I really would like to see Romney explaining to Republican voters that his plan is different than Obama’s because his didn’t cut Medicare. It might even work. It would just be hilarious.
[digg-reddit-me]The blogs discuss whether or not Mitt Romney’s 2012 prospects have been passed by the health care reform so similar to his own in Massachusetts:
Marc Ambinder makes the case that the conventional wisdom on the left that health care reform’s passage has killed Romney’s 2012 candidacy is a reflection of “anchor bias — the same type of bias that consigned the Democratic majority to history the day after Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts.” Ambinder continues:
Romney is a serious, sober guy. Just read his book. It’s half a cliche campaign book, and half a really learned and well-thought-out disquisition on the problems facing American today. If the fundamental divide in the party is between the lambs being led to slaughter wing — the bleating, noisy wing — and the wing that seeks a solutions-oriented leader, Romney has a case to make.
Actually, I think Ambinder has this backwards. Right now, Romney looks fine — he has money, name recognition, decent polling, and the like. What you have to do is project how the current dynamic is going to play in 2012. At the moment, Republican leaders are trying to demonize the Affordable Care Act, so they have little incentive to point out that it’s basically Romneycare plus cost controls. But in the context of the 2012 race, with the Affordable Care Act settled into law and a contested GOP primary going on, there will be lots of Republicans playing up the comparisons between Romneycare and Obamacare. Romney appears political viable right now because most Republican voters have not been exposed to the Romneycare-Obamacare comparison — or if they have, it’s been made by advocates of the latter, rather than by Republicans who they trust. When the attacks come, Romney just has no convincing reply…
[But] I’d like to see Romney win the nomination, because he’s intelligent, competent, and has some decent moral instincts buried somewhere beneath a thick coat of pandering demagoguery. I just don’t see it happening.
The passage of Obamacare is going to make life harder for Mitt Romney in 2012. Which makes the White House pretty happy. Romney isn’t the world’s most skilled politician, but he’s one of the more credible challengers Republicans can muster. If the passage of health-care reform wounds his candidacy without killing it off entirely, that’s a big win for the Obama administration: It means Romney takes up some, but not enough, of the sensible Republican vote, making it even likelier that someone totally unelectable wins the nomination…
The White House thinks that 2012 is where they can deal a serious blow to the Fox Newsification of the Republican Party. But that only works if someone from the Fox News wings of the party wins the nomination (and, of course, if Obama really trounces that person)
Jonathan Chait responds to Klein:
From Obama’s perspective, the crazier the Republican nominee, the better. Better Tim Pawlenty than Mitt Romney, and better Sarah Palin than Tim Pawlenty.
The broader liberal calculation is different. It’s almost certainly true that liberals will want Obama to win reelection. But we have to balance that desire against minimizing the downside in case he doesn’t.
I’m sorry but he says he’s running against an all-powerful central government, but he backed the indefinite, open-ended, unlimited, “Double Gitmo!” executive powers seized by Bush and Cheney? He set up a mini-version of Obamacare and now wants to lead a party that wants to repeal Obamacare? Worse for him, Obama is now shrewdly embracing Romney…
And how do you get past the problem that no one likes him and no one rightly trusts him? And that he’s a Mormon running for the nomination of a Southern evangelical organization?
Palin is the one to beat. She’s the real identity of the current GOP – and as fake as the rest of them (though nowhere near as fake as Romney, but, then, who is?).
Meanwhile, David Harsanyi chips in from the Denver Post in a piece being promoted by the National Review (which has been notably quiet on this issue):
“Overall, ours is a model that works,” Romney explained. “We solved our problem at the state level. Like it or not, it was a state solution. Why is it that President Obama is stepping in and saying ‘one size fits all’ “?
Federalism is a good argument that has nothing to do with health care reform models, as Romney knows well. Here’s what he should have said years ago:
“Everyone makes mistakes. Heck, I made a huge one. My plan, first hijacked by state liberals and now copied by Barack Obama, has created a fiscal nightmare in my state… I am here to extract my name from that botched experiment by repealing its ugly stepson Obamacare so Americans work together to pass genuine, common sense, market-based reform.”
Then again, it is entirely possible Romney genuinely believes his health care model works.
In which case, his position just doesn’t cut it.
My two cents: Projections are inherently flawed – and long-term political projections are akin to predicting the weather in a particular days several years away: Sometimes, rules of thumb work (“March goes in like a lion and out like a lamb” to “Opposition parties do well in the first mid-terms after a presidential election.”), but you can’t count on them. Looking at the fundamentals is more important than looking at current trends. (“November is usually cold,” does better than “It’s gotten hotter in 5 successive days this April!”) But even projections based on the fundamentals don’t always hold.
As I read the fundamentals: Whether the Obama administration embraces Romney or not, I don’t see how he can win the Republican nomination for the reasons that Chait raised (when his Republicans opponents tar him with supporting Obamacare, it will stick) – added to the complications that Sullivan harps on (a Mormon running to lead an evangelical party). If Romney wins the Republican nomination, his flip-flopping on health care would only solidify the image of him as a pandering demagogue with no real principles. Still, he’s the Republican I’d most like to see win the nomination on the off-chance the Republicans are able to win in 2012. The fundamentals there look very weak for any Republican though unless unemployment is rising in 2012.
