Mitt’s Latest Big Speech: Big Lie #2

If Mitt Romney in his Michigan speech today lied about the recent past, it’s nothing compared to the big lie he keeps telling about his own plan for the immediate future.

This is a time for new ideas, new answers and a new direction. That is the only way that our future can be better than the past.

Let me describe some of the policies of that new direction. I will be discussing these throughout this campaign.

I will improve healthcare by getting it to work more like a consumer market, and I will repeal and replace Obamacare. Individuals will be able to buy their own health insurance policies, either through their employer or directly. And the kind of competition we see in everything from auto insurance to cell phones to broadband will finally slow the growth of healthcare costs.

I will improve schools and universities and colleges with greater choice, greater accountability, and greater application of the technologies that have transformed so much of our economy.

I will help usher in a revival in American manufacturing. If we take an entirely new and different direction in energy, in trade, and in labor policies, we will see more manufacturing jobs come back to America than those that are leaving America. I am absolutely convinced that with the right policies and leadership we can see a resurgence in American manufacturing.

New and emerging small businesses and so-called gazelle, or fast-growing, businesses will spring up across the country by instituting pro-growth regulations, pro-growth taxes, pro-growth intellectual property protections, and pro-growth labor policies.

There are little lies scattered through this litany, empty as it is of specifics. My favorite is his claim that it’s easy to control health care costs through competition, which is presumaby a reference to his championship of the conservative pet rock of interstate insurance sales. It might well bring down insurance premiums for people healthy enough to be the object of all that competition, but for everyone else, it could make the status quo much, much worse, destroying existing state regulations that protect access to health insurance and seek to provide some parity in rates, as companies gratefully migrate to states that let them do whatever they want.

But let’s get to the big lie: all this talk about newness. As Greg Sargent observes:

The big danger for Obama is the possibility that swing voters will accept the basic premise of Romney’s candidacy — that his success in the private sector shows he possesses basic leadership qualities and a talent for turning around troubled enterprises that can be applied to a whole country. Obama’s rebuttal is that Romney amounts to more than whatever aura of competence he manages to project; he is offering a set of policies, priorities, and ideas about the economy that we’ve already tried and that have already failed.

Romney’s big speech today was all about obscuring this. In addition to repeatedly proclaiming his approach is unlike anything we’ve tried before, he repeatedly claimed that Obama is the candidate who embodies the failed policies of the past — an effort to muddy the waters around what is increasingly becoming the central argument of the campaign.

I don’t know about you, but the only specific Bush administration policy I’ve heard Romney reject on the campaign trail this year is comprehensive immigration reform. Is encouraging undocumented workers to “self-deport” the secret to all this exciting economic activity Mitt is projecting as the payoff for supporting his policies? And has he ever specifically repudiated the recent comment of an RNC spokesperson that his economic policies are just an “updated version” of W.’s?

It’s a long way to November, and there ought to be some opportunity for enterprising reporters to ask Romney point-blank: “What economic policies of the George W. Bush administration would you not wish to reimpose?” It’s not like this was going to come up during the GOP primaries, since hhis rivals were as complicit as he is in the big lie that somehow Bush had nothing to do with the financial crash or the recession, and/or that it was his ill-defined “big government” heresies that were the problem. Mitt needs to be challenged on this regularly, until he finally comes up with something genuinely new or shuts up about it or just admits his campaign is a straight-up Restoration.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.