Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CBC Chairman suggests Obama may get a pass from black community - Washington Post (blog)

Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) suggested in an interview that black voters are more lenient when it comes to evaluating President Obama’s policies because he is also black.

“Well, I’m supposed to say he doesn’t get a pass, but I’m not going to say that,” Cleaver said in an interview with The Root published Monday. “Look, as the chair of the Black Caucus I’ve got to tell you, we are always hesitant to criticize the president. With 14 percent [black] unemployment if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House. However, I [also] don’t think the Irish would do that to the first Irish president or Jews would do that to the first Jewish president; but we’re human and we have a sense of pride about the president.”

The Coalition of African American Pastors has criticized the president for saying that same-sex marriage should be legal, and Cleaver, who has been a pastor for many years, was asked in the interview whether Obama’s position on same-sex marriage will hurt him with black voters. He said he believed Obama’s stance would reduce support, but only marginally.

“Will there be some black voter drop because of the same-sex marriage issue? The answer is, unquestionably, yes,” Cleaver said. “Will it be significant? No. Will black folk vote for the president with some anger toward that position? Yes. But the black voter is growing more sophisticated, in part because the president has been elevated to the highest office on the planet, so more black Americans are paying attention now and in the last four years than in the past.”

Cleaver supported then-senator Hillary Clinton of New York over Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. He was asked how a Clinton presidency would have been different from Obama’s tenure. 

“Well, we wouldn’t have had a lot of racial stuff, and as much as I love Sen. Clinton I would have been all over her on 14 percent unemployment for African Americans. I would have said, ‘My sister, I love you, but this has got to go,’” he said.

An election-year ploy: Get tough on China - Washington Post

IT’S AN IRON LAW of U.S. politics: You can’t go wrong bashing China. Polls show the public believes that this country is losing jobs due to unfair economic competition from abroad, especially from China. And so, every four years, presidential candidates fall all over themselves promising to get tough on imports.

Still, there are more and less blatant ways to go about it. President Obama’s announcement Monday of a new international trade case against China in swing-state Ohio strikes many as a transparently political use of his incumbency. The crassness is mitigated only somewhat by the fact that the president was responding to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s ads promising to do more than Mr. Obama has done to punish China for manipulating the value of its currency on international markets â€" or “cheating,” as the ads describe it.

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As to the merits of the president’s case against China, if Beijing is violating trade law, then a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) may be called for. Mr. Obama alleges that the Chinese have provided $1 billion in illegal subsidies over the past three years. Is that responsible for the growth in Chinese auto-parts imports to the United States, which now total $10 billion? Hard to say. But remember: To the extent that imports from China â€" or Mexico, which sells almost three times as much to the United States â€" reduce the cost of auto manufacturing, and hence the price of cars, they may help create more American jobs than they cost. Is the Mr. Obama who charges China with subsidizing its industry the same president who takes credit for bailing out General Motors and Chrysler? China imposed import duties on U.S. cars in July, partly in response to U.S. aid to the carmakers; it has filed a case at the WTO in response to Mr. Obama’s latest move.

Litigation at the WTO will take months. Would Mr. Romney’s idea, to brand China a currency manipulator, with sanctions to follow, get faster results? No doubt China’s effort to hold down the value of the yuan artificially boosts the competitiveness of its products overseas, to the detriment of U.S. industry. But it also imposes costs and distortions on the domestic Chinese economy, which the Obama administration has repeatedly invoked while jawboning Beijing to change its policy. The Obama strategy has yielded some modest success over the past three years, arguably more than would have been achieved by the open confrontation Mr. Romney advocates.

The fact is that China has plenty of ways to retaliate when this country protects specific industries; on balance, that retaliation may cost more American jobs. Even if China does not retaliate, the higher production costs and higher consumer prices that trade protection imposes are not evenly distributed. Protectionist measures may “save” jobs for higher-paid workers at the expense of those who make less. These are the sorts of nuances and trade-offs to which we hope the winner of this election will pay more attention. Though the United States and China are competing for global market share, avoiding an actual trade war is very much in both nations’ interest.

Romney's 47 percent comment opens debate - USA TODAY

Mitt Romney's secretly taped comments that nearly half of President Obama's voters are "dependent on the government" and "pay no income tax" sparked swift and passionate reactions.

David Brooks of The New York Times titled his op-ed column today "Thurston Howell Romney," a reference to the wealthy character from the sitcom Gilligan's Island. Brooks writes:

Romney's comment is a country-club fantasy.It's what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.

Josh Barro, in a commentary for Bloomberg, called Romney's remarks "an utter disaster" for the GOP presidential nominee.

