Monday, October 22, 2012

Why is anyone actually FOR Mitt Romney?

Politics time.  Hang in there, only a few more weeks to go.

The title is something I've been asking Romney supporters for the past few months, and in all honesty I've yet to get a good answer.  Not even "wow, you've convinced me!" good, but answers that aren't simply regurgitated Obama-bashing.

So here's the question, one more time - instead of explaining why you don't want Obama, explain why someone should want to vote for Romney.

I'd want an election that's a race between two choices that are so good I'd have a hard time deciding.  Who wouldn't?  We don't have that this year, no matter how much you may dislike Obama.

In Mitt Romney, you have a man who was raised in a privileged, elite bubble, in a world where the risks and rules that impact 99% of us never applied to him.  He was raised to be ambitious, and that's not a bad quality for anyone to possess, but he never picked up the humility and ability to couple that ambition with a genuine concern for the welfare of others that his father, George Romney, possessed and was admired for.

The younger Romney got into college because of his father's connections and when he graduated he landed at Bain through connections as well.  Nothing wrong with that, but nothing earned by merit, either.

Then at Bain, Romney was asked to take charge of a new subdivision, Bain Capital, which was only accepted after guarantees that his position and compensation would not be at risk regardless of the outcome.  That's a safety net your average entrepreneur doesn't have, and he never had to understand what it meant to have his livelihood on the line.

Then the new unit was failing, and if he treated it the way he wanted to treat GM and Chrysler three years ago, he'd have let the company go bankrupt.  That would have been a severe personal and professional setback to someone with his ambition, so he orchestrated a bailout through the FDIC.  The company didn't recover at that point, and the proper free-market response would have been to liquidate the remaining $10 million in bailout funds to the creditors and move on.  His job was still safe, but his reputation was not, so Romney gave out the millions in remaining cash in bonuses to his management team.  There was nothing left for the creditors, so they had no choice but to extend more credit and hope to earn it back over time.  This move saved Bain Capital, and over time it made Romney a virtual quarter-billionaire.  However, his accounting gimmicks cost the U.S. taxpayers $10 million in bailout financing that was never recovered.  His gain came at our loss, and it makes him all the more a hypocrite for attacking bailouts, stimulus spending, or the U.S. government losing money invested in startups like Solyndra.

This isn't opinion or a spin job from the media.  The source is in the SEC filings from Bain itself, and Romney doesn't deny it - he just doesn't talk about it, for obvious reasons.

Romney is also highly astute at working the rules of finance and taxation to get every advantage that he can to maximize his wealth.  There's nothing wrong with that either, but his carried interest deals and creative use of offshore & foreign accounts represent a man used to a world where there are different rules if you have enough wealth to leverage them.  He knows exactly how far he pushed the edge with these games, which is why he would take any criticism, even from within the GOP, rather than disclose his tax returns as his father did.

It doesn't matter what the income tax rate is for the 1% when most of the 1% get their annual revenues through capital gains and carried interest, and not "income" in the traditional sense.  In fact, under the Romney/Ryan plan, Romney would be paying a rate closer to 2%.  He'll say that's fair since corporate taxes are already paid, but corporate taxes are paid after the same games, which is why a company like GE can earn billions and pay zero annual income tax.  This is not about whether any of this is legal - it is - but it represents different rules for the wealthy versus the middle class, and that Romney seeks to maintain that uneven playing field.

So Romney moves on from Bain to "save" the Salt Lake Olympics, a high point on his resume.  Except, he did it primarily by registering as a lobbyist, and working business connections and politicians to get over a billion dollars in taxpayer funding.  "Mission accomplished", but when Romney says he knows fiscal policy in part because he rescued the Olympics and balanced that budget, he leaves out that he "balanced it" with a billion dollars of your money that wasn't repaid.

Then he decides that on the heels of his Olympic success it's time to get into politics while his brand is strong.  He runs for Senate against Ted Kennedy in the blue state of Massachusetts, and morphs from a conservative to a pro-choice centrist, and loses.  He runs for governor and wins, claiming that he can lead because he drove progress as a Republican in a state where 87% of the legislature was Democratic.  Except that he issued 844 vetoes, and 707 of those were overridden by the Democrats.  Not exactly the record a bipartisan uniter would be promoting.

Romney had aspirations beyond the state level, so he was "one and done" before he'd have to much of a record to defend, and just to be safe, allowed his senior staff to purchase their government computers and erase their hard drives.  The data on those drives were the property of the citizens, not Romney, but he chose to be contemptuous of that ownership and leave as little a record as possible to be scrutinized.

So now the man runs for the presidency.  In the 2008 campaign he was taken out fairly early in favor of McCain.  He retooled and repackaged, and came back in 2011 positioning himself as a lifelong conservative in a primary driven by pandering to the Tea Party.  This time around he had the good fortune to be running against one of the weakest fields in decades, and even with the Bachmann, Perry and Herman Cain to run against, he could never get more than 25% of the vote in any of the early races.  He may have survived by attrition and looking like the most reasonable choice (and he was by comparison), but the point needs to be restated - 3 out of 4 Republican voters wanted someone else in almost every early primary.

But he hung in, let the weakest competition implode on their own, and obliterated the last couple with attack ads.  Romney didn't win the nomination because the GOP wanted him - he won because they couldn't produce a candidate who wasn't worse.

The campaign moves ahead, and we discover that his argument is that you have to vote for him if you don't want Obama, and since you shouldn't want Obama, you should vote for him.  The thinking must have been that he would never have to specifically define what a vote for Romney would be for, as long as you were content with voting for what it would be against.

But voters aren't that stupid, and after Bush 43 even the Republicans want to know what they'd be getting with a Romney presidency.  So what do you get?

