Burch: Smoke and mirrors

Friday, October 12, 2012 at 4:03pm
By Michael R. Burch

When David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty “disappear,” that was an impressive stunt, but of course it was an illusion. Did Mitt Romney perhaps win the American presidency with a similar illusion during the first presidential debate, when he managed to make $7 trillion vanish before our eyes?

While others have accused President Obama of blowing the debate, I think he was caught off balance by Romney’s sleight of hand. Chris Kowal, a Purdue University professor who has studied Obama’s and Romney’s facial expressions since 2007, said that the emotions Obama expressed were positive, on the whole, but that his face registered frustration. And that’s completely understandable, considering Romney’s vanishing act.

It’s hard to debate wild myths rationally, so I can certainly sympathize with Obama’s frustration. At this juncture in the race, the main election issues are jobs and the economy. The candidates have very different ideas about how to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Obama was prepared to debate the most obvious difference, only to see Romney make it vanish — Presto! Change-o! — with smoke and mirrors.

Obama and the Democrats favor a balanced approach: ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, some much-needed belt-tightening that isn’t so extreme it shreds the safety nets of the elderly, sick and poor (which means cuts in defense spending), and investments in things that will allow future growth, such as education and green energy.

Romney and the Romulans have favored supply side economics — also called “trickle down” and “voodoo” economics — ever since the presidential campaigns began in earnest. According to Romney Hood and his partner in crime Lyin’ Ryan, reversing tax cuts for the super-rich is not only verboten, but it is imperative to cut their taxes even more. Ryan’s “rescue plan for the super-rich” would virtually free them from all federal income taxes, by exempting the main sources of their income: capital gains, interest and dividends.

As everyone from Bill Clinton, to Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman, to ultra-conservative Republicans have pointed out, it is impossible to cut $5 trillion in tax revenues, increase defense spending by $2 trillion, and not end up $7 trillion deeper in debt, unless some combination of new revenues and spending cuts can balance the equation. But to my knowledge not a single expert on either side, or in the middle, has agreed that $7 trillion can be found without raising taxes for middle income Americans and/or letting the elderly, sick and poor experience a world of hurt.

Romney’s magic act discounts basic math and he refuses to discuss where $7 trillion can realistically be cut, other than to suggest giving Big Bird the boot, which would reduce the federal budget by a whopping one one-hundredth of one percent.

But hold on, because it gets worse. I am about to reveal the depth of the sordid deception involved. Romney has promised repeatedly that he will not raise taxes for middle income Americans. But when George Stephanopoulos asked him recently if by “middle income” he meant people who make $100,000 per year (which is still double the median American family income), Romney replied, “No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.”

If we peer deep enough into the illusion, it becomes clear that Romney has promised to cut taxes only for American families making $200,000 or more per year. He has made no promises to anyone at lower income levels. He can raise their taxes because they are not really “middle income.” And who can guess what he intends for the elderly, sick and poor? He is on record as saying that it is “immoral” to have trillion-dollar deficits and to borrow money from China. As the CEO of Bain Capital, he was perfectly content to fire American workers, liquidate entire companies, rake in profits for himself and his rich cronies, and let everyone he deemed expendable either swim with the sharks, or sink to the bottom.

Perhaps Romney intends to perform the same sort of LBO “magic” on the struggling American public that he once performed on struggling American companies. An LBO is a nifty way of transferring money from a sinking ship to its richest passengers, just before they skedaddle for the lifeboats. President Obama is trying to save the ship of state and all the passengers, so he has my vote.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

Filed under: City Voices
Tagged: Michael Burch

116 Comments on this post:

By: Rasputin72 on 10/12/12 at 4:46

If you had only a dictionary to guide you,one would immediately brand Michael Burch a communist.

By: pswindle on 10/12/12 at 4:47

The country knows all about Mitt. He can't fool us anymore. He is a man without a heart.
His wife, Ann said, "That she tries to help him control his temper. He must be a piece of work. He is really good in hiding what he does not want the public to see. He is a danger to our society as we get to know more and more about Mitt.

By: yogiman on 10/12/12 at 5:18

I'm amazed, pswindle. You folks seem to be able to know everything about Mitt Romney from his childhood to his life of today.

But you don't seen to be able to learn anything about the man going by the name Barack Obama. Haven't you been concerned of the man putting you and you grandchildren (if you have any) going so deep into debt your nation will soon be taken over through bankruptcy.

Don't you even care who the man is?

May I say: If you voted for Barack Obama in 2008 to prove you wasn't a racist, please vote for someone else next month who is willing to prove their eligibilitry to prove you aren't an idiot.

