Today I want to riff off an op-ed column in today’s New York Times by Bill Keller. The name of he column is “The No Agenda Myth” in the Opinion Section of the New York Times, October 29, 2012.
We know, even if we don’t admit it, that it is dangerous for a candidate to be specific about his or her agenda for office. We only have to review the Romney family history for an example. When Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, was running for president he took a trip to Viet Nam. When he came back he was very public with the appalling news that the American people had been “brainwashed” about that war. Instead of being praised for his honesty and his courage he was widely mocked in the media for admitting that he had been brainwashed.
The lesson in this story? Be careful about telling the truth.
So we need to look to what we know about the men running for office today to discern what each one would do if elected. In today’s environment, it is dangerous to tell the details.
President Obama would continue his work to make health care universal and affordable. He would probably tweak the Affordable Care Act. He would continue to work for more regulation of business, especially for the financial business. There would be more pressure to reduce pollution, and more protection for our air and water. There would be a continuation of incentives to improve education, and to make higher education more affordable. He will withdraw from the middle east war, but continue to have moderating influence in the Middle East. He will continue to work with China and the balance his ties with the other Eastern countries, such as Korea and Japan.
If Governor Romney wins the election there is less certainty, because he has tried to sound more moderate in the last few weeks.
However, financial success is very much a part of who he is and this is also reflected in his religion. His success is seen as ordained by God and as an affirmation of his right to lead. (This is of concern only because this belief that one man’s leadership is part of God’s plan leads to unquestioned approval of his decisions, a dangerous position. This is often seen in candidates from more traditional Christian religions as well as the Mormon.) Therefore one safe prediction is that Romney will protect his own wealth and the financial strength of other wealthy people.
There will be limited attempts to reduce the financial burden of the less well off. He will try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and he will try to reduce the protection afforded by the Environmental Protection Agency. He will try to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood
and for Public Broadcasting. This will be done in the name of reducing the deficit. But with a large tax cut and a build up of the military that might be impossible. Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit by closing loopholes. I would predict that it will be much easier to pass a tax cut than it will be to close treasured loopholes. Therefore I predict that the deficit will increase, perhaps dramatically.
Traditionally the Republican administrations have been less interested in protecting the environment, and in promoting broad public programs (even though they do create jobs) than have the Democratic administrations.