The Economist Captures Mitt Romney’s Essence or Absence of One

That well-known socialist rag The Economist has some direct words for Mitt Romney as he heads to his coronation in Tampa:

All politicians flip-flop from time to time; but Mr Romney could win an Olympic medal in it…

But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected. In some areas, notably social policy and foreign affairs, the result is that he is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop; in others, especially to do with the economy, the lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind. America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Pick one issue that Obama has been as inconsistent as Romney has been on abortion, gun control, or health care. Any issue. Good luck.

    As for blaming Bush, Obama’s absolutely been right. To imagine that any President, confronted with an irrational House of Representatives, could quickly reverse the 8 most disastrous years since the the Hoover Administration might play well to your fellow Fox viewers, but I’d suggest Obama has begun the process of fixing what Bush did.

    • Yeah he’s fixed it all right. Tripled the debt, dug a hole so deep mathematically we may never get out of.

      Obama said he’d half the deficit, instead he went on a spending spree approaching 23% of GDP.

      Now it you want to equate that with being fuzzy with abortion, GC, or HC good luck.

      • The spending Obama inherited from Dubya was already at roughly 23% GDP, via Bush’s Sept 2008 spending bill (note that fiscal 2009 began Oct. 1 2008, before Obama was in office), which was an increase of ~2% from fiscal 2008 (that’s already a whopping 21% of GDP, if you need help with the math). Obama was responsible for an additional ~1% that same year, but to say that “he went on a spending spree” is entirely misleading.

      • I’ll add that spending increased by 29% b/w 2000 and 2009; of course, this makes sense given the massive increases in defense spending.

            • Rick is one of the liberal authors at Forbes. Also appears on Fox Radio.

              That being said if you review the comments he shoots down almost all of the attacks of his piece ‘cept one.

              Quote: “I am curious to know your opinion on something: As a percentage of GDP, spending rose MASSIVELY under Obama. If you take a look at the charts on this site (they also correspond to other data I have seen) you will see that after Obama entered the house, as a percentage of GDP spending rose massively from around 70% of GDP to nearly or over 100% of GDP. That is a 30% increase. If you read below, it did increase under Bush by about 14% (56% to 70%) but after 2008, has risen to over 100% – that is over a 30% increase in debt. Also, I feel the need to point out that as the GDP grows, 1% means more money than 1% of a smaller GDP. So there has been an increase in percentage but also in increase in the actually amount of money that 1% constitutes. As far as the first year being attributed to Bush’s approved budget (which was a Democratic-controlled house and has been up until the last year-or-so under Obama) the 30% increase in debt did not occur suddenly in Obama’s first year as president. This shows that the majority of the 30% increase in spending is not attributable to Bush, but Obama.

              Considering the increase of 30% spending by Obama and the under-20% by Bush, what do you make of the data and how does that fit into the facts and opinions described in the above article?”

              No response to that author.

              Which shows what Laffer and Moore stated in my above link has merit.

              • As for: “Considering the increase of 30% spending by Obama and the under-20% by Bush, what do you make of the data and how does that fit into the facts and opinions described in the above article?” I rebutt: This person has no idea how the fiscal calendar works.

                …and for: ” Also, I feel the need to point out that as the GDP grows, 1% means more money than 1% of a smaller GDP. So there has been an increase in percentage but also in increase in the actually amount of money that 1% constitutes,” I find I can’t really trust this person’s opinion given he feels the need to obfuscate “inflation” with so much babble, as if the economist doesn’t understand what it means.

                In conclusion: Ungar didn’t think this comment warranted a response, thus didn’t respond to it.

              • The author probably didn’t respond because the commenter wasn’t smart enough to distinguish between debt and spending, and doesn’t warrant much additional consideration. Also, they fail to consider that Obama raised the debt during an economic crisis, while Bush earned it during a period of growth, or that Bush inherited a surplus, whereas Obama started out with a deficit and two on going, expensive wars.

                • He confronted almost all commenters thru the 7-8 pages that I read.

