As a committed believer in capitalism and economic liberty, the policy differences between presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are very stark. Regarding taxes, Romney supports broad tax reform including lowering rates while limiting deductions and loopholes whereas Obama supports only raising taxes on the nation’s top earners.
Romney missed an opportunity (one of several he missed) by not aggressively pointing out just how little money Obama’s tax hike would raise, even within the liberals’ fantasy world of static economic modeling.
Similarly, President Obama’s claimed support for exploiting our nation’s vast fossil fuel resources is a tale so unbelievable that one looks for Obama’s nose to be growing every time he says it.
Barack Obama’s repeated statements that the economy grows best by giving tax credits to the middle class are of a piece with Nancy Pelosi’s belief that food stamps are a great form of economic stimulus.
Despite Mitt Romney’s economic views and policies being far superior to those of the current administration, they are not as good as they should be. I understand the politics of Romney saying that he intends for the top 5 percent of earners to keep paying at least 60 percent of all federal income taxes. But that is a dangerous, unstable, and (perhaps most importantly) immoral position. After all, as Mart Laar, the former president of Estonia who was deeply influenced by Milton Friedman’s seminal Free to Choose, put it: A steeply progressive income tax is “the grand idea of Karl Marx.”
Although there is a legitimate issue of China stealing American intellectual property, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama ignore the benefits of China’s providing cheap goods to Americans – even if it comes through an ‘artificially weak’ currency, a situation which I doubt is true to any significant degree at this time given the yuan’s large increase in value since 2006 and its relative stability so far this year. Barack Obama talked about saving ‘a thousand jobs’ by putting tariffs on Chinese tires, but forgets the fact that those jobs come at a cost of more expensive tires for hundreds of thousands of American car owners.
The problem with the understandable political pandering by both candidates, but especially the populist-conservative approach of Mitt Romney, is that it locks him in politically to positions which are not pro-liberty or pro-growth. They may be good sound bites, and they may help win an election – and in that sense it is hard to object too much because the current administration is so worthy of being turned out – but they are not good policy, either in terms of actual impact or adherence to principle.