My Political Science class on the US Presidency is online, and has a forum to debate the upcoming presidential election. I decided to post in it first, so I gave a critical analysis of my thoughts on Willard Romney. I went issue by issue and ended up with a single-spaced 8 page paper a few hours later. I put a decent amount of research and effort into it, so I thought I’d at least share it with SOME people I know.
I thought I’d open discussion. While I agree with what Romney has said in the past about PAC’s and money in political, a quick look at this page provokes thought. Romney has well over $800,000 in PAC contributions while Obama has 0%. His top five contributors are all big banks and finance companies, the institutions that caused the economic crisis, while Obama’s include two universities, a law firm, Google, and Microsoft. Three of the top five contributors to Romney’s campaign are Securities and Investment, Real Estate and Misc. Finance, the industries that had to be regulated and fixed by the Obama administration because they completely fudged the bucket. Obama’s are the retired, Law Firms, Education, Health Professionals and business services. In the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate sector Romney has over 28.5 million dollars, more than two and a half times Obama’s while Barack is literally backed by the labor sector 118.424 to 1 (multiply by 1,000 for the straight data.) I think it’s important to see whose interests a campaign is running for, the interests of the financial institutions who want to remove the Obama administration’s regulations (logical and sensible responses to the economic crisis), or the interests of education and the labor force, when 2 out of every 25 American’s is unemployed (8.3%)
Romney wants to increase the size of the military when over 5.5% of the 2012 U.S. budget (which had a deficit of about $1.327 trillion) at $683 billion in discretionary funds ($613 billion dollars higher than the next highest category, nearly 8 times higher) In order to violate the basic tenants of our country (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) to control other countries who respond with disdain and violence. While Obama would like to lower defense spending from around 4.5% to 3% of our nations GDP, Romney would have the budget have a floor at 4%, radically higher than anything else, while important programs that focus on improving life for our citizens (as opposed to diminishing the quality of life of foreigners) including education, labor, and Social Security all get cuts. I do agree with his policy on the debt-crisis and his opposition to raising the debt ceiling without at least majorly curbing spending, but for different reasons
I find little fault with his environmental position given his acts as governor of Massachusetts. He promoted energy conservation, reducing pollution and supported renewable energy. He developed energy and environment plans, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 25%. He was tough on pollution heavy plants, showing concern for the health of the people as well as took a position that gas consumption should be discouraged, and definitely not subsidized. Even in his election he made statements supporting global warming (as a Republican!) although he backpedaled after backlash from his party. It seems the rest of the election he has given in to pleasing his party, supporting massive off-shore drilling projects into protected zones, promising to approve the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. He also appears to have switched to opposing the EPA, renewal energy, and the removal of government subsidies for oil and gas manufacturers (flipping and a flopping).
Now that the economy has at least stabilized, Romney promises to repeal the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This is the act that called for regulation reform in financial institutions in response to the crashing economy. Repealing it would let the system fall back into the same unsustainable system that caused the crisis in the first place. This site shows the organizations that support and oppose this bill. Among the supporters you will find groups with the larger population’s interests in mind (or at least the population at all) as well as small business, such as the AARP, National Farmers Association of America, Public Citizen, National Association of Convenience stores among other worker’s organization. Opposing it you’ll find the top three interests are commercial banks and lending institutions and credit unions. I don’t find it surprising that these are also the same interests funding Romney’s campaign. I don’t think it’s wise to give in to the institutions that created unsafe economic practices and unfair lending, that we’ve already pumped a trillion dollars into, a free pass to go back to doing exactly what they were doing that caused the economic crisis. I certainly don’t want to see unemployment, foreclosures, and businesses big and small failing again.
When running for congress in 1994 Romney expressed support for a government mandated health insurance policy, in 2002 he supported government medication subsidies for the elderly, he passed a bill guaranteeing every Massachusetts citizen health insurance. In 2007 he presented a plan for national health care. Following the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Romney immediately blasted it, demanded its repeal as an abuse of power. Doesn’t that seem odd? Not only a staunch reporter of national and mandated healthcare, but a pioneer of it, suddenly is deeply offended by the notion? Clearly Romney is in control of his own policy, not his party or interest groups. A Democratic political ad touting Romney’s position on the housing market is extremely alarming. Romney responded to questions about his plan on the problems with housing and foreclosure, “Romney responded that it would be best not to try and stop the foreclosure process, to let it run its course and hit the bottom, and that he might be open to some government action to encourage refinancing…. Romney sees recovery for the market as investors are allowed to salvage property values and move people back into their homes as renters, with the possibility to buy when they are fiscally prepared.” Of course, that was the opposing parties ad, the statement was probably out of context or skewed in some way right? Well other people have thought that too, and did the research, finding little in the rest of his comment to indicate it was slanderous editing. His plan for the growing problem of American families losing their homes is simply to let them. He shows his loyalty to investors, supporting them to buy people’s foreclosed houses they used to own, and then renting them out to them.
