Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Romney continues the "You didn't build that" line of attack – with more deception.

Romney continues to harp on a statement by President Obama, which, when viewed out of context, seems to imply that people who build businesses do not build businesses. Romney’s people made a web ad, and now they are going on the television with a 30 second version.

Check out this (edited) story from the New Hampshire Union Leader (7/23/12):

In the Mitt Romney campaign web and television ads that received national attention last week, a blunt Jack Gilchrist of Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson tells President Barack Obama that he, his father and his son – and not the government – built his company.

In 1999, Gilchrist Metal received $800,000 in tax-exempt revenue bonds issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority “to set up a second manufacturing plant and purchase equipment to produce high definition television broadcasting equipment,” according to a New Hampshire Union Leader report at the time.

The federal government allocates to each state a certain amount of tax-exempt bonding capacity each year for business and housing loans. Because the bond buyers do not pay federal taxes on the interest, the interest rate for the borrower is typically lower than that of standard bank financing.

Last year, Gilchrist Metal also received two U.S. Navy sub-contracts totaling about $83,000 and a smaller, $5,600 Coast Guard contract in 2008, according to a government web site that tracks spending.

Romney called the comments insulting to private business people and Gilchrist, in the initial web ad, said, “My father's hands didn't build this company? My hands didn't build this company? My son's hands aren't building this company? Did somebody else take out the loan on my father's house to finance the equipment? Did somebody else make payroll every week or figure out where it's coming from? President Obama, you're killing us out here. Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”

Gilchrist also said his company received a U.S. Small Business Administration loan totaling “somewhere south of” $500,000 in the late 1980s. He said his business has also received matching funds from the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NETAAC), which is federally-funded.

Gilchrist said about 10 percent of his company's contracts are defense-related.

As Romney hosted a small business roundtable in California Monday, Obama spokesman Lis Smith said, “Mitt Romney continues to criticize President Obama by taking his words completely out of context -- all while sitting with small business owners who built their enterprises through their own initiative but with some help along the way. As CEO of Bain & Co, he even negotiated a $10 million federal bailout to keep the company afloat. Mitt Romney's attacks may be unfair, but his events and own actions actually prove the President's point that while businesses are built through hard work and initiative, we're all in this together.”

The entire unedited article from the Manchester Union Leader can be found here.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Someone is paying attention.

Yesterday, I called out the Romney campaign for their dishonest comments about what the President said, and I supplied a point by point take down of Romney's lies.

Today, the Romney deception machine doubled down on its mis-characterization of what the President said at Historical Fire Station #1 in Roanoke, Virginia.  But the Obama truth team hit back. Check out their latest web ad here.

"... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wait! What just happened?

On Friday evening President Obama spoke at Roanoke Fire Station #1 in Virginia. Referring to large-scale infrastructure investments like bridges and highways and the Internet, Obama recycled a line he has used often on the stump but with a slight variation: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Actually, here's what he said:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that [road or bridge]. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Some might say that the line of attack was most effectively delivered by Elizabeth Warren, seen, here.

Be that as it may, the right-wing blogosphere and Fox news lit up like a Christmas tree with over-the-top ranting about the quote, calling Obama, as we used to say in a less enlightened time, everything but a white man. “Socialist, ”  “anti-American,” “out of touch” were just some of the milder epithets. Romney proxy, John Sununu had to walk back his comment that he “wishes Barack Obama would learn to be an American.”

It took until 12:59 p.m. Tuesday, for Romney to read his script as delivered by Rush Limbaugh and others. Senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, of Etch-a-Sketch fame, telegraphed the looming attack in a tweet. “Romney at PA rally will rap Obama for saying ‘if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that, someone else made it happen.’”

By then, Debby Wasserman-Schultz had explained it perfectly.
     “President Obama was talking about any business owner, who has been successful, they obviously have pulled themselves up by their boot straps and put their own blood, sweat and tears into making that business successful, but that nobody’s success can be credited just to themselves.
     “President Obama was talking about the fact that investments made so that we can have roads to help move vehicles, so that we can have an Internet so that more business owners could actually sell their goods across the globe, so we could ensure that they have employees that get a good education, and therefore they have highly-qualified personnel to help them run their businesses.
     “What President Obama was talking about yesterday and Romney and the Republicans well know it, was that we all need to pull together. We all need to be working together. No one person, no one business owner is able to do it all by themselves. We’re all in this together and that’s the approach President Obama takes to governing. So to suggest that he said anything other than that is a distraction.”

