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Black writes: "Mitt Romney has periodic breakdowns when asked questions about the economy because he sometimes forgets the need to lie."

Mitt Romney. (photo: Getty Images)
Mitt Romney. (photo: Getty Images)

Romney Messes Up, Tells the Truth About Austerity

By William K. Black, Reader Supported News

25 May 12


itt Romney has periodic breakdowns when asked questions about the economy because he sometimes forgets the need to lie. He forgets that he is supposed to treat austerity as the epitome of economic wisdom. When he responds quickly to questions about austerity he slips into default mode and speaks the truth -- adopting austerity during the recovery from a Great Recession would (as in Europe) throw the nation back into recession or depression. The latest example is his May 23, 2012 interview with Mark Halperin in Time magazine.

Halperin: Why not in the first year, if you're elected -- why not in 2013, go all the way and propose the kind of budget with spending restraints, that you'd like to see after four years in office? Why not do it more quickly?

Romney: Well because, if you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%. That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I'm not going to do that, of course.


Romney explains that austerity, during the recovery from a Great Recession, would cause catastrophic damage to our nation. The problem, of course, is that the Republican congressional leadership is committed to imposing austerity on the nation and Speaker Boehner has just threatened that Republicans will block the renewal of the debt ceiling in order to extort Democrats to agree to austerity -- severe cuts to social programs. Romney knows this could "throw us into recession or depression" and says he would never follow such a policy.

Romney, however, has not opposed Boehner's threat to use extortion to force austerity on the nation. Romney has the nomination sown up, but I predict that he will stand by and let Boehner try to throw us into a Great Depression rather than upset the Tea Party-wing of the Republican Party. Indeed, Romney will attack Democrats who have the political courage to defend our nation against his Party's demands for austerity that would throw us into recession or depression.

What does one call a politician who, solely to advance his personal political ambition, supports his Party's efforts to coerce austerity even though he knows that the austerity would cause a national economic catastrophe and states that he, "of course," would never adopt such self-destructive austerity if he were president? Romney is failing the tests of courage, integrity, and loyalty to our nation and people.

Later in the interview, Romney claims that federal budgetary deficits are "immoral." But he has just explained that using austerity for the purported purpose of ending a deficit would cause a recession or depression. A recession or depression would make the deficit far larger. That means that Romney should be denouncing austerity as "immoral" (as well as suicidal) because it will not simply increase the deficit (which he claims to find "immoral" because of its impact on children) but also dramatically increase unemployment, poverty, child poverty and hunger, and harm their education by causing more teachers to lose their jobs and more school programs to be cut. Fewer children will be able to get college degrees. Austerity is the great enemy of children -- it is the epitome of a self-destructive, immoral economic policy.

Listen for the sounds of silence from Romney in coming months. I predict that he will not act to protect our children or our economy from the suicidal and "immoral" austerity his Republican allies are trying to coerce the Democrats to inflict on our economy and our children.

This post originally appeared at New Economic Perspectives. your social media marketing partner


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+79 # Michael_K 2012-05-25 15:48
Rethuglicans are only committed to austerity while the Obamanable One is in office. They'll change their tune as soon as they take over, and open up the cash spigots for bribes as per the past.
+4 # economicminor 2012-05-25 17:53
You are probably correct on this but Romney does have the Tea Party to contend with. Plus the Senate rules where one Senator can block any legislation.

Austerity will cause a decisive decline much more than the 5% predicted which will tank the stock market and cause bond yields to soar. Which will just put the downward spiral action in motion.

Raising taxes will do the same. Borrowing more money into existence the same thru a different route.

All roads lead to the same deflationary depression except one and that is not politically acceptable to those who control the reigns of power in this country.
+25 # John Locke 2012-05-26 08:40
It depends on who the tax increases are aimed at, if we tax the 10% at the top it can actually help both the economy and the GDP depending on how the money is then used
+7 # jwb110 2012-05-26 12:09
Quoting John Locke:
It depends on who the tax increases are aimed at, if we tax the 10% at the top it can actually help both the economy and the GDP depending on how the money is then used

