Romney's Economic Plan: Dubya 2.0

I'll be honest: There are a few things about Mitt Romney that I find annoying. One of the biggest has to be that there is probably no sentence he has repeated more often in this campaign than "I know how the economy works," but he never actually explains what he knows that nobody else does, or how that hard-won knowledge translates into a unique set of policy moves that only he could bring about and that would pull America from its economic doldrums.

There are really two sets of questions that absolutely must be asked of Romney in the area of economics, given the rationale he offers for his candidacy. The first is, "What specifically did you learn as a businessman that policymakers haven't known up until now?" As far as I know, he has only been asked this question once, and the result wasn't encouraging. (After repeating over and over that he "understands how the economy works," Romney finally allowed that businesses spend money on energy, so if energy were cheaper, they'd have more money. Brilliant, I know.) The second question that Romney needs to be asked is, "What are you proposing to do, and how is that different than what we've done before?"

The natural way to ask this is the way Brian Williams asked it in an interview with Romney yesterday: "The major planks of your job plan, lower taxes, both corporate and marginal rates, and reduce regulation. Explain how that would be different from what George W. Bush tried to push through?" Republicans might say this is a "gotcha" question, since it brings up George W. Bush, whom today's Republicans like to pretend was not actually president for eight years. But it's a reasonable way to ask, since Bush's presidency was pretty recent, and he did in fact implement the entire Republican economic agenda, with the exception of drastic cuts in the size of government, though that's something Republicans are committed to in rhetoric only. So how did Romney respond?

Well, let me describe—actually, there are five things that I believe are necessary to get this economy going. One, take advantage of our energy resources, particularly natural gas, but also coal, oil, nuclear, renewables. That’s number one. A huge opportunity for us, and doing so is gonna bring manufacturing back, because low-cost, plentiful energy is key to manufacturing, in many industries.

Number two, trade. I want tre– to dramatically increase trade and particularly with—with Latin America. Number three, take action to get America on track to have a balanced budget. Now those three things, by the way, are things which we have not been doing over the last few years, which I think are essential to getting this economy going again.

Number four, we’ve got to show better training and education opportunities for our current re– workers and for coming workers. And then finally what I call restoring economic freedom. That means keep our taxes as low as possible, have regulations modern and up to date, get health care costs down. These things will restore economic freedom.

So my policies are very different than anything you’ve seen in the past. They’re really designed for an America which has some new resources, energy being one of them, trade with Latin America being another, and the need for a balanced budget now more urgent than ever before.

To review: The way Mitt Romney's economic plan differs from what George W. Bush did is that Romney favors exploiting energy resources, free trade, having a good education system, balancing the budget (something every candidate in both parties says they'll do, but only Bill Clinton actually did), tax cuts, and less regulation. In short, Romney's program is exactly the same as what George W. Bush did. Yet Romney says, "My policies are very different than anything you've seen in the past." Right.

It isn't necessary that every presidential candidate come up with a set of policies that are absolutely new and unique. After all, politicians are largely creatures of their parties, and those parties have relatively consistent agendas, so no party nominee is going to offer an agenda that's unlike anything we've seen before. But Romney is presenting a case for his candidacy that is an unusual synthesis of the personal and the policy. Other candidates have centered their candidacies on a personal argument—Bush was a "different kind of Republican" who would deliver us from the bitter partisanship of the 1990s, Obama was the embodiment of hope and change—but Romney's two-fold claim is that the election is all about the practical problem of improving the economy and that because of who he is, but not because of what he wants to do, only he can solve that practical problem. When he's forced to get specific, his solution to the practical problem is the standard Republican agenda.

It's entirely possible that this argument, hollow though it is, could work. Polls seem to indicate that Romney has an advantage on which candidate voters believe would do a better job managing the economy, which is not the same as them thinking all we need to do is cut taxes for the wealthy and remove regulatory constraints on corporations. Indeed, the appropriate follow-up to the question Williams asked is, "George W. Bush did just about everything you're proposing to do. If it didn't work then, why is it going to work now?" But nobody has asked Romney that either, so the most advantageous thing for him to do is to keep repeating "I understand how the economy works" and hope he doesn't have to answer too many questions about what he actually wants to do.


And just why doesn't somebody ever ask that follow-up question?

Here's what Waldmen doesn't get...

The failed policies of the past are the same as the present, they are ALL Big Government Policies.

Affordable Housing policy created the housing bubble which Fannie and Freddie inflated until it burst and crashed the economy.
Stimulus was nothing more than $1 trillion in pork transfers, mostly to government workers, crony capitialist (can you say Solyndra) and unions
ObamaCare threatend to crater the economy next year if it isn't repealed (one reason the economy is heading back into recession)

Romney understands that what needs to happen is a 'roll back' on Big Government. Reagan understood this saying, 'government ISN'T the solution, it's the problem'. Clinton accepted it when he got thrashed in the 94 mid-terms saying, 'the era of Big Government is over'.

