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Barack and Mitt Really Not Much Difference

by John on 05/25/2012

Ruth Marcus, columnist from the Washington Post, is brilliant.  After all, she wrote the same column I was going to write.  Honestly, I was.

She nicely points out the many similarities of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  You can read her piece here.

Granted, the presidential contenders are not twins.  They came from different backgrounds, but as Marcus points out, they have arrived philosophically and temperamentally at the same place. 

Some of my observations:

  1. They’re both centrists.  Experience shows that they both govern from the middle first.  The difference is each of them has to appeal to a rabid and partisan wing of his party.
  2. Only the extremists see Obama as a lefty bordering on socialism: on foreign wars he has been more George W. Bush than George W. Bush; and have you noticed the Bush tax cuts are intact? 
  3. Extremists can try to paint Romney as a right-wing whacko, but he has no record that backs that.
  4. No matter how hard Romney tries to run away from health care, he can’t.  It’s almost the same plan.
  5. They both have – excuse the pun – crosses to bear.  Romney’s a Mormon; Obama is half-black.  A minority of voters in the country will not vote for either of them for those two reasons.
  6. They are both missing a clear vision of the impact of the future.  They both cater to their political parties who are stuck in either 1980 (Republican) or 1960 or 1990 (Democratic) mentalities.  They cater to special interests that are suppressing and trying to gain control of the new technologies – especially in energy and communication.  In short, neither candidate is talking to the voter, like Reagan did, about starting your own business in your garage or your back bedroom, at a time when the tools for such entrepreneurship are more available and affordable.

So what will you have to endure from now until November?

  • We will see the campaigns try to paint the other candidate as someone totally different and incompatible with you.  For instance, Romney will be portrayed as that dictatorial boss who controlled your life and career.  Obama will be portrayed as that academic with great ideas but no experience in getting things done.
  • The extremists will be out in force.  Watch out for ads from SuperPacs and, what I call, Weapons of Mass Distortion, which are blast emails that your friends forward to you.  They’ll go something like these: Obama was born in Indonesia or Kenya.  Obama secretly prays to Allah and the West Wing now points to Mecca.  Romney still practices polygamy.  And Romney has a secret plan to convert the country to Mormonism.
  • The extremists will be the ones making the most noise until November, but it will be the middle of the road independents in the 12 swing states that will decide who wins the presidency.
  • I hate to say this, but it will probably come down to who we think is a nicer guy.  We will have some emotional attachment or disdain for one or the other.  We might notice something in their mannerisms that makes us comfortable or uncomfortable.  And that might be the deciding factor for many of the undecided voters at the moment they actually pull the lever.

But remember this.  Whoever wins, for the most part, it really won’t matter drastically. 

Yes, Romney will take care of Wall Street and corporate America; Obama will help new technologies and push for more education investment.  Of course, a lot will depend on the make-up of Congress.  I am betting not much will change in the House and Senate from the current stalemate we’re suffering through now. 

And, who knows what the summer might bring.  Remember, Obama didn’t pull away from McCain until the financial crisis hit in September of 2008.  Think of what is looming: Greece exiting the euro; war in the Middle East involving Iran, Syria, or Israel; or even another Japanese tsunami.

Despite those cheery scenarios, here’s what both a second term Obama and a newly-elected Romney will both do as president – in my opinion.  They have no choice.  It’s simple math.

  1. Simpson-Bowles will be adopted.  (In fact, if Obama wins re-election, don’t be surprised if Bowles is the next Treasury Secretary.)  To ignore this common sense outline for deficit reduction any longer is morally and ethically unconscionable.  It will lead to:
  2. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts.  We need the revenues.  And most Americans don’t believe that extra money saved by the wealthy is creating jobs.
  3. Entitlement spending will be curbed and age limits will be pushed back.  This spending is unsustainable.  We have to cut this spending now or we will have no country in a decade.
  4. Tax reform will wipe out many personal deductions (probably not mortgage interest) and subsidies for big business.  We will try to make things simple again.

If you think about it: 2013 can’t come quick enough.

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