October 13, 2011

An open question to "electability" types / professional pundits / GOP establishment

What is it about the last 3 years — and in particular, in the wake of the 2010 elections — that makes you think you can massage and finesse the GOP base into accepting and supporting a Romney nomination?

A reminder to those getting caught up in the horse race aspect of 2012: Mitt Romney supported an individual mandate; Mitt Romney’s staffers helped Obama craft ObamaCare; Mitt Romney doesn’t see Social Security as a Ponzi scheme — and has joined the left in demagoguing those on the right who do; Mitt Romney feels the pain of the Occupy Wall Street movement; Mitt Romney believes humans are responsible for climate change — and that climate change is a concern. It follows, then, that Mitt Romney believes government must do something about climate change; Mitt Romney still defends TARP; Mitt Romney’s core beliefs are anyone’s guess — but he has nabbed the endorsement of Denny Hastert, and a guy who endorsed Mike Castle (but refused to sign on to the law suit a collection of states brought against ObamaCare); Mitt Romney has been running for President for 6 years, and he still can’t get more than 30% of Republicans to back him.

Why, then, are we told his nomination is inevitable? What is it about Romney that has the GOP establishment desirous of his being named the nominee — so much so that they are tinkering with the primaries to try to get him over as quickly as possible?

Why? What is the mood of the country, as they see it — and why is Romney a salve?

These aren’t just rhetorical questions. I honestly want to know.

Would Romney have the political will to root out ObamaCare like, say, a Michelle Bachmann would? Would Romney move to repeal Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley, as would Gingrich? Would Romney press wholesale reform of the tax code like Cain would? Would Romney be willing to take on entrenched regulatory agencies and bureaucrats to ensure states rights, like Perry would? Would Romney try to strengthen families and preach individual responsibility, like Santorum, or is he more likely to offer government solutions — then tout the “coverage rate” for “children” (without acknowledging either the costs or the attendant decreases in quality of care)?

If anything, Romney appears to be the antidote to conservatism, not its representative.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 9:52am

Comments (87)

  1. I saw a tweet from Iowahawk asking “Dear GOP: just so we know, whose turn will it be in 2016?”

    If Romney is Da Guy, then I’m writing off the WH. My time will be better spent on House and Senate races, and local folks.

  2. You can’t spell RINO without ROMNEY…or something like that.

  3. Cain is my first choice, but I’m not convinced his policy ideas can stand up to close scrutiny.

    While I would prefer a more conservative candidate than Romney, anything is better than the current occupant of the WH. Romney, Cain, and Perry are capable administrators and all have some level of executive experience. A conservative senate and congress would rein in excesses of a Romney presidency, but, if he’s elected and we lose either house, god help us.

  4. “Romney 2012: Because we can’t bear the thought of trying to re-elect a Republican president in 2016.”

  5. Cain is my first choice, but I’m not convinced his policy ideas can stand up to close scrutiny.

    999 is taking a sound and perhaps just beating.

    Aside from Paul when he’s not sounding all Prison Planet to the Establishment (and yes, elsewhere), there’s a lot of tired policy blather emanating from the ranks of this cycle’s approved nominees. Although a Cain-Gingrich White House should be some kinda entertaining just for the speeches and clever innovations, especially with Paul at Treasury. Classical liberalism? Dunno.

    But popcorn, baby.

    Also: Damn shame what’s been done to Palin. Really a damn shame.

  6. A Romney administration would find a way to administer the programs created by the Obama administration.

    Just like Eisenhower and Nixon.

    Just like a good establishmentarian should.

  7. The problem, of course is that the Republican half of the D.C. ruling party establishment is seeking to manage American decline while the Democrat half is seeking to speed along that decline.

  8. 9-9-9 is a tax increase no matter how you spin it. No thanks.

  9. I’d say it’s 2/3rds tax cut and 1/3 tax increase, with the national sales tax portion most likely to actually be enacted into law. If the cuts to corporate and income tax rates actually happened, my guess would be that your net “savings” (greater take-home pay, lower consumer prices) would be such that you’d survive the sticker shock at the cash register.

    The biggest problem, Congress being Congress, is the 9-9-9 would soon be 25-28/36/43-12

    or something like that.

