Free Markets, Free People

Mitt Romney


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 13 Oct 11

In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss Obama’s “Americans are lazy” comment, the failing EU. and the presidential race.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Looking for Ronald Reagan

A poll out today shows that even with all the early debates and attention GOP presidential candidates have gotten to this point, most Republican voters remain uncommitted:

About eight in 10 Republican primary voters say it is still too early to tell whom they will support, and just four in 10 say they have been paying a lot of attention to the 2012 presidential campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Herman Cain, the former restaurant executive, is riding a wave of support among Republican primary voters that has placed him in a statistical dead heat with rival Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, in a race that has been characterized by momentum swings among the candidates.

The poll found Mr. Cain with the highest level of support, with 25 percent of Republican primary voters, and Mr. Romney with 21 percent. This difference is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

Adding to the fluidity of the contest, about one in 10 Republican primary voters say they would like to see someone else nominated.

As bad as President Obama might be, it is clear that there is no particular love to be found for the present Republican field.   Perry has all but imploded, Bachman continues to marginalize herself, Paul has a rabid but small contingent of supporters but can never seem to get beyond that, Gingrich has way too much baggage, Santorum is a marginal candidate at best and Mitt Romney is the nominee of last resort.

The reason, in my opinion, that Herman Cain has risen in the polls is because he comes from a background of business success.  He reflects a desire by many to have someone who can take the reins of the government and steer in such a way that it becomes a help to our economy, not a hindrance and drag.  His increased support speaks to a desire for someone in office with economic and business experience.  

But I think there’s also a great desire, so far unfulfilled, for someone who has a clear vision that can be articulated and that captures the imagination and revives the spirit.  And while Cain may fill the practical side of the equation, at least to an acceptable extent, he’s not been able to fulfill the “vision quest” part.   As gifted an orator as he might be and despite the fact he’s got practical and successful business he’s not been able to persuade enough Republican voters to come to his side to put him in the unassailable lead.

And of course neither have any of the others.

Republicans are still looking for Ronald Reagan.  A man or woman who can not only lift the malaise but lift the spirit as well.   Who can not only apply practical principled solutions to our problems but make America feel good about itself again. 

Right now, that person isn’t yet in the race, or if he or she is, they’ve not emerged as such.   This country is in desperate want of inspiration, reassurance and practical experience.   The current candidates just aren’t measuring up to that want or need.   Thus the poll results.

Is there a Ronald Regan out there?  Is there a candidate that will finally step forward and fulfill those voter wants as Reagan did when running against Jimmy Carter.

I often wonder what the outcome might have been had any of these candidates running for the GOP nomination today had been the choice against Carter.  I’m not so sure Carter would have lost.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 25 Sep 11

In this podcast, Bruce Michael, and Dale discuss the Republican presidential field, and the apparently inevitable Greek default,

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Romney, Perry, front-runners, Social Security and “Ponzi Schemes”

So, Tim Pawlenty endorses Mitt Romney.  But Republican voters think Rick Perry probably has the best chance of defeating Barack Obama.  Byron York gives us the lowdown:

In a new CNN poll that finds Perry at the front of the Republican pack, the Texas governor’s lead among GOP voters age 65 and older is actually bigger than his lead among younger voters. Fifty-two percent of respondents over 65 say Perry is their choice for president, versus just 21 percent who choose Romney.  In the overall numbers, Perry leads Romney 32 percent to 21 percent, with Ron Paul following at 13 percent, Bachmann and Gingrich at seven percent each, Herman Cain at six percent, and Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum at two percent each.

Republican voters over 65 also believe Perry has the best chance of defeating President Obama in next year’s general election.  Perry leads Romney 58 percent to 22 percent among older voters on that question.

Of course, Republican votes over 65 are a key demographic which one might believe would be most put off by Perry’s “Ponzi scheme” meme concerning Social Security, right?  But, as York points out, that doesn’t seem to be the case:

Breaking down the age results in different categories, Perry leads Romney by 24 percent to 19 percent among GOP voters under 50.  Among GOP voters 50 and older, Perry leads Romney by 41 percent to 22 percent.

The results seem likely to encourage Perry to stick with his "Ponzi scheme" critique of Social Security.  At the same time, though, Perry might choose to gradually walk away from those incendiary words while leaving his essential assessment of Social Security unchanged.  In a new op-ed in USA Today, for example, Perry writes that "Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion of the dire financial challenges facing" Social Security.  But he doesn’t use the words "Ponzi scheme."  As for the critics, especially Romney, the results could cut two ways.  They might make Romney and others dial back the criticism a bit, on the grounds that it’s not working among the voters most personally interested in Social Security.  Or the results might actually encourage the critics to attack Perry more, on the grounds that voters don’t know enough about the "Ponzi scheme" issue and might change their opinion of Perry if they did.  The poll results published by CNN poll do not cover the Social Security issue specifically.

