Mitt in Minnesota: ‘Big business doing fine’

Say what you will, Mitt Romney knows how to goose the news cycle. Julie Pace of the AP writes: “Creating a potential headache for his campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said big businesses in the U.S. were ‘doing fine’ in part because they get advantages from offshore tax havens. His comments echoed similar assertions about the state of big business by President Barack Obama which Romney has criticized. They’re also a reminder that the GOP candidate has kept some of his personal fortune in low tax foreign accounts. ‘Big business is doing fine in many places,’ Romney said during a campaign fundraiser Thursday [in Minnesota]. ‘They get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses.’

At the lefty site Think Progress, Travis Waldron writes: “Romney’s comments aren’t incorrect — if anything, they are understated. America’s corporations are raking in record profits and their chief executives are making more money than ever (American workers, unfortunately, haven’t shared in the prosperity). But if Romney knows that big businesses are doing fine, it’s worth wondering why he feels the need to shower them with massive tax cuts and make it easier for them to utilize the offshore tax havens he mentioned. … And while Romney insists that “we’ve got to make it easier for small businesses,” he ignores the fact that the very offshore tax havens he says are helping big businesses — the same ones he has used and would make it easier for them to use too — are hurting the smaller companies. America loses more than $60 billion to corporate tax dodging each year, and in 2010, making up that revenue cost the average small business $2,116, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.” Well, the solution there is pretty simple, small businesses just need to get bigger.

Jennifer Brooks’ story for the Strib concentrates on Romney’s fight for “the soul of America” comments. She writes: ” ‘This is a campaign about the soul of America,’ Romney told hundreds of supporters in the ballroom of the Lafayette Club in Minnetonka Beach.’ ‘I want to keep this country the shining city on a hill, the strong and vibrant nation that has inspired the nation and people all over the globe.’ … In his speech, Romney repeated a claim he made earlier in the day while campaigning in New Mexico — that he could make the U.S. energy-independent by expanding oil drilling and the use of domestic coal, gas and nuclear resources. Besides expanded drilling, which Romney pledged would lower energy costs and bring manufacturing jobs back from overseas, he promised to balance the budget. He said he wanted to get ‘education right, and that means putting teachers and kids and parents first, and the teachers union behind.’ He also pledged to block tax increases.”

As you might expect, Power Line’s John Hinderaker was in attendance for the Lafayette Club appearance by Mr. Romney, and to say he was enthusiastic about what he saw would be like saying a 12-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert is merely “having a good time.” Says Hinderaker: “It was great fun. The event was a big success, raising a considerable amount for Romney’s campaign. And how was Romney? Sensational. … how did Mitt do? The answer is, he was great. He spoke for 20 minutes or so, no notes, no teleprompter, totally comfortable with his material. He tossed in facts and figures here and there, but his themes were generally broader: the power of the individual, the Constitution, entrepreneurship and rewarding success, the importance of American power, and so on. His themes were deeply conservative, yet unifying. … He did, really, a beautiful job of weaving together the various strands of conservative thought. … As I listened to Romney, I asked myself: what better spokesman for conservative ideas have we had in recent years? … You can go back to Reagan, of course. Reagan’s style was more cerebral, less passionate. He was a great articulator of conservatism, but no better, in my opinion, than Romney.” I had to re-read that part. “Reagan” and “cerebral” … in the same sentence.

The GleanThe latest from the AP on who the DFL is looking at to replace Rep. Kerry Gauthier: “Two write-in candidates — Democrat Erik Simonson, a Duluth fire official, and City Councilor Jay Fosle, who said he has been told he wouldn’t have the party’s support — have come forward, and others are considering campaigns. Local elected and party officials were moving forward on the assumption that the Democrats’ chosen replacement candidate for Gauthier would have to run a write-in campaign, with Gauthier and Republican Travis Silvers remaining on the ballot. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie’s spokesman, John Kavanagh, said there is no way for a legislative candidate to withdraw after the primary, which was held Aug. 14. But Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin said the party is looking into legal options for replacing Gauthier on the ballot. It’s unclear whether that would succeed in court.”

