Matthews and Capehart struggle and fail!


To let this man quiz you, click this: Last night, Chris Matthews attempted to discuss Mitt Romney’s tax proposal.

Almost surely, it’s the craziest proposal in modern campaign history. It had been two days since the Tax Policy Center released its latest study of the crazy proposal. The study had been reported in the New York Times and the Washington Post—and it was Chris’s featured topic!

But you know Chris! As he started to speak with Steven Moore, he still didn’t seem to know what Romney has proposed:
MATTHEWS (8/2/12): Let’s go to this question with Steve. Steve, what do you make of this report? And I want to make a couple points. The assumptions here are— Romney has laid out what he believes he can do, which is cut corporate rates, maintain the Bush tax cuts all the way up to the top of the income levels, and at the same time keep the total level of revenue equal to what it is if you didn`t do, make those changes.

And my question is, if you do that, keep the neutrality there, also get rid of the—make sure you've got the minimum tax removed and make sure that all the incentives for investment and saving are maintained, how do you all that and at the same time not reduce revenues or lay the new revenue responsibilities onto the middle class?

MOORE: Well, let me just respond to one thing that Bob said, if I may, Chris.
Earlier, reading from teleprompter, Matthews had given an accurate account of Romney’s proposal. Now, left on his own, he instantly slid down the hill.

In that passage, he flatly misstated the Romney proposal, understating the degree of its lunacy. This gave Moore the chance to jump in with the good news:
MOORE: First of all, what the Romney plan basically says, Chris and Bob, is that 20 percent across-the-board reduction in tax rates for everybody. So there’s no—this fantasy that somehow the middle class is going to pay more. No, they're going pay less!

You're getting this confused with the Obama/Harry Reid plan that doesn't fix the AMT, where people next year are going to face a $2,000 tax increase if we don't do something about extending the Bush tax cuts.
It almost seemed to be true. Chris did seem to be thinking of the framework of maintaining the Bush tax cuts—and nothing more. The lunacy of Romney’s proposal comes when he says he will cut tax rates 20 percent below that! But so what? As soon as Matthews got off prompter, he showed no sign of understanding what Romney has proposed.

Could Matthews possibly be this dense? Anyone who has watched him through the years will know the answer is yes. He never knows what he’s talking about. He just knows the scripts.

He knows which people he should call names. He rarely knows anything else.

Matthews seemed to be groaningly uninformed. That said, we had a similar reaction when we read this blog post by Jonathan Capehart.

The post appeared on August 1. The new study about Romney’s tax proposal still had not appeared.

But the basic outline of Romney’s proposal has been known for some time. Except to Jonathan Capehart, or so it would appear:
CAPEHART (8/1/12): As the New York Times reports this morning, Romney’s “candidacy remains tested by concerns over his business background and his reluctance to release more of his tax returns.” Both of these issues get to his credibility for some voters. The sustained attacks by the Obama campaign on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital have helped that concern along. Romney’s own refusal to release more of than two years of his tax returns are contributing to the view that he has something to hide. And I contend that all of this is making it difficult for Romney’s economic message to break through.

Why should voters trust his plans for job creation if his tenure at Bain was about cutting jobs or shipping them overseas? Why should voters trust him to fix the tax code in a manner that would be fair to all and not simply the wealthy like him?
Good God.

Capehart noted that Romney hasn’t released a shitload of tax returns. For that reason, he posed this question: “Why should voters trust him to fix the tax code in a manner that would be fair to all and not simply the wealthy like him?”

Capehart didn’t seem to know that Romney has already proposed “to fix the tax code” in a way which massively favors “the wealthy like him.” In his small pundit mind, Capehart wanted to see Romney’s returns so he could speculate about what Romney might want to do with taxes.

Romney has already said what he’d do—and it isn’t pretty. Capehart didn’t seem to know that.

Capehart is one of the genuine flyweights in the emerging “brat pack.” A few years ago, he had one outstanding trait—he was humble, polite, unassuming, non-pompous. By now, he has become so swollen with greatness that he even gives quizzes to us rubes at the end of each week.

That’s the ultimate sign.

