By Bill Boyarsky
It’s easy to laugh at the freak-show race for the Republican presidential nomination. Unfortunately, the antics of the candidates—and the media’s fascination with them—have diverted attention from what the Republicans would do if they win.
The sexual harassment accusations against Herman Cain, along with his confusion over matters such as Libya, make for entertaining television. So do the stumbles of Christian-right-hope Rick Perry, the collapse of ultra-conservative heroine Michele Bachmann and the sudden emergence of shopworn hack Newt Gingrich. The pratfalls of these people make perfect material for the media in a presidential campaign that is breaking new ground in superficial coverage.
Such coverage has always been part of political reporting. But this year, it’s worse. To a great extent, the contest is being waged on simplistic cable television shows and blogs. This season’s new development, a multitude of debates with their one-minute answers and chances for unexpected disasters, feed the process. The debates, particularly the gaffes, are hashed over by the cable networks’ “analysts.” These people are often identified as “Democratic strategists” or “Republican strategists,” code for political campaign operatives looking for jobs. The same weak-minded commentary, not backed up by reporting, races through the Internet.
Lost in all this is an examination of what would happen to the country if one of these Republican candidates makes it to the White House, especially if the GOP retains the House and wins control of the Senate. Readers and viewers are not getting a clear explanation of what difference it would make if a Republican or President Barack Obama wins next November.
The information is available, if anyone has the time or patience to read it.
The longest and most tedious of these offerings is the 59-point plan in “Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.” It should be at the top of voters’ reading lists. Romney looks as though he might be the last one standing when the Republicans pick a nominee. In addition, his massive document pretty well encompasses proposals made by other GOP presidential candidates. As such, it is a good guide to Republican thinking.
Two of the most important points deal with government regulation and taxes.
The Romney plan would repeal all the regulatory laws passed after Obama took over during the worst U.S. economic crisis in generations. While not strong enough, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the other laws imposed more controls over the runaway financial industry than had existed before. Passing them was a struggle, and the financial lobby riddled them with loopholes. They will go if the Republicans take power.
The Obama administration’s mild efforts to control air pollution and global warming would be weakened or repealed. The Romney plan “would require all ‘major’ rules (i.e., those with an economic impact greater than $100 million) to be approved by both houses of Congress before taking effect.” In a GOP-controlled House and Senate, that would be an anti-regulation Congress. At best, any major regulatory proposal would be subject to intense pressure by lobbyists and the campaign-contributing industries that employ them.
Here’s another boost he’d give to business: “As president, Romney will press for an immediate reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent,” his plan says. As his campaign document puts it:
“Worries that a lower corporate tax rate are unfair or unaffordable are fundamentally misplaced. The truth is, as Mitt Romney likes to say, ‘corporations are people.’ They represent human beings acting cooperatively to be economically productive. Each dollar earned by a corporation is a dollar that ultimately flows, in one form or another, to employees or to shareholders. And those shareholders include the millions of Americans who own shares in mutual funds or who have pensions that invest in the American economy.”
Corporations aren’t people. They are corporations. Nor does each dollar earned by a corporation flow to employees, as Romney says. Corporations have laid off workers, hoarded cash and acted to produce short-term gains for shareholders, especially speculators who race in and out of markets. Now that there are mild signs of recovery, companies are not hiring back. This is just like the downsizing practiced by Romney when he headed the takeover operations of Bain Capital.
Right now, the media, fascinated by the Republican show, are not examining the differences between Obama and his foes. Sadly, the president isn’t helping. He still has not explained or defended the good he has accomplished.
Many liberals say his record is indefensible. To them, it doesn’t matter who wins, the Republican sellout or Obama, whom they consider the Democratic sellout.
This view of Obama is the height of wrong-headedness. Romney’s proposals are a stark contrast to the Obama record. If Romney or another Republican wins, and brings along a Republican Congress, they would repeal the Obama programs as soon as possible.
Elections have consequences. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s a great one, and timely, too.
Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)
Mitt Romney: Read it and weep.