"CHANGE", Mitt Romney's newest theme, is butting heads with Pres. Obama's "FORWARD". Obama is making investments in our future a priority. Romney wants to return to the past policies. It is a profound choice ultimately decided by voters who are looking for a candidate whom they can trust to govern in their self interests.
Romney's vision has been a moving target. Which Romney, the pre or post debates version, could we trust to govern? It is most likely he will keep promises to those who brought him to power through the primaries and whose continued support he will need for re-election to a second term. To win the primaries, Romney embraced some extreme positions on women's health held by the religious right, the tax protesting Tea Partiers, and the interventionist neo cons who steered Bush and our country to invade Iraq .
In Debate #1 Romney moved to the center, or so it appeared. He threw a 20 percent tax reduction bone to the middle class, and spoke little about tax cuts to wealthy job creators that he still supported. He professed to feel the pain of the 47 percent he had so disdained in private yet he has never disavowed plans with embracing proposed cuts to the poor's safety net (called immoral by Catholic leaders) and to unspecified programs the middle class treasures. Throughout 2012, he confused leadership of the world with militaristic bluster until he became a verbal peacenik in Debate #3.
Fact checkers and non partisan analysts call Romney's revised tax plans impossible to achieve because there are not enough upper income loopholes to cover the losses of tax income to the treasury. He is making promises which he could never keep without blowing a hole in the deficit or raising middle class taxes and eliminating their deductions. Facts count? Not necessarily. Pledging lower taxes is an ancient, winning political strategy.
Will Romney's riff that Obama's next four years be like the last? No. The International Monetary Fund predicts US growth over the next four years will be 3 percent a year. Respected analysts such as Moody's noted 12 million jobs would be created anyway by just staying the course laid out by Obama. Romney's promise to create 12 million jobs in four years is one pledge he could keep since it will happen even if he is not elected.
On some issues Romney does not need Congress to cooperate. These are promises he can keep. He has pledged to repeal Obamacare, with results that would return the 27 million uninsured to expensive emergency rooms, with no reduction in future health care costs. He has promised executive orders to exempt states from implementing Obamacare and he can choose not to spend money Congress authorized.
We can trust him to overturn Roe v Wade through his Supreme Court nominations that would end 50 years of women's control over their health decisions. The Court needs just one more conservative vote and the Senate approval rarely hinges on a nominees position on a future specific case.
Obama's FORWARD is straight forward. He positions are known and consistent. His plans for the second term are to complete what a stonewalling Congress stopped in 2010, to continue to implement Obamacare and Wall Street reform, and to seek solutions to the deficit similar his own Grand Bargain proposal.
Priorities count. Romney's is " eat our seed corn" with large cuts in federal budgets: aid to education, investment in research and development, and infrastructure, meaning that the next generations will be stuck in the past for years to come while the rest of the world moves ahead. Obama promises to fertilize the future as he proposes the exact opposite.
Obama's course on balance leads to a better future. Romney can keep his change.