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Guessing What Romney Stands For

Editor, The Herald:

A recent letter to this forum included a list of the Obama administration's supposed shortcomings, so many that there was apparently no room for their substantiation. Still, its author was able to spin his claims because the President's policies and accomplishments are largely a matter of public record; this is decidedly less true of his opponent, Mitt Romney. For example, while both candidate and party tout financial success as his key qualification for office, Romney is reluctant to release his tax returns, though they might give voters insights into his success as an entrepreneur as well as illuminate his position on tax policy. Instead, voters have to guess what candidate Romney stands for by extrapolating from GOP platitudes. Here are four:

1. The President Ought to be a Businessman. Very few US Presidents have been businessmen, and those who have – Andrew Johnson, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover – have been among the least successful in that office. A President needs to understand economic principles, but a business background is not particularly good preparation for an office that demands a wide range of talents.

The most recent Presidential businessman, George W. Bush, ran into problems because his business background made him distrustful of the role of government. When Hurricane Katrina presented him with one of the legitimate tasks of government-responding to natural disasters-he was completely unprepared. He had similar difficulties with international diplomacy and the war in Iraq, and his proposal to privatize Social Security was hugely unpopular.

2. We Need to Repeal Obamacare. Inspired in part by Romneycare in Massachusetts, right down to the individual mandate, the President's program has many popular features, so the GOP is remarkably vague about what they would put in its place. It is a safe bet, though, that they would get rid of the individual mandate. If so, the cost of insurance would skyrocket because of the drop off of payers into the system. We would be left with healthcare only the affluent could afford, with those not covered jamming ever tighter into emergency wards for inefficient and expensive medical care often borne by the taxpayer.

3. We Need to Cut Taxes on the Job Creators (the rich). The GOP wants to continue the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich, cuts that are in place now and have been for roughly a decade. So where are the jobs these tax cuts were supposed to foster? With over a third of the nation's wealth held by the top 1% and with income disparity still growing, the claim average Americans benefit by this gap makes no sense.

4. Deregulation is the Answer. While headlines are filled with banking scandals, from HSBC's money-laundering for drug cartels to LIBOR rate-fixing, the most infamous result of the US banking deregulation of 1999 is the sub-prime mortgage disaster that ushered in the biggest recession since the Great Depression. Deregulation is often just decriminalization of fraud and abuse. The answer is not to reduce regulation, but rather to make it more effective.

These four fairy tales have one thing in common: they mask themselves as job-friendly, but undercut jobs while benefiting the wealthy. Wealth is not a bad thing as an incentive for the American dream of economic mobility, but these provisions promote economic immobility. We should be helping average Americans get ahead, not re-rewarding the few ensconced at the top. Romney doesn't get this because he was born to wealth and privilege, and his thinking betrays it. The candidate who does get this is Barrack Obama.

David Lewis