As the election approaches, I find myself asking what concerns me most about the Romney-Ryan ticket. There's a lot.
1. Rommey's disparaging comment about "the 47%".
Romney treated the vulnerable elderly, those still unemployed who were left jobless by Bush's "Great Recession", and the vast majority of the bottom three quintiles of the income distribution for which the standard deduction and personal exemption are INTENDED to ensure they don't have to pay an income tax as though they were all deadbeats who had not sense of personal responsibility and just wanted a government handout. Remember that the income tax is just one piece of the federal tax system--payroll taxes take a significant bite out of low income taxpayers' income, and they usually have state income taxes and sales taxes (which are highly regressive) as well. Romney's disdain for this group--and his assumption that he needn't bother to think about them--augers ill for the future of a Romney-Ryan administration. We would take a significant step closer to rule by oligarchs, if we put oligarchs into the presidency who don't even recognize how their wealth and status has been achieved at the cost of ordinary folk.
2. Romney's refusal to release additional tax returns
Romney has simply stonewalled on information of direct relevance to a Romney presidency. This is bad for two reasons.
First, it suggests that he would serve as president with the same arrogant view of himself as the one who decides what the people need to know and the same arrogant notion that he got where he did on his own "merit" rather than on the foundation of years of wealth, prestige and status with a large helping of government support for his father's industry (roads are built free of charge to auto manufacturers, and what should be their primary competitors--public passenger railroads--are starved by the GOP in Congress to the point that they can't keep schedules because of being shoved aside by the freight owners of the rails they run on).
Second, it suggests that there is likely information in those returns that would reflect poorly on him as president. Even more use of offshore tax havens? More questionable use of trusts to hide who owns what or where it is? Failure to report offshore financial assets (that could be the basis for a criminal charge) until participation in the "voluntary disclosure initiative"?
How can we expect a Romney-Ryan administration to deal appropriately with the obscene "carried interest" provision when he is ashamed of revealing the returns that benefitted him and his donors so magnificently from it? How can we expect a Romney-Ryan administration to take the fair stand taken by President Reagan's administration on capital gains taxes--in the 1986 reform act under Reagan, the preferential rate that has benefitted Romney and Ryan so enormously and given them much of their wealth was eliminated!
This willingness to stonewall around relevant information and the potential that the information that isn't being disclosed would at least reflect poorly on him suggests that as president he would similarly engage. Would Romney be another Bush who pushed for preemptive war in Iraq without adequate planning, without regard to the long-term costs, without regard even for a just rationale because of his willingness to railroad everyone to adopt the neo-con approach of loving warfare? Romney's type of secrecy could easily allow for manipulation of public information to the extent that we are led down another blinder-gate like the Iraq war.
3. Romney and Ryan's various positions on privatization and/or reduction of benefits under social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid.
Ryan has made no bones about where he stands--he condemns earned-benefit programs, likely because he never expects to need them (and, after all, Congress has had marvelous health care for itself all these years). Romney has waffled as he has with every policy, depending on the audience and the stakes, but his core "market fundamentalism" (as revealed by item 1) makes clear where he really stands--privatization and voucherization and benefit cutbacks and program decimation for programs like Medicaid (under the guise of "federalism") would be the future under a Romney-Ryan administration. Our economy cannot be sustained that way.
4. Attitudes towards inequality, lack of progressivity in the tax system.
One of the most worrisome aspects of a Romney-Ryan presidency would be the lack of concern about the growth of inequality in this country and its disastrous impact on broad-based economic growth and a sustainable democracy. The far-right GOP from which Ryan springs and which supported Romney's candidacy extols market fundamentalism above all else, celebrates wealth no matter how acquired or at what cost to society, and disregards the decline in the middle class that has been a direct result of the dominance of market fundamentalist policies over the last four decades. Deregulation, privatization, militarization, the celebration of greed and tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations are the cornerstones of the new right-wing consensus.
Those are also the policies that gave us the financialization of the economy, the decimation of U.S.-based manufacturing through our subsidizing of the movement of active businesses offshore, and ultimately the Great Recession and the loss to ordinary Americans of most of their savings represented by the value of their homes. Bush and his Treasury secretary Paulson took measures to save the big banks, but they didn't put the kinds of conditions on those savings measures that would have gone a long way to ameliorating the impact of the Great Recession--such as requiring clawbacks of mortgage loans in bankruptcy and other measures to prevent the foreclosure crisis that has driven honest, hardworking Americans from their homes.
Romney-Ryan and the far-right political machine funded by Sheldon Adelson, Charles and David Koch and their one-percenter peers will simply reinstate the Bush tax-cuts-for-the-rich and damn-the-rest policies. Under Romney-Ryan, we can expect elimination of the estate tax, which will increase the budget deficit while adding to the enormous inequality gap and allowing multibillionaires to pass their wealth to heirs who do nothing to earn it free of any tax ever (most such estates haven't been taxed on their appreciation during the lifetimes of the decedent, and won't be taxed on death, and won't be taxed to the beneficiary either). We can expect elimination of any taxes on income from capital, so that the oligarchs will bear none of the tax burden on their primary source of income. Spending on public infrastructure and safety net programs will cease (as military spending continues to expand to fund the oligarchs who own the military-industrial complex). Progressive tax rates, which have been steadily reduced to a flatter structure, will likely disappear, replaced by a regressive VAT or by a flat structure that puts more of the tax burden on the middle and lower income groups and much much less on the oligarchs. Corporate taxes will continue to decrease, as a way of rewarding the multinationals who fund GOP political power and the oligarchs who manage and own the corporate giants. Wages of workers will accordingly continue to languish. Corporatism and class warfare will win the day, and ordinary Americans will bear the brunt of it.
This is not a pretty picture. It is the reason I find the Romney-Ryan ticket such a worrisome prospect for our future.