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I really enjoy reading and watching what Ezra Klein has to say. Ever since I first saw him guest host The Rachel Maddow Show this summer, I've been impressed by the way he explains complicated subjects in a way that makes them easier to understand. I just checked into my Facebook news feed and saw this post by Ezra Klein introducing his latest post at The Wonkblog at The Washington Post.

The question the debates raised is which Romney voters will be choosing if they mark his name on the ballot.
Naturally, I clicked on the link to the article. Those who have been questioning President Obama's tactics during the debate last night, might find this article enlightening. It begins:
Early in the campaign, Team Obama made a crucial decision: They weren’t going to run against “multiple-choice Mitt.” Rather, of the various Romneys on offer to them — the Massachusetts moderate, the tea party conservative — they were simply going to choose one and stick with it.
Ezra explains that while Romney attempted to be "all things to all people" by saying what he thought people wanted to hear depending on the audience he was addressing, the plan the Obama Team put into place was to force Mitt Romney to be the persona he used to win the Republican primaries.
They’ve been fairly successful in that effort. This was, in part, because they had an assist from the Republican base, which put the fear of God — or at least the fear of primary challenges — into the Romney campaign. That is, until last night.

But during the first presidential debate, Romney presented himself as a candidate uninterested in tax cuts, in love with Medicare, in support of economic regulations, confident in the government’s role in the health-care system, and interested in few spending cuts beyond PBS. Romney’s policies might be steeped in tea, but last night, he proved his political skills were honed in Massachusetts.

LOL! The one spending cut Romney said he is interested in is PBS. I'm surprised he didn't say he was going to get rid of Planned Parenthood last night as well. Oh wait! Women were watching the debate; much better to stick with Big Bird. How many children would be up last night watching, much less understanding that Romney wanted to fire Big Bird?

Ezra goes on to point out that the decision to pick one Mitt Romney to run against "hampered" President Obama last night, and uses Romney's tax cuts as an example. Experts say that Romney has a choice, which Ezra calls a  “trilemma”: he can cut taxes by 20% across the board, he can keep tax revenue where it is, or he can not raise taxes on the rich, but the arithmetic says he can not do all three.

President Obama mostly ignored this trilemma. Instead, he insisted that Romney was not going to pay for his tax cuts at all, and thus the cost of his policy was $5 trillion. That gave Romney the opportunity to reply that no, he was not going to cut taxes by $5 trillion. Obama’s response, in effect, was yes, you are. Romney’s rejoinder? No, I’m not not. It was a he-said, he-said about what Romney really, truly intends to do. This went on for about 40 minutes.

(snip)

We don’t know what he’ll do. All we know is he can’t do all the things he says he’ll do now, as the math doesn’t work. After decades in which Republicans haven’t paid for tax cuts, a Republican candidate running on huge, specific tax cuts paired with a “just trust me” on how he’ll pay for them should make voters very nervous. That worry is true to what Romney has proposed and to what’s wrong with it. But the Obama campaign, which didn’t want to give Romney the benefit of ambiguity, tried instead to ignore it and create their own tax plan to run against. It didn’t work for them.

Ezra concludes by pointing out that the anyone who would vote for Romney has a choice between two Romneys; The one they saw last night who would have to compromise with a Democratic Congress in order to get things done, or the one who will be pulled all the way to the right by a Republican Congress. Neither choice is a good one as the choice in and of itself proves that Romney is not a leader. He just goes whichever way the wind blows him and we still don't know what he really will do if elected. It would all depend on who controls Congress, and therefore we would not have three branches of government. We'd have two; Congress and the Supreme Court, and that should be a thought that scares everyone.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (43+ / 0-)

    “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

    by hungrycoyote on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:31:51 AM PDT

  •  He Has to Have a Strategy to Deal With the Lies (8+ / 0-)

    which Romney will spew no matter which persona Obama chooses to fight.

    An idea I've been suggesting, based on commentary from pundits in a pre debate show last night, is for him to reference social media which now fact-check egregious claims as the debates are going along. So remind the audience that while there isn't time to refute everything here, it is being corrected right now on the net and the media journalists will have the corrections.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 11:41:46 AM PDT

  •  Actually, I didn't see it that way at all (9+ / 0-)

    Obama kept hammering on the point that Mitt is leaving out the details on all his plans. Yeah, 20 percent across the board tax cuts costs $5 trillion, but exactly where is he going to make up that $5 trillion if his plan really is revenue neutral? Mitt doesn't say.

    Is he hiding those details because they're just so good? Is he hiding his tax returns because they're just so good, too?

