Economic Outlook: The Romney debate

By ANTHONY HALL, United Press International  |  Oct. 5, 2012 at 10:23 AM
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No question, the first presidential debate marked a seismic shift in the race for the White House.

The man who is nearly impossible to trust was downright paternal -- a splash of expensive white teeth and a touch of Marcus Welby. For a moment, it even looked like Republican candidate Mitt Romney actually cared.

About us, that is.

At the same time, the man whose trust factor is as impeccable as it gets, the man who looks terrific in a suit, also flashes a great smile and has never taken his focus off the common man seemed off the mark, leaning on Bill Clinton as a role model for his approach to the economic maelstrom.

How could former Gov. Mitt Romney, a man who would chew off his own leg for a hanging chad, sound convincing about creating jobs and President Barack Obama, the patron saint of everyman fail to sound convincing?

Let's have a show of hands on those who believed Romney when he said the country's financial sector needs regulations, but not the particular tsunami of knee-jerk reactions packed into the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill.

Romney, of course, doesn't believe in a large government enabling the national economy with spoiler stimulus measures, but he can square up in front of a camera and declare that come hell or high water he will spend extravagantly on the U.S. military -- just don't call it a stimulus package, wink, wink.

At the same time, what leader chastises a president for a visionary approach to green energy -- $90 billion spent -- and vows to repeal a national healthcare bill when that same program put him on the map as the governor of Massachusetts?

This man would flog his own mother for a vote. He would hand big oil the keys to his car. He will do for cronyism what Chef Boyardee did for noodles. But he also has a better vision for the economy. That simply cannot be denied.

Frankly, the nation's housing market simply needs to heal on its own. That's why every White House initiative on housing has looked amateurish and produced spotty results at best. Every effort has made a fool out of the president, despite his honorable intentions.

Frankly, the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill is a torturous dance around the issues that surround the financial sector with too many rules that miss the mark and too few that score.

Would Romney, as president, make an effort to get it right?

Do cows fly?

But he would likely keep the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- because it appears merely symbolic and benign and yet it is not -- and the inter-agency efforts to keep an eye on massive companies. So, all is not lost.

But someone has to figure out how to corral greed on Wall Street and Dodd-Frank doesn't cut it, either. It just makes no sense to write a law for every scratch on the ledger.

What to expect? Expect Romney to put in a solid half a day's hard work on banking regulations if he becomes president. On the other hand, the worst of the Dodd-Frank headache would be eliminated.

Without question, the country needs oil and green energy. It's too early to turn our backs on oil and to quibble about how much money oil companies make. As president, the argument should be how much oil companies from other countries make -- not how much Americans make.

This is not a plea on behalf of irresponsibility. But whose side are we on, anyway?

Romney would lower the tax bill to encourage business and President Obama would raise taxes on the wealthy and provide social services and keep unemployment checks coming.

What's the difference? Not a lot mathematically. But Romney is absolutely correct in asserting revenue is the end-game, anyway, so why not put that together first.

Rather than rely on higher taxes to cut the debt, rely on lower taxes to encourage job growth and tax revenues will rise when people get back to work.

In so many words, Obama has been barking up the wrong tree. Wealth is not the problem -- or at least not as big a problem as Obama believes it to be. Rampant greed on Wall Street is a major problem. But unemployment outranks wealth as a problem every day of the week -- and not just for those unemployed.

By the way, not to do a disservice to a particular program or a specific one, spending cuts are, essentially, a myth, anyway. Show me Paul Ryan in a Smart car, then we'll talk.

In international markets the Nikkei 225 index in Japan added 44 percent while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong climbed 0.5 percent. The Sensex in India dropped 0.63 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia rose 0.94 percent.

In midday trading in Europe, the FTSE 100 index in Britain gained 0.82 percent while the DAX 30 in Germany added 1.16 percent. The CAC 40 in France climbed 1.57 percent while the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 1.08 percent.

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