things like this destroy them.

    Remember, "When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them . . .?" That's wher we started, and that's where Romney is taking us again.

  19. I'm always amused by the assumption that just because one form of tax on high earners currently is lower than at earlier times, then that means current levels are wrong and earlier ones were right. Useful premise to establish, if you can get away with slipping it by.

    The top 5% of earners in our society already pay over 40% of the costs of funding our federal government. Beyond that, during almost all of that period you so pine for, there were no state income taxes; and then, for a long time, state income taxes were deductible from federal income taxes -- but with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), to which more and more of us are subject, those state income taxes are less and less deductible. Then, in some of our states, there are so-called "millionaire surcharges", where an ADDITIONAL income tax surcharge is imposed on high earners, also less and less deductible.

    High earners get literally hammered with taxes, of all kinds. The only exceptions are those extremely high earners with tax law advantages they can exploit; and those exceptions don't add up to beans, because there are so few people who can exploit them.

    Yet there are the liberati, agitating for yet MORE tax to be levied against those who already substantially pay the bills. Why? Well, $1 trillion deficits apparently are beginning to look bad; and, really, they aren't enough -- you want to spend more, and there's really only one place to go for it, isn't there?

    6 November really can't get here soon enough.

  20. And yet, the disparity between rich and poor increases, in part because the wealth that accrues to the wealthiest often derives from activities undertaken elsewhere, with no economic benefit to working people, or people who would be working, in this country.

    That disparity, without regard to the question of who funds the federal government, is reason enough to revert to the tax rates of prior times.

  21. Well, in a society totally void of the middle class that you are dreaming about, the top 5% will be forced to pay not 40% but probably 99% of the overall tax burden - simply because the subsistence wages of everyone else won't be enough to [ay any tax... The 40% number coming not from the top rate being unreasonably high but from the massive redistribution of income from the middle class to the rich. I'd rather have this redistribution reverted via more sensible trade policies and rebuilding of the domestic productive economy. Short of this (all hail the free trade) the tax rates is all we have left.

  22. "High earners get literally hammered with taxes, of all kinds"

    My guess you have luxury taxes in mind.

    Seriously, the goal is stable and fair society, at least I think that was the reason to found this country. Otherwise, why bother fo found any country? If wealthy can fend for themselves, as feudals did in medieval times, building their own roads and arming their own armies, they can move to Zimbabwe, don't they? Oh, I forgot, there is no one there they could take adventage of!

    So how much taxes they should pay? The answer is always in the big picture: enough so we all have stable, prosperous and fair country. And by fair I do not mean anything free, which is the most common argument against progressive taxes from the right. No freebies, but everyone having a fair shot for success with talent and hard work. And by fair I also mean that inequality would be part of it. People with more talents and working harder would achieve more. One can achieve that kind of fairness in many ways, but certainly not in a way that is advertized by American Conservatism. The end game of their capitalism is the same as in 1905 Russia, and that kind of capitalsim gave rise to communism.

  23. It is fair to point out the inconsistencies between Mr. Romney's public statements and Bain's SEC filings. It is also fair to point out that Romney pointed in part to his continuing involvement in Bain and Bain investments to make his case for ongoing Massachusetts residency between 1999 and 2002-- a stance that allowed him to run for governor of Massachusetts in 2002.

    It would also behoove the Obama campaign to show that the Romney tax plan increases the gap between poor/middle class and rich by giving the rich far bigger tax cuts. One way to express this might be to term the Romney tax plan as 'Welfare for the 1%' or 'Welfare for Millionaires and Billionaires.'

  24. The super wealthy are using taxes as a wedge issue to gain vote from a huge constituency of government haters. They are not concerned about paying additional taxes. They control the tax code which insures their rates will not be substantially increased. In any case, any extra cost to them is trivial and would be passed on downward to the middle class.

    It is all about gaining control over the government and government agencies, in order to reduce regulations and insure greater profits.
    They are not satisfied with controlling 98% of the wealth when they can control 99%.

  25. The media is thriving on the fight and not the substance. We aren't yet having a realistic debate about the future of our country.

    Take away the enormous increase in household debt (which rose from around 50% of disposable income in 1980 to peak around 130% in 2007) and our economy has grown far slower than the 3% annual GDP increase we need to employ our growing population. Tax revenues are about 15% GDP while spending is 24% GDP, with a $10 trillion debt increase expected over the next decade if we stay on the present policy path.

    In other words, when the world cut off our borrowing binge in 2007 our economy cratered. The Federal government is attempting to make up the slack but this is a band-aid, not a solution. The artery is severed and we need surgery.

    It's great to talk about the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and whether Romney is lying about his past.

    But tell me how we solve the real problems: 1) Globalized free trade with off-shoring is putting our people out of work, as CEO's do "labor arbitrage," sending our jobs to the lowest bidder, to the tune of our $700 billion goods trade deficit. Are we going to roll-back globalization or let it proceed? 2) What is the right size of government? We won't have a realistic debate until folks actually have to pay for their government, as right now borrowing causes no pain to the current generation.

    These are the real questions. I'd like an answer, Mr. President and Mr. Romney. Or Dr. Krugman.

  26. I'll answer them for you.

    1. Globalization is good for America because it increases the net wealth of the United States. The problem is that all that extra wealth - and more! - has been creamed off by the top 0.5%. Blaming globalization is a smokescreen that diverts attention from the real problem.

    2. Government revenues are not enough to pay for the size of government that we have today. Actually they are nowhere near enough. Taxing the super-rich at the levels that applied in the Nixon/Carter era will help, but not enough. The government has to be cut back in size; there is no serious alternative. The first step should be to cut the military by at least 50%. If US military expenditure were half of its current size, it would still be bigger than the military budgets of Russia, China, Japan, and Europe COMBINED. Why does it need to be even that size?

    (By the way, the folks who want to divert even more money from social to military spending allege that a country like China gets more bang for the buck than the USA because of lower costs. If you look at actual military forces, you'll see that the reverse is true. For example, the US Navy has 10 carrier groups, each centered on a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. These are the biggest, most powerful carriers in the world - no other country has even ONE carrier that compares with the Nimitz class.)

  27. You have great questions but you won't get answers for them until unemployment is 25% across the country. The public is not yet aware of this problems to the extent they would press for painful solutions.

    The public still thinks the band-aid is the way to go! America is great! Impossible something is very wrong! And I think Obama knows that very well. Imagine him proposing single payer, top tax rate at 60% and military cuts by mere 10%, which would fix all our fiscal problems.
    He would be gone in a heartbeat!

  28. We cannot rely on radio or television media. They are looking for "good television" and numbers and figures don't sing and dance.

    Wrestling has always been popular on the tube. Add over-blown personalities and some mud and presto: Good television. Good for selling soap products.

    I am tired of television round table hosts who act more like game show hosts than investigators of lies and truths. Again, game shows have always been popular on the TV.

    Right now Romney is on the defense and the crowd is loving it. He wants an apology, but that won't happen because the everyone who has been raised on the tube knows: It would be bad television.

    If only we could have the fact check guys run the October debates....

  29. Mr. Romney has claimed that his successful career at Bain qualifies him for a stint at the White House. His claim isn't unique. Silivio Berlusconi, even more successful as a CEO than Mr. Romney, made similar claims. Unfortunately, his actual record as President did little to substantiate his claims. Successfully running a business and being the president are not interchangeable skills. Mr. Romney's recent difficulties in providing a clear account of what he did at Bain and when he did it are symbolic of the different sets of skills required in the two dissimilar endeavors. Success in private business often depends on making the most of limited accountability and a compliant board of directors - the opportunity to cut corners to put it bluntly. And the history of presidencies shows quite clearly that cutting corners is a sure recipe for presidential failure. So, it is not so much that Mr. Romney's equivocation on his tenure disqualifies him for the presidency, as it is a strong indicator that his hypothetical presidency is not likely to have the success he is predicting.

  30. One could argue that Berlusconi's business and political skills were much the same. Two of the main skills were the abilities to work with gangsters and to take advantage of corruption for personal gain (fiscal or political, or both).

    If Romney becomes President, we may find a similarity with how Bain operates: the U.S. will be increasingly sold off for debt as the wealthy take home the proceeds, government work will be increasingly outsourced, and more of our economy will be sent abroad.

  31. The best defense is an offense, and that is what Romney has tried to do. His attempts to make Obama apologize, his vociferous denials, are those of someone who has something to hide from the public.

    His behavior is one of anxiety and fear that he will be found to have reason to keep his tax returns from scrutiny. That might not be true, but it looks to me as if he has something to hide about the sources of his income, and his investments. They may be legal, but they would show the public just what a schemer he really is. He is not a liar per se, but an obfuscator who can hide behind distortions of the facts.

    We have seen in recent articles that he is a schemer. His Utah residency v.s. his Massachusetts residency, his Bain Capital ownership and supposed non control, all leave questions about his veracity. We have seen several attacks of his on Obama that were specious and that is his modus operendi. The attacks regarding Obama's handling of the economy are non specific.They hazve no references, or research to show what he says is in fact true. His attacks are of the kind to raise suspicion about his opponent but are non specific, which leaves no way to counter them. These are the tactics of bullies and petty satraps. All this together shows he is just plain unqualified to be elected president.

    Those of us who are old enough to remember, have seen these kinds of political schemes before, about 70 years ago. We do not need to repeat their consequences.

  32. Let's see here, Romney has more than twice the wealth than the last 8 presidents combined. And he is "unemployed" (he claims), worries about getting a pink slip, likes to fire people, doesn't think $375,000 dollars a year for speaking is much money, doesn't care about poor people and pays only 13.9 % in income tax while the rest of us pay 33%

  33. Actually denying it just makes people scrutinize it more; this is classic "don't think of an elephant" framing. For once the dems are doing it right. Keep it up!

  34. Mittens needs an awful lot of sunshine and disinfectant to air out the Thurston Howell III pathology he suffers from.

    The Federal Government has been in revenue freefall since it was hijacked by the Reaganistas to create epically low tax rates on capital gains, dividends and the practical joker 'carried interest expemption' for struggling hedge fund millionaires. All these tax preference items are the province of the filthy rich and Mitt wants to maintain and/or increase these items because......he cares deeply that rich people may not be rich enough.

    If Moneybags Mittens releases his tax returns like a normal candidate, it could be difficult to explain why he paid the same income tax rate as a single mom working three jobs in Arkansas even though her income was $28,000 and his was $28 million.

    It could be difficult to explain why he prefers to keep his assets in countries outside the country he yearns to govern.

    The IRS tax code and its absurd 72,000 pages has been one of the primary class warfare weapons the rich have used to bilk the middle class and the poor.

    The rich income tax puppet show deserves to end.

    After Obama wins, he'll unveil the new Mittens Tax, which requires every millionaire to pay a federal tax rate that at least equals the tax rates paid by people working three jobs in this country.

    The Mittens Tax: a tax for the obnoxiously wealthy and obtuse who forgot that they were part of a greater society that helped make them wealthy in the first place.

  35. Socrates: Thurston Howell III, Reaganistas, Moneybags Mittens: pure gold: thanks for today's wittiest comment!

  36. The most recent Obama ad against Romeny was spot and appears to be effective. For me and many other Americans, how Romney has made his money and where he hides it to avoid taxes is absolutely relevant. I feel he needs to pay more taxes. He feels he sholud lowert his and his rich friends. I know that his tax plan is going to hammer me and my neighbors.

    By the way, I haven't heard either candidate talk about climate change. 500ml of rain fell in a section of Japan yesterday leaving 20 people dead.

  37. i'll assume that's a typo. 500ml is half a liter, barely enough to drown a kitten in a bucket. not that i'd ever roughly 2 cups, a pint, sixteen ounces, half a quart. mm on the other hand would translate to approximately twenty inches.

  38. Thousands of US taxpayers names and social security numbers were released by Swiss banks to the US government several years ago. While discussing something with an IRS revenue agent several years ago (I'm a CPA in SoCal), he offhandedly said that all the CID agents were over on the West Side working the Swiss bank cases. Thousands of US taxpayers settled both criminal and civil charges stemming from these investigations. (Isn't it time for some big in-depth news articles on foreign tax evasion?)

    I have a hard time believing that someone can have accounts and investment companies and other "conduits" in Switzerland, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands and not have made some serious violations of US tax law, or at least inadvertent ones. Maybe they're legal in the sense that some law firm provided a jumped up opinion letter that everything was all on the up and up. But the real question is would these transactions if fully disclosed stand examination by US tax authorities. This should be of very compelling interest to everyone.

    If I were Congress and Romney is elected president, on Day 1 I would issue subpoenas and very carefully examine the circumstances of these tax situations.

    And if I were a Very Serious Editor, I would have investigative reporters in Switzerland, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands--today.

  39. Three cheers to Dr. Krugman for laying out the politics of this so clearly. Surely by now, after “death panels” and “birthers”, debt ceiling blackmail and all manner of sly and cynical innuendos about race, religion and "real" Americans, the President and his team must know what they’re up against. And, they’re up against this kind of bare knuckles, take no prisoners, truth be d***ed politics, precisely because this is not about a reasonable discussion of policy. The Republican party of 2012 is driven by unrestrained greed, blind ideology and raw prejudice, and its leaders have chosen to ride those horses. So, strike first or be stricken. Of course, just today, the President was again talking about the poisoned atmosphere in Washington, much as he lamented excessive partisanship in 2008 – a approach that Dr. Krugman countered time and again as completely misdirected and a misdiagnosis of what ails the country. Let’s hope that the President doesn’t go down that route again. There is no symmetry here: it’s not excessive partisanship on all sides, or “Washington”. The problem is an utterly radicalized Republican party. End of story.

  40. I'm so tired of the GOP dressing up predators, liars, and demagogues as patriotic heroes. From the comments PK draws, it seems that many folks realize the GOP's Southern Strategy pushed out the integrity from the party. The type of Republican instrumental in passing the New Deal and the civil rights legislation of the 60's got disappeared, so that fundamentalists, segregationists, and their successors would find a party free from cognitive dissonance. This works just fine for the plutocrats, who control the narrative by owning a large portion of the media and are quite happy to glamorize their opportunists.

    The Dems seem to regularly forget that when one has such public visibility, one is a brand, like it or not, and if one doesn't defend one's brand, the competition will shred it. (Though my impression is that Bill Clinton understood this and could counter-punch effectively, which is partly why the GOP would stop at almost nothing to destroy him).

    I'm heartened to see Dems finally going after MItt's brand. It seems absolutely appropriate, and I wish them well.

    And isn't this exactly what the GOP primary candidates did to each other for months - and months - and months - debate after debate? Remember? Why does the GOP get a pass on so much of this stuff? I understand that it's basic GOP strategy to yell "Unfair!" whenever their tactics are used against them, but does the media always have to fall for this? Yeah - it's grist for their drama-based mills, I know, I know.

  41. You paint a very charitable picture of the media today. From the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal, through Fox News to right wing talk radio, the plutocracy has created propaganda machine that doesn't even pretend to be "balanced." Fed by a network of conservative think tanks, these right wing media outlets have convinced a significant number of Americans that giving the top 1% even more tax breaks while doing essentially nothing for the middle class will usher in a new age of prosperity. Citizens United has ensured that the money necessary to carry on the propaganda campaign masquerading as free speech will be there in abundance.

  42. The media was unaware, uneducated and ignorant of the trend that started around the time mr Romney conceived of an entity like Bain Capital. The meda turned its head away when the profit windfalls filled the coffers of folks like Mitt Romney. Either they had too much faith in capitalism and free market or they were simply spectators in the Roman arena gleefully watching the Private equity gladiators ripping American workers clean off their dues. The blame lies on all of us for relying on the media who neither cautioned nor could foresee the phenomenon that created huge inequities, we were all cheering Wall Street via CNBC and Bloomberg. We were all in it together.

  43. Professor, since there is no reason to believe him, why is it so critical for you to reiterate time after time, since you departed from your former wonderfully informative columns on economics and devoted yourself to down and dirty Chicago politics, which I hope do not sully your Nobel level reputation, that you repeat what the Obama apologists trumpet from the rooftops without effect 24/7 ?

    That you, who in your real world of economics is a beacon for me and many others throughout the globe, would descend to using the spiel of the comic used car salesman by writing, trust me; please.

    Let us get to the issues being discussed here, jobs, the lack of, the simply astounding statistics, starting at the bedrock of American society, summer jobs for kids. Where are they, Dr Krugman ? Most particularly, the lack of employment among black teenagers in the summer job area is appalling. Do you offer a concern, or better still, a solution ?