Maya Rao at the Strib says Hennepin County is suing Fannie and Freddie: “Hennepin County has filed a federal lawsuit against Fannie and Freddie Mac, saying the mortgage lenders shortchanged Minnesota counties millions of dollars by failing to pay the state’s deed transfer tax. The suit seeks more than $10 million. The lenders acquired an unusually large number of properties through foreclosure in recent years and later resold them, the county said. But Fannie and Freddie Mac argued that they did not have to pay the fees to transfer ownership of the homes because Minnesota law exempts the U.S. or any of its agencies from paying those taxes, and the federal charter for the corporations says they are exempt from state and county taxation. Hennepin County is following the lead of Oakland County, Michigan, which filed a similar lawsuit and won. In March, a U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the federal law exempting those lenders from ‘all taxation’ does not refer to real estate transfer taxes.”

Apologies for not including this yesterday. A Bloomberg team reports: “Supervalu Inc.’s advisers are asking potential buyers to bid for the entire business, even as several suitors have inquired about individual parts of the Eden Prairie-based grocery company, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Cerberus Capital Management is examining a possible deal involving the Albertsons unit, said another person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. … One possible outcome is that a private-equity buyer will acquire the entire company, keep some of the chains and sell other pieces, one of the people said. There are interested bidders who would be willing to do the breakup work, this person said. Such bids would take longer to put together because the company would have to find interested parties for pieces of the retailer before approaching the company about a bid while respecting Supervalu’s confidentiality requirements.”

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will get microphone time at the Democratic convention. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “Rybak will be the second sitting Minneapolis mayor to speak at the event since Hubert Humphrey delivered a historic civil rights address in 1948. Rybak’s predecessor, Sharon Sayles Belton, delivered the party’s platform at the 2000 convention in Los Angeles. … In 2004, Barack Obama’s convention speech was a launching pad for his political career. So does Rybak have similar plans? ‘This would be a great thing for a politician who wanted to go somewhere, but I happen to be one who loves what he does,’ Rybak said.” But, you know, if something should come up …

Another Bloomberg story, comparing WalMart prices to our guys, Target, shows the locals winning: “Target Corp. … is living up to the second half of its “Expect more. Pay less.” slogan by winning the latest round in its pricing battle with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. … Target this month had lower prices than Wal-Mart for the first time since October, according to research conducted by Bloomberg Industries. The Minneapolis-based chain also led by its widest margin since the monthly study began two years ago. The study examined the gap in average price across a basket of 150 like items at stores within five miles of each other. … The second-largest U.S. discounter won this month by cutting into Wal-Mart’s lead in food prices. … Target’s improvement in food may have come because of more promotions tied to back-to-school shopping, Bartashus said.”

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 08/24/2012 - 02:16 pm.

    Thanks, Brian…

    … I did a double-take over “Reagan” and “cerebral” in the same sentence, too.

  2. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/24/2012 - 02:19 pm.

    Big business versus “the private sector”

    Romney was referring to big business of the type that looks to the federal government for bailouts and has a warm, cozy relationship with the Obama administration, like Wall Street banks and auto manufacturers.

    Obama’s quote was “the private sector’s doing just fine” which includes small business as well, and they’re generally NOT doing just fine.

    • Submitted by Clayton Haapala on 08/24/2012 - 10:07 pm.

      Small Business

      Dennis, with your latter statement, you are agreeing with Obama, who said exactly that. Private sector hiring, and big business profits have been up for months (certainly the big business profits). Obama then said that small business owners have not participated as much in the recovery. It’s a spectrum thing.

      Your former statement looks like lint out of the spin cycle, sorry.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/24/2012 - 02:45 pm.

    The Number One Problem with Mr. Romney

    is that, he accidentally tells the truth (as he sees it) every once in awhile, then leaves his handlers to cover his backside by explaining that he didn’t really mean what he said.

    As far as he (and his sycophants) are concerned, when the top 1% (or .01%) have finally taken possession of all the available resources in the country (resources of every variety) and the rest of us are left in abject poverty,…

    The U.S. will be “doing fine.”

    Of course many of those sycophants expect to find themselves in at the very top of that fabulously wealthy/miserable poverty split and will only realize that those they worshiped never had any intention of sharing with them when they, too, find themselves with nothing and forced into the same social class with all those they used to love to blame for the plight they will then be sharing.

  4. Submitted by Nathaniel Finch on 08/24/2012 - 03:09 pm.

    shining city on a hill

    R’Money wants to “keep this country the shining city on a hill.” This comes from a speech by Puritan John Winthrop on his way to Massachusetts Bay Colony, where he participated in the practices of hanging Quakers and cutting off the ears of people who didn’t toe the Puritan line. Yeah, that’s the kind of America we want and R’Money’s just the guy to make it happen.

