Obama won’t reduce the deficit and neither will Romney
In 2008, I thought John McCain deserved to lose, but this did not mean I believed Barack Obama deserved to win. What McCain represented was four more years of George W. Bush-style “conservatism,” and that meant an increase in the size of government and more spending. Voters rightly saw McCain as an extension of Bush and rejected his brand of Republicanism.
In 2012, I believe Barack Obama deserves to lose. Everything I detested about Bush, Obama has expanded upon. Today, the debt is even larger, the federal government is even bigger, the executive branch is even more powerful, and both the entitlement and “national security” states have grown.
Despite having an edge in the polls, Obama’s actual approval rating is not high. Many, perhaps a majority, of Americans would like to reject Obama. However, they are just not sure Mitt Romney deserves to win. I share their concerns.
In their first debate, Romney kicked Obama’s ass. This is not debatable. After all, when liberals like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews are angrily frothing at the mouth over Obama’s lackluster showing, the winner is clear. The winner of a debate is generally the person who sounded better, looked better, spoke with more authority, and commanded more respect. In essence, the winner is the candidate who comes across as more presidential. And that was Romney.
But there was one thing that Romney and his winning personality promised on Wednesday night that the hard numbers indicate he cannot deliver: he cannot reduce the deficit with his plan. If Obama said anything that was true, it was this: “When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper-income individuals are currently taking advantage of, you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending.” He later added, “It’s math, arithmetic.”
Romney protested that he was not asking for $5 trillion in tax cuts — which I think is too bad. And in the governor’s defense, Obama’s relentless rhetoric about “loopholes” and “deductions” for “upper-income individuals” could be true — or it could be the same, tired, class warfare drivel the Democrats have been peddling for as long as I’ve been alive. But that “$2 trillion in additional military spending” is something Romney did not even attempt to protest.
For me, whatever hope I had that Romney would be a dramatic improvement over Obama was not dashed during the debate. It was dashed last May, when CNN reported that although Romney “is campaigning on a platform that emphasizes less spending, smaller deficits, and renewed fiscal responsibility … in one budget area, Romney is running the opposite direction. The former Massachusetts governor wants to increase defense spending by leaps and bounds. By one estimate, additional spending would exceed $2 trillion over the next decade.”
The need to cut military spending is something I have emphasized in columns for so long and so often that at least one of my editors has asked me to stop talking about it. Indeed, if there’s an issue I could be accused of being fanatical about, the dire need for cutting “defense” spending is it.
But Romney’s platform proves my point. If our annual deficit is between $1-1.5 trillion, and neither candidate is really serious about cutting entitlement costs which are far, far greater, how can anyone even pretend they’ll reduce the deficit while increasing spending on our military by $2 trillion?
We currently spend more on our military than we ever have, and most of that money goes to fund a massive bureaucracy that has little to do with our actual defense. The result: our soldiers are not paid enough, do not receive the proper benefits, and do not have the necessary weapons or essentials.
Let’s consider the sorry state of education in the United States. The reason America’s youth aren’t better educated has nothing to do with a failure to spend enough money on education. We spend plenty, if not too much. Conservatives rightly understand this. But while the GOP recognizes the spending failures of the Department of Education, they fail to see how this very situation is happening with the Department of Defense.
Romney won the presidential debate, but what do we win if he becomes president? The last time a smooth-talking, charismatic, debate-winning candidate became president, he promised he would cut the deficit in half. At the time, anyone with a calculator knew Obama was lying. Romney’s proposal to add $2 trillion in military spending makes it impossible to cut the deficit. Period. It’s math. It’s arithmetic.
Barack Obama deserves to lose this election, but Mitt Romney does not deserve to win it.