I expect your comments on this post will be awful, try to prove me wrong

Karl Smith asks:

I am specifically going to ask Yglesias, Drum, Cowen, Ozimek and Barro (Josh) to chime in on this. Anyone else feel free as well, but I would like to hear from these guys.

I don’t care if Mitt Romney pays negative taxes, cheated on his mistress with her daughter, fired his Grandmother while at Bain, and lied to kids to get the GOP nomination, etc.

What are the significant differences that you think we could actually see come to pass from a Romney Presidency versus an Obama Presidency?

I am generally a better-the-devil-you-know kind of guy, but I am pretty open here. So, let me here it.

Kevin Drum offers a specific answer.  I have not invested much energy in following Romney or the other Republican candidates, so this is a rough, impressionistic response.  Here are a few points:

1. I expect Romney to claim he has repealed ACA, but in fact he will change five aspects of the law and cement the rest of it in place, albeit in a less progressive manner and with lower Medicaid expenditures.   (Outright repeal actually would not be easy, not to mention filibuster issues.)  He knows he doesn’t have any other “right-wing health care plan” in his back pocket, won’t be willing to restore the status quo ex ante, and he will be willing to take the “Tea Party knock on the chin” very early on in his term, hoping to repair the fence later.  Ultimately letting the issue fester doesn’t help him, and he is smart enough to realize that.

2. The Republican Party will split very quickly.  For instance, will AEI support or oppose Romney in an early action like this?  I don’t know, but I see massive carnage.  Democrats may end up happier than they expect.

3. Romney will use conservative judge nominations, corporate tax cuts, Dodd-Frank repeal (does anyone understand it anyway?), and estate tax repeal to try to keep the base in line.  Democrats may end up less happy than they expect.

4. Medicare won’t be touched, not fundamentally.  There is some chance that a “twenty years from now” plan is passed (remember Waxman-Markey?), yet without any secure mechanism for commitment to make the actual cuts.

5. I worry if Obama wins on a platform of envy and anti-rich sentiment; such ideas rarely translate well into policy.  If Obama loses, future Democrats will continue the cash goodies they deliver to constituents but fold on a lot of regulatory issues (don’t want to appear “anti-business”), and they will pay greater lip service to Deficit Commission recommendations and the like, while insisting that the governing Republicans take the heat for an actual budget deal.  It is a much better outcome if Obama is re-elected from a promise to govern as a moderate and a fiscal conservative.  So far I don’t see that as the Democratic strategy, so I am more worried about an Obama re-election than I used to be.

As noted, those are very rough predictions and I don’t have much faith in them, but they are my best guesses.

What else can Karl Smith get me to do?


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