Why not cut the taxes on the 99% by 10% and let the 1% stop whining about their money being taken away. Now that would make a difference.
+3 # phantomww 2012-05-26 16:48
I would agree with cutting the taxes on the 99% but how do you cut the taxes on the almost 50% of the 99% that pay zero federal income taxes? If a person is paying zero it is hard to give them a cut.
+39 # railroadmike 2012-05-25 22:02
One look at history should prove Mitt Romney hasnt a clue to fix the economy. Herbert Hoover used Austerity,huge government cuts in spending, allowing people to go hungry, refused programs for unemployment insurance. That led to the Great Deppression.
-10 # John Locke 2012-05-26 08:46
Romney lost out the last time he made a bid for this office because he never could stay with the same point, he kept changing his position, he is probably the worst candidate the republicans could muster...and he is running against the worst candidate the democrats could muster...neithe r candidate can pass the 50% point...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows Mitt Romney earning 45% of the vote and President Obama attracting 44% support. Five percent (5%) would vote for a third party candidate, while another six percent (6%) are undecided.
+63 # James38 2012-05-26 10:20
John, your statement that Obama "is the worst candidate the Democrats could muster" is absurd. Obama is fighting against Republican obstructionism, which is part of their stated policy to unseat him and make him a one-term President.

He is also fighting against an economy that was wrecked by the War of Lies in Iraq, the major result of the Presidency of GW Bush, and the equally destructive Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Those two crushing blows on the economy are being held in place by the Republicans, who are using every trick in the book to convince their supporters that somehow the manifestly failing idea of trickle down economics will somehow produce jobs, even if it never has and never will.

Obama is struggling with an election finance dinosaur augmented by the insane "Citizens United" Supreme Treason. That unjustifiable attack on democracy will go down in history as the most infamous and egregious error ever committed by Justices who are supposed to be the final line of defense of the constitution. They instead have done their very best to nullify the entire meaning of the Constitution as a document intended to promote equality and democracy.

Obama is a decent person who needs to be supported. We not only need to re-elect him, we desperately need to give him a Congress he can work with. Arrayed against that is the money of the 1%.

We must support the Democrats, and insist on election finance reform.
+28 # independentmind 2012-05-26 12:22
I agree Obama is level headed and thoughtful. That is a wonderful trait in these times. Let's not forget, Clinton went through the same thing with the Republicans. Electing Obama for a second term is the only way he will be free to act the way he wants to and needs to. He will not need to think about running for re-election and be free to get things done.
+17 # Lolanne 2012-05-26 13:10
Quoting James38:
John, your statement that Obama "is the worst candidate the Democrats could muster" is absurd. ...
We must support the Democrats, and insist on election finance reform.

James38, I don't know who you are but I love you! You have stated in this and your subsequent posts exactly what I think and feel is true, and much more eloquently, reasonably, and clearly than anybody I've read here or anywhere else.
If you are a blogger, have written a book yourself, or write a column somewhere, I hope you will tell us so we can read more. It is so good to hear FACTS, simple truth, stated clearly and unequivocally.
+25 # Adagio 2012-05-26 13:27
Well stated James. It seems that people have selective amnesia. I'm stunned that this president has managed to get anything done with a congress commited to destroying him starting on inauguration day. Consider how much more could have been done without the filibuster rules calling for 60 votes. These people will block every attempt to get anything done, and still the president seems to prevail. I haven't seen a president like this in my lifetime and I'm 64. I'm very impressed.
+10 # X Dane 2012-05-27 01:12
James 38. I couldn't agree more with all your comments here. Responding to other RSN articles I have mentioned what you do, in regard to Obama, climate change and congress, and how THEY really have not worked these years of Obama's presidency. They have only opposed anything he was for even if some originally were THEIR ideas.

After they asserted that they would create jobs. fooling a lot of people into voting for them in 2010. Mitch Mc Connel stood in the senate and basically told the world, that their goal was to make Obama a one term president.

The audacity is astounding, but they have certainly stuck to their plan. The country be damned. There is absolutely nothing they will not do in order to destroy Obama. They are disgusting.

James you mentioned how a number of politicians reject Climate change. That is not all.... many do not believe in Evolution?? 3 or more of the republicans Running for the Presidency in 08 said, that they did not believe in evolution???

A huge problem we have, is that at the present, we do not have any statesmen, only politicians. running for office constantly. Obama MAY be an exception, I hope so.

He seems to have more depth and understanding. I hope I am correct about him, and that he will, after winning a second term, get other nations together to start serious work on climate change solutions.

To be continued.
+9 # X Dane 2012-05-27 01:19
If the republicans get into power again, we are done for, since they do not govern when they are in office. They only destroy. We MUST elect serious democrats to the house and keep the senate.....OR have nothing but gridlock!!
+5 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-05-26 16:53
Dear John,
if you think the worst candidate the democrats could muster is Obama, try me.

More seriously, Obama is not pristine but he still is one of the most astute people to have lived where he lives.
To me this experience mostly demonstrates how the office can constrain and change the office holder.
+5 # James38 2012-05-27 10:16
You don't qualify, Granny. Too intelligent.