His job plan is equally as corporate-friendly. He claims that government regulation is what hinders employment, and vows to tear down and recreate a new policy plan that lets corporations do basically whatever they want (relatively of course, not literally) He opposes labor unions, acts that would hold corporations accountable for clear labor violations and almost comically (at least to me) funding the National Labor Relations Board. One of the institutions set up by FDR during the Great Depression to end riots, citywide strikes and unfair, cruel labor practices. Not only is he threatening the institutions designed to stop the bleeding and work our way out of this recession, he’s threatening the institutions that helped us recover from the largest recession in history. Yet again he shows his loyalty to corporate executives and not working Americans. His views on unemployment insurance aren’t surprising; he believes that while the government should have strong support for the unemployed, however the current system encourages people to remain unemployed. I understand this point of view, however I do not support one of his main alternatives. His solution to replace the current unemployment benefit system is to…give corporations money. I’m not even sure with the deregulations he proposes that those corporations would even use it to create jobs.
In January 2009, Romney supported the stimulus package (I did not either, but that’s not the issue I have) providing logical explanations for his belief. This year he condemned it as a huge waste of money that didn’t work. This is another example of Romney making major ideological flips to align with what the voices behind him tell him to support. He didn’t even give clear reasoning to why he no longer thought stimuli are an effective method just that they’re bad, and Obama supports them, and he is bad too.
His tax policy has always been strongly in favor of the wealthy, supporting the Bush tax cuts, signed bills pledging no new taxes (all while he supports increasing our titanic defense budget, a lower debt ceiling and a balanced budget.)
Romney’s foreign policy is also alarming. Besides his ideas to send huge numbers of troops overseas, he has already shown himself to be inflammatory in international politics. He’s bashed and threatened China. Attacking the largest producer in the world, which also happens to hold over a quarter of the debt we owe to foreign nations, over 1.2 trillion dollars doesn’t seem wise. A trade war with China at this point in our economy would put us very, very far on the losing side. He supports the trade-embargo against Cuba, while exclaiming his free-market platform. He opposes bailing out European nations (as do I) because “I kind of like America…I don’t want it to become like Europe.” (As I do not) Strong words, Mitt. While I agree that the U.S. should focus on its own debt crisis, I believe that is because America can’t fix the economy of other nations with a broken one itself (not because I don’t want us to be like those smelly French people (which he specifically mentions as the terrible consequence of not changing our ways)). We can’t pay off other nation’s debt by accruing more debt, especially at the expense of the struggling taxpayer. He publicly calls for a nation’s president with whom we have tense relations to be excluded from the U.N., and (Isn’t the U.N.’s job to create a forum to solve the problems we have with Iran? Wouldn’t kicking them out be detrimental to ANY change we support?) Just this year he mentioned if he was president he would be willing to take military action against a militarily powerful nation with strong allies and a tendency to contain splinter terrorist groups hell-bent on destroying America. He expresses similar feelings for nations such as Pakistan and Libya. His biggest ‘foe’ is Russia, decades after the end of the cold war. He opposed the latest nuclear arms reduction treaty on the grounds that he wanted more missiles to point at Russia, the exact opposite direction our nation has been moving since 1989 when mutually assured destruction was a legitimate fear. He stated this year on Face the Nation that in regard to Iran he doesn’t believe he needs approval or authorization of any kind to order military operations. In fact, the only nation Romney seems to publicly endorse is Israel. He calls for public criticisms of the human rights abuses.
In 1994 Romney not only supported the right to an abortion, but also exalted that right as a cornerstone of the greatness of our nation, to have the right to personal beliefs and not the right to impose those on others (although that doesn’t seem to apply to foreign nations.). In 2002 he pledged to keep abortion legal in Massachusetts. In 2005 he still supported the right to choose, but lamented that people chose that way, stating his own personal beliefs and how he still believes that they shouldn’t affect policy. Romney’s spokespersons hinted in 2007 that he would have signed a South Carolina bill banning abortion, but include exceptions for incest and rape. Even just last year he refused to sign a bill on moral grounds based on the widespread hospital funding cuts. So after 13 years of protecting personal beliefs and the right to choose, this year Romney promises to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, giving the states the right to ban abortion. While he claims to support a separation of personal beliefs from the law (and he has proved that he does to an extent) he has supported constitutional amendments (huge deal) that circumvent the right to an abortion by constitutionally defining personhood to start from fertilization or even conception.
