At least since the 2008 Republican candidates’ debate in New Hampshire, I have been impressed with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s ability to talk about the economy. I have been particularly impressed with his critiques of Obama’s economic policies starting with the very introduction of the “stimulus” at the outset of the Democrat’s administration.
But, like many conservatives, I have concerns. Is Romney really one of us? Would he, if elected, stand true to conservative principles and make major cuts in domestic spending and initiate bold reforms? Is it up to the task of cleaning the accumulated muck in the Augean Stables of our nation’s capital, repealing not just legislation passed by the current administration, but also, as his rival Jon Huntsman has promised, bad laws passed in a previous Republican administration?
In this current crisis, we don’t just need a competent administrator in the White House (though that alone would be a welcome change), we also need a bold leader, able to propose major changes and stand firm for such reform when savaged (as any principled Republican invariably will be) by the political and media opposition (which tend to march in lock-step).
Now, perhaps following the lead of one of Washington’s few grownups, Paul Ryan, Romney has, in an op-ed in USA Today, spelled out some bold actions he would take if elected, including reforms to entitlements. Commenting on those proposals (in a post which is well worth your time), Philip Klein outlines his “major beef with Romney” which nearly perfectly parallels my own:
My major beef with Romney, aside from the health care plan he enacted in Massachusetts, has been that his record of changing his positions on so many issues makes me skeptical he’d have the political courage to tackle controversial issues as president. That overall skepticism still remains. But it’s positive that he’s at least taken a minimum half step forward during a GOP primary.
Should Romney win the White House in 2012, he will all but certainly be facing a Republican Congress — in contrast to the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature he faced when governor of the Bay State. He’ll effectively have Paul Ryan setting the legislature’s fiscal policy.
Is this enough to overcome my concerns about Romney?
Well, I’ll just say this–of the Republicans who have announced their bids for the White House in the current electoral cycle, I have yet to put my money on a single one. And remain undecided as the California primary approaches.
Maybe I’ll pull the lever for Gary Johnson. Or write in Jeb.