Near the end of a transcript of a Mitt Romney speech to donors revealed by MoJo’s David Corn (who brought the famous Boca Moment to our attention), Romney makes this plenary comment about the United States and China that goes a little deeper than claims of currency manipulation:

When I heard the head of Coca-Cola say that the business environment in America is less hospitable than the business environment in China, I knew we had a problem. I want to make sure that America has the most attractive business conditions in the world—that every entrepreneur once again says, “I want to be an American.” Whether it’s energy or regulation or tax policy or labor policy or legal policy or health care policy—I want America to be the best place for business.

This is interesting because Mitt is looking at a country with a wildly different history, political system, culture and economy and focuses strictly on what he clearly considers to be the cost advantages it offers to businesses. Yeah, China’s a semi-communist authoritarian gerontocracy with a horrendous human rights record, but man, look at those low wages and lack of regulation! I’m sure Mitt also admires China’s “labor policy,” which has no room for free unions, and its “legal policy,” which insulates companies from liability for their behavior.

For all his China-bashing, Mitt would clearly like to make America emulate the PRC in its use of state power to make life easier for the kind of people who donate money to his campaign. The “race to the bottom” mentality that has taken over GOP economic policy thinking could perhaps also be described as a slow and stealthy boat to China.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.