Tag: Political positions of Mitt Romney

I was wondering when someone would finally point this out…

And it looks like Buzzfeed has done the deed. Say what you want about Romney, but the guy was dead on. I think all the lame asses that pilloried this man and called him out of touch need to line up to kiss his ass. From the piece:

Ten months after Mitt Romney shuffled off the national stage in defeat — consigned, many predicted, to a fate of instant irrelevance and permanent obscurity — Republicans are suddenly celebrating the presidential also-ran as a political prophet.

From his widely mocked warnings about a hostile Russia to his adamant opposition to the increasingly unpopular implementation of Obamacare, the ex-candidate’s canon of campaign rhetoric now offers cause for vindication — and remorse — to Romney’s friends, supporters, and former advisers.

Yes, and he also got Detroit, the employment problems, the education bubble, immigration, the 47%, the disaster in the ME because of the Obama admin’s policy or lack there off, and much more, but especially the tyrannical Obama administration and its over reach of power, totally right. And they demonized him for every one of these things too. Shows you that the truth isn’t something the left welcomes. I wonder if the idiots in the LSM that did the dirty work for Team Black Jesus ever feel like they were had? Sycophants rarely care. As long as they get that ass to kiss, I guess

We need a Romney “Miss me yet” poster, I tell ya.

Election 2012: II. Why We Should Vote Against Mitt Romney

(This is the second of five posts I will put up over the two weeks of the conventions, exploring my thoughts on the Presidential election. Parts 1 and 2 will be reasons to vote for and against Mitt Romney; Parts 3 and 4 will be reasons to vote for and against Barack Obama. Part 5 will wrap up. Keep in mind, this is my thinking as we go through the conventions. It’s likely that things will change between now and Election Day.)

Next week I’ll put up two posts looking at Obama’s record. And I’ll probably get into a little bit now. But a fundamental principle, for me, is that Obama’s suckiness does not automatically make Mitt Romney a good alternative. Going forward for the next four years, is Mitt Romney the guy we want in charge? I can think of several reasons why electing Romney would be a bad idea.

The Deficit

Look, I’ll get into Obama’s deficit record next week. I’m not going to excuse his failures on this. But will Mitt Romney make the probem better or worse?

There are many reasons to believe the latter. If we are to believe his campaign promises, Romney plans to increase defense spending, not cut Medicare or Social Security and cut taxes. The math simply does not work. It would mean cutting other spending by at least 40%. That’s 40% of federal law enforcement and border control. That’s 40% of education, which might sound fine but would mean many inner city schools would have to close. That’s 40% of science, 40% of infrastructure, 40% of intelligence. More if interest rates go up.

Does anyone seriously think the GOP is going to cut spending 40%? Does anyone think they can cut enough to allow for tax cuts? Let’s take a look at the causes of the deficit in the next decade. The graph below is a little deceptive as it anticipates that stimulus spending will wane (it hasn’t and doesn’t) and does some other shady accounting about entitlements and taxes (e.g., bracket creep, SGR, etc.). But no matter how you slice it, Bush’s tax cuts are a large contributor to the debt (Obama has extended them and plans on extending them for everyone but the rich; so they are his now). After that, you get the economy, structural deficits and the war.

That would be bad enough. But there’s something in that graph that the CBPP would rather not talk about: that spending increased massively on all fronts during the Bush era. This is hidden in the graph because we were enjoying a bubble-fueled boom in revenues. The graph then sees the lack of those revenues — due to the economy and tax cuts — as the cause of the deficit rather than the huge spending increases that accompanied them. It regards bubble revenues and bubble spending as the new normal. So parts of that orange and dark blue should be labelled “Bush era non-defense spending”.

The simple fact is that the last time we gave the GOP unfettered access to the national purse, they went wild. And we are still paying the price for their profligacy.

“Oh, shut up about Bush!” you say. OK. Let’s talk about the current situation. When the Republicans had both Congress and the White House, federal spending increased 6.4% per year. Under Obama, it has increased … 6.4% a year, including all stimuli, bailouts and automatic stabilizers. But in the last two years, it has increased about 1% per year. You want spending restraint? We’re getting it, thanks to a divided government.

I’m drifting a bit into “reasons to vote for Obama” territory, but it is a simple fact that our government has exercised more spending restraint when it has been divided than when it has been united. Federal spending has been basically flat for two years now. The GOP has opposed all of Obama’s new spending initiatives. I do not trust them to have that same discipline when Romney is in the White House. Does anyone really think Romney and the Republicans will combine to keep spending growth at 1% per year as Obama and the Republicans have? With the promises they are making to increase defense spending?

We are already hearing big-spending rumblings in the GOP, who now want to undo the sequester, at least as far as national defense goes. Here is a plot of the defense spending as currently envisioned under various scenarios:

That sequester slice is the one Republicans are branding as “devastating”. They have even dragged out Keynesian arguments about how the cuts will “destroy jobs” as a reason to void them. In short, they have identified increasing spending as a top priority. Does that sound like a bunch of budget cutters to you?