    How does our country employ the college graduates from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 ? And then, critically, how do you suggest that that our country employ the high school graduates of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. And, even more critically, how do you suggest our country employs the drop outs from the same years ?

    And while you are looking into those solutions, how do you suggest, right in your area of expertize, do you suggest our country employ those not included in our 8.2% unemployment rate, the 25,000,000 Americans who are without a paycheck ?

  44. I'm baffled by Mr. Barrett's implication that Obama, by failing to magically create jobs out of thin air, is failing as a president. Unfortunately, the only magic here is that of the banksters --- who managed to make literally trillions disappear by those bad mortgage bets --- and state and local governments --- who made needed government services and the employment required to provide them disappear.

    No, Mr. Barrett, Obama is not a magician, especially when he faces a Republican congress who would steadfastly oppose the one thing that might actually get the economy going. This is, of course, the massive government stimulus program that Prof. Krugman has long advocated in his columns (an idea taken straight from the chapters on macroeconomic stimulus of his own Econ 101 textbook).

  45. Well our ability to deal with those very real issue depends greatly on the federal government having sufficient revenues. If the top income earner refuse to pay taxes then either those who can't afford to pay them must or we must cut programs. As to curing unemployment we need to run a short term deficit, that must be repaid with future tax revenues. Thus by focusing on Romney's private business practice for off shoring it illustrates how the rich have shifted jobs oversea, which Romney implicitly agrees with since he has gone to great pains to deny he was involved with it. But then he doesn't want to those same people to pay taxes that could be used to educate, hire as a result of government contracts etc those students which you and I worry about. As illustrated by his off shore accounts, for which he doesn't pay taxes.

  46. Mr Barrett, you ask a question at the end of your screed that Dr. Krugman has answered ad nauseum.

    How do we employ those without work? As this column has argued since before the passage of the ARRA, it is by stimulating the economy with public sector spending since the private sector will not -- and, for the 99%, cannot -- spend more.

    Krugman said the ARRA stimulus was inadequate, has shown that the federal spending was largely offset by state and local government spending cuts, and has repeatedly called for more Keynesian stimulus. He has noted the failures of austerity in Europe and its likely effects in the uS - a double dip recession, like the collapse of the US economy when Roosevelt tried too soon to balance the federal budget in the Depression.

    You must not have read those columns, or else you totally failed to understand them.

    The only issue here is whether the needed spending should be financed by borrowing or supported by raising the taxes on the ultrarich to the 70% and above levels that existed during this country's most rapid economic growth in the past century.

  47. When John McCain was considering Mitt Romney as his vice-presidential running mate, Romney showed McCain his tax records for many years. Something McCain saw in those records made him realize Romney was a bad choice. The fact that McCain ended up choosing Palin is kind of scary. She may have been ditsy but I guess she kept her money in the U.S. and not the Cayman Islands.

  48. Seriously. He thought Sarah Palin was more honest and had less baggage than Romney? Damn. :)

  49. Strangely sen McCain has publicly endorsed me Romney this time. Strange.

  50. Your editorial piece shows the validity of the old expression,

    "Them that's Got, Gits".

    This is especially true because most people don't take the time to think things through. No one wants to raise taxes, but, as you so rightly point out, the tax cuts are only for the benefit of the very rich.

    The very rich give money to the Regressicants to not only continue the tax cuts but to add to them, and the companies the very rich own or control advertise on the TV stations that bleat their slanted messages.

    The 99%ters hear that and vote as if they were one of the very rich.

    The new expression is working out to be,

    "Them that don't Got, Gives".

  51. This election IS about the Rich vs. the rest of us. Or the 1% vs. the 99%. This fact is obvious to all except the slow learner.

    An effective picture is worth a 1000 words. Interactive makes it even fun.
    Note the following:

    Apply the 2 Timeline sliders to 1980 to 2008 - the period of Republican imposed tax cuts. Average income grew by $11,714. The richest 10% got 98% of that growth. The bottom 90% shared 2%.

    In 2010, 93% of all new income created the year before went to the top 1%, while the bottom 99% was allowed to wallow in the remaining 7%.

    Median income has declined from $50,000 to $48,000. As a result our standard of living has declined - certainly a major issue for the election.

    The main goal of the GOP with its tax policies is to make the 99% so poor they cannot fight back or exist for that matter.
    (Bumper sticker seen in Michigan - "Too poor to be a Republican".)

    The dollar is their means to consolidate power, especially political power. Money is the fuel for the SuperPacs.

    The GOP operatives are a debilitating force in our society and they have evolved into a destructive tribal force of dangerous capability. They have their little tin god named Norquist, their ominous belief in starving the so-called government "beast", and their goal to destroy the middle class.

    Romney is nothing more than a front man for these destructive forces and his personal history with all its monied aspects is fair game.

  52. I disagree with this op-ed's basic premise: that "this election is about the rich versus the rest."

    In 1976, the late Carl Oglesby published a rather paranoid political history of post 1963 U.S. politics, "The Yankee and Cowboy War."

    In it, he held that national politics from then to Watergate reflected a battle for hegemony between two monied elites, old East Coast money (Yankees) , and new, western money (Cowboys).

    His book was a strange tract which drew upon a much more creditable, but still conspiratorially-minded, volume by a famous Georgetown U. professor, Carroll Quiqley, "Tragedy and Hope: The History of the World In Our Time."

    Oglesby's account was false as a complete one- and would be especially so today.

    While such regional groupings vie for power in the U.S., power at the national level has become much more diffuse.

    However, such groupings do exist, and come to the fore during elections. We can understand this one by taking a leaf from Oglesby's book.

    In the last 15 years, a new cadre of culturally liberal super-rich whose wealth is either from inheritance (the billionaire Chicago hotel heiress who backed Barack Obama) or from the internet have become much more powerful - a new sector of the national elite.

    Obama can be said to represent this new money, and Romney, quaint old Reaganite "Cowboy" megabucks.

    In brief, this election is really more accurately characterized as being about "the rich versus the rich" - not "the rich versus the rest."

  53. Spot on, and this finally explains to me the mystery of Obama's diffidence in the face of income inequities and the plight of the middle classes, and his unwillingness to do battle in the way that FDR and even JFK did.

    It always seemed to me that his diffidence came from wanting to sit at the table with the rich, but that is not quite the case. It is a certain kind of rich to which he aspires, and whose interests he will continue to serve in his second term.

    Nonetheless, he's better than the alternative.

  54. You are correct. If Obama wins, his wealthy donors will also do well. Obam's policies will have less of a negative impact upon me and my work then Romney''s proposals, so I woiuld be glad to see him(Romney) defeated.
    For the most part though, I want to see issues addressed that will not be addressed by either party and I'm hoping that the coalition that gets Obama elected can keep pressuring the democrats our politicians AFTER THE ELECTION, to get progressive issues addressed.

  55. Louis Masano -- Point taken, but there is rich, and then there's RICH. Asked why he lost the Republican primary, Newt Gingrich replied, "it's simple: He had 14 billionaires, I only had one.". Sure there are a few wealthy individuals and groups that support Obama, but get real. Romney always has the super rich overwhelmingly on his side. Why? Because they know Romney has their backs. You don't generally get that rich by being stupid, and given the numbers presented in this column by what is at stake, a huge donation to the Romney campaign can rationally be viewed as a good investment.

  56. “In fact, earlier this year focus groups given an accurate description of Mr. Romney’s policy proposals refused to believe that any politician would take such a position.” – Prof. Krugman

    There is nothing wrong about what Mitt Romney did when he was running Bain Capital. “I did nothing wrong.” It’s capitalism. That’s how you would run a private equity firm: buying, selling off, or closing business, firing people, and maximizing your profit. Just don’t pretend he or anybody could run a US government just like an equity firm. Government has to come in and take up ultimate responsibility when and where those profit-maximizing private businesses leave or refuse to enter, because of dire social needs only government can fulfill. Government is not a private enterprise. Government has to do so much un-businesslike business because government is elected to do so. Government ends up doing so much of “dirty business” that is essential because no private enterprise is willing to do.

    Yes, issues matter greatly. But the character behind them matters even more.

  57. Equity firms, and firms in general, are like the herd of brooms in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. They do what they are told to do (make money) with great determination and creativity but no regard for the effects of their actions on the system as a whole. We need a sorcerer to limit their actions, but all we have is quarreling groups of mickey mouse.

  58. In my opinion the point is more simple than that, Mr. Krugman.

    We've reached a point in our history when most citizens, at least the most of us who are Independents, believe that all citizens actually SHOULD be treated equally. Not rhetorically equally but the same treatment for everyone.

    So if it is possible that any person looking for work, in the interest of getting that work has to subject him or herself to credit searches, background checks, facebook searches, to the possibility of random drug tests, et al, then it's time for politicians to have to accept that they are no longer going to be allowed to be exceptions.

    The public knows that 1%, even .1%, even .01% of you own the wealth and income of the nation.

    But there is still the matter of this nation's history based on the promise of democracy. Remember? With liberty and justice for all? Those speeches by Patrick Henry, the Continental Army, the Declaration and Constitution and Civil War and Amendments and speeches by Lincoln? Remember all of that? The economy we built together and the wars that were fought?

    If you want to be president, Mr. Romney, well, then, the least you can do for the most important job in the Western World is prove to us your qualified.You actually still have to win by proving to most of us you're better.

    With each passing day you seem determined to do just the opposite.

  59. No law says he has to. But then he has to suffer the reminders and lose the votes. No apologies will be forthcoming.

  60. And yet not a peep about Obama's college records that your president refuses to release. Why is that?

  61. One of the central rationales of capitalism is that people are motivated by money. If tax rates on the wealthy went back up to pre-Bush II tax levels, wouldn't that motivate them to be more productive? According to the capitalist rationale, simply cutting their taxes reduces their motivation to work, and thereby reduces their motivation to create jobs.

  62. This is an argument I've been making too. If you're addicted to a life style and something comes along and reduces your drug (money) you'll work hard to replace the lost drug. When people claim business owners are going to reduce head count because their taxes increase is a complete joke. Lets follow the right's logic; my taxes increase thereby reducing my personal cash flow so I'll stop hiring to insure I don't replace the lost cash flow...and people buy this logic?

  63. Lots of excellent points here. One more thing that's occurred to me: let's say that Romney is completely accurate in his contention that he left Bain in '99 and was not involved with any activity that resulted in the outsourcing of jobs. If such is the case, can one possibly believe that he had no idea that this was going on and/or no means of influencing the decisions of those who came after him? Bain was his baby for all intents and purposes. Was he really too busy with the Olympics to speak out on behalf of American workers who were to be deprived of their jobs by those who succeeded him? My suspicion is that whether or not Romney made key decisions at Bain after '99 his sensitivity towards the employees whose jobs were headed to India and elsewhere was about on a par with his concern for the dog tied to the roof of his car.

  64. Fresh air for the middle class!

  65. Mr Romney is a symbol, a symptom of the decay that began in America just around the time he was leading Bain Capital and he is an wilful accomplice to the phenomenon you describe. Obviously the participants and proponents of this phenomenon had no foresight of the repercussions, no way of knowing that without someone watching them, without regulations in place, they could do just about anything they wanted, with the label of it being all "legal".

  66. When a stock analyst owns a few shares of a company he's recommending, we make a big deal that he discloses that interest to potential investors, so the investors can evaluate the influence that personal interest plays in the recommendation.

    When an investment manager receives a commission from certain stock brokers, we make a big deal that she discloses that commission to her clients and potential clients, so the investors can evaluate the influence that personal interest plays in the choice of brokers to execute trades.

    When a presidential candidate has hundreds of millions of dollars affected annually by tax policies that candidate wants to change, suddenly we aren't supposed to make a big deal that they disclose that interest to potential voters, so the voters can evaluate the influence that personal interest plays in his recommendations?

    There's only one reason for a candidate with Romney's background in the financial world to play dumb on this one, and that's the presence of something so bad it'll sink his campaign more than the suspicious silence already is. The McCain team saw the tax returns and picked Palin, even as a recession meant the campaign would obviously focus on the economy. What's Romney hiding?

  67. That's my question too - what is he hiding? Obviously it's not something good. Is he even fit to be president when he is obfuscating about everything in the campaign season??

  68. Personality or the issues... they are inseparable are they not? But it happens that Mr. Romney's quirks, taken together, have the appearance of a monumental personality disorder. Plunked down in today's world we have a man who is enormously wealthy and appears to be enormously insensitive to the plight of a great majority of his countrymen -- and a man given to repeating the same tired lies and phony justifications that convince no one of anything. So one wonders: how can a guy like this ever hope to become the next President of the United States? And then you see Karl Rove's shadow, the Koch Brothers off to the side, one-armed bandits that appear to be voting machines, news clips of the latest voter restriction laws, invariably introduced by Republicans, and the latest: News out of Wisconsin that a preliminary ballot recount shows a large margin of error and in every single instance that error favoring Governor Walker? More and more I see a shakedown of enormous proportion as the only solution to the great mantle of corruption that has fallen over the United States of America. President Obama fumbled badly, so if he loses it will be hard not to trace the fault to his own inaction and ill-considered appointments. But what about the country? What about the people? How soon must that time come when people who've had enough finally stand up and say it: Enough is enough!

  69. Mindless repetitive tuts for tats leads to “ta-ta” to our republic. It’s all planned distraction. We are numbed-out from media balancing disinformation with dissed-disinformation with counters of mis-dissed-un-information imploding in entropic singularities. Huh? It’s all meaningless noise. That’s the plan, and it’s working: too many Americans are in a dazed stupor.

    Republicans are making plenty of noise to distract us from their criminal, even traitorous, acts such as attempting to devolve our republic to a plutarchy; undermining or repealing American rights in an attempt to return the state of the Union to a pre-1930's condition; and enacting naïve ideological fiscal policies that are proven failures—focusing on deregulation, and Wall Street’s maniacal unsustainable focus on ever-increasing short-term profit.

    Make more loud noisy lies about President Obama; lies about deficit hysteria and fake fiscal policies; and phony attacks on women’s rights, the unemployed, EPA, DOE, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, food stamps, and other social safety net programs.

    The noise distracts us from demanding that Republican leadership, subversive stealth organizations such as ALEC, and their arrogant Wall Street cronies are tried in a court of law for their criminal acts.

    Tsk, tsk.

    Vote Republicans out of Congress and Government.


  70. I recall that President Obama faced a similarly 'nagging issue' throughout the election process and even into his presidency concerning his proof of citizenship. This issue was simply rhetoric drummed up from the opposition.

    I remember that Donald "awesome hairstyle" Trump took credit for being the straw that broke the Obama camp's back on releasing the long-form birth certificate. Evidently Mr. Trump never took a research methods course : correlation does not equal causation.

    The tax return issue has and will continue to be a 'nagging issue' for Mr. Romney - much like the birth certificate issue for President Obama. I wonder what event (I hope Paul Krugman's article does) would finally lead to the Romney camp to release his previous tax forms. Warren Buffett, anyone?

  71. There's a big difference - President Obama's birth certificate was a non-issue being used to drum up racist votes. Governor (notice how he never talks about his time as Governor?) Romney's tax returns are a real issue. He campaigns on his "experience" making money - so people are asking valid questions as to what that experience is, how much money he made, and where it is. And is any of this "experience" in the US national interest (ie inshoring or offshoring jobs).

    Governor Romney brought up the issues, now he has to answer to them. The Republican problem is the answers don't seem to be too good for the American People.

    Of course, he could have avoided this by running on his record as Governor. You know, building consensus, developing a comprehensive plan for health care, etc. The Republican problem with that is he looks like Obama lite based on his Government record, and they're claiming President Obama is terrible.

  72. Anon, Mr. Romney is not currntly the governor of any state. The title stays with the office not the person who once sat in the office and is no longer in that office. Former governor, Willard Romney, is the only correct way to connect the two. Of course the ruling class, who want life long lordly titles, will advocate the incorrect phrase Governor Romney.

  73. PJ, your "research methods course" does not seem to have taught you how to construct a valid analogy.

    Romney has never established, to anyone's satisfaction, whether or not he paid his fair share of taxes, because he has only released his most recent tax return. Obama, on the other hand, had already released his official birth certificate from Hawaii in 2008, which was confirmed the same year by the Hawaii Department of Health.

    In effect, you are saying that paranoid birthers asked Obama for unnecessary documentation and therefore anyone who asks any politician for documentation is being paranoid. Maybe you also missed the logical reasoning course?

