Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mitt Romney: Loser of the Debt Ceiling Debate

I was about to write a post on how Mitt Romney won the debt ceiling debate yesterday. Then he decided to open his mouth.

Up until yesterday, Mitt Romney was the only, and I repeat, only politician trying his best to redirect our attention to the most important issue of the day: jobs, jobs, jobs. Fix the economy now, and worry about the deficit afterwords ought to be the motto of every thinking conservative. As David Frum puts it in his latest must read,
The deficit is a symptom of America's economic problems, not a cause.

When the economy slumps, government revenues decline and government spending surges.

Federal revenues have collapsed since 2007, down from more than 18% of national income to a little more than 14%. To put that in perspective: That's the equivalent of losing enough revenue to support the entire defense budget.

Federal spending has jumped to pay for unemployment insurance, food stamps and Medicaid benefits.

Fix the economy first, and the deficit will improve on its own.

Cut the deficit first, and the economy will get even sicker.
Romney's careful avoidance of supporting a reckless policy of not raising the debt ceiling and his insistence that jobs are the real issue was precisely what the conservative movement needed to hear. Unfortunately, Romney figured that Jim DeMint's endorsement is just too important in a presidential campaign. And so he gave in to the pressure.

Now, I am certainly not a purist (else I would have left the Republican Party a long time ago). This is not the first time I have been disappointed with Romney this cycle. I find his support for ethanol subsidies quite disagreeable. But unlike ethanol subsidies, not raising the debt ceiling has severe consequences for the American economy. How can Romney preach his jobs message and from the same mouth call for the debt ceiling to not be raised? Those are two opposing messages.

The way that some of us Romney supporters rationalize Romney's occasional pander is that we just tell ourselves that he really knows better. We think, he just has to play with the clowns in the circus because that it what you have to do. When Bachmann says outrageous things, we believe that she believes it. When Romney says outrageous things, we believe that he is just playing politics. And that may very well be the case, but it is a disheartening way to rationalize it. I, for one, will gladly make my voice known that I strongly disagree with Romney's position on the debt ceiling vote. And while Mitt is still likely to get my vote (where else would I turn?), I hope sincerely that he really is pandering and that a President Romney would not take Candidate Romney's advice on the debt ceiling.

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Right Wingnut said...

The issue is spending, Pablo. We need to cut spending. Not 3,4 or 10 years from now. We need to cut spending NOW. If you want to raise the debt ceiling, fine. Come up with a realistic plan to prevent future debt ceiling increases. The current bill does not do that.

Public sector spending crowds out the private sector. Let me give you an example. A neighboring school district built an indoor track in their extravegant new high school. Why did they need an indoor track? The rationale given is they can charge locals to use it for jogging & walking. WTF? Isn't that a function of the private sector? Aren't they taking business away from the YMCA, and other health clubs? I highly doubt they are turning a profit on the track.

I remember a time when you wrote post after post urging our party to show courage in tackling our debt. What happened to THAT guy?

Pablo said...


I still believe in spending cuts. Which is why I support the Boehnor plan. However, a major reason for why deficit spending has increased in the past couple of years is because of the economy. Government revenues have dramatically decreased and unemployment and Medicaid benefits have dramatically increased. This needs to be reversed if we are to really do anything about the deficit.

Furthermore, cutting large amounts of government spending is the last thing you should do when unemployment is so high. Had the debt ceiling not been raised, you would have literally had thousands and thousands (like me) of people who not have received paychecks. The multiplier effect of those additionally "unemployed" not spending money would have a rippling effect throughout the entire economy.

Beohner was right to demand that a raise in the debt ceiling should have an equal cut in spending OVER TIME. We do not need to dramatically slash spending overnight. That is just bad economics, which is why few politicians were suggesting it.

The issue is jobs. Then deficit spending.

Pablo said...

Oh, and yes, I agree in principle with what you said about government crowding out private sector spending. But this is a very mild deficiency when stacked next to reasons that I listed above for government spending during a recession.

Also, to use your example, it is unlikely that a private citizen would be able to start a gym because the economy is so bad. Or at least, fewer people are capable of starting businesses like that. The government can always spend money. Private citizens cannot.

The difficult task of the conservative movement will be to force spending cuts after the economy has recovered and people become less fearful. That is going to take leadership.

DanL said...

I have so much distaste for Huntsman that it would be very hard to ever vote for him.


He is the only candidate who had it right with his response to the debt ceiling vote.

Huntsman is more dovish on defense, which is what we need right now. Romney is trying to be Reagan on defense spending. NO THANK YOU!