  5. Submitted by ALAN BELISLE on 08/24/2012 - 03:37 pm.

    Romney and tax havens

    One would assume that in a reasonable and logical world the President, the main executive that would lead the fight for tax reform, would not so publicly be a tax evader himself. But it’s not a reasonable and logical world. The foxes are tending the chicken coops. George Orwell only had the date wrong.

  6. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/24/2012 - 04:37 pm.

    I’m confused

    Given the ease with which Ronald Reagan made his leftist antagonists look like buffoonish cartoon characitures, to suggest he was less than intelligent really doesn’t say much for the intelligence of some of the left’s favorite sons.

    I understand leftists find the fact that he is recognized as one of the 20th centuries most successful Presidents untenable, but perhaps a bit of perspective is called for lest his leftist contemporaries be trounced more than is warranted.

    • Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/25/2012 - 01:46 pm.

      National Debt Percentage

      Just as conservatives have embraced Ronald Reagan, they reject his tax hikes. Actually they, nor their opponents mention them.

      National Debt Percentage Increase by President: http://www.presidentialdebt.org/

      189.6% increase under Reagan

      56.6% increase under Bush Sr.

      89% increase under Bush Jr.

      42.3% increase under Carter

      35.6% increase under Clinton

      41.4% increase under Obama (most of which was bailing the country out of the disaster he inherited).

      Wait a minute, let me check that definition of “Conservative” again?

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 08/25/2012 - 10:05 pm.

        Wow!

        Did you notice the debt vs. % of GDP percentage this present administration has achieved? And the debt as a % of per capita income? The trends continue to climb and I have no doubt that both will continue to climb once President Obama (and the present Congress) is re-elected. Perhaps after four more years of this we will see some change. At least now I realize what the term “Progressive” means.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/26/2012 - 11:58 am.

          baselines and recessions

          High debt/GDP and dept/per capita income ratios are artifacts of the fact that we’re in a recession that started in 2007. Fractions can be changed by changing either the numerator or the denominator. If the Republican House gets out of the way and lets us clean up the economy then the relative dept ratios will go back down without any change in the absolute size of the debt.

  7. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 08/24/2012 - 05:18 pm.

    Quite a pattern of agreement…

    I heard a very interesting commentary that the Romney – Ryan Medicare plan is actually quite similar to ObamaCare, except that Ryan’s plan for Medicare includes the more liberal, radical public option now known as Medicare. Essentially, it is a plan to utilize insurance exchanges so individuals can purchase their own insurance and provide subsidies for people to purchase a basic level of insurance. Aaron E. Carroll was the guest; quite interesting.

  8. Submitted by Mark Rittmann on 08/24/2012 - 11:20 pm.

    sigh…

    I see that Mr Swift and Mr Tester have already contributed their party line. for Mr Tester’s sake I would add that IBM, Monsanto, Apple, John Deer and many others comprise big business, and remind him the bail out began under Bush.

    For Mr Swift, Reagan was affable and connected with the American people, he was by no means “cerebral”. Cerebral and GOP might bring to mind Jack Kemp, or GHW Bush, who lacked Reagan’s ability to connect with the population. But Reagan was not “cerebral”. As for his place in the pantheon of Presidents…well the opinion seems to rest on the current political stance of the pundit. Iran-contra was not bright idea, and was an abuse of authority. I’ll give Reagan this, he raised taxes when it was needed.

    And finally for Nathaniel, we probably would agree on many issues, but the “city on a hill” originates from the Sermon on the Mount (as I am sure you are aware). Adding “Shining” as an adjective does not make it Winthrop’s. In it’s original context it was a call to include the outcasts, care for the poor, and seek justice. It has been co-opted by the GOP and some Democrats to mean American exceptional-ism, thus Romney’s use. The real issue is the banal appeal to the base using a religious metaphor that is twisted to exclude it’s original intent.

  9. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/25/2012 - 12:04 am.

    Once again, Mr. Swifts hagiography of Reagan fails in the face

    of facts.

    For example:

    His first two years in office were marred by a sharp downturn in the economy that hit recession figures by 1982 but things improved as the West got a grip on inflation. He was a proponent of tax cuts to spur economic growth and while some cited his ‘supply side’ tactics and a belief in giving power to states and individuals as creating prosperity in America, others saw him as taking from the have-nots, of ignoring, and some say exacerbating, the problems of poverty in the country.