Look, you can posit that Obama wants to spend like mad. I’ll agree. So what? Congress controls the purse strings. And since Obama and the Republicans have had to share power, those strings have been the tightest in two decades. I have little confidence they will show the same restraint with President Romney.

The GOP is Still Crazy

I made this bullet point before the convention. And I am still worried about the GOP focus on cultural issues. I could see, without a veto threat, the GOP pushing forward personhood laws, more cuts to birth control and strengthening of DOMA. But the RNC ameliorated some of my fears, showing a GOP that was more optimistic, more plugged in and more focused on real issues like the economy. The impression was that they have done what I’d hoped: taken the best elements of the Tea Party and incorporated them into a coherent vision of constrained government.

Still, I’m known to be optimistic about these things. And giving them power is a gamble that they’ve figured things out.

Foreign Policy

If we elect Romney, the aggressive foreign policy of the Bush years will return. He has surrounded himself with and the RNC highlighted neocons who favor a larger military and a more aggressive global engagement. There are many on his team who favor attacks on Iran and think getting involved in Syria would be a good idea. And the idea that we should aquiesce to whatever Israel wants — rather than treating them like every other ally with whom we occasionally squabble — was on full display.

(To be honest, it’s sometimes hard to tell what the GOP wants on foreign policy. They’ve mainly been defined as opposing whatever it is Obama is doing. So we should get involved in Libya. No we shouldn’t. Well, we should, but we should lead from the front. But we don’t want to spend too much or get any American soldiers killed. And it’s unconstitutional anyway. There’s a good case to be made that no one knows what the fuck these guys will do on foreign policy when they’re in charge again. That’s not an argument for giving the State Department back to them.)


If Romney wins this year, he’ll be running again in 2016. That means that Condi Rice, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley … will not be running in 2016. And I have far more confidence in those guys than I do in Mitt Romney (although Ryan would obviously still be VP).

That having been said, you don’t pass up an opportunity in 2012 because of what might be available in 2016. Every election has to be decided on its own merits. Because, at some point in the next four years, the President might face a decision that could change the course of history.

The Supreme Court

Four years ago, I disputed the notion that Obama would radically tilt the Court to the Left by pointing out how much older the liberal wing was than the right wing.

The two oldest judges on the court are liberals (and Ginsberg, in particular, is looking frail). The three youngest judges are conservative. The average conservative age is 60.8; the average liberal age is 75.5. Even if Obama is in for eight years, he is most likely to replace two liberal judges on the Court. And even if one of the conservatives were to be in a tragic blimp accident, that would shift the court to being as radically crazy liberal as it was during the Rhenquist years.

The idea that Obama is going to leave us with a Burger-style radical liberal Court is frankly hyperbolic. Unless the entire Court is wiped out during a meth-fueled orgy, Obama will, at most, shift the court somewhat to the left. True, the Court won’t become more conservative. But considering how conservative is defined these days—a unitary executive, untrammeled federal power, the suspension of habeas—that’s fine with me.

And, indeed, the only judges Obama has replaced have been liberals (Stephens and Souter). The new judges do not seem ridiculous radical. Liberal, yes. But the Court has produced good decisions recently on immigration, broadcast deceny and even a 9-0 decision reining in in the EPA. For all the pain of the Obamacare decision, it was the conservative Roberts who cast the critical vote.

That math has changed a bit since I wrote that in 2008. Here’s the age of the various SCOTUS justices:

Conservative: Roberts (57), Scalia (76),Thomas (64), Alito (62)
Moderate: Kennedy (76)
Liberal: Ginsburg (79), Breyer (74), Sotomayor (58), Kagan (52)

The conservatives now average at 65, the liberals at 66. The Court is very well-balanced. But preserving that balance over the next four years will be tricky. Ginsburg, Breyer, Scalia and Kennedy are the oldest judges. And while Scalia will not leave the Court until the pry his dead body out of the bathroom, anyone over 70 has to be considered a potential replacement.

Ginsberg and Breyer are probably the two that will most need replacement in the next two years. I would prefer that they not be replaced by conservatives and tilt the balance even further. That, of course has to be weighed against the danger that Kennedy or Scalia are replaced by Obama. (I’ll talk about this in the context of re-electing Obama in the next post).


Looking over this list, it really boils down to two issues: the deficit and foreign policy. And that really boils down to one issue: Romney seems poised to give us a return to the bad old days when Republicans spent worse than Democrats, got us involved in foreign quagmires and focused on culture issues to distract from it.

The last few weeks have reduced these concerns a little. The selection of Ryan is a big indicator that Romney intends to take spending seriously. But they are not gone. And that Romney is surrounding himself with Bush people, advocating Bush policies and pushing Bush rhetoric makes me nervous.

One final note:

Reasons not to not vote for Mitt Romney

There are a number of things that have been thrown out as reasons we shouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney that I consider to be either bullshit or irrelevant. His Mormon faith is chief among those. His involvement with Bain financial is another. Putting his dog on the roof; some bullying incidents when he was a kid; his taxes; his interest in dressage. I consider all of these irrelevant.