By: yogiman on 10/12/12 at 5:24

I must agree with you, Rasputin72. For a man to say he doesn't care if the person sitting in our Oval Office is a foreigner makes me wonder if he's an American citizen.

He's a good writer but he sure doesn't have much American mentality.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/12/12 at 5:46

Sheriff Roy raised an idiot.

By: Mike Burch on 10/12/12 at 5:53


I have only called for a level playing field for everyone, rather than one tilted wildly in favor of the 1% (even though I'm probably in the 1% myself). And of course I have said that it is immoral to let the elderly, sick and poor die in the streets. But other modern non-communist states take much better their care of their hardship cases than the US, so it can obviously be done without abandoning capitalism.

When Romney went on his international tour of friendly states -- the UK, Israel and Poland -- he praised their cultures and economies. But all three nations have government-overseen universal healthcare. So Romney seems to be full of malarkey when he talks about American "exceptionalism."

It's beyond silly to call a successful capitalist and business owner a "communist" just because he points out that the US should be able to do what Poland has done, despite the economic pit it/'s had to dig itself out of.


By: Mike Burch on 10/12/12 at 6:01


Ann Romney also says that she never fights with Bishop Romney. Maybe she's seen what happens to people who argue with him. One of his former classmates compared him to the Lord of the Flies. And just look at the way he treated the elderly moderator, Jim Lehrer. A Colorado schoolteacher who attended a roundtable discussion said that Romney told her to shut up unless he asked her to speak. Other people, including many women, have related similar accounts about Romney.

He seems to have a God complex, and autocratic male gods usually have control issues.

By: Mike Burch on 10/12/12 at 6:05

The best example of Bishop Romney not having a human heart is the fact that after touring a Chinese sweatshop complete with barbed wire and guard towers, where he saw thousands of young Chinese girls trapped into providing near slave labor under terrible conditions until they were able to find husbands (meaning many of the probably too the first offer they received) ... he invested millions of dollars, seeing the opportunity to make some easy money.

Did he report the girls' dire predicament to the proper authorities or the US public? No, he invested in the sweatshop and almost surely recommended that the American companies he owed consider outsourcing production and American jobs there.

What a creep!

By: yogiman on 10/12/12 at 6:44

Well, Mike, at least you know the man you refuse to accept and he isn't attempting to hide his identity.

It's a shame you don't even know the man's name you so willingly accept and who continues to refuse to identify himself. And you see him as superior.

Personally, I like to know who in the hell my President is. By law, we don't even have a president today and haven't had one since 2008.

By: Ask01 on 10/12/12 at 7:38

I believe enough citizens are realizing Willard and Ryan have yet to explain just how this economic miracle will be performed.

I received one smart piece of advice when I enlisted, and passed the same caveat along to anyone I knew considering following my example: never take the recruiters word for anything. If he promises something, be certain that is reflected in the contract before you sign anything.

That advice actually is wise any time you are working with a contract. Sales people and others can say and promise anything, but unless the terms are written down, an individual might have problems. I am not aware, (and I will admit I could be wrong,) of any laws actually enforcing verbal agreements without all sorts of legal encumberances.

Curious, isn't it, that Willard and Ryan have not committed to any concrete details as to their plans?

Or perhaps they hope they can fool enough people, and with the help of voter restriction laws and intimidation from employers, sneak into the White House before springing the trap.

By: parnell3rd on 10/12/12 at 9:57

So true Rasp 72.

By: parnell3rd on 10/12/12 at 9:59

And Sherrif Roy named his Idiot Capt. Nemo! Dayum that is funnnnnyyyyyy!!!!!

By: parnell3rd on 10/12/12 at 10:01

Mitt is sooooooo terrible he gave how many millions of dollars to charity? Joe Biden gave $300 and joe is a multi millionaire.

By: parnell3rd on 10/12/12 at 10:04

Ask o1 maybe they stop printing money at an alarming rate since Bush. Because soon it the dollars will be worthless. Pretty soon we are all going to remember the high inflation and interest rates from the Carter years.

By: Mike Burch on 10/13/12 at 2:55


I too wonder why Bishop Romney and Lyin' Ryan have declined to offer any concrete specifics. Do they want us to believe they have magic wands because they don't have actual ideas?

By: Ask01 on 10/13/12 at 6:08

I foresee several problems surrounding the three R's (Romney, Ryan, & Republican) plan. I am being generous with the 'plan' terminology, because I have yet to hear specifics, and must draw upon previous comments to extrapolate the "secret plan."

