The smart money is on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination to challenge President Obama in 2012. Romney leads the early polls, and performed well in the recent debate, coming across, as Chris Cilizza said, as “serious and well informed.” He certainly looks presidential.
Romney has shown an admirable reluctance to pander to the party’s baser and more ridiculous instincts, which will help win swing voters in a general election. Among other things, he has acknowledged the scientific consensus that human activity contributes to climate change. While he says he doesn’t support a cap-trade policy, he does think we need to reduce “emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants.” And in this week’s debate he refused to play on fears of a Muslim takeover, reminding the audience that “people of all faiths are welcome in this country.” As Carrie Dann points out, none of this seems to have hurt Romney among Tea Party conservatives.
Yet Romney—a Harvard MBA and the former CEO of a top management consulting firm—doesn’t seem to have a realistic plan for fixing the economy outside of continuing to cut taxes. Romney recently claimed that President Obama has had “the most anti-investment, anti-growth, anti-job strategy since Jimmy Carter.” Obama certainly has failed to reduce unemployment, but as Ezra Klein says, “By any measure, this absurd. Taxes are at a 50-year low. The Dow has staged a roaring recovery. Business profits are at near record levels.”
The truth is that businesses are doing well, but that high profits and historically low tax rates haven't translated into many new jobs. In the debate Romney particularly blamed union card-check and cap-and-trade bills for slowing the economy. But neither of those bills, as Stephen Stromberg notes, ever actually became law. The idea that either card-check or cap-and-trade rules are the problem is pure fantasy, in other words. If Romney is going to get the country back to work, he’s going to have to do more than repeat conservative boilerplate and repeal a few imaginary laws.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore