Mitt Romney will officially announce his candidacy for President today. Fox News ran some excerpts from his speech this morning. It sounds tough and smart, playing up Romney’s experience in both government and business.
“In the third year of his four-year term, we have more than promises and slogans to go by. Barack Obama has failed America,” Romney declares. “Government under President Obama has grown to consume almost 40% of our economy. We are only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy. I will cap federal spending at 20% or less of the GDP and finally, finally balance the budget.”
Actually, if you throw in state and local taxes and regulations, you’ll get a number much higher than 40%. Romney sounds the right note in cautioning that we’re “only inches away from ceasing to be a free market economy.” That spending cap needs to be more like 18% to eventually resolve the national debt, and every Republican should learn the importance of using a high initial demand to open negotiations with Democrats. Tell them you want a 20% spending cap, and they’ll scream thought their media megaphone that “bipartisanship” demands a “compromise” much closer to our current 25% spending levels.
With that said, Romney is doing a good job of staking out two of the most important reforms needed for fiscal sanity, and making them a centerpiece of his campaign. I hope he makes a strong effort to explain the importance of that 20% spending limit – it’s the maximum amount of government spending that can be sustained over time, at any level of taxation, without incurring huge deficits. This is a truth that can decisively banish the childish class-war fantasies peddled by Democrats, who love to pretend we’re just one massive tax hike away from a balanced budget.
Romney’s announcement includes a passage designed to let increasingly uneasy moderate Democrats know it’s OK to vote against President Obama without hating him, or being smeared as a racist: “A few years ago, Americans did something that was, actually, very much the sort of thing Americans like to do: We gave someone new a chance to lead; someone we hadn’t known for very long, who didn’t have much of a record but promised to lead us to a better place. At the time, we didn’t know what sort of a President he would make. It was a moment of crisis for our economy, and when Barack Obama came to office, we wished him well and hoped for the best.”
An understandable mistake, America, but now it’s time to wise up and vote for someone with a nice fat resume of private and public sector accomplishment. Say, that nice Mr. Romney is holding an awfully thick resume!
Romney wants to be known as a champion of federalism: “My generation will pass the torch to the next generation, not a bill. I will insist that Washington learns to respect the constitution, including the 10th amendment. We will return responsibility and authority to the states for dozens of government programs – and that begins with a complete repeal of ObamaCare.”
Of course, many will ask how Romney squares this with the awful ObamaCare 1.0 he inflicted on Massachusetts, a plan that has ruined health care and driven up costs. Romney has been responding to this criticism, while refusing to acknowledge the failure of his Massachusetts plan, by saying states can do things the federal government cannot. This is a logical position in light of the federalist principles he espouses, but it lacks the fire of inspiration. It won’t excite Republicans who want their Presidential candidate to explain why ObamaCare is not only wrong, but bad.
Romney would be a fool to think he won’t be hammered over RomneyCare during the primary season, and Obama’s people have already laid the groundwork for using it to paint Romney as a hollow opportunist who obviously agrees with the President about the most important issues. It will be interesting to see what responses Romney has prepared for these assaults. He’ll get a chance to test them about two minutes into the first debate he attends.
Meanwhile, most polls show Romney as the front-runner, and he’s put together a formidable war chest to finance his campaign. The other candidates have their work cut out for them.
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