  10. Pingback: You Gotta Fight The Powers That Be « The Camp Of The Saints

  11. My theories would be:

    Because they know there are a lot of Anybody But Obama voters, and they are counting on that.

    Because Mitt is loyal to the party and that’s what the party really cares about.

    Because they are totally frightened by the money-bomb phenomenon, as motionview points out, and are trying foolishly to put the genie back in the bottle, not realizing that times have indeed changed.

    And to be charitable, perhaps because they honestly don’t believe it is possible to govern if you are not a professional politician.

  12. Ernst,

    I just yesterday made the “9-9-9” would get converted to “36-24-36 (the only time thosee numbers wouldn’t make me happy)” joke.

  13. There is no tax policy that future Congresses can’t change. 9-9-9 isn’t alone in that category.

    It’s a bit like saying that cutting taxes is a bad idea because they’ll just end up going up again. Well, they might or they might not but it’s not an argument against any specific policy. It’s a reminder that we will always need to be vigilant.

    The inclusion of a new revenue stream with the national sales tax is, I think, a reasonable concern. Perhaps better to skip phase 1 and go right to phase 2. All or nothing reform towards a complete consumption tax scheme. But, again, there is nothing saying that future Congresses won’t be motivated to reintroduce income or corporate taxes.

  14. AFS, that’s really the issue, isn’t it? It may seem shapely and have a come-hither wiggle to it but it will soon have control of your dollars, and balloon up on them as it munches them like bon-bons.

    I said yesterday, but I’ll repeat myself: I’m keeping the lamp in the window for Perry. The guy knows how to play the long game.

    I expect Cain to have a Huckabee moment and take Iowa and then fade into the mist.

  15. It may seem shapely and have a come-hither wiggle to it but it will soon have control of your dollars, and balloon up on them as it munches them like bon-bons.

    The problem is, you’ve just described all tax schemes. Not just this one or that one.

    There is literally (yes, literally) no tax scheme that we can introduce that can’t be changed at a later date.

  16. Just so we know what 9-9-9 is:

    Phase 1 – 9-9-9

    * Current circumstances call for bolder action.
    * The Phase 1 Enhanced Plan incorporates the features of Phase One and gets us a step closer to Phase two.
    * I call on the Super Committee to pass the Phase 1 Enhanced Plan along with their spending cut package.
    * The Phase 1 Enhanced Plan unites Flat Tax supporters with Fair tax supporters.
    * Achieves the broadest possible tax base along with the lowest possible rate of 9%.
    * It ends the Payroll Tax completely – a permanent holiday!
    * Zero capital gains tax
    * Ends the Death Tax.
    * Eliminates double taxation of dividends
    * Business Flat Tax – 9%
    o Gross income less all investments, all purchases from other businesses and all dividends paid to shareholders.
    o Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for payroll employed in the zone.
    * Individual Flat Tax – 9%.
    o Gross income less charitable deductions.
    o Empowerment Zones will offer additional deductions for those living and/or working in the zone.
    * National Sales Tax – 9%.
    o This gets the Fair Tax off the sidelines and into the game.

    Phase 2 – The Fair Tax

    * Amidst a backdrop of the economic boom created by the Phase 1 Enhanced Plan, I will begin the process of educating the American people on the benefits of continuing the next step to the Fair Tax.
    * The Fair Tax would ultimately replace individual and corporate income taxes.
    * It would make it possible to end the IRS as we know it.
    * The Fair Tax makes our exported goods and services the most competitively internationally than any other tax system.

    The payroll tax is currently about 15%. The sales tax would seem to apply to retail sales only. That would not affect the larger portion of most peoples spending which has mortgage, insurance, utilties, property taxes as major items. The plan does need to be fleshed out a bit more to specify some ambiguities.

  17. The problem is, you’ve just described all tax schemes. Not just this one or that one.

    There is literally (yes, literally) no tax scheme that we can introduce that can’t be changed at a later date.

    Of course, bh. Taxes are a necessary evil. Changing them is very difficult. I like the idea of the the Fair Tax, but I have a hard time believing it could ever even come up for a vote, let alone pass muster with Congress who are worried about their phoney-baloney jobs.