Once, as it seems must be the goal, the middle class has been merged with the lower class and all reduced to mere subsistance living, they will not be able to purchase the goods they produce to make the rich richer. What then? Even imported slave labor produced goods will be beyond the purchasing power of the teeming masses of the poor. What will the pitiful rich do when they cannot exploit the workers further?

The second is, if the middle class is thought troublesome now, how much more so will they be when they find themselves victims of an economic virtual genocide? Regulars already know my thoughts based on historical precedent, so I won't repeat predicitions.

I suggest Willard and his sock puppet running mate be prepared to offer specifics concerning their magic plans to "make everything all better" when next asked.

The smoke is thinning in the wind and the mirrors are becoming more see through as the backing wears off as citizens begin asking pointed questions.

By: Rasputin72 on 10/13/12 at 6:18

IWith malice towards none I have listed below the people who will vote for a Democrat in a National election. I may have left a few out but what I have listed is enough to win the popular vote in November.

ACLU supporters
Hollywood types (fake liberals)
Government Unions
Teachers Unions

Union people in general
Anti-Gun advocates
Pro-Gay Marriage advocates
Pro-United Nations people
Anti-Military people
Medicaid Recipients
Anti-Oil & Gas people
Non Federal Tax payers
Pro Abortionists
Womens Rights Advocates
Uninformed Electorate
Pro Big Government
Pro Higher Taxes
Pro Regulation
Global Warming Alarmists
Pro Universal Health Care
Anti-Death Penalty
Pro Higher Minimum Wage
Pro Affirmative Action
Class Envy People

Romney does not have a chance with the popular vote and only a smidgen of a chance with the electoral vote.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 6:18

Well, Ask01, tell me, over the past 4 years, what has Barry and Joe said they were going to do, either for or to this nation.

Hell, Barry won't even tell us who he is, let alone what he will do for our benefit.

You have only 25 days to make a decision. You had better do some research on who you're voting for because if Barry Soetoro gets unofficially re-usurps this nation, you can kiss it goodbye.

Why do you think he told Vladimir Putin to "hold up", that he would be more flexible after his election? You can bet your a$$ it isn't because he fears Putin.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 6:33

You left out one group, Rasputin72: The Obama admirers on this site who don't know him or his goal for the nation.

The only thing they can possible know about him is his love of playing gold, his love of campaigning and a family that loves to vacation at our expense.

Hell, it's okay to take another vacation. It doesn't matter if the nation is broke. All we have to do is spend what they've got.

If the states and congress allows him on the ballot again without proof of eligibility again, the USA will be a 'used to be' nation.

By: Loner on 10/13/12 at 7:17

Good morning, Nashville.

The nuns claimed that Jesus died on a Friday at 3PM....Mike Burch's latest missive arrived here, at the NCP, at 3:03 PM, on a Friday...is there a connection?

But more seriously, the "smoke" that Romney & Ryan are using must be the good stuff...the mind-altering sort of smoke....and the mirrors are essential in politics today, we only want politicians that look good....good hair, great teeth, well-dressed people with perpetually smiling faces...."smoke & mirrors" gets the job done.

Paul Ryan claimed that, under Obama, the US Navy would be greatly reduced and would be smaller than the US Navy was during WW1. That's smoke, my friends. The US Navy is now operating ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with three more under construction....of course, the Navy has a large, modern fleet of nuclear-powered and conventional surface vessels, Tomahawk missiles, armed drones, etc. etc.

The Romney-Ryan team wants to spend an additional two trillion (that's two thousand billion or 2 million million dollars) on Defense spending.....we know who is supporting this crap: Defense, Israel & Energy (DIE)....how much revenue is generated in taxation of DIE? The Defense industry and the Energy industry are multi-national in nature and they pay a fraction of what they ought to in US taxes....and Israel pays nothing in US taxes, on the contrary, Israel is the number one recipient of US foreign aid.

The GOP wants to maintain this status quo....the Republican candidates are on the take to the DIE consortium...sadly, so are the Democrats....we're screwed.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 8:01

Did I hear them wrong, Loner? I understood Obama was intending to reduce the size of the Navy but Romney was going to keep it secure.

By the way: What do you think of Obama giving you his honored permission to pay a %3.8 sales tax when you sell you home? Of course it won't go into effect until 2013. You know, after the election next month.

Could that be why the Obamacare plan was written in 2700 pages thinking no one would read it, especially the legislators?

Check it out on Bing.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 8:08

Ask01 and Mike

If Romney had a plan he would show now, so the people can see that he is the better man for the job. By not showing it or any hint of it, he seems to have no plan, or one that would hurt the 47% and 99% of the Americans.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 8:09

Stayed up all night the come up with that 7:18 post, Rasputin or did you just cut and paste?

