What If Mitt Romney Wins on 6 November? and How Will It Affect the Rest of Us?

By Wapshott, Nicholas | New Statesman (1996), November 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

What If Mitt Romney Wins on 6 November? and How Will It Affect the Rest of Us?


Wapshott, Nicholas, New Statesman (1996)


The actress Shirley MacLaine once said, "It's useless to hold a person to anything he says while he's in love, drunk or running for office." Mitt Romney has certainly said everything to throw voters off the trail. Reactionary Romney, the self-proclaimed "severe conservative" of the primaries, overnight became Moderate Mitt, an ultra-reasonable guy who says there is little difference between him and Barack Obama except competence.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

If Romney's rebranding tricks the people and he wins on 6 November, he will soon discover what it is like to be Obama, a president hemmed in by hostile forces. Since angry Tea Party activists consumed the Republican Party in 2009-2010, candidates and congressmen have lined up to sign pledges promising that, if elected, they will not compromise on introducing tax cuts, public spending caps and a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget, and will agree to outlaw abortion, ban pornography and keep women in uniform off the front line.

Grover Norquist, leader of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, has gone further. If he has his way, Romney, who is neither liked nor trusted by Tea Party true believers, will have little say over what happens in a Romney administration. Norquist has championed what amounts to a parliamentary revolution. "The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate," he told a conservative conference this year. "We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We just need a president to sign this stuff ... Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen."

Chinese roulette

Romney the human windsock does not appear too worried about becoming Romney the rubber stamp. He is prepared to say and do anything, so long as he and his family are allowed to live in the White House. So what do Republican radicals have in store in the event of victory? And how will it affect the rest of the world?

Romney has assembled a transition team, grandly called "the Readiness Project", to transform America from what many conservatives believe has become a Europe-style social democracy into a free-market nation fit for businessmen and entrepreneurs. First, Republicans in Congress will pass a law to avoid the "fiscal cliff", the automatic deep cuts to public spending and lapse of the Bush tax cuts that was the price of keeping the federal government solvent in the summer of 2011.

The grand bargain will reduce income taxes to 20-25 per cent across the board and take a cleaver to entitlements for the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged. Romney has already signed up to his running mate Paul Ryan's budget plan, which, according to estimates, would give 37 per cent of tax cuts to those earning more than Sim and cut benefits for the poor by 62 per cent. Ryan suggests cutting Medicaid--medical care for those who cannot afford health insurance--by 75 per cent. Meanwhile, taxes on dividends will be abolished, business regulations minimised and environmental restrictions and employment laws eased. …

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