Today, Romney finally reacted to what the President said, or rather, to a distortion of what the Obama said. At a town hall meeting in Ohio, Romney milked it for all it was worth – and then some. In the end, he agreed with what President Obama said. Here’s  Romney’s actual words:
     “Now on Friday he said something which the governor alluded to which really reveals what he thinks about our country.  …  I know that you recognize that a lot of people helped, you in a business. Perhaps the banks, the investors, there’s no question your mom and dad, your school teachers the people that provide roads, the fire- the policemen.
     “By the way there’s a lot of people in government who help us and allow us to have an economy that works and allow entrepreneurs and business leaders of various kinds to start businesses and create jobs. We all recognize that that’s an important thing. Government doesn’t invent those people out of thin air. We pay for those people with our taxes! We’re paying for those resources that we receive.” 
Let’s take a moment to examine that quote. First, it is notable that Romney agrees with the President on the non-controversial point that we all depend on teachers, road builders, firefighters and police officers to have a society in which capitalism can flourish. That’s the point that Obama was making, and apparently Romney’s response is, “We all recognize that that’s an important thing.”

Second, though it is an important thing, let us not forget that Romney has been forthright opposed (some would say, openly hostile) to creating more jobs in education or in the public sector.  So, if that’s what it takes to create jobs,Romney is against it.

Third, the fact that Romney believes there’s “no question” that Mom and Dad helped the entrepreneurs he was speaking to create jobs reveals a great deal about how out of touch he is with the reality that faces millions and millions of Americans.

According to a U.S. Census Bureau report released in November, 2009, there were approximately 13.7 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 21.8 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21). The majority of individuals raising children alone started out in committed relationships and never expected to be single parents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers. How many have to work two jobs to provide for their children, and then come home bone tired and unable to give as much as they would love to give to the children they love?

Not to mention the fact that when Romney talks about help from Mom and Dad, (for example, to attend college) he is talking about financial assistance. The idea of Moms and Dads who have no wealth and wish they could help their children but simply can’t is beyond Mr. Romney’s imagination.

Fourth, by now it is well known that Romney likes to take credit for things that he had no role in. Take for example, his claim that he created jobs at Bain Capital after the date of his retroactive retirement from the company (i.e. during the time he was filing S.E.C. documents claiming that he was the managing director, owner, president and sole shareholder of the company, a claim that he now claims is false).

Is Romney taking credit for the contributions of others when he says, speaking of government workers that create jobs, “We pay for those people with our taxes! We’re paying for those resources that we receive.” We won’t know unless Romney releases his tax returns. Heads up: given the structure of his wealth, it is entirely possible that he didn’t pay ANY taxes during the recession brought on by the very policies he is now advocating.

Fifth, still on the subject of taxes, don’t forget that Romney’s plan is to cut taxes, especially on the wealthiest Americans (i.e., himself.) Now, to do this he has said that he will cut every non-essential government program. He won’t tell us which ones he will cut for the very simple reason, which he acknowledges, namely, that if people knew what he intends to cut, they wouldn’t vote for him. Is the Small Business Administration an essential government program? What about infra-structure grants to the States? He’s already said we have enough teachers and fire-fighters. You get the idea.

Is all of this important? Well, here’s why a similar non-dispute could have changed the course of history.

As we all recall, the 2000 presidential election in which 104 million people voted was decided by only one vote. See, Bush v. Gore, 521 U.S. 98 (2000). (Holding: In a democracy, it is unconstitutional to count the votes.) (See, also: Wm. Marcy “Boss” Tweed: “As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it.”)

There is no doubt that Al Gore, Jr. won the popular vote by a margin of over 543,000 votes, but that doesn’t matter in our Electoral College system. The 25 electoral votes of Florida went to George W. Bush, because the Supreme Court stopped the counting of ballots, when he was ahead by 537 votes. Other states were also incredibly close, too. The point is that almost anything that influenced the election – no matter how slightly – could have produced a different result.

