Mitt Walks Back “47 Percent” and the Debate Mystery Solved, Mebbe

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past inactive to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.

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189 Responses

  1. Sam Wilkinson says:

    He doesn’t get to withdraw his own comment. That’s not how it works. “Oh, here’s this truly awful thing that I not only said, but clearly believe, but not anymore, so let’s no longer discuss it.”Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      It was rational to not withdraw it.Report

    • Wardsmith in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      Mitt should take his 47 percent apology tour to all 57 statesReport

      • NewDealer in reply to Wardsmith says:

        I do love the smell of false equivilances in the morning.

        Obama’s statement was a just a flub of speech. A very silly one but everyperson alive has made a similar mistake or will make one in their lives over a very simple fact.

        Romney’s 47 percent was not a simple mistake of fact. It reflected the sincere belief of the Randians and easily butt hurt multi-millionaire sect.Report

        • Robert Greer in reply to NewDealer says:

          Not to mention that Obama was speaking in the context of the primary season, where there really are 57 contests (Puerto Rico, D.C., etc.), although only 50 of them are states. Obama said the wrong word; he didn’t formulate and cynically and coherently express a horrible sentiment.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      If people aren’t allowed to withdraw comments, how did Obama get to withdraw pretty much his entire life?Report

    • Michelle in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

      It’s pretty telling that he was on Fox with sycophant Sean Hannity when he walked back his remarks. Hannity gave him the chance to say what he wanted to say at the debates before a sympathetic audience and an interviewer who wouldn’t challenge him.

      He waited a whole month to “withdraw” the 47 percent remark, long enough to appease his base, who wanted him to run with the 47 percent meme, and for the comment to work it’s way through the system. At this point, it’s old news.Report

  2. greginak says:

    How does one withdraw a comment? Do you send a form to the League office? Is it like cancelling an order with Amazon? Maybe if he did it in a Roseanne Roseanneadana voice that could be funny. ( that was an old SNL reference btw for you young folk out there). Are we supposed to believe his philosophy just completely changed?Report

  3. trizzlor says:

    Tom, I feel like you’re not expecting us to click on the links. The Atlantic outlines five different attempts that Romney made at excusing the gaffe, all of which focused on some variant of “inarticulate”. I think you’re right that it was wise of Obama not to bring up a quote that sounds worse coming out of the guy’s own mouth, but I take no comfort in the fact that Romney chose his sixth and most sincere moment of apology to be on Hannity right after he had a bump in the polls.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

      Thx, Mr. Trizz. I only know what I read in the papers. The 47 percent is now part of the 100 percent, previous statements to the contrary now inoperative. What hay can still be made of that comment is below, above or beyond my pay grade.

      Tactically speaking per the OP, I think any attempt to rub Mitt’s nose in it henceforth is a fool’s errand. But there are many errands in this world, and even more fools.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Tactically speaking per the OP, I think any attempt to rub Mitt’s nose in it henceforth is a fool’s errand.

        I kinda think this was the case beforehand, as well. You don’t play that card, not in your own campaign. You want that to be a Facebook meme, not a ad with “… and I approve this message” at the end of it.Report

  4. DensityDuck says:

    I feel the appropriate solution is a Romney-Obama crepitation contest.Report

  5. DensityDuck says:

    Also, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that Romney was waiting for any opportunity to pull back the 47-percent comment. If it had been, say, Gingrich up there, we’d have probably seen it, but Romney’s too slick not to have a pre-calculated sequence ready to roll out.Report

  6. Tim Kowal says:

    We talked here at length about the philosophical significance of “you didn’t build that.” Government is a shareholder in the private sector’s success and entitled to draw a larger dividend when it does well. So goes the point of view in American politics that is opposite classical liberalism. There’s no philosophical significance to the 47% remark, by contrast. All of us who follow politics know it was commentary on political strategy. Commentary that plays very badly to everyone else. It is an opportunity to score political points with the politically unsavvy. Nothing more. Obama’s entitled to take that opportunity, of course. But Romney was on all over the philosophical differences last night, and he would have fully exploited Obama’s gaffe: his admission that he’s not a classical liberal. With Romney’s momentum and effectiveness last night, it would not have been pretty for Obama had he brought up the 47%.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      If he’d simply told his donors that there was a certain percentage of the population who’d never vote for him, so he was not going to waste resources trying to win their vote, then yes, it would be a statement on campaign strategy. But Romney went beyond that statement to define a whole segment of the population as mooches who’d never take responsibility for their lives. Moreover, it wasn’t just the words he said but the tone in which he said it–full of self-righteousness and condescension.

      To describe his audience of $50,000 a plate donors as politically unsay is pretty insulting. Anybody willing and able to put up that much money has a stake in the game.

      That said, I think it was a smart and calculated move on Obama’s part not to bring it up at the debate. There are far better forums in which to use it.Report

    • Annelid Gustator in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Oh, yes, the President admitting he was not a classical liberal would have been masterfully exploited by Mr. Romney. Certainly, it would have been a game changer!

      What are you thinking? Almost nobody at all (certainly nobody whose vote is 1) up for grabs and 2) very useful) cares in the slightest about gradiations of liberality OR conservative. The *flavors* of l- or c- are not important at the booth–the *families* l- and c- are.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Nah, I agree with the original post and about half this comment, but the notion that there’s “no philosophical significance” to that 47% business strikes me as wrong. I’ve known a fair number of one percenters in my life and many of them have held the belief that people on their end of the spectrum have a different character, ethics, and view of life from those on the other end- and maybe they’re right. But that’s a pretty coherent vision of society that Romney was looking to validate and exploit for very rational campaigning reasons- still doesn’t mean there’s no philosophical significance to seconding that viewpoint.Report

      • Kim in reply to Rufus F. says:

        +100. With the caveat that it ain’t the George Romney’s of the world (or the Carnegies) that hold that view.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Yes, it’s part of the whole makers v. takers ideology that Ryan promotes.Report

      • Tim Kowal in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I’ll take a second look. You said that the statement expresses “the belief that people on their end of the spectrum have a different character, ethics, and view of life from those on the other end.” This seems pretty anodyne to me: for better or worse, economic status bears on these things pretty significantly. I doubt the candidates disagree on this. Does it also express some difference in Romney’s governing strategy? I might call it a stretch, but in fairness, some called my argument about “you didn’t take that” a stretch.

        Back to my point: If Obama had come out claiming that 47% was relevant to Romney’s governance strategy, he’d have no basis to deny that claim with respect to “you didn’t build that.” Maybe Romney could successfully explain that his statement isn’t relevant in that way, like I suggested. Maybe he can’t, like you say. But at the very best, it’s a scorched earth proposition for the President. And as bad as Wednesday night was, things aren’t going that bad yet.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          This is a pretty good concrete example of what I mean when I argue that, relative quality of arguments notwithstanding, the fact that when people don’t tend to like a candidate it is an almost insurmountable hurdle.

          It seems obvious to me that you are taking a statement one candidate made that was fairly innocuous (Romeny would actually agree with it in fact) and creating an entire backstory behind it that “reveals” nefarious intentions. You are also taking a somewhat inflammatory statement by the other candidate (one I doubt he actually believes) and creating a backstory behind it that allows it to be more muted than it was intended, and deducing that the only way it could be seen as inflammatory is if it were exploited for nefarious purposes.

          I respectfully submit to you that the reason you do this is because you really dislike one of the two candidates, and your brain is telling you are being 100% rational and unbiased.

          The other side is, of course, doing the exact same thing from the other perspective.

          At the end of the day, it takes a lot – a LOT – to get us to translate any set of events or data that put the person we dislike in a positive light… regardless of the actual events or data. It’s why people forgave Bush a string of failed business ventures but didn’t forgive Gore for lying about the Internet, regardless of the fact that he didn’t. It’s why people forgave Clinton for being “loose” with the truth, but crucified Bush I for not knowing how much a carton of milk cost off the top of his head, even though they didn’t either… and why they wouldnt forgive Dole for being senile, despite his obvious sharp mind.Report

          • MikeSchilling in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I didn’t vote for Dole or consider voting for him seriously, but it bugged the crap out of me to see his sarcastic, often hilarious asides reported as evidence that he was delusional.Report

            • Kim in reply to MikeSchilling says:

              can you cite one?Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to Kim says:

                Dole visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of a campaign appearance. If I recall correctly, a reporter asked Dole if he preferred the Beatles or the Stones, and he responded “Which would get me the most votes?”Report

              • Snarky McSnarkSnark in reply to MikeSchilling says:

                This is relevant to nothing, except that your Dole anecdote reminded me of it.

