Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mitt Romney on Other Issues

This is the fifth and last in a series of entries revisiting Mitt Romney's policies as stated in the debates. Upcoming entries will address Gary Johnson's and Barack Obama's policies. The first in this series covered foreign policy; the second covered economic policy. The third covered social issues, and the fourth covered health care. This entry wraps up the series by covering a few things that didn't fit into any other areas-- in particular, space, flip-flopping and a few general quotes.


In the 18th debate, Romney said space exploration "should certainly be a priority," and criticized Obama for destroying jobs on the space coast. He later mentioned science, commercial and military benefits from space exploration, but the outsized emphasis he placed on jobs made clear that he sees NASA as a jobs program for Floridians.

In the 19th debate, he said he did not have a plan for space, but would develop one after he got into office. He opposed Gingrich's plan for a moon base, and said he liked manned spaceflight. 


Throughout the debates, there were many times Romney was accused of changing his positions or actually did change his positions. These range from the inconsequential that can be written off as having misspoke, to the minor that can be reconciled with a bit of effort, to the major that are nearly impossible to reconcile with any consistent underlying belief. While I pointed out the inconsequential flips within the original debate analyses, I will not list them here. I have tried to find ways to reconcile different positions, and I am only including in this list positions that cannot be reconciled or where the reconciliations imply something Romney might object to if stated directly.

Reconcilable Inconsistencies:

In the 6th debate, he said, "[Romneycare] is a state plan for a state. It is not a national plan... please don't try and make me retreat from the words that I wrote in my book. I stand by what I wrote. I believe in what I did." However, as was widely reported at the time, the hardcover edition of his book included the line "We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country," referring to Romneycare, while the paperback removed that line. This line does not necessarily imply a national plan; it may just imply that he wanted the other 49 states to adopt plans similar to Romneycare, which is consistent with his constant defense of that program.

He wants to block grant Medicaid to the states, and then restrict how quickly the block grants grow. In the 8th debate, he wanted to grow them at 1-2% per year, while in the 10th at inflation-plus-one-percent. Reconciling these two numbers requires an inflation rate of 0-1%, which is possible, but implies a persistently stagnant economy during a Romney administration.

In the 15th debate, he said he did not run for re-election in Massachusetts because he had set out a list of 100 things he wanted to accomplish and had accomplished them, so he didn't need to run again. If he was elected as President, however, he said, "of course I'll fight for a second term." Does this imply he expects not to accomplish very much with his first term?

In the 16th debate, Romney was attacked by Gingrich for ads run by a SuperPAC working to elect him, but successfully got Gingrich to admit that exercising any influence on the SuperPAC would be a violation of federal law. He then criticized Gingrich himself for not exercising any influence on his SuperPAC. This can only be reconciled if Romney believes it is appropriate to attack someone for not violating a federal law that he himself chooses not to violate.

In the 18th debate, a moderator pointed out that Romney in the 17th debate had wanted to focus on Obama instead of the other Republicans, but in the intervening time had dramatically upped his negativity towards Gingrich. He justified it by saying he learned "something" from losing to Gingrich in South Carolina, apparently that voters like negativity.

Irreconcilable Inconsistencies:

In the 9th debate, the moderator accused Romney of being for the automaker bailout before he was against it before he was for it again. In that debate, and others, Romney took a position against the bailout and especially against the government-managed bankruptcy process, which he likened to Obama "put[ting] his hands on the scales of justice." Earlier this month, Romney switched back to supporting the bailout and managed bankruptcy, saying, "I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet... So, I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back."

Also in the 9th debate, he claimed that the problem with health care is that "government is playing too heavy a role." However in that debate and many others, he repeatedly defended the individual mandate at the core of both Romneycare and Obamacare, and even championed the individual mandate as a conservative solution for health care. When directly asked about this inconsistency, he instead talked about how he did not want to eliminate Medicaid.

In the 11th debate, he said on immigration, "I'm not going to start drawing lines here about who gets to stay and who gets to go," then immediately said that illegal immigrants should not "get to stay." Whether or not that's an appropriate line to draw, it is drawing a line.

Also in the 11th debate, he complained that Obama wants to cut "a trillion dollars" from defense and spend it on Obamacare, and that this would amount to spending us into bankruptcy. Spending the same amount of money on defense, however, would not be spending us into bankruptcy.

In the 18th debate, he said, "We're still a great nation, but a great nation doesn't have so many people suffering." To formalize, a ∈ B, a ∈ C and B ∪ C = ∅

Collected Quotes:

"There are a lot of reasons not to elect me, a lot of reasons not to elect other people on this stage, but one reason to elect me is that I know what I stand for, I've written it down." (From the 6th debate.)

"I don't try and define who's rich and who's not rich. I want everybody in America to be rich... I want people in America to recognize that the future will be brighter for their kids than it was for them." (From the 6th debate.)

"We are a patriotic people. We place our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem. No other people on Earth do that." (From the 6th debate.)

"I'm running for office, for Pete's sake, I can't have illegals." (From the 8th debate.)

In the 9th debate, he called himself "a man of steadiness and constancy."

Asked why he was not planning on releasing his tax returns until near the end of the primaries, Romney answered, "Because I want to make sure that I beat President Obama." (From the 17th debate.)

When asked in the 20th debate to describe himself in one word, Romney answered, "Resolute."

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