Romney tries again to be taken seriously

ROMNEY TRIES AGAIN TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY…. Just yesterday, Chris Cillizza praised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) for his “unswerving” and “laser-like focus on financial matters as he prepares to challenge the incumbent in 2012.”

I don’t think that’s quite right. Just last month, Romney did his level best to pretend to understand foreign policy and counter-proliferation. The result was utterly humiliating.

So, the former one-term governor is shifting his “laser-like focus” away from national security and back to the economy, writing an op-ed in the Boston Globe yesterday with the usual spiel — blame Obama for the economic mess he inherited, “uncertainty” reigns, yada, yada, yada.

Of course, this is Mitt Romney we’re talking about — a man who changes positions like most of us change socks — so it’s worth emphasizing that he approved of Obama’s stimulus just last year, and predicted that the Recovery Act would “accelerate” economic growth. While yesterday’s op-ed blasted cap-and-trade — which still doesn’t exist as an implemented policy — Romney has endorsed cap-and-trade in the past.

But let’s put all that aside. Pointing to Romney flip-flops is like pointing to Sarah Palin’s ignorance — it’s just a little too easy. The more important point is that Romney also sketched his vision for what he’d do differently than the status quo: tax cuts, trade deals, a new energy policy, balanced budget, entitlement reform, undercut unions. There were no real details — it’s just an op-ed — but Romney seems to be pushing an agenda that’s largely indistinguishable from Bush’s vision from 10 years ago.

It’s also, as Ezra noted, an agenda that “seems certain to hugely increase uncertainty.”

A new energy bill? Uncertainty, both during the legislative process and the regulatory definitions process. New tax proposals? Uncertainty during the long legislative process; you don’t want to make capital gains decisions if you the capital gains tax rate might change pretty soon. Forcing deep budget reforms on the state level? Uncertainty, as businesses don’t know what the cuts will mean for demand or infrastructure.

Now, that may all be acceptable: I’m not a big believer in the uncertainty argument, and if good policy requires a period of uncertainty, then fine. But since Romney says that the private sector is currently “paralyzed by the uncertainty,” it’s not clear to me how pushing a lot more uncertainty into the mix would help.

Maybe next month Romney will have a new op-ed on a new subject of interest. He’s bound to get an issue right one of these days.