Let’s take a look at one seemingly trivial thing that may have resulted in a different result in the election of 2000: the vice-presidential debates. In particular, consider the following exchange:
     LIEBERMAN: Dick Cheney must be one of the few people who think nothing has been accomplished in the last eight years. Promises were made and promises were kept. Has Al Gore -- did Al Gore make promises in 1992? Absolutely. Did he deliver? Big time. Let me put it that way. That’s the record. Look at the 20 -- look at the 22 million new jobs. Look at the 4 million new businesses. Look at the lower interest rates, low rate of inflation, high rate of growth. I think if you asked most people in America today that famous question that Ronald Reagan asked, “Are you better off today than you were eight years ago?” Most people would say yes. I’m pleased to see, Dick, from the newspapers that you're better off than you were eight years ago, too.
     CHENEY: I can tell you, Joe, the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.(LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)
     MODERATOR: This question is to you.
     LIEBERMAN: I can see my wife and I think she’s saying, “I think he should go out into the private sector.”
     CHENEY: I’ll help you do that, Joe.

As we can see, Dick Cheney won that exchange. How? By lying, of course. First, let’s examine the record of Halliburton and its dealings with the government.

Following the end of Operation Desert Storm in February 1991,the Pentagon, led by then defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root Services over $8.5 million to study the use of private military forces with American soldiers in combat zones.Halliburton crews also helped bring 725 burning oil wells under control Kuwait. In 1995, Cheney was rewarded with a position at Haliburton: Chairman and CEO.

Halliburton was a fine company. In the early 1990s, Halliburton was found to be in violation of federal trade barriers in Iraq and Libya, having sold these countries dual-use oil drilling equipment and, through its former subsidiary, Halliburton Logging Services, sending six pulse neutron generators to Libya. After having pleaded guilty, the company was fined $1.2 million, with another $2.61 million in penalties.

In 1998, Halliburton merged with Dresser Industries, which included Kellogg. Prescott Bush was a director of Dresser Industries, which is now part of Halliburton; his son, former president George H. W. Bush, worked for Dresser Industries in several positions from 1948 to 1951, before he founded Zapata Corporation.

Starting in the first year of Cheney’s tenure at Halliburton, and continuing through the first year of his vice presidency, Halliburton KBR was awarded at least $2.5 billion to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations, as part of the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP).

The extent of their services included a vast array of logistical operations historically under the jurisdiction of the military. Such operations included laundry services, meal services (dining halls), entertainment (Internet and cable access), and recreation (basketball courts and gym equipment).

During the Balkans conflict in the 1990s, Kellogg Brown-Root (KBR) supported U.S. peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and HerzegovinaCroatia and Hungary with food, laundry, transportation, and other life-cycle management services.

When Cheney quit Halliburton to run for vice-president, the company gave him $20 million walking money. Twenty million dollars may not seem like much to a guy like Mitt Romney, but for you and me, in means that if you can earn a modest 5% interest on it, you would be set up to live on a million bucks a year in perpetuity, which is legalese meaning “forever.”

With the foregoing in mind, Lieberman could have won the debate, or at least won that exchange simply by saying something like this:
“Bullshit! You made your fortune on government contracts with a company that you established ties to when you were the Secretary of Defense, in return for which they made you CEO when your party was kicked out of government. And then they gave you 20 million more so that you could go back into government where you could really help them out. And when I say them, I mean their shareholders, which, of course, means you, Dick Cheney.”
Remember, all Lieberman had to do was switch 268 votes from Republican to Democrat. If he had done that, we would have been spared a George W. Bush presidency.

The fact is that right now, the topic of conversation that Obama wants to have is about Romney’s refusal to release more of his tax returns. Romney hasn’t even filed his 2011 returns, so obviously we haven’t seen that. Also, we are learning that his publicly disclosed versions of his 2010 returns are incomplete. It’s a shit-storm for Romney and why would a Democrat try to change the topic?

 But someone has to go tell Romney that this line of bullshit about what the President said, and his lame response to it won’t fly.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: A Good Day for Mitt Romney

By now, everyone knows that Mitt Romney filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) in which he claimed that from 1999 to 2002, not only was he the sole owner, president and CEO of Bain Capital, but he received a salary of over $100,000 for the services he denies rendering. When he returned from the Olympics to run for Governor of Massachusetts, he was challenged on the basis of his residency and he testified that he was involved in Bain to show his connection to the state. Having had such success at changing his opinions, he is now expanding into the field of changing his facts.

The airwaves are abuzz about it, and in a desperate attempt to change the subject, someone from the Romney campaign leaked to the Drudge Report that Condoleeza Rice was at the top of the short  list of veep picks. The trick fooled nobody, and the effort is just one more sign that the Romney folk are flailing around trying to overshadow a story they know is hurting them.

