The debate showed us that…

-Mitt Romney will make no significant cuts in the size of government if he is elected.

-Mitt Romney thinks Social Security, Medicare and financial regulations are great things.

-Mitt Romney thinks we should spend more, not less, on the military, when we are facing $1 trillion deficits.

-Mitt Romney wants to spend more on teachers. He wants to keep many elements of Obamacare and continue our ridiculously progressive tax code.

-And with all this, my left-wing friends are in despair because Obama came out flat. Don’t worry, friends, you will get plenty of big government under a President Romney.

By the way, my prediction of a Romney victory is not looking so unlikely now, is it?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

29 thoughts on “The debate showed us that…

  1. I don’t quite read it like you do, Geoff. I saw Romney stating he was going to reduce regulation, leaving only the things that are needed without stifling competition. He spoke often of sending many things back to the states, such as Medicaid. He spoke of ending Obamacare, and eventually replacing Medicare with a voucher system. He suggested that for education, just sending the money to the families to spend at whatever is the best school in the area, taking government out of the middle of it all.
    As for Defense, he was referring to the big cuts that are on target to occur. He thinks it will gut our military, leaving us vulnerable overseas. I think he has a point on that one. While I’m all for getting quickly out of Afghanistan, and reducing our 900 bases overseas down, it doesn’t mean we have to leave ourselves with a skeleton army.
    What does Romney want to keep from Obamacare? There are some good provisions in it. The things Romney will do? I like the idea that people cannot be turned down for insurance due to current health issues. I like the idea of allowing people to buy insurance across state lines. I like the idea of finding ways to reduce the costs of healthcare, while leaving the majority of the effort to the states to do.

    So, while Romney is not a libertarian as you and I are, I think he is a pragmatist and a states’ rights person. I believe his policies will move us out of recession and into real growth, unlike what we see with the current administration’s giant government programs.

    For me, the debate showed that Romney can be presidential. He can deal with disagreements in an amiable manner, as he was respectful of Pres Obama last night. He has plans that will reduce government’s footprint in many things. Of the two candidates, he was the only one to speak of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and inalienable rights.

    While he is not pushing a libertarian view, he is pushing us back towards more freedom and less government. And the person who offers me increased freedom and less government is the person I will vote for.

  2. I guess I see it this way, Rame: we are in a sinking lifeboat. Obama wants to “save” the boat by making more holes in the hull. Romney wants to bail water with a spoon. We need some people to bail water with buckets, and very few people are volunteering.

    I understand the political realities. I just don’t think people realize how bad things are, and the lack of urgency bugs the heck out of me.

  3. Geoff,

    Best is enemy to good.

    I believe Romney is the most libertarian-leaning candidate that could possibly have had a chance of actually being elected. And, at that, he’s still running neck-and-neck with the worst prepared, least competent, and most left-leaning president to stand for reelection in my lifetime.

    Like it or not, libertarianism has very limited popular appeal. Changing that will be a slow process that will not be helped by ragging on the more libertarian candidate out of the realistic options available to us. You can throw away your vote on Gary Johnson if you like, but all that will do is make you feel better about yourself than you deserve to.

  4. Vlad, I live in Colorado and will be voting for Romney. My philosophy is: change the Republican party from the inside. In the meantime, I am going to continue to speak out for smaller government and more liberty, and that includes criticizing the likely Pres. Romney when he does stupid things (and praising him when he does good things).

    Rame, you say: “As for Defense, he was referring to the big cuts that are on target to occur. He thinks it will gut our military, leaving us vulnerable overseas. I think he has a point on that one.” I love you, but I just can’t agree on that. We spend nearly $1 trillion a year on Defense (if you include everything), and China spends barely $100 billion. Russia spends less, Iran, a lot less and North Korea spends a bushel of rice and several cans of dog meat. We could easily cut many billions without affecting our primary strategic goal, which is to protect the United States from attack. Sequestration was one of the few good things to come out of last year’s debt deal, and the fact that Republicans are now welching on that deal makes me sick to my stomach.

  5. One other thing, Vlad (who has the same IP address as “Vader”), and I sincerely hope this will resonate. We got a Republican president and a Republican Congress for much of the Bush terms. What did we get? A lot of spending on war and the military. A new entitlement program. A doubling of the size of the Dept of Education. The foundations of our current TSA. If more people like me had spoken out against these things in, say, 2002-2003, we could have perhaps avoided the disaster of an Obama presidency. It does no good for small government people to remain silent and take one for the team. The left will always want more government no matter how huge the government is. We have to offer an alternative, and that includes pushing Republicans to truly be the small government party.

  6. Romney said that states and school districts should spend more on teachers, not the federal government. In addition, while he does not propose to eliminate any entitlements (other than Obamacare), neither does Gary Johnson. You cannot end or even substantially reform a major entitlement without public support, and it is barely there to do what Romney and Ryan are proposing to do now.