In 2002, Mitt was such a supporter of embryonic stem-cell research that he ran with promises to lobby George W. Bush to support it. Surprisingly during his last campaign Romney flopped and supported banning all funding, although at least he cites a reason, a visit he had to a stem-cell research lab.
Of Romney’s political positions, I have to say I find the least fault with his social policies. He supports gender and race equality (even if he apparently lied about his father’s connection with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) He opposed SOPA, and the Fairness Doctrine (which would require radio programs to discuss public interest) as unwarranted censorship. He opposes pornography, but recognizes that he can’t and shouldn’t censor things based on personal opinions, though he does support requiring child-filters in each computer made for parents to protect their children (Corporate regulation?)
Romney supports the death penalty, and gives valid reasons for his opinion, even including strict regulations in capital cases to ensure innocent people aren’t executed. He supports private-school options and has repeatedly blamed teachers unions as the cause of the poor state of the education system. While normally I would fault him for automatically blaming the unions, I do agree with him on the fact that the protection teachers have from being terminated are too strong, and it facilitates poor performance, especially in public high schools. While I agree with Mitt on this subject, I would focus more on the gutting of the educational system’s funding. Public schools can’t run on scraps, and teachers are further demotivated when their pay is cut and they don’t have the supplies they need. He supports No Child Left Behind citing the need for accountability in publicly funded schools, which I understand. NCLB, however, ended up hurting the educational system by forcing teachers to ‘teach to the test’, focusing on a few areas and neglecting others. While this increases test scores, I believe it also invalidates them. I remember a news report where a federal agency discovered that a car got such high marks on a certain crash-test rating because it knew what tests were going to be given beforehand and inserted a small protective plate at the exact point of impact. The rating was upheld, which I don’t believe is just. The manufacturer is misrepresenting the safety of its car by claiming that an entire section of its safety is as high as the very small area that is actually protected. And that’s what NCLB does, it raises test scores by essentially cheating the system, in that the tests assume if you can answer a certain set of problems correctly then you’re doing well in all areas when that simply isn’t the case. I remember class periods devoted to test taking strategies, the likelihood of the answer being C, how to eliminate answers from very specific problem types. The standardized tests show more about students test taking training than their intelligence, and the tests take up significant periods of time from other subjects. Romney also believed that while religious beliefs or prayer should be excluded from school, but not the traditional values and ethics associated with his. He also supports the recognition of God at many school events, and religious symbols such as the nativity being displayed. He also supports abstinence-only education, which while I understand that those are his beliefs and I understand if he has issues educating children about something he thinks is morally wrong, I do believe that it is the will of the majority that practical sex-ed is taught (and we are a democracy), as do I, because I support lower teen-pregnancies, STD transmission rates, and rapes by sheltered, confused hormonal boys who don’t understand the situation. He also opposes federal funding for higher education, and would reduce scholarships, which I oppose but don’t have a whole lot to go on, he has plenty of other plans for the money.
Mitt Romney supports the teaching of the theory of evolution, which I approve of. He’s not a saint, sacrificing his beliefs for the separation of church and state, as he believes that God created the earth through evolution. Although after his term as governor he made a statement, which I applaud him for, asserting that the science classroom is for science, and philosophical discussions belong in philosophy, and religion classes, which makes a lot of sense to me. He also supported the Brady Bill, implementing the waiting period on handguns, and further gun-control measures banning certain semi-automatic and military assault weapons while allowing what seem to be generally reasonable reductions of some gun-ownership restrictions. These of course were during his 1994 and 2004 campaigns. In 2005-06 Romney became a lifetime member of the NRA (despite his claims that he ‘doesn’t line up with the NRA’ in 1994), declared a Right to Bear Arms Day is Massachusetts (How do you celebrate? Get out all your guns and start shooting?) Directly afterwards he began MONTHLY meetings between his administration and gun advocacy groups. While he touted about his NRA membership through claims that his hunting experience was vastly exaggerated, at least on this point Romney didn’t entirely flip. He states, “we should check on the backgrounds of people who are trying to purchase guns. We also should keep weapons of unusual lethality from being on the street. And finally, we should go after people who use guns in the commission of crimes or illegally, but we should not interfere with the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns either for their own personal protection or hunting or any other lawful purpose.” Which is a reasonable view.
