The Florida GOP primary is a hard one to handicap. Early voting is the reason. When the mail-in polls opened, Newt Gingrich was in full stride in South Carolina and Mitt Romney appeared asleep on duty. The question, how many Floridians voted early for Newt?
Since South Carolina, Mitt has bounced back to life in a big way. His campaign and its “uncoordinated” affiliates have saturated the Florida television airways with all sorts of negative adds and out spent Gingrich about 5 to 1. From this perspective, Mitt should win handily.
Santorum and Paul are not contenders but will syphon off probably 25% of the vote combined. That’s 25% Newt could really use. Too bad for Newt.
But what were the messages voters were reacting too in picking their candidate? Don’t know.
Even more important, lost in the TV hype is a clues to any underlying difference between all the GOP candidates and President Obama. For example, what is the proper role of government in today’s economy?
The President continues to follow a Keynesian model where in the absence of strong private demand, the government is the spender of last resort. The idea is that with spending, businesses will man up to meet the demand. Lots of people earn money and demand other goods and services, and suddenly the economy is able to operate on its own.
The GOP model is called “trust me”. In the Republican case, government reduces or eliminates regulations and simultaneously reduce taxes (especially for the job creators). The GOP proposes that businessmen, now free of cumbersome regulations and more able to invest their profits (rather than paying taxes) will hire people, produce goods and services, and bingo, the economy is jumping again.
Left unanswered in the GOP model is where does a weak economy get the money to buy these newly available goods and services? Equally unanswered is why should we believe that “unregulated” businesses will take into account the greater good of the community while doing their business this time? Just “trust me” is their answer.
Actually both of these approaches rely upon “just trust me”. Both require the government to spend first. Both approaches predict a recovered economy will generate future tax revenues sufficiently greater than now to pay back the cost of each approach. So it is sort of a case of who do you believe?
Mitt Romney’s tax return should seal the deal.
Romney’s 14% tax rate should tell any voter all you need to know about what the GOP approach is all about. Those like Romney win with a good economy and win with a weak economy. They have no skin in the game.
The 2012 election conversation needs to expand to fully comprehend the US economy. While I believe Keynes economics is necessary, I also recognize that government spending is far in excess of what Americans are willing to pay. Health care and defense spending costs are draining the strength of the economy. (Health care spending is about $3 trillion and defense is almost $1 trillion.)
Medicare is the budget surrogate for health care costs. We cannot let politicians focus in on Medicare, say they fixed it and then move on. The problem is the overall health care delivery system is too costly and increasing at a rate greater than the rate of inflation.
Defense spending is also serious. Defense spending disproportionately aids the top 1% by ensuring that America’s business interests around the world are not impeded. When we see what current law allows when we review Mitt Romney’s tax return, it should be clear that the wealthy do not want to pay for what they are receiving.
It is time for the debate organizers to ask real questions. Who cares who is the most or the realest conservative. What America needs is comprehensive answers to fixing both the government budget and the national economy.