                During the 1996 election, when Dole was the candidate, he was less than ideally suited at blowing kisses to the media. Toward the end of the campaign, when he was 5 or 6 points back, I heard him interviewed on NPR while I was driving on the LA freeways. The reporter asked him why he felt he was behind: was there something he lacked?

                Dole responded: “No, I have what it takes. Leadership. Integrity… Whatever.”

                I was laughing so hard I almost steered my car into another lane of traffic.Report

          • Tim Kowal in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            I understand about confirmation bias. There’s nothing we can do about it, can we? It’s kind of a debate-ender. “You’re just saying that because your brain is wired that way.”

            I’m not sure if you’re saying there is no philosophical relevance to “you didn’t build that” but that there is with the 47% remark. At a superficial level, one could easily argue neither or both are philosophically relevant. As I suggested above, I might argue “you didn’t build that” is relevant but 47% isn’t, to which I received a comparison to Balloon-Juice-level partisanship that made me recoil a bit. I said I’d think on it some more and see whether a strong defense can be made or whether there was an element of “go team” psychology on my part.

            So for now, I pared back to the more central point: it’s dangerous for either candidate to try to indict the other for what they each now claim to be gaffes. I don’t see the basis for claiming that point is infected with some sort of fatal partisan determinism.Report

            • MikeSchilling in reply to Tim Kowal says:

              I’m confused.

              Does Romney actually believe that the 47% are not taking responsibility for their lives or not?

              Does the fact that we have him on tape, not just saying it off-handedly, but saying it vociferously, arguing for its truth, and making it a reason that he needs big campaign contributions affect the answer to that?

              Are we allowed to draw any conclusions from the fact that he said it to an audience who wanted to hear it, and now he’s taking it back in front of a different audience who doesn’t?

              Does it really not matter what anyone says, so long as later they claim they didn’t mean it? Even if a week beforehand, they insisted they did?

              Because insisting that the answers are “wh cares?”, “no”, “no”, and ” no”, respectively would be weak even at RedState.Report

          • Kim in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            If you can’t give something good about even the worst person on the other side, you aren’t trying. And something you liked about every single admin.Report

        • Rufus F. in reply to Tim Kowal says:

          I think it seems anodyne because you agree with it. To most of my family, it would seem anodyne and certainly I was raised with the same beliefs- I think it’s no coincidence that the members of my family who I assume would agree with it tend to vote Republican. It goes the other way too, I think. Obama’s statement about “you didn’t make that” probably strikes many liberals as just an anodyne statement of fact, where you see it as pertaining to a philosophy of society. Incidentally, I agree with you on that: it is a philosophically revealing statement, which is why I said I agree halfway with what you’re saying.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      “We talked here at length about the philosophical significance of “you didn’t build that.” … There’s no philosophical significance to the 47% remark, by contrast.”

      This seems like wanting to have your cake and eat it too, like a mirror image of a comment at Balloon Juice.Report

  7. Kazzy says:

    So Romney cares about everyone. Great. He still thinks that the 47% of the population that doesn’t pay federal income taxes will all vote for Obama. Wrong. He still thinks that the 47% of the population that doesn’t pay federal income taxes do not take responsibility for their own lives. Wrong and offensive.

    I’m not sure if this “withdrawal” really will do what you say it does. It can just as easily be read as another example of Mitt’s pandering… “When I’m talking to members of the 53%, I hate the 47%. When I’m talking to everyone, I love everyone!” What would Mitt have said in the debate, with a foe instead of a friend pushing the issue?

    I don’t think this is nearly as simple as you are making it out to be.Report

    • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kazzy says:

      I personally am not the topic here. My opinion is that trying to press the “47 percent” attack at this point won’t work, that Romney has blunted it, but of course I could be wrong. These are interesting times.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        I did not mean to imply that you were the topic. I was referring to your perception of the situation. I disagree that Obama can’t effectively target the “47 percent” line. Likewise, I may be wrong. We shall see.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy says:

      Tubun muzuru. The sorrow of the cat. Hausa proverb. The cat is sorrowful because he was caught in the pigeon house. Romney might walk back the 47%. He can never walk back the Moochers remark.

      While I’m on the subject of proverbs, there’s a Japanese kotowaza, He wo hitte, shiri tsubome, clenching the buttocks after the fart has escaped.Report

    • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy says:

      Listening to his response, it’s very hard to draw the line between, “I was wrong to believe that” and, “I was wrong to say that.” Given his full-throated defense of the position in the past, I think I know which one it really was.Report

  8. Michelle says:

    I brought this up on one of yesterday’s threads after seeing a number of criticisms of Obama for not bringing up the 47 percent. I saw no advantage for him to do it. It’s not just that Romney would obviously be prepared to walk it back, but also to do so would look unseemingly and unPresidential, a petty attempt at character assassination. The comment is out there for use in 30 second ads. No matter how many times Romney tells a Fox News talking head that he didn’t really mean it, people can hear it for themselves and make up their own minds.Report

  9. North says:

    This seems perfectly plausible. Withdrawing his 47% comment would have fit in nicely with the overall theme of Romney’s entire debate performance which was a wholesale volte-face from his previous theme and positions.Report

  10. clawback says:

    The right cheered him when he said it, now they’re cheering him for retracting it. Later on they’ll cheer him when he says it’s kinda sorta a little bit true.Report

  11. Ethan Gach says:

    Tom, did you like everything that Romney said in last night’s debate? Is there anything you disagreed with?

    If so, and if not, then we probably aren’t as politically far apart as I once thought.Report

  12. Tod Kelly says:

    I suspect your wife was wrong for a few different reasons:

    1. It implies some smart moves by Obama with the debate on Wed, but there was just nothing smart about his prep or performance.

    2. Making Mitt retract the 47% comments from a position of weakness would have been better for Obama than allowing him to retract them from a position of strength.

    3. Mitt said it, and then when it was uncovered Mitt held a press conference to say that it was all true and he meant every word (which was a terrible idea). Going on Hannitty now to say “I never meant it” is too easy a thing for Obama to attack on Mitts most vulnerable flank.Report

    • Michelle in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      What are the optics? How does the President bring up the topic and come off well? How does he bring up the topic and not leave Mitt the opportunity to look into the camera and, with his best imitation of sincerity say, I really didn’t mean it about the 47 percent. So sorry. What does he say after Mitt apologizes?

      I just don’t see how bringing up the comment benefited Obama in anyway. I don’t think it was an oversight whether or not the Obama team was tipped beforehand.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michelle says:

        Yes, this. Michelle and Tom are right on this one, I think.Report

      • Scott Fields in reply to Michelle says:

        The town hall debate format, which is next up for Romney and Obama, is better suited to bring up the 47% comments anyway, because with audience surrounding the candidates the unpopularity of the position will reverberate.

        Now that Romney’s reversing himself, Obama can ask “Are you lying now or were you lying then?”Report

        • Michelle in reply to Scott Fields says:

          If I were Obama, I still wouldn’t go there. If there’s any mileage left to the 47 percent comments, there are better arenas to bring them up. At this point, I think they’ve already inflicted maximum damage to Romney and are getting to be old news.Report

          • Scott Fields in reply to Michelle says:

            I’d agree if Romney hadn’t walked the comments back. Now, they have fresh legs.

            There are natural follow-ups now that I think won’t come off as milking it:

            You say you said something that didn’t come out right. I can understand that. Did everything you said not come out right or only parts?
            If only parts, which parts? Was it only that part where you said your job was not to worry about those people? What you said to Hannity suggests that statement was the part you regret, because you care about the 100%. Do you care about them despite their considering themselves victims or because of that?
            Is it that you now believe that these 47% who don’t pay federal income taxes actually do take personal responsibility and care for their lives? Or is it that you now believe you can convince them to do so?

