Can we put Ryan at top of GOP ticket?
When Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate, I remarked that I no longer considered him a Republican version of Michael Dukakis. After watching him campaign, I have an even harsher indictment. He’s another Republican Dewey.
That would be Thomas Dewey, aka “The Man on the Wedding Cake.” He’s the man who should have mopped the floor with Harry Truman in 1948, but he instead allowed Truman to pull victory from the jaws of defeat.
Mr. Dewey thought it best to run as a platitudinous putz, insulting the intelligence of the American people with every sentence while his shrewd opponent adopted the mantle of a reformer running aginst a "do-nothing" Congress.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m an admirer of Truman because I know of no President who had as many difficult decisions to make that were unpopular at the time, but proved to be the right calls with the passage of time. That's why any Republican with brain and a pulse would have beaten him that year.
Fast forward to 2012, and I’m still waiting to hear a little conservative passion from the top of the Republican ticket. Mr. Romney needs to talk less about President Obama’s failures (the public already knows), and more about his own solutions. He also needs to talk more about what is likely to unfold in the next four years if the President gets his way on taxes and regulations.
Taxmaggedon, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, might only be the tip of the iceberg. Adding to the pain will be the cost of regulations associated with the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” Dodd-Frank, and other legislation passed by a Democratically controlled Congress and signed by the President.
So far, the President’s talk of tax increases, and the tentative steps federal bureaucrats have taken to provide regulatory guidance, has created enough uncertainly to suppress the robust economic expansion that should have arrived by now. The Competitive Enterprise Institute reports that current federal regulations, plus those coming under the Affordable Care Act, will cost American taxpayers and businesses $1.8 trillion annually. If true, that’s more than 20 times the $88 billion estimated by the Obama administration.
The accuracy of this is anyone’s guess, but it’s worth noting the Obama administration has vastly underestimated the cost of the Affordable Care Act, so it would come as no surprise that they are fudging on the cost of accompanying regulations.
Romney's business hat
The businessman in Romney should be pointing something out to job-seekers: every penny their employer devotes to the cost of complying with these regulations is a theft from them. The more financial and other resources that employers have to devote to these government-imposed costs, the less money they have for new hires, salary increases for deserving employees, and a decent benefits package.
That connects what Obama has done to the lack of job-creation, now and in the future.
Romney might also point out the consequences of a $16 trillion (and mounting) national debt and how it not only diminishes the future, but also slows growth in the present. Here's a line for the debates: "Mr. President, that $16 trillion of debt is not the light at the end of the tunnel, it's an onrushing train."
Here'a another line: "The monetary step the Fed recently announced is yet another example of sacrificing the future to save political hides now. I've watched some of these hides in action or, in the case of Harry Reid, inaction. Believe me, they are not worth saving. Nor are they worth mortgaging the future for."
The lack of such blunt messaging is one reason I’m hardly bowled over by the slate of Republican candidates, especially Romney. His acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was a lost opportunity to communicate the different course we should take. In the weeks since, Romney has allowed the Obama fanny smootchers in the mainstream media, who predictably are doing their best to prop up the President, to intimidate him into silence on matters ranging from our increasing dependence on government to the disastrous events unfolding in the Middle East.
Here’s a hint, Mitt. Follow Ronald Reagan’s example, go over their Beltway-addled heads, and communicate directly to the American people. Here’s another bit of advice: unleash Paul Ryan. You’ve got this incredible campaign asset and the bed wetters who are mismanaging your campaign appear to be oblivious to this.
The Republican ticket still is competitive in any public opinion poll that is not over-weighted toward Democrats and that uses more realistic turnout models, but that’s primarily the President’s doing. If Romney expects to win, he needs to grow a pair and talk about how the next four years could be even more disappointing than the last four. An unleashed Paul Ryan would not hesitate to make this case.
In any election involving an incumbent President, two things have to happen for that incumbent to lose. The American people must want to move on, and they must be comfortable with the alternative. I'm convinced they want to replace Obama, but Romney has yet to prove his acceptability. There's still time to convince them, but the sand is pouring through the hourglass.