March 28, 2012

Romney on Obama’s “Flexibility”

  1:09 pm

From his website:

Why Obama’s “Hot Mic” Diplomacy is Endangering America

Sometimes it’s the unguarded moments that are the most revealing of all. President Obama just had such a moment at the summit in South Korea. “This is my last election,” Obama told Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, in an exchange that was inadvertently picked up by microphones. “After my election I have more flexibility.”

But flexibility to do what? The president mentioned missile defense to Medvedev as one area where the Kremlin should expect more flexibility. This is alarming.

It is not an accident that Mr. Medvedev is now busy attacking me. The Russians clearly prefer to do business with the current incumbent of the White House.

And it is not hard to understand why. The record shows that President Obama has already been pliant on missile defense and other areas of nuclear security. Without extracting meaningful concessions from Russia, he abandoned our missile defense sites in Poland. He granted Russia new limits on our nuclear arsenal. He capitulated to Russia’s demand that a United Nations resolution on the Iranian nuclear-weapons program exclude crippling sanctions.

Moscow has rewarded these gifts with nothing but obstructionism at the United Nations on a whole raft of issues. It has continued to arm the regime of Syria’s vicious dictator and blocked multilateral efforts to stop the ongoing carnage there. Across the board, it has been a thorn in our side on questions vital to America’s national security. For three years, the sum total of President Obama’s policy toward Russia has been: “We give, Russia gets.”

Russian intransigence has elicited no push-back from the White House. Indeed, as the conversation in South Korea shows, President Obama appears determined to ingratiate himself with the Kremlin. This, unfortunately, seems to be the real meaning of his “reset” policy. An outstanding example is the personal phone call that Barack Obama made to Vladimir Putin from Air Force One congratulating the Russian leader on his election as Russia’s next president.

The call followed a declaration from the State Department that “the United States congratulates the Russian people on the completion of the Presidential elections.” Given that the Russian elections were widely seen to have been compromised by fraud and intimidation, these words made a mockery of America’s commitment to democracy and human rights. They undercut all those in Russia who are risking so much to struggle for the universal rights that we ourselves enjoy. They are a shameful betrayal of our country’s first principles.

President Obama’s conversation with Dmitry Medvedev raises questions not only about his policy toward Russia, but his entire foreign policy.

Would post-election “flexibility” lead him to reach out once again to the Iranian regime “without preconditions”? Would it lead him to resume pressuring Israel into making unilateral concessions to the Palestinians? Would it permit him to take an even softer line, if that is imaginable, toward the authoritarian regimes of the Castro brothers and Hugo Chávez? Would he further shrink our Navy and Air Force below the already-too-low force numbers currently planned? Would he pour more money into United Nations bodies that have recognized a Palestinian state and seem to spend an inordinate amount of their time and energy denouncing Israel?

In a self-governing country like ours, the people have a right to know what kinds of decisions are being taken in their name. The American people deserve candor. They also deserve a foreign policy founded upon our enduring principles and a recognition of our exceptional place in the world.

That is not what they are getting now. Unfortunately, what they are getting is a sad replay of Jimmy Carter’s bungling at a moment when the United States needs the backbone and courage of a Ronald Reagan. In his dealings with the Kremlin, as in his dealings with the rest of the world, President Obama has demonstrated breathtaking weakness — and given the word “flexibility” a new and ominous meaning.

This op-ed also posted at Foreign Policy Magazine.




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Give 'em severe "hot mic" Hell Mitt!


Nice op Ed.

My Man Mitt 4 President

Mitt will be the Alpha Dog.


Check out The Weekly Standard - Pravda is going off on Romney - comparing him to a pedophile and rapist - there is a link on Drudge

They say very positive things about Obama - it is very over the top!



Excellent framing by Romney!

Obama = Carter.

Romney = Reagan

And we're even taking on the russians again!

Bust out the rubic's cubes we're heading for another 80s!

Independent CPA

Romney not only understands the economy, he's also strong on foreign policy. He gets it. Wouldn't it be a breath of fresh air to have a conservative in the oval office who understands economics and foreign policy, and who understands the severity of America's situation with regard to both of these issues?


5 - at first glance, I thought you said "Rubio cubes."


Where are all the not Romneys who claimed that Romney wouldn't be tough on Obama?

This, not going off like a blogger as Sanotrum or Newt do, is how you present your case to the American people. You don't need to talk about Saul Alinsky or call Obama a socialist to present a very accurate and very damning case.



Patent infringment.


On domestic issues, I give Obama an F-.

On foreign policy, I'd give him a C-.

He gets points for winding things down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and while I opposed intervention in Libya, he avoided a quagmire there.

On the downside, he's too smitten with the notion of democracy in the Middle East, but otherwise seems to have a more realistic assessment of our capabilities in the world than the previous administration.

Personally, I'm having a hard time ginning up any outrage over his hot mic comment.


My Man,

Did you just call Mitt a dog?



I'd be on the horn with my attorneys, if I were you.


If you think Romney has been hard on the Republican candidates, you haven't seen anything yet.


Last time McCain hired Palin as his attack dog. There will be no need for surrogates this time around.


