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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 09:08 AM ET, 12/20/2011

The Morning Plum

* More casual Big Lies from Mitt Romney: With the battle to define Mitt Romney’s Bain years in full swing, Romney debuted a new line on Morning Joe today: Anyone questioning his Bain tenure is waging war on “free enterprise.” Romney said:

“I’m proud of the private sector. There’s no question that Speaker Gingrich, and much more significantly, the DNC, and President Obama, are going to put free enterprise on trial...we invested in over one hundred different businesses. And in those businesses, many were successful, added lots and lots of jobs. Some were not successful. That is the nature of free enterprise...
“I was surprised to have Newt Gingrich pick up the story-line that came from Barack Obama and the DNC, and go on the attack against free enterprise.”

Of course, in the real world, no one attacked “free enterprise,” and no one is going to “put free enterprise on trial.” Obama regularly emphasizes that the free market is the greatest engine of economic prosperity in human history.

Rather, what Dems are arguing is that Romney’s Bain years is emblematic of a certain practice of predatory capitalism — that he profited off of restructurings that led to mass layoffs — and that this goes to the heart of who Romney is and whose interests he’d represent as president. Romney’s response will be to equate his brand of capitalism with free enterprise itself. I suspect this is a debate Dems are looking forward to having.

More broadly, Romney’s latest response is of a piece with his recent claim that Obama wants to establish an “entitlement society,” in which “everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort and willingness to take risk.”

This whole line is nothing but another casual Romney Big Lie. As Jonathan Chait put it recently:

“This accusation is approximately as accurate as claiming that the Republican Party wants to pass laws forbidding poor people from making more money. Yet this absurd claim is so common nobody even thinks to challenge it anymore.”

The point is that this ongoing assertion from Romney is almost too big a falsehood to debunk. It’s not fact-based, so it’s hard to challenge in a conventional fact-checking sense. And it continues to seep into the discourse without anyone really bothering to point out how monumental a lie it really is.

* House GOP shelves up or down vote on payroll tax cut: House Republican leaders announced last night that they will hold a motion to reject the Senate compromise on extending the payroll tax cut. This comes after they had originally announced that they’d hold a straight up or down vote on it.

What exactly does this mean? A Senate Dem aide emails the Democratic perspective:

The bottom line is that after announcing that they would hold an up-or-down vote on passage of the Senate’s bipartisan compromise, Republicans have reversed course and are now refusing to hold an up-or-down vote. The Rule that was reported out last night only allows for consideration of a “motion to disagree with the Senate Amendments.” Under this scenario, it is impossible for the House to vote to pass the bill.
Anyone in favor of the bill votes “no” (because he/she is voting against the motion to disagree). But even if 218 members vote “no” (which again, in this case means yes), nothing happens. The bill does not pass. In other words, there is no “up” in the “up-or-down.” It is heads I win, tails you lose.

Dems will amplify the case today that Republicans decided against a straight up or down vote because they were worried that the measure just might pass.

* Get ready for the bogus false equivalence reporting: Steve Benen predicts the inevitable:

In two weeks, Americans will discover in early January that their paychecks have shrunk, and because political journalism is largely broken, they’ll be told it’s the result of “both sides” being unwilling to compromise. Those reports will be wrong.

And they will be ubiquitous.

* Mitt Romney’s $167 tax cut for the middle class: The DNC is out with a new Web video highlighting Romney’s amusing exchange with Fox’s Chris Wallace over the candidate’s tax plan. When Wallace points out that his proposal to cut capital gains taxes and dividends would save families making less than $75,000 a cool $167, Romney responds: “167 is not zero.”

The video then contrasts that with Romney’s previous opposition (now abandoned) to extending the $1,500 payroll tax cut — a sign Dems will try to push the case that for the middle class, they are the real tax cutters.

* Obama gains on who is protector of the middle class: I noted these numbers last night, but they’re worth repeating: The new Post poll finds that Obama now has a 15 point edge over Republicans on who is more trusted to protect the middle class, 50-35.

And while disapproval of Obama on the economy is still high, he holds the advantage over Republicans on who is more trusted on the economy (44-40); on creating jobs (44-41) and even on taxes (46-41).

* Obama reelect reality check of the day: Gallup finds both Romney and Gingrich tied with Obama nationally, and adds this:

In a follow-up question to both trial heats, most registered voters who back Obama indicate that their vote decision represents a vote for Obama rather than a vote against the Republican candidate. By contrast, voters supporting the Republican in each trial heat say their choice primarily represents a vote against Obama rather than for either Gingrich or Romney.

The challenge for the Obama team is to make this into a choice election, rather than a referendum on Obama, which is how voters supporting the Republican candidate now seem to see it.

* Newt falls, but Romney doesn’t gain: A number of pollsters weigh in on Mitt Romney’s inability to benefit from Newt’s sudden fall in the polls, underscoring just how reluctant conservatives are to coalesce around the media-annointed frontrunner and suggesting yet again that there’s no predicting how this unusually volatile nominating context will turn out.

* Newt and Romney in dead heat: Even though Gingrich has been falling, the new Post poll finds the two are still at a dead heat nationally among Republican voters, 30-30.

One striking finding: Though Romney holds the advantage on electability and on the economy, Newt holds a two to one advantage on the question of who is most qualified for the presidency.

* Obama’s “Jewish problem” isn’t much of a problem: Justin Elliott on a new report finding that Obama’s major Jewish fundraisers and bundlers are ignoring the nonstop conservative falsehoods about how Obama has “thrown Israel under the bus” and remain fully supportive of his reelection effort.

* And behold the world according to PolitiFact: Now that PolitiFact has designated the claim that the GOP voted to end Medicare its Lie of the Year, I’m reposting Igor Volsky’s argument as to why the assertion is actually “100 percent true,” because the Ryan plan does away with “everything that has defined the program for the last 46 years.”

What else is happening?

By  |  09:08 AM ET, 12/20/2011

 
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