  18. Well, we’re going to have to come up with a tax system that’s simple and defensible, or we’ll find ourselves living in the Greek shadow economy that we were discussing the other day. The perception is the key — if people think that taxes are unfair, and that those who levy and collect taxes are corrupt, they’ll stop participating.

    Me included. I’m a good person, but I’m not stupid.

  19. As best I can tell, your concern about it’s legislative feasibility is exactly why Cain proposes a transitional step.

    There are problems with any way we want to go about this. However, we do have to measure this against our current scheme that is distortionary and creates nearly endless malinvestment. So, the road ahead might be hard but at the current time we find ourselves in a terrible place. We need to make some movement here.

  20. 19 was for 17.

    Well, we’re going to have to come up with a tax system that’s simple and defensible, or we’ll find ourselves living in the Greek shadow economy that we were discussing the other day. The perception is the key — if people think that taxes are unfair, and that those who levy and collect taxes are corrupt, they’ll stop participating.

    Yes. Definitely. Also, it would be nice if the future system had a handy little feedback loop that encouraged people to recognize their true tax burden so that it might more accurately color their opinion on government spending.

  21. The simplicity vs complexity argument between Romney and Cain in the last debate is a deeply revealing one. Questions on the validity of promulgated law so complex that vast fractions of the people cannot understand it need to be discussed, openly and at length (which so far, they have not done). We too need to come to grips with these questions.

  22. Agreed, sdferr.

  23. I did the it’s for its thing. Awesome.

    Brain lesion.

  24. sdferr, exactly. Most people, myself included, are not versed in tax law or watchmaking. I look at it and see too many moving parts and become fearful of tinkering with it for having the entire thing fall to pieces to be hastily rplaced with something, while cheaper in the short-run, may turn out to be far worse. I’m not advocating for the status quo, but I don’t know that we are in a place to throw out the lot and start from scratch, either.

  25. . . . I don’t know that we are in a place to throw out the lot and start from scratch, either.

    But leigh! Given that, how on earth could you not speak against the status quo ante as non-complex? That is, it is by definition the very model of a modern major general principle of complexity. Which, as I understand its intentions, was the point.

  26. The 999 plan that I have proposed is simple, transparent, efficient, fair, and neutral.

    So, to the extent you distrust Cain’s proposal, you must believe his statement (from the debate) is cynically false? He knows he’s lying here (by bringing about worse, hidden complexities)? Or what?

  27. No more Payroll Tax? As a self-employed guy (thus paying the full 15%), I’m in!

    At my pathetic income level, that 15% (which isn’t subject to any deductions, etc.) dominates my tax bill. A 9% flat income tax (even after losing my mortgage, health insurance, and other miscellaneous deductions) is a big net win for me.

    9% sales tax? Pfft. Don’t care — don’t buy much to begin with.

  28. You’re right, sdferr. I am making a case for the status quo through my own cowardace. Cain is not lying. That is the problem with the stupid debates, their rigid time constraints, and my own failure to gather more information.

  29. That’s a relief to hear leigh, at least to the extent that you don’t reach for the unstated alternative (Cain’s just stupid/ignorant, misunderstanding his own proposal). Romney, by contrast, I think, sticks to the necessary positivist/progressive narrative: it’s science (this political thing), and it takes scientists to do it, so give it up commoners. Your American experiment was a fairy-tale.

  30. Everybody actually pays the full 15% it’s just hidden from those who work for others. Like the corporate income tax which gets passed on in the cost of goods and services to be paid by individuals who only see price for the good or service and not the tax hidden inside.

    I would expect that the Cain 9-9-9 proposal would include a provision that the employers half of the payroll tax be added to the pay of the employee which would not change anything for the employer as it is part of the expense of having that employee anyways. That’s one of the specifics that needs fleshing out.

  31. @#29

    It’s why I don’t think of them as debates. Lincoln-Douglas, that was a debate.

  32. Captured Tax Windfall to Corporate MegaGreed!

    Barry’s headlines practically write themselves, don’t they geoffb?

  33. geoff, I would pay to see a lincoln-Douglas style debate.

