James MacDonald of ForeignPolicy.com describes the current Seldon Crisis occurring in Western economies as the end of a seven decade experiment. This seven decade experiment is described by Walter Russell Mead as The Blue Social Model. He talks us through its particulars below.
Graduate from high school and you were pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment in a job that gave you a comfortable lower middle class lifestyle; graduate from college and you would be better paid and equally secure. Life would just go on getting better. From generation to generation we would live a life of incremental improvements — the details of life would keep getting better but the broad outlines of our society would stay the same.
The fundamental organizing principal of the American Economy will have to be moved away from the rudiments of the now-failed Blue Social Model. The GOP candidates competing with Barack Obama for the presidency will have to effectively drive this transformation. Yesterday, in the first of a three part series, we discussed Michele Bachmann’s stated policies and past actions with regard to this monumental task. Today, I discuss the policies and past decisions of Mitt Romney.
Candidate Romney’s resume includes a stint as a corporate CEO and as the Governor of Massachusetts. With this background, economics and job creation should be his bread-and-butter issues. His campaign website suggests that he understands this well and intends to use his prior economic experience as his meal-ticket to the GOP nomination to oppose Barack Obama in 2012.
The Issues section of Governor Romney’s website bears out the assertion in the paragraph above. He lists four primary areas of concern: Job Creation, Fiscal Responsibility, Health Care and Foreign Policy. At least three of these four bear heavily on America’s economic future. In his Job Creation section, Romney establishes a fundamental disagreement that he has with how President Obama is currently performing his job.
President Obama has neglected the fundamental tasks of creating jobs and growing our economy. Instead, he’s focused his efforts on an anti-jobs, anti-growth agenda that has significantly expanded the role of the federal government. His actions have only succeeded in creating more of the uncertainty and obstacles to investment that threaten the economic vitality of our nation.
In order to fix what he claims Barack Obama has damaged, Mitt Romney offers up what he describes as five principles of job creation.
• Right-size government by cutting spending, repealing Obamacare, and ending wasteful programs
• Make American businesses competitive in the global economy
• Open markets abroad, on fair terms, for American goods and services
• Ensure energy security and independence for America
• Train and prepare American workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow
Only his first point relates entirely to economics. Romney seems to view the economic problems of America through a holistic and interconnected prism that cuts across nearly every aspect of what the Federal government is involved with. Romney espouses a reduction in the size and scope of the regulatory state. He also wants to adjust energy policy, trade agreements, education policy and probably several other areas of governance to accommodate and support his job creation plans.
In his section of Fiscal Responsibility, he again disagrees with President Obama by opining that the president wants government to spend way too much money that isn’t covered in current revenues. Mr. Romney suggests cutting federal programs, reforming entitlements and putting state and local governments in charge of things the Federal Government does right now. His proposals for executing these things are not laid out in the same detail as his job creation ideas. This suggests, at least for now, that Candidate Romney worries more and plans more regarding the unemployment crisis than the fiscal one.
Romney calls upon Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare in his healthcare issues page. He suggests delegating more healthcare decisions to state governments. He also calls for tort reform, a more open health insurance market and strengthened HSAs. This Federalist agenda may also be how he intends to defend Romneycare while trashing Obamacare at the same time.
By positing the issue in his light, Romney is able to make the claim that Massachusetts can embrace big government healthcare reform while South Carolina, for example may not want to choose that approach. Candidate Romney could than claim further that he isn’t going to judge which approach is right at the present. Federalism is Democracy’s laboratory and smart people can look at the scoreboard in three or four years and decide which state got it right.
In examining Mitt Romney’s economic proposals it becomes clear that he intends to see the unemployment problem as the most important issue. The healthcare fiasco and the fiscal imbalance are also problems worthy of concern - but not as pressing as getting people back to work. Romney would focus on fixing unemployment by changing how a number of different aspects of our current government work. It seems to be the single-minded focus of his current run for office.
Where Romney could run into trouble is with his past record. “Obamneycare”, as former candidate Tim Pawlenty described it, put Massachusetts under a very bureaucratic healthcare plan. This would constantly remind conservative voters of another, very similar piece of unpopular legislation. His assertion that Obamacare isn’t right for everyone and that states should decide health policies for themselves, may not convince people that he has the conviction that Congresswoman Bachman would have in getting Obamacare consigned to the dung heap of failed, socialistic ideas.
Romney’s Wall Street connections may lead him to be held in abeyance by more Jacksonian elements of the GOP electorate. His “No Apology” slogan is not only a veiled shot at President Obama but also an attempt to make people forget “Flip the Romney-Dolphin” that very well could backfire.
In conclusion, Romney has put forth an intelligent and detailed case that unemployment is America’s biggest problem heading into 2012. GOP primary voters will have to decide whether they agree with this assessment enough to trust Mitt Romney to rebuild America’s damaged economy.