I'm not outraged at the hot mic comment. I'm aware that an Obama second term would be one without consequences, where his goals of radical left wing social engineering and pursuing global governance would be easier to achieve.


For the sake of policy discussion, could someone complete the following thought:

"We need to take an antagonistic posture towards Russia because ______________."



I've never done a "give em hell" comment before, so I thought I'd be one and done. It was like doing a cover of a song - a tribute, not copying.




Can you complete this comment?

"We need to back down to Russia on everything because ___________."



That's a silly retort. I was being serious, because I think by any fair measure, what Romney is suggesting is an antagonistic posture.



And by any measure, what Obama is doing is taking a weak posture.


Do we need missiles in Poland? Why? What benefit do we gain that outweighs the costs?

Do we need 287,897,982,099 nuclear warheads? Why? What benefit do we gain from having that many that outweighs the costs?

Do we really need to be mucking around in the former Soviet Republics (such as Georgia)? Why? Again, what benefit do we gain from that outweighs the costs?


16. I don't claim to know precisely the best way to deal with Russia, but we don't seem to have won any concessions from them with respect to Iran, for example. Iran is about to be nuclear, and Russia is standing in the way of the type of sanctions that might prevent the need for military intervention. If I'm off on any of this, I'd be happy to be educated by someone that can explain how Obama's approach is working. I do have more confidence in Hillary than I do Obama, so maybe there is some sane work being done. What harm do you see in Mitt's posture ?



I'm not defending Obama on this issue, but I am wondering why we need to constantly bang the drums against Russia? Why every last little thing has to be contested and battled over. Why we feel the need to humiliate them?



Russia has some pretty rational reasons for supporting a nuclear Iran. The more time and resources we spend worrying about Iran, the less we spend poking Russia in the eye.



1) We have fewer than 10,000 nuclear warheads in our entire arsenal. Also, fewer than Russia does.

2) Nuclear warheads are a deterrent that has prevented giant wars for 67 years and counting.

3) Russia is allied with Iran.

4) Russia gives Iranians nuclear technology.

5) Russia sells arms to Syria and Iran.

6) Russia sells arms to Venezuela.

7) Russia votes against everything that matters to us in the Security Council.

8) Vladimir Putin is becoming president. And he was a Soviet KGB agent who believes Russia needs to return to Soviet-level power.

So, now that I've done my part, why should we back down to them? Does backing down to them make them nicer to us, or more aggressive and petulant?


Matt "MWS",

Perhaps we don't need missiles in Poland. Perhaps we don't need a zillion nuclear warheads. But the point Romney has made, repeatedly and persuasively, is that these are bargaining chips that could plausibly allow to achieve things we do need: pressure on Assad, on Iran, on North Korea. If we DON'T need missiles in Poland, all the more reason to pretend like we really, really need them. This negotiation 101. To complete your sentence, "“We need to take an antagonistic posture towards Russia because...Russia would prefer we didn't take an antagonistic posture towards them and is willing to make concessions to avoid that eventuality".



Wrong. We aren't poking Russia in the eye in the first place. And even if you believe that, it would be BECAUSE of their deals with Iran, not the opposite.


I have no delusions that Russia is rightly or fairly governed. It's Russia for crying out loud. Given it's history and culture, Russia can choose between anarchy and being ruled by a caudillo (sorry, the Russian word eludes me). It will never be Sweden, or France, or even Germany.


-- This will come up again in Sept - Oct. and November and Romney will use this hot mic video against him with super pack $. This will certainly do some damage in the fall to Obama. I can't wait.


There's nothing antagonistic about telling the truth about a bad actor like Russia. We've tried the appeasement and "reset button" approach with this President and it has failed miserably. It is precisely because Russia will never, or at least anytime soon, resemble an open and honest modern state that we need to be firm with them.

Telling Russia and by extension Russia's client states that there is a new sheriff fixin' to head to town with a completely different way of doing business is exactly what we need. It worked very well when Reagan took an extremely hard line with the Evil Empire and it will now.



1) So? You think we lack an effective deterrent?

2) Right. You don't think we have enough to scare everybody?

3) Yeah. We're allied with Saudi Arabia. We've also been allied in the past with Noriega, Aparteid South Africa, the Soviet Union, etc..... for reasons we considered important at the time.

4) I'm not a fan of that. But is it possible that Russia is controlling the type of info Iran is getting? I mean, think about it. Russia knows how to build nukes. Really powerful ones. Ones that can circumnavigate the globe in 0.00082 seconds. If Russia simply handed Iran the plans, they'd already have nukes. I think it's fair to say Russia is fine with Iran being a relatively weak, regional nuclear power.

5) Okay. That's a reasonable point of contention, but not enough justification to start and fund a second cold war.

6) We could have a new leader installed in Venezuela by Saturday morning, if we wanted to, and didn't care how it looked. Zero strategic threat.

7) Because we antagonize them about issues where we have no vital interests (like Poland and Georgia).

8) Putin lacks the means, resources, and will to try to dominate the globe like the Soviets. His dreams lie primarily within the Satellite countries.

It's not a question of "backing down". It's more a question of not needlessly picking quarrels, and choosing them more carefully.




That makes sense, unless your antagonist stops believing that you are negotiating in good faith.