Romney stood by his comments last night, saying his message was "not elegantly stated."

"The president believes in what I've described as a government-centered society, where government plays a larger and larger role, provides for more and more of the needs of the individuals," Romney said in Orange County, Calif. "I happen to believe instead in a free enterprise, free individual society where people pursuing their dreams are able to employ one another, build enterprises, build the strongest economy in the world."

The magazine Mother Jones, which published the Romney video, posted another clip today in which the candidate says Palestinians have "no interest whatsoever in establishing peace."

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, about 46% of Americans paid no income tax in 2011. However, nearly two-thirds of households that don't pay income tax pay payroll taxes. Of the people who don't pay income or payroll taxes, more than half are elderly. The center says more than one-third of those who don't pay income or payroll taxes have incomes of less than $20,000.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus defended Romney yesterday in an interview with CNN.

"The point of all of this is the size of the government is too big and if we don't do something about it we're going nto really lose the very idea of America," Priebus said on CNN's The Situation Room.

Posts on Twitter about Romney generated 69,000 tweets and retweets in the 11 p.m. hour last night, about an hour after the GOP presidential nominee's hastily called news conference in California. By comparison, there were 19,000 tweets and retweets about Romney at 4 p.m., according to the analysis by Voter Tide, a social media analysis firm. Voter Tide says there were more than 400,000 tweets about Romney yesterday or four times the usual amount.

Obama's campaign immediately began fundraising off Romney's secretly taped comments, according to Politico and The New York Times. The fundraising e-mail came from Jim Messina, Obama's campaign manager, who yesterday called Romney's comments "shocking."

President Obama focuses on manufacturing and standing up to China in ... - Plain Dealer

president obama columbus.JPGPresident Barack Obama speaks during a previous rally at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Obama was back in Columbus today, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, for a campaign stop at Schiller Park.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The presidential race turned toward China on Monday, as the Obama and Romney campaigns exchanged criticisms after the White House announced it would attempt to crack down on trade policies that affect American manufacturers.

At a speech in Columbus, President Barack Obama touted his administration's record on standing up to China while criticizing GOP opponent Mitt Romney's strategy for dealing with the country's trade practices.

"Today my administration is launching a new action against China, this one against illegal subsidies that encourage companies to ship auto parts, manufacturing jobs overseas, which directly hurts men and women on the assembly lines in Ohio and Michigan and throughout the Midwest," Obama said to a crowd of about 4,500 at Schiller Park, just south of downtown.

Republicans said Obama's efforts are much too late, and American businesses have paid a price for his passive stance toward China.

Earlier Monday The Plain Dealer reported the Obama administration's plans to fight China's trade policies, so Romney and other Republicans already had blasted Obama on the issue well before he addressed the Columbus crowd.

"President Obama's credibility on this issue has long since vanished. I will not wait until the last months of my presidency to stand up to China, or do so only when votes are at stake," Romney said.

The Romney campaign also countered Obama's visit by bringing in Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who spoke from the steps of the Ohio Statehouse about the same time Obama was taking the stage a few miles away .

Figuring the president was in Ohio to talk about China, Rubio chastised Obama for taking up a subject that should have been addressed years ago. "Elections are funny that way," Rubio told about 200 supporters. "They get people to do things they should have done three years ago."

Obama's nearly 40-minute speech coincided with Monday's announcement that his administration will pursue two trade enforcement cases against China -- one for subsidizing auto parts made for export and another for imposing unfair duties on American-made cars.

Both practices are example's of China's trade policy abuse, according to the White House, and both are damaging to the American auto industry.

"I understand my opponent has been running around Ohio claiming he's going to take the fight to China," Obama said. "This is a guy whose experience has been owning companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to countries like China.

"Ohio, you can't stand up to China if all you've done is send them our jobs," Obama said.

The Obama campaign took also its message on China to the airwaves on Monday, rolling out a new TV ad that mentions tariffs the Obama administration imposed in 2009 on imports of Chinese-made tires.

Obama's speech in Columbus followed an appearance earlier in the day in Cincinnati, where he addressed similar issues.

Romney targeted his economic message Monday to Hispanics, a key voting bloc with whom Obama enjoys an advantage. Romney had been in Painesville Friday, spending most of a brief campaign-stop touting his economic plans.

The White House filing with the World Trade Organization, or WTO, starts a dispute-resolution process. If there is no resolution within 60 days, the United States can ask the WTO to begin its own investigation, a process that can end eventually with tariffs or other economic sanctions.

The administration also asked the WTO to step up a review of that the White House says are unfair duties that China levies on American-made cars. American car makers say these duties make it difficult to tap into China's consumer market.

