2012 August 11 Saturday
Romney Won't Go Populist As He Trails Obama

Daniel Larison on why Romney won't call for breaking up big banks or ditching Bush's foreign policy:

He is one of the worst conceivable messengers for a populist message around. If he were to make such a proposal now, it would be dismissed as one more implausible reinvention of himself. It may be that he genuinely believes that deregulation and tax cuts are a cure-all economic agenda, or it may be that he assumes that this is what he thinks hes supposed to believe. Either way, Romney is no more likely to call for breaking up the banks than he is likely to abandon Bush-era foreign policy. Would he be right to do these things? Yes. Would it prove that Romney is capable of doing something other than campaigning as a cookie-cutter Republican nominee? Of course. Those are the other main reasons it is never going to happen.

It says a lot about how the US electorate has changed that during a period of high unemployment the sitting President stands a decent chance of getting reelected. Historically, bad economies doom the party in power. Yet Obama's supporters consider other factors more important. Why is that? I can think of a couple of things. First, identity politics. The electorate votes more heavily by racial and ethnic identity (or loyalty) as America becomes more balkanized. Second, declining workforce participation across a wide range of demographic groups. The health of the economy doesn't matter much if you've given up working. Supporting Obama becomes even more important if you don't work because you've managed to join the millions who have gotten onto disability benefits since Obama took office.

Suppose Obama gets reelected. That could turn out to be a blessing to the Republican Party if the economy deteriorates over the next 4 years. Best to not be in a position to be blamed for it. The decline in the number of workers per retiree and per other entitlements collectors has put the US on the same path as European nations that are struggling with sovereign debt burdens. The future looks like a vicious cycle:

But as public debt, pensions and healthcare burdens escalate and a shrinking manufacturing base denies opportunities to willing workers, there is much more at stake here than the credit, blame and spin of presidential politics, according to the University of Michigan's Don Grimes.

"We could be facing a much bigger problem," Grimes said, pointing to the experience of Europe, where aging, debt-ridding nations are now struggling for equilibrium. "The experience of Europe is that they essentially sustained a lifestyle with borrowed money," Grimes said, adding that as the population-aged resources "dried up, there was no income flow, no tax revenue. It's a vicious cycle."

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 August 11 06:45 PM  Politics American Presidency


Comments
Mercer said at August 11, 2012 9:13 PM:

"It says a lot about how the US electorate has changed that during a period of high unemployment the sitting President stands a decent chance of getting reelected."

It also says a lot about the current GOP. Despite the Iraq disaster they are eager to go to war with Iran. They voted to bailout Wall Street and now want to reduce regulation of Wall Street. Despite high unemployment they don't call for reducing immigration or raising tariffs on China. They think lowering taxes will bring prosperity despite the poor economic results of the last tax cuts. Unless someone wants more wars why should they vote GOP?

McNeil said at August 12, 2012 3:58 PM:

"Despite the Iraq disaster they are eager to go to war with Iran"

I know. But, has Iraq been the only disater lately? There's also Afghanistan, Lybia and Syria. I mean, just lately.

McNeil said at August 12, 2012 4:14 PM:

What politician is not a populist prick, really. I don't think there's one who's not.

solaris said at August 12, 2012 9:48 PM:

Despite high unemployment they (the GOP) don't call for reducing immigration or raising tariffs on China.


Actually, Romney does support raising tariffs on China.

Mike M said at August 13, 2012 11:59 AM:

What it says about the electorate is that there is a very significant portion of the population that has succumbed to the false enticements of Marxism, i.e. they (the business owners} didn't build that, the "people" did and hence, the people have the right to demand that the government take from the business owners and give to the "people". It's the very antithesis of what has allowed America to grow and prosper over the past two centuries - knowing that what we earn is safe from the envious hands of domestic thugs. Mercer's rant is naive and misinformed:

(a) Bush didn't stand alone in bailing out Wall Street - the Democrats pitched in. And then Obama funneled stimulus/bailout payoffs to businesses that had no intention and no possibilities of turning the economy around. The Left will never learn - saving, not spending, is the source of wealth. The Left has handed out so many entitlement benefits that instead of investing some of our nation's profits in order to expand our production possibilities frontier, "we" (as a nation) have consumed - or allowed the slackers and their political masters to consume - our profits and our savings causing our PPF to shrink.