  74. The highest marginal tax rate on dividend income is 15%. The richest people in this country live on dividend income. They are the great-great grandchildren of the Robber Barons. They are the Walkers and the Bushes, as in George Herbert Walker Bush. They are also the Koch brothers and the Waltons, of Walmart.

    These people pay taxes at the same rate as the dishwasher at your favorite restaurant. (Don't understand this? Study the payroll tax and learn.)

    Until this changes, the middle class is doomed.

    M. Yohanna

  75. Republicans are making plenty of noise to distract us from their criminal, even traitorous, acts such as attempting to devolve our republic to a plutarchy; undermining or repealing American rights in an attempt to return the state of the Union to a pre-1930's condition; and enacting naïve ideological fiscal policies that are proven failures—focusing on deregulation, and Wall Street’s maniacal unsustainable focus on ever-increasing short-term profit.

    Make more loud noisy lies about President Obama; lies about deficit hysteria and fake fiscal policies; and phony attacks on women’s rights, the unemployed, EPA, DOE, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, food stamps, and other social safety net programs.

    The noise distracts us from demanding that Republican leadership, subversive stealth organizations such as ALEC, and their arrogant Wall Street cronies are tried in a court of law for their criminal acts.

    Mindless repetitive tuts for tats leads to “ta-ta” to our republic. It’s all planned distraction. We are numbed-out from media balancing disinformation with dissed-disinformation with counters of mis-dissed-un-information imploding in entropic singularities. Huh? It’s all meaningless noise. That’s the plan, and it’s working: too many Americans are in a dazed stupor.

    Tsk, tsk.

    Vote Republicans out of Congress and Government.


  76. If only the current administration would go after the criminals who orchestrated torture and financial disaster... but no, i guess the greater threat must lie in those pernicious marijuana dispensaries...

  77. Except for the word "phony" with regard to attacks on women's rights, right on. Those attacks are real and are making headway, at least temporarily.

  78. This election as Dr. Paul Krugman so duely noted is about public policy. Where now in the United States the greatest disparity of wealth exists than any time in our history with fewer people controlling greatest amounts of wealth, creating wealth, creating very little for the common good of anyone but themselves. Are we in search of a selfish America or a selfless America ? Do we continue socialism for the rich with tax breaks, bank bailouts no strings attached as George W. Bush and Paulson did ? Corporate socialism is rampent but any call to help others is derided by the conservative caucus. This election is the question of our time, does the next gold gilded age emerge even worse then where we stand today ? Do we allow a man to run or possibly win the office of President who is a tax dodger within every letter of the law, an outside the country investor with millions stashed away in Swiss and Cayman Isle bank accounts? A man who claims he runs on his business acumen but when it is really examined says part should be off limits ? A man who wishes to be President who has changed positions on every single major social issue depending upon what he was running for and against who. It is perfectly clear what the overiding issue of out time is. Are we stupid enough to allow the incredibly wealthy to further their own agenda and means and have them control the economy, finance and gov't or do we decide if the new gold gilded age emerges leaving over 300 million behind or 99.99%

  79. The French have been cheering that their new president wants to promote
    equality. It has been a long time since that was a principle in the U.S, which is one of the worst in income inequality in the world, and the refusal to increase taxes on the rich by Romney can only make things worse, and reduce the broad consumer demand our industry needs.

  80. In an extremely polarised situation when hugely funded various partisan groups and the media seem biased for or against a particular candidate staking claim to presidency, the only course left to the candidates in fray, Romney or Obama, to defend oneself against personal allegations levelled by any quarter, is to come out clean on one's questionable personal antecedents to dispel public doubts. For, it's only the ordinary common folks, confined to routine mundane life, who might invoke the personal privacy rights to live life undisturbed, a privilege, probably denied to the persons active in public arena, to whom the lines dividing their personal and public domains seem normally blurred. So, what appears an aspect of personal history either of Obama or Romney is no more a secluded and sacrosanct thing, immune from public grilling and scan, if they are seeking public office through popular consent. For, what each one of them believes, commits or propagates, would have a direct bearing on the future stance and direction of the US public policy, whoever wins the presidency. Obviously, it's in the interest of Romney himself to get rid of the albatross like stranglehold of the Bain Capital links around his neck as early as possible, and dispel the suspicions surrounding him.

  81. What can be done to reduce the bias against substance? It presumably has its roots in the economics of the media, which make substance unprofitable. An analysis of how this unprofitability arises and persists would be the first step towards reducing it.

    The bias against substance would be reduced if substance were more interesting and could be presented with no more complexity than the average sport or soap opera.

    Any attempt to make substance more accessible will be opposed by parties that prefer non-substantive discussions and have talked their audiences into ignoring substance or making fun of it.

    The presentation of substance with humor can make it interesting and entertaining, but political combatants generally avoid all but nasty, mocking, sarcastic sorts of humor. Quiz shows and contests could make substance more entertaining, but they are not used.

  82. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

  83. Have you not seen the Daily Show or the Cobert Report? Substance is presented with humor...and fictions (lies) revealed. Guess which persons of what party lies the most?

  84. The only thing that matters at this point is that enough people not only get out to vote for a second term for President Obama, but we need some strength in the House at the same time and to maintain the Senate.

    Why this President or his aides won't get out more on the trail with state elections I don't know. He doesn't win if he has to fight the Republicans for another 4 years, and if he can't push for these elections during this cycle, then he won't have much in the way of support to wait until the 2014 cycle.

    It's almost a situation where the people at the state level would prefer Obama not to help, but the fact is that Democrats seem to have forgotten about party loyalty and using party resources to help the party.

    You know, sometimes the party is supposed to help the American people, and to do so they have to be in power.

    Roger W. Norman
    SirMusic Studio

  85. If Romney wishes to run America as if it were Bain Capital then his focus will be on the profit margin. Minor detail, America is not a company so there isn’t a profit margin. The profit is our infrastructure, educational system, healthcare system, clean environment, and overall quality of life and this profit is shared by all. Yet Romney and the rich do not value any of that because they can live in exclusive areas and buy the best healthcare anywhere in the world for themselves and go to any expensive private school or university anywhere. So instead they see America’s profit margin as tax cuts for whom? Themselves. The problem, that even their short term simple math shows, is that tax cuts are deficit expanding, so this is why Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment, etc. (everything the rich do not need) is on the chopping block because Romney and the rich think it is cutting into their profit margin.

    So let’s raise taxes on these guys ( 90%!) and if they don’t like it they can leave and we all would be better off without them here. Who would want these guys in their country, stirring up strife and confusion, not wanting to contribute, and only wanting to take profits and ship jobs?

  86. Unfortunately, effective tax rates on the wealthy is not a game. There is no number that declares victory for the 99% or 1%. Dr. Krugman has presented models that indicate the rate for the wealthy that is most beneficial to the economy as a whole is around 70%. Anything higher is vindictive just generating more anger and less value for everyone.

    There is one "entitlement" the Republican party supports with all its heart. It is the entitlement of wealth. They believe, wrongly, that our economy, society, people and institutions did not help them gain this wealth.

    We are all entitled to seek wealth, but not to retain all or even most of it. It's the price to play in the game.

  87. Gtreat idea. And when they leave they can leave 99% of their assets at the tax collection office at the airport.

  88. A theme in literature and, I think, theology is that Satan's greatest deception is convincing the world that he isn't real. Whether Satan is real or not, the very rich and the very powerful, whether they be natural persons or what Chief Justice Roberts call artificial entities, e.g., corporations, are real and have mastered the same trick: They have made most think that our troubles are the fault of Obamacare or the shiftless poor or too much regulation (really, too much regulation?) or a mythical immediate debt crisis or anything else but federal and state government that serve the interests of the powerful and wealthy to the prejudice of ordinary folks' wealth and well being, for they know that--if they can get us to blame someone or something else, to not even recognize what elected leaders, who are in their pay and/or who share their values and beliefs, do for them at their behest--then, like the Satan in literature, they can work their will and achieve their ends without opposition.

    Professor Krugman is merely suggesting that we recognized that class warfare is a fact and that the middle class and the poor have gotten their brains beat out in that war and that Mitt Romney's wealth, personality, values, history, and policies prove beyond peradventure that he is a warrior for his class, the rich and the powerful, and as President of the United States, he would continue to be a warrior for his class to the devastation of the middle class and the poor.

  89. Romney is not running for the president for the majority of the American people, but for a few. Mr. Krugman has pointed this out clearly several times recently. It does not take a policy analyst to know that if Romney furthers the tax cut for the wealth, he would increase the deficit, he would contradict the gop mandate to reduce the deficit. If Romney runs on his so-called business experience, how is it possible that he does not know the simple fact that without revenue -- tax, how can he reduce deficit? By further cutting social program and reduce the livelihood of many people? That really sounds like what he did at Bain Capital-depriving workers of their livelihood! If Romney is elected, what would US become? It is a pretty scary thought.
    Moreover, does he fit to be the President of US, when he does not pay taxes like every law-biding citizen does, but evade them through oversea accounts? The fact that he refuses to release his tax returns arouses the suspicion that he has a great deal to hide. Can Romney be trusted to be the president?

  90. Does the fact Obama refuses to release his college records mean he has "a great deal to hide"? And why did/does that not matter?

  91. Who has been unable to come up with a better plan and just kept the Bush tax cuts in place? Who has not delivered a budget since he has been President?

    Can Barack, the untransparent transparent, be trusted to be President again?

  92. Plutocracy is the major problem facing the country. We are being led by people who are not elected. The financial sector has far too much power.

    It is astounding the Republicans are to nominate someone with a financial background as his only qualification . The Democrats must demonstrate the failings of this man’s way of thinking. That includes getting up close and personal.

    At this point in time, being a financial man should disqualify one for the presidency. His solutions to problems will undoubtedly shift more power to the plutocrats.

    Claims that a financial man is necessary to steer the economy to recovery are not real. The economy’s course is already set for 2013-14. And it looks good. Due to shale gas the cost of energy will be the lowest in the industrialized world, the excess number of houses will be dissipated, markets in emerging economies will continue expanding……

  93. I don't think Romney is a bad man. I don't begrude him his idiosyncratic religous beliefs or his loyalty to former politicians who have helped increase his substantial personal wealth. I do, however, draw the line at his intended policies, which will drastically reduce my rather meagre standard of living and my child's ability to provide for his next generation. We--my son and I--were raised with the belief that education and ability matter far more than family inheritance and corporate profits. We, my family, believe that people in this country--yes, even people with PhD degrees, and more--have shown themselves more capable of the public trust than those with mere bucks and privilege behind them. Romney doesn't qualify.

  94. Romney is a bad man.

    Would everyone please stop justifying and rationalizing for him.

  95. I think one loophole that he could close, is to make all money in offshore accounts subject to taxes levied by the United States, at 40%.

  96. Mr. Romney has made a decision that being attacked by Democrats, and I might say, some Republicans, for not releasing his tax returns is his best strategy for his campaign than actually releasing the tax returns. This tells me that some of those tax returns, if not most, must show that he payed very little taxes over the past 10 years compared to most other Americans. Presumably this tax avoidance was all done legally so what is the problem? Or perhaps my presumption is wrong.

  97. The problem is that when you run for President your life becomes an open book. You're in the big leagues and better be prepared for the scrutiny of hard ball politics. In this particular case Mitt's tax returns would actually provide valuable information about and insight into who Mitt Romney is and what his policies might be since he's really been quite vague about details. You are likely correct that he paid a very low tax rate but the details of how he generated that income and how he managed to get to that rate are fair game since tax rates are a policy discussion in this years campaign and tells us something valuable regarding the values and ethics of Mitt Romney.

  98. The legality of what he paid is not the question. A candidate for President must present himself as thinking about the country, not his wealth.

  99. Why is avoiding taxes legal? Because of laws passed because of the unbalanced influence of rich people like him. Is that how a democracy is supposed to work?

  100. Vote for Romney and the oligarchy of .1% will be recast as the dictatorship of the .0001 %. And then, too, we will be gifted with a neocon foreign policy designed to give pleasure to weapons manufacturers.
    Vote for Obama and we'll have affirmative action benefits for illegal immigrants, and marriage between heterosexuals will be criminalized.
    The only rational alternative is to vote ME into office, whereupon I will confiscate the wealth of all those in possession of more than 10 millions of dollars and spend the proceeds on libraries, opera houses, and observatories. As for the 11 million illegal trespassers rewarding us with their presence, I intend to construct a human-size pipeline that empties out in, say, Honduras.
    A total population of about 100 million highly educated folk descended from those who were already here in 1950... That will be my primary campaign promise.
    tito perdue
    regressive author

  101. Your venom is not appreciated!!!

  102. Wow, Professor. If the cut proposed by the Republicans would reduce the taxes paid by the top 1% by an average of almost a quarter-million dollars, those guys must really be paying some taxes.

    Why don't you do a column about the relative amount of taxes paid by the top 1%. What percentage is their contribution toward the total tax payment? Is it possible that they are paying a huge percentage?

    Another column: what about the half of all households that pay no income tax at all? I call that real class warfare: an enormous group that, abetted by distinguished liberal commentators such as yourself, is taking advantage of all kinds of loopholes and declining to pay their fair share of the cost of government. Talk about class warfare!

  103. This has all been thoroughly discussed in previous articles. And the data is easy to obtain.

    The truth is that the rich do pay a lot of taxes in absolute terms, but not in terms of the percentage of their income - this is at historic lows. The reason they pay so much tax and such a large part of the total tax payment is because they have become so incredibly wealthy over the past few decades. But again, their tax bite is the lowest since the 1920s.

    Problem: The economic gains have mostly gone to the highest incomes in the past decades.

    And what about the half of all households that pay no income tax at all you say. Well those people barely make enough money to live - a direct result of the increasing inequality.

    So make the income a bit more equal, have the economic gains flow to the majority of Americans and not predominantly to the 1% and you'll find that many more households will get back into the brackets where they will pay income tax.

  104. Class warfare indeed! According to the Tax Policy Institute more than half the filers exempt from federal income tax in 2011 are in the lowest income quintile, meaning they make less than 80% of the country and have incomes of less than $16,812. They are about 54% of the households you describe. In other words they are the working poor.

    Also, there is this group-about 29% come from the second-lowest quintile, with household salaries of less than $33,348.

    Finally, it is worth noting that there are 78,000 non-paying units in the top 95th to 99th income percentile, 24,000 in the top 1 percentile, and 3,000 in the top tenth of a percentile which represents about 2.4% of this oft-maligned group.

    But don't despair! If Romney is elected his tax-base broadening plans will make sure "everyone", except the top 1% will pay their fair share.

  105. JPE most people know who pays the greatest shear dollars in taxes, the point is not how much they pay, it is that since the destruction of progressive tax rates when at a high under Eisenhower all income in excess of 400 thousand was taxed at 70% federally. Equate that to todays dollars and we're talking about incomes over several million dollars a year. You say class war ?? Obviously the 2nd or 3rd richest man in the United States Mr. Warren Buffet says, yes, there is class war, my class started it, wages it, and we're winning it. And Warren Buffet does not like what he sees at all. So It would be well suggested that you become more informed before exposing yourself naked of intellect. It is also known most incredibly high wage earners do not take income in wages but in bonuses and capital gains which they do not pay a fair share in taxes on. When all you do is work your money for a living, it is earned income, not gains. One is earning the capital gain through investment work. Work, income earned income. Not for the average person, but for the uber wealthy, it's called playing the system and getting away with it.

  106. I'm not under any illusion that Obama represents my interests as a working class person. He is as much in bed with the wealthy corporate plutocracy ruling this country as Romney.

    I do however enjoy the crumbs that Obama allows to occasionally fall from the banquet table.

    I'll probably hold my nose and pull the lever for him again, if only for the crumbs and to avoid having to suffer Little Lord Fauntleroy flouting himself in our faces for four years.

    This isn't an election between two classes. That election won't happen until and unless my class, the working class, pulls ourselves up off the ground and rebuilds an independent labor movement that can exercise our true power.

  107. The sad fact is that the working class in the US beginning with Nixon has been snookered by reactionary pseudo patriotism, racism, envy, "family values", "Christian values", homophobia and just about every other phobia by a Republican party that will lie in every way, shape and form to get the working class to vote Republican. Subsequently, the corporate and financial elite, the only true constituents and beneficiaries of Republican misrule, have gored working class salaries, job protections, pensions, health care, education benefits, etc.and et alia. What fascinates is how successful Republicans have been in this 40 year campaign against the middle and working classes. I saw a broken down rusting pickup at the side of the road the other day with a McCain Palin bumper sticker. It pretty much sums it up.

