With the general election kicking off yesterday, we will have seven more months of the kind of “I know you are but what am I” politics we saw on display yesterday. It’s almost too depressing to even contemplate.
Mr. Romney fought back on his preferred turf, jobs and the economy, making the case that women had faced heavy job losses since President Obama took office [...]
“There’s been some talk about the war on women,” he said, referring to claims by Democratic leaders that the Republican Party is hostile toward women with its positions on issues like abortion and health care. “The real war on women has been waged by the Obama administration’s failure on the economy.”
He repeatedly cited the figure of 92.3 percent, which he said was women’s share of all the jobs lost since the president’s inauguration in January 2009.
“The president is so out of touch, I don’t think he knew that number,’’ Mr. Romney said here, at R.C. Fabricators, a company that makes steel girders for heavy construction, and whose chief executive is a woman, Becky Suppe.
Resolved: in a large country with dozens of interlocking economic and social factors, you can find numbers to prove or disprove just about any point you want to make about a subset of the population. The truth is that drawing the line at the beginning of the recession finds that women accounted for 39.7% of all job loss. Indeed, every so often you hear about the “mancession” that we’ve seen the past few years; men’s job loss in areas like construction almost always hits quickly, with women’s job loss being less cyclical. So this really depends on when you start the clock, and it’s an artifact of history.
There’s the other point that this has nothing to do with the “war on women” as typically described. That would be the tendency for the right to create legislation that bans women from making their own medical choices, cuts off funding for the most crucial women’s health priorities and organizations, and basically humiliates a large sector of the population with their public policy decisions.
Of course, yesterday you had the President returning to the discussion of taxes he likes to make every tax season and just before elections, only to have the same issues he touts linger. There were about 50 opportunities to end the carried interest loophole, or change the tax treatment of hedge fund managers so they pay an income tax rate on their income rather than a capital gains tax rate, or to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, or roll back the Bush tax cuts over $250,000. In fact, even that construction, “the Bush tax cuts over $250,000,” shows how much Democrats have conceded in the tax fight. They have basically accepted the idea that the Clinton tax rates were too high, despite the prosperity that presided over the country during that time period, which the allegedly “high” tax rates did not alter.
The big policy prescription for the first day of the general election was the Buffett rule, which I generally support but which doesn’t kick in until the $1 million income level, and which actually phases in to avoid a cliff effect, which means its full impact doesn’t start until $2 million in income. And even then, the effective minimum tax rate it sets is 30%, well under the current 35% top tax rate and the 39.6% tax rate Democrats claim to want to levy. The idea that this only impacts 0.2% of the population isn’t a reason not to do it, but it is the reason why it doesn’t raise very much money or why it doesn’t represent a return to the principles of progressive taxation.
So that’s the terrain we’re seeing the fight waged on, with over 200 more days like this to go until November. Try to keep sharp objects away from your wrists during this period. Silly season is upon us.