Romney and Republican Messaging Fail

I got a lot of email that Republicans aren't libertarians and to stop complaining that they are not.  OK.  But let's look at their campaign messaging in the context of their own values.

Republicans had a golden opportunity to use the results of a natural experiment over the last four years between red and blue states.  Obama constantly harped on the fact that 3.5 million new jobs had been created on his watch.  Rather than play dueling statistics or end points in this analysis, the Republicans should have taken advantage of existing red/blue data:

Yes.  And the vast majority of these jobs were created in states like Texas which have been successful precisely because they have labor and tax policies which you, Mr. Obama, oppose.  And they have been created in industries like Oil and Gas production that you, Mr. Obama, have done your best to hinder.  All the jobs you claim to have helped to create were actually facilitated by a philosophy of government you oppose, by regulatory policy you would overturn if you could, and in industries you would prefer did not exist.   States like Texas -- with organic growth driven by private capital -- stand in stark contrast to your investments of our taxpayer money in bankrupt companies like Solyndra.   If you had had your way, Mr. Obama, few of these jobs would have been created.  Yes, this country saw some job creation, but it occurred despite your efforts, not because of them.

Instead of this clear kind of message, we get a bunch of wonky stuff about tax deductions vs. tax rate changes.  Heck, even if you told me I had to run my campaign on the single plank of eliminating tax deductions, I could have done a better job.  I saw this part of the debate that Romney supposedly won.  His explanation was lame.  What about this instead:

This country over the past several decades has increasingly become plagued by cronyism.  Whether it be Wall Street bankers or public employees unions or casket sellers in Louisiana, everyone wants to try to convert influence with the government into taxpayer money for themselves.  We have to end this.  And a good place to start is with the tax code.  Every special deduction and tax credit in the tax code is a giveaway to some special interest.  At best it is a misguided attempt, like the money we wasted in Solyndra, of politicians to try to pick winners and losers, to say that one kind of spending is somehow better than another.  At worst, these deductions are a crony giveaway.  Sure, it's  eliminating these deductions will help reduce the deficit.  But even more importantly, eliminating them would be an opening shot in the war to take cronyism and corporatism out of Washington.


  1. Max Lybbert:

    I for one didn't understand Romney's approach to running on limiting tax deductions. Given that Obama couldn't stop talking about Romney's low tax rate -- hinting that Romney was doings something unseemly about claiming deductions when in fact Romney's taxes are low because most of his income comes from capital gains -- it seemed obvious to sell his plan as something that would get rid of loopholes abused by millionaires and the politically connected. Economists back that kind of plan because it makes the system "fairer" precisely because it limits how much you can save on your tax bill by being politically connected.

  2. LarryGross:

    You can't have a "revenue-neutral" tax plan and generate more tax revenues or from that increased - growth.

    it just did not add up. And it would do nothing to decrease the deficit either. And on top of that he was proposing to increase DOD by 2 trillion. It was a totally lame plan for anyone who took even a cursory look at it.

    but he did not lose over that nor the "create jobs" issue. He lost because his base is basically conservative white folks and Romney did not connect with minorities and in the battleground states that Romney lost - minorities voted overwhelmingly for Obama.

    The Republican part has a dismal future if their strategy is to think they can win on the white man vote alone.

    The "maker-taker"/"free stuff" narrative is perceived by the minorities as directed at them and implies that ALL minorities are "takers" looking for "free stuff". That's a killer message and not in a good way.

    that's a recipe for losing in an increasingly more diverse country. Romney is no right-winger but he's apparently so tone-deaf on the minority issue as to be essentially clueless.

    The minorities did not give a rat's behind about the "wonky" stuff but Romney's "message" to minorities was DOA before he ever got to the jobs issue (which I think he was vulnerable on anyhow as a "corporate raider".

  3. mesaeconoguy:

    Thanks Warren, was waiting for you to post on this.

    There was no messaging problem.

    The problem was voter problem.

    The underlying assumption to all the crap analysis was that “Romney didn’t appeal to _______ constituency.”


    What happened was the voting public exactly reflected the transfer payment dependency of the population, plus 2 – 3% clueless voters, who literally voted against their own self interest, because of ignorance.

    It’s that simple.

    This country is finished.

  4. mesaeconoguy:

    Gee Larry, I suppose you’ll be ecstatic when Obama increases DOD spending, and expands entitlement spending fivefold.


  5. LarryGross:

    Obama supports the sequester - across the board cuts guy. The GOP is running away from it calling the cuts "devastating".

    by "country finished" do you mean the angry white man vote is not not sufficient to win any more?

    Good! :-)

  6. mesaeconoguy:

    And yes, you absolutely do get increased revenues from economic growth, idiot. That is why periods of economic growth yield the largest tax revenues

  7. mesaeconoguy:

    Not interested in what Imperial Barry says or does.

