02 March 2010

No Apology: Romney Likes America, Likely To Run In 2012

All you lovers of policy are going to really like his book and probably already like Romney.
The book's core, however, are his proposals on everything from national security to the economy, from health care to energy and from entitlements to education.

The policy prescriptions laid out in the book are too many to recount in full. But the broad strokes are a hard line on foreign policy coupled with a bit more ideological flexibility on the domestic front.

The overarching concept which animates Romney's book is the idea the United States must remain strong for the world to remain free.

Drawing on his years as a management consultant, Romney warns that the United States must remain the world's leading economic and military power or else global leadership will fall to the Chinese, the Russians, or the Jihadists -- each of which is described by Romney as pursuing an authoritarian vision for world domination.
I'm one of those who happens to believe that individual freedom is inextricably linked to economic freedom & prosperity. Just as prosperity enhances individual freedom, prosperity enhances national freedom--specifically, from malicious influences (think Chinese debt) and to combat world threats (Jihadism, & pocket dictators like Chavez, Ahmadinejad, & Jong-il).

To this point, I agree with Romney:
Obama comes under extended criticism for seeing himself as "the world's great bridge builder and synthesizer." Rather than talk of the world's "common interests" as Obama is fond of doing, Romney thinks it is more useful to focus on the prevalence of evil and to stand by traditional allies.

"I submit that it is vital to believe in evil -- it is neither confused nor deterred by vacuous introspection," writes Romney.
Like John Bolton said at CPAC 2010 (Part 1, Part 2--watch 'em both, they're fantastic), President Obama was not prepared to be President in January 2008 and he remains unprepared one year later. Yesterday's post with its quote by James Corum (thanks to Matt for posting that) perfectly sums up Obama's foreign policy incoherence and incompetence.

Romney's policy proposals will also please all you Pigou Clubbers out there:
On the domestic front, Romney articulates a conservative vision while managing to show a measure of independence from the Hard Right.

Although anti-tax activists typically oppose revenue raisers of any kind, even if they are intended as a replacement for other taxes, Romney's book flirts with the idea of a new tax on gas or carbon which would be paired with a reduction in the payroll tax. Romney's book does not actually embrace a "tax swap" but he nevertheless describes it as currently being the best game-changing strategy for achieving energy security.
I remain open minded, if skeptical both of the desirability of "energy independence" (quotes used to mean "whatever that means") and the efficacy in addressing such perceived problems with pigovian taxes.

Romney favored (and favors) TARP as administered by Hank Paulson, but not Tim Geithner. Regardless of how it was administered under one vs. the other, it created far too much opportunity for so-called Crony Capitalism.
When it comes to the Wall Street bailout which is loathed by many Tea Party activists, Romney defends Hank Paulson and credits President Bush's former Treasury Secretary with saving the US financial system. Romney then goes on to criticizes Tim Geithner, President Obama's Treasury secretary, for the way in which he has administered the Toxic Asset Relief Program.
If we're still debating the causes, effects, etc., of the Great Depression, it's safe to say we'll be arguing the relative merits of the sundry causes & effects of the Credit Crunch. Put me on the side of the people who think it wouldn't have been Apocalypse to let the bad banks fail.

Continuing a trend we've seen in interviews and debates about ObamaCare, in his book Romney defends RomneyCare by using the Federalism argument (state vs. federal administration). I leave it to you as to whether or not you find his argument persuasive.
When it comes to health care reform, Romney curries favor with conservatives by pointing out that the universal health-care plan he championed in Massachusetts deviated from Obama's proposal in that it did not include a public option. At the same time, Romney defends the idea of states, like Massachusetts, requiring individuals to purchase coverage even though some conservatives view such a mandate as an assault on individual liberty.
It appears Romney is correcting an error (perceived or otherwise) made by the McCain campaign during the election in allowing that Obama cared more about the "middle-class" (those who consider themselves to be a part of it or who would eventually like to be a part of it).
The "Fair Tax," a proposal to replace all federal taxes with a 23 percent tax on consumption plus an annual prebate, is popular among some conservative activists. In 2008, the proposal helped power former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee to his win over Romney in the Iowa Republican caucuses.

Romney explains in his book, however, that he opposes the Fair Tax because it might be evaded and he fears it would lead to a big reduction in taxes on the super rich like Bill Gates and higher taxes on the middle class.

Instead, Romney favors a series of more incremental tax changes including the elimination of personal taxes on dividends, interest, and capital gains for middle-income families.
I remember reading fivethirtyeight.com and wondering at Nate Silver's obsession with the words "middle class" in Obama's speeches & debate performance.

On an unrelated note, it is one of the more telling signs of the Obama administration's perpetual campaign machine that they are literally obsessed with polling buzz words and remain convinced that they just have to educate stupid Americans on healthcare such that they will eventually understand and agree with the Democrat Party's desire to universalize everything.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.