  34. The lesions. They are Legion.

  35. One thing about the Cain plan that isn’t mentioned is that it would decouple Social Security from a specific tax funding it. This would make the system much easier to reform.

    Even when you know that the money you pay into the payroll tax isn’t like contributions to a 401k it is hard to not think of it that way. Social Security sends everyone a statement yearly showing what you have “paid in” and what your retirement benefit would be for various retirement ages in order to perpetuate thinking along those lines.

    That mindset is hard to get away from under the present funding as it does resemble a employee retirement system, purposefully I believe.

  36. “Lincoln-Douglas, that was a debate.”

    “we can handle that” – baracky’s teleprompter

  37. geoffb, the arguments during the Bush proposal to reform Social Security were very enlightening in that regard, i.e., seeing who it was that maintained (pretended, in my view) that Social Security is a bona-fide “insurance” pension program, and those who insisted to the contrary that any such claim is mere pretense (hence all the more Ponzi-like).

  38. Spirit Airlines Uses Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan in a Marketing Campaign

    You know Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan has officially become part of pop culture when Spirit Airlines starts using it as a marketing tool.


  39. Romney


  40. The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

    F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

    On the other hand, Art Laffer says in so many words that Michelle Bachmann is pandering lying scum.

  41. A link to a page that links to articles where both Paul Ryan and Art Laffer talk about 9-9-9.

  42. It looks to me as though the answer to the open question is contained in this Fox video from last night [pick it up at approx. 6:40 in], particularly in the fear expressed by Krauthammer at 7:50 (as well as in the disdain expressed by A.B. Stoddard for Cain just prior to Krauthammer, responding to a guffaw she was captured committing on camera in the segment prior to the online-segment).

  43. chuckie the kraut luvs some mittens

  44. I doubt it newrouter. But he is certainly willing to acquiesce to him early.

  45. i like how chuckie phrased it – submit to romney

  46. romney ackbar!

  47. Drudge’s current triplex photo juxtaposition is pretty funny. Catch it!

  48. ace has a screen shot of drudge


  49. Weeks and Morgan need to step it up tonight.

  50. Doesn’t anyone go #2 any more? Could be why they are all so full of s**t[e].

  51. Man. Randy Wolf and his blazing 88mph four-seamer with Weeks behind him is like Jamie Moyer standing on the mound naked.

  52. The establishment GOP types won’t believe that many of us will not vote for Romney no matter what until they see it happen. When they do, they’ll blame everyone but themselves for the result.

  53. oh my greta doing a segment with johnny mac. trot out that proven winner.

  54. But won’t the results be salutary cranky-d, hence praiseworthy rather than to be blamable or faulty? In which case, the establicos will want to take credit for their far-sightedness identifying the winning insurgent.

  55. david is all in enjoy

    In his most recent column, conservative/moderate/modernizer/No Labels David Frum considers the future of the Tea Party in light of this irony: “After three years of battling against ObamaCare, the most likely winner of the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 is the author of the Massachusetts health care plan that inspired ObamaCare’s basic mechanism.”


    little debbies for the house i say!

  56. face it losers submit to “romney ackbar!” you infidel scum.

  57. Okay, I’m gonna get all serious and shit.

    Are conservative candidates who show a curious reserve against going after Romney part of the establishment?

    We’re not just talking about donors and party leaders and such here. There were candidates on that stage last night who wouldn’t go after Romney. They advertised themselves as insurgents and trouble-makers but they ignore Romney. Why was that?

    (I sorta like a hybrid of my thought and Ernst’s by way of explanation myself.)

  58. next debate: knives come out for the mittens.

  59. the most likely winner of the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 is the author of the Massachusetts health care plan that inspired ObamaCare’s basic mechanism.”

    Exactly the reason why I won’t be voting for him, in either the primary or the general. And especially not after his “At least the childruhns of Massachussetts have the health insurance the wee urchins of Tejas lack” moment the other night.

    How’n the hell does he DENY the lil’ chillens of the other states health insurance by waivering away ObamaCare after that comment?

    Stupid fucking pragmatist.

  60. Just to refresh my memory, bh, your thought was that folks are looking to Romney to retire their campaign debt in exchange for an endorsement, so they don’t want to piss him off by taking him on?