By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 8:11

By: Rasputin72 on 10/12/12 at 5:46
If you had only a dictionary to guide you,one would immediately brand Michael Burch a communist.

From Rasputin dictionary anyone that is a free thinking person, is a communist.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 8:12

By: parnell3rd on 10/12/12 at 10:59
And Sherrif Roy named his Idiot Capt. Nemo! Dayum that is funnnnnyyyyyy!!!!!

Careful p3, you will offend the troll king.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 8:24

There are stories of Sheriff Roy, choking his idiot son one time. It seems that the wailing from the closet was so loud that the neighbors could hear it. Sheriff Roy had gagged his idiot son mouth so tight with rope and a dirty rag that the idiot son almost died.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 8:47

Sorry, parnell3rd,

Sheriff Roy wouldn't have an idiot like Dumba$$ as a deputy. Heck, he couldn't even come close to match Barney Fife. Does he even know how to pull a gun.

He'd probably put his thumb on the trigger to look down the barrel to see if it would work.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 8:57

Sheriff Roy tried to teach his idiot son how to shoot a gun once, but the damn fool shot himself in the foot. He then Sheriff Roy gave his idiot son a wooden gun, but the idiot managed to get a wood splinter in his hand and got it infected.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 10:44

Sheriff Roy taught his sons how top use a gun on their 8th birthday, bumba$$. And I've been using mine ever since.

If I wasn't afraid of your ignorance of how to handle one I'd invite you to a competition on a range. Can anyone imagine hearing you say; Darn, I didn't know you puller the trigger like that. I hope I don't hit my other foot.

It might help if you put a hole in your skull and let a little fresh air in there. It might refresh your brain. That would be, of course, if you had one to refresh.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 10:48

Cool. If any of you are old Ventures fans you might like this tune:


By: Captain Nemo on 10/13/12 at 11:04


By: pswindle on 10/13/12 at 4:27

Mitt, only gives money to the Morman Church. That is another reason why he will not show his income taxes. That cult only helps their church and its people if the people will do exactly what they tell them to do. Mitt told a woman who had a baby our of wedlock to give her baby away or she will be out the the church. What a total b$$$$$. She kept the baby.

By: yogiman on 10/13/12 at 6:58

Religions are by choice, pswindle. How can you say one is better than the other?

Let's say Romney decided to leave his Mormon beliefs and come to your church. Just wondering; Would you change you mind about him if he gave to your church?

By: Mike Burch on 10/14/12 at 1:01


If Romney gives 10% of his money to the Mormon church honestly, then it seems he is only reporting part of his actual income to the federal government. For instance, if he gave $4 million to the Mormon church in a single year, that means he may have made $40 million. But he hasn't reported earnings that high.

I think Romney is sheltering huge amounts of money from federal income tax, via his 137 offshore shell corporations. If he sheltered half his income, that means his effective tax rate drops from 13% to 6.5%. If in some years he only reported 10% of his income, his effective rate drops to 1.3%.

And this would explain why he refuses to release his older tax returns.

By: Mike Burch on 10/14/12 at 1:03


You forgot the main category of people who would never vote for Mitt Romney: Americans with functional hearts and brains, who believe in justice and fair play.

By: Mike Burch on 10/14/12 at 1:06


One of the men who knows our military best, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, once pointed out that our navy is larger than the next 13 largest navies in the world COMBINED, and that 11 of those navies belong to our allies.

Romney and Ryan just want to impress voters with their machismo ... talking tough is what American politicians are supposed to do, even when temperance and sobriety would save lives and trillions of dollars.

By: Mike Burch on 10/14/12 at 1:09


I went to the Vandy-Florida game ... my first college football game in years ... and I was shocked to see one pro-military show after another, before the game and during the game. The game was like a big ad for the American War Machine.

By: yogiman on 10/14/12 at 2:50


You're seem to be an avid condemner. It's easy to condemn Romney for his banking practices but it's okay for all other businesses to do the same, eh?

Just wondering, you claim to be among the %1ers, where do you bank all of your money; in that bank around the corner?

I'm not sure what you meant in your; "main category of people who would never vote for Mitt Romney: Americans with functional hearts and brains who believe in justice and fair play."

Please tell me, Mike, if you aren't a fellow communist; how can you vote for Barry Soetoro aka Barack Obama, whom you don't know, who refuses to identify himself and who surely doesn't believe in "justice and fair play". You're either a fellow communist with him or an idiot and I'm not sure which bracket to place you in.

By: Ask01 on 10/14/12 at 4:24

You make some very good points, Mike.

It is a curious discrepancy, the amount Willard donates, or tithes, to his church versus his reported income. A good reason to figure out just how much money he actually made.