    It is the same thing with eliminating a half a dozen federal departments. The electorate (unfortunately) is not convinced enough of the seriousness of the problem to support any such thing, especially not as a central plank of a campaign platform. Hyperinflation or bouncing Social Security checks might change their mind, but until then we have the tyranny of the status quo.

    There is a long list of cuts that the Republican caucus is in favor of. It is not quite as exciting as shutting down much of the federal government, but it is definite progress compared to the alternative. Obamacare, for example, will make federal spending go up by about $200 billion a year to support a _new_ entitlement. There is a long list of tax increases that are part of that.

    Plus the government is going to penalize people for not purchasing expensive health insurance. $12,000 a year often isn’t easy to come by. Repealing Obamacare alone and replace it with a set of much more moderate reforms will avoid a major expansion in the size and reach of the federal government. Obamacare is the law of the land, and repealing it before it goes into effect will save enormous sums, both for the government and individuals.

    The reversal of just that pending expansion would be a historic accomplishment for any conservative or libertarian. If Johnson could get elected, he might be able to do a better job, but not that much better. Neither the voting public nor their representatives in Congress will allow it, not until their hand is forced, or someone develops a persuasive ability that would put Reagan to shame. It is completely unrealistic to expect one man to single handedly end Medicare and Social Security. It isn’t going to happen. It would take a revolution in American politics simply to eliminate the federal department of education.

  7. Mark D, your first point on Romney’s position on teachers is valid. I am not sure why people keep on bringing up Gary Johnson — I am not voting for him and never mentioned him in my post.

  8. “It is completely unrealistic to expect one man to single handedly end Medicare and Social Security. It isn’t going to happen. It would take a revolution in American politics simply to eliminate the federal department of education.”

    It will collapse of its own dead weight before too long. When the safety net needs a safety net to be viable, Greece/Spain/Zimbabwe is right around the corner.

  9. Geoff,
    I do not believe for a second that China only spends what is reported. I also do not believe for a second that China pays its active duty military as much as we do. I also do not believe for a second that China pays its retirees as much as we do. I also do not believe for a second that China’s military is engaged in a war with terrorists all over the world that substitutes massive amounts of collateral damage for high priced weapons and strategies. I do not believe China has to deal with high cost weapons development (especially when they use our R&D as the costly “proof of concept” phase and then figure out how to do it on their own with a little espionage thrown in for good cost/time cutting measure). In essence, I do not believe for a second you can make any meaningful comparison by looking at the Chinese defense budget and the US defense budget.

    Your post is like saying, because a Chinese factory can make an iphone for $165, an American factory should be able to do it for the same price. Not a chance.

    Whatever we spend on our hardware, not to mention the R&D, property rights, support, active duty, etc. etc. will be many many times higher than China.

    Now, I’m not saying we must have every single weapons platform that gets dreamed up, or have every single base we currently do. But comparisons to China in this regard are completely meaningless.

    For comparison in 1940 the US spent 100 billion on defense. Japan spent 6.4 billion.

  10. Chris, I have no idea where you got that figure of $100 billion from, but it is not even close. This chart indicates were were spending less than $10 billion.

    Meanwhile, these charts indicate Japan, which was involved in wars in China during the 1930s, spent nearly 70 percent of its budget on the military.

    There is absolutely no indication that China, based on its history and its current posture, is interested in invading the United States militarily. China for centuries has really only cared about its sphere of influence, meaning protecting its immediate geographical borders. China does not have a history of expansionistic behavior — unfortunately from China’s perspective we do have a history of going beyond our borders to attack.

    So, while I agree it is possible and perhaps even likely that China is not revealing all of its defense spending, my point of bringing it up was simply to show we are spending plenty in comparison. If China spends, say $300 billion (doubtful, but let’s say it does), it is still one-third what we spend. Our spending should be based on our strategy. If our strategy continues to be to police the world, yes, we will need to continue to spend nearly $1 trillion and probably more. I am calling for a defensive strategy where we stop policing the world and protect our physical borders. If China begins to indicate it may attack the US and invade Hawaii and California, I agree we need to increase defense spending. That is not a realistic scenario today.

  11. Apologies. That’s where it came from, I just made the mistake of looking at the $100billion GDP.

    Nevertheless, the ultimate point stands. It’s not China is going to invade us (neither did Japan unless you count Asia territories, which China might get aggressive with). It’s not that we were X amount above someone else. It’s not that We spend x% of GDP compared to their % of GDP.

    It’s that someone spending a lot less doesn’t mean they can’t be a dangerous aggressor. And more over, it’s entirely reasonable to assume that the United States has among the highest production costs of any in the world, while China among the lowest. Japan fought a war “on the cheap” dollar for dollar.

