If wishes were horses, beggars would ride
October 2, 2012
That nursery rhyme teaches the folly of wishing without a workable action plan. Mitt Romney has based his campaign on wishes.
Who does not want more jobs, a growing economy, and a solution to the deficit problem? Some items not on his list were apple pie and motherhood (though that crops up in his severe right turn to social conservatism as he proposes defunding Planned Parenthood and overturning Roe v. Wade).
He has a chance to fill in the blanks in the debate in Denver on Oct. 3 (tonight).
So who will win the debate? Many experienced observers believe it is the degree of like-ability, competence, and who comes up with the best zinger. However, President Clinton received praise for this year’s Democratic convention speech for being the “explainer in chief.” There is a hunger for explanations and this may be the year of “it’s the message details, stupid.”
Polls are showing that confidence in the president’s ability to manage the economy has increased so much, he is ahead of Romney now. Obama so far has succeeded in making the case that the GOP’s trickle down theories of cutting taxes on the wealthy and inflicting pain on the poor and middle class are not the only paths to recovery. What the President has done or plans to do is more palatable and will eventually work.
While weak on the “how to” details, Romney has answered one question: Whose interests would he favor when hard choices have to be made after the election? He will have a difficult time with that one, especially when he was caught dissing 47 percent of Americans as government dependence lovers and for not paying income taxes.
The dilemma Romney faces is that our problems are difficult to solve without goring someone’s ox and turning off voters. The best strategy for him is to remain vague. Obama’s task is not to let him get away with it.
Romney has some new headwinds. Former President Bill Clinton raised an important point at the Democratic Convention that gained some traction. It is the “addition” issue, the “fuzzy math” charge revisited. The GOP is vulnerable on the question of whether Romney’s plans will decrease the deficit. Romney himself has presented few details, but his running mate Paul Ryan has.
The Congressional Budget Office scored both the impact of repealing Obamacare and Ryan’s budget reduction plan. Their conclusion was that neither would reduce the deficit, and would actually add to it. So obnoxious are some of Ryan’s proposals, especially concerning voucherizing Medicare, that Romney has distanced himself by claiming he has his own plans … though he has never let us know with what part of Ryan he differs.
The GOP often counters with “the president has not given us details either.” Their argument is “two wrongs make a right.” Unfortunately for that line of discourse, Obama has been more detailed than Romney has. Obama did present a detailed deficit reduction plan that included 10 cuts for every revenue dollar raised. Obamacare is law, reduces the debt, and extends the life of Medicare. His jobs plan to hire teachers and build infrastructure was presented as legislation. It is just that since 2010, the Teaparty-controlled House of Representatives has blocked any new initiatives .
The GOP sheds crocodile tears that Obama did not embrace in entirety the Simpson Bowles recommendations, yet every single GOP member of the Senate and House voted against it when they had a chance. If Obama wins, a Simpson Bowles-like approach will too. If the GOP gets the government reins, the Ryan plan rises. That is the fundamental choice facing us in November.