    His second term was to regress into talk of Reagan forgetting names of key members of his government, spending hours watching old TV shows and getting confused. A 1987 question on tax increases illustrates how he sometimes veered from topic:

    “The problem is the deficit is – or should I say – wait a minute, the spending, I should say, of gross national product, forgive me – the spending is roughly 23 to 24 per cent,” he faltered. “So that it is in – it what is increasing while the revenues are staying proportionately the same and what would be the proper amount they should, that we should be taking from the private sector.”

    The bigger failing of his second term was 1987s Irangate. Largely brushed aside since, it was a scandal that threatened to see Reagan leave office in disgrace a la Richard Nixon. That was avoided but his getting caught illegally funding Contra rebels left his remaining time in office as a leader who appeared to have cheated to get his way. His power was diminished.

    link: http://bit.ly/Pi5LC3

    “he is recognized as one of the 20th centuries most successful Presidents”

    by you, Mr. Swift or can you give me some sort of link?

    I suggest that in the twentieth century, the following presidents rank higher than Reagan:

    FD Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton.

    So I guess it depends on where you want to make the cutoff.

  10. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/25/2012 - 09:16 am.

    Reagan Was “Successful” at One Thing Only

    Being a mouthpiece and shill for those who had decided the problem with America was that the rich weren’t rich enough yet. He began the process by which the middle class in America was divided and twisted around until they became enemies of each other,…

    to the sole purpose that the economy and government policy could be restructured in ways that have, since the days of Reagan, allowed those with the most to take more and more,…

    while those in the middle class, who were being increasingly impoverished, were blinded to who it was that was taking their lives away from them and diverted to blaming each other and the government.

    Of course, in the style or Reagan, many of our most dysfonic “conservative” friends STILL see “success” only in terms of finding ways to become fabulously wealthy and powerful, while doing nothing that could be considered actual work,…

    no matter whose hard earned resources you (wrongfully) take to win your wealth and power, no matter what the cost to society and the planet on which we live.

    Indeed, the “success” of such conservatives will, if left unchecked, eventually destroy our society, our nation, corrupt any form of religious “faith” they in which they choose to involve themselves, and likely leave most of our planet uninhabitable.

    We can thank Ronald Reagan for convincing large numbers of people that this was all a good idea and that, somehow, they would magically be empowered to achieve such success, themselves, by giving the already fabulously wealthy and powerful the license to profit beyond anyone’s wildest dreams of avarice.

  11. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/25/2012 - 12:51 pm.

    Fascinating

    As usual, any mention of Reagan is followed with a torrent of leftist vitriol. That, in my opinion, is in and of itself instructive of just how good a President he was…he’s effective even from the grave!

    Reagan did indeed increase the deficit. What did we get for that massive investment? Nothing less than the complete liquidation of the most virulently destructive, murderous, and to America, threatening evils the world has ever seen…Communism.

    How much had we spent since the end of WWII to keep Lenin’s wolves at bay? It’s truly incalculable.

    Like Obama, Reagan inherited a severely damaged economy. Jimmy Carter left a legacy of high unemployment and raging inflation (13% in 1980!). Unlike Obama, he didn’t waste any time whining about it, he fixed it. Or more correctly, he gave us the tools to fix it ourselves, which is why it worked. During Reagan’s tenure, the economy expanded by almost 1/3.

    In contrast, Barack Obama has doubled the national debt in just three years. What did we get for that massive spending?

    Cars for clunkers. The longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression. A flat economy.

    For Prof Gleason, who I know loves links to educate himself with, a primer:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2011/05/05/reaganomics-vs-obamanomics-facts-and-figures/

    Someone want to tell me how unintelligent Reagan was, again?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 08/26/2012 - 06:59 pm.

      Forbes

      The usual mishmash of cherry-picked numbers by a neo think tank operative.
      Didn’t think that anyone quoted Laffer any more — definitely laffable.

      Most historians these days agree that Russia’s system (then as now more Mafia than Marx) imploded as a result of its own overexpansion. The CIA and the KGB had a mutual admiration society going where they each overestimated the other’s capabilities in order to justify their own budgets.
      Lenin of course died in 1924, long before WW II, which we might not have survived had not those Reds chewed up most of the German army on the Eastern Front.

