Mitt Romney, “frontrunner” for the GOP presidential nomination, emerged from the New Hampshire primary as the leading candidate with only 37 percent of the vote. It was a not-so-big win for Romney, as the Republicans head to South Carolina for the Jan. 21 primary there.
“After spending five years campaigning in the state and untold millions of dollars he couldn’t do better than a few points more than he got running there four years ago, when he lost his party’s nomination,” noted Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on national television Tuesday night.
The clearest thing Romney comes out of New Hampshire with is the albatross of his Bain Capital days hanging around his neck. What was supposed to be his strongest argument for laying claim to the presidency, his experience in private industry, has become a huge problem for him, as the Republican candidates, front-men for corporate greed, fall all over each other to portray themselves as men of the people.
Fearful that his campaign would suffer if he addressed Bain Capital’s record of causing layoffs and bankruptcies, Romney tried a different approach the night before the New Hampshire primary: He declared that his Republican opponents such as Newt Gingrich who had condemned his “vulture capitalism” were of a kind with Democrats and President Obama in making capitalism the enemy. He said, “Attacks on venture capitalism in particular and capitalism generally have no place in the Republican Party” and claimed that Obama and the Democrats are pushing resentment and jealousy of the rich while he pushes “opportunity for all.”
Romney’s attempt to deflect attention from his role as a massive job killer by characterizing anyone who brings it up as a “socialist’ will have rough going in South Carolina. There the official unemployment rate is over 10 percent, almost 2 points higher than the national average. South Carolina workers were among those directly hit by Romney’s Bain layoffs. And in South Carolina, as elsewhere across the country, there are many who consider themselves conservative who oppose so-called investment firms that chew up companies and spit out their remains, workers included.
“Until he gives a stronger, more detailed and definitive account of what he accomplished in the private sector – and why his critics are wrong – Romney will remain grievously vulnerable to the very attacks that his opponents are leveling,” wrote Politico today. “They could be all the more damaging in a general election.
Only two days before lumping his GOP opponents and President Obama together as socialists, Romney told a Chamber of Commerce crowd in New Hampshire that he “liked being able to fire people.” The Rev. Al Sharpton, on his MSNBC TV program Politics Nation, commented Tuesday night, “With millions afraid of losing their jobs you don’t come across the right way when you say something like that.”
Romney’s tax policy is something else that became clear as a bell during the New Hampshire primary debates. He said he will make the Bush tax cuts for the rich permanent and that he wants, in addition, a whole new series of tax changes that favor the rich.
The Tax Policy Center estimates that Romney’s tax plan will save earners in the top 1 percent $82,000 a year, but do nothing for workers in the bottom half of the income distribution.
An analysis by Citizenss for Tax Justice shows that the average tax cuts received by the richest 1 percent of Americans under the various Republican plans would be 270 times as large as the cut received by the middle class.