Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Are Romney and Obama the same man? Not hardly.

For some people,  making a political decision isn’t easy, and distorting the facts about the candidates to  try and make political points doesn’t do anyone any kind of service at all. For example, Libertarians who are fond of posting on Facebook and other social media sites, what amounts to a visual “sound bite” that attempts to distort records and facts in order to show how Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are one in the same in ideas. While they do have some similarities on some policies, in most ways they are vastly different.  Libertarians will say that it doesn’t matter, that the basic premise that a statist is a statist is what they’re really getting at, and that since both Romney and Obama believe in big government solutions to problems, this makes them equivalent. I’m here today to prove otherwise.

One way of making comparisons is between theories and policies on specific issues. That is what I intend to do here—to compare what the two  candidates have said in regards to specific issues. The first item on the list is abortion. While Romney was governor of Massachusetts he apparently came out in favor of a woman’s right to choose. That was true then. In 2002, Romney said "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose. I will not change any provisions of Massachusetts' pro-choice laws." Later on, he changed his position. On August 27, 2012, Romney told a CBS Evening News interviewer, Scott Pelley: "My position has been clear throughout this campaign," Romney said. "I'm in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother." Clearly, he now has a much more limited view on when abortion should be legal. He has made similar changes (or what anti-Romney folk like to call ‘flip-flops’) on several other issues, including gay rights issues and gun control. However, the flip-flop issue is really a red herring.
A person can have things happen throughout his life that will influence how he feels  about certain things—maybe even change his perspective. For example, someone could be a big partier, drinking, then driving home and feel they are perfectly fine doing so, but when they lose a loved one to a drunk driver they suddenly decide that’s not such a good idea after all. For Obama and abortion, this hasn’t happened. He’s fully in favor of a woman’s absolute right to do anything she wants with her body—even to the point of being in support of partial birth abortion. Notably, he doesn’t support the rights of the females still in the womb to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, only those who have already been born.
Another big item on the list of Romney/Obama sameness is stated on the visual bites that are making the rounds. That is that they are both in favor of the bailouts. That is misleading. It’s true that both were in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), also known as the “bank bailout” which was initiated by President George Bush in 2008. While this writer was against it, it appears to have largely worked and the loans to the banks have been paid back. Subsequent bailouts, such as the auto industry bailout, have been vastly different. Obama led the charge on the auto bailout, while Romney thought that the auto companies should be allowed to go into bankruptcy. In fact, he wrote a rather famous op-ed piece in ’08 called, Let Detroit go Bankrupt. On the other hand, Obama has bragged about the auto industry bailouts he proposed and that were passed by Congress. To this date, GM still owes theAmerican taxpayers a minimum of $25 billion.
There are big differences between the two on other budget items as well. Obama continually presents stimulus plans. He follows the Keynesian philosophy of spending your way out of debt. He has ignored impending signs of doom in the economy. Romney has proposed cut backs and limiting the federal government spending. He has vowed to balance the budget. In his own words from the Tea Party debate held on September 12, 2011, he said: “The key to balancing the budget--having spent 25 years in business, I know something about taking waste out of enterprises--I'd love to do that to the federal government. And there is massive waste. But we're not going to balance the budget just by pretending that all we have to do is take out the [waste]. We're going to have to cut spending. And I'm in favor of cutting spending, capping federal spending as a percentage of GDP, at 20 percent or less, and having a balanced budget amendment. That's essential to rein in the scale of the federal government. And there's a second part to balancing the budget, and that's growing the economy again. The right answer for America is to stop the growth of the federal government and to start the growth of the private sector.”  The bottom line is, that Romney actually has a plan to do something other than to throw money at it, as the President’s plan promotes. Here is what Romney himself says on it: Clickety-click 

As for big government solutions, there has been a comparison made between Obamacare and Romney care. Romney is correct when he says that one is a state plan and one is a federal plan. He opposes the federal plan, though it is worrisome that he continues to use the terminology “repeal and replace”. One wonders what the word replace actually entails. His point though that states have a right to do what they think is best is quite accurate, according to the Constitution. He has publicly stated that he opposes Obamacare and will taking steps to get rid of it his first day in office.

Another claim is that both Romney and Obama are the same on foreign policy. First, I ask you in reference to the Obama administration, what foreign policy? Obama’s foreign policy has included running around from country to country apologizing for American arrogance and promising the moon. Well known is his aside to Medvedev when the President thought he was off mike. This is how the conversation went:

In the comments caught by the mic, Obama urged Medvedev to tell incoming Russian president Vladimir Putin to give him time: "On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved – but it's important for him to give me space."
Medvedev replied: "Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you."
Obama then elaborated: "This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility."
Medvedev responded: "I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir."