Do we try to wring concessions out of other countries- say Ukraine- this way?


26 -- That was and is a good point. That's how conservatives should compromise with liberals in the future as well.



Excellent comment and insight!


Mr. flip-flop, the Plasticman, lecturing others on their flexibility and pliancy? Now I've seen everything.

What is the point of antagonizing Russia, China, or threatening military action against Iran?



“We need to take an antagonistic posture towards Russia because ______________.”

Matt, that question has a grossly inaccurate presupposition in it.

I don't believe Mitt is taking an antagonistic posture, at all.

But, that doesn't mean you cave into them the way Obama has.

Obama is weakening our defenses to appease Russia and he's not negotiating ANY concessions in return. As Mitt says, Russia blocks and opposes our efforts at every turn and Obama tells them, "let me get my second term and I'll give you whatever you want".

I'm shocked your defending him and defending Russia, Matt.



"Wrong. We aren’t poking Russia in the eye in the first place."

Yes we are. Fast tracking former Warsaw Pact countries (and event Soviet Republics) into NATO. Putting anti-missile defense up on their border, which is actually an aggressive posture, as it impairs a retaliatory strike, and undermines the evil genius of M.A.D. Threatening action over the war in Georgia, when ethnic Russian areas simply want to reunite with Russia. Haranguing them over their own war on terror in Chechnya. etc....


I love how that Pravda articles talks about how Romney would damage and be a setback to the "reset" Obama has supposedly done with the Russians. What good has the reset done for us? It has been a total boon to the Russians--and a boondoggle to us. The Russians veto nearly everything we propose in the UN Security Council, and they get Obama to back down and genuflect on multiple issues without giving up anything in return. Of course, they don't want things to go back to the way they were before Obama. This is almost as good as Osama Bin Laden endorsing John Kerry in 2004!



As far as I can gather, Romney and all Republican hawks have consistently claimed that missile defense is really, really important. Whether they really mean this is another question but I don't see why a hawk, who's consistently claimed to want missile defense, would be presumed to be acting in "bad faith" because they tried to wring concessions out of Russia in exchange for abandoning that goal. Obama's another story. He'd clearly signaled he opposed missile defense. So perhaps it would have been impossible for him to wring concessions out of Russia by giving up the Poland missiles. Which is why leadership matters.



When you take the basic attitude that your relationship is "win/lose" it's antagonistic. They must lose so we can win. They must diminish so we can increase. If they becomes stronger, we are weaker.

That's an adversarial relationship.

I'm not suggesting we "cave" either. I'm suggesting we take an honest and realistic assessment of our national interests, priorities, and capabilities.

Keeping Russian enclaves Georgian is not one of them.


Matt, you always sound so reasonable when you say such unreasonable things.

But, you're starting to sound like Ron Paul. Leave them alone and they'll leave us alone.

You sadden me.



1) Did I say that? No. I'm saying our arsenal isn't as big as you might think, and that there's no reason to reduce it without getting something in return - like crushing sanctions on Iran.

2) We do have enough. Easily. But there's no reason nukes are a problem - they aren't. They are a good thing in the right hands.

3) Yes, and their political opponents have reasons to oppose us over that. And we believe we're right and our opponents aren't right. So we stand up for what we believe in. Do you think our principles are not inherently right, but throw-away academic exercises?

4) Sure Russia could hand Iran some nukes. But in doing so, they'd surrender all their plausible deniability, as well as definitively declaring themselves enemies of the United States, a geopolitical standpoint from which they would be unable to function as a power. They tried that before. And failed.

5) Who said we'd be starting and funding a second cold war? The real goal is subduing Iran. And negotiating effectively and boldly with the Russians is an excellent way to achieve this end. The enemy is not Russia, after all. The enemy is Iran. And Russia has common goals with us on most fronts, most of which are great points to use to gain concessions on Iran and Syria. No?

6) So what? Does it make Russia cuddly that they only supply regional antagonizers? No, of course not. That's why we should be aware that Russia is not someone we should be surrendering international strategic objectives to for nothing in return. We have goals to meet Iran, let's meet them.

7) "Blame America First?" Well, we disagree.

8 That's what they said about Stalin. But again, the goal is not a cold war, it's to use our common goals with the Russians to bring Iran to its knees. Do you not understand how foreign policy works?

Is picking quarrels different than choosing not to pick any at all? I sure think so. And apparently neither you nor Obama understands how foreign policy objectives are met. Unfortunately, Obama is president.



By "bad faith" I mean trying to block them at every pass, and make them negotiate and give concessions for everything they want to do, even well outside our historic sphere of influence.

Imagine our indignation if Russia demanded major concessions from us, in exchange for not putting their tanks in Mexico?


40. What, in Mitt's statement, suggests a Win/Lose proposition?



Because this is about shared sacrifice, we can probably get by with only 287,897,982,098 war heads.




"Matt, you always sound so reasonable when you say such unreasonable things."

I take that as a complement.

Then again, the same is said about the devil...........


If our goal is really to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the lynchpin in that scheme will be Russia. Being nice to the Russians will not get us where we want to be. We have to use our strength to get them to do what they need to do to get Iran to back down.