Romney’s position on illegal immigration is also quite reasonable, given other points of his platform. Mitt would see immigrants register and apply for citizenship, as he supports immigration, just not illegal immigration and special treatments for those immigrants. He supports bills like the Arizona one requiring all aliens to have documents on them at all times and wants to deal with illegal immigrants through ‘self-deportation’, in which immigrants go home because it’s too difficult to operate in the system illegally. I think these are solid stances, helping the illegal immigration problem without drastic measures or jail time, he simply supports a system that is conducive to the law being followed by everyone, giving everyone the opportunity to do so.
Romney’s LGBT rights have seemed widespread and somewhat transient, but from the research I did it sounds like it’s a compilation of quotes from different questions and situations, where context would be important. Romney is Mormon, which comes with traditional marriage values packaged in, however his position seems fair given his beliefs. While he opposes same-sex marriages and civil unions, he supports equal rights and anti-discrimination laws as well as some domestic-partnership benefits. He did not support the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ because it was functioning during (unofficial) wartime and the country had bigger issues to handle at that point in time, which I agree with. He supported another amendment (Do they really think they can get a majority of states to ratify such controversial and debated issues?) defining marriage (Apparently the constitution is a dictionary) as between a man and a woman. He seems to choose which organizations to voice his support for, showing thought and consideration, also supporting gay adoption laws. While his views on LGBT marriage are very different, and this is a social issue which affects me greatly as a voter, I respect Mitt Romney’s stand that gays and lesbians deserve equal rights and protections under the law (even if we have different definitions of what that means, maybe I’ll propose a constitutional amendment). He also opposes medical marijuana; another difference in opinion, but this time I feel like the issue cannot be objective to anyone due to different experiences and upbringing on the subject. I feel like there are many valid reasons to feel either way or I don’t fault people for thinking differently than me.
In conclusion, I do not find Mitt Romney a fit candidate for POTUS. His economic and foreign policies are extreme. Economically, Romney has proven in issue after issue that his loyalty lies with corporations. He supports multiple systems and institutions that have proven to fail drastically, and promises to repeal the legislature that saved us when those systems did. He seems to be make the solution to every problem ‘give corporations money and freedom” while he calmly says the best course of action is to let American’s lose their homes until the market hits bottom and the investors can swoop in and grab the houses families worked hard for years for, costing them peanuts, and then rent them back to the displaced. He proposes radical budget increases (in already bloated areas) while promising not only not to rise taxes, but also supporting tax cuts for the wealthy. He opposes the growth of the national debt, but encourages sending 100,000 troops in Gerald R. Ford class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers that is estimated to cost (they’ve raised it ludicrously) $14 BILLION dollars, more than the Departments of Interior and Commerce, the EPA, the Small Business Association among others, and they’re building two. He’s already fanning the flames of delicate foreign relations, threatening very powerful people and nations, putting our country at risk for military or economic doom. He’s doing this often by saying what he would do if elected, imagine what would happen if he actually did them? His remarks alienate us from our allies in Europe, and move us toward a war that even if we won (which I’m not sure given who’s on Romney’s list: Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan. Powerful nations all, many with nuclear weapons) thousands of people would die, billions if not trillions of dollars not just wasted, but used to kill people for having a different way of life (Unless Romney likes you, then you can commit all the human rights violations you want, Israel). I honestly believe that the evidence of Mitt’s foreign policy might lead to another world war, with nuclear weapons. Not because I think that’s what he is seeking, but because international tensions are very high already, and Romney’s attitude is not conducive towards diplomacy. Looking at his positions over the years and his funding sources, it becomes clear whom Romney is out to serve. In 1994 Romney passed legislature, supported bills, and voiced opinions on a wide variety of topics, that he gave clear logical reasoning for (usually) that seemed genuine. Now he seems to have gone from a politician following his beliefs (even if they don’t agree with mine) and doing what he thinks is right to a marionette answering to the Republican party’s doctrine and then to whoever has the most money. Almost every promise he has made can be traced directly to an interest group or PAC. His social policies are amazing only in contrast to the rest of his platform. While I respect many of his policies and his somewhat constant belief that personal beliefs have no place in the State, his positions are still generally unjust, especially compared to his opponent. Do we really need another war-hungry hotheaded puppet for the corporations at the head of our country? From what I can tell, we hardly survived the eight years we already had one (that happened to end with economic disaster).
P.S. I did in fact scroll through Wikipedia on Romney’s positions, but that was not the base of my knowledge, it was to make sure I covered all the issues without forgetting. I tried to source correctly, but a lot of links were broken or quotes were sourced to articles that didn’t actually contain the quote. I’ve done a fair amount of independent research from reputable sources on Mr. Romney and many of these things are just things I know that I can’t place the source, not plagiarism.
P.P.S. Mitt Romney’s first name is Willard. What a ridiculous name.