Which is it?

Is Romney planning to double-cross his core supporters, or the undecideds? Not hard to figure that one out, is it?

What Mitt Romney is saying now to capture swing voters is utterly different from what he said for month and months to capture primary voters, and to raise $1 billion from his fellow plutocrats and corporate persons.

So he’s going to double-cross someone: either his old friends, or his new targets.

Which do you think it is?

Here’s a hint: none of Romney’s long-time backers, and no right-wing think-tank, pundit, or media outlet, has complained about Romney’s apparent betrayal. That’s because it’s merely apparent.

No, I’m not claiming to know Romney’s “real” or “core” beliefs: for all I know, he may not have any. But I’m betting that, if elected, he’ll dance with who brung ‘im.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

20 thoughts on “Which is it?”

  1. American plutocrats have been trying to kill Social Security and Medicare since day one. Ruling class sons dream of being the one who strikes the mortal blow against these programs.

  2. I don’t think that’s much of a stretch, Mark. Rmoney has said that he believes the “middle class” has members whose annual income is around $200K. In 2005, that was around the 97.5%tile.

    A more realistic assessment of the middle class (the three middle quintiles) in 2005, would set the lower limit of the middle class (!?!) at $!8.5K and the upper limit just under $90K. None of this is a surprise to people who know the numbers, but Rmoney is as out-of-touch with U.S. income distributions (and inequality of distribution) as he is with Eurasian political geography.

    All of which raises the question: What does Rmoney actually know?

    1. Romney knows what is best. He knows how to lie, cheat and steal. Is there anything better in corporate America today?

    2. Congressional Research Service says: The U.S. Census Bureau has published figures for
      2007 breaking the income distribution into quintiles, or fifths. The narrowest view of
      who might be considered middle class based on that presentation would include those
      in the middle quintile, which includes households with income between $39,100 and
      $62,000. A more generous definition might be based on the three middle quintiles,
      those households with income between $20,291 and $100,000. Surveys suggest that
      from 1% to just over 3% of the population consider themselves to be upper class.
      Comparing those figures with the income distribution would put the dividing line
      between middle and upper class close to, if not above, $250,000. Similarly, survey
      responses suggest that the lower end of the middle class might be close to $40,000.

      Obviously, YMMD. But when I think about what the indicia of middle class might be, I think: enough to eat, clothes adequate, air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter, a television and a computer. One home, no household staff, probably borrows to put the kids through college, private school (if private school) is a big reach. All of those things are likely true in this very broad band. Wealthy people like Romney, Gore, Clinton, Pelosi, Kochs, Scaife – staff, bodyguards, several homes. I think there really is a break, and the top of the middle class band – in terms of possessions and cooking your own meals and having one residence, etc. – is probably in the area where Romney thinks it is.

      The person with $250000 is wildly more secure, and has nicer clothes, than the person with $20000. But they are more similar to each other than either is to a Romney or a Gore.

      1. “Middle class” is about security and surety of expectations, now that standard-of-living means TVs and fridges, etc., in poor households.

        “Middle class” means that, whether your income is $20,000 or $250,000, you have a basic surety of expectation that you are not going to be put out on the street in old age; that your kids, if any, can reasonably expect to go to college or trade school; that you won’t be devastated by the costs of bad health or accident.

        It’s about risk management, more than income.

        In America today, a much larger number of people, with much higher incomes than ever before, feel that they are living on the edge. That’s because safety-net and common-risk management programs that used to be our sureties are eroding.

        People are being asked to self-insure.

        Because of the increasing need to self-insure, folks feel like they need to strike it rich. Only the fabulously wealthy can self-insure with surety.

        Romney’s sickness of the head is an example of the bizarre drive to self-insure an entire series of generations through the massive, societally counter-productive and destructive accumulation of wealth created by others. Romney has now successfully self-insured his offspring and all their offspring.

        Bully for him — but it was done by massacring real middle-class security for thousands upon thousands.

        If we would just agree to a nice, normal, Western Civ type of common-risk insurance programs for everyone, no one would really need $250,000+ per year. A few weirdos certainly could pursue that if they wanted to, but at limited marginal gain.

        1. This. And even if you make $250K, in the current winner-take all environment, unless you’ve been quite frugal with those earnings, you can still feel that you’re one misstep away from disaster. (Earlier this year, a survey came out yielding the result that well-off people thought they needed about $7 million in assets to be reasonably secure. Lots of folks derided this result as showing how out-of-touch the top 1% were, but I thought instead that it showed what a dog-eat-dog society we’ve become, because that’s the kind of wealth you would need to fully replace a social safety net in the current investment climate — think how much capital you need to generate $50K a year if your investments are paying 1 percent or less.)

          And of course once you’ve clawed your way up from poor to comfortable-but-still-on-the-edge, you’re willing to do pretty much anything to all the people below you rather than take a chance of slipping.

      2. I like a distinction based not on money but on lawyers. The upper class has lawyers on retainer. The middle class can hire a lawyer when they need one, but usually don’t need one. The lower class can’t afford one.

  3. Romney’s core beliefs are difficult but not impossible to spot. Viz.,

    Romney wants to make war on MS sufferers and cancer victims who derive relief from medical cannabis. This is enough for me to declare jihad. I don’t even care that he wants to cut out all discretionary spending (for basic research, for environmental protection, for food safety, etc.) I don’t care that he wants to cut spending on Americans so that he can spend more on weapons and war. I don’t care that he wants to protect hedge fund managers’ salaries (er, carried interest) and give the forthcoming tax liability to all of us.

    He can’t even sympathize with people like his own wife


    He needs to be defeated and dispatched into obscurity.

  4. My guess is that if Romney is elected we will see UFC Mormon-style against Harry Reid – our last, best hope.

  5. I don’t know who started this trope about how, in America, even poor people have TVs and fridges. If you have a TV and a fridge, and they work, you’re not poor. The poor are the people who don’t HAVE homes.

    1. Honey, no. No. Just, no. I would take you to a house where a little 9-year-old girl lives — with three TVs and a fridge — but never mind.

      Just, NO.

      1. i’m with you betsy. i was hoping this comment was just irony but i had thought to ignore it just to be safe.

  6. If we assume Romney would want to run for a 2nd term, then this question answers itself. He’ll do whatever the Tea Party wants him to do because he doesn’t want to lose the 2016 primary to his own Vice President.

  7. I don’t see any evidence of the existence of core convictions. I’m sorry to say it. I don’t see any evidence of good character at all. He may have some, but it can’t be seen.

  8. It’s a lovely post Mark.
    What was it Orwell said? About seeing things a foot from one’s nose?
    This is so obvious yet it wants saying.

    And it’s related to the kill shot that Obama didn’t deliver too. He has been “all over the map” on Romney’s flip-flopping.
    And that’s all good. But you’ve got to tie it all together with the inference that’s a foot from everyone’s nose.
    Or as Chait put it the other day:

    But what Obama failed to do was to take the next step and make that latter charge into a larger disqualification of his opponent. Here is what Obama did not say: “My opponent changes his position on leaving troops in Iraq, on China, on Afghanistan, and on George W. Bush. You cannot believe anything he says.” Perhaps it was an oversight, or perhaps Obama did not think he needed to launch a nuclear strike on Romney’s character.

    As to why Obama hasn’t delivered this kill shot…
    Well that’s another topic for sure.


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