Can we talk? Pundits like to speculate. They prefer to imagine what might be true. They prefer speculation to knowledge. They enjoy mucking around in tax returns (or in tales about dogs), using them as a way of figuring out what they should already know as an obvious matter of fact.

Romney had long since told the world what he would do with the tax code. Jonathan Capehart still hadn’t heard—or he preferred to pretend.

To let this man quiz you, click this.

Life in these United States: Steven Moore got his start as head of The Club for Growth. But it's often confused with The Hair Club for Men, so he gave up and went to the Journal.


  1. If the purpose of a tax plan is to pay for government expenditures, then the craziest tax plan is history is the one currently in force, which President Obama signed. After all, this plan has been producing the biggest, craziest deficits in history.

    However, I think the real problems with the current tax plan is that Obama spends too much money and that his policies have hurt business, thus decreasing the government's income tax collected. I think Romney's deficit will be smaller than Obama's, because Romney will cut government spending and have policies that effectively encourage business growth.

    1. Well, the people who have done the math disagree with you about all of that.

      They say quite credibly that Romney will increase the deficit by reducing revenues -- even if, against all the evidence we have, it's assumed that increases business growth.

      As far as "Obama spends too much money and that his policies have hurt business" -- you don't know what you're talking about.

      What has increased deficits under Obama has been automatic stabilization policies related to the huge unemployment and wealth destruction coming from the crash that took place Before He Entered Office.

      His own policies toward spending have kept federal employment down, while at the same time forcing huge cuts onto state governments.

      In short, you're full of it again, as always on economic issues.

      But you're a semi-professional dissembler, so we don't expect any better from you.

    2. "against all the evidence we have"

      Historic evidence in economics is always problematic because it's nearly impossible to decouple the multiple factors that might cause a change, in this case, in "business growth" stemming from only one factor, in this case, a change in tax policy.

    3. However, I think the real problems with the current tax plan is that Obama spends too much money and that his policies have hurt business,

      Sorry, Sparky, but ya lost me after the third word. In the past year the banking sector reported its best quarter since 2007, and health insurance companies have had their best results in a decade. The oil industry is rolling in money: over the last ten years, Exxon's average annual profit was about $31B; in 2011, it was $41B. The US auto industry is still kicking instead of being scrapped in bankruptcy. Of course, not every sector is doing well, and not all companies in profitable sectors are profitable. Even keeping in mind that Obama's policies aren't the sole factor in determining business profits, the facts don't support your contention.

      Why do you parrot the lines given you by the people who pick your pockets every day?

    4. Deadrat -- Fewer Americans are working today than on the day Obama was elected. Furthermore, a great er percentage working people are settling for part-time work. Yes, some large companies are making good profits. But, they aren't expanding. And, small businesses aren't expanding or aren't starting up.

      Cause and effect cannot be definitely proved in economics. However, many people believe that the shrinkage in jobs has been substantially caused by Obama's policies. YMMV.

    5. David, you are so on the money! Cutting taxes, especially for the richest, and increasing military spending (and having a war with Iran) will greatly reduce the deficit. This is because of the cutting on spending Romney will do, though he won't explain what he'll cut to reach that result (you can't fault him on that, the right thing to do is let little old lady widows, poor kids, disabled etc turn down the thermostats and go on a peanut butter and cat food diet, but why bring that up if you don't have to). also all those people who lose jobs from all this cutting, and more, will obviously get high paying jobs in the private sector.

    6. David- Partisan economists like Stephen Moore will believe whatever their ideological agenda tells them to believe, regardless of the facts.

      Actually, you're doing the same thing: No mention of the miserable failure of Reaganomics to lower our budget deficits. (They went way up under Reagan.) No mention of the massive budget deficit Obama was saddled with before he even took office. (The deficit under Obama was lower than what was projected during Bush's presidency). No mention of the lousy results of the Bush tax cuts in the first decade of the 2000s. (He inherited budget surpluses from Clinton, and passed on massive deficits to Obama.) Etc.

      About that bridge you want to sell me: I'll pass.

