"...I think Governor Romney's going to have a busy first day..."
President Obama drew laughs from the audience with that quip during the first Obama/Romney presidential debate.
Unfortunately, the President then failed to aggressively follow up on the opportunity opened by that lead and didn’t press Romney for details while he had the audience laughing.
And Obama really should have.
Because it’s important.
President Obama was referring to the laundry list of items Mitt Romney has promised to achieve on the first day of his (as yet, theoretical) presidency. In particular the president was making light of the fact that Romney has said repeatedly that he will immediately repeal all of the things democrats have managed to achieve in the four years of the Obama Administration despite the active and vehement opposition of certain members of Congress
And then, on that same day, Mitt Romney will sit down and work hand in hand with those same democrats.
And conservatives made fun of Obama for daring to use the word “hope.”
Repeal everything democrats worked for, then work with those same democrats?
You’ll excuse me if I maybe roll my eyes a little in disbelieving skepticism at this point.
I guess it could work though.
Depending on Romney’s approach I mean. Presumably, when (if) President Romney sits down with Congress, it won’t be to seek common ground, rather it’ll be to dictate terms.
Because I don’t see Romney getting Democratic cooperation any other way.
Given his manner and the nature of the promises he’s made, I strongly suspect that Mitt Romney sees the Oval Office more as CEO of America Inc. and the election as some kind of stock buyout or hostile takeover, rather than as a democratically elected President whose power is constrained by reality.
Take Romney’s first-day-in-office promise to get started on fixing the economy and create jobs.
One of the first things Romney has promised to do is to submit a jobs package to Congress.
Romney’s proposed jobs package contains five bills: 1) Reduce the corporate income tax to twenty five percent, 2) reinstate Fast Track (sometimes called The President’s Trade Promotion Authority), 3) open more land for drilling, 4) end federal programs and return responsibility to the states, and 5) cut non-security discretionary spending in the federal budget by five percent.
Romney’s promised jobs bill comes with a command that Congress act on these ideas within thirty days.
He will command Congress to act within a month on his bills.
Heh heh. Right.
What will CEO Mitt do if Congress doesn’t take up those bills within a month?
Government isn’t like Wall Street, Mitt, what are you going to do? Fire ‘em?
Might want to check with the union, or the Constitution, first.
What will he do if Congress stonewalls and delays and filibusters and doesn’t cooperate? Say like how Congress did with Obama’s promise to close Gitmo on his first day in office. Will Conservatives then hold President Romney responsible for failing to live up to his promises? Like they did with Obama and Gitmo? Or Obama’s own proposed jobs bill? Or Obama and … well, you get the idea.
Or will Conservatives (and Liberals Goddamnit) put the blame where it belongs this time?
Yeah, I’m not holding my breath on that one.
Here’s the thing, President Obama was just talking about something simple, like a prison and a couple of neutered terrorists.
Romney wants to cut corporate taxes, i.e. federal revenues.
Do you really think congress will be able to complete an impact analysis for loss of revenue in a month?
We don’t even have a federal budget at the moment, and won’t until at least March. Think about how cutting corporate taxes might affect the already enormously complex and delinquent and gridlocked budget planning process – something Paul Ryan is supposed to be working on right now. And just for added fun, Romney says he’ll cut non-military discretionary spending too.
I’d be real interested in seeing all of this put to bed in thirty days.
Especially if we end up with sequestration too – you know, just because Congress hasn’t failed enough these last four years.
Hell, I’d be impressed if Romney could get congress to complete a draft budget in thirty days, because that would be some serious mojo indeed.
Next, Romney wants the president to have the power to negotiate treaties.
That’s what Fast Track is. Fast Track, also known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA, allows the president to directly negotiate trade agreements with foreign powers, agreements that Congress can then approve or disapprove but cannot modify, delay, or filibuster – literally, by law there are very specific (and short!) limitations on the amount of time the bill can be in committee, the amount of time the bill can be debated on the floor, and when the final vote has to be returned. This isn’t a new idea, TPA was in effect from 1975 to 1994 and then between 2002 and 2007 – for some reason Congress didn’t want Bill Clinton to have this power, but felt fine with Reagan, Bush Senior, and Bush Junior making trade deals with Mexico and China and India, but I digress. Obama asked for renewal of the TPA in 2012 to complete the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) agreement. Predictably he was stonewalled.
Romney can’t just “reinstate” the TPA, he has to ask Congress for it, and the request would have to be placed on the agenda, debated by both House and Senate, and voted on.
Question, why would you give Romney TPA but not Obama? Unless it’s for strictly partisan reasons? But, again, I digress, since apparently the majority of Americans seem to be fine with this double standard.
But the real question is this: what does Romney want with TPA? Why make it an election item? Who is driving this and who is this promise for?
You might want to think about that.
No, you all might want to really think about that.
Americans should maybe ask Romney about his intentions with regards to TPA.
Again, it’s important.