      And if Communism was completely liquidated, the Chinese don’t seem to have gotten the word.
      Fact check time!

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 08/26/2012 - 08:43 pm.

      At least one false fact in this “primer”.

      Ferrara says:

      “Deregulation, which saved consumers an estimated $100 billion per year in lower prices. Reagan’s first executive order, in fact, eliminated price controls on oil and natural gas. Production soared, and aided by a strong dollar the price of oil declined by more than 50%.”

      In fact price controls on natural gas were eliminated by Carter in 1979 following several enactments by Congress like the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978. Let us recall too it was Richard Nixon who had imposed some of these price controls during his administration.

      So Ferrara doesn’t know what he'[s talking about on one of his main points. Which, as far as I’m concerned, means he’s a boob who got lucky in getting hired by a big named business publication. Some should send this lackey back to school.

      Let’s also recall the consequences of these decontrols.Gas and oil companies grabbed record profits, mostly speculative, which resulted in a “gas bubble” by 1985 in which the natural gas and oil business was teetering on bankruptcy, of course threatening to drag the financial sector which had profited with the gas bubble as well. LIke the S& L industry. A mere dress rehearsal for the next Republican experiment with economic philosophy by a “cerebral” President.

  12. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 08/25/2012 - 05:20 pm.

    As usual, Mr. Swift has a hard time facing facts

    even when they are staring him in the face.

    Go back and look at Mr. Schultze’s post, please Mr. Swift.

    Which president is far and above the leader in increasing the national debt by percentage increase?

    Why St. Ronald Reagan, it does appear, at a whopping 189%. You really do have a problem facing facts.

    The WORST thing that Reagan did was his espousal of supply side economics which is ultimately the single most important contribution to our current economic mess.

    As Martin Wolf put it in a classic post in the Financial Times:
    link: http://on.ft.com/MSUGtT

    Supply-side economics liberated conservatives from any need to insist on fiscal rectitude and balanced budgets. Supply-side economics said that one could cut taxes and balance budgets, because incentive effects would generate new activity and so higher revenue.

    Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?

    The theory that cuts would pay for themselves has proved altogether wrong.

    Indeed, Greg Mankiw, no less, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, has responded to the view that broad-based tax cuts would pay for themselves, as follows: “I did not find such a claim credible, based on the available evidence. I never have, and I still don’t.” Indeed, he has referred to those who believe this as “charlatans and cranks.”

    Since the fiscal theory of supply-side economics did not work, the tax-cutting eras of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush and again of George W. Bush saw very substantial rises in ratios of federal debt to gross domestic product.

    The evidence shows, then, that contemporary conservatives (unlike those of old) simply do not think deficits matter, as former vice-president Richard Cheney is reported to have told former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill. But this is not because the supply-side theory of self-financing tax cuts, on which Reagan era tax cuts were justified, has worked, but despite the fact it has not.

    So, when Republicans assail the deficits under President Obama, are they to be taken seriously? Yes and no. Yes, they are politically interested in blaming Mr Obama for deficits, since all is viewed fair in love and partisan politics.

    But no, it is not deficits themselves that worry Republicans, but rather how they are caused: deficits caused by tax cuts are fine; but spending increases brought in by Democrats are diabolical, unless on the military.

  13. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 08/25/2012 - 07:34 pm.

    Romney and Ryan are campaigning on the so-called “Reagan principles”.

    David Stockman, the wild-eyed leftist radical who ran Ronald Reagan’s budget, calls Mr Ryan’s budget plan “devoid of credible math or hard policy choices”.

    If Romney/Ryan come out in favor of a plan, they ought to attach some numbers. If they don’t, then we’ll be clear on what’s actually going on here, which, it seems to me, is nothing but the same old problem the Republican Party has been facing since 2000, if not indeed since 1980. The GOP is committed to a mathematically impossible sweetener of massive tax cuts for the rich, lower deficits, and no major cuts to popular big-ticket government programs.

    Mr. Ryan voted for TARP, the auto-industry bail out, Medicare expansion, and two wars on the Chinese credit card. How is that consistent with someone who wants to decimate the government, or at least curb government spending? Also, how can an individual who votes for all of that spending after voting for the Bush tax cuts be considered an individual who wants to balance the budget? Frankly, this makes little sense to me.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/14/opinion/paul-ryans-fairy-tale-budget-plan.html
    http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/03-20-Ryan_Specified_Paths_2.pdf

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