GOP tilts at mythical dragons
September 4, 2012
Figures of St. George slaying the dragon decorate many European towns, yet the victim of his sword is the stuff of fiction. Less entertaining, but every bit as ubiquitous in U.S. media is Mitt Romney’s defining himself as riding in on his white horse to save us from some beasts.
Like the dragon, some of his beasts are also mythological.
Reading the text of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech, in the calmness of black and white print, away from the feel good parts and the cheers, I was struck by the myths he proposed to slay.
Top among them was the disappearing $716 billion that President Obama was taking away from Medicare. Aside from the fact that Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan had advocated the same cuts because they were waste, and even the fact checkers had agreed, Romney perpetuated the tale. As some fact checkers pointed out the cuts were a reduction in the future growth of Medicare and nothing was taken from benefits. As others noted, the savings gave eight more years to the life of Medicare soundness, closed the donut hole in drug coverage that had been costing seniors on the average of $600 a year, and removed the co-pay requirements for cancer screening and annual checkups.
The most fanciful myth of all was the GOP’s reassurance that there would be no changes to those of us over 55, but the GOP plans would restore the donut holes and the co-pays.
The dragon of the tax hike to the middle class was another one Romney set himself up to slay. Strangely, Obama has also pledged not to raise taxes on the middle class. The difference lies in their definitions of middle class. To Obama it is those making under $250,000 per year; to Romney the middle class appears to begin with those making more than a quarter million a year.
The tax plan he embraced, per independent and respected analysts the Urban and Brookings Institutes, would raise taxes by $2,000 per year on those making less than what you and I would consider middle class families.
The myth of the apologetic foreign policy is another GOP concoction. Romney hit hard at Obama’s Cairo speech in which he made an eloquent case for the principles of American democracy, the right to vote, freedom of the press and so many of those fundamentals that the Arab Spring that followed embraced as their own. In a most ironic twist, Romney claimed it was the U.S. muscle of yore that had liberated people from the shackles of dictators and we would in the future. But if they could, the rulers of Tunisia, Lybia, and Egypt and now Syria had no doubt wished the forces of democracy as defined by Obama had been kept tightly corked in the genie lamp. The U.S. lost no warriors in unhorsing those ogres; but to unseat Saddam Hussein by force in search of the mythical WMD, Bush cost us at minimum over $800 billion, 4,400 troops killed, and another $400 billion plus in the future to treat the 23,000 plus wounded.
Leading by finesse or behind as Obama has done has its infinite value.
The debt is not a myth. The GOP’s myth has to do with the cause and the weapon used to slay it. Romney claims the cause of the debt is the undertaking of government expansion of health care, and Ryan says the way to get us out of debt it to take the sword to the social safety net. The Congressional Budget office looked at both the Ryan plan and Romney’s pledge to kill Obamacare and concluded that doing either and both would increase the debt, not decrease it.
The tip of the GOP’s weapon is pointed in the wrong direction.