  108. The truth, Jackman, is that the red necks among the working class are mostly racist and/or fascist in their thinking. When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act in the mid-60's, he knew the Democratic Party had lost the South to the right-wing racist Republican Party as the ink dried.

    I watched the migration of Southern "Byrd" Democrats in Virginia to the Republican Party in real time when I was actively engaged in politics in that state, serving on the local Democratic Committee. Virginia began electing Republican legislators and Governors, and has been controlled by the right wing, neo-fascist, racist Republican Party ever since, except for a few anomolies along the way. Northern Virginia and the Tidewater area provide some progressive balance to state politics, but not always enough.
    Nixon's "Southern Strategy" was all about racial bigotry, but it worked to Republican advantage.

    Today, it's mostly about race, religious bigotry, ignorance, and fear - all of which the Republicans have used to their political advantage, destroying our nation as we knew it in the process, all for the sake of acquiring and maintaining power for their financial benefactors.

    It has been a horrible perversity of our democratic origins to watch.

  109. just want to add the following. yes, Bain capital has become more important than it should be, but Krugman is right to remind all of us that voters are not policy wonks but busy people with lots to do, so they focus on surrogate issue that stand in for the real details.

    the republican echo chamber has had a year of free air time bashing Obama as a socialist - a claim as unfair as any, and then blaming the weak employment numbers on Obama's policies (as if). so Obama is right to remind us all, that Romney is, after all, a plutocrat - as much as any from the gilded age. and this plutocrat has as little interest in the lot of the average worker as any man who has run for president since prehaps the McKinley era.

    Tis all unfair, but in the real world, Obama needs to use any short cut to defeat what has been a barrage of unchallenged lies.

  110. "Bain capital has become more important than it should be ..."

    Yet, Willard "the Weasel" Romney has used his Bain Capital experience as the focal point of his claim to the expertise that will make him a better chief executive for the nation. How is it that he can use Bain Capital as an asset for his Presidential credentials, yet the Democrats cannot use Bain Capital as a prime example why a vulture capitalist is not good material for the White House? What's good for the goose is good for the gander! The "weasel" has made Bain Capital a focal point of this election campaign! Better he should have used his success in establishing a good health plan for Massachusetts while Governor of that state to prove his credentials, but he won't dare go there. What a pity, that what he relies on hurts him and what he steers clear of in his portfolio would probably help him. What a jerk. What a weasel!

  111. You have GOT to be kidding ! Roomy needs to be challenged? This administration is beyond embarrassing.

  112. It is trust. We need to trust are president. Equally important, and maybe more so, those that he is negotiating with while he is in the oval office, need to be able to trust him. Therefore, Romney should be held accountable to release his tax returns and other financial information including his off shore assets and explain why he was signing documents for the SEC on behalf of Bain while he was "no longer employed by Bain".

    During the campaign Romney has proven he will do or say whatever is opportune to get elected. As President it is important to come across as trustworthy. This cuts across all relationships that one will have while holding office.

    While negotiating with congress it is counter productive if the other side is hesitant to believe anything he says. If one is involved in negotiations on a one time basis, being deceitful with that person may not be harmful to accomplishing your immediate objective. If, on the other hand, one is negotiating with members of congress, on different issues, on a constant basis, ones lack of trustworthiness interferes with ones ability to reach agreement because you are not trusted.

    The same holds true with foreign leaders. If they don't trust our President, how can we expect them to cooperate with us? Romney says allot about himself when he defines a "good Competitor". Does he ascribe the same definition to someone running for President? More: http://bit.ly/ff1202rc

  113. While you're squawking for Romney's records could you put a word in about Obama's college records? Thanks.

  114. The election is about "the rich versus the rest," or so you say.

    Maybe. I tend to believe that once the Obama smoke grenades clear, the ones his campaign team have hurled to distract Joe Six-pack away from the fact the economy is in the ditch courtesy of the Obama administration, voters will be left this choice in the fall:

    Which administration is going to create a healthier business climate that in turn will help put more people back on private sector payrolls?

    In turn, workers will pay more payroll taxes to help shore up Social Security and Medicare, pay more into the Treasury in the form of individual income taxes, put gas in their car to pay more excise taxes, and so on. But the Obama solution is to raise taxes on the rich, who are likely going to shift their earnings and assets into tax-free municipal bonds and other legal tax shelters to minimize the burden.

    Your hero Mr. Obama has demonstrated in 3.5 years that government is the solution to all of our problems, which is total baloney. Government, too much of it as a portion of our overall GDP, is the problem. But tell that to all the takers who have a vested interest in seeing that the good times continue to roll by supporting Obama.

    Meanwhile the middle-class makers, like me, are fed up with this farce. We want to leave behind a better country for our children, and no, we don't want government as a partner to do so.

    That's what the election is all about, Krugman.

  115. Such spurious charges!

  116. Healthier business climate = more demand.

    Allowing only the above $250K tax cuts to lapse first will cause the least amount of stress to the GNP. Letting all the cuts lapse at once will likely cause another recession and lead to even worse tax returns.

    Jared Diamond has some good discussions on the multipliers and why this is so, if the arguments presented by Krugman are not enough for you.

    Your statement that President Obama thinks government is "the solution for all our problems" is pure hyperbole. I know of no one who thinks this way.

  117. No government, huh? Then no taxes. No taxes, no (horrors!) defense of the shores. No education (except home or private schoolin'). No police (except for private "security" forces for the "gated"). No roads (personal airlift vehicles -- helicopters, exec jets don't require 'em). No nuttin'. No, Sir!

  118. For once, the Obama camp has firmly taken charge of the conversation. We need more of that.

  119. The problem is that the voters believe what they want to believe rather than what analysis of evidence based fact would otherwise dictate. That's how the U.S. got into the financial and political quagmire we are currently experiencing.

  120. Mr. Obama does an excellent job of taking charge of conversations. That much of what he says is lies and evasions seems to be beside the point for too many Americans. This man feeds on discord , especially as it can be used to draw attention away from his miserable performance. The middle, his focus of alleged concern, will find themselves even deeper in a financial mess four years from now if he is re-elected. Anyone who is halfway honest with themselves know which groups will benefit. We need to get past his tricks of focusing on in-fighting and instead focus on who might get this economy going again. I think we have seen how successful (not) Obama has been with that. You can hate business but it is business and not government that will get people back to real jobs - not jobs funded by taking even more money out of middle class pockets.

  121. To athens area:
    Thousands upon thousands of government workers at all levels have been laid off as a result of the financial crisis. As a result services (fire, police, school, libraries) for you and me have suffered while at the same time demand has dropped for the products that the private sector produces. The private sector won't produce more jobs until forced to do so by increase demand. So yes, it's the government that must – and will – produce middle class jobs. Really, it's not that hard to understand if you try – unless you 'd rather spend your time spouting ignorant nonsense about Obama.

  122. It is we, the American people, who have decided how political campaigns will be run. In election after election we have demonstrated that appeals to our fears and prejudices, not cerebral discussions of policies and programs, are what influence our votes. We who lack the power of personal or corporate wealth are sacrificing the power we once exercised in numbers while magnifying the power of the rich. The wealthy now have more money and a larger percent all money than ever before, and fewer restrictions on how they may use that money to influence politicians and elections. For the middle and poorer classes labor unions are vanishing or being hamstrung, courts are being politicized, and voting is becoming more of a challenge.

    Those who fear the power of government should recognize that a government responsive to the many is much less ominous than a government responsive to a few. If the wealthy have both the power of their assets and virtual control over government then the vast majority of us will surely despair.

    The United States was created as a Constitutional democracy with a bill of rights because its founders recognized that, if a society is to survive, the essential rights of the weak must be protected from the whims of the strong. We should keep that in mind when we decide in the next election how much more power the very elite in our country should have.

  123. I don't want to soak the rich, I want to imprison many of them for the theft and corruption of the ruling class of bankers, big corporate leaders, etc. I don't want to give a free handout to the rest of the population, but I do want to see far fewer poor people imprisoned in the so-called war of drugs that is being pushed to make money for the police/prison industry, and I do want to see pensions, homes, and job security returned to the middle class, and a living wage returned to the poor working class, and universal health care. And I surely want to see far far fewer people getting rich as the rest of us get poor waging incessant wars against much of the world. Much of what ails us has to do with the war the rich have been waging against the rest of us, as well as against much of the world. But let's not simply note that Mr. Romney is of the flithy-rich class. Mr. Obama is employed wholly by the filthy-rich also. Like the old college running game in football of the late 1940s, one of them is playing the role of Mr. Inside, and the other the role of Mr. Outside, but they're both on the same team that is piling up yardage against the rest of us. Yes, the "campaign" should be about the fact that both candidates and both parties are waging a concerted attack against the rest of us and against the rest of the world. The rich of all countries are allied against the rest of us, and the world's major political parties work for them just as much any sweat shop worker does.

  124. That's one major load of false equivalency there. If Obama is totally employed by the rich, why on earth did he risk his presidency to pass a health care bill? Why not just punt this issue or ignore it? And you do realize that the next president will pick new Supreme Court members, and those will decide whether this country continues down the Citizens United path of selling out to the rich, right?

  125. Good point, deering24.
    But at the same time Bemused has an excellent post and there is a validity in calling out our president--though many of us still very much support him--because there is a conspicuous absence of executive muscle where Wall St. and K St. are concerned. For a president whom many of us continue to think the world of, (albeit with very mixed feelings) he seems to be essentially operating like a vice squad cop who has no choice but to inject the heroin himself in order to try and change the system. I still genuinely believe he wants most to help restore an egalitarian society and restore the New Deal--as he should--but tapping people like Larry Summers or Immelt from GE telegraphed a very disheartening message to the rest of us.
    But then the cold shoulder he got from Wall Street a month or two ago is also reassuring to the rest of us as well. Confusing? Yes.
    The man walks a tight rope unlike any I've ever seen.
    We need to return him to the White House but at the same time he begs to have his feet held to the fire to stop with the Neville Chamberlain routine of appeasements to the right.
    Both sides stink but the stink from the right dwarfs the stink from the left.
    I think he'll get it right if re-elected.
    So, "false equivalency" doesn't quite apply here.
    Bemused has it right.

  126. It is true that Mr. Obama is no saint. But look at the alternative! At least he has made some efforts, in a ridiculously obstructionist political environment, in the right direction. The Affordable Care Act and his Supreme Court appointments are two important areas that come immediately to mind. So his re-election is crucial. There is a bumper sticker I've seen with which I agree --

    BUSH -- eight years to wreck it
    OBAMA -- eight years to fix it
    Now that's fair and balanced.

  127. The larger issue is that Romney's wealth, increased due to limited tax liability, has not been used as an engine of the economy. It's been outsourced to foreign accounts and off shore tax havens. Romney exposes the absolute fallacy of trickle down economics. There has been no investment in America, no job creation, no entrepreneurial innovation. Romney has persued opportunities to protect and maximize his personal wealth. That may be his prerogative, but please stop the job creator engine of the economy bologna.

  128. Romney's work at Bain capital has saved and created more American jobs than Obama? How do you explain that?
    How do you explain 19 billion hardearned American tax dollars being "outsourced" in Obama's Stimulus other than incompetence??

  129. I continue to be amazed that the idea of making the rich "hurt" a bit more via a tax increase isn't a slam dunk. I suppose it goes to show what a great job the GOP has done to skew the conversation on this issue -- and to create this faux meme about "job creators," as if the rich are some sort of gauzy, spiritual benefactors whose only mission is to lift Joe Sixpack off the unemployment line and drop him into a cubicle.

    The truth is almost completely the opposite. Corporate "leaders" have spent the last couple of decades finding ways to slash domestic jobs while sending new ones overseas. We all know it. We all see it. Doing something about it starts with sending Romney home a loser in November and taking Obama to task for not doing more to fix the problem.

  130. Yes! Sending Romney home and taking Obama to task is well said. What repubs don't get is that many of us who would vote for Obama (again) are not doing so because we think he has done such a good job, but because we think he could -- and would -- do better given the chance (read into that what you will) whilst things will be far worse if Romney gets his foot in the door (if he can get it out of his mouth first).

  131. I'm not sure how we are going to "take Obama to task" once we've sent Romney home. We weren't able to take him to task with a second term election on the horizon. How will we take him to task during his lame duck term? It won't happen, but there is a large and growing segment of Americans who should just fold their arms and turn their backs on this particular election. Seems like there is always some reason why it's crucial that they not do that. If it's not the Supreme Court, it's tax cuts for the rich. But I can't help wondering: What if they gave an election and nobody came?


  132. I was taught many years ago that the question about government and the economy is not whether there will be more or less government but for whom government will work. The evidence for the past 30 years is that government has been captured on behalf of the very wealthy. That has been particularly true under the G W Bush administration. The Romney campaign complains that Obama is waging 'class warfare' as though that was an evil thing to do. All the Republicans are arguing for is for more freedom and and less government. I was also taught many years ago that "freedom for the pike is death for the minnow."

    Yes it is class warfare and the very wealthy are winning it. If we minnows don't win this election it will be even worse for us than it is now.

  133. Not being able to craft emotional appeals has always been a huge political defect of the Democrats. Reason, not emotions, is what resonates with the reasonable. So Democrats always cede control of the voters' emotional state to Republicans, who know how to feed voters emotions like a fisherman knows how to throw blood and guts to sharks.

    Using strong emotional appeals is no vice where you are in the right. Thank God the Obama team is braining up to the excellent, right and true use of emotional appeals in campaigns.

  134. Democrats make for great statesmen, and governing representatives but for lousy politicians. Republicans on the other hand are the exact opposite (at least that is true for the last 30 years). Personally I would rather support the latter than the former.

  135. I don't understand why liberals are so afraid of the term "class warfare". We should say stuff like, "We didn't start the class war, but we intend to win it." And we should back that up with facts like the ones presented here.

    As soon as people realize that we are, in fact, in a class war, we win. There are 99 of us to every 1 of them, and this is still a democracy.

  136. When I was born in 1931, I think there was going on what is called a "class warfare" then, and the 1% were calling Franklin Delano Roosevelt a "traitor to his class" because he was advocating and putting in place a social safety net for the "underclass" - the less fortunate among us. And in those days there were plenty of them. FDR's program was called "The New Deal" for those too young to remember this history.

    So, today, it seems to me a little "deja vu" to hear the 1% complain of class warfare. Yes, there is a class war going on today - just as there was in my youth, in the 1930's. The 1% has been waging class warfare for 40 years, since Reagan came to power and focused on demonizing "Welfare Queens driving Cadilacs." The Obama Administration and "most" of the Democratic Congressmen and women are fighting to protect the programs that benefit the lower and middle classes - the 99% of us - and the social programs many rely upon for survival. The Republicans would take us back to those pre-1930 Darwinian times where "Apple Annie" was on every street corner.
    I remember those days. That's why I'm a Social Democrat. I see "Apple Annies" returning to my street corners here in Washington, with their feeble hands out begging for a dime. That is not the America I want to live in. We must win this class war that the plutocrats have begun.

  137. Whilst what you say is true, how many of the 99% believe that if they support the policies that benefit the 1%, and if they think like and believe they are in the 1% their fantasy will become reality.

    Essentially, the Koch crowd and con-servatives are repeating this lie that everyone can be in the 1% so often that many in the 99% really believe they can be a 1%'er.

  138. Of course Warren Buffett got it right -- if there is a class war, the rich are winning.

  139. Mitt Romney has said that a reason to vote for him is that he has "business" experience. His business experience is with Bain Capital.

    However, a gap has emerged between his claim of the relevance and importance of his "real world" experience and a different claim that he stopped working for Bain in 1999 when he went to Utah to work on the Olympics. The Boston Globe has uncovered copies of Bain filings to the SEC that he was still the CEO in 2002. Romney has not explained this discrepancy.

    When Romney returned from Utah to Massachusetts to run for governor in 2002 he claimed that his MA residency was continuous because he had had to return frequently to Boston to in that period to attend to business. Either he was lying to the people of MA or he is lying about when he officially and finally severed his relationship with Bain. The American people have an interest in the truth. Obama has been hammering on the discrepancy in Romney's accounts. Romney is whining and complaining that this isn't fair.

    Romney sounds to me like a spoiled child. He is so used to having his own way that he is completely flummoxed by demands that he tell the truth - or at least be consistent.

    Given that Romney has uncounted millions in tax shelters off shore and more in Swiss bank accounts it is reasonable to wonder what his deep commitment is to the fate of the US, of which he is running to be president.