Huntsman has long been a hardcore enviro warrior. But how can Romney distinguish himself from Huntsman on this? They both believe that global warming is man made, they both have supported regional cap and trade, and they have both back pedaled on national cap and trade since entering national politics saying that it would be wrong at this time because it would hurt the economy.

Huntsman loved Obama's $787 billion stimulus package, but Romney has no inclination to reform medicare or social security.

I don't trust either further than I could throw them.

DanL said...

Oh, and both Huntsman and Romney support ethanol subsidies.

craigs said...

I understand exactly where you are coming from, but my perspective is a little more jaded based on, I think, many more years of watching the Washington circus.
First, I agree with those who wonder why we have a debt ceiling in the first place. It is similar to running an endless race where the finish line continues to be moved to keep the race going even though the spectators have gone home. The debt ceiling is a financial joke. The financial world loves these fiscal jokes. Another is an IMF Loan where a new tranche is given to some struggling country to repay a past due old loan. It is a joke and a debt limit that is constantly exceeded is also a joke.
The new debt limit ( read credit card max ) is raised $ 2.1 TRILLION. For this, these clowns in Washington are going to immediately cut about $ 50 Billion. READ $ 50 billion on a new debt of $ 16.1 TRILLION. Then, we rely on a new gang of 12, yet another collection of chief clowns, picked by the other clowns , to come up with additional " Acceptable " cuts. God forbid what that nightmare will result in. Reid, et al, will be up nights gaming that media mess.
Romney said this bill is unacceptable. He's kind. Thsi bill stinks. it does nothing to get at the problem. It is a feel good palliative to an untouvhed problem that will have to be revisited over and over again in the next years.
Where are real solutions ? Where are real significant cuts ? Where is the tax code changes? Where are the changes in entitlements ? Where are the efficiencies in defense spending ? No where, that's where.
The biggest excuse I have heard was " It's the best we could get."
B.S. That statement , in itself, is all the reason in the world why Congress has a new positive rating of 19 % and why over 70 % of the folks don't like this bill.
The only real plus of this debate is that it is like finding the Holy Grail for Romney, insuring this issue will continue to dominate the news until election day including every single debate on TV in the fall.
But, I know you mean well and we all appreciate your perspective


Right Wingnut said...

Beohner was right to demand that a raise in the debt ceiling should have an equal cut in spending OVER TIME.

Pablo, do you understand how time value of money works?

I don't have time to respond to the rest of your points.

Anonymous said...

Palin's response last night on Greta was the best I heard. You can tell by her demeanor that she wasn't a hundred percent happy with the bill...probably not even 50% but she acknowledged it was a start and also noted it was a victory for the Tea Party.

Romney's response was absolutely useless and about 3 days too late.

I know, I know...how could he have known...that is the biggest line of bullcrap. As a potential POTUS, Romney has a vested interest in this debate and the fact that he was silent for so long and then Monday morning quarterbacks the decision of the elected officials...when he didn't have the guts to speak up when negotiations were taking place, is just another sign that the man is not fit for office and that he is a lousy politician...he doesn't even realize that this, like ethanol, will look like just another pander.


Anonymous said...

Pablo, you do know that your entire definition of what to do in economic crisis is the Democratic POV? Democrats believe the Government has to spend to get us out of an economic crisis...when will you admit to yourself that you're a Democrat and so is your favorite pundit...Frum.


Right Wingnut said...


One more thing. The budget baselines will still increase apprx. 8% per year.

They aren't really cutting spending.

Anonymous said...

What is so ridiculous about his entire debate is the entire debate...they create a crisis to debate a crisis to claim a victory...it's so ridiculous.

When I have no money, I spend less money...it's that simple.

The fact that they will spend hours upon hours and days upon days debating and strong arming a deal to raise a debt ceiling when that time could have been used cutting a budget is mind blowing to me.


larry said...

The bottom line with this deal is, the can is still being kicked down the road.

Romney is right.

Anonymous said...

larry said, "Romney is right," he is...I just wish he spoke up sooner...

Palin's response on Greta last night was excellent...it was calm and reserved and acknowledged the victory we did receive...it was a step...


Anonymous said...

I posted this in the cbox but I wanted to repost it here out of respect for Pablo.

I actually think this is the best deal we were going to get...it still kinda sucks and I don't like the later provisions but there was a very small victory.

I'm glad Palin spoke out when she did.
If only Romney had the fortitude to speak up when opinions mattered...not after the deal was in place.