John would have to apply the standards the Republicans used to select this year's slate of ridiculous candidates. For a major party to run that gaggle of boobs, so incredibly bad that Romney was the obvious only "good" (read "least bad") choice is a stunning demonstration of the need for major improvement in our education system.
+37 # spanky 2012-05-25 22:19
It's interesting how the Republicans hold on to the austerity mantra, knowing it will spark a depression, but they expect a different result. Isn't that one of the definitions of insanity?
+16 # James38 2012-05-26 10:29
It certainly would be IF you actually think they expect a different result. I am afraid the cynicism of the 1% goes beyond that. They want their wealth, and they don't care about anything else. Their insanity lies in failing to pay attention to the real problem, the long term results of Global Warming. To deal with that problem we all need to unite, and that would include the 1% and the Republicans, who will be hammered by climate change along with the rest of the world.
+16 # James38 2012-05-26 04:09
A prosperous society generates excess wealth. That wealth can be distributed and channeled into creative improvements, or it can be constrained into the control of a few, the wealthy, the rulers.

When that happens, monuments get built - think absurdly huge homes, yachts, multiple dwellings - the modern version of pyramids and palaces - and useless wars get fought.

The condition of resources and the ecology are often ignored, and the civilization goes into a decline, usually fatal. Read "Collapse" by Jared Diamond.

Unless the US and other countries unite to confront and eliminate Global Warming, using our wealth to convert the world to renewable and non-polluting energy sources and curbing population growth by improving the lot and education of the people globally, the entire planet will enter a long-term decline.

If this trend accelerates, there will not be a second chance, because we are altering the climate toward a point where overheating can spiral completely out of control - the Venus Syndrome.

You can see a perfect example of the first stage of decline by looking at Easter Island. A once rich ecology with forests and a large civilization became a treeless wasteland populated by a few survivors and lots of huge monuments.

Is Romney talking about any of this essential reality? Is he presenting any programs to deal with it?

+21 # James38 2012-05-26 04:11
We are squandering billions of dollars on the futile drug war, and politicians are squabbling about how to limit women's rights.

We have religious fanatics who want to turn the country into a religious dictatorship by applying the same sort of totalitarian rules that the Taliban use, and the Taliban is supposed to be the enemy we are fighting in one of our wars.

So we have a religious war going on – the US “Christian” Taliban against the fundamentalist Islamic Taliban, and many of our soldiers are so confused by it all that basic human values are forgotten, the people of Afghanistan are treated like trash, and thousands of US troops are committing suicide.

In the middle of all this we have contractors (both in Iraq and Afghanistan) using every trick, lie, and chicanery to make obscene profits doing little or nothing that makes sense, constructing buildings that are useless and seldom even finishing a project.

Romney manages to ignore all of this and is trying to buy the presidency he has no remote clue what to do with – so we can expect him to continue with his general life trajectory – making money for himself and his rich friends while dumping the rest of the country in the trash.

+15 # James38 2012-05-26 04:13
And since he has a monomaniacal urge to “succeed” at any cost, Romney will tell any lie, change any position, in order to win. (This makes him GW Bush II.) He talks about morality, but he has none. He is a moral chameleon.

Everything is malleable in the process of winning. That is the morality of the hyper-rich. Get “it” while you can, (and stash it in the Cayman Islands so nobody, especially the government, can get at “it”.)

Given the absolute urgency of facing up to the threat of Global Warming, it is very hard to imagine a worse waste of our time and money than this presidential campaign.

We have half of our country so poorly educated and poorly informed that major numbers of our politicians, mostly on the right, are still denying the reality of Climate Science – and Climate Science at present is more highly developed than ever before.

The proof of the danger of Global Warming is so overwhelming it can be ignored only through blatant ignorance and a total focus on the wrong values – quick profits now, which is driving the Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas (Fracking) and Tar Sand Oil (totally insane) businesses which are driving the whole planet into ruin.

+16 # James38 2012-05-26 04:15
Fortunately there is already one excellent book that will cure the confusion of anyone willing to actually read it - “Storms of My Grandchildren” by Dr James E Hansen, eminent climate scientist with NASA. He is an honest person and a brilliant scientist who really cares about reality and our planet.

Hansen first warned about the dangers of Global Warming in a talk to Congress in the late 1980’s. Read the book.

That is the direction we must move toward if we want to save not only our own country, but the world.
+25 # Doll 2012-05-26 07:46
It wasn't that long ago that the Republicans controlled the Whitehouse and congress. Do you remember what they said when W increased the national debt by 5 Trillion?

