Romney's personal war on pot

The nominee annoys his neighbors; the stimulus worked; when Bain took public cash; and other top Thursday stories

Published June 7, 2012 12:16PM (EDT)

Romney presidency would increase odds of recession, science says: Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, the former chief economist at the World Bank, says a Romney win would “significantly” raise the odds of slipping back into recession because it would mean a shift toward less government spending, when what we really need is more. “History shows that the adoption of fiscal austerity when an economy is weak can have disastrous consequences, as happened in the U.S. in 1929 on the eve of the Great Depression," Stiglitz told Bloomberg editors and reporters in New York yesterday.

Democrats, after trying to offer austerity lite in 2010, finally seem to be catching on. The New York Times’ Helene Cooper: “In a new line of attack, top Democrats are arguing that Mitt Romney and the Republicans, with their focus on spending cuts, are following Europe’s austerity-first example, to dismal effect so far: Greece over the edge; Italy, Spain, Portugal on the edge; Britain in recession; and the United States suffering through a needlessly weak recovery because of government cuts.”

“We have a laboratory experiment going on for what the Republicans want to do here, and that’s Europe,” said Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. “Particularly England, because they had the equivalent of a Democratic government, and [Conservative David] Cameron comes in with austerity, and now they’re in a recession.”

Budget deities: The stimulus worked: The Washington Post reports, “Under questioning from skeptical Republicans, the director of the nonpartisan (and widely respected) Congressional Budget Office was emphatic about the value of the 2009 stimulus. And, he said, the vast majority of economists agree. In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 80 percent of economic experts agreed that, because of the stimulus, the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been otherwise. “Only 4 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed,” CBO director Douglas Elmendorf told the House Budget Committee. “That,” he added, “is a distinct minority.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and other Republicans used to say the “CBO is God around here” -- that is, until the office started making rulings they didn’t like.

Mitt Romney is a bit like Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino”: What would it be like to live next door to the presumed GOP nominee? The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro went to La Jolla, Calif., where Romney is tearing down his inadequate $12 million beach home to replace it with one four times larger, to find out. He reports: “A young man in town recalled that Mr. Romney confronted him as he smoked marijuana and drank on the beach last summer, demanding that he stop. The issue appears to be a recurring nuisance for the Romneys. [Mark] Quint, who lives on the waterfront near Mr. Romney, said that a police officer had asked him, on a weekend when the candidate was in town, to report any pot smoking on the beach. The officer explained to him that ‘your neighbors have complained,’ Mr. Quint recalled. ‘He was pretty clear that it was the Romneys.’”

When Romney loved government intervention in the private sector:  BusinessWeek’s David Lynch notes that while Romney likes to say that “government does not create prosperity,” his record at Bain “shows otherwise.” He writes: “During Romney’s years as chief executive of Bain Capital LLC, companies owned by the firm received millions of dollars in benefits from a variety of state and local government economic development programs. In California, taxpayer money built one Bain company a conveyor bridge between two of its buildings. New York City gave another Bain company tax breaks and lower energy bills to discourage it from moving to New Jersey. And in Indiana, a county government issued bonds to help buy new equipment for a Bain-owned steel plant -- a business success featured in a Romney campaign ad touting his private sector prowess.”

Listen, y’all, this is sabotage: While it’s usually Democrats who accuse Republicans of deliberately (perhaps accurately) hurting the economy for political gain, Romney turned the attack against Obama yesterday, saying the president “knowingly slowed down our recovery in order to put in place Obamacare.”

His evidence? A new book from New Republic editor Noam Scheiber about the Obama presidency. However, he’s “definitely misrepresenting” it, according to Scheiber himself, who has more here.

George W. Bush: Least popular president alive: The former president is the least-liked living president and the only one with an an approval rating under 50 percent, according to a new CNN poll. His favorability rating is at 43 percent.

Half the U.S. population: Now lives in a city or state that allows same-sex civil unions or marriages, according to a new report. By contrast, in 1996, just 5 percent of Americans lived in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage. “The ground has shifted substantially under our feet, and the country is now approaching a tipping point for the first time in history,” said the report, from the moderate Democratic think tank Third Way.

Meanwhile, a new sign that Obama’s support for marriage equality won’t hurt him: A new poll in the battleground state of Virginia finds that, even though a slightly greater number oppose equality in the Southern state, most say it won’t affect their vote.

POTUS also got no heckles at an LGBT event in Los Angeles last night. That’s unusual, as before the announcement, disillusioned rights activists often protested his LGBT fundraisers.

Steny Hoyer’s daughter comes out as a lesbian: The minority whip’s daughter says she was inspired to come out after her father’s endorsement of marriage equality, which followed in the wake of Obama’s.

Russia and China’s double down to block action in Syria: Leaders in China, Russia and Central Asian states called today for a dialogue to address the violence in Syria, a move that reaffirms their opposition to intervention and “all but guarantee[s] that there will be no end to the deadlock in discussions at the U.N. Security Council,” Reuters reports.

Mitt Romney loves “Regan,” president of “Amercia”: The Romney campaign had its third spelling error this week on a slide show to big donors, when it misspelled the 33rd president’s name. It has now botched the spelling of Republicans’ two favorite words: Reagan and America.

By Alex Seitz-Wald

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2012 Elections