Wonkbook: Romney planning big jobs speech

at 08:02 AM ET, 08/24/2011


Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate, arrives to speak to reporters after he talked about the economy at Vermeer Corporation on Aug. 10 in Pella, Iowa. (Charles Dharapak - AP)
President Obama isn't the only 2012 aspirant who will be delivering a jobs speech in September. Mitt Romney is planning one, too. And it's about time.

Jobs might be Topic A in the GOP presidential campaign, but so far -- and yes, it's early yet -- we have heard less about what the candidates will do than about where they're from. Rick Perry is from Texas, where they created 40 percent of the nation's new jobs over the last two years. Mitt Romney is from the private sector, where they "know what it takes to get jobs in this country." Michele Bachmann is from the Tea Party.

But where they come from doesn't say much about where we're going. Texas's story relies on aggressive housing regulations, abundant land, smart zoning rules, immigrant-driven population growth, high energy prices, and nice weather. It's not clear, as Ross Douthat wrote on Monday, that it relies on Rick Perry, or even if it does, what exactly it says about national policy. Bain Capital, where Romney spent much of his time as a businessman, is a private-equity firm that has almost certainly fired many more people than it has hired. If his pitch is he can make the economy more efficient by pruning low-productivity workers, well, we've already done that. As for Bachmann, she really doesn't have a compelling story to tell. I just included her above because people like lists of three.

This isn't a knock on Perry, Romney, Bachmann, or any of the other GOP hopefuls. It's a statement of obvious fact: we don't know what a presidential candidate will do -- or even what they intend to do -- until he or she tells us. Perry's experience in Texas is interesting, but will it lead to a raft of immigration-reform policies and housing regulations or will he just deliver the typical jeremiad against high taxes and excess regulations? It's good to spend time in the private sector, but we won't know what it taught Romney about economic management in the midst of household-debt crises until he lays out the policies he would like to pass if we elected him president. That's part of why policy is important: it's the place where you can see, with almost perfect clarity, what a candidate's philosophy and experiences and coalition really amounts to. And so I'm glad to see the GOP candidates are moving into that phase of the campaign.

Five in the morning

1) Mitt Romney is preparing a jobs speech, reports Karoun Demirjian: "As the country chips away, bit by bit, at the national unemployment rate, the measure of Nevada’s jobless is rising: back up to 12.9 percent last month, and an eye-popping 14 percent in Las Vegas. Where better then, for the Republican presidential front-runner to unveil his jobs plan, two months before President Barack Obama plans to roll out his. Mitt Romney announced on Fox News this afternoon that he’d be coming to the Silver State -- the state whose GOP caucuses loved him most in 2008 -- to unveil his jobs plan on Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day. Romney wasn’t specific about what he’d be unveiling. But he did say 'it will be very different from (Obama’s).'...Romney has focused...on enabling the private sector to innovate by ensuring that taxes on 'job makers' -- businesses and top earners -- stay low."

@PPPpolls: "While Obama leads Perry by 6, he can only muster tie with Romney at 45%. Mitt toughest opponent by far: http://tinyurl.com/3slffgy"

2) Joe Biden doesn't think the supercommittee's odds are good, reports Felicia Sonmez: "Vice President Biden said Tuesday that he believes the 12-member 'supercommittee' charged with tackling the country’s debt problem by Thanksgiving faces 'very difficult' odds. The supercommittee has 'a shot of getting a deal that would be viewed by Wall Street, be viewed by everyone, be viewed by the international community as a significant alteration of a trajectory of long-term debt,' Biden told reporters aboard Air Force Two during an eight-day Asia tour, according to Bloomberg’s Kate Andersen Brower. Ultimately, Biden told reporters, the debt supercommittee 'still may end up with the trigger being pulled' if its members are unable to reach a compromise. Biden led a six-member bipartisan group in separate debt-reduction talks during May and June. Those talks broke down in late June after House Republicans pulled out, citing an impasse on the issue of whether tax increases should be included in a final deal."

On a lighter note: Did you miss our curated list of earthquake tweets?

3) Ben Bernanke's big speech likely won't announce policy changes, reports Neil Irwin: "This time a year ago, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke headed to an annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., amid a faltering U.S. economy, a perilous global situation, and rising calls on Wall Street for the Fed to do something to address both...But those expecting that Bernanke will unveil any big plans are likely getting ahead of themselves. He and other Fed leaders view the current signs of economic weakness differently from how they viewed the economy this time a year ago and want to see more evidence before making their next move. 'He will explain what the Fed has done and the costs and benefits of its remaining policy options,' Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan Chase, said in a research note."

But the markets want something big: http://on.wsj.com/qmNR5Q

4) New York has been booted from foreclosure deal talks, reports Brady Dennis: "Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading foreclosure settlement negotiations with the nation’s largest banks on behalf of all 50 states, abruptly removed New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from the coalition’s executive committee Tuesday, saying he had 'actively worked to undermine' the group’s efforts in recent months...Schneiderman, who has undertaken investigations into the way banks bundled and sold pools of mortgages, known as securitization, has said any settlement should not release banks from liability for all their mortgage-related sins committed before the financial crisis...Inherent in Schneiderman’s warnings was an implication that officials negotiating the current deal are willing to give away too much, a suggestion that those involved in the talks describe as inaccurate and infuriating."

