At convention, Democrats make anti-Romney case
The Democrats' case against Mitt Romney is based on a succession of personal, political and policy body blows that pound at the challenger in ways designed to make the election a choice between two candidates rather than a judgment about the sluggish economy.
From Romney' Swiss bank account, to his tenure at Bain Capital, from his push for sweeping tax cuts to his plans for Medicare, the portrait Democrats are creating at their convention is of an out of touch rival who wants to stick it to the middle class.
A look at the top arguments the Democrats are leveling against Romney and the counterpoints offered by Republicans:
ROMNEY'S ECONOMIC PLAN HAS FAILED BEFORE
Recurrent targets at the convention are the economic proposals made by Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan. Democrats portray the Romney-Ryan call for more tax cuts and fewer government regulations as idea relics that failed before and led the country into a recession. Keynote speaker Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, declared: "Their theory has been tested. It failed. Our economy failed. The middle class paid the price. Your family paid the price."
Romney would keep Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes and drop all tax rates further, by 20 percent. That would bring the top rate down to 28 percent from 35 percent. Obama would increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans while retaining the Bush-era cuts for households with incomes under $250,000.
Romney and Ryan say high tax rates and regulations have stifled businesses and economic growth. They say they would also curtail deductions, credits and exemptions for the wealthiest. Romney and some economists argue that raising taxes on anyone right now could send the sluggish economy back into a recession.
ROMNEY IS OUT OF TOUCH
It's the most personal critique of the campaign, and Democrats in the convention are reveling in it. Speaker after speaker has singled out Romney's private finances and his holdings in investment funds based in based in the Caymans, Bermuda, Luxembourg, Ireland and other foreign sites. They also cite a $3 million account that Mitt Romney held for several years in a bank in Switzerland and investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean and note that middle class Americans don't have access to tax shelters.
Democrats cite Romney's refusal to disclose more tax returns and suggest, without proof, that he has financial schemes to hide.. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told delegates: "We can only imagine what new secrets would be revealed if he showed the American people a dozen years of tax returns."
Romney has released just one tax return, from 2010 and says he'll release his 2011 return once it's finished, but he says he's never paid less than 13 percent of his income in taxes during the past decade. He cites Republican Sen. John McCain, who released two years' worth of returns as a presidential candidate in 2008. A trustee handling Romney's blind trust has said that the Swiss account was active from 2003 until it was closed in 2010.
The convention is drawing stinging attention to Bain Capital, the private equity firm that Romney helped found, even offering testimony from former workers at companies that Bain controlled. Speakers such as Strickland have noted that news accounts have referred to Bain as "outsourcing pioneers" for cutting labor costs by shifting jobs overseas. "To him all profits are created equal, whether made on our shores or off," former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said.
The Obama campaign and its allies have kept up a constant story line about Romney's role at Bain, using the company in ads aimed at defining Romney as a corporate raider who puts profits ahead of people.
Romney's web site notes that "the businesses Romney helped start while at Bain Capital employ more than 100,000 people today." And Romney at the Republican convention last week singled out the successes Bain had with chains such as Sports Authority and Staples.
WOULD HAVE LET AUTO INDUSTRY GO BANKRUPT
The resurgence of the U.S. auto industry is a central Democratic argument for the proper role of government. They say the government bailout of Chrysler and General Motors saved jobs in threatened auto plants around the country. Democrats cite a headline - "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" - that appeared over a 2008 Romney opinion piece in The New York Times to suggest that Romney would have let the two auto giants succumb.
"The American auto industry is not just surviving. It is thriving," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "Where Mitt Romney was willing to turn his back on Akron, Dayton and Toledo, Ohio, the president said: `I've got your back.'"
The Obama administration pumped more than $60 billion to finance GM's and Chrysler's structured bankruptcies. GM reported record profits last year and Chrysler earned its first net profit since 1997.
Romney's oft-cited opinion piece actually called for a structured bankruptcy much like the Obama administration had GM and Chrysler go through, but Romney would not have used taxpayer money directly. He only proposed government financing guarantees. Though skeptics have wondered whether the companies would have been able to obtain private financing, Romney did not suggest that the industry could not be saved.
WANTS TO REPEAL `OBAMACARE' AND CHANGE MEDICARE
With an emotional appeal from the mother of a child with a congenital heart defect, Democrats are casting Romney's call for the repeal of Obama's signature health-care law as callous. They say the budget proposed by Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, would result in a voucher-like system for Medicare that would end up costing seniors more money and "change Medicare as we know it."
Stacey Lihn, the mother of a young girl who has had to undergo two heart surgeries and is awaiting a third, said the new health-care law lifted an insurance cap that would have not paid for her daughter's surgery. "If Mitt Romney becomes president and Obamacare is repealed, there's a good chance she'll hit her lifetime cap," said Lihn, her two daughters and her husband at her side. "There's no way we could afford to pay for all the care she needs to survive."
Romney has said he would repeal the health care law, saying states, not Washington, should drive policy on the uninsured. He says he would proposes guarantees that people would be "continuously covered" for a certain period be protected against losing insurance if they get sick, leave their job and need another policy.
Romney and Ryan argue that Obama is cutting $716 billion from Medicare to help pay for the health care law. Romney and Ryan say they would restore those funds, though a Ryan written budget in the House of Representatives accounted for the same cuts.