(Update: Late breaking something else that doesn’t matter: whether or not Paul Ryan is lying about his marathon time.)

If you’re going to vote for Romney, the reasons are because he might repeal Obamacare, could keep the radical wing of the GOP in check, could get the economy booming and might even back off the War on Drugs. If you’re not going to vote for him, it’s because we might enjoy a return to big spending, tax cutting and war starting.

And either of those are dependent on what you think of the other guy, who will be the subject of the next two posts.

Romney Culture

Mitt Romney said this the other day:

In the speech, Mr. Romney mentioned books that had influenced his thinking about nations — particularly “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by David S. Landes, which, he said, argues that culture is the defining factor in determining the success of a society.

“Culture makes all the difference,” Mr. Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”

He added, “As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States.”

The remarks, which vastly understated the disparities between the societies, drew a swift rejoinder from Palestinian leaders. In an interview with The Associated Press, Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called Mr. Romney’s remarks racist.

Romney is trying to walk back the comments. And the Left is screaming about his racism. But I think people are missing the forest for the trees here.

First, the Palestinian Authority correctly notes that Israel has had a trade embargo, economic restrictions and occupation. That’s all true and is having an absolutely devastating effect. However, Israel is not the only country that is making life difficult for Palestine. None of the Arab nations are lifting a finger to help Palestine. Jordan and Egypt, specifically, have massively contributed to the problem by closing borders (and in Jordan’s case, shooting people during Black September). Iran, Hussein’s Iraq and Syria have specifically supported radical elements, making the place even more difficult to govern. And we can not sit here and pretend that the Palestinians themselves have not contributed to their own sorrows. Hamas controlled much of Palestine for a while and their supposed reconciliation with the Authority has stalled.

So, yes, the condition of Palestine is something that was done to them. But the people who did it were, at least in part, their fellow Arabs and, at least in part, themselves.

Moreover, I don’t think you can really ignore Romney’s general point. Israel has a far greater per capita income ($28-31,000) than Egypt ($6,000), Jordan ($6,000), Syria ($5,000) or Iraq ($4,000 now and about the same before the wars), nations they have not attacked or embargoed. The only nations in that region that come anywhere close to Israel’s success are Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which also happen to sit on massive lakes of oil. Were it not for the oil, they would be in a worse situation, probably no better off that Syria.

I don’t see how you can possibly look at the region and not conclude, as Mitt Romney has, that Israel’s culture has something to do with the stark difference, not between them and Palestine but between them and everyone. It is the only real democracy in the region, the only country that has a real economy as opposed to an oiligarchy, the only country that has gender equality, the only country that has a semblance of human rights and the only country that has built a real 21st century industrial base.

And that’s the point. Romney wasn’t running down Palestinian culture as much as he was praising Israeli culture. The comparisons to Chile and the US make that abundantly clear. What he was talking about — and what any sensible person would agree with — is that poverty is the natural state of man. The only way out is accountable government, free markets and a good work ethic. We know at least the first two, in the Middle East, are unique to Israel.

The Grand Fallacy

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney criticized Obama’s “jobs plan” for being the same old same old: more teacher, more cops, more firefighters. The Left, of course, pounced, claiming that Republicans hate education, safe streets, fireproof houses, baseball and apple pie. Russ Robert’s response exposes how vapid this thinking is:

I didn’t follow the Romney narrative. But he was on to something even if he indeed did backtrack–Obama wants to grow the public sector and so does Krugman. They both want more teachers (and police and firefighters, presumably.) The current level is never optimal. More is better. It doesn’t matter if the number has grown dramatically lately. More is better. Similarly, we never spend enough on education. So if you want to spend less on education, that means you’re against education. The fact that there is little evidence that spending more actually produces more education is ignored. Spending on education is presumed to produce more education. Similarly, adding teachers and reducing class size means more education even if there is little evidence of this effect.

Precisely. We have allowed the debate to be defined this way. We even rank states by per-pupil education spending, as though spending money were the entire goal of the public education system. Oh wait, spending money is the primary goal of the public education system. That it can educate kids is a happy side effect.

The thing is that Krugman, at least, knows this is bullshit. He’s an economist, for Smith’s sake. Car makers employ far fewer workers than they used to. Does that mean our cars are worse than they were fifty years ago? Farming used to occupy the majority of Americans; now it’s about 2%. Do we have less food? Would doubling the number of Congressmen produce better legislation? Would doubling the number of lawyers produce more justice? Sometimes, you need more people. But sometimes the problem is far far deeper than just not having enough hands on deck.

The idea that the education sector can never have enough teachers is a fallacy. No one know the ideal number of teachers or the ideal class size. We do know that massive increases in the later and decreases in the former have produced no progress. The car is stalled on the side of the road and all the liberals can think of is, “put in more gas”.

They’re just not thinking any more; they’re reacting. They are falling on their old dogma because they have no ideas anymore. Obamacare was their biggest idea in the last decade and even that was stolen from Mitt Romney. And so all the Left has is this perpetual endless call for more, bigger and more powerful government. They can not imagine anything else.