But if you don't care about Iran having nukes, do whatever the Russians want and ask nothing in return.

Putin's dream is to frustrate every good thing the US is trying to accomplish.



There is nothing in life I hate more than saddening you.

As for Ron Paul, I'd probably put my foreign policy somewhere in the middle of the pasture that exists between him and HW Bush.


46. Yeah, I was thinking more devil than compliment. 😉

Conservative Gladiator

Romney will be working to protect the interests of the US and the world at large. The US has to insert itself to right certain things that are detrimental not only to us but our allies and the world. A nuclear Iran will be in the back pocket of Russia. Russia is already on the path back to a hybrid of what they used to be. They're looking to China as a model for their leadership. When Obama gives things up to Russia while getting nothing in return it weakens us and our allies. Romney is telling Russia that they won't be able to play that game with him. And rightly so. He's saying if you want to work with us you'll have to bring something to the table. The days of TAKING are done.


40. Matt, it's not a question of win/lose. I'm sure Romney would love the prospect of a "win/win" with Russia. It's a question of dealing with some bad actors in this world - actors that gain much support from Russia. We need Russia's help in dealing with Iran, for example, if we're to avoid military action. If we have to take tougher negotiating positions with Russia to gain their help, then that's what needs to happen.


You respond to Russia's cynical and Machiavellian ploys with hard-nosed realism, not gauzy-eyed naïvety.

Anyone who has observed Russia will recognize that the vaunted Reset policy was welcomed in Moscow as a sign of a weak approach to any negotiations. I, for one, will never forget the moment when SecState Hillary attempted to create a photographic moment by presenting her counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, with a panic button in a box labeled with the Russian word for "overcharge" instead of the intended"reset." Lavrov took great glee in a very Russian way of pointing out the mistranslation and turning the event into an embarrassing mockery for the new Secretary.

Here was an event put on by the new administration supposedly signaling an eagerness to find "compromise" on any issue with the Russians so long as Obama got his wish to turn America into a soft (non)power. The message from the outset was, "We're here to give you everything you want, just please give us something politically visible in return." The Russian response was, "We'll be glad to do business with you. Oh, look. You've made a fool of yourself with the optics of this event. You must feel awfully foolish standing here with egg on your face for the whole world to see."



"I’m saying our arsenal isn’t as big as you might think, and that there’s no reason to reduce it without getting something in return"

How about cost savings? If you haven't noticed, we're $15 trill in hock as it is.



Detractors accused Reagan's approach of being "win/lose" at the time, but he was resolute. In hind sight, it was actually "win/win." The same thing is unfolding here. (See Post #5.)


Here's a good example that illustrates the Russian mindset:

American mink farmers wanted to acquire some Russian sable. So they suggested a trade where they give their best mink to the Russians in exchange for male and female sable. After the exchange, it was found that the sable were sterilized.

Russian mindset: Get as much as you can and screw your adversary to the maximum extent possible.


I still say impeach the blood sucker. It's crystal who's side Obama is on. We've been co-opted. "I shall report this to Vladimir."



I would love to go point by point again, but as you can see, I've got a lot of conversations going at once now. 😉



"What, in Mitt’s statement, suggests a Win/Lose proposition?"

The overall tone. You get the same sense when the UAW releases a press statement ahead of negotiations with GM.


Imagine our indignation if Russia demanded major concessions from us, in exchange for not putting their tanks in Mexico?

Um, the Russians are working with the Venezuelans, Cubans, and Nicaraguans to offer ports of call to Iranian warships and submarines, some of which could serve as bases for EMP launch sites over US territory.



It was Medvedev, not Obama who said he would report to Vlad.


Reelect the Bamster, and just wait for the December Surprise. It's sorta like San Fran Nan's "pass it to find out what's in it."


The goal here is to put Iran on its knees. And it just so happens that Russia wants us to give missile concessions.

Well, it's a no-brainer then, to give some missile concessions in return for Russian cooperation on Iranian sanctions. Yet Obama doubts this. Like MWS, Obama thinks the Russians are righteous in their desire for our missile concessions, but we are not righteous in our desire for crushing Iranian sanctions in return.

That's liberal bleeding heart surrender monkey crap. And just plain bad policy and poor leadership.

My Man Mitt 4 President

11. Matt Oops I guess I did, but only in the sense that he is asserting himself as the leader of the pack. By the way I LOVE dogs!!



"Um, the Russians are working with the Venezuelans, Cubans, and Nicaraguans to offer ports of call to Iranian warships and submarines, some of which could serve as bases for EMP launch sites over US territory."

That's a legit beef. And we can address that better if we're not shooting our wad keeping Russian enclaves Georgian.


The Russians are playing a double game with us and Iran, much like the Chinese do with us and North Korea. The Russians and Chinese are propping up the Iranians and NoKos, respectively, to be thorns in our side. The liberal arts squishes at Foggy Bottom think it's all just peachy at best, and innocent fun among friends at worst. Someone needs to clean out layers of redundant propeller-beanied eggheads in the State Department. Too many of them are just looking for assignments to luxury foreign outposts, or, failing that, lucrative business connections overseas for future trade deals.



No. We address that by offering concessions in return. We do not offer concessions and hope we get something in return. That's silly.

