With the nomination now in his hands, it falls on me to defend Mitt Romney against the real opponents – the ones on the sidelines gleefully munching on popcorn during the horror fest that was the 2012 Republican Presidential Primary. At the time, I could justify my support for Romney simply on the grounds that all the other candidates were vastly inferior – that is, incapable of winning, holding to true fiscal conservatism, or both. Whether we like it or not, The Buckley Rule commanded that Romney be the nominee. The Republican Party could not stop itself from burying the knife deeper and deeper into its own wrist in its search for fresh and pure blood and all the blood to come out was cold, dry, and barely functional. And all the while, so much blood has also left it. Much damage has been done. And what for? So to make the obvious nominee’s life more difficult.
It must be said that Barack Obama’s presidency needs to end. His policies have not worked. He has continued the George W. Bush legacy of reckless deficit spending to unsustainable heights. Four years into his presidency, the economy is still in the toilet. Unemployment (the real unemployment/jobless rate) is still in the double digits (somewhere between 11% and 15.6%). And those who are lucky to have jobs are still forced to live a more miserly lifestyle (myself included). There are signs that the economy is getting better, but evidence has led us to conclude that this is happening in spite of the president’s policies and not because of them. Aside from his failed stimulus, his poorly executed Wall Street Reform Act, and his gross overextension of Federal power in healthcare, his worst insult is that he has rhetorically switched on my favorite thing he said back in 2008 – that tax increases will not help a recovery.
Mitt Romney has a history of success, from his starting and growing of Bain Capital to his saving of the 2002 Winter Olympics. As governor, Romney did for MA what Obama failed to do for the nation. Though job growth was relatively slow, the country wasn’t facing an unemployment crisis and logically, an accelerated job growth might mean sound policy but it also means that there were problems in the state beforehand. Thankfully, Romney didn’t inherit a troubled economy and there is very little evidence to suggest that Romney’s policies were the reason job growth was so slow. But MA did have a deficit problem and a healthcare problem. Romney balanced his budgets and left a rainy-day surplus by the end of his term and he did it all without raising tax rates on anyone.
As far as healthcare is concerned – despite Democrats salivating at the idea of pinning President Obama’s worst accomplishment as a continuation of Romney’s policy, the facts present a different case. As a result of Romney’s plan, more people in the state got insured, the free-rider problem was essentially eliminated, and the state saved millions of dollars. But the real similarities between “Romneycare” and “Obamacare” are not in Romney’s original plan, but actually in the Democrats’ and Deval Patrick’s changes to it.
Romney has an impressive and distinguished record of problem-solving. He holds the Nixonian paradoxical image of being the experienced leader while remaining, throughout his whole life, a Washington outsider. He has a proven record of fiscal conservatism through action and unparalleled knowledge of how markets and companies work. It is said that in every economic downturn, the real crisis is the crisis of confidence in investment. Romney’s presence and demeanor inspires that very trait. Even if his presidency isn’t diametrically opposite to Obama’s, Romney’s own economic charisma will succeed where Obama failed.
With his vast depth of knowledge about the market, his experience of problem solving as a business leader, and success as a fiscally conservative governor, Mitt Romney is exactly the president America needs right now. He understands the most fundamental principles of the economy and pragmatic fiscal policy; he has a record of bipartisanship and success, and finally on the issue of deficit reduction, he understands the complexity between ideology and reality that is wrought by the issue of timing. And though his rhetoric has been broader than I would prefer, when Mitt Romney says that he can fix something or make something better, I’m inclined to believe him. He’s been doing it throughout his life.