In fact, I think Romney has opened himself up to a few problems. The first problem is he looks like he was pandering to the Tea Party and since he waited so long to comment, it looks like the possible, next President has little clout with the current legislators. He could own this economy in 18 months...he should have put himself in the discussion...his opinion matters and it probably would have been taken into consideration.


Massachusetts Conservative said...

Pablo, Mitt did not say we cannot raise the debt ceiling. He said we cannot raise the debt ceiling without substantial cuts and a Balanced Budget Amendment.

That is what he would do as president. He is running for PRESIDENT, NOT CONGRESS.

Doug NYC GOP said...

No matter what Romney said about these debt negotiations/deals, there was very no way to away without someone criticizing him. That's just the political game.

Plan A: If he came out saying he didn't like it, but would accept it - critics would say he's trying to have it both ways. Use PANDER option.

Plan B: If He came out in support of the bill, he'd be criticized as:

1) being with the Establishment. Use NOT A TP SUPPORTER.

2) not being a Conservative. Use RINO Option

So he remained consistent with his stated positions. Use HE DIDN"T DO ENOUGH/TP PANDER option.

This story will be dead tired by 3:47 pm today. It's too banal to be continued.

CraigS has it about right btw.

Anonymous said...


Why do you keep saying you are glad Palin spoke up when she did? She did not influence the debate, other than to threaten primary challenges.

The day the holdouts started to change their tune was when the CFG announced they would not hold the vote against anyone in their scorecards. It was like a green light.

I find it hard to believe Palin had any influence at all. Her silly threat was not helpful.


Doug NYC GOP said...

My first senence should read:

No matter what Romney said about these debt negotiations/deals, there was no way to comment without someone criticizing him.

Anonymous said...

Martha, I believe she swayed the debate, the timing between her comments and the bill dying were too coincidental. I am glad Palin spoke up when she did because she made her opinions known and could have had an effect on getting a better bill...sure it was probably a small effect but she went on the record in a time when leaders needed to be on the record.

When the deal was negotiated, she chose the high road and noted the accomplishments in the bill. Governor Romney chose not to interject himself into the debate(something he had every right to do and the responsibility to do) and when the negotiations were over he complained and cried about it.

But believe what you will...it doesn't really matter.


Anonymous said...

Doug, to an extent you are right but since Romney was so silent during the negotiations...he probably should have waited a few days to let the dust settle. To a person who will support Romney in the General...he did not help his cause in the primary.


Doug NYC GOP said...


If he waited till today or tomorrow, then the criticism would be the "Where were you?" argument, continued.

As I said last week, for the 2012ers (except Pauland Bachmann as Craig points out), less was decidedly more.

The only reason the punditry class is whipping up this story, is they want a highly contested and rancorous GOP race - to better help their guy get re-elected.

So knowing he'd face criticism no matter hwich way he'd go, Romney took a minimalist approach. BTW, that's something he said shortly after announcing. I think it was on the piers Morgan show, he said yuo'd see very little of him until after Labor Day, when people begin to focus on the race.

Those types of decisions and options, comes with having run once before.

Anonymous said...

Doug, we'll just have to agree to disagree. I don't think this helped his cause...I actually think less of him. It really just didn't make sense...politically. Either get in the debate or stay out or know when the proper time to discuss the outcome.

Those types of decisions and options proves that he hasn't learned from running once before.


Anonymous said...

I understand Keynes' influence on economics. The real problem is that government NEVER SPENDS LESS--NEVER! You can argue that it's a recession and gov't revenues are down, so they should spend more. When revenues are up, they spend more, as well. Keynes actually envisioned a government that CONTROLLED ITS SPENDING LEVELS ACCORDING TO NEED! That's a joke; what government do you know has ever done that? Our government is no exception.

I am not a Keynesian, I am simply pointing out that after years and years of watching Washington, I also have become jaded. Their desire to "care for the poor" is simply rhetoric to get them more money and power to control everything they possibly can. The idea that we "can't begin to cut spending now" is ridiculous. If we don't stop the growth of government, we will have an increasing struggle to bring the private sector back in to balance out the public sector monster we have created.

Pablo, if you have never read COMMANDING HEIGHTS, THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND THE MARKETPLACE FOR THE WORLD ECONOMY, I suggest that you read it. It's an older book, but I found it a very interesting read. I also saw the documentary on it; it was also very well done.


Anonymous said...

Doug, you've made some great points about this during the past few days. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Martha, how come you never thank me...I feel really left out...I thought we were friends?


Anonymous said...

Jersey, ha ha. We ARE friends. Thanks for your comments, too, even though I don't agree with you.