We demand we get something in return for a concession. Quid pro quo, not sucking up to them.


Could have been a shorter OpEd.

"This is what you get when you have a president trying to earn the Nobel Peace Prize retroactively. As President, I will demand that Oslo not nominate me for the award until I've accomplished something substantial to earn it."


Russian enclaves in Georgia were created by Stalin's ethnicities policies, launched when he was in charge of Soviet ethnicities. The idea was to dilute populations of Soviet ethnic groups by implanting ethnic Russian communities within the territories of supposedly sovereign socialist republics that constituted the Soviet Union. Hence, Baltic Germans in East Prussia were driven West or shipped off to Siberia, while Russians were sent in. The Volga Germans wound up sent to Siberia or Kazakhstan; Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians were watered down with Trans-Ural Russians, White Russians, and other Eastern Slavs to make up sizable ethnic minorities who most often populated the administrative "nomenklatura." And just look how the fruits of these cynical ethnic policies burned brightly in the post-Soviet era in the wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Support for the territorial integrity of historical Georgia was pursued, by the way, without any significant American intervention. Just because the Russians claim that no one is allowed to get involved with Russia's post-Soviet "Near Abroad," as they have called it, doesn't mean that we have to abandon our own foreign policy principles of taking up for a friendly little guy picked on by a bullying and chauvinistic Russian bear out for blood.


I know MWS is no fan of Romney, but I didn't know it had made him warm up to Putin.



MWS is liberal on all issues besides social ones. Even on debt - he supports cutting the debt, but usually only talks about how we should raise taxes to do it.



"We demand we get something in return for a concession."

Is your assumption that we have the right to build missile defenses anywhere in the world without any consequences? Do you think if we decided to build a missile defense in Mongolia, we should ask for something in return from China if they oppose it?


I thought this was a really great op-ed. I've read plenty of them, thousands and this one is to the point, well thought out, cogent and apropos. I'm not a fan of Romney, and have serious doubts about his conservative street-cred, but an effort like this editorial is definately a step in the right direction.



I don't think seeing international dealings through a prism of fairness is wise. Our goal is to look out for our own interests, and not those of our geopolitical adversaries.


I LOVE this from a former Marine who met Romney for the first time at a CA fundraiser.

As a former Marine, I know the pride and boost in morale all troops will feel knowing their Commander-in-Chief is dedicated to their success and a strong United States on the world stage. Mitt knows that a powerful military is the first safeguard of peace. We cannot let the countries of the world think the United States is weak with an ineffective and depleted military. Once the rogue nations perceive such weakness, they become emboldened, and when they are emboldened they become aggressors — greatly increasing the probability of conflict and war.

MItt Romney has the backbone of a Sgt.Maj. and the charisma of a Four Star General. He captures the essence of what a president should be. Don’t let mainstream media paint Mitt as a rich man who can’t relate to the common folk. Look at the life Mitt has lived. He raised five sons and has been married to a woman of great courage for 43 years. I took an honest look at this man and studied him with an open heart. I find this man most qualified to be the next President of the United States. He will restore us to the glory we knew in the Reagan years.


Also, here's a snippet from another guest meeting him for this first time.

My fun moment of the day was reaching out to shake his hand while a Secret Service agent whispered in my ear to remove my left hand from my pocket — it took me a while to catch up with the reasoning — those guys don’t miss a beat.

Kudos to the Secret Service!


And, how about this one?

He also told another story of a medical doctor he met on the campaign trail, who, because of the hassle and bureaucracy of Medicaid/Medicare/insurance companies, etc., decided to go into business with his dad making wheels for commercial products. Custom wheels. A medical doctor who has already decided (PRE-OBAMACARE!) that the system is too broken to even bother. Fewer doctors who “bother,” means longer lines at the ER, etc. Not good. He vowed to repeal Obamacare.



>>Is your assumption that we have the right to build missile defenses anywhere in the world without any consequences? Do you think if we decided to build a missile defense in Mongolia, we should ask for something in return from China if they oppose it?

Um, what?

We made a deal with Poland to build a missile defense (the key word there being defense) shield in Poland to protect against the prospect of ballistic missiles from Iran during the Bush administration. Poland went out on a limb politically to do this knowing it would piss off the Russians while being simultaneously happy and weary at the prospect. But as a sovereign nation they absolutely had the right to make this deal with another sovereign nation.

Obama and Clinton immediately hit a misspelled reset button and made a deal with Russia to throw Poland under the bus and halt the shield in exchange for Russia's support in dealing with Iran. Russia then did what Russia always does and promptly ignored the deal and continued to support Iran and block and serious international actions against them.

International relations are a complex series of negotiations with interlocking issues and "partners" of varying degrees of trustworthiness. Russia has never been an honest actor and the Obama approach is to bend over and allow Russia to roll us. Romney is taking a different, more honest and strong approach.

I'll take the Romney approach everyday.


79 - What does us having to make a deal with Poland have to do with anything? How would we feel if China made a deal with Canada to build Chinese missile defense systems in Canada? Would we be ok just because two sovereign nations consented to a deal?

"We made a deal with Poland to build a missile defense (the key word there being defense)"

Right...everything we do around the world is for defense.