    There are many layers to Romney's failure to speak honestly to the American people.

  140. "So how can the Obama campaign cut through this political and media fog? By talking about Mr. Romney’s personal history, and the way that history resonates with the realities of his pro-rich, anti-middle-class policy proposals."

    Well yes plus the part about his management of Bain Capital can hardly be described as simply "personal history". That's his professional history. The same professional history that he claims is what qualifies him to be President of the United States.

    Republicans will have you believe that a candidate's professional and political career is traditionally off limits, which is absurd, considering that they went after Obama's professional and political career in the 2008 election -- and rightly so, why wouldn't they?

    The fact is that Bain was Romney's company, he created it and was CEO, President, Chairman of the Board, and controlling partner. All the general public sees is that there's a controversy about how active or passive Mitt Romney's role in his own company was when it engaged in the worst of the outsourcing and layoffs in search of profits. The fact that the Romney campaign is so furiously trying to have Romney disavow his own company during the period from 1999 to 2002 means that they know how politically damaging Bain's activities were.

    There's nothing inappropriate in the least about all this coming under scrutiny. The public can see its future in the outsourcing and layoffs carried out by Bain, and decide whether to vote for it.

  141. I believe I'm responsible to holding on to my last 7 years of tax returns. That should be minimal requirement for a presidential candidate. Come on Mitt you'll lose on this one before the convention.

  142. ...then change the legal requirements for what needs to be disclosed.

  143. All the talk of when Mitt Romney was or was not actively involved with Bain misses the greater point. Mitt Romney formed Bain. Bain engaged in business with no regard for American workers or America, for that. When it saw an opportunity to make another fortune by involving itself with companies which would dominate the offshoring industry, it did so with no afterthought. This was Mr. Rmneys creation and he has continued to take tens and then hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from his creation. It doesn't matter when he left the helm. It's still his child. He still takes the money.

  144. "Bain engaged in business with no regard for American workers or America."

    This in no way distinguishes Romney from any other member of our corporate ruling class. None of them should ever become President.

  145. If the economy were in better shape then President Obama would be able to run for reelection on his record. If his campaign is going to have to resort to attacks on Mitt Romney then those ads should be accurate and withstand scrutiny. If the Obama campaign resorts to unfounded attacks then those ads will say more about President Obama then they will about Mitt Romney, and it could devastate the President's image with swing voters.

  146. This Sunday, the talk show hosts spent more time questioning whether the attack ads and claims of Romney's committing a felony were "over the top" than they did on the subject of the ads.

  147. His record is superlative. Only in the warped mind of a republican would a 6000 point gain in the Dow, jobs being created instead of being destroyed, having almost universal healthcare legislation passed, and killing enemy number 1be considered a failure.

    Dare we compare ANY of these accomplishments with his predecessor?

  148. And if Mr. Romney tried to run on policy rather than negative ads and attacks on Mr. Obama, perhaps he would be far ahead in this election. I think Mr. Obama's vision of the future is far better for those of us in the "middle class". Whatever's left of it anyway.

  149. Romney, quite clearly, is just a dodger -- a tax dodger, a draft dodger, a responsibility dodger, a transparency dodger (of tax returns), a position dodger (Etch-a-Sketcher), a truth dodger, and at bottom a greedy man who wants to make himself and other greedy men the elitist rulers of a plutocracy, dodging a democracy.

  150. Draft dodger, Iove it.
    Please keep bringing that up.
    There is not one person on Obama's cabinet ior staff who has military experience.

    If federal service in DoD is to be a requirement for public office, neither Obama nor Romney passes muster. Heck, barely anyone in Congress does either.

    Please keep using that inane talking point. Please
    Perhaps we should throw out the entire federal government and replace it with DoD personnel.

    There's a ticket I'd vote for. How about you?

  151. Mitt Romney's one policy success as governor of Massachusetts was his healthcare legislation which has insured 99% of the people of Mass. and over 70% like it. Yet Romney runs away from this success in his campaign.

    He does not run away, however, from his tenure at Bain Captial citing that as economic and business experience the country needs. Yet Bain capital did little to create jobs, raise wages or offer benefits to the American worker. Bain Capital did the opposite.

    Strange that a presidential candidate would be so clueless as to the problems of the average American right now.

  152. >> He does not run away, however, from his tenure at Bain Captial

    Well, yeah he does, at least the part of it after 1999!

  153. OK, Krugman. Let's talk about President Obama's record in the business world. Oh, he doesn't have one. Let us then discuss his work record anywhere, but in politics. Not too much, huh? More than a few unanswered questions about the President, but the Left Leaning Liberals want to brush those aside as long as the President continues with the spend the working man's tax money on those who don't contribute. We are and have seen the unraveling of the socialist programs in Europe, but the Left here cannot give it up.

  154. Actually the socialist programs in Europe are doing just fine. In fact the truly socialist countries of Scandinavia are doing better than all the rest including the U.S economy. Look it up before making false accusations.

  155. The "working man's tax money" going to those who don't contribute is taken by Bank of America and Exxon, among others, which not only pay no taxes on billions in profits, but get refund checks for hundreds of millions. Mr. Romney wants even more working man's tax money to go not for the benefit of the majority as government was intended, but to those few who keep it safely sheltered offshore. Furthermore, elementary civility requires addressing accomplished persons with noted respect for their accomplishments. In the case of a Nobel prize-winning distinguished professor, "Doctor Krugman" is the correct form of address unless the disrespect expressed is not to reflect on the originator as beneath contempt or otherwise afflicted. Maybe Karl Rove is too generous with his cash for trolls. Everybody does better when EVERYBODY does better. What has unraveled in Europe isn't social programs, but extortion schemes by banks and aristocracy. In fact the strongest economy, Germany, has extensive programs to ensure its people remain solvent.

  156. Typical, the right is presented with facts and they come back with emotionally laden catch phrases such as "socialist." There is no more Soviet bloc boogey man to be afraid of anymore. Just discuss things that work and don't work. James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton had it correct. When trying to get the nation to ratify their new constitution, they wrote some brilliant op-ed pieces under a single pen name so people could debate the merits of their work not the people who created it. Maybe we should start doing that with our legislation. Wouldn't that throw Washingtonians all in a tizzy if they had to take a stand on content and not politcs.

  157. How are voters supposed to believe that a smart businessman with a law degree from Harvard did not realize his legal responsibilities or his continued ability to intervene on decision making since he was still the sole proprietor of Bain Capital from 1999-2002?

    While "retiring retro-actively" may be fine from a business perspective and fine for structuring a buyout period of Mr. Romney's equity in Bain, CEO's don't get to make their legal requirements, legal disclosures, liabilities or most other decisions retro-active. When Mr. Romney chose to sign off on sworn legal documents in 1999-2002, he did so knowing that he still retained full legal and fiduciary responsibility in the eyes of the law, as well as full power to modify the direction of the company he still owned regardless if he chose to leave "day-to-day" duties or all, decision-making in the hands of other executives. They were still his subordinates and employees, and he still retained both the benefits and liability of being the sole proprietor and CEO.

  158. And the only time he revealed his tax returns, he was still getting a couple of million from Bain, but that is only chump change to him.

  159. Paul, someone needs to explain to Mitt Romney that one of the titles associated with the position he's running for is "Commander-in-Chief", not Tax-Evader-in-Chief.

    Moreover, the strategy of cutting taxes on the wealthy while increasing them on everyone else is so quintessentially French - as in Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI - that I'm astonished that any true son of America would ever suggest it.

    What's next? A Romney general election campaign slogan of "Let them eat cake"?

  160. I have one either better! During the McCain Campaign when the issue of the number of dwellings that the McCain family owned, and John McCain was taking about massive "entitlement cuts", I stated that I could hear Cincy McCain uttering in retort to plaintive protest to proposed cuts to the WIC program, "Let them drink tainted beer from China", referring to her source of family wealth, beer distribution.

  161. Perhapsa, Mathew, you have missed all of the stories about those in the Obama administration who have been derelict in their tax paying obligation, although it does not seem possible give the amount of press that it received . Perhaps we read only that which reinforces our dogmatic positions.

  162. Things won't get better as long as energy is as expensive as it is and trending upwards. Economic growth and more jobs depends on low cost energy which is why we need a national energy plan that turns its back on foreign oil and embraces domestic electricity generated from alternatives. If our cost per kWh was at a world leading low, it would go a very long way towards repatriating jobs that were sent overseas in the last 12 years. Cheap, plentiful electricity will reindustrialize the middle of the country.

  163. I don't believe that we get that much energy from overseas but that is beside the point. I think it is absolutely shameful that a country such as ours which has far more solar exposure than Germany has almost no solar generated power while almost half of Germany's power comes from solar energy. President Ronald Reagan destroyed our energy policies and cut research into alternative energy (yes his biggest money donor was Oil interests). Had he not we would by now have the battery we need for making solar power almost a free source of energy.

    Even if it were the case that we had unlimited almost free energy though it would not protect the American workers from having their jobs outsourced as long as there is still slave labor in the rest of the world (after all energy is inexpensive enough that it pays to ship in goods from thousands of miles away). The only way to deal with this issue is for people being willing to pay more for locally produced items. If you want people to be treated decently then you have to pay the money for what they produce. Support your local craftsmen, your local small businesses, your local farmer. Cook with the seasons. Don't buy from any large corporation unless you have to. Avoid processed foods when you can.

    That of course is not going to happen because Americans are addicted to consumption. They get a small high when they purchase something new. And frankly they just don't care, as long as they have 'theirs!',

  164. Mr. Pombriant - No thoughtful analysis about the future of energy prices posits a sustainable path that involves cheap energy. There might be a way to engineer such cost avoidance for a time, but it would entail huge subsidies for energy costs - probably financed by continuing to whack away at the dwindling support we currently offer to the middle class and the poor.

    But any furtherance of our cheap energy policy will be bought at unacceptable cost to the environment, that nest of life we have already unconscionably fouled.

    The emotional shift humankind must undertake to become sustainable is so profound as to be virtually off limits as a political subject. Nobody proposing such a shift would get more than a cupful of votes in our present squabbling, self-focused political culture.

    The shift we must undertake is that humankind must build a world in which the underlying assumption is that there is enough for everyone. And that "enough" will be FAR less than the comfortable among us now assume to be something like a birthright.

    As long as we assume that gaining a competitive edge against others is a sustainable strategy, most of the world will lose. When we embrace the idea of all of humankind being in the same boat, and deserving of a dignified life with enough for everyone, we'll be on a good path. Very little of our political or economic culture comes anything close to this holy idea.

    But deep in our hearts, we know it's the only way. And finally, it's a better life.

  165. Very little electricity is generated from oil to begin with. And what makes you think we can produce energy more cheaply than the rest of the world? The problem is not energy costs, it is placing American workers in competition with brutally exploited workers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

  166. Paul,

    I agree with you and while President Obama may be Left of Mr. Romney, we are still getting a moderate Republican by your own admission:

    The Post-Truth Campaign
    December 22, 2011

    Over all, Mr. Obama’s positions on economic policy resemble those that moderate Republicans used to espouse.

    July 27, 2011, 6:16 pm
    Obama the Moderate Conservative

    But for those who missed the first time I linked to it, here’s Bruce Bartlett — an economic adviser to Ronald Reagan — explaining why Obama is indeed a moderate conservative in practical terms.

    July 14, 2011, 7:55 am
    Obama, Moderate Republican
    Blog Paul Krugman

    OK, not exactly. But Nate Silver’s analysis of the budget proposals is a must-read.

  167. It is very appropriate and truthful to discuss, display, and clearly point out the complete mis-alignment of the head and heart of Mr. Romney. He claims that he was not in charge of Bain after 1999 but was collecting money and as one of his spokesmen said that he "retroactively" resigned from Bain after the head and the heart found itself in serious conflict. The general public undestands the lies created by this conflict between the head and the heart of the one and the same Mr. Romney and friends. Let us not elect another "CEO" like the many who took this country and the whole world into collaspe with their policies of pre 2008.

  168. Everyone must remember cutting taxes for the rich and weakening the middle class is a Republican position.

    It is imperative to support Democratic candidates for Congress and the Senate as well as President Obama. Without a change in the leadership of this branch of government policy initiatives by the president will be thwarted.

    As they are now.

  169. Excellent article!

    The Bloomberg version of the rich soaking the less-than-rich comes in the form of tickets and enforcement : parking tickets for cars parked legally, outrageous and contrived fines for small businesses, enforcement of non-existent traffic violations, etc., etc., etc. -- gimmicks to extort revenues from hapless common citizens rather collect revenues, via taxes, from the rich.

    Without having any philosophical position on taxes per se -- who should pay them and in what amounts -- any thoughtful person must understand that theft of resources through enforcement fraud is an unacceptable way to pay government's bills. Yet this is what is going on in New York City today.

  170. One thing that has always struck me re Bloomberg is his contradictions re environmental concerns. There are signs in the city that warn about fines for idling bus engines. He wants green taxi fleets. He wants to improve the city with congestion pricing (don't get me started on this gift to the rich!). But one thing that is definitely environmentally sound and humane to average New Yorkers whose time is stressed is to change one aspect of the alternate side street parking regulations.

    Now, streets do need to be swept. But why, when the sweeper passes at 9:30 do people need to sit in their cars until 10:30 to avoid getting a ticket. In the hot weather, everyone runs their engines to keep the AC on. In the cold weather, everyone runs their engines so as not to freeze. All of this decreases air quality, leads to unnecessary fuel consumption and is just insane. Why should people have to waste their time when the purpose of the alternate side parking regulations has already been achieved--the street has been swept.

    Of course, it is revenue raising on the backs of the people who cannot afford a garage space that would be the price of an apartment in other parts of the country. Environmentally aware--no way.

  171. When it comes to presidential qualities, bain capital troubles are not my first concerns. At the end in this country we are allowing wall street to do worse things to other people. Bain capital is just a little part of it.

    Romney is not presidential cut, the reason is He denied what he invented. Romanycare which become Obamacare was repeatedly disowned by him. In fact this is one the greatest achievement in US history. This man cannot stand up with his ideas. He is caving.

  172. The mega wealthy like Romney see themselves as aristocrats and they indeed live in a different world of security, comfort and influence. They have won the class war which has raged for 40 years and each year the deck technicalities stacked in their favor

    Now they demand to be the acknowledged ruling class. Romney presents as his sole qualification for the presidency his ability to make money by “running a business.” Heknows the economy.

    He confuses what is arguably legal with what is acceptable in a moral democratic society. Being rich is okay. It’s how you came by wealth. . Some inherited wealth. Some stole it like Bernie Madoff or the Enron gang who cheated with “technicalities.

    When a businessman takes a risk he can hedge his bets. If we hand over our government to a surrogate for the authoritarian aristocrats, the source of whose riches is muddy as is Romneys, the results will be immediate, long lasting and fatal to the middle class.

    The people have to rely on facts which are hard to come by and character. Romney believes that he can do or say anything and there will be no consequences,, that he can have a fortune abroad in tax havens and withhold tax information that every other candidate has provided.

    ince that is arrogant and high handed and damaging, voters can infer that he is concealing facts that would destroy his chance at the presidency if known. " Trust me" says a serial liar. Oh well Mitt, there is always voter suppression.

  173. @Sheldon Bunin -- "...the class war which has raged for 40 years..."

    It's been going on a lot longer than that! It will continue until the the capitalists have been overthrown and the working class becomes the dominant class. Only then can classes themselves begin to fade away.

  174. The tut-tutters, Corey Booker et al., use words like disgusting, nauseating, and sickening when Bain's actions are questioned. Well, what I find disgusting, nauseating, and sickening is when workers who have invested their most productive years to a company see their pensions gutted and jobs shipped overseas while wall streeters take profits. It is also disgusting that median income has been stagnant for 30 years while inequality has increased.

    I remember the anxiety when my Dad, a factory worker, was faced with losing his pension right before he was about to retire in the 1980's. His company (The American Can Company) was being acquired, and the pension fund was part of the negotiations. My Dad was incredibly loyal to that company - always on time, can't remember him ever taking a sick day. As a teenager, I could not understand how a company could be so heartless as to take a pension away after a man held up his end of the bargain so well. As a middle-aged man, I still have trouble understanding it.

  175. I share a similar story. My dad was a coal miner for half his life, a pipefitter at a large chemical plant for the second half of his life. A more loyal, hard-working man never lived. He died in poverty, succumbing, at last, to black lung disease, lung cancer, and "occupational asbestosis" (the coroner's report). To the people for whom he worked for 50 years, the captains of commerce, he will always remain an invisible man.