While others may be following the same practices, those others are not campaigning for the office of president, nor are they promising some snake oil cure for the economy while sidestepping naming the ingredients, or details, of the plan.

I also agree many Americans still harbor feelings of empathy and compassion for those less fortunate and support a system in which they are truly able, allowed, and encouraged to improve their lot in life. Sadly, under Willie and von Ryan, I fear the route up will be illusory for many and open only to a select few of the 'right' people.

One more issue. The role of the United States Navy in national defense and force projection cannot, and should, be downplayed. The service is vital in protecting our freedoms. However, that said, I believe "Commodore" Willard envisions a scene from centuries past with warships sailing victoriously into foreign harbors, (where, of course, he will transfer American jobs to be performed by slave wage laborers.)

The nature of modern warfare, if fought against a conventional, 21st century enemy, will be fought from the air, with drones and missles. If we continue to fight those living in the middle ages, we will need to employ a greater intelligence effort, read spies, and physical boots on the ground. The Navy will be relegated to the coastal regions, and perhaps contributing cruise missle attacks.

So Mike, I agree wholeheartedly with your assessments.

By: Rasputin72 on 10/14/12 at 6:14

Mike Burch,

You are confused, the people you mention as "Americans with hearts and brains" will vote for Mitt Romney.

Unfortunately we are being outnumbered by people like you and the "simple six"

P.S. You takers can never survive without us builders

By: yogiman on 10/14/12 at 7:31


You make comments about Romney, in essence, not knowing what he will do if he is elected. May I ask, did you know what Obama would do if he was elected? Did you know he would put you deeper into debt than many President before him combined. Would you have voted for him if you had known he would put you and your children deeper into dept? Hell, did you even know the man's official name and birth place?

You never know what anyone will do on a job until you hire them for it. How could you assure your employer you would be a good choice for the job he hired you for unless he knew you beforehand?

By: Captain Nemo on 10/14/12 at 8:25


By: Ask01 on 10/14/12 at 8:50


By: Ask01 on 10/14/12 at 9:12

Let's review, shall we?

I speak for no one except myself, but I have worked my entire adult life, (except for three years when the Republicans allowed the economy to tank as punishment for electing a black president,) which includes twenty plus years in service, including time in Europe, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Uzbekistan, the Indian Ocean, and several countries on the African continent I won't name.

I worked in several occupations after retirement, all of which contributed to the community in some form or another, earning enough to actually pay income taxes and raised several children along the way, each of whom is doing quite well.

Forgive me, (or not, I don't care,) but I take extreme offense at the title 'taker.'

Since I don't consider myself exceptional or even special, (although some might affix the term 'special' in a derogatory meaning,) I believe there are many like me who are extremely suspicious of Willard, who discounts 47% of the population, and seems to hold average workers in contempt while refusing to detail exactly how his magic plan would affect citizens.

On a parting note, the 'builders' would be lost without contributors to do the dirty grunt work, insulating them from the real takers.

Parting note 2, one could argue the builders are synonymous with takers from the perspective of taking from the contributing laborers who build their empires for them.

Have a wonderful weekend, as I have things to do.

By: yogiman on 10/14/12 at 9:39

I hate to tell you this, boys, but you're flushing you brain out through your a$$. Only 24 more days and you'll wonder; Just how damn stupid can I be?

By: Captain Nemo on 10/14/12 at 9:45

Rasputin says, “You takers can never survive without us builders.” I would like to say that Rasputin is a joke and certainly not a builder. If he builds as well as he writes, then he is a builder of cardboard condos, found in alleyways.

Builders are the workforce, stupid. They are the people you call the underclass, the 47% and 98%, you sneer at. The people you come from. Rasputin, you are no builder of anything, except a line of boast and enhanced daydreams.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/14/12 at 9:48


By: Rasputin72 on 10/14/12 at 10:36

ASKO1. ....NEMO.......I have no quarrel with anything you post or anything you believe. In fact I could care less if you decided. to haul coal in your mouth.

Your right to post your philosophy is guaranteed by our forefathers. I hope that is never abolished.

I, on the other hand am very thankful that I do not belive or want to believe that my life should meet. any expectations other than my own.

I have appreciated learning how a segment of America thinks and feels about the quagmire we have created since 1945.

I am also thankful that I am part of. a generation that has lived their entire lives in Camelot.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/14/12 at 10:41

I’m looking forward to see you in November, Rasputin.

By: Captain Nemo on 10/14/12 at 10:50

So you call the so call ghettoes of West Nashville Camelot? Or was that another one of your lies. If you are going to be a good liar, you have to live the lie and so far you have not even come close.