Good analysis.  And that sets up tonight’s debate in Tampa.  Will Rick Perry walk away from the “Ponzi scheme” meme and transition to a more general “frank and honest” discussion?  Apparently it resonated, which means that voters understand the intent of Perry’s words – that is to highlight the dire trouble Social Security is in.

Obviously what his opponents will do is try to frame that as extremely as possible – Perry wants to do away with Social Security.  Democrats aren’t the only ones who play that sort of game.  And that’s why York holds out the possibility, given the USA Today piece, that Perry is going to walk away from the description but still pursue the point.

The first place we’ll get to see if that’s true or not is in tonight’s debate as it is sure to be a major subject:

The controversy is sure to erupt at tonight’s Republican debate in Tampa.  In Florida over the weekend, the Romney campaign distributed a flier hitting Perry hard on Social Security, saying the Texas governor is "reckless and wrong on Social Security."  The headline of the flier is "Two candidates: Only one will protect what’s important to you," and the last line of the flier is "Rick Perry: How can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social Security?"  After attacks like that, Perry will undoubtedly be in the mood to hit back on the debate stage.

Of course, I’ve always said that if I was ever a Republican candidate facing Mitt Romney, I’d answer every question he ever ask of me with a one word answer.

“Romneycare”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The Republican Debate–then there were two

If nothing else last night, the Republican debate did one thing – it narrowed the present GOP field to two.  Oh the others will be around for a while and they’ll press their case, but in the absence of a miracle (or the entry of a better or more appealing candidate) it seems the fight will be between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry as the two battle it out for the GOP nomination.  Again, that’s assuming no other candidate enters the fray.

Why am I saying this – because of the targets each of the two drew a bead on.  Each other.  Romney, who had been considered the consensus front runner went after Perry and Perry did the same with Romney.

It left the rest sort of twisting in the wind.   The New York Times gives you the blow by blow:

A series of spirited exchanges between the two men, which revealed differences in substance and style, offered the first extensive look into the months-long contest ahead. They traded attacks on each other’s job creation records and qualifications to be president, overshadowing their opponents in the crowded Republican field.

Mr. Perry doubled down on his view of Social Security, assailing it as a “monstrous lie,” and he questioned scientists’ assertions that climate change has been caused by human activity. Mr. Romney said that Social Security should be protected and suggested that Mr. Perry’s positions would make it difficult for the Republican Party to appeal to a broad base of voters needed to win the White House.

“Maybe it’s time to have some provocative language in this country,” said Mr. Perry, who spent much of his time in his first presidential debate defending his Texas record and a litany of positions in his book, “Fed Up!”

[…]

Mr. Perry attacked Mr. Romney’s record of creating jobs in Massachusetts and his championing of health care legislation when he was governor. Mr. Romney, in turn, cast Mr. Perry as a career politician.

“Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt,” Mr. Perry said, referring to the former Democratic governor who ran for president in 1988.

“Well, as a matter of fact,” Mr. Romney replied, “George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor.”

One of the political dangers of these sorts of "spirited debates" is the candidates do the opposition research for the other team. But this was typical of the exchanges last night, made ironically in the library of a president who believed strongly in the political 11th commandment.

However, some blunt talk about the situation we’re in would be refreshing and provide for some actual debate about solutions for a change.

Stanley Kurtz lays out his assessment of the debate in a very succinct one paragraph summary:

This was a very successful debate debut for Rick Perry. It confirms his position as the leader of the field. As of now, this race is a Perry-Romney duel, but Perry’s the one to beat. Romney and Perry were well matched tonight, but Perry’s appeal to the base means he’s got a leg up over Romney just by fighting to a draw, which he did at least, if not better.

Of course the Romney camp is claiming debate victory.  No surprise there.  That press release was written before the candidates stepped on the stage.  But there wasn’t a clear cut winner in most minds I don’t believe.  However you’d have to be deaf and blind to the debate not to have realized the field has really narrowed itself to two:

There are no guarantees here, of course, which is one reason it’s nice to have a continuing Romney-Perry duel.  This next month-or-so of debates is going to help both Romney and Perry with their greatest weaknesses. Romney is going to get a second look from conservatives, which he deserves. Romneycare is a problem that will never entirely fade. Yet it increasingly it looks as though it won’t be prohibitive, should Perry falter. Meanwhile, Perry is going to have a chance to get his message through to the public on the entitlement crisis, and it just might work.

So Rick Perry survived his first debate and will probably learn from the experience and do even better the next time.  Apparently he lived up to most expectations.  Romney, well he’s Romney, the seemingly perpetual second place candidate (even when he is the supposed front runner).  As Kurtz says, these two can spend the next few months sharpening each other up in debates.   What’s interesting though is both of them have better records than the man they would face in any presidential debate.