            There is a lot that remains unclear even after this walk back. Maybe the questions don’t need to come during a debate, but the questions still need to be asked.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to Scott Fields says:

              Perhaps Hannity should have given him a half an hour. Then of course the complaints would have been that Romney got to speak for 1/2 an hour. Romney shone because he got to present himself rather than “be presented” by the media filters you’ve all come to know and love (since it benefits your side).

              Let’s face it, after the ass-whupping Obama endured at the debate, there is a lot of truth to this OP. While folks like TVD and myself have been claiming media bias for years, it has never been more patently obvious than in this election cycle. The amazing thing will be whether the exalted 4th Estate has finally been transcended by this, the 5th Estate.Report

              • Scott Fields in reply to wardsmith says:

                Do you think Hannity would have asked him those questions? Really?

                What do you think, wardsmith? Was everything Romney said at the fundraiser “just completely wrong” (in his words) or was some of it true and it needed to be said? Does it matter to you if Romney makes this clear, is it already clear or should he stay away from the topic?

                I was never bothered by the “I don’t need to worry about those people.” part of the comments. It was clear from the context that Romney was talking about election strategy. But, it is also clear from the context what else Romney was saying in the rest of his comments, unfiltered by the way, about half the country.

                Oh, and from your link…

                It is the possibility that the real Obama, when stripped of his media filter and teleprompter, is always as small, unprepared, self-conscious, and as lacking in substance as he seemed Wednesday night.

                That made me chuckle.Report

              • MikeSchilling in reply to wardsmith says:

                Romney is a delicate flower like Palin. He’ll be tough with Iran and Syria, but he wilts in front of mean-ass liberals like Katie Couric.Report

          • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Michelle says:

            Agreed — I’d let the audience fire away. There’s bound to be at least one pointed question about that.

            That way Obama has plausible denial.Report

  13. Liberty60 says:

    Thr harder part is now to get all the rightwing bloggers to say in unison – “We are not at war with the moochers- We have never been at war with the moochers”.Report

  14. MikeSchilling says:

    It’s exactly like when Obama told the crowd at Hampton University that he hates white people and wants to eat their babies. It may have seemed like a serious gaffe at the time, or after his five different attempts to brush it off as simply a matter of campaign strategy, but once he acknowledged that eating babies is completely wrong, we all turned the page.Report

  15. Scott Fields says:

    Tom –

    I thought you agreed with the makers versus takers philosophy. I’ve read many comments from you here that lament the idea that those dependent on government will soon outnumber those who aren’t. So how is this Romney’s “biggest gaffe?”Report

  16. FridayNext says:

    I am confused by how this walk back can’t be used against Romney. Maybe not a direct assault, but now he has made the comment, defended the comment, and then backtracked the comment. And every step is on youtube. The commercial writes itself. Run the three clips interspersed by his aid’s etch-a-sketch comment and close with some tagline or question about which one is the real Romney? The one speaking in private or the one speaking in public on Fox news a month before election day? And if he wins which one will take the oath of office?

    It plays right into the meme of Romney as a flip-flopper with quotes about the meme of him as an uncaring plutocrat. And the beauty of it is that it speaks to both sides of the debate since a lot of people publicly supported the original 47% remark and can’t be feeling too good this morning now that he has undercut them.

    Again, maybe not a frontal assault directly from the campaign, but certainly an attack on his consistency and etch-a-sketchedness from a PAC.Report

  17. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    I get it. Just as Romney has retroactively moved out a harmful position (such as CEO once the harm they did was known), he’s retroactively saying the 47% comment! Must be be nice to live in Mitt World where you NEVER have to take responsibility for your actions!Report

  18. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    The “big bounce” may be in trouble:

    “The phrase “Big Bird” was appearing 17,000 times every minute on Twitter. At midnight, CNN reported that mentions of Big Bird on Facebook were up an astronomical 800,000%. Facebook later said Big Bird was the fourth most-mentioned topic on Facebook during the debate, getting more attention than topics like jobs, taxes, Jim Lehrer and Obamacare.”

    Gutting Sesame Street is not going to be popular with ANYONE!Report

    • joey jo jo in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      those numbers are skewed. any number that doesn’t fully fellate the conservative position is suspect.Report

    • joey jo jo in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      we’re in the post-truth era. therefore, those Twitter stats are skewed.
      this is good news for John McCain.Report

    • wardsmith in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      Cause Gawd knows Big Bird isn’t fiscally sound.
      I don’t know what Big Bird gets, but, according to Sen. Jim DeMint, the President of Sesame Workshop, Gary Knell, received in 2008 a salary of $956,513. In that sense, Big Bird and Sen. Harry Reid embody the same mystifying phenomenon: they’ve been in “public service” their entire lives and have somehow wound up as multimillionaires.

      Mitt’s decision to strap Big Bird to the roof of his station wagon and drive him to Canada has prompted two counter-arguments from Democrats: 1) half a billion dollars is a mere rounding error in the great sucking maw of the federal budget, so why bother? 2) everybody loves Sesame Street, so Mitt is making a catastrophic strategic error. On the latter point, whether or not everybody loves Sesame Street, everybody has seen it, and every American under 50 has been weaned on it. So far this century it’s sold nigh on a billion bucks’ worth of merchandising sales (that’s popular toys such as the Subsidize-Me-Elmo doll). If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything.

      The intelligence and logic of this statement is lost on every liberal in the country.Report

      • Roger in reply to wardsmith says:

        Feelings eats logic and intelligence for lunch.Report

      • MikeSchilling in reply to wardsmith says:

        Of course, it’s Mark Steyn, so the real problem with Sesame Street is that it doesn’t teach kids that Mooslims Are Evil!Report

      • trizzlor in reply to wardsmith says:

        If Americans can’t muster the will to make Big Bird leave the government nest, they certainly will never reform Medicare.” from the same article, is such unmitigated bullshit that it swallowed whatever intelligence and logic remained like a dying star swallows it’s own planets.

        Sesame Workshop is an extremely popular and successful educational non-profit. Gary Knell makes that salary because running a successful educational non-profit takes tremendous work and talent. PBS broadcasts Sesame Street precisely because it is so effective. And we fund PBS so that it can broadcast Sesame Street without advertising or commercial constraints and can serve as an incubator for many other Sesame Streets that would have never gotten off the ground otherwise.

        Yet the idea that highly successful and popular government programs need to be fundamentally transformed or entirely abandoned is surprisingly popular logic in conservative circles.Report

        • MikeSchilling in reply to trizzlor says:

          You’re forgetting that if we cut off funding for NPR eleventy-kajillion times, we can pay for the new wars with Syria and Iran. (And the UK, unless we stop Mitt from visiting there any more.)Report

        • wardsmith in reply to trizzlor says:

          Speaking of bullshit Trizzlor, your entire comment qualifies. Justify for me why the president of Sesame Street is pulling down a million a year? Elsewhere you rail against regulatory capture and oil industry subsidies. How is this not comparable, they’re worth over a billion large as an entity, just how long do they need to suck on the government teat?Report

          • Troublesome Frog in reply to wardsmith says:

            I’d be the first in line to tell you that top executives are generally overpaid, but is $1M very far off the market rate for a corporate president for an organization of that size? How is that different from them paying market rate for any other product or service?Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

              …but we keep hearing about how corporate presidents are paid too much…Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

                So you’re agreeing they are paid too much?Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I have no idea how you think you’re bringing in something new given the words I wrote in the first clause of my first sentence. Executive pay is absurdly high, but for whatever reason, that’s the going rate for the job description. So why single out this one particular case? We don’t give them grief for the fact that they pay $4 a gallon for gas in their company trucks.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                but we keep hearing about how corporate presidents are paid too much

                I mean, you’re trying to use “he’s just doing what everyone else does!” as an excuse for why it’s okay in this particular instance, even though if someone else tried to use that argument you wouldn’t even bother to reply.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to DensityDuck says:

                This is a first. I’ve never heard, “It’s the market price” rephrased as, “Everybody else is doing it,” especially on this site. I’m trying to imaginge my mother saying, “If everybody else paid the market price for bread and milk, would you do it too?” I can’t, probably because the answer is pretty obvious.

