Last night the twins were talking about their schoolwork and Nancy suddenly said “I’m going to be president someday.” Michelle insisted she would be a better president, and they began to their first primary debate. Their platforms were mainly about homework (less) and squirrel feeders (more). Although they didn’t disagree on issues, they still had a lively debate. They know squirrels can’t run for president, but it was a nice fantasy.
Unlike Mitt Romney’s fantasies.
Last night Romney won the Republican primaries in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. None of those results was surprising, as Romney’s only remaining opponents are Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. Neither has gained traction with voters, and Romney is already the presumptive nominee. So he used his victory speech to weave a fantasy for November:
This America is fundamentally fair. We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; we will stop the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; we will stop the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; we will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.
Romney’s world is as real as one where squirrels can run for president.
America is not “fundamentally fair.” Economic mobility is lower in the U.S. than in any other western democracy. There are many reasons, but the most important reason is simply high income inequality; in economics as in engineering, wider gaps are harder to bridge. A January Pew Research poll found most Americans are concerned about rising inequality, and a Bloomberg survey of economic leaders meeting in Davos that same month revealed similar concerns. Romney may think the system is fine because it worked for him, but he also ignores the help he received from his wealthy father.
I agree that too many urban children have poor local schools, but studies from Connecticut to Michigan to Minnesota have confirmed what the Economic Policy Institute found in 2005: the charter schools Romney favors do no better on average than public schools, and many do worse. While Romney complains about the “unfairness” of union political donations, he says not a word about the corporate political spending that dwarfs union money. He says government workers are overpaid, but studies show government workers with higher education actually make less than their private-sector counterparts. The difference is that less-educated government workers still earn a living wage and – unlike in the private sector – usually qualify for the same health and pension benefits as their better-educated colleagues.
As for well-connected businesses getting government handouts, Romney should leave that topic alone. He took plenty of government money for the Salt Lake City Olympics, after all. And he should also hush about the federal debt, which nearly tripled under President Reagan and nearly doubled under President George W. Bush. Even Vice President Cheney agreed on that in 2004 when he said “deficits don’t matter.” Or he did until last September, when he decided deficits matter after all.
Romney’s “unfairness” is pure fantasy and his party’s economic policies are, as RNC spokesperson Alexandra Franceschi said, the George W. Bush program “just updated.”
Squirrels will run for president before Romney’s fantasy is true.
Good day and good nuts.