    And by "finished," I mean you will have an awesome time begging for cash in March, 2013.

  8. mesaeconoguy:

    Larry, you’ve been semi-articulate in your economic ignorance.

    Have you studied under Krugman?

  9. LarryGross:

    re: " increased revenues from economic growth" and how do you get the increased growth?

    not from revenue-neutral tax reform... there is no additional money in people's hands're just moving it from one guy benefiting from a "loophole" to another guy as a cut in marginal rate.

    the net result is no increased money in the hands of taxpayers.

  10. LarryGross:

    yeah.. they say that Barry guy.. the only thing he knew how to do was community organizing...

    worked for him! eh? :-) you boys are dolts. your hate and venom got what it deserved to get.

  11. mesaeconoguy:

    How do you get increased growth? Not with Obamanomics, obviously...

  12. mesaeconoguy:

    Since we're gong off the cliff, I want Barry at the helm, and max spending, max military engagements, max Keynesian stupidity - 190 mph on fire.

    Since we're finished, UFO: U Fucking leftists Own it.

  13. LarryGross:

    well he was smart enough NOT to make such an idiotic claim as Romney did - at least.

    I might have actually voted for Romney had his plan made any real sense but it did not then he had this other problem with racists sending hate messages to minorities. Between those two, Romney was doomed.... and deservedly so....

  14. LarryGross:

    have you actually thought about how this MIGHT Play out? What the likelihood that the House will actually agree to what Obama is asking for - and instead will just send him a bill to continue tax cuts for everyone.

    what would Obama do? If he vetoed it - the economy might dork... My point is that Obama will have to decide ...based on what the GOP in the House sends him. He cannot make that decision and the chances of the House actually approving what Obama is asking for is problematic.

    So buck up son. Obama may still be in a heap of trouble. music to your ears I'm sure!

  15. mesaeconoguy:

    What "idiotic" claim was that, pray tell? That he would foster economic growth?

    Obama certainly wouldn't do that...

    Chief, you are so fucked right now, you have no idea. Half of the country despises you, and the productive 40% wants to leave.

    Good fucking luck.

  16. mesaeconoguy:

    Yes, and apparently, you have not.

    Barry scuttled his own deal the first time, and there is zero reason to believe he won't do so again.

  17. mesaeconoguy:


    “Obama may still be in a heap of trouble”

    YA THINK??!?!?!?

    Jesus, Larry, serious cranial-rectal impact there.

    Barry is in serious trouble. Right now. His government is
    flying apart.

    If this were a parliamentary process, he would have lost majority confidence AT LEAST 4 times already.

    If the Benghazi hearings produce the evidence trail they should, and the Corzine coverup reveal yet more, Barry will be very lucky to stay out of jail, along with his AG.

  18. LarryGross:

    you boys really are delusional ... aren't you? it's like the election never happened, eh?

  19. mesaeconoguy:

    Yes, completely delusional.

    Elections nullify criminal malfeasance

  20. LarryGross:

    Corzine? Are you NUTS! you ARE delusional...

    oh oh... looks like trouble in river city here:

    " Some Republican governors are softening on the party’s hard-line toward tax increases for the wealthy, suggesting that GOP congressmen at least be open to rate hikes in exchange for a comprehensive fiscal agreement on taxes and entitlements.

    “The people have spoken, I think we’re going to have to be [flexible] now,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, when asked if his party would now have to be open to taxes on the highest earners. “Elections do have consequences. The president campaigned on that.”

    geeze guy.. it's coming apart on you.

  21. mesaeconoguy:

    Commingling is expressly prohibited

    If you wish to challenge this, please contact Jon Corzine’s counsel.



  22. LarryGross:

    how does that get rid of Obama?

  23. mesaeconoguy:

    Barry stifled the JPM transfer of funds investigation.

  24. LarryGross:

    huh? got a link? (a credible one please)

  25. mesaeconoguy:

    Oh, so documented links, with links from other direct
    sources aren’t good enough, progressive?


    Hows this one?

  26. mesaeconoguy:

    See, Larry, the thing is, you leftists are lawless, which will catch up to you eventually, whether via direct litigation, or karma.

    Leftists have literally fucked yourselves in the goat ass.

  27. mesaeconoguy:

    Here’s a bonus question for you, Larry:

    What happens if I get hold of any evidence linking Eric
    Holder to any suppression of this investigation?

  28. mesaeconoguy:

    “I might have actually voted for Romney had his plan made
    any real sense”

    No, you wouldn’t have, ever.
    Stop with the bullshit.

    You are a fucking leftist, with zero economic clue, and you
    always, instinctively, reflexively vote for even
    slight-leftist-I-think-this-might-sound-good crap. At everyone else’s expense.

    You are the problem.

    Congratulations, you won, Pyrrhus.