    Complaining that we spend $1 million on a satellite guided cruise missile while China spends $1million on 1000 unguided missiles misses the mark. And while we might laugh that those Chinese missiles will also miss the mark, I pray we never have a sunken carrier group as a result of China’s apparently low budget operations that are viewed as low budget, inferior and inconsequential.

    The point was that China can do things a lot cheaper than we can, and I was curious to see where Japan stood back in the day. I was in error with the GDP mixup, but that wasn’t the ultimate point of the comment (one sentence compared to a dozen)

  12. China has a long history of expansionist behavior. Just in the 20th century they have fought with every one of their major neighbors: Korea, Taiwan, India, Russia, and Vietnam. In every instance they did so to seize territory or intimidate their neighbors. This doesn’t include the nuclear cold war they had with Russia in the 1970s, their brutal subjugation of Tibet, or the many indigenous tribes that the Han Chinese has destroyed or forcefully assimilated over their long history. Moreover, they cook their books so their military spending looks much smaller than it really is. Even then, as Mark correctly pointed out, American weapon systems are more expensive. They are also expanding their blue water fleet to project their power. They take part in operations in the Horn of Africa, and they are establishing bases around the world, such as Gwadar in Pakistan and their “string of pearls”. So your comparison is not accurate for a number of reasons.

  13. Romney did propose all of these big spending programs. At the same time he promised to balance the budget, not cut benefits to anyone (who might be a voter) and make sure that any tax fiddling would be revenue neutral. With a big deficit, he will increase spending without increasing revenue while balancing the budget. If you believe that I have some swampland (oops, waterfront property) here in Florida I will sell you.
    For those of you of a libertarian bent, be careful exactly what of his statements you believe. Last night he changed his position on most of the issues. He continues to say what he thinks the audience de jour wants without giving any clue as to what he will do.

  14. Because he hasn’t the least clue what he could do….No candidate up for first-time election does.

    Really, has any new candidate ever been able to make good on his promises? And why is that? Because the president doesn’t make the budget. He can only set the tone for Congress.

    Seriously, folks. The president isn’t God. So long as we expect him to be, we put him in a position where he HAS to lie to us to get elected.

  15. Morgan D, your points about China actually back up my view, which is: the United States should concentrate on defending the homeland and perhaps our “sphere of influence.” China’s history shows that it involves itself in conflicts on its borders. If China invaded Mexico (like we invaded North Korea and Chinese territory and north Vietnam), we would also be concerned, and our concern would not be “expansionary,” it would be defensive. China will always be concerned about military action alongs its borders, just as we would be. It is clear that China’s military is improving and that China is spending more money on the military. The issue is: is China threatening our legitimate spheres of influence? Does China plan on invading Mexico, Canada or even Brazil? How about the UK, France or Germany? The answer is no. I also don’t believe that China will invade anywhere in Africa or the Middle East. So, why is China improving its military? Because of 1)Taiwan, 2)possible future conflicts with its neighbors over oil rights 3)historical rivalries with Japan and 4)because we are proving to be an expansionistic, aggressive power that may eventually be a threat. So, from a strategic perspective, we need to 1)continue to invest and trade peacefully with the world and 2)define our strategic interests in a clear and realistic manner. Yemen is not within our sphere of influence; the UK and Mexico and Canada are. If we make it clear to the Chinese that we will only defend our strategic interests, then we will have a much better, more peaceful relationship with China. As for Taiwan, we have a long-standing alliance with the Taiwanese. The Chinese look at such things in terms of decades. China will never give up the idea of eventually reintegrating Taiwan. Over time, as China becomes more prosperous, the idea of Taiwan reuniting with the mainland will become more palatable. We should continue to assert our alliance but recognize that eventually Taiwan will become part of China again.

  16. Great post Geoff. I absolutely agree. For all intents and purposes, Obama and Romney are the same: centerish pragmatists. The debate really did show just how all this ideological posturing is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors, put on display for the average American idiot. When they actually debate substantive issues together in the same room, you find how close they are, and how insignificant their differences really are. A Romney presidency won’t be much different than an Obama one. And both would be relatively powerless, given the divisive climate in Congress and the filibuster system.

    We are in a sinking ship, a ship that probably needs to sink. Democracies that rely on super-majority consensus in order to do anything are completely unequipped to make difficult decisions like the ones we need get out of a massive debt crisis. When the people are in power, and the people are addicted to a culture of debt, there needs to be an intervention, the kind only a king could make, not a powerless president who has to cater to the whims of senior citizens. The sooner we default, go through a decade of depression, and devalue our currency, the better. Time to pay the piper.