    7. Anonymous (4:36 PM)- Does this mean we should ignore the evidence?

    8. D in CA:

      So now you've jumped to the claim that the unemployment problem is Obama's fault. Another, although related, topic, for which you've presented exactly as much evidence as you have for the assertion that Obama's policies are "bad for business."

      You've also dropped back to punt with an admission that cause and effect can't be proved in economics, which I guess is why you didn't bother to present any actual evidence for your position. Except the assertion that "many people believe." Ignoramuses abound and they believe many things, like Obama being a Marxist Muslim from Kenya or that the moon landings were faked. What you really mean is that *you* believe.

      Yes, my mileage varies from yours, but that's because I look up stuff. I recommend that habit to you.

    9. Anonymous 3:13 FTW!

    10. Nothing can ever be proved in science, there's only degrees of certainty.

      It just so happens we have a test for what little government stimulus ("spending" as you call it) that history set up for us. I'm talking about France and Brazil, the first two countries to come out of the recession. Brazil invested heavily in infrastructure, while France followed what is called neoliberal policies, what you call business friendly policies. Now, Brazil is doing better, and France is struggling.

      In fact, there's another way to come at this, to test of the legitimacy of your argument, and that's to realize it comes purely out of campaign slogans and corporate media. These are rarely if ever backed by scientific analysis. Instead they use what is called "framing," a kind of hypnotic suggestion that allows people to say the right words at the right time for everything to appear like a consensus ("the engineering of consent").

      Another problem is upper class liberals (after years of New Right propaganda) tend to be fine with income disparities, so Romney's pretty spot on critique of Obama's stimulus grants were given a small blurb in the Times and forgotten, same as the whole corporate profit driven culture that turns people into little cogs in a machine. The deficit is not discussed rationally, it is simply put into the background of overall frustration and angst, vaguely pinned on the older generation.

      It's not that people are making dumb arguments, it's just that the facts are not all there. The whole Culture Of Dumb is the logical result of this. No serious scientist would use such a culture's concepts unblushingly.

  2. Too bad you don't mention that Bob Shrum actually did a half-decent job beating up the idiot Moore (who went to Right-Wing-Pundit School which teaches when caught out on something you can't defend, laugh merrily) on what we know about the Romney "plan" and why the Tax Policy Center came up with the results they did.

    Matthews was smart enough to keep quiet while Shrum was taking Moore (and Romney) to the woodshed.

  3. Please ignore D in CA. I've been suckered by him, too but have come to appreciate that he destroys the comments here. I strongly suspect he does so on purpose. But even if that's not his purpose, that's the effect -- unless he is ignored.

  4. Aw, give the guy a break. David is a nice man.
    For contrast, check out the right wing blogs once in a while.

    David in Cal has never called others commies or nazis or told others what will happen to them when true patriots take back the country.

    He can be infuriating with his inability to comprehend simple realities, but he is no sociopath.

    When you think about it, he is a lot like George W: Someone you'd want to sit down and drink a beer with, but God forbid he should ever form national policy.

    1. mch- You may be right. I'll ignore his comments... and save a lot of time!

      gravymeister- No one said anything inappropriate. He's being dense on purpose, and others are pointing it out. That doesn't mean we wouldn't have a drink with him.

    2. No dirty words, but DinC has been called a moron on occasion.

      Come to think of it, so has George W.

  5. On the theories on why Mitt wants to keep his tax returns secret. I'm going with the theory that he didn't pay his full tithe. And, federal income taxes, for years!

  6. Any hint of educated consumers running around taking matters into their own hands is a symptom, to them, like a rash that needs Doctor Think Tank to cure. That's what's going on right now. Hegemony is trying to swallow the seeds of Occupy whole, before it grows. Every now and then they let themselves wonder a bit at how silly things look, which they turn into a little idea, a little marketable jingoism.

    Markets need you to have desire, loyalty, always-wanting-more, and a "did you hear" grassroots base that conforms to the proper beliefs... It's called "emotional reasoning" where insecurity is the motivator, not rationality... and elites rely on it for their idea of a healthy economy. Mass neurosis as an ideal, all for status.

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