What's bad for Romney could be good for America
Telling the truth may not get the GOP candidate elected, but it should earn him the lasting gratitude of his nation.
Rick Santorum's withdrawal from the race seems to make Mitt Romney the inevitable Republican presidential nominee. As the former Massachusetts governor turns to the general election, I have a modest proposal for him: Don't try to win the election. Try to change America instead.
Romney should give up on contorting himself to please voters, for America and the Republican Party desperately need a leader who will put truth above popularity, and honestly discuss the costs of the benefits he promises.
If nominated, he will have our attention for the next seven months, which is a great gift. If he uses his visibility to tell voters only what they want to hear, he loses the ability to shape the nation. He could use the election to promote honest accounting and a culture of responsibility, which would earn him a permanent place in the American pantheon whether he wins in November or not.
He starts as a significant underdog. President Barack Obama has natural political skills, a powerful organization and can claim to have shepherded the U.S. through calamitous times. Intrade.com gives Romney only a 37 percent chance of winning the national election. Unless the most recent jobs report portends a further weakening of the economy, the president will be hard to beat.
Big gambles, like going for two-point conversions or choosing an unknown Alaskan governor as a running mate, are the right strategy when the status quo means defeat. Romney will need to shake things up; let's hope he gambles on traveling the high road rather than the low, with appeals to anti-China hysteria and the like. Let's hope he follows the risky route of Henry Clay and Wendell Willkie, who both preferred being right to being president.
In 1940, Willkie did far more good for the world by losing well than he could have achieved by dishonorably winning the White House. Before Pearl Harbor, there were plenty of America First isolationists, and Willkie could have brought out his base by charging President Franklin D. Roosevelt with war-mongering. Yet, while he occasionally waffled, Willkie generally limited his appeals to isolationism, making it easier for FDR to continue aiding England in its darkest hour, and to challenge Japan. Willkie's electoral sacrifice probably also helped ensure that America would enter World War II as a more united nation.
Romney can do something similarly noble today, by choosing an election strategy that puts America's interests ahead of his own. Any reform of our political system, and our society, needs to start with a culture of responsibility -- a broad acceptance that we need to pay for our pleasures. The Bill of Rights didn't promise us cheap gas or toll-less highways or the right to every new medical innovation at no cost.
Republicans want lower taxes; Democrats want more publicly funded services. Both views can be honorably defended, but it is hard to respect Republicans who promise lower taxes without explaining clearly what spending will be cut, or Democrats who want an ever-expanding public sector, paid for with someone else's money.
We cannot sensibly decide if we want bigger or smaller government without first acknowledging that lower taxes must eventually mean fewer public services, or that more public activity must eventually impose costs on the private sector.
Romney's campaign website contains the high-sounding phrase "We have a moral responsibility not to spend more than we take in." But while his economic plan clearly spells out the tax cuts that will let voters take home more cash, it is woefully lacking in details about who will pay for those lower taxes, beyond imposing block grants for Medicaid. The proposal calls for capping the federal budget at 20 percent of gross domestic product, but contains no discussion of how those funding cuts would materialize.
This reticence about spending cuts isn't limited to Romney. The 2013 blueprint presented by Paul Ryan, the Republican representative from Wisconsin who is chairman of the House Budget Committee, seems so fresh precisely because the U.S. has a surfeit of politicians, on either side of the aisle, who promise benefits without costs. Ryan may cut taxes and spending too much, but at least he has put forward an adult document that tries to grapple with the debt rather than just passing on problems to the next generation.
The Republican Party lost its credibility on fiscal discipline decades ago, but Obama's vast deficits (justifiable or not) have given his opponents an opportunity to regain the mantle of responsibility. To recapture that role, Romney needs to openly acknowledge that tax cuts only come from meaningful reductions in public services, and make the case that the cuts in services are worth the cuts in taxes.
Once Romney starts to own those service reductions, he will begin to appear more like a leonine leader and less like just another ambitious pol. Maybe, he can even start a fiscal-honesty trend. Medicare (USBOMDCR) costs are the biggest budget buster, but politicians view supporting limitations on public health care as only slightly less career-threatening than expressing sympathy for Iran's nuclear ambitions. If Medicare must be an open-ended entitlement that gives every citizen the right to the publicly funded purchase of every new medical procedure, then the free market will ensure enough medical innovation to bankrupt the nation.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower must have been palpitating in his grave when Republican leaders started referring to modest attempts at public cost containment as "Death Panels." Ryan has proposed a brave, but unpopular, plan, to eventually replace Medicare with a voucher system that would limit costs to taxpayers.
At first, Romney noted that "the plan put forward by Congressman Paul Ryan makes important strides in the right direction by keeping the system solvent and introducing market- based dynamics," but his campaign then followed up with this: "As president, Romney's own plan will differ, but it will share those objectives."
If Romney wants to lead, he must risk more by telling more. But leading through honesty goes beyond the budget to the economy as a whole. I share Romney's view that private entrepreneurs are the wellspring of economic innovation, and I also see much to like in lower taxes and limited regulation. But these policies are no guarantee of economic prosperity, especially for lower-middle-income Americans. A candidate who would lead must ask Americans why they think they are entitled to good jobs at high wages, when there are better-trained workers in China who are willing to work harder for less money.
If Americans expect to be paid more, they must have more human capital -- the formal skills and ephemeral talents that make people productive. If we want our children to be as prosperous as those of the Pacific Rim, then we must put in the same hours teaching core math and science skills.