    You just fucked the country, and my kids’ future.

    Fuck you.

  29. mahtso:

    I was going to type: Maybe I am confused, but there is no
    "maybe." I thought the blogger's opinion about Republicans and
    Democrats is summed up in the pejorative “Coke and Pepsi.” But now he argues
    that the Republicans have achieved success in the red states and that the Democrats’
    policies have failed. How is that “Coke and Pepsi?”

  30. Daublin:

    I was wondering about the weak messaging around the tax plan, myself. The talk should have been a talk about better growth, simpler taxes, and less cronyism; it's an easy sell. Instead all the debate was about whether the numbers add up.

  31. LarryGross:

    my view is that his tax plan made no sense but what absolutely killed him was his "takers" and "illegals" messaging to the minorities which was reinforced by other voices in the GOP and the minorities took it as a direct threat and voted for Obama.

    And he is STILL saying this even as people like Jindal, Rubio, Christie etc are telling him to understand

    that not all blacks are "takers" and not all Hispanics "illegals". Why Romney did this "messaging" is inexplicable. What you'd want - is the same split for white folks preferring "coke" or "pepsi" for minorities.

    then the dialogue shifts from "takers", "illegals" and "parasites" to real issues that both contenders would be forced to confront in their messaging.

    Thinking back, you wonder what Romney (who is more RINO than right wing) was trying to accomplish with messaging that ran off the minorities. I can only conclude that Romney himeself was clueless and got very bad advice.

  32. mesaeconoguy:

    Your view is irrelevant, and incorrect.

  33. Nehemiah:

    LarryGross - a revenue neutral tax plan can generate more tax revenue depending on how it impacts business transactions. Reducing compliance complexity could be considered revenue neutral, but would provide market players with increased efficiency and greater confidence in business forecasting. Filing a fully compliant tax return given the current state of tax regulations is near impossible and getting more difficult. We have to start peeling away the "special" deductions.

  34. LarryGross:

    "can" ... or "will not". How do you support the claim? You just can't claim a revenue-neutral tax plan will generate increased revenues without giving some idea how.

    same thing with regulations. Regulations when first implemented often come with estimates of the costs of compliance. Going the other way - also requires some evidence of savings rather than just the claim.

    re: "special deductions" - what I point out here is that the person who benefits from those regulations is using that savings in spending or investments and when you take it away from them - the spending or investment goes away.

    that's separate from whether or not from a policy or equity perspective that changes should be made.

    but to claim, without evidence that taking those deductions away from one person and giving them to another - will generate net growth is a real stretch without showing how. CBO is available to "score" and "vett" such things but in general it seems to presume that the recipient of the lower taxes will spend it "better" than the guy who originally got it from a special deduction.

    I thought this was fairly obvious on the face of it - and that Romney would provide some rationale why he though it would generate growth but he never did. It's basically an unsupported claim with little basis in fact.

  35. AnInquirer:

    It is disgusting how liberals label the values of limited government coercion and personal liberty as racist. It is an indictment on the country's education system that so many people consider advancing personal freedom and personal responsibility to be an attack on blacks and Hispanics. (I actually see the liberals as being racist: "You must believe our way or else you are not a good black.)
    During the campaign, Romney was not messaging lazy blacks or illegal Hispanics, but the Obama campaign certainly had minorities believing that Romney was a racist, a tax cheat, a felon, and whole host of things that are not true. After the campaign, Romney told the truth -- that many, many people favor government coercion which often end up being gifts to them, and that these people are disproportionately represented in minority populations. Of course in our hyper sensitive society, we are not supposed to tell the truth about racial situations.
    I do not know how to proceed. I do not want to abandon the fight to restrain government coercion, but those favoring government coercion have the upper hand, and if liberals are right -- that minorities love government coercion -- we will see more and more of that value in our country.

  36. AnInquirer:

    Again, I deplore the education status of our country. There is a key equation that should be obvious:

    tax rate * taxable income = tax collection.

    Government sets the tax rate and has much influence on taxable income. (Let’s talk about Romney’s tax proposal later.) Taxable income is defined by over a dozen characteristics such as ownership, location, jurisdiction, type, tax treatment, time, etc. The highest tax rate is on ordinary income over $250,000. When a
    person recharacterizes his income into a low tax rate, he gives up flexibility and usually pays tax lawyer expenses. A person is more motivated to recharacterize his income away from ordinary income when the tax rate is on ordinary income is high. Taxpayers working 9-to-5 have limited capability to recharacterize their income, but ball players, Hollywood, entertainers, investors and business owners have considerable ability to recharacterize
    income. Also, income from corporations is taxed twice by the federal government which historically has often meant effective tax rates of over 50%, even 70%, providing plenty of motivation to recharacterize.