[Image by Paul Chenowith licensed under Creative Commons.]
Timothy Egan discusses Mitt Romney’s health care hypocrisy, and slams the Republican party with this comment that summarizes the Republican approach to Obama this year:
[T]he [Republican] party’s voice has been dominated by people who make things up, and then condemn the rhetorical phantoms of their making.
[digg-reddit-me]As in the financial crisis generally, the executive branch, the media, and the Congress have all focused on the corporations whose brands are at stake rather than the people affected. This is understandable. Stalin’s famous aphorism that a million deaths are merely a statistic, while a single death is a tragedy, can be adapted to economic hardship as well. A million bankruptcies by individuals are a mere statistics, while the bankruptcy of a famous brand such as Chrysler or Citibank is a tragedy, affecting each of our lives – as signs come down, commercials stop airing, and the products and services we receive now have a different branding.
But saving a brand name should never be the business of our government. In a government intervention into the market, a brand name might be saved – but this should never be a policy goal. Yet, this is precisely the manner in which this question is presented to the public: Should the government bail out Citibank? Or Chrysler? Or Starbucks? Framed in this manner, the answer should always be, “No.”
The real issue concerns the proper role of government in a market economy.
In this crisis, the issue of how involved the government should be in the economy has largely been resolved. “Do nothing,” doesn’t seem to be a realistic option in the midst of a crisis. In times of panic, we are all Keynesians. The unwinding after the crisis promises to re-ignite a fight about the proper role of government in the economy.
The real issue at the moment then, is the follow-up question: how to balance market forces and stability in a market economy – and specifically, in the midst of this crisis. Mitt Romney, in a New York Times editorial that proved especially influential, made the case for why our current system can effectively deal with the bankruptcies of the Big Three Automakers. Paul Krugman took what has become the consensus liberal view: if only we weren’t already in a credit crisis, bankruptcy would be a good option.
For the past year, this has been the argument – with the same people sometimes switching sides depending on the particular company. Capitalism inevitably involves creative destruction – but in the midst of a crisis of confidence, any destruction becomes seen as potentially catastrophic, as the collapse of Lehman Brothers demonstrated.
But government intervention should avoid saving corporations. The government should, when it intervenes in the market, strive to change the forces at work rather than to inject money into corporations themselves.
Corporations, whose primary purpose is to amass wealth by any means available for their owners, and who always manage to simultaneously amass wealth for the managers, cannot be trusted with public money. There is no public purpose to such profit-making. The public value of a corporation comes from it’s incidental activities – the means by which it is able to amass it’s profits. By bailing out General Motors, the government would be giving it’s money away for no public purpose. But the government does serve a public purpose by keeping General Motors’ factories churning out cars.
Within that distinction lies the difference between outrageous abuse of taxpayer funds and a valid public purpose. The more difficult question is how to avoid the abuse while serving the purpose.
The Bush administration has failed to do this – which is why there is fresh outrage at every million dollar junket by AIG executives or private jet ride by auto executives.
[digg-reddit-me]John McCain has a history of calling his political opponents motives and patriotism into question.
Marc Ambinder has his lists of potential VP picks. Here are mine:
- Senator Jim Webb (Virginia)
The only choice that makes sense. Appeals to the Appalachian demographic that has been escaping him; solidifies his national security and military credentials; makes Virginia a swing state; his Reagan administration background emphasizes how far astray Bush has led the country.
- Governor Charlie Crist (Florida)
My take on McCain’s campaign this past year is that he is desperate to win, and is willing to compromise almost anything in order to do so. The one exception is his position on what he sees to be the defining issue of our time: Islamist extremism. He believes this single issue overrides all other options. McCain is already focusing on Florida and trying to undermine Obama in the Jewish community there. Picking the popular governor would almost guarantee him this perennial swing state. Also an important factor: picking Crist would protect his right flank and placate social conservatives. Apparently, I’m a dumbass and got my facts wrong here. Crist is a social conservative, but an “uncomfortable” one, having campaign as pro-choice before he became pro-life. Another major negative: he, like McCain, is really old.
- Governor Mitt Romney (Massachusetts)
A pick who would placate movement conservatives, bring him a substantial fundraiser, and someone who can speak convincingly on the economy. By picking Romney, McCain is indicating that he is giving his campaign over to the “movement.”
- Senator Joe Lieberman (Connecticut)
Risking the alienation of social conservatives, the Lieberman choice would be bold and would put McCain in the best spot to win the presidency. He would be demonstrating that his presidency would be about the War Against Terrorism as well as his bipartisan bona fides. The boldest move, but also the one McCain would be under enormous pressure not to make. If McCain really believes this election should be about Iraq and terrorism, and if he wants to win on these issues, he should pick Lieberman. He won’t however.