                Look, if we want to talk about whether the market price for top executives is justified, I’m all for that. I think that there are a lot of reasons to believe that it’s not. But I’m a little taken aback at the names of the people who seem to be advocating that in just this one case, a firm should magically jump off to some place in the graph where supply and demand don’t intersect. Nobody is asking why the Sesame Street camera operators don’t work for 20% of market price.Report

      • DRS in reply to wardsmith says:

        Except that apparently Sesame Street gets most of its money from private donors:

        But it turns out that even if Romney cuts PBS, Sesame Street will live on. Sherrie Westin, executive vice president at the Sesame Workshop, explained on CNN this morning that culling PBS won’t affect Big Bird.

        “Sesame Workshop receives very, very little funding from PBS,” she said, as the company gets most of its funding through corporate sponsorship, product licensing, and philanthropy. However, Westin added, that doesn’t end the debate over “whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting.”


        Happy Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend all! May the turkey be with you!Report

        • wardsmith in reply to DRS says:

          PBS gives the money to the individual stations who turn around and return it to Sesame Street in licensing fees ergo Sesame Street makes the majority of its money in licensing fees. In a perfect world Sesame Street would pay the stations for the privilege of being aired. Yes $500M is a drop in the bucket, but show me one person here who wouldn’t become a successful business overnight with $500M a year coming in for free. VC’s invest once or twice in a business and if it can’t “fly” they stop putting money in. Only the gov’t thinks it needs to fund things indefinitely.

          Back in the day when I had one of the original Internet service providers, the argument (which everyone has conveniently forgotten) was (then) that the gov’t needed to CONTINUE to fund the Internet or it would fall flat on its face.

          What you all didn’t know was that the government’s largesse came with a rather long laundry list of stupid regulations, including a proviso that anyone with a .com address could NOT connect to the government supported backbone at a full T1 rate (1.54Mbps – most of you are connecting much faster than that even with cell phones). Therefore we had the travesty of fractionalizing business access at 23/24ths of a T1. Clinton/Gore did a more masterful job of reversing their position on that than Romney could ever dream of with /any/ of his comments, but all this is lost down the 1984 memory hole.Report

          • MikeSchilling in reply to wardsmith says:

            the gov’t needed to CONTINUE to fund the Internet

            Say, subsidizing internet commerce by exempting it from sales tax?Report

            • wardsmith in reply to MikeSchilling says:

              Mike, how the hell is that a subsidy? I take it you haven’t the first clue about what goes into building an eCommerce website. In my relatively puny metropolitan area, there are no less than 20 local taxing authorities. Now let’s multiply that by 10’s of thousands to bring in the rest of the nation. Who is responsible for figuring out how something that was purchased at Amazon and goes to your home address falls under whose taxing authority? Who keeps the taxing tables updated every time some high school in Bumfuque, Wisconsin gets a new levy passed and the sales tax rises by .1% on a tiny spot on a map? The local retailers have it easy, there is only one sales tax to worry about.

              When this came up before the taxing authorities themselves were unable to provide the detail information to Congress. What every local entity knew was they “wanted a piece of the action”. What they didn’t know was how to organize that. Furthermore, BOTH sides wanted the action, the side where the entity was domiciled (after all, /it/ made the sale) and the side where the product was purchased (after all, that’s /sort of/ how it works today).

              It wasn’t a subsidy, it was an unusually intelligent assessment of the situation by (ahem, Republicans) that gave us the Internet Tax Freedom Act. Recognize states are /not/ to regulate interstate commerce, and so for states (and worse, cities and hamlets) to foist their own particular tariffs and taxes on INTERSTATE commerce would be against the first article of the Commerce Clause. Furthermore all the biggest online retailers likewise have local physical presences in taxing states, and therefore collect sales taxes in those states today (the Quill standard).

              Now, given the unconstitutionality of states interfering with interstate commerce, and the fact that our gov’t is perpetually broke, I’d be on board for some kind of Internet VAT tax that was federal and had a mechanism to flow either to reduction of debt (I know, pipedream) or back to the states in the same circuitous manner that federal moneys today reach the states. Not as good as sales taxes possibly but probably better over all and legal. I am against both “fairness” acts currently wending their way through the House and Senate.

              Yep, more of an answer than you were expecting from your usual one-liner but you’ve hit on a pet peeve of mine.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                Ward, the logistics aside, it’s definitely the case that Amazon gets a competitive advantage over brick and mortar bookstores because they don’t (didn’t) have to charge sales tax.

                Exempting an industry from a tax is pretty much a textbook subsidy.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                What Pat said. Though (no offense meant to Pat), it’s so fishing obvious that it hardly needed to be said.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                But this still mischaracterizes things. Interstate sales have (generally) never been subject to sales tax. Back in the day, when you called 1-800-whatever to get your Ginzu knives and Ronco Veg-o-matics, you didn’t have to pay sales taxes on those either. (except for California and New Jersey, or whatever the commercials said – because those were the place of business) ‘Use’ taxes are a different thing, but the only guys who collect those is Hawaii, because they can.

                The logistics *is* the thing. Amazon has just expanded on the long standing practices of mail order and over the phone ordering.

                Now granted, putting a kibosh on e-comerce sales taxes back in the 90’s was a reverse ‘protect our infant industries’ thing – and a good idea – and we may now want to consider interstate tax incidence on a more mature realm of economic activity.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Kolohe says:

                Regardless, that fact that you and I both know people who research purchases at brick-and-mortar stores and then order their choice from Amazon to save the sales tax demonstrates that internet sellers are benefiting from a tax subsidy.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                The buyers are engaged in tax avoidance*; it’s not the same thing.

                *which is perfectly ethical and legal and itself not the same thing as tax evasion, which is neither.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I never said the buyers were behaving anything but legally or ethically.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                I never said you did. Some people, though don’t know the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

                What’s funny is that removing the preferential treatment of internet transactions is actually an example of closing the loopholes and raising taxes on the middle class.Report

          • DRS in reply to wardsmith says:

            Here is the latest Sesame Workshop annual report:

            If you go to pages 54-59 in the report, it describes in detail the various revenue streams that fund SW. Surprise, surprise – SW makes almost 2/3 of its revenue from licensing fees from its own products and royalty fees from selling Sesame Street, Electric Company and various television specials internationally. In other words, it acts like a regular business. And a pretty successful one too.

            Yes $500M is a drop in the bucket, but show me one person here who wouldn’t become a successful business overnight with $500M a year coming in for free.

            But it doesn’t come for free, does it? They producing a quality children’s television program with a 40+ history. And that takes a LOT of work.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to DRS says:

              Ahem, clearly you don’t know how to read a financial statement. Page 55 (INCOME) says 20% “gov’t and other agencies” and THE VERY NEXT LINE says “Distribution Fees and Royalties” (this is what stations pay to air the show) 33%. Therefore 20+33=53% invalidating your 2/3rd number (in fact page 59 is very clear, licensing makes up 36% of their total revenue). But thanks for playing the game, we should do this again sometime.

              It is NOT a regular business, it is a non-profit and needs to be compared against all other non profits, or it needs to get out of the non-profit game, actually pay taxes like EVERYONE ELSE HAS TO and stop being a parasite on our gov’t. Notice the only place Tax shows up on their income statement is tax allowance for interest income, which even .Org’s have to pay. However their interest income is (somehow) negative so even that won’t apply. Do they do good things? Sure, but so does Walmart and Walmart pays taxes like everyone else and has never received a penny from the federal gov’t.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                Ward, of all the parasites on government, Sesame Street is pretty frickin’ harmless.

                How about we start with those who actually have loads of negative externalities first?Report

              • Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Not about Sesame Street or PBS in particular, but this sort of thing came up in during the debt limit negotiations (and for that matter any other time there’s big picture effort to create fiscal stability).

