It has been a mystifying summer waiting for the Romney campaign to put out one concrete proposal. To be fair he has said he’ll repeal “Obamacare” and that he’ll cut the federal tax rate by 20 percent while eliminating tax breaks and “loopholes” to make up the difference. He just hasn’t said which ones, but don’t hold your breath waiting for him to.
For my money I don't think Mitt Romney is the ideologue he’s trying to portray, the one many of his supporters are forcing him into conjuring. He’s a candidate who’s stuck not being specific because frankly, many of the groups who’ve come together to get him to the Presidency won’t like the specifics. He’s a business man with a shrewd grasp of finance, and he knows that repairing the economy will take a lot more jobs, a lot more revenue and a lot less spending. He just can’t say how to get those things.
If he says exactly how we provide more jobs then he embarrasses the Representatives in Congress who are blocking the jobs bills. They are relying on the magic of "Tax breaks" for "Job creators" to make oodles of jobs, and continue paying for their campaigns. If he says specifically how the goverment will develop more revenue, then Grover Norquist and pretty much all the Tea Party’ers will rise up and smite him. Republicans aren't allowed to use the "T" word, no matter how well disguised. If he ever describes his “Immigration reform plan” seas of the America first and America only people will heat the tar and start emptying pillows. Their idea of immigration reform is fully packed busses headed for the Mexican border, anything else is amnesty. If he says we need a lot less spending and names what needs to be cut to actually reduce the deficit, all hell will break loose. He knows this. The disaster and disaffection potential is stunning, like backlash on steroids.
A good example of this kind of backlash is what’s been happening since Paul Ryan became his running mate. Mr. Ryan began his allegiance by touting his “tough minded” budget which included a kind of voucher plan for medicare. That did not go over very well, in fact if anything has been proved this summer it is that threatening Medicare or Social Security is not a wise campaign move. Mr. Ryan forgot that in addition to the 47% currently using some form of government social service there are at least another 40% that are planning to. How many people can we name who are going to turn down their Social Security retirement checks? This is why Mr. Ryan has been on the back burner for a month or so. Getting booed by retirees at the AARP convention was something Sarah Palin couldn’t even manage.
It’s really too bad Romney’s so constricted, in reality he’s a center right politician, a great negotiator and probably could do something about getting Congress to move. The problem is his current backers and would-be constituents won’t let him talk about that. Compromise is the new “giving in” on the hill, remember? This is why he’s reduced to promoting “Ideas” and not policies. This is why no one can nail him down on exactly what he’s going to cut, what he’d like to spend or any of the nitty-gritty details of what he’s “Proposed.” That, of course, still leaves out the issue of how he plans to get anything he’s actually thinking about through a fiercely divided congress. Consequently, he’s reduced to just getting by saying things to rich people in Florida like “Once I’m elected confidence will rise and we’ll get a big economic boost.” I really don’t think the Governor actually believes in the “Confidence fairy.” Or, I really, really hope he doesn’t.
I guess we should have known this was what the campaign would be like. Right after he was forced to dump any credit for the Massachusetts healthcare plan, he must have known as well. I think he deserves a lot of credit for that. It’s an open, choice-based private carrier plan that's only regulated by the government. For all it’s flaws, it works and it’s good for Massachusetts. Unfortunately, it’s also the Affordable Care Act writ smaller, so he’s stuck talking about repealing a program based on his singular achievement as a Governor.
This will make the debate tonight be very interesting. We’ll be watching Mitt Romney on a tightrope, balancing his way through 90 minutes of tough fact-seeking questions all the wile firing off pithy and practiced one-liners. At this point he may not be able to change many minds, the sides have firmed up with only a few voters left outstanding. Let’s hope they stay up for it. After all, he’s practiced long and hard for this, working out how to use this opportunity to look Presidential but not say anything foolishly substantial.