Paul Krugman in an interview published today in U.S. News and World Report:
What happens if Mitt Romney wins?The key point Krugman is making here is that no matter what Romney personally believes, his election would owe so much to the reactionary elements of his own party that he will be unable to moderate those elements. This tendency to avoid at all costs antagonizing the GOP base has already manifested itself in Romney's unwillingness to condemn the birther nonsense spewed by the likes of Donald Trump, but it also provides a window into his potential economic policies, similarly held hostage by the extreme elements of his own party, and by the interests of his Wall street donor base. For example, yesterday one of Romney's chief economic advisors, Glenn Hubbard, confirmed to the Wall Steet Journal that Romney would either destroy the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or move it outside the confines of the Federal Reserve. As pointed out by Think Progress, Romney would essentially be compelled to drastically curb the reach of the CFPB in order to satisfy the bankers and hedge fund managers who have contributed huge sums to his campaign:
First of all, the question is: What does Romney actually believe? I actually say in the book he's not a stupid man. But given some of the things he's said lately, I've started to reconsider that. Arguably, Romney, in his inner beliefs, if he has any inner beliefs, is actually more of a Keynesian than he would ever let on. In a way, the Romney election slogan should be: Vote for Romney, he doesn't mean anything he is saying. But I am not sure that he would actually have the ability to do it, even if he believes that this Republican approach to macroeconomics is all wrong. He's going to have the problem that he has a rabid congressional party. I think that your best bet, if Romney is in fact elected, is that he, either out of personal conviction or out of sheer inability and unwillingness to stand up to the crazies, will send us down the road to a European-type slump.
Romney, of course, has been raking in money from Wall Street interests who fought the creation of the Bureau tooth and nail. Back in January, Romney called the Bureau the “most powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy in the history of our nation” and falsely claimed that it is “headed by a powerful and unaccountable bureaucrat with unprecedented authority over the economy.”Hubbard also confirmed that Romney's key priority to satisfy his political base would be the gutting of spending, i.e., the implementation of fiscal austerity upon the U.S notwithstanding the current economic climate:
One of Mr. Romney’s chief budget goals is to reduce government spending to 20% of gross domestic product by the end of his first term – 2016. Such a move would require large spending cuts, but Mr. Hubbard said hitting the target is possible and would be within the range of government spending before the financial crisis. “Is it easy to sell?” he asked. “Almost surely not. Can it be done? Absolutely yes.”Neil Buchanan, a Professor of Law at George Washington University, has written a series of articles presaging what the country would look like under a Romney presidency. In the first essay, Buchanan, like Krugman, makes a convincing case that Romney would be compelled by political expediency to govern so as to appease the extreme elements in the GOP:
If anything, there is every reason to believe that a President Romney will govern even more conservatively than he has suggested so far. Indeed, this seems virtually certain, for two related reasons:The second in Buchanan's series provides a more detailed analysis of how economic policy would be implemented under a Romney Administration. In his analysis Buchanan assumes Paul Ryan would command a central role in any budgetary decisions, and notes that the Ryan plan provides a "window" into Republican budgetary thinking. He also anticipates Republican control of the Senate, albeit by a one-vote margin, and believes the GOP would make frequent use of the budget reconciliation process to avoid Democratic filibusters: "Or, to put it more bluntly, the Republican base is much more likely to get its way on budgetary issues than on any other set of issues."
First, no one who wins the Presidency wants to be a one-term President, and Romney’s personal ambition is remarkable, even in a political world where self-regard is a prerequisite for success. If Romney wishes to be a two-term President, however, he will have to continue to please his base. And the new reality in Republican politics is that incumbents are no longer given a pass by the extremist base of the party.
Moderate conservatives like Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana are being challenged in primary races, and even rock-solid conservatives like Orrin Hatch are in danger of extinction. (Hatch’s former Utah colleague, Robert Bennett, lost his party’s nomination in 2010, to be replaced by a truer believer.) If Romney is to win again, he must, of course, be the nominee again. A party that could barely stand to nominate the man who passed the prototype of President Obama’s health care plan into law in Massachusetts is not going to give Romney a pass once he is in office.
The attitude of the Republican Party toward budgetary issues has been made abundantly clear as the party has steadily radicalized itself in response to the Obama Administration:
As a matter of economic management, therefore, Republicans have no patience whatsoever with the idea that the government can improve the economy by increasing spending during and after a recession or depression. Their rejection of Keynesian economics—notwithstanding its clear record of success in predicting and explaining the current economic mess, as well as pointing the way out of the wilderness—is thus complete.Buchanan sees the natural result of an emphasis on incessant spending cuts as a European-style collapse:
This basic tenet, then, means that a President Romney would quickly enact the most radical spending cuts that any country has ever experienced.
Moreover, there is nothing in Ryan’s rhetoric, or in that of any of his compatriots, to suggest that they would stop at these cuts. To the contrary, they have made clear that all non-defense spending is on the block, and they are merely waiting for their moment to cut, cut, cut.Buchanan demonstrates that there are sound political reasons to believe Krugman is absolutely correct. Americans elect Romney, and the Republican Congress imposes through budgetary reconciliation European-style austerity on the U.S., with disastrous results:
If they did so, the results would be devastating. Although Republicans like to claim that we should never be like Europe, they are embracing the exact economic principles and policies that have driven the Euro Zone to the brink of collapse.
An honest assessment of what Romney would do as President, therefore, reveals that he would actively participate in an economic plan that would bring pain to millions of people, with little hope of Congress’ stopping him before (or even after) it is too late.You can donate to President Obama's re-election campaign here.