                We can’t cut Social Security because that’s inviolable, and we can’t cut ethanol becuase unless we cut Social Security, the amount of money we save by cutting ethanol isn’t enough to matter. It’s not true. The whole line of reasoning simply reinforces our fiscal sclerosis, and if it’s libs arguing this it’s probably intended to. The reality is, once you cut irrelevant crap, the rest of world looks different.

                If we could have gotten the Harry Reid cuts without having to go through a debt limit crisis to do it, we’d be in a much different place now.

                It’s actually for this reason that Romney and Ryan are completely right about the $716 billion cuts in Medicare associated with PPACA btw.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Koz says:

                We can’t cut Social Security because that’s inviolable

                Social Security has its own revenue stream, Koz. I mean, we can plan ahead for social security, but the revenue that comes in to pay for social security can’t go out to pay for something else, so that’s not really relevant.

                and we can’t cut ethanol because unless we cut Social Security, the amount of money we save by cutting ethanol isn’t enough to matter.

                Cut ethanol. Tomorrow. I’m on board. Good luck getting that past the corn states… who are represented by who again?

                Oh, right.

                You want to talk cutting discretionary spending, Koz, I’m all ears. I’ll hatchet job the food bill, I’ll cut the military by half within a decade without batting an eye. I’ll be on board with hack off a whole bunch of other stuff, too.

                The reality is, once you cut irrelevant crap, the rest of world looks different.

                The reality is, you’re freaked out of your gourd. 713 billion on discretionary, non-military spending in 2010. Almost 3 trillion on mandatory or military spending. The Pentagon alone represents almost half of the discretionary spending in the federal budget.

                You want to talk cuts, explain to me why our military expenditures, staggeringly higher than the next 12 nations in the world, combined, isn’t the first thing on the table.

                You tell me you’re willing to cut the defense budget, and I’ll listen to what you have to say about what constitutes “irrelevant crap”.

                Mandatory spending: $2.173 trillion (+14.9%)
                $695 billion (+4.9%) – Social Security
                $571 billion (+58.6%) – Unemployment/Welfare/Other mandatory spending
                $453 billion (+6.6%) – Medicare
                $290 billion (+12.0%) – Medicaid
                $164 billion (+18.0%) – Interest on National Debt

                Discretionary spending: $1.378 trillion (+13.8%)
                $663.7 billion (+12.7%) – Department of Defense (including Overseas Contingency Operations)Report

              • Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Pat, you’re taking me more literally than I meant. The Republicans have repeatedly shown, through the entire Obama Administration, that they are willing to cut the budget anywhere, discretionary, military, entitlements, whatever.

                Typically, smaller cuts are rationalized against on the theory that they are not big enough to matter. But whether they are big or small, they are still important because the world looks different if they’re not there.

                “You want to talk cutting discretionary spending, Koz, I’m all ears. I’ll hatchet job the food bill, I’ll cut the military by half within a decade without batting an eye. I’ll be on board with hack off a whole bunch of other stuff, too.

                Pat, you’re not going to hatchet anything for as long as the Demo’s have an operational veto over it, which you seem perfectly willing to give them. End of.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I’m not voting for any of the Democrats in my state, Koz. Not even Schiff, who is a pretty reasonable guy on most counts but he can’t stop okaying the security state. I’ve never voted for Feinstein.

                The delusion that I see here is that you think the GOP will.

                The Republicans have repeatedly shown, through the entire Obama Administration, that they are willing to cut the budget anywhere, discretionary, military, entitlements, whatever.

                The only thing the Republicans have shown me is that when they’re not in charge, they will obstruct everything they can while piously claiming that they’re trying to cut unnecessary spending, it’s just those meaning Democrats that are screwing things up. The have not shown me a willingness to cut a goddamn thing.

                Here’s the thing, Koz. Here’s the reality on the ground. The Democrats want to get re-elected, just like the Republicans do. And if they take an all-cuts budget, they will be voted out by their constituencies. And they’re not going to do that. So if you want them to budge, you’re going to have to agree to some revenue increase somewhere of some amount, so that they can save face.

                What you’re saying is, “We can’t even cosmetically raise taxes on the wealthy, that’s a deal stopper. But we must cut everything!”

                That’s the safest stance in the world. The first clause means you’re never going to get an okay from the other party, so you can claim all the baloney you want about how you really do want to cut out those earmarks, and those government teats your constituency sucks on, but you can’t because of the other team. So you’re absolved from ever delivering on your promises, and your constituency doesn’t have to get mad at you for cutting corn subsidies or oil subsidies. Nice, huh?

                It’s horseshit, Koz. It’s political gamesmanship. The sad part to me is that you’re falling for it.

                If you want real budget reform, here’s what you’re going to have to accept: most of the country will gripe and moan and (in many cases) suffer real harm if you cut the things upon which they depend. But you know what, you can still get away with that if they feel like everybody is taking a hit. Food stamp recipients can feel okay with cheaper peanut butter. Middle class people could come around to the mortgage interest deduction being phased out over 10 years – most of them have a pittance in mortgage interest now anyway, because rates are so low. But nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to take that lying down if they feel like someone else is skating on their share. They have to trust that this needs to be done and everyone is pitching in.

                It doesn’t matter if they’re skating or not, Koz. It doesn’t matter what the reality is. It matters what the perception is. And the perception among everybody who isn’t a part of Team Red is that your team is a bunch of whores for the rich class. Right here on this blog you have a bunch of libertarians and moderates who would all be willing to do the things you want, but I think it’s pretty plain that none of us libertarians or moderates really trust the GOP to be serious about anything.

                This is not the sort of perception that enables you to engender trust.

                You want trust, you need to earn it. Your party is the one that – when last held the reigns – ran the coach off a couple of cliffs. If they want the reigns back, first they need to show the people that they’ve sobered up a bit.

                So earn the trust. Get together and talk about what you’re willing to give up to earn that trust. Or keep being blowhards about how it’s all the libs fault that government keeps getting bigger, and keep voting on all that stuff while you have safe coverage for it.

                It takes no courage to vote “no” against something that is going to pass anyway, Koz. It takes courage to vote “yes” on something you don’t like entirely, but will accept to get the ball moving down the field in the right direction. That means sacrifice. That means compromise. That means giving up on some things – even if you think they might be wrong – if you want something else bad enough.

                Grover Norquist is killing your party, dude.Report

              • North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Hogwash old boy, the GOP has been willing to cut spending only on the things it doesn’t like. You don’t hear the Dems out raising the roof em masse about all the mandatory cuts sequestration is due to bring down. It’s only the GOP that’s thrashing madly looking frantically for some way to prevent the defense cuts from actually landing and the Dems are holding them to the deal (that if a deal wasn’t cut stuff both sides wanted were going to be slashed).

                And of course, as always, the revenue side also should be addressed. Historically low revenues and tax rates aren’t any way to balance the budget. Only Obama and his party have been offering a realistic balanced approach. It’s been the GOP that has been publicly intransigent on the subject and the electorate has noticed which is likely why they’re having the fight of their lives to seize a Presidency that, by economic environment alone, should be theirs in a walk.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                You’ll note:

                Every single thing Mitt said in the debate was a walk-back on cutting stuff. No, I won’t cut that. No, that won’t affect who you say it will affect. No, I won’t need to cut that because of magic. I’ll be able to only cut things that are wasteful and save enough money to balance the budget.

                In fact, that $700 billion that Obama *saved* in Medicare costs, I’m going to take that $700 billion and put it back in, which is about the stupidest thing I can imagine. We’ve actually found some waste in a government program! We took it out! I would think that this would be something the GOP would cheer if they believed in cutting! But nope, it can be spun to make the old people afraid of the Dems, so we’ll hang onto that story line instead.

                Why should the Democrats do anything like being fiscally responsible when your party demonizes them for doing it for cheap political points?Report

              • Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Pat, I’ll prob reply to your other comment later but I want to mention the $700 billion thing first, because whatever has happened in this campaign Romney and Ryan are definitely right about that. Those $716 Billion in Medicare cuts aren’t saving anything. They are a funding mechanism for the rest of PPACA: the exchanges, subsidies, and mandate.