"Deficits don't matter".

During the Reagan/Bush years, the deficit went from being in the Billions to 5 Trillion. During the Clinton years, there was no increase in the deficit but a budget surplus. Clinton wanted to pay down the debt but the Republican congress said No, lets give tax breaks to the wealthy.

There would have been no increase to the deficit under Obama if he didn't have two unfunded wars and all those tax breaks for the wealthy to contend with.
-20 # 2012-05-26 09:28
No one doubts that a reduction in government spending reduces GDP -- after all, government spending is a major component of GDP so this statement is true by definition.

But there is a difference between "austerity" as presented by Krugman and others and the "austerity" of most fiscal hawks.

None of the "austerity" plagued European nations, except Greece which had no choice, have actually cut federal spending; at best, they have slowed the rate of government growth. But their federal budgets continue to rise and taxes continue to rise.

What the fiscal hawks seek are reductions in federal spending AND reductions in taxes with, hopefully, some extra money left over to help pay down the debt.

For sound fiscal policy, we should probably be looking to Estonia or Sweden who have both cut back social spending, decreased taxes, and benefitted from overall GDP growth.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+16 # James38 2012-05-26 09:54
Lee, you are leaving out a vital part of your argument. You say "For sound fiscal policy, we should probably be looking to Estonia or Sweden who have both cut back social spending, decreased taxes, and benefitted from overall GDP growth."

In order to make a point you need to be very specific about what sort of "social spending" was cut, and by how much. You also need to explain their overall present tax rate, and the degree to which the rich sequester a higher percentage of the wealth of the society. You also need to explain the status of their single-payer health care programs, since if those are kept in place, in spite of the cuts you mention, your statement is utterly hollow and does not apply to the USA at all.

Without all of that information, your statement is meaningless, and has the sound, if not the substance, of propaganda.

The contention surrounding the activities of the 1% in the US stems from the vast, unconscionable, disparity between the income of the wealthy and the income of the majority. A society generates only so much wealth, and when the "rulers" (the financial elite) siphon off too much of the available wealth, the populace suffers.

+6 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-05-26 17:03
I don't know for you guys, but as far as I am concerned when I don't have much time I skim the comments to see which ones get negative reviews and read these first.

The idea is one does not learn much from someone with whom he agrees.
Because I know the commentariat of RSN tends to agree with me, I seize the opportunity to see if I can learn something new from people I have chances to disagree with.
Guess what?

"Austerity" plagued European countries have not cut federal spending?
The only European country I kow well that does have a federal level is Belgium, where I lived for 5 years and guess what? They do cut federal spending.
Add to that their woes to make a working coalition and establish a governement, much due tot he intransigeance of the secessasionist Flanders and you get an idea why Belgium is ground zero of politicking.

Comparing Estonia and Sweden - no comment.
Do you have any idea what the top tax bracket is still in Sweden?
Yet it ranks near the top of the happy countries in the world.

So, thanks for the good laugh.
+18 # James38 2012-05-26 09:58
In the USA the populace is being driven into penury, homelessness abounds, foreclosures are hammering far too many people, and health care is a joke for huge numbers of people. This is unjust and unsustainable, and will eventually lead to major problems for the rich - unfortunately not until long after the suffering of the poor and the former middle class reaches epic proportions.

These issues are too interconnected for a short statement like yours to be meaningful. Oversimplificat ion such as yours inevitably leads to confusion and contributes to misunderstandin g and wrong decisions. In other words, oversimplificat ion is an essential part of propaganda.
+16 # James38 2012-05-26 17:10
I would like to add that cutting education budgets is the worst hatchet job the right wing is perpetrating on society as part of their "essential austerity".

Nothing could be more insane. Good education is one of the basic treasures and essentials of any society that wishes to survive and prosper. It is on the same level as food and shelter, and is actually more basic in the long term, since future food, shelter and prosperity depends entirely on continuing improvements in education.

Quoting from a previous post, "We have half of our country so poorly educated and poorly informed that major numbers of our politicians, mostly on the right, are still denying the reality of Climate Science – and Climate Science at present is more highly developed than ever before."

