Monday, February 6, 2012

Mitt Romney would lose against Obama. Here's why.

I'd like Mitt Romney to be the next President of USA but here is why he would lose to Barack Obama in Nov 2012 if he is the nominee. Before that let me state that if Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum become the nominee due to some death wish of the GOP then Obama can take a long holiday and wake up to a landslide re-election.

New York Times ran detailed profiles of Mitt Romney focusing on his days at Harvard and his days as Governor of Massachusetts. The portraits that emerged was of a very hard realist, honest and decent guy. If dirt was hidden there Newt Gingrich would have dredged it up now. Romney, remains a flawed candidate not just because he is rich but because he is not the instinctive politician like Obama is. North East moderate meets hard knuckle Chicago politician. Good luck with that.

Often elections are characterized as being important in a generation 2012 is the mother of all generational elections. America is at crossroads, the world economy is in shambles, Europe is staring at abyss, China is girding its loins, reams of newsprint are devoted to swan songs of America's pre-eminence, America confronts a burgeoning debt that is threatening to swallow its very economic muscle. Rarely in politics does hyperbole become a factual statement. The role of government versus role of individual, a 200 year old debate reaches its sharpest focus. How much does an individual owe unto society? Democratic Senate candidate for Massachusetts flatly stated "no man became rich on his own". That is echoed by Obama and his advisors. If a man owes his riches to society does he hold his income at the pleasure of the society? What is the fair share that a society is entitled to of a man's salary? These are questions usually discussed in the passing in politics and passionately in the halls of academia but in 2012 ballots will decide that.

This election is a conservative's dream come true. This is time for an Ayn Rand, time for William F. Buckley Jr, time for Barry Goldwater, time for Milton Friedman and yet none of them are alive and no GOP candidate has their intellectual gravitas to call out Obama's lies and deceptions.

Obama and left's new mantra is "millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share". Obama stated that in his recent State of the Union speech. The deception is worse in the next immediate line where Obama assuages all about whose tax will increase "if you have less than $250,000 annual household income your taxes will not increase". Hooray. But wait did he not talk about millionaires and billionaires in the previous line so why is he now saying that if my household income is less than $250,000 I need not worry. THAT is the Chicago politician talking from every end of his mouth. Obama's plan increases taxes for anybody whose household income is above $250,000. By the way for working couples in high tax states like NJ, NY, CA, CT that is really not much. The President invited Steve Jobs's widow as his guest during the SOTU speech. How I wish to hear Jobs's opinion on that he did not get rich alone. I am sure the reply would be, to put it mildly, unparliamentary expletive filled language.

One common fallacy among the population is that business people understand economics. Worse yet we assume economists know philosophy. A businessman, or any common man, understands economics in a very limited sense. Sure, Romney, a Harvard MBA, can explain intelligently how to manage money. Rarely have I seen businessmen understand macro-economics. Why has no businessman written a book explaining economics? Thats why we have economists. Has any economist, barring a notable few like Hayek and Friedman, explained why capitalism is the only sensible economic system that best lifts the poor. Why was Ayn Rand compelled to write, as recently as the 50's a book explaining the philosophical necessity of capitalism? The book was aptly titled "Capitalism: An unknown ideal".

Contrary to popular opinion it is bad for rich people to have Mitt Romney speak of any of the above. "Conflict of interest" the populace would yell. Never mind that he earned every penny of what he has through hard work.

Romney's Jeremiah Wright moment came when his tenure at Bain Capital, a private equity firm, came under attack. When during the 2008 primaries stories of Obama's pastor, Jeremiah wright, broke out Obama did a very bold political gamble. News channels were showing in endless loops Wright's invective filled anti-American sermons. Voters were aghast wondering what is Obama's ideology as a 20 year congregation member of Wright's church. Voters wondered how much does Obama share Wright's criticisms of USA and hallucinatory indictments of USA. Obama said he would address the nation. In an eminently forgettable address, nothing that is remembered today, Obama faced the voters and said he disavows it all and for good measure asked America to buy into his hope and dream of becoming a better nation. More than the speech it was the gambit that paid.

I do not foresee Romney getting up on a lectern and explaining the proper function of 'private equity' or how 'creating jobs' is never the  primary goal of any business and that that is not a bad thing.

Mitt Romney is not an instinctive conservative in the tradition of William F. Buckley and that showed in his stupid comment "I am not worried about the poor, they have their safety net, the rich are doing just fine, its the middle class I am worried". The statement is factually true. In India or USA too its the middle class that's an orphan. Veteran conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer zeroed in on the fallacy that a conservative typically worries about everyone's economic progress. A conservative primary goal is to unleash the individual and ensure that the economic pie grows enough for everyone. A democrat envisions a static pie and is worried more about distributing that static pie.

It does not take intellectual finesse to tell a majority that all their problems stem from the conduct of a minority. Thanks to Obama today the commentary on deficits is focused on how much more the rich 1% should pay. Even if Obama gets his wish to tax the 1% (actually he wants to tax the entire top 10%, remember $250,000 above) the revenue gathered would be only around $500 billion over 10 years. The deficit is $14 TRILLION. Obama own commission appointed to study cutting the debt, the Simpson-Bowles commission, advised a dual strategy of tax hike and spending cuts with the emphasis on the latter. America has a spending problem NOT a tax problem.

It would take an intellectual giant with phenomenal political gift, like a Clinton, to tell the majority that the party is over and making Romney or Buffet pay 30% is not going  to fix it. Romney is sheepish about it. He does talk of cutting spending but he dare not say "medicare" or "medicaid".

Romney repeats like a parrot that he will repeal Obamacare. Till date he has not given any proposal of what he would replace it with. Saying glib phrases like "return the money to the states" or "let it be decided at the local level" will not wash.

Romney has not made out the intellectual case for Wall Street. He is shivering to his boots when he proclaims deceptively boldly "I earned it". He lets Obama team slam him for opposing the Detroit bailout. When Obama claims, falsely, credit for bailing out Detroit I do not see Romney sticking it in that it was Bush who bailed out Detroit.When Obama accuses Romney of willing to let the auto sector die its a classic case of misleading. Death of GM or Chrysler would not mean the death of auto industry, Ford would still be there, Honda, Toyota, BMW etc manufacture heavily in USA now.

When Obama talks of how Dodd Frank regulates banks Romney has not shown pugnacity in putting to rest that fraud. Just saying "I'll repeal Dodd-Frank" only tells a voter that Romney is on the take from Wall Street (By the way Obama's biggest donor in 2008 was Goldman Sachs). Dodd-Frank is a monstrosity that is choking the life blood of the economy larded with useless rules that do nothing to avoid a repeat of 'too big to fail'.

I do not see Romney making a vigorous case against the myth of "free market" in USA. THERE IS NO FREE MARKET in USA. When I say "free market" I am not talking about a 'free for all' economy. Let us understand that government agencies and policies do skew market. The EPA, Fannie and Freddie, regulations all have an impact on how the economy is shaped.

Romney curls his lips and says "the government should not pick winners and losers". True but he has never gone beyond that explained succinctly how EPA rules, often brought in the interest of consumer, end up making cars more expensive for all. When a multi-millionaire rich guy says "I want the government out of the way of business" an ill-informed voter hears "I'll let the market trample you without protection". Romney has not explained how regulations hurt consumers, how government hurts people.

Above all where most see capitalism as a "necessary evil" Ayn Rand saw it as the only rational system that has the ability to uplift millions. Romney is failing to make the moral case for capitalism.

Alexander Pope said "a people gets the government it deserves". America deserves only Obama.

No comments: