Radical Romney

Steven Rattner in the Times:

Mr. Romney is calling for a huge increase in defense spending — roughly $2 trillion more over the next decade than Mr. Ryan wants to spend, which is only $400 billion above Mr. Obama’s budget — even though the military is not asking for such an increase. Such an increase would force giant reductions, about 40 percent, in everything that’s left.


“Everything else” isn’t some catchall of small items, like feeding Big Bird. We’re talking about a vast array of programs including civilian and military pensions, food stamps, unemployment and disability compensation, the earned income and child tax credits, family support and nutrition, K-12 education, transportation, public safety and disaster relief. And on and on.


All told, Mr. Romney would allocate $6.9 trillion for these items, compared with the $9.3 trillion proposed by his own running mate (and Mr. Obama’s $12 trillion, which itself represents a 9 percent reduction from current levels, after adjusting for inflation).


No doubt some of what is buried within “other mandatory and nondefense discretionary spending” can be eliminated. Perhaps Americans won’t miss a few national parks or the space program.


But also nestled within this category are critical outlays for investments in infrastructure and research.


Eating the seed corn is never advisable, yet that’s what Washington is already doing. The share of spending on infrastructure (roads, airports, dams and the like) fell from 2 percent of G.D.P. in 1971 to 1 percent in 2010.


More — not less — government money needs to be invested in these kinds of growth-generating projects (not to mention education and training).


I recognize that in the real world, cuts on the scale envisioned by Mr. Romney will prove politically untenable, which would force a President Romney to rethink his agenda.


But as a statement of intent, it’s Mr. Romney — not Mr. Ryan — who has produced the budget that would more dramatically reduce the services offered by government, and in ways that would shock and outrage most Americans. We can only hope that Mr. Obama will draw those contrasts clearly in the debate.

Homeland

Last night’s episode was a real stunner. The thing about “Homeland” is, it’s so good at building tension throughout each episode that I end up with my neck all in a twist just from watching it! (And just try to go to sleep after that.)

Carrie was right. We knew she was right, but now she knows it, too.

Don’t buy it

I’ve been reading Anat Shenker-Osorio’s new book, “Don’t Buy It: The Trouble With Talking Nonsense About The Economy.” I like it, mostly because it says what I’ve been screaming about for years: The personal is political, use metaphor to make it personal:

Strategic communications consultant Anat Shenker-Osorio has a message for progressives, simple but apparently almost impossible to execute, given the movement’s history: Get personal. Get real. And for heaven’s sake, quit fighting your opponent on your opponent’s terms.
Seems like common sense, but as Shenker-Osorio discusses in her new book, Don’t Buy It, she sees progressives make these same mistakes over and over and over again. In particular, the progressive messaging on the economy—especially the metaphors we adopt in discussing it—have contributed to a massive communication failure.


In a nutshell, when we insist on talking about the financial meltdown and its effects in terms of an unstoppable force of nature–like I just did with meltdown, in fact, or as many, many other well-intentioned liberals discuss it in terms of a crash, an earthquake, a “flood of bad mortgages,” “the perfect storm” of circumstances—all these terms cry out that we must hunker down and pray instead of actively work for change.


Body metaphors are little better—an “unhealthy economy,” a “sluggish recovery”—these too imply outside agency swooping in and destroying us, usually from within, like germs or cancer. But these scenarios are flatly wrong.


The economic crisis was neither an act of God nor a natural disaster, not an attack by microbes or internal organ breakdown. It was the result of choices—bad ones—made by specific human beings who benefitted from human-created policies at the expense of a majority of the population. And if our language does not reflect that this crisis is human-made, it follows that it cannot be human unmade either, which plays into the shrugging, no-fault stance of conservatives.

I think I’ve been pretty consistent: Bankers crashed the economy in a ditch, the Obama administration made matters worse by not pulling the damned car out of the ditch. Oh well!

Hippie punching for dummies

The poster says, “The quotes are real. They came from Obama administration officials, Obama himself, Organizing For America staff, Obama supporters, newspaper columnists, various bloggers, progressive activists, and progressive critics.”

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