Unfortunately Bush didn't get it, and Obama has gone beserk with the notion that we owe our livelyhood to BIG GOVERNMENT.

Now, either no firther explaination is needed or none will suffice.

You are 100% correct, rockstar. Bush's main problem was that he did NOT follow Repuiblican policies. Maybe it was because he was so focused on the threat from Al-Qaeda and on taking out Saddam, but he was an absolute trainwreck as far as restraining spending goes. While Obama has admittedly taken the art of deficit spending to new heights, it was Bush who got it started after inheriting a balanced budget from Bill Clinton.

Republicans are supposed to be the fiscally-responsible ones. Bush wasn't. But I think Romney would be quite different. He took office when Massachusetts was running huge budget deficits and when he left office their state budget was in surplus. Let's see if he can do the same thing for the federal budget.

We are faced with one simple fact and one simple proposition.

The fact is government can not continue to increase spending without eventually collapsing the economy, the spending will stop. Prior to FDR total government spending as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Production) was less than 7%. It has now grown to over 40% and is headed towards 50%. The federal government alone has gone from 20% under Bush to 25% under Obama. This is unsustainable, it will stop, the only wuestion is how.

The simple proposition is this...will it stop BECAUSE we had the COURAGE to stop it by insisting Government spend less (meaning we take less through Government) or because we were COWARDS and went bankrupt like Greece demanding our fair shair. Either way, IT WILL STOP.

Rockstar, you're writing the truth which is a stranger to these utopian libs and they're the ones that are going to be hollering the loudest when IT STOPS.

It's also important to note that technically Clinton did not balance the budget, Newt Gingrich did.

I wish someone would ask Romney if he plans to cut the federal government by 60% in ten years. My favorite bit of understanding is that Romney will slash government by about 60% in 10 years if he gets his way, with the exception of defense and social security. The CBPP reports: "For the most part, Governor Romney has not outlined cuts in specific programs. But if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage — to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement — then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022 (see Figure 1). Without the balanced budget requirement, the cuts would be smaller but still massive, reaching 40 percent in 2022." Where is this report? --- I just went to the Tax Policy Center and read their analysis. Here is the bottom line: "Also in the absence of such base broadening, TPC estimates that on a static basis, the Romney plan would lower federal tax liability by about $900 billion in calendar year 2015 compared with current law, roughly a 24 percent cut in total projected revenue. Relative to a current policy baseline, the reduction in liability would be about $480 billion in calendar year 2015." See --
The logic is lower tax revenue, lower government expenditures. The problem is no one wants popular government programs cut, and Romney does not show how he will "broaden the tax base" or eliminate "tax preferences". But a 60% cut in government over 10 years -- that's leadership, like Ryan's plan. But who will follow?

"TPC estimates that on a static basis." That's the line in your rant that shows a leftist slant. The world does not operate on a static basis. That's why the CBO can never give correct appraisal on any bill. Romney was correct because he sees the world in normal terms not static, socialist, terms.

Right now I think most people would gladly trade Dubya 2.0 for Obozo 1.0.

I would be glad to go back to the Bush Administrations economic policies that brought the country an average rate of unemployment of 5% for the first seven years of his terms in office. Bush inherited a recession when the dot com bubble burst but he didn't whine about it. The economy crashed after 9-11 and he didn't whine about that or blame Clinton either. He enacted a huge tax reduction for the middle class, cut cap gains taxes and helped the economy grow. No person in their right mind can blame Bush for the world wide collapse of the housing markets. That problem was thirty years in the making and both parties were responsible for the debacle.

This writer forgets what the un-employment averaged over the entire Bush term. It only went down after the Democratics took over the House and Senate in 2007. I guess Paul Waldman would perfer to stick with Barry's unbelivable -2.00, which is pure socialism.

Does "Dubya 2.0" include the Bush Tax Cuts? Obama and the dems had both houses for two years and Obama didn't get rid of the Dubya 2.0 Bush Tax Cuts and he'll probably never get a chance to repeal them.

Mr. Waldman,

What makes you such an economic expert? The only thing I could find on you is that you are a commentator? Have you ever led a company? held elected office? done anything other than trash others? If so, web searches don't even find it releveant. Get off the typical rant and do something meaningful.

Geoffrey Duke

I suppose Mr. no budget for Three years (the current occupant) is not letting out his plans to turn this around either? Other than more of the same stuff that doesn't work....

The fact is government can not continue to increase spending without eventually collapsing the economy, the spending will stop. Prior to FDR total government spending as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Production) was less than 7%. It has now grown to over 40% and is headed towards 50%. The federal government alone has gone from 20% under Bush to 25% under Obama. This is unsustainable, it will stop, the only wuestion is how.


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