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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Romney Inevitable? - Can We Move from Bain To Main?

Is Romney Inevitable?

Can We Move from Bain To Main?

By Dell Hill & Richard Falknor @Blue Ridge Forum

Guest writer, Richard Falknor @ Blue Ridge Forum asks the question that most are asking...even though they don’t want to hear the answer.

GOP Front-runner Mitt Romney

Daniel Horowitz has carefully been tracking the ineptitude — here, here, andhere, for example — of the GOP Congressional leadership.

Last evening he posted (RedState) a particularly insightful piece on the GOP candidates’ missteps in the race to the presidential nomination with hisRomneycare, Bain Capital, 2012, and the Lost Opportunity to Assail Obamacare.

Explained Marylander Horowitz –

“Amidst this week’s contretemps over Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, for some reason, we are obscuring the real albatross around Romney’s neck; the issue of healthcare.  While Romney’s record at Bain might provide Obama with his biggest campaign weapon, Romneycare will disarm Romney, and by extension, all Republicans, of our biggest campaign weapon, namely, Obamacare.  And while Bain might provide Romney’s Republican opponents with a useful political argument (Romney’s electability problems in the general election), it does not provide them with a prudent and virtuous ideological argument.  Romneycare, on the other hand, provides the Mitt-alternatives with inviolable ideological arguments as well as political ones.

Romneycare is the antecedent to Obamacare.  It dramatically distorted the free-market of private insurance; it dumped a few hundred thousand people onto federally funded Medicaid; it set up gov’t-run exchanges that disincentivize success and offer larger subsidies than those proposed in Obamacare; it placed unreasonable mandates on employers to fund their employee’s healthcare.  The net result of Romneycare was the archetypical outcome of every statist policy; the price of a vital service was purposely distorted as a means of enticing more people to become dependent upon government.

Yes, it was all orchestrated by state government, not the federal government.  Such a rationalization, according to Mitt, will ameliorate all of Romneycare’s vices – vices that are identical to those inherent in Obamacare.

Somehow, regressive statism is desirable simply because Romney had the ‘right’ to implement it as governor of a state.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

Horowitz concludes –

“After three years of campaigning against Obamacare, we are on the verge of elevating the Thomas Edison of anti-free-market healthcare to the party’s highest honor.
With the presidential election going downhill, it is probably time to apply our Tea Party energy to the congressional elections.  In the coming days we will redouble our efforts here at Red State to elect conservative members to the Senate and House.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Earlier yesterday, Dan McLaughlin (RedState) in On Romney, Bain and Keeping Your Integrity: Free Markets and Principles warned –

The other point I would make about integrity is that it goes close to the core of why a Romney nomination worries me so much: because we would all have to make so many compromises to defend him that at the end of the day we may not even recognize ourselves. Romney has, in a career in public office of just four years (plus about 8 years’ worth of campaigning), changed his position on just about every major issue you can think of, and his signature accomplishment in office was to be wrong on the largest policy issue of this campaign. Yes, Obama is bad, and Romney can be defended on the grounds that he can’t possibly be worse. Yes, Romney is personally a good man, a success in business, faith and family. But aside from his business biography, his primary campaign has been built entirely on arguments and strategies – about touting his own electability and dividing, coopting or delegitimizing other Republicans – none of which will be of any use in the general election.

What, then, will we as politically active Republicans say about him? I was not a huge fan of John McCain’s record, but I was comfortable making honest points about the things McCain had been consistent on over the years – national security, free trade, nuclear power, public integrity, pork-barrel spending. There were spots of solid ground on which to plant ourselves with McCain, and he had a history of digging himself in on those and fighting for things he believed in. But Mitt Romney’s record is just one endless sheet of thin ice as far as the eye can see – there’s no way to have any kind of confidence that we can tell people he stands for something today without being made fools of tomorrow. We who have laughed along with Jim Geraghty’s prescient point that every Obama promise comes with an expiration date will be the ones laughed at, and worse yet we will know the critics are right. Every time I try to talk myself into thinking we can live with him, I run into this problem. It’s one that particularly bedeviled

Republicans during the Nixon years – many partisan Republicans loved Nixon because he made the right enemies and fought them without cease or mercy, but the man’s actual policies compromised so many of our principles that the party was crippled in the process even before Watergate. We can stand for Romney, but we’ll find soon enough that that’s all we stand for.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

“From Bain to Main”

Following up on governor Mitt Romney’s business biography, Bill Kristol lays out some plausible goals for the GOP in his “From Bain to Main” (Weekly Standard) –
“Post 2008, capitalism needs its strong defenders—but its defenders need also to be its constructive critics. The Tea Party was right. What’s needed is a critique of Big Government above all, but also of Big Business and Big Finance and Big Labor (and Big Education and Big Media and all the rest)—and especially a critique of all those occasions when one or more of these institutions conspire against the common good. What’s needed is a willingness to put Main Street (at least slightly) ahead of Wall Street, and a reform agenda for capitalism that strengthens it, alongside an even more dramatic reform agenda for government that limits it.”(Underscoring Forum’s.)

“Bankers vs. Capitalism”

Finally Irwin Stelzer fleshes out (Weekly Standard) Kristol’s theme in his “Bankers Versus Capitalism: When it comes to defending private enterprise, Wall Street is its own worst enemy” –

“Voter action at the polls is clearly indicated, although the appalling lack of choice—a Democrat wedded to the economics of the past, and either a clearly nutty or a cautious, establishment Republican technocrat—suggests that the radical change the moment calls for will not come from the political class, at least until the young Turks in the Republican party mature while, we hope, remaining, well, young Turks. So what is to be done is what can be done—remove some of the most glaring defects in the capitalist system, starting with the financial sector. That will take conservative support for change—support not only from the conservative punditry, but from the business community.”

Readers are encouraged to consider all of Stelzer’s post.  

As the Hudson Institute economist points out,

“I am not one who sees in the Occupiers the wave of the future. They are not the real worry to those of us who fear for the future of market capitalism in America. It is the failure of the major beneficiaries of the capitalist system to understand that openness to reform, combined with a bit of restraint when carving up the huge pie that capitalism is capable of producing, is the best way to head off those people who would alter market capitalism beyond recognition by imposing punitive taxes, onerous regulations, investment-distorting subsidies, along with a bloated government. Those folks are dangerous enough to America’s future prosperity without being handed the gift of obtuse opposition to needed change.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

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