Four years ago, Obama ran a campaign about changing the tone of politics, crystallized in his dazzling Invesco Field convention speech by the mantra, “There are no red states, blue states, just the United States.” His election was seen as essential to bringing America back together.
Now, Mitt Romney is facing charges from the other side that he hasn’t been specific enough about the policies he will pursue as president. MSNBC and liberal blogs paint the Republican agenda as some sort of grand secret that will inhibit the rights granted by our forefathers to the great people of these United States. They act as if women’s rights will become a thing of the past if Republicans gain control of government. Vice President Joe Biden said to a crowd of African Americans that Republicans will put them back into “chains,” a deliberate attempt to equate Republicans with the pre-Civil War slave owners of the South. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Chris Wallace last weekend that the Republican platform “looks like the platform of 1812.”
Attacks like these are intellectually dishonest. Democrats are now attempting to divide America and make individual groups feel that the Republican Party is waging a war on their rights. Bringing people together worked for Obama when he was up in the polls, but the Obama team has made a calculation to use a divide-and-conquer strategy in this tight election environment.
Democrats are hiding under the Obama campaign’s slogan, “Forward.” They want you to believe that Republicans are trying to take the United States backward to the days of segregation, and President Obama and the Democratic Party are the only things standing in the way. So much for the new politics Obama talked about in his 2008 campaign.
But, yes, there is a reason this election has turned into a cat-and-mouse game where the actual policy issues are so rarely discussed. This is not the fault of Republicans. It is that Obama has no credible record of achievement to run on. Each major legislative “achievement” Obama managed in the past few years has turned out to contain numerous broken promises and attained far less results than the lofty predictions of this administration.
Take the stimulus package: $800 billion later, unemployment remains above 8 percent when it was supposed to decline to below 6 percent. Obama’s health care reform legislation, which was supposed to lower the cost of healthcare, is now raising the health insurance premiums on middle class families. And Obamacare cuts $716 billion from Medicare by paying doctors less for the same treatments. This will only cause those costs to be passed on to younger people not on a government insurance plan. The Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform that was supposed to rein in the excesses of Wall Street is now hurting honest middle-class individuals working in the financial sector far away from Manhattan, who have to spend their time complying with all the new regulations.
Obama does not have a plan for the next four years because he cannot run on his administration’s accomplishments since he was swept into office. The economy has not recovered and unemployment remains above the level when Obama took office. Too often, the President blames his predecessor for the nation’s economic woes, but there are far too many questions about the effectiveness of Obama’s own recovery plans to just continue blaming President Bush when 23 million are unemployed or underemployed. Obama cannot run a campaign on continuing what he is currently doing because it’s just not working.
Mitt Romney has a plan. Romney’s plan starts with changing the conversation. For the past four years, we have endured a president who continuously degrades America rather than celebrates what we have accomplished as nation. The strategic logic of Obama’s ploy is clear: plant in the voters’ minds a picture of Obama and the government as responsible for all that is great in America to justify more government entitlements. When Republicans go to reform these entitlements to make them more efficient and sustainable, Democrats can then attack Republicans for not caring about specific groups of people (the poor, the elderly, etc.).
Mitt Romney will talk about America in a positive light and America’s entrepreneurial spirit will be recognized in the policies he pursues.
Middle class Americans will see their tax rates on interest, dividends and capital gains brought to zero to encourage more investment and greater rewards. The corporate rate will be reduced from 35 percent to 25 percent to make America more competitive with the rest of industrialized nations. Companies will have more money to invest in expansion, creating more jobs.
Romney plans to start making the difficult choices that will be necessary to end the insanity of the nation’s deficit and debt. He will cap spending at 20 percent of GDP and return discretionary spending to the levels seen prior to Obama’s election.
The Romney plan also calls for entitlement reform. In choosing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate, Romney signaled that he is willing to talk about bold reforms.
As president, he will work to preserve entitlements deemed necessary, such as Medicare, by making them more efficient without reducing their impact. Much has been made in this campaign about Ryan’s Medicare proposals, and the Obama campaign continues to lie to seniors about the true impact of the Romney-Ryan plan.
Current seniors 55 and older will see no changes, and younger Americans will essentially be given an amount of money to purchase their own health care once they reach retirement age. The government will approve plans offered by private insurers looking to compete for having the lowest price and still meeting the same level of benefits enjoyed under Medicare. The amount of money that will be provided will be equal to the second- cheapest plan offered by private insurers on a regional basis that the government approves.The same Medicare benefits will be available from all of these plans, including the cheapest. Traditional Medicare will also still be an option. Increasing competition has the potential to reduce the cost of these plans, and preserve Medicare for the future. Romney will pursue a similar approach with other entitlements: if they are necessary, is there a way they can be more efficient?
Obamacare will finally be repealed, but it will also be replaced. While the Obama campaign would like Americans to believe Romney will take away the ability of us young people to stay on our parents’ insurance until age 26 and discard the requirement of insurers to provide insurance to people with preexisting conditions, this is just not the case.
Romney has a plan. President Obama does not. Tonight, when Obama takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, the nation will be watching for Obama’s plan to be unveiled. He has to explain why four more years for him will bring America back on a path to prosperity. Based on the last few, I’m unsure there can be a plan at all.