Romney has plans to keep the military strong. Obama would like to weaken it. Romney would like to keep the U.S. presence strong in the world. Obama would like to let other nations catch up. Obama has an “it’s not fair” attitude about American strength in the world. Romney believes that American ideals are the best. Obama believes that it’s fine for dictators and rogue nations to possess nuclear weapons. Romney believes that rogue nations (such as Iran under its current regime) should not be allowed to have such weapons. Obama has had a helter-skelter approach to foreign diplomacy—send in the troops to Libya, apologize in Saudi Arabia. Obama has appeared weak in the eyes of our enemies, thus the continued attacks against our embassies. Romney has said he will take a harder stance against China’s unfair trade practices.

What about the premise that both Romney and Obama are beholden to such corporate contributors as Goldman Sachs etc.? According to this article:

 “Wall Street has favored Obama and the Democrats by a margin of 2 to 1 during the 2008 elections. Goldman Sachs has been giving four times more to democrats than republicans since 2006.” The implication is that because a corporation or individual makes a donation that the candidate owes that corporation something in return. Seems logical, but nevertheless doesn’t mean it’s true. For example, you or I might contribute to a candidate, not to buy his or her favor, but because we believe they will do the best job. Since Goldman Sachs and other entities contribute to both campaigns, it is likely that they are trying to buy favor. However, that doesn’t mean they will get it. Obama seems to be very willing to give taxpayer money away to his favorite companies, like Solyndra and Fisker Automotive, among others. I have been unable to find any evidence that Mitt Romney while in public office, has done likewise. Claims that because he has high profile donors, he will give them favors are pure speculation at this point.
The Obama administration is infested with people from Goldman Sachs. Goldman was Obama’s biggest campaign contributor ($994,795) in 2008.
In fact, Mr. Obama, the class warrior, received more money from Wall Street than any other candidate in history. It was his largest source of campaign funds."

Other issues in which Obama and Romney are fundamentally different are gun control, government freebies, and gay marriage. Once upon a  time, Romney favored a ban on assault weapons, however, in an interview with Piers Morgan this past July, Romney stated: “I don’t support new gun laws in our country.”
Frankly, there are very few issues upon which Romney and Obama agree. I believe that the thing libertarians dislike about both is the perceived tendency to big government solutions. While Romney certainly did do some of those kinds of things as governor, and some of his proposals for what he will do as president display a tendency toward those things, his apparent dedication to reducing federal government waste and spending will hopefully preclude any attempts to do such. The original intent of the Founders wasn’t to have a weak government—that’s why the Articles of Confederation failed—but to have a strong government. The key is that it needed to be responsive to the will of the people, and to not usurp powers for which it was never given responsibility.

The bottom line is that attempts to paint Romney and Obama with the same brush are ludicrous. While this writer doesn't necessarily agree 100 percent with the Romney approach, he is a vastly superior alternative to the current president, and the only alternative who has a chance of defeating the current president.  


JS Clark said...

You have a tangible case, speaking for those like myself. While not denying the appearance, I think a lot of people are not commenting on how they look the same, but sounding a lack of faith in their conviction to do what they claim they will do. For example, how many pro-life presidents have we had and has anything substantially changed on the issue? How many conservative presidents and yet the debt climbs higher?

The more cynical ones might point out how what one president does, his opponent then ratifies and expands (Patriot Act for example). I will be pleasantly surprised if Romney for example repeals the National Defense Authorization Act.

The trouble I think is not one of marketing, but of deeply shattered trust, and the "champions" of our party keep offering up people who are prized for their ability to appeal to groups who are diametrically opposed in political philosphy. It doesn't help to rebuild that trust.

Having said that, I am planning on voting for Obama simply because his marketing is opposition of what I believe. I prefer to hope Romney's telling the truth, but do not trust it.

JS Clark said...

While you make a tangible argument, I think speaking as a reluctant vote for Romney that the problem is one of deeply shattered trust. I simply do not hold faith in any politician, least of ones who are put forward as "ideal" because they have ability to appear moderate while promising to the base of conservatism. The ones I really liked were voted out.

The only reason I was able to rationalize voting for Romney is because his marketing sounds like what I want, but not because I believe he'll actually do it.