    When Kennedy, Reagan, and Bush cut tax rates, tax collections from high incomes went up because taxable income went up by more than tax rates went down – those with high incomes no longer thought it was worth the loss in flexibility and the tax lawyer expenses to avoid ordinary income rates. Meanwhile, Reagan and Bush dramatically reduced tax rates on lower incomes (9-to-5 jobs), and the loss of tax collections on these incomes largely offset the increased tax collections from higher incomes. But when the reductions in tax rates were fully implemented, overall tax collections did increase. The Reagan and Bush tax cuts are main reason
    why about 50% of households pay no federal income tax, and why high income household now pay an unprecedented % of federal income tax.

    We must also talk about Clinton’s tax cuts – one of the most dramatic of all – a 33% reduction in tax rates on the wealthy. Tax collections soared. Yet, Clinton did not cut tax rates on lower income levels, so his tax cut on the wealthy, plus welfare reform, plus deregulation led to great improvement in the federal budget. Even a surplus! (To be sure, these three items were not his idea, but he went along with them, making him the best supply-side president ever.) There is frequent mention, of Clinton’s tax rate increase early in his presidency, but the economy and tax collections stumbled after that. Years later, Clinton agreed to tax cuts, and that is when tax collections and the economy soared.

    Romney’s tax plan was even better than Clinton’s or Kennedy’s or Reagan’s – and definitely better for economic growth than Bush’s tax cuts which were more Keynesian than Supply Side. Romney proposed to decrease tax rates, and increase taxable income by eliminating tax loopholes – to make it revenue neutral. This approach is consistent with the Bowles – Simpson plan and is strongly supported by a vast majority of economists. As previously discussed, high tax rates with tax loopholes induce taxpayers to hire tax lawyers to avoid paying taxes. Also, organization waste huge amount of society resources in lobbying for special treatment. Also, reputable cross-sectional and longitudinal studies show faster economic growth with this tax structure. (I am well aware of the CRO study that did not find such a correlation, and I am also aware of how it was severely flawed – and the author did the honorable and right thing to withdraw it.)

  37. LarryGross:

    you might read this - there are no "liberals" talking here:

    " In a conference call with campaign donors on Wednesday, Romney blamed his loss in part on “gifts” that a “very generous” President Obama had given to African Americans, Hispanics and young people. It was similar in sentiment to his earlier suggestion — also to a group of wealthy contributors — that 47 percent of the American public consists of government-dependent deadbeats who view themselves as victims.

    Asked about Romney’s latest comments, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal bristled and told reporters at a Republican Governors Association meeting here: “I absolutely reject that notion, that description.”

    “We need to stop being a dumb party, and that means more than stop making dumb comments,” added Jindal,"

    Jindal was not alone. Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Haley Barber, Kelly Ayotte and a number of other GOP have reiterated this sentiment.

    this goes back to whether or not people want to admit what this is and why it is going on.

    this kind of talk is coming from people within the GOP and what the liberals are doing is pointing it out. The fact that other members of the GOP AGREE ought to tell you something.

    If you really want the GOP to be a strong competitive conservative party - you need to get off the racist talk and dog whistle politics.

  38. AnInquirer:

    I agree that it is dumb talk -- because speaking the truth about racial realities is dumb talk. One will win no fans by speaking truths in this matter. Will GOP garner more support by not speaking the truth? Maybe, yes, but I doubt that it will be signficant. Yet, the GOP must stay away from this talk if they are going to have any chance in the future.

    Interesting -- the unemployed voted more for Obama than Romney. That is easily understood if one understands that Obama is more likely to give them "gifts" than Romney.

    By the way, Romney did apologize for his 47% remarks. It was off-the-cuff remarks, not elegantly organized, and mixed in thoughts that were not pertinent to the 47%. Obama never apologized for government coercion and "you didn't build that."

  39. LarryGross:

    re: what Romney said:

    " Romney made an appearance on Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday night, where he expressed regret for the first time for saying 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes, feel they are “victims” and feel entitled.


    When Hannity asked Romney what he would have done if the “47 percent” comment came up, Romney had this to say: “Clearly in a campaign with hundreds, if not thousands of speeches and question and answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right. In this case I said something that was just completely wrong.”

    that's an explicit acknowledgement of a mistake any way you cut it.

    the problem is that you cannot imply that a whole race or ethnic group are "takers". It's simply not the truth to start with - and if people think you group their ethnicity in that way - you not only are clueless - you DESERVE to lose.

    make no mistake about this. this had nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with
    what Romney said - and what many of the GOP make no secret about saying.

    it's dumb twice. it's dumb to say it and it's dumb to think it.

  40. tom doughy:

    My R party acquaintances mostly revile libertarians as supporters of drug dependency and whoredom; they simply can't fathom the difference between libertarian and libertine. Too bad, libertarians might have saved the R party.