The first general election debate of the 2012 Presidential campaign has come and gone, and it was something. The narrative which will be long remembered is that Mitt Romney came out swinging and soundly defeated Barack Obama on style and memorability -- quite possibly priming the pump for him to become the next President of the United States -- but did so by essentially, well, running as the Democrat in the race. Indeed, Romney clearly shocked Obama by guaranteeing that the total effective tax burden would not go down at all under a Romney administration, but would simply be.... dare we use the word? redistributed. How that would work out is a detail wherein the devil may yet be found, but the notion that 'rates' will go down while elimination of deductions has taxpayers end up paying about the same amount is a fairly clear declaration that Romney thinks our current out-of-pocket income taxation system is dandy.

And why would our government need to maintain this extravagant level of revenue? Because, the new Mitt Romney (really the old Mitt Romney, going back to his Massachusetts governing days) would essentially maintain the web of government regulation developed under Obama's tenure. Romney had previously put out that he'd keep most of Obamacare -- and specifically the regulatory elements of it, though (thankfully) getting rid of the mandate. But then, oddly enough, when Romney spoke of Medicare, he proposed that he'd give the elderly taxation-funded vouchers and mandate their use to buy private insurance. In other words, Romney proposes to get rid of some parts of Obamacare, but then to turn Medicare into Obamacare for the Medicare-eligible. And, even after mouthing sentiments in favor of eliminating big government to lull the suckers, Romney claimed he'd keep 'the good parts' of Obama's enormous program of bank regulation -- but when he came to complaining about parts he thought were 'the bad parts,' he framed it in part in terms of those parts not providing enough regulation, there being insufficient instruction for lenders to know who they ought not extend mortgages to.

A few other Romney points were questionable. He stuck by his plan to jack up 'defense spending' way beyond what the needs of actually defending the nation would require, which would make sense only in the context of planning another offensive war. We spent about four trillion dollars between Iraq and Afghanistan, but I fear that Romney's neocon foreign policy team has lulled him into a vision of conquering Iran on the cheap, and being greeted as heroes by the Iranian people. Or maybe he plans to exchange missile blows with Russia. Who knows with that bunch. And as to where he would actually cut spending, when he ought to have been corralling military spending and the cost of jailing people for smoking pot in their own homes, he instead mentioned public television, a tiny drop in the trough, actually mostly donor funded -- and threatening to fire Big Bird is something of an awkward talking point, and one which he could have handled much better.

But the oddest thing of all was the moment where Romney declared, "You can't have a free-market work if you don't have regulation. You couldn't have people opening up banks in their garage and making loans." Such is America that people didn't find that statement to be absolutely chilling, because it reveals Romney's desire to prevent small competitors from entering the banking business, and allows for government telling everybody what business they can or can't enter, and how to employ the dollars that they have. Why, Mitt, why can't I loan people my own money? Why can't I set up a lawn chair in my garage (disclaimer: I have no garage; but I could set up on my lawn) and if somebody wants to borrow a few bucks and agrees to pay it back with interest in time, why is it any of your goddamned business? Not even in office yet, and already sizing up new ways to expand the power of the federal government in my life, and yours. The Center for a Stateless Society expounds on this point with greater eloquence than I can muster, reminding us that government already controls the big banks and uses them as levers by which to control their customers, so heaven forbid somebody being allowed to loan somebody else money without it going through that avenue of control. It is rather disgusting that he praised the Constitution in the same debate as he made that comment.

That Republicans eager to claim an electoral victory are now embracing these sorts of comments shows a rather disastrous surrender of conservatism to rhetorical flourishes outshining defenses of costly exertions of government control beyond even what the Democrats are claiming. Had this been a real debate -- and by that I mean a debate wherein views other than those of the big-government Republicrat duopoly were represented -- both Romney and Obama would've been drubbed for it.

locke baron says re October 6, 2012: I didn't watch the debate, but it would appear I ought to have. Here we go again, eh? Regulation is a necessary evil, but I can't help but feel like Romney (and Obama, for that matter), have the wrong kind in mind - the kind that shields the entrenched barons, rather than keeping them from puking all over the competition with unfair practices... Argh. I think Johnson has the right ideas, this time around... Also, it strikes me as just a little ironic that the Republican party is the one championing invasive, authoritarian government... Not that the Democrats are exactly in the small-government camp, but at least they don't want to monitor my sex life for deviancy. (This time...)

In node auditing news:

Jet-Poop is done; etouffee has been done a while.

iceowl -- on page 2 of 10.
teleny -- on page 2 of 14.

junkill and jessicapierce are in the queue. Because I like the letter j.

Blessings, all!!

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