Our basic economic system is better than any state capitalism alternative, but it cannot ensure that less-skilled Americans will permanently out-earn better-trained international competitors. America needs leaders who will force the country to face its options honestly. Lower taxes mean less public health care. Too little time doing algebra with your children means they will be less prosperous than future competitors in the labor market.
Telling the truth may not get Romney elected, but it should earn him the lasting gratitude of his nation, and that is ultimately far more valuable.
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But that is a lot to ask for. Considering the crap that a person has to go thru, why would anyone
want to be president?
You people need to check out factcheck.org. It is truly depressing how they all, both democrates and republicans, at the very least stretch the truth. I think what the story above is trying to express is that here we are with another presidential election and hoping that someone can take the high road and tell americans the hard truths. The fact of the matter is we have to reduce spending and increase reveue and none of that is going to come without pain. One or the other will not work and any economist worth his weight will tell you that. Problem is americans don't want to hear the truth regardless of what side they are on. They have their own special interests and looking at the big picture without rose colored glasses is impossible for most.
That just doesnt make sense...
The Republican Party used to be the party that valued education; there used to never be any questions about science theory/fact; they used to be fiscally responsible; they used to work across the aisle for the good of America; and they used to be isolationist in at least their initial reaction to armed conflicts overseas.
If Romney were to make all those things happen again, ok, I'll buy the argument...but not if the argument is we have to decimate the country further now to save a theoretical future as envisioned by Paul Ryan
Wanna fix the country?
Dramatically cut the military budget
Get out of Afghanistan...and don't go in anywhere else
Raise income via tax increases to pay for the money we spent on those wars
Reinstate value of science and education and support it
Nationalize Health and control its costs; (yeah, it'll requiring rationing - no 71 yr old Veeps getting hearts and no 89 yr olds getting back surgery)
Get rid of subsidies to Big Oil and the like - their corporate welfare more than equals the amount paid for all the (admittedly ridiculous) welfare and disability claims put together
Start charging equal tariffs on Chinese goods as they charge on ours.
The same hours teaching core math skills I can overlook as I'm quite sure you wrote
this some hours before Mr Romney announced with pride that the Dept of Education
would be on his chopping block, but surely you do not actually believe that the factory
workers in China and or the pacific rim got their jobs due to their superior math and
You hire people because it makes you money. You fire people because they cost you money. For example, I run a pizza shop. I can make 4 pizza a hour (again, this is example, I have no idea how many pizza a guy can make in a hour). But I have the demand for 20 pizza a hour. If hire 4 more people who also make 4 pizza a hour to make more money. Here is the tricky part: The guys I hired are making me money. Lets say 100 dollars a hour each. Taxes go up to 50%, I do not fire them because they are still making me 50 dollars a hour. Taxes go up to 80%, they are still making me 20 dollars a hour. there is no reason to fire them until taxes are 100%. If demand goes down to 16 pizza a hour, I let a guy go or reposition him because hes not making me money.
If taxes go up, I make less money. But firing/not hiring someone because of tax level makes no sense at all. Firing and hiring is related only to demand of product at hand.
Claudius, I have now had the time to read through your rants and see that actually you make my point for me quite well. You are European born and you read and write in 4 languages? Why don't American children have the same type of educational system that would allow them to learn to read and write in 4 languages? Actually as an employer, I would be happy to see them be able to read and write in English. Ok, so you ask what is it I suggest we do for the American education system that would allow it to be improved. We do what your teachers did for you and follow the same plan of discipline and standards required of students in foreign countries that have higher standards.
In 13 industrialized nations, America rates last in educational levels in math, science, language, reading and writing, sounds like a problem for the future of American businesses.
save-america--do you know what the word "socialist" means? I see that you don't know the difference between their, there, and they're, so I'll guess you don't.
Socialism is when everyone goes in together to pay for something because paying for it individually would be cost prohibitive, or when a certain service is provided via the government and paid for by everyone because that service is so needed that the provider could run up the cost to the point that some would be bankrupted.
Here are some examples of "socialism" in the US--federal highways, public school systems, fire fighters, police, air traffic control, military. Of course, there are the two obvious ones: Social Security and Medicare. That's just a few examples.
Remember that countries with unbridled capitalism aren't very pleasant places to be--the wealthiest people live behind fences and bars--with certain areas of a city or rural area gated off for their use. They pay for their own security--any government police force or military is in their pockets and will shoot to kill anyone who is not wealthy who causes a fuss.
Anyone who is not wealthy either has to be very, very circumspect and stay out of the way of the wealthy people, or lives in perpetual danger of being found and shot.
Remember that on one side of the political spectrum is absolute monarchy, on the other side is anarchy--in between, you will find socialism and democracy (some people say the US is a Jeffersonian Democracy and some say it is a federalist republic--oddly, the federalist republican types are against states' rights), pretty much side by side.
While, of course, it would be bad to make all services government-run, it is also a bad idea to allow the wealthiest people to control anything they can grab--I don't think it would be a great idea to allow them to grab all the water, for example. It sure as heck hasn't been great to allow them to grab all the energy production (energy production tends to be socialized in Europe). So, in any case, first figure out what it is that you are talking about--and then learn to proofread, as not knowing what you are talking about or how to express yourself clearly doesn't make you look good.
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Breaking up big banks is an untested solution to the too big to fail problem that attempts to isolate and dismantle large, troubled institutions while protecting the rest of the economy.
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