  61. Let’s hope, nr.

    Maybe someone should tell them that he’s only gonna pick one VP and it won’t be any of them anyways.

  62. Yes, that was my Pawlenty Conjecture, Ernst.

  63. In answer to your question, I don’t think the GOP contenders vying for the True Conservative struck from the REAGAN! mold label are establicans per se, but they all have Professional Republican™ advisors consiglieries telling them what the “smart play” is. And there’s not a wartime consiglierie amongst them.

    I may have mispelled consiglierie. I’d check, but I can’t find my Puzo.

  64. It’s easier after a *phew* win, ain’t it?

    As to the Cain slamming Bachmann-Santorum-Huntsman faction (we’re professionals, Herman, what are you doing here ya know-nuthin’?), I’m still thinking they’re lighting self-congratulatory exploding cigars.

  65. I really like that metaphor, Ernst. Partially as you put it but also in the various considerations they’re each thinking about as candidates.

    Should we perhaps consider their hiring of “don’t disrupt business” consiglieres (-es it turns out, I googled it) during the primaries in a negative light? That’s a judgement call on their part. I want to assign demerits to them. I do.

  66. It’s easier after a *phew* win, ain’t it?

    Home field, baby!

    Wait, you were talking about the Brewers, right?

  67. Yep. I wasn’t much concerned with Verlander on the hill.

  68. Wolf half surprised me by not uncorking an eephus somewhere along the way. Maybe, if he intends to pitch again next year, he should go find Fernando Valenzuela and learn a scroogie.

  69. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with surrounding yourself with professional smart people. But, like Reagan, you got to know when your gut instinct is more right than their carefully considered rationcination.

    And if they think you’re an out of touch old man blundering your way to greatness, so much the better!

  70. There’s an “n” in ratiocination that shouldn’t be there.

    I blame too much ice in my George Dickel.

  71. You just can’t trust ice.

  72. Gimme gimme gimme:

    “There’s a lot of stuff we wouldn’t have to clean up if the city provided basic human rights, like a Port-A-Potty,” said demonstrator Gene Wagner. “If you would’ve given us a Port-A-Potty 30 days ago, we would’ve maintained it ourselves.”

    Poor Owwies . . . so poor they don’t have a pot to piss in.

  73. Art Laffer, for those who haven’t heard him yet.

  74. sdferr,

    Hannity had Guiliani (sp? —damn ice) on for a segment this afternoon and it was interesting. G’s position was that protesting was okay, provided you had the proper permits, but sleeping on the streets was unacceptable in a civilized society.

    If it were up to me, I’d wait for it to get cold (low 40s-ish) and then hit ’em with the water canons around 3 a.m.

  75. I’m tempted to hit them with the cannon of Western Civilization Ernst, but fear they’re already so hopelessly maleducated it wouldn’t do any good. heh

  76. hey! hey!
    ho! ho!
    Western Civ
    has got
    to go!

  77. Another question that needs answering.

    I’d say it was the end of the Cold War, myself.

  78. Heard that on the radio today, Ernst.

    Do me a solid and flesh out your thoughts a bit here, please. I think I might follow but I’m not sure.

  79. I think that it’s just natural that divisions within the conservative movement and Republican Party that were subordinated to the higher purpose of winning the Cold War came to the fore once the war was won. Haven’t thought about it too much beyond that.

    Other than, if anyone’s to blame, it’s Reagan for not ditching Bush for Kemp in ’84. But then, Kemp was off the reservation by ’96, if not sooner, so, who knows?

    To say any more than that would involve getting into what David Goldman has termed “theopolitics,” and I’m not sure that anyone, myself included, wants to go there.

  80. Thanks.

    You say interesting things, Ernst. It’s a pleasure to consider some of your historical thoughts and their juxtapositions.

  81. “…if the city provided basic human rights, like a Port-A-Potty.”

    Port-a-potties are a basic human right?

    I’m going to sue the Port-A-Potty Corporation for violating the basic human rights of my ancestors by failing to invent the port-a-potty sooner.

  82. When does free weed become a human right?

  83. When does free weed become a human right?

    It isn’t already?

    I guess they took me off the basic human rights email list. It used to be updated weekly.