The Campaign and Mitt Romney

With this post, I’ll begin a short series of posts consisting of my analyses of the Republican candidates for the nomination for President.  Keep in mind that you’re getting these analyses for free; it’s entirely possible that you’ll getting your money’s worth.  The structure of this series will consist of, first, a collection of posts concerning what I don’t like about the candidates, then I’ll have a series of what I do like about them.  I’ll conclude with my endorsement of a single candidate.  To be sure, my endorsement will have enormous value for the lucky pick; he’ll be able to take it to a famous coffee chain with a few bucks and get a truly adequate cup of coffee.

With Governor Christie confirming that he’s a man of his word and will honor his commitment to his fellow New Jerseyites by remaining their governor for the rest of his term, the Republican list of candidates is narrowing and sorting out.  The serious candidates are beginning to look like Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry.  Other members of the field, who once had a chance, include Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and some others, but they’ve all made too many gaffes, or exposed too much ignorance in key areas, or have too much baggage, or simply haven’t been able to gain enough traction to be taken seriously.  Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman, I hope, will be back in 2012 or 2016; they deserve a more serious look than the current season is giving them.  There’s something to like about each of those top three, though, and something to dislike.

I’ll kick off this series with a discussion of ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

There are two key areas in Romney’s history that give me considerable disgruntlement.  His position on the environment is…uncertain.  He favors, apparently, cap and trade limits to carbon emissions, and so to economic growth—based on pseudoscience from anthropomorphic climate warming priests—until he turned against them.  He stood outside a coal-fired power plant and accused it of, if not outright murder, at least of killing people.   In an Obama-esque blame shift, Romney insists that his carbon emissions limits program was actually the work of prior administrations, but here’s what he did on his watch to block them: “These carbon emission limits will provide real and immediate progress in the battle to improve our environment,” then-Governor Romney said in a December 2005 press release, in which he also bragged that Massachusetts was then the first state to set CO2 limits.  He worked for a regional agreement among nearby states set up an area-wide carbon cap and trade régime, until he bailed on it in 2005 when he decided not to run for governor of Massachusetts anymore and instead look for the Presidency.

Health care.  Governor Romney insists that Romneycare is right for Massachusetts, but it’s not a national plan, and cannot be: each state is unique and has its own environment.  That last part is pretty good, but let’s look at the first part.  Was it right for Massachusetts?  Romney insists that he’s enrolled more citizens of Massachusetts in health insurance coverage than had been “possible” before Romneycare.  But at what cost?  He claims that every citizen of Massachusetts, while required by state government to buy health insurance, does so in a competitive market.  Set aside any argument about whether the State’s insurance markets truly are competitive—it’s irrelevant.  The problem is that we have a government requiring a free citizen of the United States to turn his property to government purposes, rather than for that citizen’s purposes.  We have a government dictating to a free citizen what he must buy, solely as a condition of his status as a citizen of Massachusetts.  This may be legal for a State to do to its citizens under the 10th Amendment, but it’s still wrong.

On the matter of Obamacare, most of the candidates have vowed to repeal it at the earliest opportunity and to work “from day one” to do so.  Romney, too, has vowed to defang Obamacare on his first day in office: via Executive Orders granting every state waivers against compliance with the state mandates organic to Obamacare.   But these  Orders will leave intact the individual mandate, taxpayer-funded exchange subsidies, a huge taxpayer-expensed Medicaid expansion, the robbery from Medicare, and Obamacare death panels.  In fact, while every other Republican candidate has vowed to push repeal from the start, Romney has not.  He’ll only implement those Executive orders (which any subsequent President can rescind), while he’ll “try real hard” to get repeal.  He won’t try at the expense of pushing a vote in the Senate, though.  Why is he avoiding a fight in the Senate?  Because a Democrat minority might remain strong enough to maintain a filibuster.  It seems that Romney will surrender control of the Senate to a Democratic Party minority, rather than fight for repeal.  Certainly it’s true that one should pick ones fights carefully, but there comes a time when you have to fight even when you know you’ll lose because the principle is that important.  If you don’t have any principles worth fighting for, what principles do you have?

2 thoughts on “The Campaign and Mitt Romney

  1. Most of your points are fair here. Regarding cap and trade, I never weighed in on the subject because I suspect it’s far more complicated than either conservatives or liberals want to admit and I felt noway well enough informed to form a sound judgment.

    There’s a pretty solid conservative case for trying to get companies that pollute to shoulder the true market cost of their activities. Where I have doubts is in the ability of central planners who don’t really get commerce and think they can set prices by fiat to accurately assess and allocate those costs, but I don’t for one minute object to the principle that if your actions create negative externalities, you should be held accountable.

    Also not sure whether it bugs me that Romney hasn’t vowed to repeal Obamacare. Presidents don’t repeal legislation: Congress does, so such promises smack to me of pandering (if not hubris).

  2. Regarding cap and trade, you’re right as far as it goes, but there’s a critical aspect here underlying the externalities that ought to be internalized. It has yet to be demonstrated that CO2 is a pollutant. Hence cap and trade is a monstrosity whose only possible outcome is the destruction of American business, no matter how well intentioned it might be.

    As for Presidents vowing, or not, to repeal this or that legislation, I look at motive. Only Obama–or Nixon–would think he has that authority over the Congress. However, a commitment to repeal isn’t necessarily an assertion of that authority; most often, it’s a recognition that the repeal won’t get done if the President isn’t absolutely behind it. And there’s the fact that if you don’t commit to something beyond your reach, you won’t get to the fullest extent of your reach.

    Eric Hines

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