70 - In other words, he is a liberal? Most social conservatives are liberal, in the strict sense. They want more government regulation of social policy, not less.



"MWS is liberal on all issues besides social ones. Even on debt – he supports cutting the debt, but usually only talks about how we should raise taxes to do it."

Not true. On social issues, I'm a reactionary. On fiscal/economic issues, I'm a center-right budget hawk protectionist, or "classic conservative." On foreign policy, I'm a moderate realist, but more "dovish" than most Republicans.

As for taxes, I preach that more because people here are agreed on spending cuts, more or less. Where I have a hard time is convincing people that the debt is a greater threat than another 2-3% in taxes.


"MWS is liberal on all issues besides social ones. Even on debt – he supports cutting the debt, but usually only talks about how we should raise taxes to do it."

No he's a classical conservative. Being Rambo on foreign policy and Rand on economic policy is only considered conservative because of the political alliances in this country that have been necessitated by our two - party system; it's hardly conservative ideology and really doesn't have the inner coherence to be called ideology. What is called conservatism is a grab-bag of policy positions that unites people on an “us vs. them” mentality rather than any coherent or consistent ideology. So yes, in that sense, MWS is not a conservative, but that doesn't make him a liberal.



"Most social conservatives are liberal, in the strict sense."

In the "strict sense" no they're not. In the "strict sense" "liberalism" refers to a preference for business, de-regulation, bourgeois culture, free markets, egalitarianism, and individual liberty (or libertinism).

That is "classic liberalism" in the strict sense. What you and Rush Limbaugh think is the beginning and end of liberalism (more guvment) is not- in the strict sense- liberalism.

Classic conservatism supports a government strong enough to maintain order, traditional morality, security, stability, justice, and a safety net.

Classic liberals would include Hayek and Friedman. Classic conservatives would include Burke and Chesterton.



"Russian enclaves in Georgia were created by Stalin’s ethnicities policies"

It's not like white people in this country just sprouted out of the ground.

Water under the bridge, dude.


Mitt obviously champing at the bit, ready and able to tear into The Boy King. Haha.

I couldn't be happier than to see Romney bringing forward foreign policy as an issue. Of all Barry Hussein's blunders, his foreign policy has been the worst. Oh, and his epic fail as CIC.


John Mark

Being Rambo on foreign policy and Rand on economic policy is only considered conservative because of the political alliances in this country that have been necessitated by our two – party system; it’s hardly conservative ideology and really doesn’t have the inner coherence to be called ideology. What is called conservatism is a grab-bag of policy positions that unites people on an “us vs. them” mentality rather than any coherent or consistent ideology.

Exactly right.

There is no inherent connection between "life is sacred" and "no tariffs". But the Republican coalition has turned must pro-lifers into free traders, and most flat taxers into pro-lifers (at least nominally).


MWS, you should check out my comments inre to folks who said we should put Social Conservatism on the backburner on the ultrasound poll thread. My snark was in fine form if I do say so myself; sadly it was to an empty room.


As a follow up to our previous "words have meaning" thread........

In the 19th century conservatives supported child labor laws, and better working conditions, and liberals who opposed them. Conservatives supported price supports, and a capped work week, and mutual insurance, while liberals tended to oppose these things.


John Mark,

From today? If not, can you link?


Many russians love the fact that Putin is a strong leader. Apparently they don't like the idea of the US having one. Maybe they're jealous that we can have a strong president who isn't corrupt.


Classic conservatism and classic liberalism at least were coherent and consistent philosophies. The former could be summed up as pursuing tradition, stability, security, morality, and humaneness. The later emphasized liberty, opportunity, equality, merit, innovation, and rationalism.

What passes for "conservative" and "liberal" in the hodgepodge that is the American lexicon, is a grab bag of both, as John Mark said.


82. Matt, I'm actually with you on Taxes. I'm baffled why so many in the GOP are against ANY tax increase.

When we're this much in debt, a small increase shouldn't kill the economy but would go a long way towards reducing the deficits. Then, bring them back down again once spending is in control.

In the past, higher taxes have not been accompanied by serious spending cuts. So, raising taxes just let congress off the hook.

But, doing both makes good sense to me.


!! This is a wonderful piece from Mitt Romney ! What peace it brings me to know he will be our Commander in Chief !!


John Mark,

I loved it! This bears repeating:

“This is great news. Finally we can throw the fat cats under the bus just before fetuses.”

What a great comparison, I wish I had thought of that. What better comparison could there be to the unborn children than to the beleaguered millionaire. I mean besides one group being the most powerful in the country and the other being the least powerful, and besides one being able to hire the best lawyers and lobbyists to speak for them and the other being literally unable to even speak him or herself, these groups are practically identical. Oh then there’s the minor difference in that we’re literally killing the children, while we’re metaphorically throwing the fat cats under the bus by raising their tax rate a few points; but really why quibble over minor details.



Glad we agree there. I suspect that given the weight our deficits and debt are putting on the economic, and growth potential, that a small tax increase- if it helps lower the deficits to sustainable levels- might actually spur the economy.

I remember Rush prophesying doom in the face of the Clinton tax hike.