It doesn't take a very high level of cynicism or skepticism to think there is an agenda behind cuts to education. The Far Right 1%, in its drive to maintain ridiculous wealth, probably knows full well that educated people will not fall for the nonsense of austerity - which includes somehow getting people to reject single-payer health care (as gasp-socialism) and support private insurance scams that leave them out in the cold when they are sick. Getting some of the middle class and poor to stay in the Republican camp in the face of that and other programs that harm them directly is the real hat trick of the Teabaggers. Amazing self-deception.
+21 # Vardoz 2012-05-26 11:22
We are voting for Obama.We are Obama Mama's. The GOP changed the rules, fillibustered more than in any time in history, they changed a majority vote from 50 to 60 in the senate and blocked everything using things like the Secret Hold. But most of all to think that a 1st term president can change the game from top to bottom in one term is totally naive. There is no way we will vote for those who don't give a damn, who vote against the violence against women act and block everything, and hate all races, are against women's health and has the worst environmental record in history! They took an oath to get rid of Obama at any cost to us and the nation!!!. I hope people open their eyes cause Mitt is nothing like not like Obama. We think with all the damage that was done by Bush and Chaney and their coorupt Supreme Court and our apathy that gave the Tea Party a big window of opportunity because they didn't think the Dems did enough that Obama too should go? People are not taking into account the huge powers that are against him succeeding. If Obama doesn't win we will go down a big black hole. We have to get rid of the GOP too. The party of as Boehner said "of jobs so be it." Let the people starve party. They have tried to stick to their word butjobs are being created anyway.
+16 # tabonsell 2012-05-26 13:33
Doll is correct that in the Clinton administration there was a budge surplus. Adding the four years of deficit inherited from Reaganomics and four years of surpluses every Republican in Congress voted against, we were left with a eight-year surplus of about $60 billion.

But while we had a surplus, the federal debt increased well over a trillion dollars. For that, thank the Reagan Fraud.

In 1983 Reagan, a GOP Senate and conservative House increased the payroll tax by billions annually. That began a string of payroll (Social Security) surpluses. In order to mask the severity of Reagan's deficits, he got Congress to pass the Deficit Reduction Act in 1984.

That act required all the Social Security excess to be transferred into the cash till of the Treasury and the Treasury to write IOUs to Social Security.

If there was no deficit or surplus in the cash account but a $150 billion surplus in Social Security tax receipts, that $150 billion surplus was transferred into Treasury's cash account to show a $150 billion over-all budget surplus. At the same time Treasury wrote a $150 billion in IOUs to Social Security.

The result would be a $150 billion surplus but a $150 billion increase to the debt, and Americans still haven't figured out that they have been duped.
+10 # James38 2012-05-26 18:07
If you want a stunning demonstration of how clueless and uncaring Romney really is, go to the RSN article "How Many Anti-Pot Politicians Will be Ousted Before They Realize the Will of the Majority?"

It is on the present home-page, and is quite astonishing. Romney states that he has no idea what industrial hemp is, and he obviously doesn't give a damn.

"At a recent campaign stop in Colorado, a CBS news reporter questioned Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney on a number of issues relevant to Centennial State voters. Among them was marijuana. Romney, appearing visibly agitated, did not take kindly to the inquiry.

“Aren't there issues of significance that you'd like to talk about?” Romney barked, before veering off into prototypical Reefer Madness territory: “I think marijuana should not be legal in this country. I believe it is a gateway drug to other drug violations. The use of illegal drugs in this country is leading to terrible consequences in places like Mexico -- and actually in our country."

Wrongmney is right about terrible consequences, but the cause is the Drug War itself. It is a totally destructive waste of money, as was prohibition of alcohol.

This is not a person we want anywhere near the White House. He is a one-trick pony. He knows how to screw businesses out of large chunks of cash. He apparently thinks he already knows everything he needs to know. He frankly gives me the creeps.
+7 # carolsj 2012-05-26 21:33
I am very encouraged by many of these posts. I hope enough people feel this way to defeat the GOP. Hopefully the Mayan calendar promise of the truth being revealed will kick in before the election. Vote Democratic!
+5 # Trueblue Democrat 2012-05-27 07:17
For a better appreciation of Dr William Black's grasp of the economic crisis that confronts us, see the June Playboy article "Outlaw Economists."

Recall that Black was instrumental in bringing to justice Charles Keating of Lincoln Savings ill fame. Black, along with James K Galbraith, is one of the few economists who will use the word "fraud" when describing what has been going on in our financial centers. The majority of "economists" today are hopelessly committed to the Panglossian idiocy that this is the best of all possible worlds, especially blessed by our "self-regulatin g market system."

But then, why shouldn't they be? Most of them occupy chairs funded by self-regulating scoundrels like Goldman-Sachs.
+3 # the walrus 2012-05-28 06:09
To paraphrase Gloria Steinem......Am erica needs Mitt Romney like a fish needs a bicycle.

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