                  I’ll give you the beneifit of the doubt he skipped over her but the spending ratio to GDP was brought up again and the response was weak.

                  I did glean this nugget from my search.

                  Quote: “The debt when Bushy boy took office was,$5,943,438,563,436
                  it was $10,699,804,864,612 when he left office.
                  The national debt when Obama took office was,$11,311,349,677,512
                  and today THREE years later it is ,$15,125,898,976,397
                  Bush increased the debt by 11.1%per year and Uhbama…..
                  has increased it by 13.8% per year AND RISING!!!!
                  Spin that.
                  Obama has spent as much in three years as Bush did in eight!!!!”

                  Of course the year’s not over and we have another debt ceiling rise before the election.

                • Alright, Ingy, I know you’re beyond hope, but…you’re wrong on three levels.

                  Factually, you’re speaking nonsense. First off, the president doesn’t set the budget, congress does. And even congress doesn’t set the level of the deficit – that is a combination of the spending they authorize and the revenues they take in. The specifics of neither are under the direct control of congress. The more important fallacy here, though, is your confusion of spending with deficit spending. Spending was higher under Obama, but revenues were also lower. Thus, trying to characterize the deficit as brought on primarily by higher spending is inaccurate.

                  You’re wrong on another level, too. As the Forbes article pointed out, there’s no denying that a president has to, for most of his first year, deal with a budget passed by his predecessor. For Bush, this was a big bonus – Clinton’s budget had been running surpluses for three years, so Bush started off ahead. Obama, however, inherited one of the biggest deficits in history. He also inherited enormous tax cuts passed under Bush and two wars started by Bush. So, while Bush managed to wrack up huge deficits despite starting with a sound budget and a country essentially at peace, Obama, starting with a huge deficit, a crippled revenue stream, and two costly wars. So direct comparison is problematic at best.

                  And finally, as any business manager will tell you, it’s not what you spend, it’s what you get for your money. Bush, after all that spending, had an economy in ruins and two wars that were going badly. Obama has, at the moment, a growing economy and an unemployment rate that, while still too high, is at least not growing.

                  Sounds like Obama has had the smarter spending to me.

                • Sorry i hadn’t seen your response till know.

                  To your 1st paragraph. Obama said this days before his rein.

                  “WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday ripped outgoing President Bush for “irresponsibly” doubling the federal debt, then warned that he could preside over trillion-dollar-a-year deficits for “years to come.”

                  Huddling with his budget team, Obama told reporters he would ban pork-barrel spending projects known as earmarks from his proposal to stimulate the economy. He also vowed to make the difficult choices necessary to curb runaway deficits and debt.

                  Read more:

                  Did he take those necessary steps PW? Did the necessary steps he took have ant effect? If raising taxes on the job creators and risk takers would have been a cure-all for the raging deficit why didn’t he take it on when he held the house and senate?

                  I’ll answer, he doesn’t care about the deficit. He’s embarrassed about our nations wealth, he’s a student of Clovis-Piven, he wants it all to come crashing down.

                  If his stimulus had worked I’d given him his due. All it was was a pay off to public unions in financially stressed Dem strongholds. The Wars too, if Wars are causing crushing overspending bring ’em home. Public opinion is not with the Afghan entanglement yet he continues Bush’s crusade. If he cared about budgets he’d work with the congress and find some compromise, budgets are the furthest thing on his mind.

                  Any “Business manager” would tell you spending 3 dollars while taking in 2 is suicide.

  • “I’ll answer, he doesn’t care about the deficit. He’s embarrassed about our nations wealth, he’s a student of Clovis-Piven, he wants it all to come crashing down. ”

    Quite the opposite. Europe has been kind enough to test out a variety of austerity programs for us, and the consequence has almost universally negative. Britain official experienced a double-dip recession following their austerity package. Portugal, despite implementing exactly what the economists had recommended regarding austerity, continues to suffer from 15% unemployment. A large revenue increase will be needed eventually, but not until the global economic situation is more stable. The fact is there is no way right now to balance the deficit without damaging the economy. Romney/Ryan have yet to offer an alternative that won’t have a similar effect.