5) Some Republican presidential contenders believe in climate change, but none want to do anything about it, reports Rachel Weiner: "Huntsman isn’t alone among 2012 contenders or other prominent Republicans in affirming man’s involvement in climate change. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich(Ga.) are right there with him...But when it comes to policy, there’s little daylight between more moderate Republicans and climate change skeptics. As governor of Utah, Huntsman backed a regional cap-and-trade program. He opposes it now...When Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he initially backed a regional greenhouse gas reduction initiative before withdrawing support in 2005, saying the program would hurt the economy."

@ChrisLHayes: "I basically think there's nothing more important than cultivating support for the scientific consensus on climate change among Republicans."

Acoustic cover interlude: Basia Bulat plays "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists.

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Still to come: The European Central Bank's unprecedented bond buying may not be enough; Medicare's trying out "bundled" payment for providers; Russ Feingold is pressuring the supercommittee from the left; the scientific consensus behind climate change is getting stronger; and a 500 people use 1500 photos to make an animation.

Economy

The European Central Bank is doing a lot, but it might not be enough, reports Howard Schneider: "The European Central Bank’s emergency efforts to address the continent’s debt crisis represent a highly un­or­tho­dox leap into politics and an exceptional foray into the financial markets. But while these steps in recent weeks have helped keep the continent’s crisis at bay, in particular by keeping borrowing costs for several large countries under control, the central bank has not been able to put the European economy on a sounder footing, according to analysts and government officials. The cost of doing that -- in terms of both money and political compromise -- could put even more stress on Europe’s struggling experiment with a common currency...The issue is whether additional help for Italy and Spain, two of the continent’s largest economies, can be arranged without triggering another round of turbulence in global markets."

It's unclear whether voting against a payroll tax cut would violate Grover Norquist's pledge, reports Greg Sargent: "For the last day or so, a few of us have been trying to get Grover Norquist’s group to say whether GOP opposition to extending the payroll tax cut -- which Obama wants -- constitutes a 'tax increase' and a violation of Norquist’s infamous anti-tax pledge. Norquist’s spokesman is now clarifying that the group isn’t yet willing to say. Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes has been signed by virtually every Republican in Congress, and Norquist has clearly stated that the failure to extend the Bush tax cuts would constitute a 'tax increase.'....John Kartch, a spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform, tells me that 'one would have to see the final legislation' before making the call one way or the other, in order to determine 'what is the net effect on total taxes.'"

We should call this a household-debt crisis, writes Ezra Klein: "If you take the Rogoff/Reinhart thesis seriously -- and people should, and increasingly are -- what distinguishes crises like this one from typical recessions is household debt. When the financial markets collapsed, household debt was nearly 100 percent of GDP. It’s now down to 90 percent. In 1982, which was the last time we had a big recession, the household-debt-to-GDP ratio was about 45 percent. That means that in this crisis, indebted households can’t spend, which means businesses can’t spend, which means that unless government steps into the breach in a massive way or until households work through their debt burden, we can’t recover. In the 1982 recession, households could spend, and so when the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates and made spending attractive, we accelerated out of the recession."

There is no reason to believe food stamps are stimulative, writes Robert Barro: "There is zero evidence that deficit-financed transfers raise GDP and employment--not to mention evidence for a multiplier of two. Gathering evidence is challenging. In the data, transfers are higher than normal during recessions but mainly because of the automatic increases in welfare programs, such as food stamps and unemployment benefits. To figure out the economic effects of transfers one needs 'experiments'...but these events are rare...The administration found the evidence it wanted--multipliers around two--by consulting some large-scale macro-econometric models, which substitute assumptions for identification. These models were undoubtedly the source of Mr. Vilsack's claim that a dollar more of food stamps led to an extra $1.84 of GDP. This multiplier is nonsense, but one has to admire the precision in the number."

Best-of interlude: The greatest moments of Community's Troy Barnes.

Health Care

Medicare is launching a new "bundled" payment system, reports Sam Baker: "Hospitals are interested in the new payment structure that Medicare announced Tuesday, but say they still need to look more closely at the program’s financial incentives. The federal Medicare agency on Tuesday announced a new program that will 'bundle' Medicare payments to various doctors and other healthcare providers. The idea is to refocus payments so providers are paid for each 'episode of care' -- for example, the whole battery of tests and treatments performed on one patient who is admitted to a hospital. Currently, every doctor bills Medicare separately. Federal officials hope more integrated payments will lead to more integrated care. 'Today, Medicare pays for care the wrong way,' Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said."