BTW, I'd love to the US go to the countries that receive billions from us and tell them, "we're going to stop payments for just 1 year while we get our house in order. Then we'll start up again, but we'll be evaluating the amounts."

Maybe it needs to be 2 years.

I know we can't do that to every country. It could take away concessions or military permissions or air space or whatever. But, something like this just makes perfect sense to me.


97. To me, it's not about the increase. It's about the spending. We MUST get our spending under control and increasing taxes tends to take pressure off to do that. But, as I said, do both and we're golden.


Of course tax increases should be met with spending cuts. I think $3-4 in spending cuts per $1 in tax increases is reasonable and doable.

That would mean- in a reasonable period of time- about $800 billion per year in cuts, and $200 billion in taxes.


96, Thanks, it was disappointing that the thread had died, by that time.


84 - Notice that I said "strict" and not "classic". If we define "liberal" to have its most common contemporary meaning (which is that government is good and can have a positive impact on society ... it shouldn't be shunned), then I think what I said as accurate.

Many social conservatives think the government should enact policies and programs to promote social conservative principles. To me, that is liberal, in the strict contemporary sense of that word.

I also think that being a hawk on foreign policy is more liberal than conservative.



How are you going to raise taxes? Income tax? Corporate tax? Capital gains? You DO realize that raising tax RATES will put people out of work, right?

If you're going to raise tax revenues, it has to be done by cutting loopholes that allow millionaires to park their money overseas and pay no taxes on it. Cut loopholes that allow businesses to skirt around the intents of the laws. Cut out some deductions on non-charitable exemptions.

But DO NOT raise rates. That's what I'm concerned about. Raising rates puts people out of work. Cutting special deals and loopholes does not.


103. MassCon, I confess to not having a deep understanding of all this. But, my feeling is that the vast majority of businesses could absorb a 2 to 3% tax increase without firing people IF government got out of the way.


103. But I also agree that closing loopholes is a good strategy and one that Mitt seems to like and bee good at, as well.


I'm with MWS and Keith. Except, like Ryan, I think there ways to get more revenues without impacting economic growth. Lower rates, broaden the tax base. I'm annoyed with Ryan and Romney- who have the right idea here- mainly because they're refusing to say how they're going to make up the lost revenue; which deductions they're going to eliminate and for whom. I understand the politics but I also understand the inertia of tax policy is simply to cut, net, on the conservative side, and simply to raise- on the rich- on the liberal side. And I'd like to see some sign that, when the final package goes through, we're not going to revert to type. And that means, for me, telling the American people exactly what deductions will go and for whom. Take the lumps. If you can't do that now I'm simply not going to believe that you'll do it later. I feel the same way on spending reductions and entitlement reform. If we're meant to praise Ryan and co. for being forthright about reforming entitlements, politically risky though this may be, shouldn't we call for the same up-frontness on tax policy?



Well, sure, if the government gets out of the way. Regulators kill small business. But one can consider regulations to be like taxes as they apply to businesses. Both cost money and neither brings the business any particular advantage or benefit over competitors. So could we raise the corporate tax 2% and offset it by strangling the EPA and the NLRB? Sure.


What are Romney's views on the Export-Import Bank?

Vin Weber, who is on Romney's Economic Policy Team, came out with an op-ed in the WSJ in full support of Ex-Im.



I don't know what his position is, but don't you think it's a little ridiculous to find one adviser out of many on his team and then say whatever he says on a given subject is an accurate reflection of what Romney's position?

People don't hire advisers who agree with them on everything. Otherwise, where's the perspective? Where's the debate? Where's the advice? You don't hire "yes men" as advisers. You hire people who provoke thought.

For example, an idiot by the name of Franklin keeps telling us that Norm Coleman's opposition to repealing Obamacare is somehow a reflection of what Romney plans to do in office. More nonsense. Mitt speaks for himself. His advisers give him advice and he decides whether to take it. Mitt has other advisers who are rapid opponents of Obamacare.



Our tax code is so Byzantine, and inefficient, and tilted towards the well connected, that I think it's very possible to have tax reform that is BOTH revenue positive (even in the short term) and pro-growth.

I tend to favor simplifying the code, eliminating most all deductions, carve outs, etc... and cutting rates to 3ish brackets. I think it needs to remain somewhat progressive, but we also have to expand the tax base, which is code for more taxes on the bottom half.

But all of that assumes courage from Congress and the voluntary abdication of much power through the tax code.






I'm also not opposed to working in a national sales or VAT tax. Let the pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers pay some taxes too.



"but don’t you think it’s a little ridiculous to find one adviser out of many on his team and then say whatever he says on a given subject is an accurate reflection of what Romney’s position?"

I never said Vin Weber's views are an accurate reflection of Romney's position. That's why I asked what ROMNEY's views on the bank are.

Regardless of what Vin Weber's views are, he is one of Romney's top 4 economic advisers:

You have to think that his economic advisers aren't going to be making many public statements without thinking through if it will do any harm to Romney.

Independent CPA

As a CPA in practice for over 25 years, I can tell you that ever time there is "tax simplification", my phone rings off the hook.


