Thing One: Magical Thinking: Join us now, won't you, for a journey through the wonderful world of magic and illusion, with your host, The Amazing Romney. Why, what's this in his hat? Oh, it's a rabbit! And what's he pulling from that black velvet bag? A magical tax plan!
Romney requests only a moment of your time, ladies and gentlemen -- four or eight years, at the most -- to demonstrate to you a stunning act of prestidigitation he learned from years of toil and study with the Tax Masters of the Far East. With the wave of his wand, carved from delicate ivory, he will produce hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy, simply by closing impossibly tiny loopholes that absolutely no one wants closed, et voila! The gaping hole in the federal budget has vanished. Like magic.
The New York Times, obviously in the tank for President Obama, suggests today, after talking to several so-called "tax experts," that Romney's tax plan is impossible to pull off. Something has to give, these nattering nabobs negativize: Either the rich don't get their tax cuts, or the middle class gets a tax increase, or there's a whopping hole in the budget.
The NYT obviously doesn't understand the powers in Romney's possession. Though the polls have moved against Romney since the Democratic National Convention, he is still within striking distance, in part because of one of the most important props in his magician's kit: A Republican party that obstructed the American Jobs Act, one year old as of Saturday, that might have created a million or two million jobs, and won deep cuts in government jobs at all levels of government, all of which helped weaken the economy, enabling Romney to complain about Obama's poor handling of the economy. It's all part of what Paul Krugman calls an "obstruct and exploit" approach to governing for the past few years. But shhh, let's not give away their secrets! You don't want to get blackballed by the Alliance of Magicians.
Thing Two: Fed Up, Ready To Go: One of President Obama's best friends in Washington right now is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who leads a policy meeting later this week that probably will result in some kind of new Fed action to help the economy. The markets are almost fully priced for such a result, Bloomberg writes, and markets don't lie. It's just science. But the Wall Street Journal's Matt Phillips points out that some observers -- cough, Ron Paul, cough, Erin Burnett -- wonder if the Fed is doing more harm than good now.
Thing Three: Insurance Company For Sale, Only Bailed Out Once: The U.S. government plans to sell a huge chunk of its stake in bailed-out insurance giant AIG, raising some $18 billion -- or more if there's enough investor demand, The New York Times writes. This will mean the government no longer has a majority stake in AIG, for the first time since the bailout four years ago. The government will also claim a profit on the bailout, which is not at all meant to help build the case that you are better off now than you were four years ago.
Thing Four: And Now, Europe: Another big factor in Obama's re-election effort will be whether Europeans can finally get their act together and finally bring down the curtain on their interminable clown show. This week is kind of a big deal for Europe, with Dutch elections and a German court due to rule on whether a giant European bailout fund is constitutional. A Labour victory in the Netherlands and a "nein" vote in Germany could throw global markets into turmoil. But the Financial Times waxes optimistic this morning on both events. That could be a huge boost to global markets, and to Obama's re-election chances.
Thing Five: Chinese Data Downers: But having a lousy economy is not just for the U.S. and Europe any more. China has to get in on the act, too, reporting on Sunday a whole bunch more sluggish economic data, including industrial production and fixed-asset investment. The government is responding by building more stuff that is not exactly needed right now, but Chinese consumers aren't doing their part to help, The New York Times writes.
Thing Six: Our Green Power, Made In China: One thing China has been making and selling quite a lot of is solar panels, the Wall Street Journal writes, and they're selling them to American consumers at the fastest pace on record. Wow, this sounds like it could be a growth industry. If only our government could invest in some solar-panel makers to help encourage the industry's growth here. Oh, wait.
Thing Seven: Tablets 'R' Us: When you think of the Tablet Wars, you of course think of the big combatants: Apple. Amazon. Toys 'R' Us. The Wall Street Journal reports that the ubiquitous toy company, also known as The Bane Of Parents, will soon start selling its own branded tablet, aimed at the Wiggles set.
Thing Seven And One Half: Summer Of Serena: All your summer tennis tournaments belong to Serena. Ms. Williams beat the world's No. 1 player, Victoria Azarena, in three sets, to win the U.S. Open title in Queens. The victory, Williams' fourth at the Open, caps an amazing run this summer that includes singles and doubles victories in the London Olympics and Wimbledon.
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Calendar Du Jour:
3:00 p.m. ET: Consumer Credit for July
Heard On The Tweets:
@damianpaletta: I'll never forget the look on lawmakers' faces when Bernanke/Paulson briefed them on AIG in '08. Looked like they'd seen ghosts. Haunting.
@JeffMacke: Listening to Dark Side of the Moon while watching tennis. It's much, much better than the bloodcurdling shrieks.
@jasonWSJ: Sorry but this women's tennis final beats your football game.
@MrsRupertPupkin: I can say with certainty that I did not get pregnant this weekend.
@KenJennings: My kids are getting old enough to realize there's no Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus or college fund.
You can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff
Also on HuffPost:
Wealthy Benefit Most From Tax Cuts
Paul Ryan's most recent budget proposal would save those making between $20,000 and $30,000 just $246 in taxes, compared to savings of $265,011 for those who make over $1 million, according to analysis from the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2012/04/02/gIQAjn0grS_graphic.html" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.
Health Care Cuts
The "Path to Prosperity" would cut $2.4 trillion from Medicaid and other health care programs for people with low or moderate incomes, according to analysis from the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2012/04/02/gIQAjn0grS_graphic.html" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.
Fewer People Covered By Medicaid
Under Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" as many as 44 million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7417870n" target="_hplink">according to CBS News</a>.
Reduced Health Care For Retirees
Ryan would raise the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67. If the Affordable Care Act was repealed, something Romney has pledged, that means many 65- and 66-year-olds would be left uninsured, the <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/08/11/seven-things-the-media-needs-to-know-about-paul/189277" target="_hplink">CBPP reports</a>.
Seniors Would Pay More For Health Coverage
Under Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," senior citizens would have to pay as much as 68 percent of their health care coverage, up from 25 percent today, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7417870n" target="_hplink">CBS News reports.</a>
Cuts To Food Stamp Programs
Ryan's proposed "Path to Prosperity" includes $134 billion in cuts to SNAP, according to analysis from the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/2012/04/02/gIQAjn0grS_graphic.html" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.
Lower Tax Credit For Single Moms
A single mother of two working full time at the minimum wage would have her Child Tax Credit cut by more than $1,500, assuming she made $14,500 a year, according to the <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/08/11/seven-things-the-media-needs-to-know-about-paul/189277" target="_hplink">Center on Budget and Policy Priorities</a>.
Less Money For Education
Compared to the most recent White House budget proposal, Ryan's budget spends 33 percent less on education, training, employment and social services, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/12/what-paul-ryans-budget-actually-cuts-and-by-how-much/" target="_hplink">the <em>Washington Post</em> reports</a>.
Poor Weather Forecasts
Ryan's proposed cuts to environment and natural resource programs could result in weather forecasts being only half as accurate, according to Third Way's budget expert, David Kendall. "For many people planning a weekend outdoors, they may have to wait until Thursday for a forecast as accurate as one they now get on Monday," <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/12/what-paul-ryans-budget-actually-cuts-and-by-how-much/" target="_hplink">he's quoted as saying in the <em>Washington Post</em></a>.
No Raises For Government Workers
The current government worker pay freeze would be extended under the "Path to Prosperity," meaning public-sector employees wouldn't get a raise until at least 2015, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/paul-ryans-budget-plan-hits-federal-workers/2012/08/11/8953b832-e3a3-11e1-98e7-89d659f9c106_blog.html" target="_hplink">the <em>Washington Post</em> reports</a>.