  17. Bill Clinton might be said to be a center-ish pragmatist. Obama is more like the opposite. When the GOP gained control of the House in 1994, Clinton triangulated. When the GOP gained control of the House in 2010, Obama moved further to the left. Clinton was willing to sign a historic welfare reform. Obama is doing his best to dismantle it. A pragmatist knows that the era of big government is over. For Obama, it is full speed ahead.

  18. Nate, I understand your point about democracies, but remember we are not a democracy, we are a republic. The problems started when we got rid of the republican (small r) nature of government and moved toward becoming a democracy. In a democracy, with pure majority rule, when 51 percent of the people want to do something to the other 49 percent, bad things violating individual liberty happen. In a republic, based on a founding document that protect individual liberty, the 51 percent are prevented from doing bad things to the 49 percent. So, the model was a good one, including the supermajorities. It is the failed execution that has gotten us to where we are today.

  19. Geoff, in theory, a republic is supposed to protect against the tyranny of the majority, but in America, there are too many checks and balances, too much power to block and filibuster, but no power to act to make real changes. There is not enough tyranny. Sometimes a tyrant is needed, because the American people are incapable of governing themselves, incapable of balancing the budget and getting out of debt, because they are addicted to debt. The only other solution is bankruptcy. Tyranny, or bankruptcy are our two options. I’d love tyranny, but bankruptcy will be OK too. Bankruptcy under Obama, or Romney? Your choice. Who do you want to be president when the ship goes down?

    If we had a nice three party system, like Great Britain has, with no filibusters, then someone like Ron Paul, could get in power with 34% of the vote, and a libertarian congress could pass legislation with only 34% of the vote, and real things would get done.

    Under such a system, government could fundamentally be changed, according to up and down votes. That is real power. That is progress.

    But in America, we can’t move like that. Government only changes fundamentally in moments of crisis, like FDR’s situation, when enormous power is generated in one party because of extreme circumstances.

    Otherwise, it’s step by step, centerish changes that happen in government. Even Regan had to be a centrist after his big tax cut, raising taxes more times than any other president in history, to make up for all the political capital he had lost in his first big tax cut.

    I’m with you that a centrist approach will not be able to balance the budget. We need another crisis. And it will come soon enough.

  20. It kind of drives me nuts when people trot out the “we’re a republic, not a democracy” meme. Obviously, the U.S. is both. It’s neither pure republic nor pure democracy, but it has strong aspects of both. Any jurisdiction where the people are fairly electing leaders and representatives is somewhat, more or less “democratic”. It’s not a pure democracy, of course, but to say that the United States is “not a democracy” is a bit over the top.

  21. Rickly, if you gave that answer in introductory civics, you would fail the course. The Constitution does not say we are a democracy, but does say we are a republic. Federalist No. 10 says the Constitution clearly sets up a republican government. Even the Pledge of Allegiance says “and to the republic, for which it stands.”

    Read some more here:

  22. It doesn’t matter that the Constitution does not use the word “democracy”. It also says, “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States …” Are you seriously suggesting that the U.S. has no features of a democracy?

  23. The problem with the (somewhat partisan, I perceive) answer is that it equates “democracy” with “direct democracy”. They are not the same thing, and hardly anyone means “direct democracy” when they say such-and-such a country is a “democracy”.

  24. Rickly, the point you are missing is that the Founders, during the Constitutional convention, clearly considered a democracy, rather than a republic, and they rejected creating the United States as a democracy. I really think you should go read Federalist No. 10. There are also a lot of very good books about the debates that took place in the Constitutional convention and what was considered and rejected. There are three branches. There is a Senate that is different than the House. Until 100 years ago, senators were elected by state legislatures rather than the people. The purpose of all of these things was to created a *representative republic* rather than a democracy like, for example, Israel, which has a parliament with 10 different political parties. It doesn’t matter whether the country has “features” of a democracy — people vote, some states have referenda, etc. The point is that the country is a republic, not a democracy, and this is crucial to understanding the history of civics in this country.

  25. Thanks, Geoff, I have read Federalist No 10 and all the other Federalist Papers. You appear to be taking a stance that a country can be a republic or a democracy, but that it can’t be both or have aspects of both. I disagree. Yes, the U.S. is a republic, and it was intended to be so. But that does not mean it is not also a democracy. What matters is what exists today, not so much what the Founders wanted or intended. (edited)

  26. Rickly, your own comments back up my point. “Our republic.” Yes, it is a republic. Descriptions matter, words have objective meanings. The Soviet Union had elements of “democracy,” as does modern-day Cuba. People do actually vote for things (sometimes) in Communist systems, but neither Cuba nor the Soviet Union are democracies, except in the fevered apologetics offered by defenders of the system. Our government is a republic, end of story. It may have elements of other democracies, but the overall structure is one of a republic.

    Rickly, you have made your point. Either discuss something else related to the post or move on. Thanks.

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