If Mitt Romney is elected 45th president, he will be spending a lot of time cleaning up the mess that President Obama leaves behind.
If Wednesday morning, or next week, or next month, or whenever the election is resolved, America wakes up to President-elect Romney, the soon-to-be Chief Executive will start plotting the course of his fledgling administration.
The most important thing Romney can do from the moment his election is (hypothetically) declared is to project confidence and show America and the rest of the world that the country is back from the abyss after four bleak years of autocratic rule by a corrupt Marxist caudillo the likes of which the U.S. had never before seen.
Romney needs to act quickly to assure nervous markets that he is going to reverse Obama’s reckless spending policies, balance the federal budget, strengthen the greenback, and bolster America’s shrinking military might. He needs to let the nation’s Islamofascist enemies know he means business.
Unlike Obama, Romney likes Israel and wants it to survive and thrive.
A President Romney would act quickly to chuck the wreckage of Obama’s foreign policy overboard. Romney will not be afraid to project American power overseas and he certainly will not bow to foreign leaders, a disgraceful Obama habit. Romney will make it clear that he truly believes in American exceptionalism, unlike his predecessor – whose childhood mentor was a Communist Party USA operative.
He will get tough on the Palestinians and my guess is he will reduce foreign aid to them. He will send a message one way or another to the mullahs in Iran that they should drop their plans to develop nuclear weapons. He will want to aid the rebels in Syria, probably a bad idea for the U.S. because it will clear the way for the transformation of Syria into a fundamentalist Islamic state. Perhaps he can be shown the light before he acts on this matter.
Romney has promised to get tough on China, the Communist nation from which we import so many goods. It’s unclear what this actually means. Duties? Sanctions? We’ll see.
Romney is likely to do some saber-rattling in front of the Chinese which they will ignore because, well, that’s what they do. A Romney administration will be much less passive toward China than the Obama administration was.
Romney probably will follow through on his oft-repeated promise to reduce federal spending, cut regulatory red tape, and begin to reform Medicare and Social Security, those ever-popular albatrosses that keep weighing down the nation.
Before he takes office, though, the outgoing Congress will meet in a lame duck session to deal with leftover “fiscal cliff” issues, including whether the Bush-era taxes rates should be extended and if the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts approved by the congressional “super committee” on fiscal affairs will be avoided. The cuts fall heavily on the Pentagon and Romney has vowed to protect military spending. The deadline imposed by the super committee is Nov. 23.
While a President-elect Romney would have no official role during the lame duck session, his views might be taken into account by lawmakers, or some of them anyway. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has already loudly dismissed the idea of working with Romney.
Romney’s vow to dump Ben Bernanke, the bungling Keynesian who runs the Federal Reserve, is a wonderful idea. The problem is Bernanke’s term of office doesn’t run out until January 2014. Romney needs action on the economy now and Bernanke doesn’t have to do his bidding.
Romney can apply pressure to Bernanke in the meantime to gradually tighten the money supply and raise interest rates, both of which would be good for the economy after an extended period of virtually “free” money in a nearly zero-interest environment. Whether that pressure would move Bernanke is anyone’s guess. Romney can also work with the new Congress to restrain, or better yet, cut federal spending. The government may have to run out of money and shut down a few times, but chances are it will happen.
Romney will have to prepare a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year in his first two weeks in office. Federal bureaucrats are already working on it right now but Romney will have an opportunity to make some modifications to it. Whatever shape the budget takes, it will get twisted and turned over and spindled as it works its way through the congressional appropriations process. If Romney doesn’t propose enough cuts, perhaps a newly Tea Party-energized Congress will force him to confront the issue.
Romney is likely to try to follow through on his promise to repeal Obamacare, though he can’t erase the hated government health care legislation from the statute books on his own. Whether it will be 100 percent repealed in the end is unclear. Many Republicans have spoken favorably of the Obamacare provisions banning “discrimination” based on preexisting medical conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ health insurance to age 26. Romney has said there are parts of Obamacare he likes.
Romney vows to sign an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. He favors allowing states to create their own health care reforms plans to suit their residents.
“The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition,” according to Romney’s campaign website. It’s unclear what that means. Forcing states to remove barriers to the interstate sale of health insurance would help bring down premiums quickly.
A complicating factor here is that Romney is pals with former Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt, an intelligent, kind-hearted, honest, thoroughly decent, competent man who also happens to have some pro-big government tendencies. I first met the moderate Leavitt years ago when he locked horns with then-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore as a member of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. Gilmore, the chairman of the commission, opposed making it easier for states to collect sales tax for Internet-based transactions while Leavitt worked to clear the way for such tax collections.
After leaving the governorship, Leavitt served as President George W. Bush’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator from 2003 to 2005 and as Secretary of Health and Human Services from 2005 to 2009. Leavitt now serves as a co-leader of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that is somewhere between the political left and the mushy middle.
Leavitt is also making money off the state insurance exchanges mandated by Obamacare. His consulting firm, Leavitt Partners, works with states to create the exchanges that are supposed to begin operating by 2014. If Leavitt somehow prevails on Romney to preserve the exchanges, the new president will get an earful from conservatives.
Romney will have to deal with the aftermath of any midnight pardons President Obama may sign as he turns out the lights in the Oval Office.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who could, conceivably, be forced out of office before Inauguration Day, may advise the outgoing president on executive clemencies. Holder vetted the Clinton administration’s 176 last-minute pardons in January 2001. He was deeply involved in Clinton’s extremely controversial pardons of Marc Rich and Puerto Rican terrorists.
In June, Holder was held in criminal contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives in a 255-67 vote for refusing to turn over documents tied to the bungled Fast and Furious gun-running operation. This was the first time a U.S. attorney general had ever been held in criminal contempt by the House.
Legal proceedings against Holder, the worst and most corrupt U.S. attorney general in recent decades, could be initiated after he leaves office. President Romney might not be supportive of such efforts out of fear of appearing vindictive. But he ought to support them because Holder should be brought to justice.
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