Monday, January 28, 2008

Romney: Domestic/Economy

Mitt Romney, in the area of government administration and finance, sounds like a typical conservative in many ways. I found little in the way of truly new ideas, although in his case it sounds like he actually accomplished some of this on a state level. Romney puts a lot of stock into the fact that he was able to get so much done while working with a Democratic state legislature. My response to that would be that Bush made that same claim about his governorship in Texas while campaigning for President in 2000. It just doesn’t work that way on a Federal level. At least he’ll get significant opposition from a partisan body in a permanent limelight.

Will this make it impossible to promote and execute the types of policies he’s talking about? No, as Bush has proven, sometimes it’s possible to work past the public vitrol and come to your goals anyway. Bush has been particularly successful with the current congress, despite its antagonistic nature.

In all, most of the issues he presents have familiar solutions. Make the Bush tax cuts permanent, kill the Death tax, institute a middle class savings plan and middle class tax cut on capital gains. Then there’s limiting excessive tort claims and limiting regulation and tax burden on free enterprise to spur growth and keep up with Asia.

Some of his ideas are actually government growers. Investing in more infrastructure (roads, internet backbone, etc…) , worker re-training, reorganize education to emphasize math and science. These all require more government money. As does his call for more money for research and development in energy to try and ween us off foreign oil.

His energy policy, by the way, also looks familiar. More offshore drilling, nuclear power, liquified coal, ethanol, etc… All things designed to make us more self sufficient in our energy needs.

I think in most of these areas, Republicans agree and there’s not going to be much difference among candidates. Bush has most of these same ideas, but still doesn’t get much back from conservatives, but I think that’s just a communication thing. Romney is much more eloquent, and might have more success with the right.

Deficit spending:

Romney states the obvious for a conservative, that we spend and tax too much. Does this disagree with areas where he intends to spend more himself? Unsure, considering the balance of what he says on his site among all his issue statements. Wants to take the government “apart” in order to rebuild more efficient. “Every business does that or goes bankrupt.” This will be easier said that done. I’m sure there are lots of conservatives and classical libertarians that want to do this very thing, but you’re going up against the machine here. It’s not a Democrat or Republican thing, it’s a bureaucracy thing, and the system itself is going to resist big time. However, he’s in my corner on this issue, so more power to him.

Wants the line-item veto. Wants to impose spending limits and reform entitlements. Given a Democratic congress, the former is going to be easier (but not “easy”).

Health insurance:

He’d want to make health insurance more affordable and accessible to every American. How? Paints some picture of using all the money in health care programs and money being used to support hospital treatment of those w/o health insurance to help people get private insurance . For those who want it, noting that personal responsibility comes into play here. Notes that 45 million people don’t have “health insurance, not health care.” People w/o insurance get emergency care w/o having to pay for it. Nice on paper, but noting that there is a significant population that won’t get insurance (even when it’s offered for free, as we learned here in Oregon), you’re going to get criticism unless you talk about how your going to care for the mentally unbalanced.

Notes that there is a fear of losing insurance coverage as well as the problem of not having any. Says that this is not a Democrat issue, health care is an American issue, but Democrats solution is bigger government. Also promotes a combination of releasing state regulation on health care, making all health care activity tax deductible, and caps on punitive damage awards to reduce overall costs of health care.

Education: Some good and some bad here. Romney says that he would give more control to the local school districts (or states, as the fed would have to concede). But then he wants to expand and improve NCLB. I would prefer to hear a candidate that would get the fed out of education, but then Thompson dropped out of the race.

I do like that he offers a tax credit for home schoolers. Home schoolers often feel taken by the government, having to pay for services they may never use. You can argue that there are lots of services that you and I pay for that we’ll never use, but not many take as large a bite out of our income as education, at least on a state level.

I can find some places to criticize Romney’s policies in the area of Domestic economics and government action, however, overall he’s painted himself as a good conservative on most issues he covers. I wouldn’t have a problem electing him on this score. When we voted Bush in, there was a general sense of his “Compassionate Conservatism” but we really didn’t know what he meant until the gigantic federal programs began to mount. I don’t see any of that flowery language here that would suggest that we can look forward to more of that, but there are areas of concern. Fortunately this isn’t a top 2 or 3 issue for me, so on I go to other issues.

Another well known conservative blogger has put his hat in the Romney camp.

I want to have someone who supports conservative values. In this, we have no perfect candidates. Fred Thompson came closest, but he quit, and I'm not going to cast my vote for someone who has already dropped out. Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and John McCain all have some claim to a portion of the conservative mandate based on their accomplishments. Of the four, I trust Romney and Giuliani most to continue supporting conservative principles in the face of opposition.

Goes on to note that Giuliani stands a far smaller chance of coming out ahead at the end of this, and thus he’s backing Romney.

After all I’ve said on this score, and much of what you’ll hear from those who are endorsing him, Senator McCain thinks that things are not hunky dory in Massachusetts economically. However he tries to argue that experience promoting economic policy trumps Romney’s business and investment experience, and that’s not going to fly considering people aren’t all that hot on congress’ effectiveness right now. And as it happens, Romney’s got plenty to criticize right back.

This article in the Washington Post tells more of the story, and so you can see a mixed bag there. But I’ve noted in the past that the economy works on many different levels and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what effect the government has on how many jobs are created or how the export deficit goes. Since Romney was governor during the recession and subsequent recovery, any losses or gains in the economy of Massachusetts or the state tax rolls has to be weighed against the overall national economic ups and downs. One thing that comes through is that he did in fact raise taxes, in the form of raising fees and closing some tax loopholes, which is not “raising” taxes per say, but…

1 comment:

kat said...

Glad to see you writing again, and in such depth. Looking forward to future entries--if your schedule allows you the time that is. :-)