Monday, June 27, 2011

Romney's Pledges

So, Mitt Romney will not sign the Susan B. Anthony List's pro-life pledge because it "is overly broad and would have unintended consequences... [like] end[ing] all federal funding for thousands of hospitals across America." Yet, he happily signs the Americans for Tax Reform so-called Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which ATR interprets as preventing members of Congress from voting to end the ludicrously wasteful and damaging ethanol subsidies without creating an offsetting tax credit somewhere else.

For the record, I am glad that Romney did not sign the SBA List pledge, and I am a big supporter of lowering federal tax rates as part of a program that reduces spending and limits the size of the federal government. Yet, it is hard to square Romney's reasonable attempt at prudence on pro-life issues with his reckless, "read my lips" type promise on taxes.

The next president of the United States will almost certainly be forced to take drastic steps to restore some semblance of fiscal balance through some combination of a downgraded credit rating, a bond market revolt, a balanced budget amendment, or old-fashioned political pressure. That kind of balancing effort will almost certainly require major reductions in federal programs that will be politically impractical to implement given the ability of a determined Senate minority to obstruct spending reductions. The ATR pledge prevents a prospective president from  raising taxes to increase revenues and balance the budget, and, instead, binds its signatories to continued fiscal irresponsibility.

Mr. Romney is far-sighted enough to recognize that the SBA pledge would put him in an impossible position as president, yet he is apparently blind to the dangers of the ATR pledge, both for his political career and for the country.

It is little wonder than many Republicans remain unsold by Mr. Romney and have high hopes for another candidate to enter the GOP field.

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