                In the context for which it happened, it was the worst of all worlds: it’s not just that these cuts deteriorate the quality of care provided under Medicare like Mitt Romney argued in the debate, in fact that’s the least of it. The real problem is that we’ve made a new commitment and underfunded that, and the fiscal pressure of that new commitment will put on the government’s balance sheet, which already overburdened, threatens the effectiveness of every other program we have, including and especially Medicare.

                Let’s say, like most Americans you get around by car, and one of the tires is kinda iffy. So you go to the ATM and take out 150 bucks to buy a new tire. But you get to the service station and you think, “Fcuk it, $150 is too much, I’m gonna see if I can get by with what I’ve got. So instead of buying a new tire, you spend $10 to patch it. But then, you’ve got all this money left over so you spend $150 on fuzzy dice for the rear-view mirror.

                The point being, patching the tire instead of buying a new one is a wash. You might be wasting $10 if you have to buy a new tire next week. Otoh, you might run on that patched tire for years. The disaster is buying the fuzzy dice. Because then, if you do run into trouble with that tire again, you’ve already wasted the resources you had fix the issue and then you’re in a world of hurt.Report

              • ktward in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Koz: In the context for which it happened, [the $716B] was the worst of all worlds: it’s not just that these cuts deteriorate the quality of care provided under Medicare like Mitt Romney argued in the debate

                Quick question, Koz: do you have any ecidence that the $716B that ACA trimmed from Providers has or will, or reliably threatens to, measurably negatively affect Medicare recipients?

                I have elderly parents, and I have seen this particular political bludgeon wielded before: look out, you’re gonna lose your Doctor!

                And yet, after nearly two decades on Medicare, my folks have never had a physician drop them. Mind, I’m not suggesting that my folks are necessarily the rule, but I’m also not convinced they’re necessarily the exception.

                So if you wouldn’t mind terribly, point me to a legitimate source that’s done the math and demonstrates how the majority of our Medicare seniors are gonna lose their current health care providers all thanks to the $716B that ACA trimmed.Report

              • ktward in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Oh for cryin’ out loud, I screwed up the html again.
                Crikey, someone take this keyboard away from me before I do any real damage.

                Blaise, you seem to be the Gent on deck …
                Koz is just the first paragraph. The rest is [stupid] me.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I have elderly parents, and I have seen this particular political bludgeon wielded before: look out, you’re gonna lose your Doctor!

                And yet, after nearly two decades on Medicare, my folks have never had a physician drop them.

                Custerflunk, Ms. Ward.

                It’s not that anybody’s going to cut off your parents on Medicare, it’s that doctors are going to stop accepting any new ones.

                And that goes double for the rest of universal everything and everybody.


                by DR. SUSAN BERRY 6 Oct 2012, 9:17 AM PDT 25 POST A COMMENT

                As part of its “benchmark” health care plan to satisfy ObamaCare’s requirement of the establishment of Essential Health Benefits (EHB’s) in each state, the state of New York has requested that annual doctor visit limits be substituted for lifetime and annual dollar limits in health care plans.
                States had until October 1, 2012 to choose an existing health care plan to serve as the minimum “benchmark” plan that would contain the EHB’s as required by ObamaCare. President Obama’s signature health care law gives HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sole authority to determine the EHB’s for the insurance plans in the state health insurance exchanges. The most controversial EHB to date is the “HHS Mandate,” which requires all employers to provide contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs, free of charge, to their employees.
                In its letter to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMMS), the state of New York wrote:

                Removal of Annual/Lifetime Dollar Limits – New York State awaits further federal guidance on the process for substituting dollar limits on benefits with actuarially equivalent quantitative limits (e.g., annual visit limits).

                Etc. Read the whole thing.Report

              • Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Kt, well first of all my point was that the threat to Medicare from PPACA goes well past the $716 B. In fact the $716B in Medicare cuts are least of the issue.

                As far as how the loss of $716B itself will affect the quality of Medicare I don’t know. Medicare is set up to reimburse providers for marginal costs of treatment, forcing them to use private insurance to reimburse the amortization of their fixed costs, which complicates things.Report

              • Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                “I’m not voting for any of the Democrats in my state, Koz.”

                Really? Is Barack Obama not on the ballot out there in Cali, or are you not voting for him as well?

                “The only thing the Republicans have shown me is that when they’re not in charge, they will obstruct everything they can while piously claiming that they’re trying to cut unnecessary spending, it’s just those meaning Democrats that are screwing things up.”

                In that case you’re just bloody ignorant. The Republicans in the House and Senate, who are appropriating this and refusing to appropriate that, aren’t obstructing anything, they’re doing their job.

                The fact that the Administration is willing to shut down the parts of government that the Administration and Congress agree with in order to battle for the things they don’t is not the Republicans’ fault. We believe in engagement, they believe in entanglement. They won.

                Given what happened wrt the debt limit and the CR’s and the rest of it, I can’t possibly conceive how you can believe the GOP isn’t willing to cut anything. Just pure hive-mind ostrich bullshit.

                “The Democrats want to get re-elected, just like the Republicans do.”

                Then it’s up to you to make sure that they don’t. I’ve already got a full load on that score.

                “And if they take an all-cuts budget, they will be voted out by their constituencies.”

                We can only hope. Frankly I think it’s bullshit anyway because they’ve already accepted a cuts-only deficit plan, the Reid plan which eventually got subsumed into the resolution of the debt limit crisis.

                “So if you want them to budge, you’re going to have to agree to some revenue increase somewhere of some amount, so that they can save face.”

                It’d be nice if they’d budge but we’d be far, far better off if they just went away instead.

                “That’s the safest stance in the world. The first clause means you’re never going to get an okay from the other party,…”

                What are you talking about? We’ve already got the ok twice, the first time to extend the Bush tax cuts in the lame duck session, the 2nd time in the debt limit thing.

                “So earn the trust. Get together and talk about what you’re willing to give up to earn that trust.”

                Not at all. We have earned that trust and have that trust already. Americans who want limited government are already for us. Like I mentioned to Jaybird in some other conversations, from 2002-2006 the Left-libertarians accomplished nothing for limited government (nor at any other time for that matter). The reality is, libertarians (and squishier non-partisan libs) are always going to find some culture war bullshit reason not to vote Republican. It’s up to you to vote Republican, among other things to prove that there are votes out there to get.

                “It takes courage to vote “yes” on something you don’t like entirely, but will accept to get the ball moving down the field in the right direction. That means sacrifice. That means compromise.”

                Yes, and that’s exactly what the Republicans have done during the entirety of President Obama’s term.

                More on Norquist later, depending on my motivation.Report

              • North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                That was entirely Patricks point Koz, the GOP only dons the budget fixing cape and makes budget cutting resolutions when they’re out of power and can’t actually make it happen. They only gesture towards budget balancing when they can rely on the Dems to block them. When the GOP is in control, when the Dems can’t block them, the GOP spend like mad, run up huge deficits, pass massive tax cuts without corresponding spending cuts and start multiple wars (and use budget shenanigans to keep those wars off the budget until Dems come back into power). This is a historical fact and in general people are seeing through it.Report

              • RTod in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Sometimes I think you really are a performance artist, Koz.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                To answer your specific question, yes Barack Obama is on the ballot in my state, and no I’m not voting for him.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                “Fcuk it, $150 is too much, I’m gonna see if I can get by with what I’ve got. So instead of buying a new tire, you spend $10 to patch it. But then, you’ve got all this money left over so you borrow $160 more and give $300 to the guy who just closed the factory and put half the town out of work.

                Fixed that for you.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                the GOP only dons the budget fixing cape and makes budget cutting resolutions when they’re out of power and can’t actually make it happen.

                Not so, Mr. N. The Gingrich congress was very fiscally prudent. The Bush-era Congress was not. The GOP was properly booted in 2006 for its profligacy; the party made a comeback when the Pelosi Congress was even worse and the GOP undertook a reform movement vis-a-vis the Tea Party.

                [Remember how the party was pronounced dead in 2008*? Heh.]

                That the current Dems of 2012 are the choice over the GOP is unsupportable. The nomination of Paul Ryan as VP is an explicit commitment by the party toward fiscal responsibility. There is no analogue to Paul Ryan anywhere in the Democratic Party.