Did you ever wonder how you ended up with all those free trade agreements? The ones that shipped all of your jobs overseas and made it easy for companies to off-shore themselves and avoid paying certain taxes? Did you ever wonder how that business environment that so benefits strategic capital firms at the expense of domestic industry came about?
Did you ever wonder how come the shelves at Wal-Mart are filled with cheap goods made in other countries?
TPA, that’s how.
Now, you want to give a guy who pals around with corporate CEOs (to paraphrase a turn of phrase from the last election cycle) the power to negotiate treaties with countries who specialize in off-shoring American jobs?
As I said, you might want to think about that. You might want to think about who that benefits, because it damned sure isn’t you.
Americans would do well to start asking a few questions in this regard. I’m just saying. Of course, it won’t happen, we’re more interested in keeping gay people away from marriage and in other people’s reproductive systems. And yes, I’m cynically digressing.
Speaking of good paying American jobs, another promise Mitt Romney has made for his first day in office is to start the process of repealing the Davis-Bacon Act.
Now, surely you’re familiar with Davis-Bacon.
Davis-Bacon (the DBA) is a federal law passed in 1931 that requires the payment of prevailing wages on any public works project. What does that mean? It means that the government must pay laborers on state and federal construction projects no less than the average wage and benefits that are standard for the locality. In other words, the government can’t bring in cheap outside labor to build roads and bridges, national parks and monuments, federal buildings, military construction, and so on. This law came about because back during the Great Depression, Senator James Davis and Representative Robert Bacon watched state governments hire dirt cheap labor from the impoverished South to build public works projects in New York and other northern states, this was done so that the government didn’t have to pay local labor at the much more expensive prevailing wage for the area.
Now, it’s likely that the Davis-Bacon Act wasn’t passed out of any sense of fairness or actual concern for the working man, Davis and Bacon were concerned that the pork barrel spending they’d fought for wasn’t creating the promised jobs in their districts (Pennsylvania and New York respectively), and thereby translating into the corresponding votes those jobs would bring. Instead the project managers were importing cheap African-American labor from south of the Mason-Dixon Line (mostly from dirt poor Alabama) to the detriment of white New Yorkers.
Modern republican critics of the law cite the possible racist intent of the original act as a reason to abolish it. There’s more than a touch of irony in that both Davis and Bacon were Republicans.
Whatever their intent, Davis-Bacon protects fair wages and benefits for federal workers against predatory labor practices that would use cheap imported labor (of any ethnicity, including illegal immigrants) to underbid local businesses and contractors.
Repeal of Davis-Bacon might make public works projects cheaper, but it would be at the expense of local business and labor.
But then again, cheaper public works.
That’s a good thing, right?
Wrong. Repeal of Davis-Bacon would clear the way for creation of new national companies that specialize in public works using cheap migrant labor. Repeal of Davis-Bacon might create jobs, but they aren’t the kind of jobs you’d want or the kind that benefit the local community.
Repeal of Davis-Bacon could have the opposite effect as well, since the law prevents cronyism and the hiring of outsiders at the expense of local companies (at least on governmental projects), repeal might end up costing you more both in local jobs and in tax money.
We’ve got some experience with that here in Alaska, whenever Exxon talks about how they’ll create “Alaskan” jobs if we just give them another tax break, what they actually mean is jobs in Alaska for shitkickers from Texas and Oklahoma – now imagine if you coupled federal money to that.
You might want to give that a little thought too. Again, you might want to think about who a repeal would benefit, because again, it sure isn’t you – unless you’re the kind of person who has dinner with the Koch Brothers.
And, of course, Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
So, to recap, Mitt has promised to cut corporate taxes and taxes on the wealthy – and yet somehow reduce the deficit and debt. He wants the power to forge personal trade deals with the countries he outsourced your jobs to. He wants to repeal wage and benefit protection for workers on government projects and legalize the creation of cheap imported labor for public works. He’s also promised to approve the final two phases of the Keystone XL Pipeline without completed environmental impact studies and without validated emergency response measures (because, hey, how often does this stuff blow up anyway? Right? Hello?), more drilling (despite the fact that the Obama Administration has approved more drilling permits than any previous administration, that’s obviously not enough), repeal of environmental protections deemed “restrictive” (methane and fracking chemicals in your water supply is a small price to pay for increased profits folks. Bitching about it is unpatriotic. Besides, we can always buy water from China), and then cut discretionary funding for agencies that actually oversee the environment, safety, and public health – i.e. the things directly impacted by the other stuff. And to top it off, he’ll make sure that once you are sick and out of work, you can’t get affordable healthcare either (because people who don’t have health insurance don’t die in America. Right?).
The good news is that President Romney has also promised to reinstate the Mexico-City Policy on his first day, so you know, we won’t be funding abortions south of the border.
Still think having a CEO running the country is a good idea?
So far, none of this has come up in the debates. Want to bet that any of it will come up in the final debate?
Yeah, me neither.
As I’ve said previously, debates are a lousy way to pick our leaders.
Oh the other hand, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
After all, how often does somebody like Mitt Romney actually keep his promises to people like us?
I mean really?