Saturday, October 06, 2012
What Mitt Believes
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!