So how is this possibly good news for Willard? It’s simple, really. Every day that we spend talking about Bain capital is one day less to examine his record as Governor of Massachusetts.

In November 2006, four years after he had been elected Governor, Mitt Romney’s approval rating was at 34% compared to 65% disapproval. Why? Some say it is because he was out of state on 212 days of his last year in office. As an Alaskan, I know a thing or two about Governors who skip out on their constituents. 

Others say his rejection by residents of the Bay State was because in his eagerness to campaign for President, he went around the state apologizing for (or at least making jokes at the expense of) Massachusetts.  Whatever the reason, the fact is that the experience in Massachusetts is another example of what we have seen so many times: the more people get to know Mitt Romney, the less they like him.

Just ask anyone in Massachusetts

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Romney: A Businessman for President?

What is it about businessmen that Americans admire so? The Republican word-mavin Frank Luntz shop tested the word in focus groups, and Americans are ga-ga for businessmen, especially small business owners.

When we think of people who are tooting their horn for being businessmen, you must not overlook the fact that these are people who are successful businessmen. Now we all know that the difference between being brave and being stupid is frequently nothing more than the outcome. All of these successful business men took risks, and most of them were warned that they were being foolhardy. They soldiered on, things turned out okay, and now they are admired as risk takers.

Another thing that we admire about successful businessmen is their clear-eyed pragmatism. They leave it for others to dither about the emotional cost of down-sizing, out-sourcing, and pink slips. They believe in a competitive system where to the victor go the spoils, and only the strong survive. And the more it resembles “nature, red in tooth and claw,” the better.

Beyond that, they adjust quickly to new realities, learn from their mistakes, and take a long view. They are leaders, who function well in a top down command environment. And they are highly motivated to succeed as individuals.

Many businessmen are charitable in their private lives, and care deeply for their families, and for their dogs. But these are not necessarily the qualities of businessmen. The selfish businessman whose motivation to succeed is best described as greed or avarice is no less admired qua businessman.

Now let’s take a look at a businessman who is running for President. First of all, no one can doubt that he was a very successful business man. But was he really a risk taker? The Boston Globe in 2007 reported that Romney agreed to run Bain Capital only after negotiating terms so there wouldn’t be any financial or professional risk:
“Bain sweetened the offer. He guaranteed that if the experiment failed, Romney would get his old job and salary back, plus any raises handed out during his absence. Romney had one more concern: the impact on his reputation should he prove unable to do the job. In the end, Bain agreed to craft a cover story if necessary, promising to bring Romney back to the consulting firm and explain Romney's return as a matter of his being more valuable to Bain as a consultant. ‘So,’ Bain says, ‘there was no professional or financial risk.’”
 Romney is a clear-eyed pragmatist when it came to his business dealing. Indeed, that was the point of the Boston Globe story about Romney putting Seamus the Irish setter on the car roof. The author related that after the dog got sick, with poop running down the rear window of the Rambler station wagon, Romney got a hose, cleaned up the mess and carried on. No wallowing in the emotional swamp of sympathy for Mitt Romney!

Let’s face it: If you don’t count Obama, the last successful president was Bill Clinton. (Republicans apparently agree. They are not begging W to show up on the campaign trail.) Clinton successfully prosecuted the war in Kosovo without sustaining any American casualties, kept inflation low and employment high, balanced the budget, and then produced surpluses. But that is not why he was so popular. What made him beloved – and why he still is beloved – is that when he said, “I feel your pain,” you felt that, by golly, he does.

When you hear Romney on the hustings, you just don’t get that feeling. Instead, you sense the same heartless calculation that works so well in the business world. In part, that’s what appeals to laissez- faire capitalists about the state-of-nature world of business. It’s not personal: it’s business. And that makes it so much less complicated.

Of course, regulations, introduce a level of complexity. They make businesses responsible for what they prefer to think of as externalities.  An externality is an effect of a business decision by one party on others who did not have a choice and whose interests were not taken into account. A classic example is pollution. When regulations are imposed, businessmen have to be responsible for the costs that pollution imposes on their fellow citizens. Now, the businessman must continue to make the product in sufficient quantities to meet demand and also, consider his neighbors rights to fresh air and clean water. Businessmen in general, and Romney in particular, hate regulations because they don’t feel anyone else’s pain.

