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Thursday, November 15, 2012

'Mitt Romney’s Ugly Vision of Politics'

Ezra Klein, then Paul Krugman:

From the 47% to ‘gifts’: Mitt Romney’s ugly vision of politics, by Ezra Klein: During the campaign, Mitt Romney repeatedly promised seniors that he’d restore President Obama’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts. He promised them that, unlike Obama, he wouldn’t permit a single change to Medicare or Social Security for 10 years. ... While the rest of the country was trying to pay down the deficit and prioritize spending, they’d be safe. He also promised the rich that they’d see a lower overall tax rate... Oh, and let’s not forget his oft-stated intention to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reforms and replace them with…something.
Keep all that in mind when you hear Romney blaming his loss on “the gifts” that Obama reportedly handed out to “the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.” Romney was free with the gifts, too, and his promises to seniors and to the rich carried a far higher price tag than any policies Obama promised minorities or the young. But to Romney, and perhaps to the donors he was speaking to, those policies didn’t count as “gifts.”...

Romney really does appear to believe that there’s a significant portion of the electorate that’s basically comprised of moochers. That’s Romney’s political cosmology: The Democrats bribe the moochers with health care and green cards. ...
When Romney thinks he’s behind closed doors and he’s just telling other people like him how politics really works, the picture he paints is so ugly as to be bordering on dystopic. It’s not just about class, but about worth, and legitimacy. His voters are worth something to the economy — they’re producers — and they respond to legitimate appeals about how to best manage the country. The Democrats’ voters are drags on the economy — moochers — and they respond to crass pay-offs. 
Romney doesn’t voice these opinions in public. He knows better. But so did the voters. ...

Paul Krugman:

The Moocher Majority, by Paul Krugman: Lots of people having fun with Mitt Romney’s post-election diagnosis, which is that President Obama played dirty: he won peoples’ votes by — horrors — actually making their lives better...

Gosh. People who will have health insurance under Obama but would have lost it under Romney voted for Obama. What’s wrong with those people?

But as many commentators have pointed out, Romney was just encapsulating the prevalent worldview on the right. Some of us see an increasingly, radically unequal America, with rising inequality actually reinforced by public policy, with tax rates on the rich lower than they have been in many decades and the overall redistributive effect of government down substantially since the 1970s. But the right sees an entitlement epidemic, in which the big problem is that too many people are getting free stuff.

It’s important to understand the roots of this stuff. It began as a deliberate appeal to racism, with explicit condemnation of Those People as welfare moochers. Then it became more coded...

What Mitt Romney is now complaining about is the horrifying reality that ... anti-government rhetoric is turning into a way to lose elections rather than win them.

And I don’t think the Republican party as currently constituted can change this: after 45 years of the Southern strategy, this stuff is what defines the party’s soul.

How will the GOP respond to Romney's loss? With soul-searching or entrenchment? I think the Republican Party will change with time, it has to, and there are younger voices ready to lead the Party to new ground. But the old guard will argue it was the abandonment of traditional principles that caused the loss, and resist the suggestion that the maker-taker, welfare moochers type rhetoric was harmful. The old guard still holds most of the power, and it is not yet ready to step aside.

    Posted by on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 11:09 AM in Economics, Income Distribution, Politics, Social Insurance | Permalink  Comments (49)


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