During Saturday night’s GOP debate, Mitt Romney demonstrated once again why he is failing to gain traction with the conservative base. He continues to muddle the distinction between Obama’s policies and true free-market doctrine. Romney consistently invokes progressive policy doctrines, while tempering them with banal flavors of conservatism.
We must remember that every time a candidate failed to draw a sharp intellectual distinction between himself and the Democrats, that candidate was relegated to the ash heap of history. So far, Republican voters appear to have internalized that lesson.
Here are some examples of Romney’s insipid expression of 'conservative' policy.
"His [Gingrich's] plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people-- at the very highest level of income is different than mine. I'd-- I'd-- eliminate capital gains, interest, and dividends for people in middle income. So-- we have differences of viewpoint on-- on some issues. But-- but the real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector.
I-- I understand how the economy works. And I believe that for Americans to-- to say goodbye to President Obama and elect a Republican, they need to have confidence that the person they're electing knows how to make this economy work again and create jobs for the American middle class." [...]
"And-- and in my view, the place that we could spend our precious tax dollars for a tax cut is on the middle class, that's been most hurt by the Obama economy. That's where I wanna eliminate taxes on interest dividends and capital gains." [emphasis added]
Romney goes on to criticize Gingrich for not joining him in recognizing a class system and spending "our precious tax dollars" only on middle class taxpayers. This is exactly what we mean when we say Romney is Obama-light. He doesn't believe in raising taxes on the rich, but he believes in the pale pastel alternative of tax cuts only to certain "classes". Worse, he views tax cuts as a means of "spending" as opposed to a means of returning wealth to its original owners. Accordingly, he believes that those "expenditures" should be granted to the right people.
"Speaker Gingrich said that he was for a federal individual mandate. That's something I've always opposed. What we did in our state was designed by the people in our state for the needs of our state. You believe in the 10th Amendment. I believe in the 10th Amendment. The people of Massachusetts favor our plan three to one. They don't like it, they can get rid of it. That's the great thing about a democracy, where individuals under the 10th Amendment have the power to craft their own solutions.
By the way, the-- the problem with President Obama's plan is it does three things we didn't in my opinion, among others. I understand we disagree on this. But among others, one, it raises taxes by $500 billion. We (NOISE) didn't raise taxes. Two, it cuts Medicare by $500 billion. We didn't do that, either. And three, it doesn't just deal with the people that don't have insurance. It's a 2,000-page bill that takes over health care for all the American people. It is wrong for health care. It's wrong for the American people. It's unconstitutional. And I'm absolutely adamantly opposed to ObamaCare."
Let's get this straight: Romney opposes Obamacare, but only for the following four reasons; it is a federal program, raises taxes, cuts Medicare, and has too many provisions that affect too many people. This is a quintessential example of a pale pastel contrast that fails to uproot the entire liberal premise behind healthcare policy.
It is true that Obamacare raises taxes, cuts Medicare, and has many other onerous provisions. But the most offensive part of Obamacare is that it permanently raises the cost of healthcare and health insurance on everyone in the country. It represents the motherload of all market-distorters in an industry that is already plagued by high costs, due to the lack of a free-market. As an aside, Obamacare dumps scores of people on Medicaid.
Unfortunately, Romney lacked the gumption to mention these two additional prominent vices of Obamacare. The reason? They represent the same problems that Massachusetts faces with Romneycare. The subtle implication of Romney's case against Obamacare is that as long as the plan doesn't raise taxes or cut Medicare it is a laudable proposal, more meritorious than free-market anti-third-party-payer solutions.
And no wonder. Despite Romney's ad nauseum lie about 92% of Massachusetts residents remaining unaffected by Masscare, the market-distortions have spiked the cost of private insurance for everyone in the state to a higher level than any other state. Government mandates and third-party interventions – both state and federal – necessarily raise the cost of health insurance. Also, Masscare, much like Obamacare, has dumped thousands of people onto Medicaid – to be paid for by taxpayers from other states.
Moreover, it is nonsensical and dangerous to believe that statism is tolerable as long as it is promulgated by state government. Federalism allows different states to experiment with legitimate functions of government, such as transportation and infrastructure spending. Statism, on the other hand, is wrong on every level. In fact, when Thomas Jefferson warned about "elected despotism" in Notes on the State of Virginia (also cited in Federalist 48 by Madison), he was explicitly discussing state government.
Venture socialism is just as bad at a state level as at a federal level. Both Obamacare and Romneycare are driving up the cost of private health insurance, in the hope that private insurance will become unsustainable and unaffordable, thereby forcing single-payer down our throats. Both Obamacare and Romneycare will leave every taxpayer across the nation to pay for the inevitable collapse and the ensuing bailout.
Come next November, we need a choice not an [faint] echo.