Insurers want to repeal the excise tax portion of health reform, reports Sarah Kliff: "The insurance industry, alongside a small business group, launched today a new campaign to repeal one of its least favorite parts of health reform: a new, annual fee assessed on insurance companies. The fee starts at $8 billion in 2014 and then rises up annually to hit $14.3 billion in 2018. America’s Health Insurance Plans, which lobbies for the insurance industry, says the provision will become a 'premium tax' that gets handed down to consumers. 'When you tax health insurance, you make health insurance more expensive,' AHIP Vice President Michael Tuffin, who oversees the group’s advocacy efforts, told me in an interview this morning. 'This provision flies in the face of the goal of health reform: making health care more affordable.' You can expect to hear this point repeated a lot soon. Today, AHIP and the National Federation of Independent Businesses launched a new Web site, 'Say No to Higher Health Care Costs.'"

Michele Bachmann is working on a health care plan, reports Philip Klein: "Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who up until this point in her presidential candidacy has focused her health care message on repealing President Obama's national health care law, plans to release a plan of her own shortly. 'We plan to unveil a formal health care plan in the coming weeks,' Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart wrote in an email. During the Fox News/Washington Examiner debate, Bachmann said she was 'at the tip of the spear fighting against the implementation of ObamaCare in the United States Congress.' Releasing her own plan is an opportunity to lay out how she would 'replace' the health care law if it's successfully repealed."

Health reform may already be slowing Medicare cost growth, writes Peter Orszag: "We don’t yet have enough data to tell for sure what’s causing the recent deceleration in Medicare spending -- or whether it will last. But some evidence suggests it may be a shift toward value in the health-care sector. Various hospital executives have told me they have already begun to prepare for less generous reimbursement from Medicare as the new federal health-care-reform law takes effect and there is a greater focus on value. They are therefore trying to become more efficient now...The health-care law includes a variety of provisions meant to shift Medicare’s payment system toward a focus on quality. Yet many of these aspects of the law are under attack in Congress...The best way for health-care providers to keep [IPAB] from making any changes to Medicare is to ensure that the growth in spending stays low."

Domestic Policy

Russ Feingold is pushing Democrats to walk away from an unbalanced supercommittee deal, reports Brian Beutler: "Former Sen. Russ Feingold and his new group Progressives United are petitioning the six House and Senate Democrats serving on the joint deficit Super Committee to walk away if Republicans don't budge on tax increases, and insist on cutting entitlement benefits...He lists the bright lines: 1. Ensure millionaires, billionaires, and big corporations pay their fair share of debt reduction, 2. No cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits, 3. No giveaways to corporate interests, 4. Or no deal. His concern -- which progressives widely share -- is that Republicans will refuse to raise a penny of revenue, particularly from wealthy Americans, and leave the Committee's Democrats to pick between significant entitlement cuts or the trigger penalty, which would fall most heavily on Medicare providers and national defense."

We need national service programs to fight for better nutrition, writes Mark Bittman: "FoodCorps, which started last week, is symbolic of just what we need: a national service program that aims to improve nutrition education for children, develop school gardening projects and change what’s being served on school lunch trays. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, because it’s such an up: 50 new foot soldiers in the war against ignorance in food. The service members, most of them in their 20s, just went to work at 41 sites in 10 states, from Maine to Oregon and Michigan to Mississippi...I’d be even more elated if there were 50 FoodCorps members in each state. Or 5,000 in each, which approaches the number we’re going to need to educate our kids so they can look forward to a lifetime of good health and good eating. But FoodCorps is a model we can use to build upon."

Stop motion interlude: 500 people hold up 1500 pictures to create an animation.

Energy

The scientific consensus on global warming is getting stronger, writes Brad Plumer: "In many ways, the field of climate science is moving in precisely the opposite direction that [Rick Perry's] suggesting. Recall that back in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change put out a report synthesizing the scientific work on global warming. While the report sounded quite certain on a number of topics--noting, for one, that it was 'very likely' that most of the observed temperature increases since mid-century were due to man-made greenhouse gases--there were still plenty of vague spots in the report, especially with regards to sea-level rise. Yet rather than poke further holes, much of the climate science that’s been published since 2007 appears to have strengthened the consensus, not weakened it. Another synthesis report published last May by Britain’s Met Office, looking at more than 100 peer-reviewed post-IPCC studies, found that the case for human influence has been bolstered."

The BP spill fund has paid out $5 billion, report Ben Lefebvre and Tennille Tracy: "A fund established to compensate victims of the 2010 BP PLC oil spill has paid out $5 billion to individual claimants and businesses in its first year of existence, but its task is far from over, fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg said Tuesday. Since it was created last August, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility has processed 97% of the 949,892 claims that have poured in from every U.S. state and 36 foreign countries, all citing damages related to the oil spill. Accused by some local governments and claimants of inefficiency and parsimony while criticized by BP, which bankrolls the facility, of being too generous, Mr. Feinberg said the fund is striking the right balance. 'Overall, we've largely succeeded in getting money out to eligible claimants,' said Mr. Feinberg, a Washington, D.C., attorney who also organized payouts to the families of Sept. 11 victims."

Closing credits: Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Dylan Matthews and Jessica Sabbah.

 
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