    I don't understand it either, and have spent too much of my own precious time trying to figure it out. Better to move on, to do what I can to make sure others are not ignored, denied a voice, even a recognition of their existence.

    The plutocracts must be stopped.

  176. My father died in 1979, and my mother didn't get his pension, because the company said, even though he had twenty-nine years in (only needed twenty-five), he was too young when he died for her to draw. (steel industry, too)

  177. America has changed. In 1980 a creature such as Carl Icahn would never be POTUS.

    In 2012 a creature named Mitt Romney could be POTUS

  178. It's always been about the money. The election is about our nation's commitment to its' citizens as an evolving society; to bring together appropriate resources to further the goals of a high standard of living for all of the people. The idea that only one group gets the focus of wealth and benefits is just, well, plain stupid.

  179. Thanks for pointing out that the media owe us more than rote restatements of, "The Republicans say this" and "The Democrats say that."

    It's a sad day when the most insightful and in-depth reporting is frequently on Comedy Central.

  180. Excellent analysis by Dr. K. This is what Obama should have been doing from day 1 of his presidency, and may be we wouldn't be in so bad a mess today. It should have been obvious that the Republicans were dealing in bad faith, and if Obama had hammered them when he had the majority of the public and congress on his side, perhaps we could have gotten a public option. Now he is fighting a rearguard action. What a loss!

  181. Absolutely. We have a "leader" who has consistently lost.

    Now what? Shouldn't he just resign?

  182. I agree:

    Romney's taxes will give us some better understanding of how private pensions get magically transformed into consulting fees under bankruptcy, how golden parachute contracts trump workers contracts, why accounting defintions matter and manipulate the tax code, and we may see loop-holes we have never heard of previously.

    Capitalists transfer their vacation homes, horse stables, yachts, private planes and other expensive stuff into business investments and very often tax write-offs. At times even their charitable donations are magically transformed into profitable endeavors by use of the tax code. Some of these folks actually appear addicted to tax write-offs.

    Very sad, if the rest of us were not picking up the tab.

  183. There´s something odious about taking a pension away from a person who has worked his entire career counting on it for his retirement, and then providing absolutely nothing in support or consideration once the deed is done. This systematic dismantling of pensions is precisely what Romney has been up to without apology for all of his working career, and how he has made his many millions. And if we are to believe him, this is precisely what america needs more of and he knows how to do it.

    In a nation where median household income has barely budged for 30 years while in stark contrast income growth for the top privileged 10% has grown by 75%, this wilful dismantling of pension systems is precisely what is not needed.

  184. Well, at least Mr Krugman is close.
    This election isn't about rich versus poor

    This election is about people who pay taxes versus those who don't.

    Those are two different polarities.

    People who pay taxes are going to vote for Romney because the American left wing simply won't go to work, won't pay taxes and won't stop with it's endless demand for ever more entitlements for people who neither need them nor deserve them.

    In any event, the US cannot afford them.
    We're still broke, rememeber?

    Those of us who actually pay taxes care less about people who pay a smaller percentage tax than we care about the people who pay no taxes at all.

    It's simple arithmetic. half of us can't carry the load of the other half any longer.
    Even if we could, we're tired of it.

    The left certainly doesn't care about anyone who pay taxes.
    The left wants to tax us into slavery.
    If reelected, Obama will certainly do this if we let him.

  185. You need to get a grip. It was republicans that created the debt, not democrats.

    The first republican budget buster was your hero Reagan, who took the debt from $.8 trillion to $2.8 trillion, tripling the debt. Those tax cuts were so great that tax cutting has been republican dogma ever since.

    Now we are saddled with $16 trillion of debt. The debt explodes when the top tax rate dips below 50%. In fact, the economy does better when taxes are high on the well heeled.

    Learn some facts, even if they do have a "liberal" bias.

  186. This is the same tired argument people on the right have used for years. Unfortunately, it simply isn't true, but the Republican leadership is happy to use people like to you to continue to spew this nonsense because it resonates with a lot of uninformed voters.

    This is Reagan's welfare queen tale. Never mind that entitlements, including welfare, were dramatically cut during the Clinton administration and that taxes on the wealthy were healthy enough then to leave Bush and Co. with a surplus that they then squandered. The tale is popular and won't go away.

    Everyone except the very poor pays taxes. There are lots of wealthy and middle class people on the left. They all pay taxes just like you do. They're just not willing to shoulder the entire burden of government (many advantages that you need and use on a daily basis) themselves.

    We're actually asking for the same thing as you are. We want the people who don't pay their fair share of taxes to pony up. You just see that as the minimum wage worker and we see it as the hedge fund manager.

  187. Do you realize how mean and selfish you sound? Do you care?

    I pay taxes and I am a teacher of mostly very poor teenagers. I am more than willing to pay taxes -- even to pay more of them -- if it gives my students adequate shelter (which most do not have), enough to eat, health care, and a good enough education so they can use their brains and their hands to make their way In the world.

    What kind of America do we live in if we don't want everyone here (don't start me on immigration; many of my best students are immigrants or the children of immigrants) to have those basics of life? Do we really want to go back to the Depression when people lived in plywood shacks or died of starvation?

    If you can't approach it in the spirit of simple human kindness think of it in more selfish terms. For one thing, it really is an issue of national security: 25% of draftees in World War II had to be turned away for defects caused by poor nutrition. Besides, it's in your best interest to have your underclass well-fed and decently housed. Think of what might happen to your comfortable life otherwise. Where are the French and Russian aristocrats now?

  188. In the end, one must ask, why of all people to choose, GOP voters chose to nominate a candidate who is an absolute poster boy for the 1%? What an extraordinary choice when the 1% is such a focus of derision.

  189. The answer is obvious; his was the only campaign that didn't implode due to the awfulness of the candidate in question. Not, alas, because he is any better than that lot as a candidate, but because he is enough richer than they are that he is able to use money to prevent detonation.

  190. On the money as usual Mr Krugman. The notion that some guy can run for president and refuse to release his tax returns while he has a network of hundreds of secret bank accounts and investments domiciled in tax havens is without parallel in US presidential history. It's completely surreal in fact. That Republicans the vast majority of whom are paying higher taxes than Romney are defending this is a measure of just how loopy these people have become and part of it is because the media is treating it as if everyone does this.

  191. In that case, however, why not run a campaign based on that substance, and leave Mr. Romney’s personal history alone?

    Because President Obama is the candidate with the highest spending on attack ads in history.

    The difference from his last campaign is that in this election everyone sees it. He cannot hide behind his rhetoric, which calls for behavior quite different from his own.

    The NYT politely calls it a "difference" between his attacks and calls for something else. Nice try but few are buying it.

  192. "Nice try but few are buying it." we gather you would be among the only few.

  193. Whether deliberately or otherwise, you evade the point. A man is the sum total of his actions. Personal history IS substance. You can see who Romney is from his personal history - and he really hasn't clocked that much time in public office; his nearest competitor for least public service among past presidents is probably Carter; and we must judge what Pres Romney would do by what private Romney has done. (Similarly, people who argue that we should set Romney's religion to one side argue the absurd idea that on one hand a person's faith is of ultimate importance in shaping his character, and on the other it is irrelevant to what kind of president he would make, which is logically nonsense.) the picture is not pretty.

    BTW, 'President Obama is the candidate with the highest spending on attack ads in history' - this factoid is meaningless without taking into account overall spending by all candidates, inflation, and most important, PACs. Mitt Romney has hit men to do his work. Again, a distortion - I'm shocked, shocked.

    To quote: 'Nice try but few are buying it.'

  194. "Because President Obama is the candidate with the highest spending on attack ads in history."

    Thak you Citizen's United! Truth hurts, doesn't it?

    Oh, and insisting that you aren't born an American isn't a personal attack? The hypocrisy of your assertions are profoundly disturbing to rational discourse.

    I would never shirk the respnsibility of pointing that out. It's my patriotic duty and civic responsibility.

  195. Krugman's editorial is on target: How do we get the message through to an electorate that

    1. Reads very little, almost nothing substantive;
    2. Gets its paltry political education from a media that is commercially, not ethically or socially, motivated;
    3. Is more interested in entertainlment and personalities, particularly the activities of the rich and famous, celebrities;
    4. Has a traditional love-hate relationship with the wealthy--believing that the rich are better than they while simultaneously enjoying scandals, big-headline exposes, etc. involving the rich and the powerful;
    5. Has very little understanding of or interest in anything that involves numbers, such as the difference between, say, $250,000 a year and $1.5 million dollars a year;
    5. Understands struggle and hardship only when it hits home;
    6. Responds ruthlessly when, at last, it really does finally understand that it has been swindled and duped.

    If Obama is to win, he has to play this media game. I don't like it; I am sure that Obama doesn't like it, but it is the hard truth. The Republicans have undestood the American voter, what s/he instinctively responds to: the buzz words, the appeal to patriotism and nationalism and family values, the slap-on-the back, good old boy rhetoric.

    As long as Obama keeps to the truth and makes sure his information about Romney is factual and exact, the Obama campaign has every right and responsibility to use Romney's financial history in this campaign.

  196. This election is between the cabal of government criminals seeking to expand their fascist dictatorship and The People. The Federal Government is a 100% Criminal institution.

  197. Hail Comrade Romney, leader of the People's Revolution. Forward brothers and sisters!

  198. Have you checked a truly libertarian state? Try living for a while in the very properous Somalia.

  199. And this type of paranoid hysteria is exactly why the extremist right, in the analysis of Richard Posner, Norman Ornstein, Thoman Mann and others, is ruining this country. Fascist dictatorship? Really? Have you sir, at long last, no sense of decency?

  200. If I may say so, Mr. Romney is not truthful … nay, he is a fraud. Making money for himself and his fellow rich folks seems to be his policy and major goal. He has little consideration for the common man. He wants to lower the already very low taxes on the rich. He says, rich people create jobs. Is that so? The rich have had record low taxes for the last decade. Have they created extra jobs? No! So, why his repetitive insistence on lowering rich people’s taxes which did translate into more jobs? Repeating a falsehood does not convert it into truth. It only perpetuates a fraud.
    Our public education, transportation infrastructure, and health care system, contrary to what the Republicans would have us believe, is dismal. There is a huge imbalance between national revenues and expenditures. Generating tax cuts by defunding civilization attributes will just make us a third world country where there will be a few rich and a lot of poor. Remember the feudal societies of the past which took centuries to dismantle? Do we want to bring them back?
    We, the electorate, must use our God given reasoning ability to decide what will or will not work. Don't let the plutocrats run away with the wealth of the country.

  201. Romney released 23 years of tax returns to the McCain campaign when they were vetting him in 2008 for the vice-president slot on their ticket. They passed in Mitt for Sarah Palin. What else needs to be said? I love reading the apologists for Mitt who post on the Times. How can they "splain" that fact? Mitt has a lot to hide. He is afraid to release his full returns because there would be a revolt on the floor of the convention next month that will make the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago look like a Moonie gathering in comparison.

  202. It's not too late for the Republicans at the convention to choose someone else,,,

  203. No one chastened FDR (a very wealthy man) about his taxes during the Depression. Americans were looking for leadership that would get them back to work, which is what we are looking for now.

    From Sarah Lawsky at TaxProfBlog:

    "Throughout his first term, President Franklin Roosevelt paid taxes at the rates in effect when he took office, even as statutory tax rates increased. His position was that paying tax at a rate higher than that in effect at his inauguration reduced his salary, which violated the Constitutional provision that states that the president's compensation "shall be neither increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected."

  204. Unlike Romney, Roosevelt dramatically increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans and created new taxes such as the excess profits tax. Romney proposes cutting taxes on the wealthiest and actually raising taxes on the poorest Americans.

    But, congrats on the classic Republican false equivalency!

  205. Excellent point!

    Make sure to alert the Wendell Willkie campaign immediately!

    Ok - kidding - let's focus on that "leadership that would get them back to work" part.

    On that front, I'll agree. FDR's New Deal did a lot of good for our nation's middle class.

    Obama hasn't accomplished as much, but I think he's done a good job overall. Comparing his economic policies to FDR is liking judging Reagan's foreign policy achievements against - well, I was going to say Washington and Lincoln, but FDR would work here too.

    To whom shall we compare Mitt Romney?

    ...let me tell ya we could use a guy like Herbert Hoover again...

  206. Is it true that Romney took no salary as governor of MA and none as Chair of the Olympic Committee?

  207. ... the very rich vs the rest.

    "A great number of ordinary citizens on Main Street are absolutely convinced that there are some on Wall Street, perhaps but a precious few, who are swimming in a river of wealth. Through the forces of our system of US capitalism, they have mastered the rules of the game, manipulating them both within and outside the bounds of the law where necessary. The consequences are an acute concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. As a result, they control American society."



  208. Romney is not yet the president so if Krugman is talking about the future he should have done that five years ago before we had this recession. On the other hand Obama has been president for over three years based on his record of support for banks and insurance companies he is likely to continue that policy.

    Obama if president is likely to vote present which has been his past history. I don't think Romney is likely to solve the problem of loss of wealth that has taken place. Whether wealth will return by itself seems doubtful since it has been happening for the last 30 years. Likely a shaft has occur between china and United States and average chinese has not gotten enough to make up to difference against american labor yet.

    I don't see a plan to bring back america only some flag waving and alot of hot air for running for president. Looks like Obama has run out of free lunch for everyone and Romney is only giving free lunch for the rich and they don't need it.

  209. It's sort of hard to "bring back the economy" when Obama tried to follow Krugman's wise advice and tried to stimulate the economy with a large jobs bill which the Republicans declared DOA on the Hill, since their only goal is to harm the economy and block recovery as much as possible, in order to blame the lack of recovery on Obama and win this election. Sadly, a large majority of white voters are ignorant enough and dumb enough to allow them they get away with this.

  210. Under the current administration -- the world averted a Global Depression not just a US recession which could be the case if the clueless McCain became POTUS (Read The Promise -- chap 2 I thk -- abt the lead-up to the Obama presidency) though the ripple effects continue to these day affecting Europe & even China.
    Would Obama's policies have worked if not for the GOP blocking most of them? Guess we never know for sure. But, at least, he's offering more than 'more tax cuts' as possible planks for economic recovery.

  211. Fred White,

    Why the excuses for our President? He was unable to put a "stimulus" plan together that even someone like Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins would sign onto. The fault is in himself.

  212. People may have a hard time understanding the causes of the financial crisis, but they clearly can understand the actions of one man. Mr. Romney's personal history is the whole problem in miniature. Mr. Romney says he has the business acumen to improve economic growth. Well then let him explain in more detail the deals he engineered at Bain Capital to show voters how these strategies would restore the economy. Mr. Romney says that tax cuts for the wealthy will stimulate economic growth. Fine. Let him release his taxes and explain how the severe tax avoidance tactics he employed created any jobs or helped to reduce the nation's debt or benefited anyone else other than himself and his family.

    Mr Romney is a wealthy but he is not so rich Warren Buffet or Bill Gates. Bain Capital is a big, successful company but not so big or successful as the Carlye Group or The Blackstone Group. Mr. Romney cannot claim that personal history is too vast or too complicated for people to understand or that is too private for him to share. On the contrary it is just the right size for voter's to see and to evaluate. After all, he is running for President of the United States.

  213. I teach adult career college students. When I announced the Supreme court decision on the Affordable Care Act no one knew what I was talking about. Obamacare! What's Obamacare they asked. They don't read newspapers and they are proud of that fact. They are not "into politics" so that don't have a clue what is going on. Until everyone feels part of the democratic process and takes an interest (and is encouraged to take an active interest) people like Romney and Rick Scott and other richies will continue to get elected. I personally would like to see an intelligent person get elected with no money, just on his or her merits. I must be from another planet.

  214. In our society intelligent people are expected to at least have some money. Ever heard the cliche "If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" People won't respect a common poor person as a high level politician. Joe Biden is as close as you'll ever get.

  215. Exactly, I am from an older generation and most of my friends have college degrees and they do not know what Libor is or who Christine LeGaarde is or that there are any banking scandals or what single payer means. The media in America is focusing on fluff and this is what these voters tune into. It is making me despondent. I read the NYTimes and listen to NPR while they are watching Jeopardy. How can the electorate make any correct decisions? There is a serious problem with the educational systerm, the values and the media in this country.

