I’m, as you might guess, a huge political nerd, so I don’t expect I have much company watching the Sunday political shows like “Meet the Press.” But what amazes me on these shows that are watched by only the wonkiest political types, is that there is almost zero discussion of actual policy. In fact, this is one of the biggest problems with our political system.
Take for instance, the Romney campaign charges, time and again, that Obama has failed on the economy. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that he has–why doesn’t David Gregory ask the follow up question: so what does Mitt Romney propose to do? What policy changes does Mitt Romney propose to get this economy back on track?
Luckily, the Republicans are happy to bring it up time and again, even as the hosts shirk their responsibility as members of the press. Perhaps they should rename the show, “Meet the Obfuscators.” In any case, Republicans consistently allege that taxes and regulations are weighing down business–that Obama has presided under an era of enormous tax hikes and increases in regulations.
Of course, this isn’t true, but then again the Republican Party lying to the American people for the last 30 years, so no one should be surprised. The obfuscators fail to point that out as well, so I’ll go ahead and do it for them. Under President Obama, taxes are the lowest they’ve been in 60 years. And those increases in regulations? Other than Obamacare, which obviously regulates the health insurance industry, and Dodd-Frank, which mildly regulates the financial sector, there aren’t any. However, if there were ever industries that ought to be more heavily regulated, you can’t find better candidates than healthcare and Wall Street. Before Obamacare, insurance rates were rising by 10 percent a year, and private insurance companies were spending 25-30 percent of patient premiums on overhead and CEO bonuses. And Wall Street? Nuff said.
So what the talk shows really ought to hone in on is this: what is it that Mitt Romney proposes to do, and what is it that Barack Obama proposes to do? All we’ve heard from Mitt Romney so far, is vague talk about increased regulations and taxes strangling business, which is a lie, and we also know that he endorsed the Paul Ryan budget. For a larger explanation of that budget, you can check our archives, but it basically destroys Medicare, cuts just about every other social program to the point where even the conservative Catholic Bishops called it “immoral,” and cuts taxes further while making the military budget even larger. The CBO estimates it would explode the deficit.
Thus, if we extrapolate Romney’s position, which is only necessary because he refuses to take a stance on anything, we can expect: 1) lower taxes, 2) massive cuts in social programs, probably including Social Security and Medicare, and 3) an easing of regulations on businesses, the kinds that might have prevented the housing bubble and the crisis on Wall Street. Basically, what VP Joe Biden said recently is exactly right: “Mitt Romney is George Bush on steroids.” And Americans ought to remember, that to the small degree Obama is responsible for the weak recovery (given Republican obstructionism of the highest order, bordering on treason), George Bush and the Republican Party are squarely responsible for the Great Recession, and its consequences. Romney will be more of the same.
To be fair, Obama ought to come out with a specific plan to fix the economy. It ought to include a reshaping of our national infrastructure, an massive investment in education, and a simple reform of the tax code. For those policy wonks still with me, some very interesting proposals are made in this paper, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. Obama ought to get behind proposals of this sort, and make it the focus of his campaign. There is no shame in saying, “we’ve tried many different things to get this economy going that have worked, such as the stimulus and health care reform, but we have to do more, because people are still hurting from the Bush recession. My opponent wants to return to the Bush policies–here’s my proposal…”