    • Quote: “He also vowed to make the difficult choices necessary to curb runaway deficits and debt.”

      He did no such thing. I repeat, he doesn’t care about debt, if he did he’d take steps to fix it.

      Have you taken any economics? Do you think that spiraling deficits are a mere inconvenience?

      Do you realize that China or any one else won’t loan us any money to meet our obligations? The only solution then would be the monetization of the debt (printing money).

      Of course your solution would be increase taxes, but increased taxes past a certain point leads to diminishing returns.

      Take a few minutes (9) to review this.

      • “Have you taken any economics?”

        Yes, have you? Because if you had, you wouldn’t say the next thing –

        “Do you realize that China or any one else won’t loan us any money to meet our obligations? The only solution then would be the monetization of the debt (printing money).”

        If you really understood economics, you would know that 1. High supply leads to lower prices and 2. That goes for loans as well as anything else. There is an enormous supply of people willing to loan money money to the US, at interest rates LOWER than the projected rate of inflation. Now, if you own a business, and you can borrow money at less than the rate of inflation, then you take the loans, and invest them in your business.

        Speaking of inflation, shouldn’t that be the natural result of our printing money? And yet! It remains below 2%. The US dollar has no floating currency competition. The Euro is in turmoil, the pound is linked to an economy still in recession, Japan has seen two decades of virtually zero growth, and China refuses to float the Yuan. What currency replaces our in your world where Obama destroys the dollar? The fact is, the deficit is not an immediate danger, whereas an ill-advised austerity program is.

  • Short answer, gold and silver.

    The rule of high supply=lower price/loans sounds good on paper, but in actuality have fallen flat.

    But I’m coming around on austerity programs. Whereas those CA towns who went bust because exorbitant pensions and salaries now can’t pay them at all.

    And you’re right in the the fact that economically the US is the tallest midget in the room.

    When it comes to an adm. change this actually works to our disadvantage, like Japan it only prolongs the agony. So really when you think of it either way big government solutions and their supporters lose. Obama 2.0 only hastens the demise.

    Who wins in an economic apocalypse? Boy Scouts, and I just got my End-of-the-World badge.

    • The chance of an economic apacalypse or a collapse of the dollar is exceedingly low, Ingy. Want to know why? First, investors still have extreme confidence and extreme stakes in US sovereign debt. Hence our exceedingly low cost of borrowing. Investors have tolerated Japanese debt at over 200% of GDP. There is not reason to believe they won’t tolerate a comparable level from us. The deficit is, then, only dangerous under two circumstances. The first is a default, which is unnecessary, unlikely, and stupid but possible with the right combination of government-hating and banker-hating politicians. The second is that we will absorb too much credit and prevent the markets from borrowing. But as your article shows, the markets do not lack for cheap credit, so this is also not a problem.

      Therefore, if Obama appears unconcerned about the deficit, that’s because it ought to be the least of his concerns. If Democrats wanted to bring the whole system down, it would be easy – default on our loans or hop on board with the GOP and slash spending, alienating either the bankers or the general public. Either one would cripple the economy and the legitimacy of the federal government; see: Greece. Instead, moderate revenue raises and spending cuts can stabilize the deficit while we wait for the international economic climate to stabilize.

      • Reps slash and burn is an exaggeration. Take Wisc. for instance. Walker defanged the public unions and all hell broke lose. Sit ins at the capitol and lawmakers on the run. Defined as slash and burn? Yep. Now look at the state-back on track, deficit cut, massive layoffs prevented.

        Austerity works, and will be a large part of Mitt’s/Ryan’s recovery. But worse than that, when it works and we’re recovering your side will be demolished for a decade.

        • The state of course still faces a three billion dollar deficit using GAAP. So…deficit not cut. We’ll see in the next couple years how Walker’s cuts affect the State economy, but they certainly didn’t succeed in eliminating the deficit.

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