    Mitt Romney must think Americans were born yesterday when they fell off the turnip truck.

    •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungrycoyote, eyeswideopen, retLT

      Romney's website, this very instant says he will cut rates 20% across the board,  eliminate estate taxes, and eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends for those under 200,000.  That costs $5 trillion (well the $5T may include the corporate cut as well, not sure) . There is no mention on the website of offsetting revenue increases. None.

      If Romney's plan is revenue neutral then he is not cutting taxes at all. But he explicitly says he will cut taxes for the middle class. Well the only way to do that  and remain revenue neutral is to raise taxes on someone else (the rich or the poor).

      Who is he raising taxes on, job creators?

      •  He claimed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungrycoyote

        ...that he would not raise taxes at all. He wants to cut everything the Federal government does. Big Bird is obviously not his only target -- everything except the military (which gets more) is. He wants to destroy all government programs, the GOP's wet dream.

        "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." —John Kenneth Galbraith

        by eyeswideopen on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 01:29:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Some Americans are that stupid. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungrycoyote

      And members of the press are right behind.

  •  This part by Ezra is simply false (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BasharH, hungrycoyote
    But the Obama campaign, which didn’t want to give Romney the benefit of ambiguity, tried instead to ignore it and create their own tax plan to run against. It didn’t work for them.
    The Romney plan as listed on his website only includes tax cuts. That's the plan that TPC scored. Obama did not make it up.
    •  According to the MMT people, tax cuts are one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hungrycoyote

      way to get the money flowing through the economy.  The other way is to increase dollar payments to established recipients of transfer payments or spend dollars on goods and services and ignore the deficit for the time being. The MMT people say the tax cuts are the least efficient because, as we've seen, the money at the top doesn't get spent. What Obama is trying to get Willard to do is admit that the object is to pump money into the economy, so he doesn't have to say it.  But, Willard can't because that would conflict with the "stimulus."
      Because Willard won't pronounce his specifics, Obama doesn't have to show his intent re the stimulus.
      There's general agreement that more investment is needed. If Willard could be gotten to commit to forget about the deficit, it would all be so much easier. As it is, it's just the same old story -- Republicans are obstructionists.

      We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:14:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Regardless, the Executive doesn't do tax (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, hungrycoyote, semiot

    legislation. A candidate for POTUS promising to lower or raise taxes is pormising something he can't deliver. For that matter, he can't deliver legislation in the medical care arena either. Barack Obama indicated he knows that by starting out one of his answers with the observation that he'd gotten to like the name Obamacare, even though he obviously didn't draft the authorizing legislation (which he left unsaid).  
    So, why doesn't the President make the point that Willard is talking about the impossible? Is there something better for him to be blathering about? Do we want him talking about immigration and distress that population? Do we want him talking about education, which he obviously doesn't much like? Should he be talking about public servants like cops and firemen? They don't need the aggravation. The budget is a safe topic, especially since he can't get too specific and have to confront the fact that the Congress did not send forward a budget for the President to sign. Do we want to point out that the country is running along quite well without a formal budget, as long as Congress keeps appropriating more money? If he gets too specific, that will be an opportunity to point out which Congress critter has no earmarks to run on this year because his Tea Party friends cut them out?
    There are so many things nobody wants Willard to talk about!

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:03:54 PM PDT

  •  I think the statement that Romney has provided (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hungrycoyote

    no detail was one of Obama's few points that stuck.  The good news for Obama is that he has a little under 2 weeks to develop a better approach:  stiff arm responses plus substance.  The expectations game is now level, if not slightly favoring Romney, so that in and of itself sets up Obama for a comeback if he has a more engaged, responsive approach in addition to his usual thoughtfulness.

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:11:31 PM PDT

    •  And the good news is that the next (0+ / 0-)

      debate format is a town hall style where the candidates interact with the audience. I think it's going to be interesting to see how Romney handles that format.

      “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

      by hungrycoyote on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:20:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Romney will do what he always does (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hungrycoyote, eyeswideopen

        Obfuscate, evade, lie, but throw in enough points which makes it look like he understands the substance of an issue.  He is a tough guy to lay a glove on without getting stained yourself.  Nonetheless, Obama has the skill set to do it.  He just needs to watch tape and execute.  

        Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

        by khyber900 on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:48:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  So I click on a diary based on title alone and as (4+ / 0-)

    I get to the end I think, wow, nice diary. I need to rec this. And there's your user name, hungry. Another excellnt diary. You are somthing else, girl. :-)

    And as usual, Ezra, that brainy adorable wonk, gets it exactly right.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Thu Oct 04, 2012 at 12:14:03 PM PDT

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