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The Big Lie: The president believes in “redistribution,” which is against free market principles.

The Truth: Both parties believe in redistribution – it’s just that Republicans want to redistribute upward.

What do you do when a secret video shows your candidate disparaging about half of the American electorate as self-pitying “victims” who cannot be convinced to take responsibility for their lives?

After Mitt Romney basically affirmed that the leaked video reflected his views in a not-so-elegant way, his campaign — aided by the Drudge Report, Fox News and the rest of the vast right-wing media complex — decided to focus on another video that supposedly shows the president in 1998 saying he’s for “redistribution.”

Typically, the old Obama video was edited to leave out the section where he clarifies what he meant when he said, “… I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.” He went on to say:

How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities?

Basically, the president was saying he believes in some redistribution, in ways that increase competition.

Who else believes in this strange concept?

Anyone who says “you’re passing on debt to your grandkids” and thus acknowledges that as a nation, we share debt — and that debt will have to be paid by other Americans — understands redistribution. Anyone who believes in a progressive tax system in which those who earn the most should pay the highest tax rates believes in redistribution. Anyone who believes that Social Security and Medicare should keep the national promise to elderly Americans who have outlived their contributions is swearing by redistribution.

Two-thirds of working class whites — Mitt Romney’s coveted base — believe that taxes on those earning $1 million or more should be raised. Social Security and Medicare as they’re currently structured are two of the most popular things the American government does.

And you know who else believes in redistribution of wealth? Mitt Romney.

When describing how George Romney was on welfare when he first came to America, Mitt defended the idea that Americans support those in need — also known as redistribution: “By the way, that’s the way America works, we have big hearts, we care for people who have needs. We help get them back.” He just didn’t call it redistribution.

Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher points out that Romney isn’t being honest about why we give to those in need. “We don’t have a safety net because we have big hearts, we have a safety net because a widespread descent into poverty drags down the entire economy, and examples like Romney’s dad and former National Chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly Danny Vargas demonstrate the necessity and efficacy of that safety net, even as they try to rip it down for those who come after them.”

By attacking redistribution, Romney and Ryan seem to be suggesting that America’s problem is that too much is being taken from the rich. Nothing could be less true. We’ve pointed out that for the rich taxes are at near-all-time lows while inequality is about as high as it has ever been — possibly worse than in 1774, even if you factor in slavery.

In 2011, the richest 400 Americans saw their net worth increase by 13 percent to a total of $1.7 trillion. To match the wealth of the six heirs to the Walmart fortune, you’d need to work seven million years at Walmart. Meanwhile, the majority of tax breaks in our tax code go to the richest Americans.

But to Romney and Ryan, the problem is that the rich need more wealth redistributed to them. Robert Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities looked at Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget — which was the inspiration for many of Mitt Romney’s proposals — and said, “It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history).”

As Ezra Klein wrote, “In a sense, almost every choice the government makes about how to spend or how to tax involves a decision to redistribute in some way or another.”

Klein examined Romney and Obama’s budgets and sees that both have plans to redistribute wealth.

Romney would transfer wealth — in the form of health care, food stamps and Pell grants — from the poor to the rich via tax breaks and spending on defense. Obama would transfer a small percentage of wealth from the rich to the poor.

Like John McCain with Joe the Plumber, Mitt Romney is trying to distract from his flawed plans and callous comments, by conjuring the spectres of Communism and Socialism. And like McCain, he’ll likely fail.

Because when it comes to whether and how wealth should be redistributed in this country, most Americans agree with the president.

Photo credit: AP/Jason E. Miczek

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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