Managing a private equity firm ≠ managing a national economy
May 8, 2012 1 Comment
Let’s go non-election a bit today as I wanted to mention this really nice Paul Waldman piece about Romney’s undeserved credibility on managing the economy:
What I’d really like to see is the Obama campaign taking on the whole idea that because you made a lot of money in business, that means you’ll be brilliant at setting macroeconomic policy for the country. This idea gets repeated a zillion times every election by candidates saying, “I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman,” as though that were a compelling argument for why you’d be successful in politics, not business. This is a pet peeve of mine I’ve written plenty about; see this article for a rundown of all the reasons it’s absurd. But I’m not naive enough to think the Obama campaign is going to spend time arguing against something so many people believe in without thinking. Instead, they’re going to comb through Romney’s career and figure out what combination of attacks will create a negative association in the public’s mind when the words “Romney” and “business” are mentioned together. Maybe the key will be his personal wealth and hilarious habit of saying things that reinforce his distance from the struggles of ordinary people, or maybe it will be stories of layoffs at companies Bain Capital acquired, or maybe it will be some new story we haven’t yet heard of. But they’ll be attacking him on it, good and hard.
In response, Romney will keep saying, “I know how the economy works,” which is just an assertion, not an argument. For the moment, that seems to be somewhat persuasive; polls show him leading on the question of who would do a better job managing the economy (see here or here).
Most importantly, Waldman points out that if Romney has any unique insight into the economy, why then is his economic plan basically the exact same thing we always get from Republicans?
Romney does have a lengthy economic plan, but it amounts to the same thing Republicans always advocate: tax cuts, particularly on the wealthy; spending cuts in domestic programs; eliminating regulations; free trade; undermining labor unions, and so on. The closest thing to an innovative idea is the creation of a “Reagan Economic Zone,” which presumably will create wealth through the repeated incantation of the great one’s name.
Or maybe we are to believe that the basic Republican platform is just the distilled ideas of all those “businessmen” out there. But, heck, if that’s the case, what’s the advantage for voting for a “businessman” when you can just vote for any Republican? Or maybe, just maybe, being president is really quite dramatically different from running a business.