Politics and Public Opinion

Romney just dramatically raised the stakes vs. Obama

The Day of Reckoning is here, or will be in 2013. The next president and Congress will need to make huge decisions about taxes and spending. And those actions will help determine whether America’s economic future will be one of a) renewed growth and prosperity or b) shared scarcity and managed decline. Putting it another way, will the 21st century American Way be the dynamic, entrepreneurial capitalism of Schumpeter or the static, state capitalism of Keynes?

Which is why Mitt Romney’s economic agenda, all 59 points of it, has been mildly disappointing. Merely pointing out the myriad failures of Obamanomics may be enough to swap out the Oval Office’s current occupant. But that tactic is insufficient to create a mandate for bold change. America’s choices must be made clear and explained to voters in 2012.

And Romneynomics seemed all about keeping the spotlight on the other guy’s shortcomings. Romney’s tax plan—eliminating investment taxes for the middle class—was recycled from 2008. And his approach to entitlement reform was maddeningly airy: “As president, Romney’s own plan will differ [from Paul Ryan’s approach to fixing Medicare], but it will share those objectives.”

But no more. Romney has made several moves of late ensuring that if he’s the nation’s 45th president, Americans will have cast an affirmative vote for something.

First, Romney said his policies would help U.S. growth accelerate to 4 percent annually. Gutsy. Recall how Tim Pawlenty was mocked mercilessly for setting a 5 percent growth target. Overall, U.S. GDP growth has averaged 3.3 percent the past 50 years. But many economists think aging America will need to settle for growth closer to 2 percent long term. Romney, however, seems to agree with consultant McKinsey that a higher retirement age and smarter immigration policy, along with smarter regulation and pro-investment tax policy, could allow the United States to maintain its historic growth rate, if not higher. More importantly, the target represents a rejection of the declinist mentality.

Second, Romney has basically adopted Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform plan—helping seniors pay for private insurance—with the twist of giving seniors the option of sticking with a government program. By embracing a pro-market, patient-centered approach, Romney has invited Team Obama to attack him for trying to “privatize” Medicare as surely as if he advocated phasing out the system entirely. Another bold call.

Third, Romney proposed capping government spending at 20 percent of GDP and cutting $500 billion from government spending during his first term. Not only does this directly strike at the liberal consensus that spending as a share of output must rise as America ages, it invites another Obama attack: the GOP nominee is proposing economy-killing austerity.

So now Romney will have to advocate and defend—if he is the nominee—not just attack and deride. And America will have a choice, not just an echo.

58 thoughts on “Romney just dramatically raised the stakes vs. Obama

  1. “Romney is not in the running , he cant’ get more than 22 percent of the Republican vote”

    This meme is just that a meme.

    Romney polls just fine against Obama, often in a tie with the incumbent or beating him, so obviously that is the more important number in the long run.

  2. Come on people … don’t you realize that ABO and ABR are mutually exclusive? ABO and ABREFO (anybody but Romney except for Obama) are logically consistent. In other words, fight like a wounded momma bear protecting her cubs in the primary. But if Romney wins, hold your nose and VOTE for him! Spend all your rage-infused energy on getting your local congressional district and senate seat a nice shade of red!

    • Totally agree! As Mary Matalin says: “Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line.” So fall in line, people. The object is to defeat Obama!

    • I agree. I might end up voting against Romney in the primaries, but will definitely support him, or any other repub nominee, against Obama.

    • On the horizon: the election where I’d vote for a warm pile of XXXX over the incumbent.

      Beyond the horizon: how would the warm pile of XXXX govern? Libs always run as conservatives, why don’t conservatives give it a try?

  3. So was hoping I could get energized by the Republican nominee. If it’s Romney, like Mark says, I’ll have to hold my nose, yet again, and vote for the non-democrat in the race.

  4. I find this completely ludicrous. I am a 17 year old who pretty soon will have the ability to vote the following year. This causes me to severally question whether or not I would like to vote. It seems the only opportunity I will have in this country is to be paying for the currently retiring baby boomers. The younger generation is basically, ruined for life.


    Obama didn’t do anything to at least raise our nation’s GDP. FAIL.

  5. I agree. I was impressed with Romney’s speech at the Americans for Prosperity event. His best moments were when he definitely backed the Ryan medicare and medicain plan, suggested a long list of specific spending cuts, and committed to getting spending under 20% of GDP by the end of his 1st term. That is not airy hope and change talk, those are specific and important committmernts that will be hard to weasel out of. Romney isn’t very exciting, but he is competent, free of scandall, and now that he has some valid and specific conservative proposals, he is even showing evidence of being a real fiscal conservative. I dont love Romney yet, but I think he would be a good alternative to Obama.

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