By Perry Diaz
Last June 8, 2012, Republican presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney made a major gaffe that would hound him until the general elections on November 6. During a campaign rally in Iowa that day, Romney criticized President Barack Obama’s efforts to expand government. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers,” Romney said. “Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” Oops! Too late!
His remarks went viral. The Obama campaign immediately went on the attack, releasing a video criticizing Romney for suggesting to cut public sector jobs and being out of touch with the Americans’ needs.
When Fox News interviewed Romney a few days later, he tried to get out of the sinkhole by saying, “That’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states,” Romney said. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that’s completely absurd.” Wrong! The Federal government provides funds in education programs like the “Leave No Child Behind Act.” In law enforcement, the Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS) is a Federal grant to help police departments in hiring more community policing officers. And for fire departments, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) provides grants and financial assistance under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP).
Ryan’s radical budget plan
Evidently, Romney was clueless about the involvement of the Federal government in the hiring of teachers, policemen, and firefighters in local communities. But even if he were aware of these Federal grants to local governments, his endorsement and adoption of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” is indicative of what a Romney presidency would look like. Scary!
Romney, in trying to defend the Ryan budget plan, commented during a Wisconsin radio show that the budget plan “does not balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly. It instead preserves Medicare and Social Security.” But as one pundit said, “Paul Ryan’s budget plan is simply brutal towards the poor and working families. Romney doesn’t have to like it, but he really shouldn’t lie about it.” Yes, it’s so brutal that Ryan would take at least $3.3 trillion — or 62% — of $5.3 trillion in non-defense budget cuts over 10 years from programs for the poor.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the $3.3 trillion includes the following four categories of cuts:
- $2.4 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and other health care for people with low or moderate incomes.
- $134 billion in cuts to SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
- At least $463 billion in cuts in mandatory programs serving low-income Americans (other than Medicaid and SNAP).
- At least $291 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs.
In addition, Ryan’s budget plan would also cause tens of millions to lose their health insurance. It would also make it harder for low-income students to get a college education. It would also make cuts to transportation infrastructure, which is sorely needed to rehabilitate or repair thousands of old freeways and bridges.
But what he did would not touch defense spending. Considering that American combat forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014, the budget for defense should pare down. And lest I forget, Ryan’s “tax reform” would cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires while shifting the tax burden to the middle class.
And what Romney didn’t tell the people is that “preserving” Medicare is not really preserving it in the true meaning of the word. What Ryan had planned for was to turn Medicare into a voucher program without the guaranteed benefits. It would also bring back Medicare’s Part D prescription drug “donut-hole,” which would hurt the elderly who subsist on their Social Security checks.
In adopting Ryan’s budget plan and sold to the way Gov. Scott Walker was running Wisconsin by giving tax cuts to the rich and stripping hundreds of thousands of working-class Wisconsinites of their voice on the job, by all indications, Romney’s program of government would definitely be pro-rich and anti-poor. But what angered the 900,000 Wisconsinites who signed a recall petition was when the majority Republicans railroaded the union-busting bill in the “dead of night.”
Walker survived the recall election last June 5 by a large margin. Political pundits said that he won because of the massive influx of campaign money from out of state. Walker raised a whopping $32 million while the Democratic candidate, Tom Barrett, raised only $4.6 million.
In the end, the election was won by who had the bigger war chest. Walker’s contributors were seven Super PACs controlled by the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Citizens United, and big corporate donors. As one recall leader said, “We lost it to Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. In 2012, we did not lose the Wisconsin recall to Gov. Walker, we lost it to an 8-to-1 spending differential, most from out of the state.”
Makes one to wonder if Wisconsin is a microcosm of what would happen to America should Romney win the elections. And with Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” as his blueprint, Romney would Wisconsinize America if he won the presidential elections. And with the kind of moolah that is pouring into his campaign, he just might defeat Obama.
The other day, Las Vegas casino mogul, Sheldon Adelson, promised to spend “limitless” amount of money – as much as $100 million — to defeat Obama. The Koch brothers are expected to contribute $400 million and Karl Rove’s Super PACs will give another $300 million. It is estimated that Republican Super PACs will donate a total of $1 billion. With Romney expected to raise $800 million, he could inundate the television networks and radio stations with attack ads against Obama.
There is no doubt that Obama could defeat Romney on a person-to-person basis. But could he defeat the Super PACs behind Romney? Obama is keeping his cards close to his chest, just like when he took out Osama bin Laden last year, the American people didn’t know about it until he announced it. This was after the SEAL Team Six commandos returned safely to their base in Afghanistan with Bin Laden in a bag.
Obama might just surprise everybody again when the polls close on November 6.