Our world is very complex and changing at a rapid and accelerating rate. We need a President whose mind is agile, who learns from mistakes and adjusts. Now, you can say that Romney is able to change his mind as quick as anyone. Indeed, his own campaign manager stated publicly that he could change his views as quickly as an etch-a-sketch. But that is different from the decisiveness needed to govern. In Romney’s case it isn’t that he changes his mind. Rather, he lacks any commitment. He can be for individual mandates as governor, but against them as Republican presumptive nominee, because he is not committed one way or the other. Even one of his biggest financial backers, Sheldon Adelson, said that he met with Romney and came away unimpressed with the candidates ability to take a position. That, said Adelson, was why he was supporting Gingrich. That was then; this is now.

But what about the ability to learn from mistakes? You might say all successful businessmen must do this. But not Romney. He wants to implement the exact same economic policies that drove this country to the brink of a second Great Depression under George W. Bush. Quick! Think of something that Romney favors that didn’t fail when it was tried under W! I didn’t think you could, but don’t feel bad. I can’t either.

Romney has claimed to have learned from past mistakes. For example, he says that if he were to tell people what exactly he plans to do if elected, they wouldn’t vote for him. He knows this because he had that sad experience when he ran against Teddy Kennedy. But that claim, in the final analysis, amounts to a plea of “Trust me. I’m a business man.”  And the problem with that is that businessmen don’t operate on trust. They live in a world where if it isn’t in writing, it doesn’t mean anything.

Businessmen see circumstances as opportunities to exploit. When Bain Capital took companies through bankruptcy and slithered out from under the pension obligations, the U.S. government picked up the tab. Give Romney credit for seizing the opportunity. But one must wonder how that talent will serve the country if – G-d forbid – Romney were elected to President.

Will Romney’s ability to take charge, bark orders and snap his fingers work in the political world? Of course, this is the world which the Founding Fathers took care to construct so as avoid the concentration of power in one branch of government.

As Richard Neustatd said in his famous book, Presidential Power (1960): “Presidential power is the power to persuade.”  In other words, the president's primary power is to persuade and bargain, not to command. When a president has to resort to commanding people, he is showing weakness. Commands only work in very special circumstances. “The essence of a President's persuasive task is to convince such men that what the White House wants of them is what they ought to do for their sake and on their authority” This is an entirely different skill set than that which is required of a businessman. When it comes to being persuasive, the primaries showed that Romney couldn’t garner any followers, but he could spend enough to slime any opponent so that he was the last man standing. Even John Boehner says that people won’t vote for Romney because the love him, but rather because they dislike the President.

As I have said, “Many businessmen are charitable in their private lives, and care deeply for their families and for their dogs”  From what we have seen on the one tax return that Romney has been willing to disclose, he appears to be very charitable in his private life. On the other hand, George Romney, Mitt’s father, said, when he was running for President that he needed to release 12 tax returns, because“one year could be a fluke.”

And there can be no doubt that he cares deeply for his family. To take just one example: on the very eve of him becoming Governor of Massachusetts, he was so concerned about his wife, Ann, that he took care to transfer ownership of Sankaty Advisors, one of his Bermuda-incorporated companies to her. Now that’s love! And as for loving his dog, it’s not for me to judge.  

Go ask Seamus.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

Friday, July 06, 2012

Just the fact's ma'am: Jobs edition

President Obama’s policies are working: 4.4 million private sector jobs added over the last 28 months, 504,000 manufacturing jobs added since January 2010 and 1+ million jobs saved due to the President’s auto rescue program. We have seen 28 straight months of job growth, compared to 12 months of job losses when the President came to office. During W’s last month in office, the economy hemorrhaged 820,000 jobs. Mitt Romney wants to return to the policies that were responsible for getting us into that mess.

One can only imaging the glee with which Romney greeted the fact that while job creation numbers are a step forward, it is only a baby step. He is rooting for misery and pain for the American people, because he believes it will help him get elected. The Republicans in Congress are helping Romney, for example, by blocking the President’s jobs bill.

 In addition, by cutting grants to states, Congress is forcing the states to lay off workers. For example, in the last year, 100,000 jobs have been lost in state and local public education sector. Mr. Romney’s response has been to say that we don’t need more teachers, ignoring the fact that there are a half a million unfilled job slots for which private sector employers can’t find qualified employees. Mr. Romney has also disparaged the hiring of more fire-fighters, which probably won’t go over too big in Colorado.

