I really enjoy reading and watching what Ezra Klein has to say. Ever since I first saw him guest host The Rachel Maddow Show this summer, I've been impressed by the way he explains complicated subjects in a way that makes them easier to understand. I just checked into my Facebook news feed and saw this post by Ezra Klein introducing his latest post at The Wonkblog at The Washington Post.
The question the debates raised is which Romney voters will be choosing if they mark his name on the ballot.Naturally, I clicked on the link to the article. Those who have been questioning President Obama's tactics during the debate last night, might find this article enlightening. It begins:
Early in the campaign, Team Obama made a crucial decision: They weren’t going to run against “multiple-choice Mitt.” Rather, of the various Romneys on offer to them — the Massachusetts moderate, the tea party conservative — they were simply going to choose one and stick with it.Ezra explains that while Romney attempted to be "all things to all people" by saying what he thought people wanted to hear depending on the audience he was addressing, the plan the Obama Team put into place was to force Mitt Romney to be the persona he used to win the Republican primaries.
They’ve been fairly successful in that effort. This was, in part, because they had an assist from the Republican base, which put the fear of God — or at least the fear of primary challenges — into the Romney campaign. That is, until last night.LOL! The one spending cut Romney said he is interested in is PBS. I'm surprised he didn't say he was going to get rid of Planned Parenthood last night as well. Oh wait! Women were watching the debate; much better to stick with Big Bird. How many children would be up last night watching, much less understanding that Romney wanted to fire Big Bird?
But during the first presidential debate, Romney presented himself as a candidate uninterested in tax cuts, in love with Medicare, in support of economic regulations, confident in the government’s role in the health-care system, and interested in few spending cuts beyond PBS. Romney’s policies might be steeped in tea, but last night, he proved his political skills were honed in Massachusetts.
Ezra goes on to point out that the decision to pick one Mitt Romney to run against "hampered" President Obama last night, and uses Romney's tax cuts as an example. Experts say that Romney has a choice, which Ezra calls a “trilemma”: he can cut taxes by 20% across the board, he can keep tax revenue where it is, or he can not raise taxes on the rich, but the arithmetic says he can not do all three.
President Obama mostly ignored this trilemma. Instead, he insisted that Romney was not going to pay for his tax cuts at all, and thus the cost of his policy was $5 trillion. That gave Romney the opportunity to reply that no, he was not going to cut taxes by $5 trillion. Obama’s response, in effect, was yes, you are. Romney’s rejoinder? No, I’m not not. It was a he-said, he-said about what Romney really, truly intends to do. This went on for about 40 minutes.Ezra concludes by pointing out that the anyone who would vote for Romney has a choice between two Romneys; The one they saw last night who would have to compromise with a Democratic Congress in order to get things done, or the one who will be pulled all the way to the right by a Republican Congress. Neither choice is a good one as the choice in and of itself proves that Romney is not a leader. He just goes whichever way the wind blows him and we still don't know what he really will do if elected. It would all depend on who controls Congress, and therefore we would not have three branches of government. We'd have two; Congress and the Supreme Court, and that should be a thought that scares everyone.
We don’t know what he’ll do. All we know is he can’t do all the things he says he’ll do now, as the math doesn’t work. After decades in which Republicans haven’t paid for tax cuts, a Republican candidate running on huge, specific tax cuts paired with a “just trust me” on how he’ll pay for them should make voters very nervous. That worry is true to what Romney has proposed and to what’s wrong with it. But the Obama campaign, which didn’t want to give Romney the benefit of ambiguity, tried instead to ignore it and create their own tax plan to run against. It didn’t work for them.