Romney Forgets Biblical Wisdom

Published 3:02 pm Thursday, September 6, 2012

Editor, The Herald:

On June 29th this year, the Dow Jones industrial average shot up 277 points. It was not something Mitt Romney or Barack Obama said; it was something Herman Van Rompuy said. Van Rompuy is chairman of the European Council, and he announced that the euro nations had agreed on a strategy to fight the European debt crisis. The corresponding jump in US stock prices reminds us that the United States is part of a world-wide economy, and even an American president, tinkering with domestic economic mechanisms, cannot control many of the international factors that impact our fiscal wellbeing. To have positive influence abroad, a president needs to act with deft assurance upon the international stage.

Over the past four years, President Obama has reversed the go-it-alone bluster of his predecessor with a more smooth and cooperative management style. By contrast, candidate Romney's recent trip abroad was marked by rhetorical stumbles so pervasive that he eventually stopped making public statements at all, leaving his staff to continue the gaffs. Romney's critique of security at the London Olympics before they had even begun was not only a tweak to a close ally, but, it turns out, was also errant, as the London games came off without a hitch.

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President Obama did not arrive in office conversant with global concerns, but he chose a running mate with extensive international background to balance the ticket: Senator Biden was a long-time member and former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee before becoming a Vice Presidential candidate. By contrast, Mitt Romney, with no real international experience, has chosen a running mate who is similarly bereft. Together, the Romney-Ryan team strives for the helm of the world's preeminent ship of state, but has virtually no background for piloting international waters.

Paul Ryan has a particularly parochial view of how government should promote the general welfare. He co-sponsored the failed Bush plan to privatize Social Security in 2005, with its private accounts leaning heavily on stocks. (Imagine, with the volatility of the stock market, how secure Social Security would have been had it been privatized in 2005.) The Ryan budget aims to privatize Medicare with vouchers, which is essentially an abdication of the government's regulatory role to insure quality and fairness. The Romney/Ryan team has simplistically redefined the vast and complex skill set for the Presidency (Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and supervisor of sectors as diverse as the State Department; the Attorney General's Office; and the Departments of Interior, Labor, Health & Human Services, Education and Homeland Security) as those of a businessman. To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, and answering difficult and diverse national challenges by repeatedly deferring to the free market would be naive and irresponsible stewardship.

Meanwhile, Romney confirms that, as president, he would grant tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, but when voters request more than the legal minimum of his tax-returns to see if this might involve a conflict of interest, Romney labels them “small-minded” and refuses. The only thing he seems willing to reveal is a life of privilege without obligation to mere citizens. He has perhaps forgotten “to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.” That includes taxes.

David Lewis