(b) Immigration isn't the problem in regards to the economy. We need to separate the immigration issue into the two real components that have been lumped together, national security and economic issues. In terms of immigration, it is national security that should be our focus. The economic "problems" that allegedly stem from immigration can be solved not by trying to stop immigrants from entering, but by eliminating or curtailing entitlement programs for all residents, i.e. take away the cheese and we eliminate all the rats, foreign and domestic.

(c) Raising tariffs on foreign goods backfired during the Depression (read up on Smoot Harley) and it won't work now. Sure, it will benefit the owners (and the union bosses) of those particular industries whose goods are protected, but it will force the rest of us to either pay higher prices for those goods or to do without. The cost of the tariff is born by the US consumers of the goods. Maybe "rich" folks like Mercer can afford $100 US made T-shirts, but I make do with my 3 for $8 foreign made shirts = or maybe Mercer is one of those greedy union slackers who despises competition because it forces him to work harder.

WJ said at August 13, 2012 5:40 PM:

"Suppose Obama gets reelected. That could turn out to be a blessing to the Republican Party if the economy deteriorates over the next 4 years."

This is precisely how I felt in 2008, and I was right: 'the economy 2008-2012 is gunna suck, and it's best the Democrats get blamed.' I don't pretend I'm always right, but in this case I was.

But the economy has mostly stabilized now. It's not growing, but consumer debt has fallen a good deal and asset depreciation has stopped/slowed. Four years ago the economy was in no one's hands. The economy of the next 4 years is up to the choices politicians make: more illegal immigrants, more dirt-cheap labor, huge deficits, high unemployment...or not.

Romney? If he had any populist sentiment he'd reveal it now, while he's actually trying to win votes. Or perhaps he's worried that if he talks tough he'll lose the big donors who want cheap labor and/or the Hispanic vote. Who knows? I really have no faith in either party, but I know that if Romney wants to succeed, regardless of what he says while running for election, he'll slow immigration, enforce laws against illegal immigration, and reduce government spending. More tax cuts for the rich isn't the answer. We need a population that's better educated, less dependent on government, and more inclined towards work. Mass immigration/illegal immigration moves us in the wrong direction on all counts.

Mercer said at August 13, 2012 6:26 PM:

Mike M

We had high tariffs from President Washington until 1945. We became the richest country in the world at the same time. I bought t-shirts far below $100 before NAFTA.

"The Left has handed out so many entitlement benefits that instead of investing some of our nation's profits in order to expand our production possibilities frontier"

This statement makes no sense. Many big corporations have huge amounts of cash they could invest. They don't invest in US production because they can get labor cheaper in China and not have to worry about pollution or worker safety laws.


Mike M said at August 13, 2012 8:53 PM:

Mercer - You have "conveniently" misquoted me. No surprise! The entire statement was, "The Left has handed out so many entitlement benefits that instead of investing some of our nation's profits in order to expand our production possibilities frontier, "we" (as a nation) have consumed - or allowed the slackers and their political masters to consume - our profits and our savings causing our PPF to shrink."

I'm sorry that you cannot understand how or why the cost of tariffs is ultimately borne by the US consumer. Perhaps I wasn't clear. If the US imposes tariffs on imports from China, US consumers will no longer pay the cheaper "world price" for these goods. Instead, US consumers will pay the world price PLUS the tariff. There are only three categories of people who would advocate this: (1) Those who want to eliminate their foreign competitors who are willing to sell their goods for lower prices (and thus enabling Americans to have more money to spend on other goods or services). This groups consists of the owners of US companies making goods as well as the union bosses in that particular industry. (2) Politicians who get kickbacks, either in terms of cash or votes, from the US companies they protect (at the expense of other Americans). (3) Fools who lack any understanding of basic economics.