China notified the WTO on Monday of it own new beef with the United States over restrictions on Chinese exports. China requested consultations with the United States, through the WTO, on duties and anti-dumping measures applied to Chinese exports of paper, steel, tires magnets, chemicals, kitchen appliances, wood flooring and wind towers.

Romney has steadily criticized Obama as weak on enforcing trade laws with China. His campaign said some Ohio Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep Tim Ryan, feel the same way. Ryan was quoted in a Romney press release denouncing China's currency manipulation.

But Ryan, in an interview, said it is laughable that Romney would take this line of attack.

"Now it just gives me an opportunity to talk about how guys like Romney have decimated places like Ohio because of their outsourcing, and the fact is that (Romney) was against President Bush when he put tariffs on Chinese steel, and against Obama when he put it on tires," Ryan said.

Obama also drew distinctions between his vision and Romney's on the economy, education, health care and other issues during his speech in Columbus. He told the crowd his policies would create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Romney to campaign donors: Obama voters "dependent," see selves as "victims" - CBS News

(CBS News) Mitt Romney's campaign has responded to video in which the Republican presidential nominee appears to be shown describing the majority of President Obama's supporters as people who are "dependent on government" and "believe that they are victims."

Video of the comments at a private fundraiser earlier this year., from an anonymous source, was given to a pair of left-leaning media outlets, Mother Jones and the Huffington Post. You can see the relevant portion at left.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney is heard saying in the video. "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That, that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what."

Romney goes on to say that "these are people who pay no income tax. 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect." He says his job "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Romney says he has to convince the "five to ten percent in the center" to vote for him, adding that members of this group vote sometimes based on "emotion, whether they like the guy or not."

The Obama campaign pounced on the comments, which are already being compared to then-candidate Barack Obama's 2008 comments in which Mr. Obama said that Americans in rural communities "cling to guns or religion" because of a lack of jobs. Those comments also leaked from a private event and outraged many in the Republican base.

"It's shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as 'victims,' entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take 'personal responsibility' for their lives," Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager, said in a statement released late Monday afternoon. "It's hard to serve as president for all Americans when you've disdainfully written off half the nation."

In a statement responding to the video, the Romney campaign said "Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy."

"As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work," said Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho. "Mitt Romney's plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs."

Romney's 47 percent reference is tied to findings that nearly half of Americans were found to have not paid income taxes. Conservatives seized on the comments to portray themselves as hard workers tasked with supporting freeloaders. Their opponents noted that most Americans pay other taxes, including payroll and sales taxes. The Tax Policy Center found that in 2009, following the financial crisis, 17 percent of households did not pay any federal income tax or payroll tax, mostly students, the elderly and the disabled.

Mother Jones and the Huffington Post altered the video at the request of the source, who wanted his or her identity protected. They also did not reveal the date and location of the event, which is described as having occurred after Romney clinched the Republican presidential nomination.

The leaked video includes other notable moments. At one point, in reference to his family's time living in Mexico, Romney says of his father, "Had he been born of Mexican parents, I'd have a better shot of winning this." The comment prompted laughter.

"But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico," Romney continues. "He lived there for a number of years. And, I mean I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino." Polls show Latinos favor Mr. Obama by a wide margin in the presidential race.

Romney also says in the video that the way to reach swing voters is to cast Mr. Obama as a disappointment, since they like him and voted for him. "The things that animate us are not the things that animate them," Romney says. (Watch at left.)

Romney also references his personal wealth, according to Mother Jones, stating that he "inherited nothing." Romney's father was a wealthy automobile executive, and he attended a prestigious private high school; Politifact calls his claim that he did not inherit money from his parents "half true."

"There is a perception, 'Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth,'" he says. "Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America."

Romney is also heard saying that the campaign trail is not a good place for specifics. His campaign has taken criticism from conservatives for not offering more substance, and Monday morning an adviser promised more specifics would be forthcoming.

"We have a website that lays out white papers on a whole series of issues that I care about. I have to tell you, I don't think this will have a significant impact on my electability," he says. "I wish it did. I think our ads will have a much bigger impact." Romney adds that "in a setting like this, a highly intellectual subject - discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn't win elections. And there are, there are, there are - for instance, this president won because of 'hope and change.'"

President Obama, in Cincinnati, takes on China as Mitt Romney shifts strategy - Indianapolis Star

2:51 PM, Sep 17, 2012   |  
President Barack Obama greets people after speaking at a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Cincinnati. / AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster
President Barack Obama greets people after speaking at a campaign event at Eden Park’s Seasongood Pavilion on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, in Cincinnati. / AP Photo / Carolyn Kaster

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