When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate, I have to admit that I allowed myself to get a little excited. Ryan made a name for himself by authoring a budget in Congress that would have addressed our deficit situation in a meaningful way, one that actually specified where much-needed but unpopular cuts need to be made. It never had a chance of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate of course, but the fact that Ryan had put his name on this plan and had then been selected as Romney’s running mate gave me some hope that the Republican ticket would take on the issue of our financial insolvency in a direct and realistic manner.
And then they had their convention and I had to wake up from that silly dream.
Romney’s acceptance speech was especially disappointing in that regard. He had the country’s undivided attention and this was his best chance to set the tone for the campaign. And what did he do with the opportunity?
He told us that he loves his wife, his kids, his parents and his country. He told us that he believes in hard work and freedom and personal responsibility. He told us that he doesn’t think Barack Obama has done such a bang-up job in the past four years. In other words, he shoveled out the same sweet-smelling, content-free BS that politicians from both parties like to feed us every election. He gave us no specifics, just vague promises to do better than the other guy. There was certainly no mention of what kind of budget cuts the Republicans would make to get us back in healthy financial shape.
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The closest thing we got to an actual policy discussion in Romney’s speech was his five point plan to create 12 million jobs. (Yes, apparently Republicans now agree with Democrats that the federal government can “create” jobs.) Buried in point 4 of his plan to put us all back to work is a promise to “cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget.”
The one thing that he should have devoted most of his speech to -- the looming financial disaster we face if we don’t somehow get our federal spending reigned in -- gets a scant dozen words jammed in with promises to dig for more coal and establish new trade agreements. And this little snippet of policy discussion was of course dwarfed by the touchy-feely “please like me -- I’m really a great guy” portions of his speech.
From what I understand that was the plan his handlers had in mind for his address -- to “humanize” him and make people feel like they could relate to him. That’s because many voters supposedly choose a candidate based on how much they like them. Those would be the voters who apparently are unaware that our government is flying our country into the side of a freaking mountain.
I don’t care if Mitt Romney is a human, an alien, or a high-tech robot as long as he has the intelligence and backbone to tell us that we have to cut our spending to survive, and then tell us where he’d make those cuts. But I’m sure his advisers are telling him that approach is not likely to deliver him the election. And they are probably right. The opposition would cut him to shreds if he started talking about cutting back on entitlement spending, which would have to be a part of any realistic plan to walk us back from a financial cliff.
I can only hope that Mitt does have a secret plan to reel in our out-of-control federal spending that he intends to implement if he wins this sad reality show that we call a presidential campaign. We already know what the Obama plan consists of: tax increases and more government spending.
So I’ll take whatever’s behind door number 2, I guess, and hope for the best.
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Centerville. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his blog at nscsense.blogspot.com.