His tax plan doesn't pass the math test, and you can ignore the "six studies that support them" that Romney pulls out in defense.  Most of those are blog posts or opinion pieces, one was paid for by his campaign, and all of them undermine the Romney assertion that the middle class wouldn't get hit in one way or another.  You can't get something for nothing, and the numbers don't add up even in the most optimistic scenarios.  When you ask him to get specific, he says he'll sit down with Congress to define the specifics together.  That's just another way of saying "I don't have specifics, and I'm punting to Congress so when they don't either, it won't be on me".

When you ask Paul Ryan, he says "I don't want to bore you with the details" or "We don't have the time".  We have the time and the patience for something this important, Mr. Ryan.  All you have to do is put the details on your website and we'll do the reading from there.  But...nothing.  There is no plan that adds up, and that's why you're not going to see the details.

His pledge during the Tea Party Primaries was to "Repeal Obamacare on day one", but most Americans like certain provisions in Obamacare, like putting dependents up to age 26 on their parent's plans, keeping insurance companies from denying pre-existing conditions, and so on.  So the pledge morphed into "Repeal and replace Obamacare", and when pressed for details, he'd leave in many of the perks, but none of the mechanisms to pay for them.  You don't get something for nothing, and the businessman isn't presenting a business case with workable numbers.

He wants to "protect and preserve Medicare", but behind those words is the "how".  He's for the Ryan plan to give out vouchers  - it'll improve the control of costs, but that's because when your costs go over your voucher, it's all on you, unlike today.  In a Romney/Ryan world you can get sick only up to a certain cost point, and then you can ask for charity or go to the ER.

On social issues he stays quiet, or plays word games when forced to take a stand.  He "wouldn't propose any legislation restricting abortion", but he hasn't promised not to sign any bills that are proposed by others (wink).  He won't reverse Obama's proto-DREAM act for immigrant children, but still believes in self-deportation - making life so miserable that you'd have to leave, even when your kids are born here and know no other life.  He'd defund Planned Parenthood even though no government money pays for abortions due to the Hyde Amendment, and 97% of the health care services they provide are related to wellness, screening and family planning that have nothing to do with abortion.

Romney was against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay act when it was proposed, and promising not to reverse it is not the same as supporting it when it wasn't yet the law.  He wouldn't have needed "binders full of women" to be presented to him if his transition team included women in the first place, and the number of women in senior roles actually went down over his term as governor - not up, not even - down.

Foreign policy?  Romney couldn't go on a friendly tour through Europe & Israel this summer without provoking one embarrassment in each of the countries he visited.  In Israel his pandering was so shameless it delighted Netanyahu, but gave sensible people pause.  America should stand by its close allies, but it should never be led by them, and there he was telling another nation that they could set our policy for us.

I can go on but I think I've said enough.  If anyone asks I'll be glad to provide unbiased references for any of the points above.  This isn't spin, it's a collection of facts.

If you don't like Obama that's fine - I wish he did a better job too, but I also think he did a good job given the circumstances and a childishly hostile Congress.  On the other hand, the country is objectively in better shape now than it was four years ago.  "Better" doesn't mean that things are good, but they are not as bad as they were, and they continue to improve, not worsen.

Romney has not offered specific policies that can be independently assessed and shown to make more sense than Obama's.  He's making bold promises to make things much better than they are now, but refuses to tell you how he'd make them happen in any way that's realistic.  Any independent analysis of the details he does share shows that he's not just going back to the approaches of George W. Bush, but in some ways is doubling down on them.

We saw how that worked out from 2001-2004, and gave him an extra four years that did nothing but make things worse.  There is no reason for any sane, sensible, thinking person to take what is known about the Romney approach and not see that this is going backwards to what failed.

So I'll end this with a challenge.  Show me, educate me, enlighten me, without empty rhetoric and Fox News sound bites, that there is something objectively better in a Romney/Ryan administration than we'd have by staying with the progress we've experienced for real since 2009.  I'm ready and waiting.


  1. Dinsdale -

    I've always been convinced that "a man convinced against his own will, is of the same opinion, still." Hence, whatever I could say to offer you, will not even come close to your challenge.

    I will say, however, that if voters utilize the same criterion as they did to choose a new president as they did in 2008; they would choose Romney. Why? Because, America desires significant change; change from the failed policies and agenda of the present president.

    Obama has not changed for the better the America he promised to make better when he convinced the voters that G.W.Bush was Satan incarnate. It took until the 2010 mid-term elections for voters to figure out that Obama's "hope and change" was not cleaning up Washington status quo politics, but that Obama was intent on changing traditional America. The very reality that Obama's White House visitor log is littered with Muslims who have ties with Muslim troublemaker groups, speaks to significant differences between he and Romney, and that Obama will continue to diminish traditional and patriotic America.

    Finally, here [following] are some of my further comments (with accompanying links) why Romney would be a much better presidential pick for America:

    Presidential Debates end: Romney presidential timber and Obama petty

    Pastor emeritus Nathan M. Bickel

  2. I read through the content on your links, but they don't make a case for Romney as much as they repeat anti-Obama talking points.

    Romney didn't show presidential character last night - he showed himself as someone not equal to the task of leading a superpower in a complex world. Obama wasn't attacking his character; he was calling Romney out when he displayed how out-of-touch he was, although I'll admit the tone was pretty condescending.

    We could have done a lot better over the past 3 1/2 years, but if it was McCain running for reelection at this point, the GOP would be taking the same numbers on jobs, the Dow, homebuilder confidence and more and claiming that things have turned around and are heading in the right direction. It was Obama, though, so the glass needs to be half empty.