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Columns

August 7, 2012

Romney shows little regard for common man

The Republicans in Congress have voted over and over, 33 times, redundantly and uselessly, to rescind what they call Obamacare.

But it is less about Obamacare than it is about Obama. Conservatives want nothing more than to be rid of him. They trip all over themselves protesting that they are not being racist. Yeah, right. That would be unspeakable.

The Romney campaign advances conservative orthodoxy. He wants to lower all taxes, as if the higher brackets were not already lowered. Why? He says taxing the rich hurts job creation. In fact, the Bush tax cuts led to the worst-ever record of job creation.

Romney proudly proclaims himself a personal success story, though the specifics are cards he holds very close to the chest. But it is a core belief for him that individual initiative is all you need to be successful. The president himself rose to repudiate this, reminding us all how the American community is the cradle that nurtures our successful initiatives.

Finally, Romney believes that business thrives in the garden of capitalism, where the market success of some nourishes the welfare of all. But, the truth is that 80 percent of the stocks and shares of this prosperity are owned by and benefit the richest 10 percent of the country.

Despite these core beliefs, Romney is shifty when political opportunism seems to his advantage. After he had created a progressive health care system in Massachusetts, he rose to criticize the similar legislation passed for the nation by Obama.

Romney deals in hyperbole that he wants to be taken seriously, presenting himself as the one who would do better -- better than those who are already doing the work.

Don't forget, by his own words, Mitt's self-labeling moved from "progressive" to "severely conservative." His presentations are smooth to the point of being slick, and he leaves me with a slight sting of insincerity in my ears. By contrast, I find Mr. Obama comes across as "solid."

So conservatives harp that Obama is a traitor to the country, "destroying" it.

Romney repeats this aspersion. Romney says he would cut taxes, curtail protective regulations and reduce government. He would use Paul Ryan's radical tax plan, cutting the federal budget severely -- essentially ending Medicare, and turning Social Security toward the model of public assistance.

There would be no Medicaid, food stamps, Pell Grants, Head Start, social services or job training. Government programs remaining would be channeled through for-profit private channels.

Republicans have already opposed the Internet Security Bill, the president's jobs bill, Affordable Health Care Act, the Violence Against Women bill and the Paycheck Fairness Act. They are not even talking across party lines.

Instead, they block everything. They try to sabotage whatever the president proposes. They disingenuously demand deficit reduction while advancing military spending and refusing to rescind tax cuts for the richest citizens. Nor will they allow any new taxes, even when needed to re-establish fairness to the tax codes.

The Republicans have essentially adopted an anti-compromise strategy, which is obsessively obstructionist, self-righteous, and at times destructive. We saw this with student loans, a program they refused to reauthorize if it were not offset by cuts in other social programs.

After sponsoring the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, they have now dragged their feet on enacting reforms easing the disabling burdens of huge mandated prepayments into employee pension funds. Essentially they disavow everything that is government, no matter the consequences upon effective governance.

Romney's vows are as irresponsible as they are absurd. Some suggest that if it comes right down to it, he would not follow through on his hateful declarations. But who wants to elect someone who pledges sentiments to his base that cannot live in his heart?

Somewhere in that is a dreadful insincerity. Considering the Right's list of hated targets, however, perhaps that bit of daylight between hating and hurting is important.

Tea Party and other Republicans are creating dissension, mistrust and even discouragement.

Because their regular pronouncements about gays, abortion, health care mandates, voter ID rules, torturing terrorists and finding safety in allowing almost everyone to carry guns, the Right is spreading and capitalizing upon frustration.

Whether deliberate or not, by blocking the president and Democrats at every turn, they seek to discredit their opposition, and in the process are damaging our historical faith in the democratic process.

Implicit would seem to be a strategy aimed at nothing less than eventually taking all the reins of power. And Newt Gingrich almost succeeded in doing just that, not so long ago.

William Masters can be reached at wmasters@thedailystar.com. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Star and its editorial board.

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