Snake Oil Salesman

Mitt Romney’s aggressive stance in the debate this week hid another, more insidious character trait. He appears to be incapable of being candid and accurate in his public pronouncements. Either he does not have a clue as to what his own policy positions are, or he is prevaricating, hedging and misleading his followers, and the nation.

Where the President is open and honest in his discussions with people, where he discusses what he has done and is likely to do, Mitt says what he thinks people want him to say. He does not appear to have a moral compass that allows him to deal with reality in a fair and balanced manner. Mitt will sell a proposition because he wants to produce a profit, not because he believes that it is the moral or ethical thing to do. He has much in common with the snake oil salesmen that plagued the old West.

Mitt believes that his elixir of life, his extract of rattlesnake, or artfully colored water, is the answer to all that ails society. At least, that is what he wants people to believe, and his ardent followers will chant his name regardless of the facts. In the myth based community, his ideology will sell especially well.

His claim during the debates that he will lower taxes 20% across the board, but that he will not lower taxes for the wealthy goes beyond pedestrian lies to a deceptive and deceitful fiction. There is just no credence to the two separate claims. This single deception shows to what extent Romney will stoop to obtain the presidency.

Romney also denied that his across the board tax cuts will not add $5 trillion to the federal deficit. The mathematics are quite simple. If you cut taxes 20% across the board, the treasury will not be receiving sufficient revenue to cover its costs. The revenue of the federal government in 2011 was about $2.3 Trillion. If you slash rates by 20% across the board, net revenue ought to fall by a similar amount. You will be taking in $460Bn less each year, which adds up to $4.6 Trillion over the course of a decade. This is very simple.

Romney claims that to cover the cost of his massive tax cut, he will cut deductions. How many deductions is he going to have to cut in order to balance this budget, keeping in mind that there was a deficit in 2011 of $1.2 Trillion? Which deductions is he going to target? I pointed out in another post that eliminating the Standard Deduction would dramatically raise taxes on the very poor. There are other deductions that are very close to the hearts of the Middle Class. If Romney does away with the home mortgage interest deduction, tens of millions of homeowners will no longer be able to itemize deductions and be left only with the Standard Deduction. If Romney does away with this deduction, taxes will go up for those homeowners.

It is true that the mortgage interest deduction is only of value if your itemized deductions exceed the Standard Deduction, but homeowners or small business owners that cater for their own medical, have large mortgages, and charitable deductions will receive a large increase in taxes.

Romney claimed that he would be lowering taxes across the board. In reality, his plan raises taxes on the poor and middle class and substantially lowers taxes on the wealthy. His own facts said so in the debate. He cannot deny his own suppositions.

Romney asserts that Obama would raise taxes on small businesses. Republican definitions of small business differs quite substantially from Obama’s definition. The overwhelming majority of small businesses in this country employ under ten people, which is what the President calls a small business.

Romney dismisses those businesses as irrelevant, claiming that the top 3% of small businesses employ most of the workers. These are businesses making millions in profits, and in no way can we term them small. In comparison to most small businesses, these are large corporations. Bechtel is a typical example of a Romney small business that is in reality a massive corporation. Romney clearly cares little for the efforts of tens of millions of hard working Americans struggling to make a living while larger concerns garner large tax cuts, subsidies, and benefits.

Republicans love to redefine words, to strip them of their meaning until they are nothing more than random collections of letters. To most people, words have meanings, not always precise, sometimes ambiguous, but meanings nonetheless. To Republicans, if you don’t like the meaning of a word, redefine it. Romney is a classic example of this kind of prevarication. This is why, to Romney, large businesses are actually small businesses.

Romney also made the claim that subsidies for the oil industry go to small companies, not unless Exxon is a small business. This has never been true in the oil industry, or the agricultural industry, or any industry that I know of. Subsidies in the oil industry go to the largest corporations, not just in the United States, but across the globe. Exxon is, next to Walmart, the largest corporation on earth, raking in massive profits. There is nothing that would justify refusing healthcare to families in poverty while subsidizing this monster.

The expiration of the Bush tax cuts would destroy jobs according to Romney. Tax cuts for the wealthiest only result in larger bank balances and deposits in offshore banks. The wealthy do not spend these cuts, and there is no knock-on effect for the economy other than to reduce the revenue for the treasury.

Romney included the idea that he would offer support for preexisting conditions in his plan. This is just entirely incorrect. He never has offered this medical option, and nor will he. His plan in Massachusetts covered only those that had on-going coverage, not those unemployed that were looking for medical coverage.

Romney is selling the country a magic potion, and while that may work well for Asterix the Gaul, but for those of us that live in the real world, he offers only fiction, illusions, and apparitions. We cannot afford four years of mythology with Romney, we need a president like Obama that tells the truth, however hard it may be, someone that cares about the poor, the Middle Class, the mass of people living with worry and despair about the future. We do not need another Snake Oil Salesman.

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