Romney Says He Will "Restore" America... But, to What?

Mitt Romney, whose business experience enabled him to be 47th in the nation with respect to job growth when he was a one-term governor of Massachusetts, has told us that he is going to "restore" America.
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Mitt Romney, whose business experience enabled him to be 47th in the nation with respect to job growth when he was a one-term governor of Massachusetts, has told us that he is going to "restore" America.

What is he going to restore us to?

The '00s? Romney's economic and military policies will restore America to what it was like under George W Bush, only worse. Nonetheless, one can be certain that if he were ever asked the question, he would not say it was to Bush's America -- taking a $5 trillion surplus and creating a $3 trillion debt instead, a catastrophic turnaround of $8 trillion, the worst job creation record since Herbert Hoover, the most cataclysmic financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression, oil prices shooting at one point to $140/barrel, two unpaid-for wars, ignoring warnings of a terrorist attack, and a new unpaid-for Medicare benefit with a gigantic donut hole in the middle. Although he's signed on to the policies to bring us there, one doubts Romney would admit signing up for that vision.

The '90s? Perhaps Romney means the 1990s, under Bill Clinton. Well, if he wants to get there, he will have to raise taxes on the wealthy to 39.6%, and raise the capital gains tax to 20%, and tax rates on dividends to the same as ordinary income. Grover would be very angry with Willard if he did this. Sure we developed the internet, but that arose from a government program (shh! Quiet! Don't tell anyone).

The late '80s/early '90s? Perhaps Romney means restoring us to the time of George H.W. Bush. After all, the Romneys appear more comfortable with the elder than with the younger Bushies anyhow. They are "their" kind of people. But, H.W. had a major recession (nothing compared to Junior, but still quite painful), he raised taxes to 35%, had capital gains rates of 28% (inherited from Uncle Ronnie). Of course, once Margaret Thatcher provided him a backbone transplant, H.W. did fight a successful war in Kuwait, and had it mostly paid for by a real coalition of nations, so Mitt would probably like that. But, Grover would be growling if Mitt raised those taxes, especially in the midst of a recession because all those job creators would just close shop (see below, e.g., the 1970s).

The '80s? Uncle Ronnie himself! OK, now we are humming. Maybe this is Romney's restoration goal. Let's see, for most of the marvelous '80s, the top tax rate was 50% -- ouch!! In 1986, Reagan did cut the top rate to 28%, but he closed lots of loopholes and promoted the Buffet rule, and raised capital gains rates to 28% and had dividends taxed as ordinary income -- and, through it all, was the first president since World War II under whom the debt rose faster than GDP. Big thumbs down from Grover on that one. Pakistan's "Islamic Bomb" was developed. Romney said he will not permit Iran to get a nuclear bomb (how he is going to prevent that he, of course, never says, but there is 100% certainty that no one named Romney will be fighting he decides to do that), so this cannot be the era to which Romney wants to restore us.

Reagan also tucked tail and ran from Lebanon; even Bush Jr criticized him for that. So, if it is the '80s to which Romney will restore America, then not only would Grover be snarling, but the neoconistas would be fuming.

But they did cheer U.S. military victory over Grenada. Perhaps Romney would display his strength and wisdom by invading the Caymans -- oh, sorry, he already vacations there with his money, and he would not want to disturb that cozy relationship.

The '70s? Carter imposed CAFÉ standards that, if Reagan had retained them, would have had us off foreign oil by the mid-80s, so Mitt cannot want that. The hostages in Iran... not for Mitt, unless he could sell the Embassy in Teheran and tell the hostages they were on their own, just as he operated some of his businesses. Tax rates on the wealthy were 70%. Of course, Apple and Microsoft, and the entire biotechnology industry were launched then, but we know those high tax rates kill job creators, so that cannot be Mitt's vision.

The '60s? Here we had the Vietnam War that Mitt wanted so badly to fight (while he skadaddled for a mission in France), but, gosh-darn-it, golly-gee, he just never seemed to volunteer for it. Wonder how that happened? Tax rates began at 90% and were reduced to 70%. But LBJ launched the war on poverty, and Mitt "isn't concerned about the very poor," so that would not jive with his vision.

The 50s? OK, now we may have found Mitt's sweet spot. In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Ken Kesey described it as the "era of mom&dad&buddy&sis&all-the-dear-but-square-ones". After all, Eddie Haskell reigned supreme, the malt shop was down the street, "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" was a popular song, and Ozzie Nelson never had a job -- he just lived off of royalties. Seems like Mitt-heaven. But, the Soviet Union beat us to space, Cuba went Communist, labor unions were strong, and Ike told us to beware of the military-industrial complex... not Mitt's vision either.

In the South, black people could not vote or ride in the front of buses or eat at lunch counters. Black children could not go to the same schools. "Restore" America... hmmm. Perhaps "restore" has more than economic overtones -- could it be a dog-whistle that Mitt is a good ole boy at heart?

There is no economic era that Romney's policies fit, except the 2000s, and he is not going to own up to that. So, is "restoring" America, therefore less an economic vision and more Mitt's version of Sarah Palin's and George Allen's and Pat Buchanan's "real Americans"?

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