Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Great Newsweekly The Economist Makes an Endorsement in the Presidential Race

Sometimes It Takes the Foreign Press to See America Clearly

This Forum has often lauded the London based publication, The Economist.  It is a great source of economic and political news.  It foregoes the “fluff” that have doomed American publications.  Its writing is clear, concise and objective.

An outsider’s view is often better than an insider’s view.  In America we are too close to our politicians.  Our visceral reaction to someone like Paul Ryan, for example, is that he is so repulsive we cannot really determine if there are any good core ideas there.  With Joe Biden there may be substance, but his inability to articulate thoughts and his ability to mangle his sentences leaves all of us puzzled at best. 

The Economist is a center/right publication.  It supports lower taxes, less regulation, more freedom.  It is tailor made for the Republicans.  And it is right on in terms of the American Presidential election.  First of all it is not a Barack Obama fan club.

No administration in many decades has had such a poor appreciation of commerce. Previous Democrats, notably Bill Clinton, raised taxes, but still understood capitalism. Bashing business seems second nature to many of the people around Mr Obama. . . .  Mr Obama spends regrettably little time buttering up people who disagree with him; of the 104 rounds of golf the president has played in office, only one was with a Republican congressman.

Above all, Mr Obama has shown no readiness to tackle the main domestic issue confronting the next president: America cannot continue to tax like a small government but spend like a big one. Mr Obama came into office promising to end “our chronic avoidance of tough decisions” on reforming its finances—and then retreated fast, as he did on climate change and on immigration. Disgracefully, he ignored the suggestions of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson deficit commission that he himself set up. More tellingly, he has failed to lay out a credible plan for what he will do in the next four years. Virtually his entire campaign has been spent attacking Mr Romney, usually for his wealth and success in business.

And the editors would like to support Mitt Romney.

Or take reducing the deficit and reforming American government. Here there is more to like about Mr Romney. He generally believes in the smaller state we would rather see; he would slash red tape and his running-mate, Paul Ryan, has dared to broach much-needed entitlement reform.

But the editors see Mitt Romney for what he really is.

Take foreign policy. In the debates Mr Romney stuck closely to the president on almost every issue. But elsewhere he has repeatedly taken a more bellicose line. In some cases, such as Syria and Russia (see article), this newspaper would welcome a more robust position. But Mr Romney seems too ready to bomb Iran, too uncritically supportive of Israel and cruelly wrong in his belief in “the Palestinians not wanting to see peace”. The bellicosity could start on the first day of his presidency, when he has vowed to list China as a currency manipulator—a pointless provocation to its new leadership that could easily degenerate into a trade war. . . .

Yet far from being the voice of fiscal prudence, Mr Romney wants to start with huge tax cuts (which will disproportionately favour the wealthy), while dramatically increasing defence spending. Together those measures would add $7 trillion to the ten-year deficit. He would balance the books through eliminating loopholes (a good idea, but he will not specify which ones) and through savage cuts to programmes that help America’s poor (a bad idea, which will increase inequality still further). . . . Mr Romney is still in the cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking you can do it entirely through spending cuts: the Republican even rejected a ratio of ten parts spending cuts to one part tax rises. Backing business is important, but getting the macroeconomics right matters far more.

And so they come to the conclusion that, hopefully, at least 50.0001% of Americans have come to.

And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.

Leaving all of us with the same position we had at the beginning of this election battle.  We would like to support some Republicans, they just make it so damn difficult to do so.

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