Romney’s Economic Plan–Shhh It’s Not Really His

The reason Mitt Romney’s 5-Point Plan sounds familiar is because it’s not really his;  the GOP Economic Plan hasn’t changed in 30 years, regardless of the economic conditions.  Throughout the Republican “preliminaries” I kept getting the feeling that I had heard most of what the candidates were saying before. Turns out I’ve heard Mr. Romney’s plan lots of times. Actually, it’s the same exact plan that  Republican candidates have repeated for decades, but never actually implemented. How about looking at just this century?

Conservatives frequently say that their ideas are the only ones that will work. For the past eleven months, however, I’ve been observing the Republicans more closely than in the past simply because the economic crash at the end of George W. Bush’s second term did not catch me by surprise. I knew it was coming. [The way we govern it had to. Throw in the normal economic cycles and you’ll always have ups and downs, but our economy is driven by politics rather than economic principle. Emotions rather than logic. Perception rather than reality. Amateurs rather than experts. Half of the population doesn’t even understand a basic economic tenet; The Fallacy of Composition. That fallacy drives assumptions made daily by millions of Americans that think that accounting, budgeting, economic, etc. work the same way as accounting for individuals or businesses. Actual Businessmen know that this is not true. The ones that tell you that it can are telling you that in order to take something that you have that they need; be it cash, property or votes. Con men know it’s not true as well. And politicians that tell you this are either laughing at you for believing them, or ignorant enough to believe it themselves. I’ll let you  judge of which is worse. ]

In fact, had the crash held off another few months, President Obama would probably be preparing to retire because the Republican propaganda machine is nothing short of phenomenal. America re-elected President Bush despite 9/11 happening on his watch, Katrina’s botched rescue, starting a war, A TEN-YEAR WAR based on non-existent Iraqi WMDs, and stating that he wasn’t worried about Osama bin Laden,(I guess “bait & switch” is only illegal in advertising, not sending our armies to war).

Then, after Mr. Romney wrapped up the GOP nomination he rolled out his own unique vision. A “Five-Point Plan to create twelve million jobs!!! Wow. Sounded great. So I listened. I read the plan. And there it was again, this nagging feeling that I had heard all of this before. So I fired up the Google machine to find out exactly what the details were for this stunning business plan. Specifically, here are the five points that Mr. Romney-the-Business-Expert, the “Best possible man to have in charge of a situation as unique in our lifetime as this”, has laid out to save America’s economy during his August 30th, 2012 RNC Acceptance speech:

The details of Mr. Romney’s plan are :

  1. …by 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables .
  2. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance so he[Romney] will give our citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow.
  3. He[Romney] will make trade work for America by forging new trade agreements. And when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.
  4. He[Romney] will assure every entrepreneur and every job creator that their investments in America will not vanish as have those in Greece, we will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.
  5. He[Romney] will champion SMALL businesses, America’s engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small business the most. And it means that we must rein in the skyrocketing cost of healthcare by repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Wait. So Mr. Romney’s super-fantastic, five-point plan to create twelve million jobs , which is laser-focused to THIS UNIQUE set of conditions by Mr. Business-Profit-Man and  is fixated on 1)domestic energy production,2) school choice, 3)more trade agreements, 4)cutting government spending, and 5)reducing taxes and business regulations.

This is Mr. Romney’s plan to solve our long-term mass unemployment , restore our economy to greatness, and is specifically suited to the economic conditions as they exist today, right?

The Familiar Ring Becomes Clear–A History Lesson in Romney/GOP Economic Plans

Candidate McCain

On September 4th, 2008. John McCain had stunned the U.S. by choosing Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate.  Senator McCain gave his acceptance speech for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, during at which time unemployment was 6.1 percent, and George W. Bush’s second term was coming to a close. Two weeks later, Lehman Brothers Investments collapsed, the real estate market collapsed in severity not seen since the Great Depression. During a campaign stop in Jacksonville, FL, despite the collapse of Lehman Brothers, McCain made the remarkable statement that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”  So what exactly were Mr. McCain’s proposals for the economy in his nomination speech two weeks earlier, and why did he not see the need to change them? Well, it’s not the “GOP way.”

Mr. McCain’s acceptance speech for your comparison convenience to the above, I’ve changed the order, but not the content of HIS five point plan:

“These are tough times for many of you. You’re worried about keeping your job or finding a new one, and are struggling to put food on the table and stay in your home. All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that’s just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future”…

  1. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don’t like us very much…We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we’ll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas…this great national cause will create millions of new jobs
  2. Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school…When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them. Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one… But they will have that choice and their children will have that opportunity.
  3. We believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers… I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them…
  4. We all know that keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs… I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can. My opponent will raise them…. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them.
  5. My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance. His plan will force small businesses to cut jobs, reduce wages, and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor.

Some of the wording may be a little different, but the two candidates are expressing remarkably similar ideas under radically different circumstances. The “5-Point Plan” that comprises the 2012  Romney agenda for job creation (promising 12 million jobs) is exactly the same prescription that John McCain wanted to do anyway  but in 2008, and a couple of weeks after an economic collapse the likes of which this country has not seen since the Great Depression.