  216. The kind of willful ignorance you describe is not limited to your students. It is everywhere in American culture. Accordingly Americans will get the government they deserve, and that is very unfortunate.

  217. MATH CHECK:

    I'm a little disturbed by the math examples Dr K uses to show the point about how much tax benefits go to the top 1%.

    Here's the quote from Prof K above;

    "According to estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the Romney plan would reduce the annual taxes paid by the average member of the top 1 percent by $237,000 compared with the Obama plan; for the top 0.1 percent that number rises to $1.2 million. "

    Using the number of $237,000 for the average of the full top one percent, already includes the tax savings of the top one tenth of one percent (0.1 percent) in the overall average of the top 1%.

    So giving separately the tax savings of the top one tenth of one percent, as $1.2 million, kind of double counts the savings of the wealthiest one tenth of one percent in both numbers. Isn't that right?

    It means the top 0.1% benefit phenomenally, and even that probably undercounts the benefits of the top hundredth, or the top one thousandth, and so on. But the thin band of 99.0 to 99.9% may not get quite so much. (I tried to math it out, and sadly failed).

    I do wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed by Prof K in this article, and I find myself regularly reading, enjoying, and agreeing with Prof K's columns.

    I understand the desire to win the argument and make your opponents look like ninnies. But there's no need to skew the facts with artful phrasing.

    I think it lessens the strength of the argument, which has already been won on the merits.

  218. Mr. Krugman's arithmetic is entirely correct.

    It is true, of course, that the savings of the 99%+1 taxpayer would be less than the average of the top one per cent ($237,000) -- probably less than half, since thumbnail arithmetic suggests that the top 0.1% is taking about half of the total benefit for the top 1%. (How does that feel to you, Mr. and Mrs. very-wealthy-but-not-in-the-top-0.1%, that the rich above you are hogging the benefits of tax cuts?)

    But even a $100,00 cut in taxes is scarcely insignificant, especially when that $100,000 will most likely be paid back by people whose annual _income_ is less than $100,000!

  219. Dr. Krugman's math is correct. The $237,000 is the average for the whole group (he said it was the average, which includes the .01%). The $1.2 million is what the the .01% get, which means a member at the bottom end of the 1% gets less than $237,000. There is no skewing of the facts.

  220. There's nothing wrong with the math in the column, but yes, the savings in the 1% by definition include the savings in the 0.1%. For the record, based on the numbers Dr, Krugman presents, the lower end of the range (in the 1% but not the 0.1%) averages $130,000 in savings. The number's different but the story isn't.

  221. As usual, Romney tries to thread the needle. Because of the layoffs, outsourcing and bankruptcies after 1999, he's trying to distance himself from Bain management during that time. But he doesn't actually say Bain's management after 1999 was incompetent, greedy or hostile to workers. Why won't he disavow Bain's activities in stronger terms? Perhaps because he knows the full record, should it come to light, would show he did or could have influenced management decisions during that period. Or perhaps because of a complete absence of evidence he objected to what Bain was doing after 1999.

    The question isn't whether it was a hands-on manager after 1999, but whether he could have been due to his legal standing as owner, CEO, etc.

    Also, in taking credit for jobs created at Staples and other firms after he left Bain, he suggests his strategies endured at these firms for years. Similarly, Bain's activities after 1999 must simply have been a continuation of strategies Romney had put in place earlier, unless he can show the other partners took the company in a radically new direction he disapproved of. But there's no evidence for that, and Romney doesn't even say so.

    It is completely fair to hold Romney accountable for what Bain did after 1999.

  222. I think this post nails it. Romney was the sole stockholder, with the authority to affect the "day to day" decisions so long as he was legally in that role. The fact that he chose not to exercise his control over his company is beside the point. Or rather, it IS the point. Like Graham Spanier and Joe Paterno, he could have stopped the predatory behavior of his company. But Romney and his partner were in business to make outrageous returns regardless of the consequences for the real people in the companies they bought.

  223. ceo and SOLE owner

    but good thing he had nothing to do with any decision making

  224. There's personal and there's personal, and I hope Dr. Krugman, whom I admire and nearly always agree with, isn't advocating doubleplusgood-duckspeaker, Karl-Rove-of-the-left ethics. I don't think he is.

    But Dr. Krugman could have been clearer in what constitutes an impermissible personal attack. The Obama campaign is not attacking Romney's sex life as a sign of character - for once, we have two apparently faithful husbands in the race. And the Obama campaign is not using the dog-on-the-car-roof or prep-school-bullying incidents as pseudo-issues.

    No, Dr. Krugman is talking about one of the late William Safire's exceptions to the no-personal-attacks rule - health and wealth. And for a candidate who offers his experience as a CEO (but not as a governor!) as his credentials for the presidency and whose positions on the economy are Gordon Gekko-like, personal finance is not so personal. It is not an expression of some vague unitary notion of "character"; it is of a piece, as Dr. Krugman points out, with the belief that the common man and woman are objects to be exploited for the greater wealth of those who are already vastly wealthy - not the 1% but the 00.01%. President Obama is right to call Romney's bluff.

  225. It's not Ronmey's experience at Bain but his values and dishonesty that make him unfit. To repeat a daily litany of distortions, make-believe, invented acts, wrong facts, and willful lies calls attention to an utter absence of inner strength in his own qualifications. The GOP calculus at work here is clearly that lying is more beneficial than not lying. Lies are tied to trust; a person who abandons the truth will be without compassion for the important values, programs, and policies that are the core of American strength. Repeal ACA? Without saying how Medicare will function, or whether pre-existing conditions, children--and 30 million--will be covered, is running a campaign by stealth and subterfuge.

  226. Anyone who insists Bain is the primary campaign issue then looks away when accusations of Romney's having committed a felony there are thrown out, is very much condoning a scorched earth policy.

    Democrats will find 1,000 ways to explain why this is now somehow acceptable. They do it eloquently, especially here at the NYT, and they do it often.

  227. If I may say so, Mr. Romney is not truthful … nay, he is a fraud. Making money for himself and his fellow rich folks seems to be his policy and major goal. He has little consideration for the common man. He wants to lower the already very low taxes on the rich. He says, rich people create jobs. Is that so? The rich have had record low taxes for the last decade. Have they created extra jobs? No! So, why his repetitive insistence on lowering rich people’s taxes which did not translate into more jobs? Repeating a falsehood does not convert it into truth. It only perpetuates a fraud.
    Our public education, transportation infrastructure, and health care system, contrary to what the Republicans would have us believe, is dismal. There is a huge imbalance between national revenues and expenditures. Generating tax cuts by defunding civilization attributes will just make us a third world country where there will be a few rich and a lot of poor. Remember the feudal societies of the past which took centuries to dismantle? Do we want to bring them back?
    We, the electorate, must use our God given reasoning ability to decide what will or will not work. Don't let the plutocrats run away with the wealth of the country.

  228. Krugman's the best contemporary answer to Twain and Mencken we have. He may not have the full power of their devastating wit, but he's sarcastic enough, and he has the advantage of being a genius in analyzing political economy right down to its ugly roots. And he's as fearless as they ever were. Like Mencken especially, he clearly loves to stir up the animals, who, in Krugman's case, consist mostly of the top .001% of Americans who seem to live to bamboozle and fleece the lower-class, gullible white American mob. So they don't like it when someone points out so pithily what they are doing every day, in plain sight.

  229. Fearless?

  230. Actually, I think Krugman is devastatingly witty.

  231. And one reason the general public is so easily bamboozled is this fact stated in Krugman's piece today: "In this world, however, most voters get their news from short snippets on TV, which almost never contain substantive policy analysis."

    Inquiring minds are more interested in the sensationalism of celebrity weddings and divorces than news of substance. The Evening News on PBS and Sixty Minutes of CBS are prime examples of programs that don't just deal in sensational snippets; they devote time enough to dig deeper into important news stories.

    Then of course there's the NY Times; but then of course, according to Conservatives, all of the above are only for the liberal elite; and we all know how dangerous they can be.

  232. Dr. K is hard at work making this a campaign about the lesser of 2 evils. The rich guy vs. the incompetent guy. The tool of the 1% vs. the tool of Goldman Sachs and the rest of Wall Street. Republicans say Romney, Democrats say Buffett.

    But the official unemployment rate is still over 8%, the unofficial unemployment rate is closer to 15%, and the unemployment rate for teens and minorities is over 20%. Obama's $800 billion stimulus, which he promised would create millions of shovel-ready jobs and keep the official unemployment rate under 8%, failed to create the jobs. Instead of removing the tie between health care insurance and the workplace and fighting for a single payer system, Medicare for all or even a public option, ObamaCare increased the cost of hiring workers by requiring employers to provide medical insurance (a laudable goal if business hires workers and doesn't lay them off, but not as good as a system where workers get their health care coverage outside the workplace). Yes, ObamaCare is just like RomneyCare, but if that is so good then why not support Romney?

    A race between the lesser of 2 evils. We can vote for the status quo of Obama and high unemployment, or we can vote for Change and Hope for the best.

  233. Obama has merely been sweeping up after the elephants. You should read the article. Facts are facts, trickle down has never worked, Obama has had to deal with the fantasy land demands of an obstructionist Tea Party House and Senate. I have no sympathy for people getting rich from manipulating their trust fund money, which is what Romney has done. Obama came up from nothing, nothing was handed to him. Romney's dad was a millionaire. Romney can't even run a coherent campaign and you call OBAMA incompetent?

  234. Oh yeah, turning the nation back over to the gang of liars who got us into this mess while refusing to help the President get us out of it, is really the way to go. Or didn't you know that 70% of the Romney campaign is made up of W's advisers?

  235. Hope is fine!!! but what do we really know about his policies?? Remember he fleeced (that's not fair he took out all the equity) companies as well as provided equity for start ups. some were successful, some not. Bain got it's capital out no matter. He does not propose policies just alludes to his job making ability. He showed how to take a company' and eliminate many of its operating expenses. That's not job creation!!! The stimulus worked by the way. Obama needed cooperation from repub's to do more. do I have to tell you how that went?

  236. The misfortune of the majority is the benefit of the few. The cruel fact is some people conspire to profit from sickness, ignorance, war and disaster. John D. Rockefeller said, "The time to buy is when blood runs in the streets."

  237. "{T}his election is, in substantive terms, about the rich versus the rest, and it would be doing voters a disservice to pretend otherwise."

    Wrong Prof: this election is about the role of the federal government in our lives, and it would be doing voters a disservice to pretend otherwise.

    Liberals want the federal government to control or have a say in everything we do in our day-to-day lives. They believe a centralized bureacracy in Washington can create and implement a one size fits all solution for anything and cost is irrelevant.

    Tax the rich to pay "their fair share". Forget that the top 5% pay 71% of all income taxes; yet the bottom 51% pay nothing. Letting the tax rate expire for those making above $250K would generate about 8 days of federal spending. This is the 4th year in a row that the deficit will exceed $1 trillion dollars.

    Moderates and conservatives on the other hand want smaller government and fiscal discipline. As much as the lmessiah and his limousine liberal worshippers want it to be true, government can't be all things to all people. It's not intellectually equipped, and the taxpayers can't afford it.

    Let's get real, folks, that's what this election is all about.

  238. If I compare places that have very small,.weak governments and low taxes (Somalia, Afghanistan, Haiti, Greece) with those that have large and active governments and high taxes (Germany, Sweden, Canada) I would choose more government over less every time.

    The land which Mike K. describes, of small, non-intrusive government and busy, prosperous people, exists nowhere on this earth. It is a pipe dream of libertarians which bears no resemblance to life as we know it.

    If we ended our military dominance of the world, we could live like Canada or Sweden, with plenty of wealth to be used for the common good.

  239. "Liberals want the federal government to control or have a say in everything we do in our day-to-day lives. They believe a centralized bureacracy in Washington can create and implement a one size fits all solution for anything and cost is irrelevant. "
    Since you arrogantly appoint yourself to be so informed as to what liberals want, let me tell what the conservatives' wants side. Conservatives want total control of everyone's life by corporations that are, in turn, controlled by the wealthy. Benito Mussolini, in the 1930's called it corporatism. My generation knew it as fascism. Totalitarianism, fascism, or conservatism by any other name still is what it does.

  240. Ah, people like "Evelyn" and her comments below, "If we ended our military dominance of the world, we could live like Canada or Sweden, with plenty of wealth to be used for the common good."

    Evelyn just hasn't thought it through to its logical conclusion. If we, along with our allies like the UK, Australia, and a few others, chose to be like Sweden, then the bad guys run amuck and nobody gets to live like Swedes, who use us as their insurance policy against the bad guys. Evelyn is one of those people who thanks others so that she is free to make foolish statements because of the brave.

  241. Wealth for a few or prosperity for the most...that is what this election is all about. President Obama is our best chance for prosperity for the most. Steny Hoyer's "Made in America" should become the national mantra of this decade. investment in our nation's infrastructure (energy, transportion and agriculture), and therefore in jobs for ordinary Americans should be the centerpiece of President Obama's campaign. President Obama has asked rightly, "Why can't we do this in America?". It's time for us to roll up our sleeves and get busy.

  242. If you confiscated the entirety of the wealth of the so-called "1%" and divided it equally among all 330 million Americans, it would come out as about a thousand bucks each. Not exactly "prosperity."

    Class warfare is a game of propaganda, not facts.

  243. It's not just about Bain Capital and Romeney's sorry record, so typical of his generations "Captains of Industry".

    For the last thirty years, the policy tilt (aided and abbeted by "conservative" "Non-partisan" think tanks and the Party of the Plutocrats) has been against the American Middle Class and the American Worker.

    They began by stripping the American worker of anything resembling an income stream that will afford a Life. Having sucessfully exported the industrial base to what was formerly the third world, in the name of Efficency (But really, a tractable work force was the goal) and destroyed millions of jobs (and the economic base) that let Americans Workers enjoy a Middle Class life with a decent retirement.

    The only part of the economy left to clear cut is what was formerly the "Managerial" middle class.

  244. Since Romney is no doubt vetting his VP candidates with more than just their 2010 tax returns and an estimate for 2011, he owes transparency to the electorate on a greater level for a yet higher office, especially since we know he provided 23 years of returns for McCain's VP vetting process in '08.

    Since Romney left Bain at least a decade ago, the financial business experience he bally-hoos from there is very relevant as to what sort of practices the company engaged in as ' job creators '.

    After he left Bain, Romney is not running on his record as Mass. governor, so the only thing to look at over the last 10 years is how a man of great wealth, created at Bain, handled that wealth which was extracted from America.

    Did he use the wealth to create jobs for Americans as a ' job creator ', or did he take full advantage of every possible loop-hole, tax-haven and Swiss bank account to be sure that as part of 1/10th of 1%-ers he did not pay a cent more than he had to in taxes, while he was already a P.E.-carried interest poster child ?

    What a man does with his money, besides $75,000 deductions for dressage horses, speaks to Americans about the man's values, and whether he is part of the problem, or part of the solution regarding Wall Street.

    All the more so, since Romney wants to cut his own taxes, raise the taxes of everyone else, and repeal Dodd-Frank.

  245. I'd rather see the election be about substance than personal attacks as well. I also think it's worth acknowledging that even if Republicans would resort to personal attacks on Obama, Obama's doing the same probably lowers the quality of political discourse somewhat. It seems like a debatable question whether or not a better political culture, to the extent to which the Obama campaign's actions can affect it, is more important than Obama winning the election. Probably, an Obama win is more important, but I think we can still admit that he might be giving up something (as opposed to doing nothing objectionable at all) by having to resort to personal attacks instead of policy discussion.

    I agree, however, that there is a difference in kind between Obama's criticism of Romney and the incessant Republican attacks on Obama since he has been in office. Attacks on Obama are designed to stoke racialist fears of a black man in office who's descended from a foreign national. Obama's attacks on Romney are designed to provoke resentment at the extremely better-off. First, the better-off already have it well, so it's no great hit to them. Second, there really is a threat to everyone else (the so-called 99%) from inegalitarian policies designed to benefit the extremely better-off.

    In any cases, Republicans calling Obama's campaign too much of a personal attack are like the pot calling the kettle... a pot.

  246. Such a tortured position. Democrats cannot seem to bring themselves to acknowledge that the very tactics they despise in republicans are somehow acceptable when carried out by democrats.

    In the end, they justify it by claiming a win for Obama will more greatly benefit the masses. In other words, the ends justify the means for democrats.

    So much less tortured to return to criticizing republicans for these types of tactics. No soul searching or honest questioning of this behavior when it's the republicans doing it.

