Felicia Muftic: Candidate choice: freedom or fairness?
April 10, 2012
In his Illinois and Wisconsin primary victory speeches , Mitt Romney reset his campaign to his original theme: Experience in business gives him special insight into how to restore the economy. His formula: “freedom” for business interests.
President Obama has emphasized: “fairness.” Those words chosen by both men reflect their backgrounds, with whom they connect, and in whose interest they would govern. Now each is branding the other as the most out of touch.
“Fairness” seems to be touching more of the voters. Romney’s favorability ratings plunged to 34 percent in a March 23 ABC poll. Obama’s ascended to 53 percent. Why?
The rough GOP primary, getting bin Laden, and the slowly improving economy weakened Romney’s case that Obama was a failure. Rick Santorum raised the public’s consciousness that there was a difference between a person raised in privilege and a coal miner’s descendent. Romney helped make that point by committing one gaffe after another, from Cadillacs owned to hefty bets on trivia.
Romney is now ridiculing the president for being ignorant about economic matters, dismissing Obama as an out of touch professor and a government-loving community organizer. What he slyly didn’t acknowledge is Obama’s life story, coming from the struggling middle class, which Obama is of, by, and for.
Romney’s understanding of the economy is of, by, for, and limited to his own world of finance and the self-serving theory that tax cuts restored to the rich create wealth that trickles down to the rest. Trickle-down taxation policies between 2001 and 2008 failed. The rich got 275 percent richer; the rest, 6 percent poorer, and the private sector lost 650,000 jobs. Somehow he missed those facts.
Romney equated his experience in private equity to his ability to create jobs, but what is good for Wall Street does not necessarily translate to what others think is in their interest. In analyzing the auto industry through the eyes of a banker, he concluded it was good public policy that auto manufacturing should go bankrupt in spite of resulting job losses. This sank his poll numbers in some Rust Belt swing states.
His plan to restore the economy is to govern on behalf of business, to free business from more regulation, and to “make the regulators the allies of business.” In repealing Wall Street reform and installing foxes to guard the hen house doors, he would restore the same practices that caused the 2008 crash, epic losses of jobs, and the fleecing of the home-owning middle class.
We know in whose interest Romney would not govern. Last month Romney criticized women for wanting to receive pills and mammograms free of copays through Obamacare and he pledged to end support of Planned Parenthood. He claims those issues are not as important to women as the economy. Both are important, and his support from women has dropped dramatically.
We know in whose interest President Obama is governing and why. He has said his priority for health care reform was inspired by his dying mother’s struggle to pay medical bills. His issuing rules to alleviate the staggering burden of student loans was born of his own difficulties in paying them off. His income tax proposal would have the rich pay proportionately no less than the middle class (the Buffett rule).
Unlike Mitt Romney’s life experiences , Obama learned much about the poor as a community organizer. He saw firsthand the pain of factory closings and the need for a hand-up to escape poverty when the free market cannot or did not provide it. Freedom to stay poor is a poor kind of freedom.
For more commentary, go to http://www.mufticforum.com
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