Now, let me address the issue of our production possibilities frontier. As a whole, our nation produces a certain amount of goods and services every year. This is known as GDP. Now, what we can do several things with this GDP - we can either consume it as when buy some end product (such as a television or a hamburger, etc.) that isn't used to produce further goods or services - or we can invest it in things that can be used to produce even more goods and services. If we consume and don't invest, next year we won't be able to produce more than what we produced this year. Instead, if we invest some of our GDP into additional things that enable us to produce more goods and services, we will have even more goods and services next year, i.e. we ill have expanded or production possibilities frontier. What Obama and his progressive ilk have done is not only spent all of our current GDP on consumption (entitlement benefits), they have taken our savings (which could be used for investment) and spent that on even more current consumption (entitlements). To put it simply, they are making it even more difficult for us to dig ourselves out of this hole that was created by the long line of bleeding heart fools on the Left.

US corporations are afraid to invest in US production facilities because the Left has created an environment of uncertainty regarding their costs. The Left's only consistency is in raising taxes and implementing regulations that increase costs. Businesses don't build plants planning on one or two years of production. They build plants with plans for at least several decades. When, due to government meddling, they can't come up with reliable estimates of their costs of business, they are afraid to invest in US facilities or employees.

Lay off the Left wing Kool-Aid and smell the coffee!

Mercer said at August 13, 2012 9:19 PM:

"There are only three categories of people who would advocate this:"

Which category would you place Alexander Hamilton in?

" they have taken our savings (which could be used for investment) and spent that on even more current consumption (entitlements)."

Many big companies have plenty of money to invest.

" due to government meddling, they can't come up with reliable estimates of their costs of business, they are afraid to invest in US facilities or employees."

They are investing in China. Do you think the communist party in China does not meddle in the economy? They certainly meddle in the market to keep their currency low against the dollar.

Mike M said at August 14, 2012 9:31 AM:

Frankly, I'm happy that the Chinese are selling me their goods at such cheap prices. I much prefer buying things for lower prices than for higher prices. Those who would prefer that US consumers pay higher prices for the goods hey consume must either be fools or have some ulterior motive for wanting the rest of us to pay higher prices, that motive being that they themselves will benefit financially at the expense of the rest of us. Read up on comparative advantage and (perhaps) you'll understand why we are better off if the Chinese sell their goods to us at a discount. US producers can either respond to low priced Chinese goods with better quality and let the consumer weigh quality versus price OR they should find something to do where they do have a comparative advantage leaving both China and the US better off.

solaris said at August 14, 2012 2:34 PM:

The economic "problems" that allegedly stem from immigration can be solved not by trying to stop immigrants from entering, but by eliminating or curtailing entitlement programs for all residents.


Of course! How simple!

Libertarians are creatures from an alternate dimension where the sky is green and water flows uphill.

solaris said at August 14, 2012 2:40 PM:

>"Frankly, I'm happy that the Chinese are selling me their goods at such cheap prices. I much prefer buying things for lower prices than for higher prices."


You're a fan of mercantillism, in other words. As with the woman who accepted an offer of a million dollars for sex, we've established WHAT you are. All that's left is haggling over the price.

Mike M said at August 15, 2012 6:03 AM:

Solaris, I usually hold my tongue and refrain from name calling, but in your case I can't help myself - your a freakin' moron! Before you state that someone believes in mercantilism (which is the OPPOSITE of what I have proposed), go look up the definition. Mercantilism advocates devices such as tariffs to exclude foreign goods. What a dipstick!

The top two reasons people complain about illegal immigration are (1) the illegal immigrants are taking advantage of government benefits, and (2) the leaky border is a threat to national security. The other reason commonly touted is that these uneducated Mexicans are taking American jobs because they'll work for lower pay. As for the last reason, boo freakin' hoo. If someone is willing to do the job for a lower rate, that may put a moron like you out of a job, but it enables the rest of us to purchase goods and services at a lower price. Go get yourself some better training or put on your big boy pants and work a bit harder. As for the my statements about doing away with the rats by removing the free cheese, my reasoning is not only valid, it's also been demonstrated by real world events.

McNeil said at August 15, 2012 6:17 PM:

>"the leaky border is a threat to national security." Oh fuck, here we go again with the national security chant... Nobody believes that anymore.