  247. "How are voters supposed to know who’s telling the truth? In fact, earlier this year focus groups given an accurate description of Mr. Romney’s policy proposals refused to believe that any politician would take such a position."

    Color me totally out of step and old-fashioned--but isn't the job of helping the public figure out what the truth is--and understanding what politicians' positions are the job of the press?

    The fundamental problem we face as a nation at this point is that one political party has concluded that they can lie without any push back whatsoever from the press--that they can stand before the cameras and declare that the ACA is a massive government takeover of healthcare--or that the President is pushing for a huge new expansion of government--and that at best--or worst--the press will report what they say as if there is a shred of truth to it--and then--in the interest of "balance" note that "Democrats dispute those claims."

  248. Mr. Krugman has presented a defense of the Obama campaign' choice to use the 'ad hominem' strategy in the current campaign. Readers should do their research about that (as Mr. Krugman would say,"You can google it!") and decide for themselves whether or not it is an appropriate basis for the electorate to use in making their decision about whom to vote for president in the coming election.

    For my own part, the ad hominem approach is an (a) appeal to prejudices intended to divert people away from the real issues; and (b) a strategy based on leading them to make their decision using fallacy rather than fact.

    Most importantly, as a society we need to remenber that 'What goes around, comes around', meaning that we have to ask ourselves, Democrats and Republicans alike, whether or not we want this ad hominem strategy to be the new standard used by candidates to manage their campaigns, forever levelling down the quality of our political discourse.

  249. In an attempt to sound intelligent and non-partisan, you actually missed the point of the piece. Krugman is not arguing that an "ad-hominem approach" should be used to distract people from "real issues". The argument is that character in this instance reveals a set of policy priorities and because it is easier for most people to understand a person's character (e.g. good, bad, kind, callous) than that details and implications of policy proposals, it is a useful (and perhaps the only) tool from which to most will be able to evaluate policy priorities.

  250. Ad hominem is a debate tactic that addresses not the subject of the argument but the maker of the argument. In a Presidential election, the maker of the the argument, the candidate, is in fact where the primary focus should be, and Mitt Romney deserves to have his feet held to the fire. (Things get a lot hotter in the Oval Office, and the President can't whine that he deserves apologies from critics.) Throughout the primaries and well into the campaign, Romney has been shown to lie and distort repeatedly with apparent impunity. His personal finances, with their tax eluding strategies, appear ever slimier the more we hear about them, and that's with just one tax return to look at. His policy positions don't hold water, having proven leaky and unseaworthy under previous Republican adminsitrations--primarily Bush. He's given us little more to consider than his boasts that his experience qualifies him to fix the economy. So now his experience is looking a little shabby, too. Taking a critical look at Mitt Romney is not an attack--it's a necessity. He is the person we're being asked to judge as suitable for the highest elected office in the land.

  251. If there's one thing we learned from 2000-2008 the competence (or not) of and the influences on the "man" in the White House makes a difference in what happens to the rest of us. Nothing at all wrong with a campaign focusing on which of the candidates is better suited personally to lead the nation. Ad hominem, bring it on.

  252. This election is about the role of the Federal Government in the live of American citizens; not about the rich versus the rest.

    The fundamental issue is if America should become more like Europe, with its larger social safety net but many regulations or remain a more insecure society with greater personal freedom.

    As to Mitt Romney, President Clinton finds him qualified. Having done the job, he knows of what he speaks.

  253. In fact, Clinton said the election of Romney "would be a tragedy for the US and the world".

  254. Those "greater personal freedoms" that would be preserved by demonizing and rejecting common-sense reforms are mostly freedoms for the wealthy, for corporations and possibly for gun nuts, too. As for the rest of us, I fear the growing insecurity a lot more than I do greater regulation.

  255. There is nothing wrong with Northern Europe. The CEOs make three times less than the CEOs in the US; citizens do not have to worry about their basic needs; their education system is far better than ours; their regulations are designed to safegaurd the general population instead of protecting the greed of the elites as in the US; and they have strong unions whiel we are undermining them.
    As far as the Federal Government is concerned, REA provided electricity to the rural US; all the great techology that we enjoy today comes from Federally sponsored NASA; it makes sure that the industry does not dump their waste into ground like they did in the 60s and 70s that cost taxpayers $billion in Superfuns to clean it; it makes sure that the food we eat is untainted (remember the lettus and beef recalls, they were not voluntary by the producers): it maintains the roads and bridges we use to commute; and most of all makes sure that there are safety standards for the cars we drive and the most products we use.
    If the rich moved to a country where these services were not available, I wonder if they would be so rich. Their riches are facilitated by the services that the Federal Government provides. The Bush tax cuts, instead of trickling down the wealth, has been responsible for the wealth to leap upward so that now a CEO makes 270 times the average wage earner compared to 40 times.
    This election is about the inequalities and suppression of unward mobility in our society.

  256. Everyone not only cites, but agrees to “I want what is best for America”. Alas the devil is in the details and Willard Mitt Romney diverges radically from what middle-class America has come to expect. I would guess that most people that read your column are gathering information from at least five different news sources, but like wine only 18% of the population consumes 80% of annual sales. The majority of voters find numbers boring and zone out. Right wing radio understands this and explains why such inanities flood the airwaves, using phrase better suited to modern day “Newspeak”.

    Like a detergent, it’s all about marketing to emotions, exciting your base and hopefully emotions will align with reason in November.

  257. When George Bush II was elected I thought that four years of a man obviously not qualified for the task would destroy the Republican party. When he ran again in 2004 I thought that any sane person could see the disaster that was unfolding and would continue to unfold were he to be re-elected. Some sort of Sanity seemed to return in 2008 but that was quickly dispelled with the Tea Party avalanche in 2010. My feeling now is that a Romney election, which would overwhelmingly favour the rich and continue to hollow out the middle class, would be disastrous for the Republicans, but . . . . I'm probably wrong. It seems like American voters are willing to absorb any amount of punishment in order to ensure the security of their beloved aristocracy.

  258. As you will see this November, when Democrats actually do what they want to do - it's disastrous for the Democrat Party. America does not want socialism whether you call it a "safety net," "A War on Poverty" or any of the other thousand names socialism is called.

  259. In this present crisis, Mitt Romney is not the solution to our problem; Mitt Romney is the problem.

  260. But not the folks who have had control of "the nation's purse strings" for the last six years - the Democrat Party??

  261. If the Republicans want to reduce the taxes on the rich, it's because the U.S. today has the highest taxes on businesses of any of the industrialized nations in the world.

    Anyway, by adding further taxes on millionaires, including on Mitt Romney, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and myriad other millionaires in the House and the Senate, in Hollywood, and all the other rich Democrats who are lawyers, Wall Street bankers or investment brokers, and various wastrels of either party affiliation, will absolutely not be enough to pay for all the outlandish spending being done today by the federal government.

  262. If you just look at the nominal business tax rate you would be correct. However, very few companies pay business taxes at the nominal rate once various special deductions, allowances and deferrals are factored in.

  263. I am not familiar with the comparative tax rates on business in the industrialized world, but to me the RATES are irrelevant. Why? We all know that nobody is paying that rate. There are myriad ways to shelter income and the actual amounts paid have no resemblance to the alleged tax rate.

  264. No mention here that nearly half of all voters pay no income tax at all.

    Chef Obama cannot run on his record of growing the pie. He has no such record. So, he runs on a platform of re-slicing the pie. The givers get less; the takers get more. We have seen this dish before: in 1789, 1870 and 1917. It left a bad taste in a lot of mouths.

    Krugman had best hope that voters aren't policy wonks. If they get the simple picture that what is bad for the boss is not good for them, the chef will find himself back in Chicago writing his memoirs. But, hey, that's been his life's work.

  265. I wasn't around in 1789, 1870 or 1917, but I was here in 2002, when the Bush tax cuts were given to the so-called "job creators". Guess what? The pie shrunk. To add insult to injury, Mittens is paying a lower rate of tax than I am, depite earning many multiples of my incme. Seems to me that the real welfare queens are in the boardroom.

  266. I forgot to list a percentage I referred to. Of the 46% who don't pay taxes, 44% of them are the elderly, 30% are the working poor with children.

  267. Even the 50 or so % of the country that pays no income tax pays numerous other taxes, from sales tax to gasoline tax. The reason they pay no income tax is because they earn so little that many live in abject poverty. I see no reason to tax people for the privelege of living in poverty.

  268. Mr. Krugman, why are you so concerned about tax cuts? Afraid the US Government will not be able to continue in its bloated, wasteful lifestyle that it is accustomed to?

    Why don't you advocate cutting government spending, closing some of the many unnecessary government agencies? Why must citizens, rich or otherwise have to always tighten their belts so as to feed the Federal bureaucracy?

    As a Nobel prize winning economic expert, can't you not see any redundant and wasteful spending at all at the government that should be cut FIRST before before asking one more penny from taxpayers? When do you hold the government accountable for wasting money on useless wars, handouts to foreign nations, and general pork barrel spending?

    We pay and pay, and yet our government debt continues to soars in the the trillions.
    Soaking the rich is not going to make government any more efficient in its job.

  269. This absurd myth of 'federal bureaucracy' persists, yet Medicare carries at least a 30% less overhead than private health insurance, the EPA protects us from so much pollution on a very tight budget, the DOE invests in the long-term future (occasional mistakes as in Solyndra, but overall highly efficient). The only thing that's bloated is the offshore bank accounts, stock holdings of the $elite, mostly in the financial industry.
    At $15 trillion, that's about $50K per American in debt. Many home owners carry mortgages $200K + just for a house. The federal debt should be shrunk but is not outrageous when you list the thousands of functions it performs to protect, invest in infrastructure, defense, health, education, alleviate pollution, protect national forests, support trade, assist the private sector, curb excessive greed in the financial industry, etc. etc. The list goes on and on.
    Why should interest on a mortgage de tax-deductible? The federal government does wonders on a very tight budget. Look at the rest of the world and see what real government intervention looks like. Taxing the rich may make them a little more concerned and appreciative of what the federal government does for ALL americans, not just themselves.

  270. I assume when you talk about cutting government expenditures you are talking about reducing the size of the US defence budget as well as agricultural subsidies and spending by the various intelligence and security agencies.

  271. Your premise is certainly laudable on the surface. But scratch the surface and it is deeply flawed.

    First, let me state that I have never met an American who is in favor of wasteful government spending. The idea that liberals and Democrats in particular are in favor of wasteful spending is just plain false.

    With that said, why doesn't congress just cut spending? Well, where do they cut? The predominant conservative plan for cutting spending is to eliminate social programs that many lower income persons depend upon for subsistence existence.

    These same conservatives don't blink an eye at spending billions on weapons systems that are obsolete before they go into production and never actually are used in the defense of this or any other country. I might add that two unfunded wars that were fought during the Bush administration passed conservative muster unchallenged. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that if we had that money back we would be looking at a much rosier economic picture. Let's also look at the "war on drugs." That cost upwards of 30 billion a year. I hear no conservative call to end that nonsense.

    So the question on how to balance the budget isn't whether to cut spending, it's "whose ox gets gored." What I hear from Republicans is let cut spending on those who are in need and powerless to prevent us from doing so.

    It's sort of like getting a gang of kids together to jump an unpopular kid and cut his hair off.

  272. Mitt Romney is easily cast as the rich guy who never worked a day in his life , realizing his fortune on the backs of the working class. That Obama has had to go down into the mud to portray him as a dishonest, unabashed tax evader is a sad comment on the nature of politics. Mr. Romney is probably sincere about his calling to public service, but his alignment with the extremities of his party have produced a Frankenstein of contradictions on health care, taxation and the poor. In a better day, Americans would hear intelligent discourse from both sides and vote in the best interests of the country. For now we will watch the President hold up whatever he can find to reach this distracted population and defend what's left of the American dream and the Constitution.

  273. Even with the experience of Nixon and George W., the American media finds it too disconcerting to deal with the possibility that one of the new Presidential candidates is of a low, malicious, and damaging character. The possibility that he might be a liar and a cheat who could do enormous further damage is impossible to entertain even in the face of recent evidence. So, yes, the Obama team must be applauded for plowing ahead.

  274. "Tax the rich to pay "their fair share". Forget that the top 5% pay 71% of all income taxes; yet the bottom 51% pay nothing. Letting the tax rate expire for those making above $250K would generate about 8 days of federal spending. This is the 4th year in a row that the deficit will exceed $1 trillion dollars."

    Conservatives always forget all of the other taxes (sales, real estate, SS / FICA, real property, fees, etc...) that low income people pay when they repeat this mantra on income taxes. If Romney slashed taxes by 50% across the board (keeping progressivity the same), these ratios would remain the same but the total revenue of the government would be cut in half.

    That, plus the skewing of the tax burden by Bush, is the problem! We are only collecting 18% of GDP in tax revenue---the lowest level in 80 years. These are rates seen in Central American countries, and the result is a very weak state with even more massive corruption. That is Mr. Romney's plan.

  275. You do make some interesting points but the problem with focussing on the issue of income taxes is that it ignores the role that government policies and actions have had n skewing the distribution of income in the US such that the top 1% are earning a larger share of income whether measured on a before or after tax basis.

  276. So, how do we explain the fact that at least 40% of the country will vote for Mitt? Could it be racism is so powerful a source of fear that people will vote against their economic interest; or could it be that people just like being on the edge of poverty all the time; or is it the Versailles factor, i.e., people just like imagining they will be rich if they love the rich enough?

  277. The problem is democrats aren't democrats anymore -- the ruling democrats act like 1% republican wannabes, on taxpayer dollars -- so whats the difference? What happened to democrats fighting for the little guy? Why is a woman I know, retiring next week after forty years, only making eleven dollars an hour? Where have the democrats been all her life? Hollering for more teacher pay? Why did Harry Reid feel the need to compromise a private individual's pension in order to get the republicans to lower the interest rate on student loans? If the republican party has become synonymous with the 1%, the democratic party has become synonymous with teachers and other public employees ---- who's taking care of the little guy? At this point it doesn't really matter who he votes for, nobody cares about his economic status anyway --- start fighting for minimum wage!

  278. If there is nothing to hide, why did they shred every document and remove the hard drives from computers in the MA Governor's office on the eve of his departure. It is a pattern that does not reflect well on a man seeking public office and is not a model we want emulated if transparency and accountability is the goal.

  279. It's one thing to enact progressive tax structures, it's quite another to collect the tax. Mr. Krugman is aware that the wealthy are adept at moving sources of income to a lower tax environment. Europeans authorities have been chasing the disappearing and mobile taxpayer for decades.

    Who better than Mr. Romney to close loopholes as he knows where they are? Like Nixon going to China.

    Growth comes from capital and improved productivity, only. No other place. A simplified tax code and rates that encourage capital to move to the U.S. might be the solution.

    As for Mr. Obama? Well his 18 months work experience in the private sector isn't much, is it?

  280. The issue is neither "closing loopholes" nor productivity (US productivity continues to rise and to outpace our economic partners/competitors around the world -- you can look it up), but the size of the tax cut he proposes. Loopholes won't do it, unless by "loophole" you mean the mortgage tax deduction and the deductibility of employer provided health insurance along with reductions in our assistance to our most needy fellow Americans. None of these are of any concern to the wealthiest among us -- they will always have (multiple) homes and health care and have no trouble getting the food they need to feed their families and heat for the winter should they want to ski rather than sun in January.

  281. Systems are rigged in favor of too big banks, that need to be reduced in size and separated from their publicly insured entities, or have a rigged system. As long as our government has a former CEO of Monsanto as the Secretary of Agriculture, twisting the arms of other government heads to allow monopolisitic policies around the world, and also numerous other corporations as well, we will not have trade that works for the benefit of any citizen of the world. Trade treaties have actually worked against ordinary Americans having jobs and have created much poverty and resentment around the world. America needs a massive rearrangement in order to bring back prosperity to average Americans. Privately owned research and development first is not the driver of economic engines. Privatized water and energy systems are other dangerous developments. Government research and development first, that then becomes private, insures that hygemonies like Monsanto and Cargil, pharms and others do not have death grips on our health and prosperity as a nation. Unfair intellectual property rights have smothered competition and have actually been injurious to public health. Some information and public good/necessities for life, should be always publcily owned. America has barely made the turn necessary for its survival. President Obama has at least tried, but others keep grabbing the wheel from him. Cutting some large corporations down to size would be a good place to start.

  282. Tom Vilsack is the current Secretary of Agriculture. He is the former Governor of Iowa, having served two terms. He has never been the CEO of Monsanto.