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20120907 Politics and Lies

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

This is something I wrote as the US Presidential campaign in 2012 was winding up. It says a lot about how we, as people, make decisions.

The US presidential campaign comes to an end with an interesting revelation: the US people are being asked which of two liars they trust least - and to vote for the other one.

Lie One: the Romney campaign ran a series of television ads falsely alleging that Chrysler planned to close its Jeep production in the USA and move it to China (Chrysler which famously stays out of politics, or at least stays off the front line, felt obliged to issue a series of statements saying that Romney's campaigning was false).

Lie Two: the Obama campaign has for months been telling voters that Romney's tax plans are designed to aid the rich and pinch what Obama calls "the middle class." In Obamaworld, there is no working class - it's a phrase he (so far as I can tell) never utters. Obama has been banging on about USD5,000,000 million (which, in the hyperbolic world where numbers are debased to make them sound more exciting or scary, has been widely but linguistically inaccurately called 5 "trillion") in tax cuts. It's not true and today, according to the Wall Street Journal - not the paper of choice for those "middle class" voters Obama courts - says that Obama's own campaign spokesman has admitted that they have been talking about only one side of the equation: the reduction in tax rates. They had ignored that the reduction was offset - to a degree of some 80% - by changes in the tax structure and a simplification of the allowances (deductions) plus the closing of a number of widely used tax shelters (for popular consumption termed "loopholes"). Therefore the actual reduction in tax take is USD1,000,000 million (a real billion i.e. one million to the power 2, hence "bi")

However, despite a briefing for journalists aboard AirForce One in early October, the WSJ reports, Obama repeated the lie at a fundraising event in Los Angeles shortly after the plane landed. Moreover, says the WSJ, the Princeton economics lecturer, Dr. Harvey Rosen, which Obama says demonstrated that Romney must press taxes on Obama's favoured "middle class" told The Huffington Post before the WSJ article appeared that his work has been misrepresented by the Obama campaign.

Obama had issued a press release saying "Harvard economist Martin Feldstein and Princeton economist Harvey Rosen both concede that paying for Romney’s tax cuts would require large tax increases on families making between USD100,000 and USD200,000." Rosen told The Huffington Post in an interview in early October that there is no way that this claim is accurate. "My paper doesn't say it, doesn't imply it," Rosen said. He said that, if anything, his paper reached the opposite conclusion about Romney's tax plan. "The paper shows that if you look at individual taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 or more, there is sufficient revenue from base broadening and growth to make up for the revenue lost from lower tax rates. Therefore, there is no need to make up revenue from groups with below $200,000."

Rosen, then, thinks that there will in fact be no tax increase, not even the USD1 (real) billion that Obama's campaign has still been saying.

So, you pays your money and you takes your choice. According to a running total showing on the Huffington Post website, at the time of writing this note, Romney has 33 electoral votes and Obama has 3, with Romney collecting 51.3% of the popular vote. The Democrats have secured a majority in the Senate with 54/100 seats having won one from the Republicans but in the House, of results so far declared, the Democrats are 11-3 ahead but, with 435 seats in contention, there is still a long way to go. At present, it looks as if lies about jobs trump lies about taxes. Even when the truth is out there.

** First published at www.chiefofficers.net **
Republished here: 19 October 2015

Rosen's paper: https://www.princeton.edu/ceps/workingpapers/228rosen.pdf
Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/harvey-rosen-obama-campaign_n_1...
WSJ: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044398290457804494277293774...

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