Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The conservative British financial rag The Economist has endorsed President Obama for a second term. It's not because they are grateful that the president righted an economy that was falling into the abyss of another Great Depression when he took office, or that the supposedly ‘Anti-Business’ Obama Is the Best President For Corporate Profits Since 1900. Oh, no. The Economist whines mightily that the Obama adiministration "bashes" big business rather than "butters them up" by telling them that they are the "masters of the universe," lord and master over all.
It is because The Economist says the Tea-Publican Party is batshit crazy insane and should not be in charge of the economy — they are in "the
cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking." Which one?:
FOUR years ago, The Economist endorsed Barack
Obama for the White House with enthusiasm. So did millions of voters.
Next week Americans will trudge to the polls far less hopefully. So (in
spirit at least) will this London-based newspaper. Having endured a
miserably negative campaign, the world’s most powerful country now has a
much more difficult decision to make than it faced four years ago.
* * *
[E]lections are about choosing somebody to run a country. And this choice
turns on two questions: how good a president has Mr. Obama been,
especially on the main issues of the economy and foreign policy? And can
America really trust the ever-changing Mitt Romney to do a better job?
On that basis, the Democrat narrowly deserves to be re-elected.
Mr. Obama’s first term has been patchy. On the economy, the most
powerful argument in his favour is simply that he stopped it all being a
lot worse. America was in a downward economic spiral when he took over,
with its banks and carmakers in deep trouble and unemployment rising at
the rate of 800,000 a month. His responses—an aggressive stimulus,
bailing out General Motors and Chrysler, putting the banks through a
sensible stress test and forcing them to raise capital (so that they are
now in much better shape than their European peers)—helped avert a
Depression. That is a hard message to sell on the doorstep when growth
is sluggish and jobs scarce; but it will win Mr. Obama some plaudits from
history, and it does from us too.
Two other things count, on balance, in his favour. One is foreign
policy, where he was also left with a daunting inheritance. Mr. Obama has
refocused George Bush’s “war on terror” more squarely on terrorists,
killing Osama bin Laden, stepping up drone strikes (perhaps too
liberally, see article)
and retreating from Iraq and Afghanistan (in both cases too quickly for
our taste). After a shaky start with China, American diplomacy has made
a necessary “pivot” towards Asia. . .
* * *
The other qualified achievement is health reform. Even to a newspaper
with no love for big government, the fact that over 40m people had no
health coverage in a country as rich as America was a scandal. . .
* * *
Mr. Obama’s shortcomings have left ample room for a pragmatic Republican,
especially one who could balance the books and overhaul government.
Such a candidate briefly flickered across television screens in the
first presidential debate. This newspaper would vote for that Mitt
Romney, just as it would for the Romney who ran Democratic Massachusetts
in a bipartisan way (even pioneering the blueprint for Obamacare). The problem is that there are a lot of Romneys and they have committed themselves to a lot of dangerous things.
* * *
Mr. Romney seems too ready to bomb Iran, too uncritically supportive of
Israel and cruelly wrong in his belief in “the Palestinians not wanting
to see peace”. The bellicosity could start on the first day of his
presidency, when he has vowed to list China as a currency manipulator—a
pointless provocation to its new leadership that could easily degenerate
into a trade war.
* * *
[F]ar from being the voice of fiscal prudence, Mr. Romney wants to start
with huge tax cuts (which will disproportionately favour the wealthy),
while dramatically increasing defence spending. Together those measures
would add $7 trillion to the ten-year deficit. He would balance the
books through eliminating loopholes (a good idea, but he will not
specify which ones) and through savage cuts to programmes that help
America’s poor (a bad idea, which will increase inequality still
further). At least Mr. Obama, although he distanced himself from
Bowles-Simpson, has made it clear that any long-term solution has to
involve both entitlement reform and tax rises. Mr. Romney is still in the
cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking you can do it entirely through spending
cuts: the Republican even rejected a ratio of ten parts spending cuts to
one part tax rises. Backing business is important, but getting the
macroeconomics right matters far more.
Mr. Romney’s more sensible supporters explain his fiscal policies away as
necessary rubbish, concocted to persuade the fanatics who vote in the
Republican primaries: the great flipflopper, they maintain, does not
mean a word of it. Of course, he knows in current circumstances no sane
person would really push defence spending, projected to fall below 3% of
GDP, to 4%; of course President Romney would strike a deal that raises
overall tax revenues, even if he cuts tax rates.
* * *
When politicians get elected they tend to do quite a lot of the things they promised during their campaigns.
* * *
Indeed, the extremism of his party is Mr. Romney’s greatest handicap. The
Democrats have their implacable fringe too: look at the teachers’
unions. But the Republicans have become a party of Torquemadas, forcing
representatives to sign pledges never to raise taxes, to dump the
chairman of the Federal Reserve and to embrace an ever more
Southern-fried approach to social policy. Under President Romney, new
conservative Supreme Court justices would try to overturn Roe v Wade,
returning abortion policy to the states. The rights of immigrants (who
have hardly had a good deal under Mr. Obama) and gays (who have) would
also come under threat. This newspaper yearns for the more tolerant
conservatism of Ronald Reagan, where “small government” meant keeping
the state out of people’s bedrooms as well as out of their businesses.
Mr. Romney shows no sign of wanting to revive it.
* * *
A re-elected President Obama might learn from his mistakes, clean up
the White House, listen to the odd businessman and secure a legacy
happier than the one he would leave after a single term. Both men have
it in them to be their better selves; but the sad fact is that neither
candidate has campaigned as if that is his plan.
As a result, this election offers American voters an unedifying choice. Many of The Economist’s
readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well
conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr.
Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr. Romney
has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what
he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for
all his shortcomings, Mr. Obama has dragged America’s economy back from
the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So
this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.
A begrudging endorsement from a bunch of pompous assholes, but it will do.