US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards his plane in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 16, 2012 after a refueling before departing for Los Angeles. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM
Some may recall Ronald Reagan’s speech that sounded like visionary talk: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
It was a promise of unprecedented prosperity – albeit trickle-down for some – as taxes are cut and would pay for themselves in a growing economy, without cooking books (or printing money).
“Greed works” was the boast of voodoo economists in a wisecracking mood. Just get the government out of the way.
It is well-known where it all ended. Reagan’s budget deficits became larger than the sum of all U.S. deficits before Reaganomics, to be exceeded only by George W. Bush, who followed Reagan’s script of cutting taxes for the rich and ran up $4 trillion in red ink during his eight years in office. . .
Today the Republican agenda, as promised by Mitt Romney, is more of the same: Cutting taxes for top brackets, now 35.9 percent after Bush’s tax cuts were extended to the end of 2012 as a result of GOP Congressional majority’s blackmail to derail the extension of unemployment compensation in December 2010 standoff.
The other part of Romney’s posturing at the Republican national convention in Tampa, and long before the convention, is balancing the budget and loving the middle class, on the back of which the balancing would have to take place.
Tax cutting and gutting Medicare, as well as reversing the Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed the right of choice for women, is all spelled out in the Republican convention platform. It was soft pedaled in speeches at the convention in Tampa in August 2012. Talk was centered on “fixing the economy”. But not a ward was said how -- except by blaming Obama, cutting taxes and repealing the new Affordable Healthcare law. .
Not a hint of recollection was made at how the U.S. government stepped up in the last three months of the Bush administration and during Barack Obama’s presidency to halt the country’s slide into the Great Depression Number 2, by bailing out the banks and, in Obama’s bold move, rescuing Detroit’s automotive industry. Let them die, was the advice of rightwing think tanks that kept sniping at regulations intended to curb the herd behavior in financial markets that ignited the meltdown in 2008.
Not a hint was made at how the Congressional Republican House majority obstructed every attempt of the Obama administration to revitalize the economy by starting to rebuilt America’s rusted infrastructure – and funding it by diverting the funds from oil industry subsidies. Poor state of the economy clearly serves the GOP ambition to win the election.
Not a word was heard from speakers about Paul Ryan’s plan – in the proposed GOP budget – to kill Medicare and replace it with vouchers. And, at the same time, loud was Paul Ryan’s talk, out of the other side of his mouth, about restoring Obama’s 700 billion projected cut in Medicare -- the cut to be achieved within “Obamacare” by phasing out the funneling of Medicare payments through the middlemen private insurance companies in what is called the “advantage options,” created by the Bush administration.
Speaker after speaker extolled individual self-reliance and freedom – the parody many evicted, formerly middle-class, families have found under the bridge in California since the crash in 2008 -- the legacy of “the winner takes all” governance that the Romney-Ryan ticket seeks to revive.
Since the Republicans actually have no plans other than cutting taxes at the expense of social spending, infrastructure repair, environment protection, and by gutting Medicare and eventually privatizing Social Security, the question is: What is their top priority?
That question was answered from the day number one by GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell: “Make Obama a one-term president”. Lifting the economy or reducing unemployment can wait.
Hate of Obama in the Republican base has achieved hysterical proportions. That base had shifted to the Dixie South since the 1970s when the Republican Party was gradually captured by radical rightwing and acquired the makings of the Bible belt. .
Right-wing leanings of the Tea Party’s rank and file, part of the white middle class, not only blend easily with the Republican “Southern strategy,” but also are the key factor in the ability of Tea Party politicians, boosted by ideologically motivated billionaire business tycoons, to become the dominant faction of the GOP. The same deep pockets, with the famously known Koch brothers in the forefront, practically own the GOP super-PACs.
No one described the Republican mood better than Gideon Rachman in his Financial Times column of August 23:
“If you want to understand the fear and rage that many Republican voters direct towards Barack Obama, some of it surely lies in the sense that the president represents ;the other America; – the non-white America that will eventually form a majority of the country’s population.
You can hear that anger in the popular slogan ‘I want my country back’….. You can catch traces of that anger in the racially tinged denunciations of “Obamacare,” which aims to extend healthcare to 40 million of uninsured Americans.”
And what about Mitt Romney’s credentials?
Insatiable greed was the driving force behind the shadowy Bain Capital career. The essence of that kind of business is similar to mafia enterprises, comically explained by the fictional Tony Soprano in an article by Ryan Grim and Hunter Stewart in Huff Post, May 24:
In the organized crime world, this business practice is known as “bust-out.” The crime family offers a distressed business a high-interest loan, and eventually takes control of the company.
Private interest investors, by contrast, buy control of the company by purchasing the firm’s stock. But, in both cases, investors use their control to take on more debt, while at the same time, cutting expenses and laying off workers.
Cash from the loans and cost savings are funneled back to the investors. This continues until the company cannot pay it debt, and files for bankruptcy to extinguish its debt -- but the investors get to keep the gains they have already acquired.
The tax angle of Romney’s profits is another grab bag. It is explained in a “Truthdig” article “How Romney’s millions went tax-free overseas” by Joe Conason, Sept. 1. The practice included misrepresentation of management fees as capital gains – which is unlawful, and it could be one reason why Mitt Romney is refusing to disclose his income tax returns prior to year 2010
The New York Times on Sept. 1 reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating whether some of the nation’s private equity firms -- Bain Capital among them – have abused a tax strategy in order to slice hundreds of millions of dollars from their tax bill.
How can it be that a possible disclosure of tax avoidance is dismissed as no problem in making a decision to run for the highest office in the country ? Is it recklessness or a thirst for power?
Recklessness would be a perilous character defect for a president in the White House.
Romney has shown some of that trait in his saber-rattling on Iran, and also in his astounding faux pas pronouncements during visit to the Middle East several months back.
The words of Marcus Tulius Cicero, the timeless orator in the ancient Rome come to mind: “Oh tempora, oh mores!” (What times, what customs!).
Romney’s path to the Republican nomination for president had been made easier by the absence of qualified challengers during the primaries. Worse, the opponents he faced were simply off the wall creationists and deniers of climate change from carbon emissions, despite the best scientific evidence. They prefer to blame a left-wing conspiracy for the “theory” of profound change in weather patterns that devastated the country with unprecedented high temperatures, droughts, and forest fires in the last two years. Mitt Romney himself moved up the ladder by juggling his multiple faces on climate change and social issues.
Potential Republican challengers in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller or Mitt Romney’s own father, the former governor of Michigan, know better than become entangled in a party dominated by the neo-cons and “Teavangelicals”.
It may be recalled that no other than Barry Goldwater, the icon of normal, traditional American conservatives was so dismayed by the highjacking of the Grand Old Party by radical rightwing in the1990s that he addressed new establishment Republicans by saying: “Do not associate my name with anything you do. You are extremists, and you have hurt the Republican party…..” (ref. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).
As the keynote speaker at the Democratic national convention on Sept. 5, Bill Clinton pointed out that “the Republicans want to fire President Barack Obama for failing to finish cleaning up the total (economic) mess of their own making.”
Boris Danik is a retired Ukrainian-American living in North Caldwell, New Jersey.