Saturday, October 06, 2012


What Mitt Believes

Mitt Romney, before Wednesday, October 3, spoke comforting words to his rich, right-wing, radical supporters.  He assured them that the "47 percent" who paid no income taxes deserved nothing but the back of the hand from a Romney Administration.  Wednesday evening we saw a changed Romney.  He denies that he favors a big tax break for the wealthy one percent.  He promised jobs, a tax break for everyone, a balanced budget, more government revenue, no abolition of social security or medicare, no reduction in defense spending, but cuts in unnecessary government spending, such as the federal subsidy for public television.  The public can have employment, low taxes, etc., etc., without any discomfort.

I am reminded of a short Will Rogers movie I saw once.  Will played a candidate for Congress campaigning among a group of Midwestern farmers.  His opponent was a plump man in a fancy dress suit who was telling the farmers that he, if elected, would reduce their taxes, balance the federal budget,  etc.  Will, dressed like a farmer, recognized that the farmers were experiencing a drought.  He addressed them as a farmer and promised to bring them rain if elected.  He won all the farmers' votes and the election.  To me, Mitt sounds as though he is promising rain.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama didn't challenge Mr. Romney's promises loudly and effectively.  He offered a professor's critique: the numbers don't add up.  You can't reduce tax rates, cover the loss in revenue simply by tinkering with deductions, reduce costs significantly simply by abolishing the subsidy for PBS, keep defense spending high, etc., and still balance the budget.  This argument is too complex for the average viewer.  What most viewers were looking for was a zinger.  Obama should have borrowed a page from the Reagan campaign book and told Mr. Romney, "there you go again."

Debates don't matter a great deal.  They're like cheering at a football game.  The public isn't interested in detailed analysis of programs.  Most of us haven't grasped the size of the ratio of one billion to one million.  Anything more than a million is a large number that we can't easily comprehend.  That's why it makes sense to believe that simply reducing or eliminating the subsidy to PBS will free enough money to balance the budget and make a payment on the national debt.

Promise on, Mr. Romney.  God will get you for your exaggerations.  He may punish you by making you the next President!
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