We’re 15 months out and it takes a lot of money to fund a presidential campaign.  When you are not in the limelight, a hot candidate or a frontrunner, those funds necessary to continue become harder and harder to raise.  It think last night may have signaled the end of many of the lesser candidates chances for the nomination and I expect some to withdraw in the next month or two.

In the meantime, it’s Perry and Romney, slugging it out.  But Jen Rubin issues the Perry camp a warning that they should heed:

The pace of a presidential campaign in the early going is leisurely, but right about now, things pick up. Perry is a good pol, but he better be ready to show he’s got some policy chops as well, and before his opponents start characterizing his views.

Agreed.  Better the candidate frame his positions than let the opposition do it for him.  Perry’s bunch better be able to put some details and specifics on their one-over-the-world policy pronouncements, it will end up an one man race and Perry won’t be the “one”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 14 Aug 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss The Ames Straw Poll and the 2012 election.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 12 May 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss Weinergate, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 22 May 11

In this podcast, Bruce and Dale discuss the president’s middle east speech, Obamacare waivers, and fiscal policy.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Why Romney and Gingrich can never be President

Or perhaps I should caveat that by saying “should” never be President, given the current occupant who also “should” never have been President.

Romney gave his major health care speech yesterday in which he sounded like he was running as Obama’s VP.  It was totally unconvincing.  As Avik Roy says at NRO:

Mitt Romney just gave a more articulate defense of Obamacare than President Obama ever has. He continues to believe that the individual mandate is a good idea, despite the fact that the “free-rider” problem is a myth. His effort to make a distinction between Romneycare and Obamacare was not persuasive: If anything, he convincingly made the opposite case, that Romneycare and Obamacare are based on the same fundamental concept.

For him to have any credibility with the right and GOP voters, he had a simple mission: tell them why he signed RomneyCare into law in MA, why it was a mistake and why he was going to fight to repeal ObamaCare.

He did none of those things and thus became, at least in my eyes, an unviable candidate.  He obviously has absolutely no problem with the level of government interference in the health care market and certainly isn’t going to be a champion of backing government out of it if elected.  In fact, of all sources, the New York Times nails the problem (albeit coming at it from a different direction than me):

Tearing it down [RomneyCare] might help him politically, he said, but “it wouldn’t be honest.” He said he did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, makes sense to prevent people from becoming free riders, getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.

Where he went off the rails, however, was in not acknowledging that that same logic applies to the nation. Mr. Romney tried desperately to pivot from praising his handiwork in Massachusetts to trashing the very same idea as adapted by Mr. Obama. His was an efficient and effective state policy; Mr. Obama’s was “a power grab by the federal government.”

He tried to justify this with a history lesson on federalism and state experimentation, but, in fact, he said nothing about what makes Massachusetts different from its neighbors or any other state. And why would he immediately repeal the Obama mandate if elected president? Because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while all he wanted was to insure the uninsured.

That distinction makes no sense, and the disconnect undermines the foundation of Mr. Romney’s candidacy.

I absolutely agree.  In fact, the problem isn’t federalism and state experimentation, it is a principle – government, at any level, doesn’t have the right to compel a person to buy something if they choose not too.  One of the nasty little problems with big government types is that freedom allows too many choices and Romney is no different than those on the left who’d like to pare those choices down for their convenience and to extend the power and control of government (and their central planning efforts).

Newt Gingrich, who recently joined the run for the presidency, is no different than Romney as his record tells us and don’t let him try to fool you into thinking otherwise.  Huffington Post gives a partial list of the times Gingrich has touted health insurance mandates or attempted to argue in their favor from a moral perspective:

At an Alegent Health event in Omaha in 2008, Gingrich said it was "fundamentally immoral" for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand free care.

During the keynote address to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council’s annual Health Trends Conference in April 2006, Gingrich said he would require Americans earning above a certain income level to buy health insurance or post a bond, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a June 2007 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Gingrich wrote, "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." An "individual mandate," he added, should be applied "when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed."

And in several of his many policy and politics-focused books, Gingrich offered much the same.

In 2008′s "Real Change," he wrote, "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."

In 2005′s "Winning the Future," he expanded on the idea in more detail: "You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system."

"People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance," he continued. "Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. Furthermore, it should be possible to buy your health insurance on-line to lower the cost as much as possible."

Show me the difference between Gingrich and Obama (or Romney) on their desire to use the power of government to mandate insurance coverage.  The fact that Gingrich draws a line at a particular level of income doesn’t change the fact that in principal he agrees that government should have that power.

Just as serious a problem, at least for me, is Gingrich’s stance on global warming.  Gingrich appeared in a commercial for the “We initiative” with Nancy Pelosi.  The We Initiative is sponsored by Al Gore’s “Alliance for Climate Protection”. 

This alone is reason enough, in my book, to totally dismiss a Gingrich run.

 

 

Add in his support for an individual mandate for health insurance and his candidacy is DOA as far as I’m concerned. And Romney? On life support with a poor prognosis for the future.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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