MWS, I actually agree that lowering the national debt is worth a compromise that attempts to extract more money from the rich, even though the attempt is most likely bound to fail. Still, for a change, I'd insist that the order of accomplishment matters. That is to say, let's see the cuts actually happen prior to, or at least simultaneous with, the hike in rates on the supposed rich, destructive and counterproductive as that would probably be.

But in terms of reality as opposed to wishful thinking, let's also admit that a more progressive tax code, with the wealthy paying their indisputable "fair share," is also a stream of revenue for the government that is inherently unstable and unpredictable. This is because the incomes of the wealthy fluctuate wildly: If they earn millions at the top of the business cycle, they may scrape by in the six figures (tough slog, I know) in a recession. Megan McArdle has done excellent work on this issue, and the plain fact is that if the government is spending every cent of revenue in a highly progressive income tax system, the same government will have only a fraction of that tax revenue from the rich in lean growth years.

The only way, in point of fact, for the government to bring in the type of revenues that a bloated bureaucratic cradle-to-grave welfare state needs absolutely requires that taxes be hiked substantially on the much beloved middle classes. Jabbing the rich for more may play to the OWSer mentality, but it is irrefutably unworkable and/or counterproductive.

Independent CPA

Also, regarding taxes, it's the nature of the beast that taxes eventually becomes convoluted over time. Starting with the simplest premise on paying tax at a simple rate on your earnings, enterprising Americans will reinterpret "earnings", which will lead to IRS Revenue Rulings, which will lead to Tax Court cases, which will lead to more legislation to clarify, which will lead to more complexity, which will lead to more confusion. I look at the sales tax code in California, which is simple in concept, but very convoluted.

By the time Congress gets done with "simplifying" the tax code, forgetaboutit. It will be a mess.




I agree with all of that.

Bill Clinton learned a lesson from ol' Walter Mondale. You have to raise taxes entirely, or at least disproportionately, on the rich. And W. learned a lesson from ol' Bill. You have to give tax cuts disproportionately to the middle class. The net result is an extremely top heavy tax base which fortunes rise and fall largely with the wildly fluctuating fortunes of the top 10%.


Indy CPA,

Absolutely. I think part of the issue is that the government (often times for legit reason) wants to encourage or support some behavior, such as home ownership, or having children. So they give special breaks for that. Then people they didn't mean to get the break, or decide don't need it, also get it. So they redefine it to exclude people they don't think need the special break.

Of course, on the business side, it's infinitely more complex, because the breadth of activities a business engages in is for more extensive and complex than that of a family. And so the government gives a credit for locating in the ghetto, then the try to exclude the liquor stores that were already there. Then they want to include the distillery that promises to hire 300 people. But they want to leave our WalMart, because liberals don't like WalMart.

And on and on it goes.......


112. First, no national sales taxes of any kind without repeal of the 16th. Second, No VAT! Ever. A VAT is far to easy to hide the increases. To easy to hide the actual amount being paid. That's one of the problems of our current tax code (and healthcare system, I might add). You actually don't know how much you're paying. It's too complicated. Comes out of your check before you get your check. It's all just numbers. Most people only care about the net, not the gross. A VAT is plain evil.

I'm in full support of a national end-user sales tax, but only upon condition of repeal of the 16th.

119. That's why a national end-user sales tax works the best. You quit caring about income. If you really think you need to make it progressive, provide a progressive "prebate" that doesn't cover 100% of taxes paid (somewhere around 75-80%).

We also need to stop trying, on a national level, to use taxation as a social policy tool. It always ends up being a large dull machete when you need a scalpel.


Agrh. 120... there's a few 'to's that should be 'too's.


106. MEM, you'll just have to trust Mitt on this. Look for solace at his MA record. He was quite diligent and closing loopholes, consolidating, and eliminating.

He'll do the right thing as President.



we also have to expand the tax base, which is code for more taxes on the bottom half.

Ahh, Matt, this is nice. I much prefer it when we agree than when we bonk heads (because you have such a hard head!)

There is one and only one thing Michelle Bachman said that I wholeheartedly agree with: EVERYONE should pay SOMETHING in taxes.

Maybe a minimum of $10 or something. That's not going to take food of of anyone's table.

If the one half of our population that pays zero taxes all paid $10, that would add $1.5 Billion to our revenue.

AND, it would help move people away from the entitlement mentality.

EVERYONE benefits from our nation, so everyone contributes.


112. Matt, I could probably support a national sales tax. But only if it REPLACED the income tax. I don't want to give congress two separate revenue sources.


117. IndCPA, as I understand it, the tax code became convoluted because the Gov used it to influence behavior (reward or penalize).

We want people to buy houses, so let's give a mortgage interest deduction.

We want people to invest in clean energy, so let's give tax credits.

And on and on.


119. Much better explanation, Matt, than my clumsy attempt in 117.


16. I take exception with your use of the word "antagonistic". It's based on a false assumption that Romney's posture is so.

The letter takes a firm position, like the one with China, that states "you have cheated the rules. I'm calling you on your cheating. Play fair, or you'll be held to account". And, like most bullies, they push back, claiming "you started it!"

The other point about Putin is that he really does want to return Russia to it's Soviet era "glory". Putin probably longs for Russia as the world's lone super power... And Obama's willing to make it happen.

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