 The most remarkable part of President Obama’s achievement is that he did it in three years during which he reduced taxes, spending and deficits. You heard that right: taxes, spending and deficits are all lower as a percentage of gross domestic product than when the President took office.

If you love America, vote for Obama...

 "... and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!"

P.S. Think Progress picked up the theme, and has the numbers.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Republicans hate Obama more than they love America

President Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is the law of the land and no longer subject to constitutional challenge. This sticks in the craw of some people who want to deny President Obama the credit he deserves. They have few options. One is to elect Mitt Romney, the man whose only accomplish as governor of Massachusetts was it to pass Romneycare, on which the ACA was modeled.

But there is another approach that Republicans can take to undermine Obamacare. They can sabotage it. And, believe it or not, that’s what they are going to try to do.

The Affordable Care Act requires “states to extend Medicaid coverage to non-elderly individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the poverty line, or about $30,700 for a family of four,” according to a March 2012 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The extension of Medicare, if fully implemented will cover nearly 16 million people by 2019. This is a part of how the ACA reduces the ranks of the uninsured.

Under the law, the federal government would cover nearly 93 percent of the costs of the Medicaid expansion from 2014-22, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Specifically, the federal government will assume 100 percent of the Medicaid costs of covering newly eligible individuals for the first three years that the expansion is in effect (2014-16). Federal support will then phase down slightly over the following several years, and by 2020 (and for all subsequent years), the federal government will pay 90 percent of the costs of covering these individuals.

According to CBO, between 2014 and 2022, the federal government will pay $931 billion of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, while states will pay roughly $73 billion, or 7 percent.The Supreme Court has said that if states don’t want to expand Medicare, the only thing the Federal government can do about it is withhold the money that it would have given to the states to fund the expansion. And Republicans are hailing this as a victory over government intrusion into their freedom!

In Lousianna, there are 860,000 uninsured people and 340,000 of them could get Medicaid if Louisiana chose to accept the money from the U.S. government, but Governor Bobby Jindal is committed to refusing it. Henry Clay said he would “rather be right than president.” Jindal would rather be a failed vice presidential candidate, and he is willing to be wrong if that’s what it takes.

Consider Texas. The Texas Medicaid program insures 3.4 million Texans today, including children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and those over age 65. The expansion of Medicare would give coverage to another 1.8 million people by 2019. If Texas rejects the expansion of Medicare, they will not have to spend the 7% of the cost of insuring 1.8 million poor and lower middle class people, many of whom are children. For states that are cash-strapped because of the recession, this sounds like a good thing. Especially if you are comfortable with the status quo, which is that in Texas, 22% of kids, and 25% of adults are uninsured.

The problem, of course, is that leaving 1.8 million Texans uninsured is not cost free to the State of Texas. Some of those people will die, for sure, but the impact of that on state finances is difficult to gauge. True, once they are actually dead and buried, they will stop being a burden to the state’s treasury. But in their final stages of life, they may spend much more than the average Texan on health care. And make no mistake about it, the money they are spending is not their own. Rather, it is state funds that pay hospitals for services that are forced by law to provide to indigents. As we said before, Texas is cash strapped and can’t afford that.

Of all the people who would have been insured in Texas but for that state’s stubborn refusal to accept free money from the Feds, only some of them with die. Others will receive services that will end up being billed to the state because they went to hospital emergency rooms and had no means of paying. Some people will put off seeking treatment for as long as they can. Then, their illness will be more difficult to treat, which is to say, more costly. Perhaps they will have spread their disease to others and there will be costs to treat those people.

Some women will be unable to obtain reproductive health care, with the result of more unwanted pregnancies, which in turn, keep families in poverty, and create new consumers of welfare services. Some will get pregnant, by choice or otherwise, and be unable to afford pre-natal care. Of those, some will have babies that are profoundly disabled, dependent upon the State for their entire lifetime.

It may sound cold-blooded to talk about the tragic consequences of people having to do without insurance in strictly monetary terms. Indeed, it is. Our hearts should ache at the pain of our fellow Americans who suffer because they can’t afford medical care. But this is the argument that Republicans put forward.The truth is much more cold-blooded and cruel.

They are willing to let people suffer and die, so that Obama-care will appear to be a failure. This is their hope because they think that it will help elect Mitt Romney. Well, I've got a message for them: Go to hell!

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya.”

UPDATE: Think Progress has more on this with some shocking numbers.