Romney’s 25 Years Means Nothing to Me

Am I being too simple if I point out that Romney’s ability to balance the budget of a financial firm which made huge profits buy buying, destroying, and selling pieces of other companies has nothing to do with balancing the budget of a government which, in theory, is not actually supposed to sell any product or make any profit from its customers?

Bain capital had a large pot of money and was able to decide how to spend it in order to make more money. Romney did a good job with that. If you gave me a big pot of money and told me to buy companies, fire employees, and sell the remains, I wouldn’t be able to do so with such efficiency and effectiveness.

But the U.S. Government doesn’t have the option of only putting its money into profitable ventures. We can’t just say, “You know, the Coast Guard (or the FBI or FAA, etc) isn’t really returning much of a profit, so let’s just fire all the personnel and sell off the assets.” Running a government is about providing the most important services with the available resources so your customers can flourish. It’s not about making the most money from your customers so that you can flourish.

There are no actual facts to support Romney’s economic plan. Romney’s proposal doesn’t add up when analyzed by experts, he makes the rather bizarre promise that he’ll cut taxes but also cut loopholes to make his plan revenue neutral, he falsely claims that six studies support his plan, and he refuses to answer questions about which loopholes he’ll close.

We only have Romney’s assurance that he knows how to balance a budget because he’s been balancing budgets for 25 years. Millions of Americans have also been balancing budgets year after year, with more pressure and tighter margins than Romney ever had to juggle. Mitt Romney’s 25 years of balancing budgets means nothing to me. I want him to stop dodging questions about his plan and explain why the Tax Policy Center and the Joint Committee on Taxation say his plan doesn’t add up.

Economic One-Liners

Imagine you have a great business idea. You run it by a few friends and they love it. You mention it to some very smart people and they agree that it will be a hit. But you have no money to start with, so you consider going to the bank. At this, your father snorts and says, “Borrow Money! Back in my day we didn’t borrow. We scrimped, and saved. When times are tough you don’t borrow and spend, you tighten your belt”.

No simplistic analogy can cover the scope of our economic situation. But I hope my little story casts some doubt on the one-liners that right wingers are trying to sell us as their economic policy, like “when times are tough you tighten your belt”, or “when you’re in a hole you stop digging.”

The truth is, sometimes when you’re in a hole you have to dig yourself out. Most economists seem to agree that we need to raise the debt ceiling. Even Republicans seem to understand how vital it is, which is why they feel emboldened to hold the debt ceiling hostage in order to force more of their draconian “Fuck the poor” policies. The wealthiest Americans remained wealthy through the Great Depression. Republican politicians have little to fear from the economic consequences that they’re willing to risk.

No matter what happens, Republicans will be able to keep their wealth and blame any problems on Obama. If they get their way and cripple the economy, they won’t say “Darn, our obstructionist tactics ruined the economy”, instead they’ll say “Imagine how bad it would have been if we weren’t there to keep it from getting worse.”

The economic policies that the president has enacted are working. In 2004, President Bush got reelected in part because we were in the middle of a crises and people said, “Don’t switch horses in the middle of a river”. Right now we’re in the midst of an economic crisis, but things are starting to get better. Let’s not take this moment to switch strategies and go back to the economic practices which got us into this crisis in the first place.

Most importantly, while simple analogies are important to help us understand complicated issues, remember that analogies usually leave out important details. Let’s not make important decisions on the bases of simplistic one-liners.