Well, I have to say, that’s a little strange . But there’s more.

Candidate Bush

On September 2nd, 2004, George W. Bush is at the RNC, giving his speech accepting the nomination to run for a second term as President of the United States. Unemployment is 5.4 percent. A housing bubble is taking place, and the country is debating the motives and  cost of the invasions of  first Afghanistan, which seemed at least logical, but later Iraq under the auspices of some undefined length and mission of the War on Terror. A few months later, people will be talking about a permanent Republican majority in Congress. But what are some priorities for a second George W. Bush terms of economics? Americans’ paychecks have been stagnant and 9/11 didn’t help with consumer confidence.

You remember George W. Bush, right?  George W. Bush that took the keys to the white house from Bill Clinton with the budget experiencing the first surplus in a generation? Mr. Bush accepted the nomination for his second term in 2004 with unemployment at 5.4 percent, but a housing bubble was occurring and some were  were very skeptical about the reason s for invasion of Iraq that deposed Saddam Hussein, but no WMDs were found, as well as the intention to stay in Iraq now that Saddam was gone. To make things even stranger, there was less and less talk coming out of the Bush Administration about Osama Bin Laden and why were were still in Afghanistan as well. Billions of dollars per week were being spent of two wars that the American public clearly did not understand any clear and simple reasons for either. And what about paying for these two wars? How were we paying for that?

Again, the salient points:

At Mr. Bush’s RNC acceptance speech:

To create more jobs in America, America must be the best place in the world to do business.

  1. To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
  2. On education … Too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge. When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn…And if they don’t, parents should get the money to make a different choice.
  3. The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason … We were fighting World War II. Today, our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend…The surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money…I will use this moment of opportunity to bring common sense and fairness to the tax code…no one in America should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government…So we will reduce tax rates for everyone, in every bracket…reform the tax code and share some of the surplus with the people who pay the bills[and reduce regulations that keep business from flourishing].
  4.  To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation and making the tax relief permanent…create jobs, we will expand trade and level the playing field to sell American goods and services across the globe.
  5. What, no health plan? Mr. Bush will later get to privatizing healthcare with tax breaks and purchase your own “basic health insurance” plan.

Well, again, it’s the same agenda. Apparently, there is ALWAYS time for less government spending, more oil drilling, open markets and free trade, and lower taxes and regulations to fix the economy.

All those even numbers. All those different circumstances. All those same plans melding into the same old failures that Democrats sit back and take the blame for.

Still, that the plan doesn’t seem to change. There  has to be some common thread between all these situations that I’m just not seeing.

President Bush

Here’s George W. Bush in 2007 giving his State of the Union address. Unemployment is 4.6 percent and the economy seems to be alright. So, Mr. Bush must have a different plan for his last two years in office right? Mr. Bush was convinced the economy was amped up and purring like kitten.

Alright then. Now we’re talking. What is the Republican plan to keep this momentum going and propel us into a stable and safe economy?

January 23, 2007:

“Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move — and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government but with more enterprise.”

  1. For too long our Nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments… raise the price of oil.
  2. … without taking control from local communities … and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools
  3. …we must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C.[and eliminate pesky regulations].
  4. Mr. Bush saw fit to call an audible in 2007. Instead of trade policy, wars stood proudly as it’s placeholder.
  5. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs.  I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance… this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making healthcare affordable for more Americans.

Well, there you have it.  This is NOT coincidence.  This is THE GOP boilerplate, one-plan-fits-all, pro-forma, fill-in-the-blanks  Republican economic plan. It was the same for candidates as well as Presidents going back to Ronald Reagan. It was the same in 2004 and 2008. And it is the same exact plan that Mr. Romney is proposing in 2012. 

Domestic oil production, school choice, trade agreements, cut spending and reduce taxes and regulations – feel free to substitute on any one of the five, no one can call the GOP inflexible for goodness sakes–it’s been the conservative answer to all conditions. It’s the answer when the Republicans inherit surpluses, it’s the answer during times of economic worry, it’s the plan after economic collapse, and it’s even the plan for Wall Street hysteria. It’s been the GOP Plan through the Savings & Loan Collapse, it’s been the GOP Plan through Enron, WorldCom, Housing collapses, 9/11, wars, natural catastrophes, and even recoveries.

I have to say, at least conservative icon, Ronaldus Reaganus and George H.W. Bush had enough sense to see the folly of their ways and raise taxes when necessary to fulfill their oaths before the one all Republicans feel blackmailed into signing now from little Grover Norquist (which apparently takes precedent over their oath of office).

And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. With a misinformation machine like the one conservatives have constructed, virtually unlimited money, (whether domestic, foreign, terrorist-backed, or of criminal origin), why would Mr. Romney feel the need to offer anything different? It is disconcerting for me that the Republican economic playbook doesn’t change regardless of circumstances though.

I cannot for the life of me figure out why it does not  concern everyone.
Harvey Gold

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