The 47 Percent Solution
Published on: September 21, 2012
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  • John Barker

    Garfinkle writes with a baseball bat. I love it!

  • Anthony

    The author is correct: we have a social compact. Furthermore, business and government have complementary roles in American Democracy (historically as part of a mixed economy). The 47% remark obfuscates adverse spillovers – cited summarily by author.

  • WigWag

    The Grand Old Party can kiss my grand old tuchas.

    Everything Adam Garfinkle says in this post is absolutely correct. It is mind boggling that the Republican Party is so out of touch with the sentiments of average Americans that they would nominate a candidate with Mitt Romney’s credentials to compete with Obama. Talk about a death wish. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    How is it that the GOP can be so befuddled that it didn’t realize that tens of millions of Americans blame the collapse of the U.S. economy and, even worse, the collapse of their own financial prospects on the financial shenanigans of a tiny elite immunized from any personal risk by the government’s need to bail out a system that this elite abused and abased?

    Did Republicans really think that Americans were so stupid that they wouldn’t recognize that Mitt Romney’s life and his path to prosperity were a perfect metaphor for what caused the economy to implode?

    Americans understand full well that if Romney hadn’t worked for Boston Consulting and Bain Capital that he would have worked for McKinsey and Goldman Sachs instead. It is perfectly obvious to anyone who is even modestly alert that Romney’s wealth was obtained using the same shenanigans that ultimately sank the system. Were those shenanigans legal? Yes they were; that’s the problem. A Republican Party so sure that Americans wouldn’t figure this out is a Party that really have does have a very poor opinion of the intelligence of the average person.

    Nothing makes this clearer that the recent release by Romney of his tax data. With an effective tax rate of 14 percent, I would bet the house that Romney pay’s a smaller percentage of his income in federal tax than a majority of the readers of the “American Interest.” I bet he pays a lower effective tax rate than Adam Garfinkle or Damir Marusic and I would gamble that he pays a lower effective tax rate than AI bloggers like Walter Russell Mead, Peter Berger and Francis Fukuyama. I’d go so far as to bet that Romney pays a lower effective tax rate than the vast majority of the AI Editorial Board (the wealthy Niall Ferguson might be an exception).

    To put the icing on the cake, to get his effective tax rate up to 14 percent, Romney had to deliberately fail to take deductions for charitable gifts that he was legally entitled to. Again, the problem is not with what’s illegal; the problem is with what’s perfectly legal.

    The unfortunate reality is that regardless of what a poor candidate Romney is, and regardless of how inferior his social and economic policies are to Obama’s, if Romney loses, Obama really might place the American future at grave risk by his naive and irresponsible foreign policy.

    With Iran dashing to the nuclear finish line hardly hindered by the sanctions forced on Obama by the United States Congress (with a surprising assist from the usually feckless Europeans) how long will it be before we witness an arms race amongst repressive and rogue regimes? Will the world be safe with a nuclear armed Israel and a nuclear armed Iran eying each other nervously without any of the safeguards that deterred nuclear war between the Americans and the Soviets?

    Will the world be safe when Iran’s Sunni opponents like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey feel the need to obtain their own nuclear weapons? How stable are these regimes? If Syria’s chemical and biological weapons are at risk of falling into the hands of terrorists, how safe will nuclear weapons be in the hands of the Saudi government (maybe Adam can explain whether it’s a government or a mafia family)?

    If terrorists get their hands on these weapons what targets will be at the top of their hit list? Will those targets be in Israel? Highly unlikely. Was the Western Wall the target of terrorist controlled jumbo jets or was it the World Trade Center? Will nuclear armed Sunni terrorists be more inclined to blow up a city holy to them like Jerusalem or will they be more likely to target a city that they view as ground zero for debauchery like New York or Washington, D.C.?

    Democrats claim that Obama is serious about not allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, but if he is serious why is Obama working so hard to signal the Iranians that he won’t attack them and that he is trying to prevent the Israelis from attacking them too? Are Obama’s tactics more likely to deter the Iranians or are they more likely to encourage the Iranians to pursue their nuclear ambitions with gusto?

    The unfortunate reality in this election is that we are forced to select either a Republican candidate with a feeble-minded domestic and economic policy or a Democratic candidate with a feeble-minded foreign policy; it is not a happy choice.

    Over at Via Meadia, Walter Russell Mead has written several posts about how crucial it was for Romney to introduce himself to the American public in a compelling way. Mead is one of those interesting characters who are usually spectacularly right or spectacularly wrong; in this case, it’s the former. It is very hard to understand why Romney didn’t take Mead’s sage advice.

    When I think back on all of the presidential races in my lifetime, the more likable candidate almost always wins; the more irritating candidate almost always loses. The war hero (Eisenhower) defeated the erudite but annoyingly pedantic Stevenson. The charming Kennedy defeated the self-absorbed and paranoid Nixon. The optimistic Reagan defeated the depressing Carter. Clinton, the man from “Hope” defeated the out of touch George H. W. Bush and the socially awkward Bob Dole. George W. Bush defeated two of the most egotistical, boring and grandiose candidates ever to run for the presidency; Gore and Kerry.

    It’s not just that Romney and Kerry are citizens of the same state and it’s not just the tendency of both of them to be “for” things “before they are against them.” It’s the fact that it’s impossible for the public to warm up to either of them.

    Why is Romney going to lose? Because to paraphrase Winston Churchill, Romney has all of the virtues that Americans dislike and none of the vices that they admire.

    Given the potential long-term ramifications, the fact that this was the best the GOP could offer up is not only sad, it might also be dangerous.

    Republicans should ponder this; if Romney loses the GOP won’t just be banished from the White House for 4 years; they’re likely to be banished for 12 years. After this election there will be exactly one political superstar left in the United States. Assuming that candidate stays healthy, she will be unbeatable in four years. Who does the Republican Party have to take on Hillary Clinton? Could Paul Ryan beat her? Could Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mitch Daniels or Bobby Jindal?

    Don’t make me laugh.

    The Republicans have already foolishly destroyed their prospects of winning the Latino vote for what will probably be a generation. What do Republicans suppose the gender gap will look like with Clinton taking on Chris Christie or Paul Ryan?

    How can a political party possibly be so incredibly stupid?

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