                *Is the Republican party dead?
                The Republican party must now contend with a hostile electoral map and many lost seats in Congress. Without a clear leader or direction, is this the end of the GOP?

      , Thursday 6 November 2008 10.50 EST


              • Kazzy in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Asking =\= pronouncing, FYI.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                There is no analogue to Paul Ryan anywhere in the Democratic Party.

                What would a Democratic analogue to Paul Ryan look like? Somebody who talks about the deficit and then puts forth a series of plans that jack up taxes but jack up spending even more? I’m pretty sure that’s the whole Democratic party.

                Or were you talking about the blue eyes and physical fitness?Report

              • North in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                The Gingrich congress was kindof fiscally prudent Tom, though of course the real deficit busting that was done was that they stalemated with Bill Clinton generating gridlock and allowing the autopilot deficit reduction deals that earlier Democrats and Republics (specifically Bush the Elder and the Dems of his term) to work. You’ll recall also that those deals between Bush the Elder and the Dems were combined tax increases and spending cuts (and they cost Bush the elder his job).
                The current Dems have been doing tolerably well, though they’ve not been particular deficit cutting warriors (because they’ve to my mind wisely been focused on the economy). The Tea Party and Paul Ryan of course are precisely what I’m talking about: tough deficit talkers when they have no power to actually make their talk into action because they can count on their opponents to block them. Passionate advocates of government spending cuts in principle but angrily opposed to specifics, Oh not defense, oh get your gummint hands off my medicare. A great number of those Tea Party stalwarts and sudden true believers are the same Republicans who marched in obedient lockstep to Bush minor’s fife in 2002 on. They’re admirably more coherent that their OWS left wing brethren but all they seem to have accomplished was blocking bipartisan deficit reduction deals.
                Media fabulists of course have been pronouncing losing parties dead every four to eight years all my adult life. Remember how the Dems were pronounced dead in 2004? I rolled my eyes then just as I did in 2008.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to wardsmith says:

                I read 33% distribution fees + 33% product licensing = 66% from licensing and royalties. How is this not exactly what DRS said?Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Frog, distribution fees are what stations pay to air the shows. Ask anyone who understands broadcasting or look at Viacom’s financials. My terminology was sloppy in my first post when I said “licensing”. In fact that’s what some other publicly traded entities call what Sesame calls distribution but given that SW might license an Elmo doll to Hasbro they needed other terminology.

                Yes SW makes good money product licensing and good for them. Perhaps they no longer need government support after 40 yrs? Meanwhile the very depth and breadth of SW means that the /next/ Jim Henson doesn’t have a shot at getting on the air via the publicly funded mechanism that should be supporting those like him. Liberals don’t understand this because liberals don’t understand the entire concept of business. All they’ve ever heard is that business is evil and they type their posts slamming business on (evil) Apple’s ipads and their data traverses (evil) AT&T’s network to hit (evil) Huffington Post’s website. Or maybe these are all just entities existing to provide goods and services people want?Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

                How much are Sesame Street’s distribution fees in comparison to, say, a comparably popular children’s television show on Nick?

                I mean, if Sesame Street was distributed via private channels vs. public ones, would they make about the same amount of money? If so, I dunno how this constitutes a major issue.

                Liberals don’t understand this because liberals don’t understand the entire concept of business.

                Ward, it’s times like these that I become increasingly convinced that you just can’t get past your towering bias against anybody who calls themselves liberal.

                Larry Ellison? Democrat. Warren Buffet? Bill Gates? Paige & Brin? Ballmer? Bloomberg? Paul Allen? Jeff Bezos? Anne Chambers?

                Looks to me like the 20 richest people in America you’ve got the Koch brothers and the Wal-Mart family, not exactly bootstrap folks, and then Dell and Paulson vs. a bunch of Democrats.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Though liberals are often the first to tell me (wistfully and sadly) that the Democratic Party isn’t liberal.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Pat, these guys aren’t liberals but they certainly know how to USE liberals to enhance their fortunes. The problems with conservatives is they can think for themselves and won’t just give the vested interests you name everything they want. If I were a billionaire I would consider buying Democrats a much better investment than buying Republicans. Even in Mass, Romney turned on the wealthy there while he was governor making them highly reluctant to keep supporting him. He wasn’t a very good investment, he was actually concerned with resolving the budget deficit that state faced. He actually succeeded, but by the time that story makes it through the (ahem) liberal filter no one knows the details anymore.Report

              • ktward in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                wardsmith: Pat, these guys aren’t liberals but they certainly know how to USE liberals to enhance their fortunes. The problems with conservatives is they can think for themselves

                Ah yes. Only Cons can think for themselves. Libs, not so much.

                Equally notable and evident, we must resign ourselves to consulting with wardsmith when it comes to identifying both “real” liberals and “true” conservatives.


              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Yeah, Ward, that’s sounds perilously close to a tautological definition of (liberal == doesn’t understand business) with a side order of No True Scotsman.

                I’ll defer to Jason-and-my oft-stated stance of, “Okay, what would it take to convince you that you’re wrong?”Report

              • DRS in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Thanks, TF. It’s nice to see someone on this thread can read and count.Report

              • DRS in reply to wardsmith says:

                Well, I’ll tell you what figure I didn’t see in that financial statement and that is your “$500 million” which SW is taking in solely from PBS stations. Or are you going to backtrack on that line too? Also, if you look at the entire annual report, you’ll see that there are pages and pages of foundation, corporate and individual donors listed who support SW. And looky, looky! Apparently one of the sources of government revenue is – the Department of Defense because SW produces family kits for the military to help the children of deployed troops understand what’s going on when parents are sent overseas. So it looks like SW is valued by a LOT of people, doesn’t it?

                I’d like to know where you get off being such an hysterical asshole to everyone, Wardsmith. Your tantrumy schtick is getting old fast.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith says:

                I’m a liberal. I understand business at least as well as you. Maybe you were just angry when you said Liberals don’t Get This Stuff. We do get it.

                Look, Ward, it’s commendable that you know how to read a P&L but you’re missing the larger picture here. The GOP has been hounding and hating on NPR and PBS and Sesame Street for many years now.

                When Mitt Romney defended oil subsidies, saying they mostly went to small operators, when he says we should be going for oil on public lands more aggressively, he’s not really against subsidies.

                Romney has a habit of saying stupid things. This attack on public broadcasting is by far the stupidest. But saying Liberals don’t get business, Ward, we have a longer view than the next 10-Q and the current stock price. You don’t get Society.Report

              • DRS in reply to BlaiseP says:

                +1,000. Now off to a holiday weekend. I will raise a drumstick in salute to Blaise.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP says:

                For the gazzilionth time the oil industry is NOT receiving a “subsidy” what they ARE receiving is a special tax depletion allowance because guess what, their oil disappears as they produce it. It isn’t like farming (which really DOES receive subsidies) because you can keep planting seeds and keep producing crops. Mining and oil receive depletion allowance tax DEDUCTIONS because it is eminently fair. Furthermore America is the SECOND largest producer of oil in the world (a fact often ignored, forgotten, misunderstood by the chattering class). We got there not with huge elephant fields such as Aramco has but with hundreds of thousands of stripper wells producing on average 10 bbls per day. Without the depletion allowance most of these marginal operators are simply uneconomic (primarily because of onerous regulations, but that’s a different comment), which means a couple million bbls/day of production disappears. Now if you WANT that production to disappear, by all means eliminate the measly 2.8B tax allowance and watch our inverted balance of payments take a $220M hit each and every day (actually more because the cost will most certainly rise). Yup, liberals are outright geniuses at this stuff, that’s why liberals have done such a swell job of managing economies everywhere they are in charge. And don’t bring up Sweden because I’ve already demolished that argument eight ways from Sunday.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to wardsmith says:

                Why is that not a subsidy?

