Of Donkeys and Elephants: Romney--Fair and balanced?

October has officially arrived with beautiful changing leaves, crisp autumn breeze, pumpkin carving, playoff baseball, and of course—the buffeting storm of political commercials. Amazingly, it is during this month that all Americans suddenly become political and economic experts. Every time I turn around it’s, “For the economy to recover, you cannot raise taxes!” or maybe, “How do you get rid of debt when you don’t bring in any revenue through taxes?” It’s all very important, and we should all be very upset about something. As much as I would love to join the fray of statistic quoting and out of context fact usage, I am just going to say that economics are complicated. Cutting taxes could work and so could raising taxes. At different periods in history, both economic philosophies have had successes and failures. These successes and failures were also the result of a web of interconnected political, economic, and military factors.

So I am not going to pull out a couple of statistics that make Romney’s economic plan look stupid, and then base my argument off that (this was my original plan). My argument against Romney is pretty simple. Romney is a profit-centered, profit-seeking capitalist with no backbone and not a particle of economic justice in him.

To something Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in Spirit,” I would imagine Romney responding with, “That is the dumbest thing I ever heard.” From Romney’s upbringing, to his business career, to his governorship, and now to his presidential campaign, one maxim reigns strong: “Blessed are the rich.” Romney’s philosophy on the economy is that rich people create jobs and thus create economic growth. Therefore, it is rich people, like him, that will lead the country to success.

Given this train of thought, Romney presents himself as the most qualified presidential candidate, because he is a self-made business hero: creating jobs, and helping the economy. He is not sensitive to the reality that he inherited a lot of his success, and he seems blind to the fact that a lot of Americans inherit a situation that sets them up for failure. In fact, he is condescending to Americans, “who believe that they are victims…that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it…my job is not to worry about those people”—Romney’s words from the 47% video.

Romney’s economic plan follows directly in line with this insensitive, condescending attitude. The plan is vague; it has a lot of promises and not a lot of details. He promises to keep programs like social security and Medicare running strong, while also revving up military spending, and most importantly, extending the tax cuts for the wealthy. While this obviously would call for either a dramatic increase in government revenue, or an increase to the deficit (he promised to get rid of the deficit), Romney also vaguely claims that he will cut unneeded programs and clean up unnecessary spending to save money. The main idea is that everything is possible due to economic growth, as more Americans will be working and therefore paying taxes.

Besides Romney’s plan defying simple arithmetic, even if it “works,” it will inevitably make the rich richer, and the poor poorer. The “job creating” wealthy class will pay less taxes, making them richer, will expand their small businesses, making them richer, and create more jobs, also making them richer. While this creates a more robust economy, it does not lead to anything close to the ideal of economic justice where economic success does not depend on the privileges you inherit.

This is not to say that the alternative, Obama’s economic plan, levels the playing field through socialistic style wealth redistribution. All I am saying is that at least Obama is sensitive to the fact that capitalism has problems, and that giving tax breaks to the wealthy is economically unjust. Like any politician, Obama made some big unrealistic promises that helped him get elected, but he has proven to be sensitive to all those under-privileged people who need support. His economic plan is slowly stumbling towards stability, and it might even have a chance at success if we give it some more time.

Both respective economic plans have potential to be successful. The real distinction is in the realm of fairness. When it comes to economic fairness, Romney has proven to have his head squarely up his hind end. The funny thing is, I am pretty sure he’s proud of it.

BY NEIL WITZIG witzi013@d.umn.edu

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