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“Can’t-Win Cul-de-Sac”: Mitt Romney’s Clumsy Economic Centrism

There are times when I feel a twinge  of sympathy for former Gov. Mitt Romney. Really and truly. The Unbearable  Heaviness of Being Mitt in the current ideological climate—with its  highly-charged suspicions of both “socialism” and conspicuous wealth—forces him  to tack left and right in ways that leave him pitifully exposed.

His calculated moves toward the  right sometime in the mid-2000s, on  key issues like abortion, gay rights, and  immigration, are well-known  and justly scrutinized.

Less noticed—but no less calculated—have  been his efforts to hew to the center.

I’m thinking, first, of Romney’s  proposal to eliminate capital gains  taxes only for married couples making under  $200,000 and singles  making less than $100,000. The cap at those income levels  is  head-scratchingly pointless, as the vast  majority who benefit from low capital gains tax rates make well over $200,000.

Romney’s official rationale for  limited capital gains tax relief is that “We  need to spend our precious tax dollars on the middle class.”

That sounds nice and centrist-y, but  the more likely reason became  clear when Romney finally released his tax returns: If he proposed  eliminating taxes on capital gains altogether—as  former Speaker Newt  Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul and Gov. Rick Perry have  proposed—then Romney would be forced to defend the prospect of paying even  less than his already low rate of 13.9 percent.

“Under  that plan”—meaning Gingrich’s—”I’d have paid no taxes in the last two years,” Romney said, in one of his sharpest lines in the debate in Tampa last month.

Romney is similarly lukewarm, from  the libertarian economic perspective, on the issue of the minimum wage. As  in 2008, Romney favors automatic increases to  keep pace with inflation. The  right uniformly hates this idea—they  think it will actually eliminate  entry-level jobs and hurt the very  people it’s trying to help.

As with his suspicious-seeming  lurches toward the right to appease  the social conservative base, Romney trims  toward the center on  sensitive economic issues to limit the appearance of rank  plutocracy.

Steve  Forbes tells Yahoo News:  “It goes to show he’s still very defensive  about his own wealth. All  it does is give the base another reason to be  unenthusiastic about  him.”

At National  Review Online, Andrew C. McCarthy likewise asserted that Romney was  “doubling down on stupid to overcompensate for any hint of a compassion  deficit.”

Hence my (momentary) twinge of  sympathy for Romney. His ideological  contortions, whichever direction they take  him, land him in the same  can’t-win cul-de-sac.


By: Scott Galupo, U. S. News and World Report, February 7, 2012

February 8, 2012 - Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. You are so right. He lied in the CNN’s National Debate a few weeks ago that no one is coming out with. He stated, he was not Anti-immigrant, for his father was from Mexico and his father-in-law is from Whales. His father was born in Mexico. But…to legal American Parents. This would have given George Romney dual citizenship to Mexico and the United States. Stretched the truth again to fit his need.
    Watch his posture, ficial impressions, tone of his voice….and it will tell u everything you would like to know about him. Sneaky, and someone to beware of !!!!


    Comment by lizzygram | February 8, 2012 | Reply

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