                What you are describing sounds like a subsidy with good reasoning behind it, which is not the same thing as no subsidy.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to wardsmith says:

                You can try and pull that wool over someone else’s eyes. I know Section 199 well enough to declare it a subsidy. The oil companies are all over it like stink on shit.Report

              • wardsmith in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Blaise, when a farmer sells soybeans at $4 per bushel even though the market price is $3 THAT is a subsidy from the gov’t. When an oil company gets to take a depletion allowance DEDUCTION (exactly like you get to take a mortgage deduction) you’ll have to explain how THAT is a subsidy. Ok, there are certainly economists who would characterize it as such using esoteric language but at the end of the day this is a business deduction, and is NOT a subsidy compared to what happens in farming.

                Cain, there are any number of ways to count oil. If you ignore NGL’s then perhaps Russia is ahead but the NGL’s hit the refinery the same as oil and is why Oil and Gas Journal considers it the same. Regardless I can pretend you know more about this industry than I do if that makes you feel better. BTW I’ll be at the SPE conference next week, will you?Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to wardsmith says:

                Furthermore America is the SECOND largest producer of oil in the world

                Well, third, behind both Russia and Saudi Arabia. Getting basic numeric facts wrong doesn’t help your other arguments.Report

              • cfpete in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Per the EIA, the US surpassed Russia in oil production in Oct. 2011 and never looked back.
                The most recent figures (June 2012) put the US at 10,895,900 bpd and Russia at 10,323,379 bpd. Russian oil production has been falling due to corruption and under investment, much like Venezuela
                When being a smart ass – best to double check your data.Report

              • trizzlor in reply to wardsmith says:

                But thanks for playing the game, we should do this again sometime.

                First of all, Sesame Workshop has international distribution as well as deals with corporate broadcasters like Nickelodeon, so it’s wrong to simply count all of their “Distribution Fees and Royalties” as government subsidy. But I’m still having a hard time understanding your larger point:

                Sesame Workshop/CTW started out with funding coming from both philanthropies and the government, as a research project into children’s programming. Once it was shown to be successful, it was spun off to function as a non-profit with minimal dependence on the government. Should the government not provide research grants for child development? Should it not spin them off in this way?

                Currently, SW sells its services to government organizations (such as the DOD/Pentagon) that work kids and families. Should the military sever it’s relationship with SW and not provide their services to military families? Obviously, SW also sells it’s shows to PBS, which curates educational programming. That means children do not get barraged by advertising and some programming is made specifically for low-income families that are not a traditionally lucrative demographic. Should the government abandon it’s role in curating television for (among others) disadvantaged youths? Should it sever contracts with the most successful and long-standing such children’s show?

                Is the idea here that any organization that could function as a charity should do so? Because when I look at your position I see an argument that uses a successful and self-sufficient public park as an example of why the government should cut all of it’s parks funding.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to wardsmith says:

        Government subsidized programs that are financially sound and popular are evidence that government is unnecessary in those areas and the programs should be fully privatized. Government programs that are money sinks are evidence that government can’t do anything right and the programs should be eliminated.

        Now, more than ever.Report

        • Turgid Jacobian in reply to Troublesome Frog says:


        • Liberty60 in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

          Its similar to complaints about how Amtrak is a money sink, and proof that government should sell it off.

          How come no one ever asks how much profit the I-95 freeway make last year?

          We accept the notion that freeways are a service that we pay for, and they provide benefits to the economy as a whole. Yet railways are somehow different.Report

          • Kolohe in reply to Liberty60 says:

            Well, some of us think that all expressways should be tolled. (and large parts of I-95 that coincide with the Acela route (the only place where train travel is profitable* in the US) are in fact tolled).

            It would also be nice if Amtrak were competent enough to make money off of concessions , which just about any business, anywhere is able to do. (and fights for the opportunity to do so)

            *that is the cooridor, not necessarily the route itself. Though I do think Acela itself is profitable due to the higher fares it charges.Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to Liberty60 says:

            What would happen if all the Interstate freeways were tolled, and the busses and trains were paid for via general tax revenue?

            And the Interstate would have to be self-supporting, paying for its maintenance and repair solely through toll fees?Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Liberty60 says:

              Probably less sprawl and it would kill Wal Mart’s business model. (don’t know if it would bring back Sears, because I think they have already decoupled themselves from rail transportation).

              Buses are already getting subsidized through the selfsame interstate construction and maintenance. And are fairly cheap (and where’s there competition, fairly amenity oriented).

              It’s just funny that once upon a time, trains were private and profitable and evil, and now they are public and money-sinks and must be protected.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Kolohe says:

                My thought experiment is prompted by the notion that the world we live in- where auto transportation is easy and cheap, while trains are not, is somehow the Natural Order of Things, when in fact, the status quo is the result of massive subsidies, favoritism and distortions in the market, which we have covered in other threads.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                Passenger rail never really paid for itself. Freight always paid the bills. While there are some passenger lines like Acela which do justify their existence, trying to resurrect the glory days of Penn Station and Union Station in St Louis is a fool’s errand. The old rail companies lost money on passenger travel: it was a loss leader.

                Which isn’t to say rail technology can’t be made to work: it can. Our problem as a nation arises from the fact that long distance mass transit in its current incarnation can’t deal with the problem of a car once you get to your destination or storing your car at your origin. Look at the mess involved in getting a rental car even now. Worst part of plane travel. Solve that one and rail will work.Report

              • Liberty60 in reply to Kolohe says:

                Idid an in-depth study of the Southern California Red Car line when I was in college.
                What was interesting is that the Red Line was a private venture; it was profitable at first, but began to lose money during the 1920’s and 30’s; WWII revived it, when the government rationed gasoline and gave fare subsidies to defense plant workers.

                What ultimately killed private rail lines was the government preference for autos; when freeways had the power of eminent domain and the Red Line didn’t, it became impossible for the Red Line to expand, while freeways went wherever the government wanted them to. Mandatory parking requirements, signalized intersections, increased speed limits all were policy choices that indirectly subsidised the choice to drive, while rail passengers were left out.

                Autos have a natural advantage- Having a personal vehicle that is ready the moment we want it to be, and takes us wherever we want to go portal to portal is the ultimate in “If wishes were horses beggars would ride” fantasy.

                In any scenario, autos will be a desireable method of transportation, but they are only cheap and convenient to use because we repeatedly vote in favor of picking them as the winner in the marketplace.Report

          • Michael Cain in reply to Liberty60 says:

            Well, the first obvious difference is that anyone can run pretty much any vehicle they want (within very broad limits) on the Interstate. When was the last time I could run my own train on the railroads?Report

      • Liberty60 in reply to wardsmith says:

        How much is Gary Knell’s salary compared to a corporate CEO of a comparably sized company?Report

        • Matty in reply to Liberty60 says:

          I had never heard that name before but I have too much time on my hands right now so here goes.

          The Washington Post says “NPR did not disclose his salary but said it is in line with Schiller’s compensation; she received a base salary of $450,000 and a bonus of $125,000 in May 2010.” That makes $575000, which I’ll use in lieu of further digging.

          NPR in 2010 had a budget of $180 million, or to put in another way Mr Knell was paid 0.003% of turnover.

          Now to find a comparable private business. A little digging turns up Selling Source with 2010 revenues of $180.1 million. While this link gives, base salary $415000 and bonus $570000 but total

          It then gets complicated because part of the bonus is in share options, but roughly if you look at salary alone the two are in the same ballpark $400-500K, if you look at total compensation the private guy gets a lot more.Report

          • Liberty60 in reply to Matty says:

            Thanks Matty for the research.

            So if NPR has a buget of 180 Million, the CEO’s compensation package is on par with his peers in the business world, or if anything he’s underpaid.

            This is where I start to sound like a Republican, and scold those who “don’t understand how business works” (ahem).

            If you have an organization of the 180 Million dollar scale, running the thing takes a lot of work, and if you want to attract and retain somebody with that caliber of expertise, yu need to pay them at least something approaching private sector compensation. Doesn’t matter if it is an NGO, church, charity, or whatever, you aren’t going to get someone who does it pro bono or in exchange for room and board.Report

  19. ktward says:


    There have been a few notable dyed-in-the-wool GOP movers/shakers who have been willing to call out Norquist's nonsense. But I'm pretty sure none of them are either elected pols, or hoping-to-be-elected pols.Report

  20. ktward says:

    Gah, I totally screwed that comment up by missing one little character: >

    Sorry guys.Report