Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Elizabeth Warren Stands Outside Fenway, in the Cold, Shaking Hands

| Mon Jan. 9, 2012 10:13 AM EST

A little more than two years ago to the day, while locked in a tight race with Republican Scott Brown for the vacant Massachusetts Senate seat, Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, offered up the quote that no number of foreclosure fraud lawsuits will be able to wipe from her obituary. Asked about her hands-off campaign style, she pushed back: "As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?"

On Saturday, Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat who's challenging Brown in November, tweeted this photo:

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) shaking hands at Fenway Park.: @ElizabethforMAMassachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren shaking hands at Fenway Park. @ElizabethforMAThat's Elizabeth Warren shaking hands in the cold, at Fenway Park, during a college hockey doubleheader. (Here she is standing outside Fenway, for you sticklers.)

As for Warren's campaign, the most recent survey of the race, from the Boston Herald, gave her a seven-point lead over the incumbent. And Brown appears to be feeling the heat. Last Monday, after Obama announced he'd appointed former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to chair the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—crafted by Warren—Brown broke with his party to endorse the move: "I support President Obama's appointment today of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. I believe he is the right person to lead the agency and help protect consumers from fraud and scams."

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Romney: Still Misrepresenting Obama's Jobs Record

| Sun Jan. 8, 2012 9:18 AM EST

At Sunday morning's GOP presidential debate (not to be confused with Saturday night's GOP presidential debate!), front-runner Mitt Romney began his opening answer on his record in Massachusetts by noting proudly that he had created more jobs as governor than President Obama has created as president. It's a line he uses regularly on the campaign trail, and couples nicely with his (unsubstantiated) claim to have created 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital in the 1990s.

But it's not really accurate. Per Factcheck.org, Massachusetts created a net total of 45,800 private sector jobs during Romney's four years as governor. Romney's not really making a fair comparison—Obama still has another year left in his first term and the trend lines are pointing in the right direction—but he's also blaming Obama for jobs losses that occurred before any of his economic proposals had been enacted. During Obama's first few months in office, the economy continued to hemorrhage jobs, due to a recession that had begun during the Bush administration. Since the end of the recession in June of 2009, the economy has added 1.4 private-sector million jobs. It's not a great record, there have been some ups and downs, but as former candidate Herman Cain might say, that's an apple! We're talking about oranges here.

Why Romney's Answer on Contraception Doesn't Add Up

| Sat Jan. 7, 2012 10:12 PM EST

When moderator George Stephanopolous asked Mitt Romney about his views on contraception at Saturday's debate, the GOP front-runner acted as if he'd just been asked about chupacabras or spaceships—ignoring his own stated positions on the state efforts to limit access to (and ban outright) some forms of contraception.

Stephanopolous' question was simple: "Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?" Here was Mitt's answer:

George, this is an unusual topic that you're raising. States have a right to ban contraception? I can't imagine a state banning contraception. I can't imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so., and if I were a governor of a state or...or a—or a legislature of a state—I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception. So you're asking—given the fact that there's no state that wants to do so, and I don't know of any candidate that wants to do so, you're asking could it constitutionally be done? We can ask our constitutionalist here.

At this point, Romney turned to Rep. Ron Paul, a self-described "constitutionalist," and the crowd laughed. But it was a serious question, given that in 2007 Romney supported a federal personhood amendment that would have defined life as beginning at fertilization, and in 2011, he did his best to avoid saying definitively whether he opposed Mississippi's "personhood amendment," which would have made all forms of hormonal contraception illegal. (My colleague Kate Sheppard has explained the issue quite clearly.) In other words, state and federal lawmakers are very much trying to ban contraception.

After some crosstalk, Romney started up his answer again, and was insistent. "George, I—I don't know whether a state has a right to ban contraception. No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no—no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think." When Santorum again pressed him, Romney was incredulous, "Has the Supreme Court—has the Supreme Court decided that states do not have the right to provide contraception?"

No—they decided the opposite in Griswold v. Connecticut, ruling that the right to privacy prohibited states from banning contraception. But it's a sore point with conservatives, like Rick Santorum, who believe the right to privacy is a load of a baloney. And in light of the nationwide Personhood movement, it's hardly a dead issue.

Romney's Whopper on Job Creation at Bain

| Sat Jan. 7, 2012 9:57 PM EST

At Saturday's GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney, questioned about his record at Bain Capital, doubled-down on the claim that the firm created 100,000 net jobs. "In the business I had, we invested in over 100 different businesses and net-net, taking out the ones where we lost jobs and those that we added, those businesses have now added over 100,000 jobs," he told George Stephanopolous. It's an impressive figure, but one that turns out to have little basis in reality. Factcheck.org considered the evidence on Thursday:

When we asked the Romney camp for support, spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom sent us a list of jobs added at three companies in which Bain had invested, saying that these three examples alone created over 100,000 jobs: Staples, which had 89,000 employees as of Dec. 31, 2010; The Sports Authority, which had 15,000 employees as of July 2011; and Domino’s, which has added 7,900 jobs since 1999.

That’s hardly a rigorous analysis of jobs gained and lost at companies Bain backed. And does Romney deserve credit for all of those jobs? Bain was but one of several investors in The Sports Authority, which was launched with the monetary help of William Blair Venture Partners, Phillips-Smith and Marquette Venture Partners. Not to mention the work of founding executives at the company, such as CEO Jack A. Smith.

Plus, Kmart owned the company for about five years starting in 1990. Does Kmart get credit for whatever job growth occurred then? In 2006, the private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners acquired Sports Authority. Does Bain, and Romney, still get credit for jobs created after the company is bought or sold years later?

And so on. The bottom line is that the 100,000 figure was not actually calculated; it was just a composite of a couple of data points, and there's no evidence that it's actually a "net" figure, according to Romney's own campaign. When challenged on the accuracy of his figures by Stephanopolous, Romney told the audience they should just trust him: "I'm a good enough numbers guy to make sure I got both sides of that."

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