Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Deep Concern Regarding a Romney Victory

I am deeply concerned about the direction of this country's economy and policies proposed and executed at the national level.  For that reason, I think it's important to highlight the extreme problems facing the country in the event of a Romney win in November.

First, as of now we know little to nothing about what Obama is proposing.  His entire campaign has been about maligning and attacking his opponent.  The primary reason for this is his economic record is mediocre.  While I understand his "you are better off than you were four years ago" argument from an economic perspective (recoveries from financial crisis are historically longer), this is an argument which is understandably lost on the population at large.  Additionally, he suffers from the "I'm a professor, not a leader" mentality which is also quite frustrating.  Finally, the Democratic party at large seems perpetually afraid to advance any agenda for fear of starting any type of dust-up within the hard right media complex.

However, despite the many attempts to label the current administration socialist, communist or any other such label, the reality is the general political bent of the administration has been center/center-right.  We've seen the lowest tax rates in 60 years, banks were bailed out, a mild stimulus was passed which was a combination of tax cuts and spending, and many attempts to work across the  aisle were attempted.  Agree or disagree with Obamacare, something had to be done regarding US health care.  And the plan incorporated bi-partisan points (more on this in a minute).  As a result, we're left with a pretty standard post-financial crisis recovery which has seen the US economy expand between 0%-2% for several years.  There is no reason to think we won't see a continuation of this general direction over the next four years should Obama be elected.

The problem with a Romney win is that we have an idea for what his policies would be.  And the sum total adds up to a fiscal and overall policy disaster of the highest order.

Let's start with his tax plan.  Simply out, it doesn't add up.  In fact, it doesn't come close to adding up.  First, we have several studies saying it makes literally no sense.  A good summation can be found in this Bloomberg Article.  Just as importantly, the six studies which supposedly support his plan are, well, a joke (see the same Bloomberg article).  Put succinctly, Romney's tax plan makes absolutely no sense.  You can't cut rates 20% and then broaden the base to make up lost revenue ground.  Not one piece of data supports this claim.

The Ryan budget has the exact same problem.   When it was first proposed about a year ago, several noted economists dug into the numbers and found them to be bogus (see here, here, and here).  Simply put, it, like the tax plan, does not add up.  Despite arguing that cutting the deficit is their primary goal, their blueprint to do this is pure fantasy (and please, spare me me the "Romney has said the Ryan plan isn't his plan argument -- it doesn't even pass the smell test).

And then there is health care policy.  First, the individual mandate (which is a big reason for the dispute regarding this policy) was a Republican idea used by Romney in Massachusetts.  In fact, it has been part of Republican orthodoxy for over 15 years.  In addition, there are only two ways to solve the health care problem in the US; an individual mandate or single payer at then national level -- those are your options.   In other words, Republican opposition is, stupid.  More importantly, a complete repeal would harm millions of people who are already benefiting from policies like coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parent's insurance.  And, more importantly, there is no counter-proposal coming from the Republicans.  None.

Underlying all of these policy proposals is a basic fact: they don't come close to adding up.  This is not a question of a legitimate policy debate where both sides have good arguments to back up their proposals.  Instead, Romeny's would blow a bigger hole in the budget and hurt millions of Americans by eliminating their access to affordable medical care.  Those are just the facts.  And that's where my concern comes from.