The need for drugs from Latin America is a threat. The worthless K-12 education is a threat. Wall & Government-Street Corporation is a threat. Television is a threat. Depressed armed idiots at schools are a threat. Inequality is a threat. Overworked employees are a threat. Cigarette addiction is a threat. Fast food and Coke is a threat. Unaffordable medical care is a threat. Benny and Suzanne Hinn are a threat. Judges putting working teenagers in jail for not attending class are a threat.

These are THE real threats to national security nobody's doing shit about. We just don't seem to quite grasp it, do we?

McNeil said at August 15, 2012 6:27 PM:

>"the leaky border is a threat to national security. "

Give me a 50-foot wall and I'll give you a 51-foot ladder. Wanna stretch the fence one mile into the oceans? Rafters will just paddle one mile and a foot around it. Perhaps you'd like to start shooting at illegal aliens, in which case the USA will have become something else.

Mike M said at August 15, 2012 7:36 PM:

Hey McNeil - you're an @$$! Learn to read, dipstick. My statement was not that the leaky border is a threat to national security, but that the claim that it is is one of the most frequently touted reasons that people use in the illegal immigration argument. The real threat to our nation is not the honest, hard working Mexicans who want to come and live the American dream, it's left wing morons like you who bitch and moan that all your problems are someone else's fault. So, take out the tampon, grow a pair and take some responsibility for your sorry self.

Zamman said at August 16, 2012 2:55 PM:

Mike is angry, ooooooo watch out you guys.

WJ said at August 20, 2012 11:55 AM:

"Give me a 50-foot wall and I'll give you a 51-foot ladder."

How about fining businesses $10,000 per for employing them?
Hopw about fining landlords who lease to them?
How about not giving their children free public education?
How about rewarding states that catch them (e.g., while driving)?
How about denying them bank accounts, migrant head start, in-state tuition at colleges, etc?
How about not automatically giving citizenship to their children born here?

*Everytime* one of these solutions is proposed it is denounced as cruel or immoral or unworkable, but what the no borders fanatics really fear is that they will work and that the illegal aliens will be forced to leave. Enforcement begins at the border. It doesn't end there.

Zamman said at August 21, 2012 3:37 PM:

"How about fining businesses $10,000 per for employing them?" Impossible. Governments needs cheap labor.
"Hopw about fining landlords who lease to them?" Impossible. They'll continue to rent because they are businessmen.
"How about not giving their children free public education?" Impossible. If it's public, IT'S PUBLIC. Besides children are first in most Western countries
"How about rewarding states that catch them (e.g., while driving)?" Impossible. That will destroy some very basic right even for citizens.
"How about denying them bank accounts, migrant head start, in-state tuition at colleges, etc?" Impossible. The country moves by $$$. Banking secret.
"How about not automatically giving citizenship to their children born here?" Impossible. Unless you want to step on the U.S. constitution and write your own.

Zamman said at August 21, 2012 3:44 PM:

Pancho Villa said at July 13, 2012 10:56 AM, and I think there's some truth to it:

"The U.S. is not really serious about stopping illegal immigration simply because the U.S. needs cheap mexican labor, and that's that. It really is hypocritical bullshit and we all know it.

However if the U.S. government really stops playing the wanton capricious bitch on that matter and really lifts a supertall-ass fence along the border, perhaps that will really help Mexico finally turn its eyes to the rest of left-oriented Latin America, where it belongs and thus become Socialist. Mexico has wanted that for years but the U.S. just wouldn't allow. The majority of young Mexicans would like to have a real Mexican president and not just another U.S. stooge. The majority of Mexicans would rather have more interaction with Europe, Russia, China and the rest of Latin America. The majority of Mexicans would like the U.S. out of Mexican politics. Mexicans and Latin Americans in general, just like the rest of the world, are really bored of and fed up with the U.S.

Sometimes I really wonder.... Sometimes I really think.... Sometimes it becomes blatant how the U.S. needs Mexico as much as Mexico needs the U.S.

Please, please and pretty please, close the borders and kick all illegal immigrants out. Do it. Hey, how about not allowing any more Mexicans at all. Leave Mexico alone with the rest of Latin America. The U.S. will do fine with Canada and.... well, just Canada. Those two can continue playing the isolated tightasses in the Global Village, while the rest of the world moves on."


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