Romney's Back to the Future
May 9, 2012
Speaking to supporters at an idle oil pump outside of Denver, newly minted GOP presidential nominee former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney blasted President Barack Obama for his “outdated polices,” insisting only he could get the country “growing and thriving again.” Mitt’s “futuristic” plan involves giving more support to Big Oil, putting upcoming “green” energy industries in their right place. Romney blamed Obama for high-energy prices, knowing full-well, as the former head of Wall Street’s Bain Capital, that prices are set by traders at the New York Mercantile Exchange and other commodity trading floors around the globe. Obama doesn’t have his finger on world oil markets, any more than Romney has an answer for bringing down energy prices. When his GOP predecessor former President George W. Bush was in office, he lauded the oil industry for raising prices.
When oil and gas prices skyrocketed in 2008, Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney saw nothing wrong with ExxonMobil raking in the biggest profits in the company’s history while the rest of the country suffered. Both insisted that high pump prices would have the beneficial effect of encouraging conservation. “He said he was going to spend $150 billion on green energy and created 5 million jobs,” said Romney, pointing to Obama’s failure. “I have hard time seeing all those jobs,” knowing that Obama’s plan required close cooperation with Congress and many years to implement. Romney knows that green energy won’t replace fossil fuels overnight but starts new industries that one-day could supplement the country’s energy needs. Blaming Barack on high oil prices avoids the real problem with the oil industry monopoly and greedy hedge funds pushing oil prices into the stratosphere.
Romney’s talking points come right out of Reince Priebus’s Republican National Committee who’s committed to bashing Obama’s economic credentials between now and November. What Romney calls “outdated policies” are nothing more than the Democrats’ emphasis, since former President Jimmy Carter in the mid-to-late ‘70s, on alternative energy. Romney’s futuristic policies involve handing more giveaways to Big Oil, forever blaming price hikes on costly research-and-development. If the oil industry really had such astronomical overhead they wouldn’t post some of the biggest profits ever. Big Oil is committed to convincing the public that refinery outages and growing demand in Asia create skyrocketing crude oil and pump prices. They don’t want the public to know that they arbitrarily charge whatever they can get until consumers starting cutting back.
Romney can’t have it both ways: Blaming Obama for high oil prices, then not giving him credit when oil production rises. Either Obama influences oil prices and production or he doesn’t. If anything, Barack hasn’t been tough enough with Big Oil, questioning recent extravagant quarterly profits, while, simultaneously, complaining about higher pump prices. Presidents can only exert so much influence on the oil industry. It wasn’t that long ago when Bush and Cheney blamed California’s “rolling blackouts” and power outages on not building enough power plants. When now defunct companies like Enron were fingered for manipulating the market—that is, actually cutting off power to California—Bush and Cheney had to eat crow. Now Romney follows in the same tradition, blaming the incumbent Democratic but giving Bush and Cheney as pass when in office.
If Romney wants to question Barack’s Feb. 28 veto of the Keystone trans-Canada pipeline then that’s valid criticism. Whatever the environmental impact, building the pipeline would have created thousands of new jobs from Calgary to Houston. On the other hand, the Keystone would not have brought down the cost of crude oil or pump prices. “His ideas about energy are simply out of date,” Romney insisted, not specifying what he’d do differently. If Obama’s toothless 2010 financial reform included regulating hedge and private equity funds, it might be possible to control runaway oil and gas prices. Romney, of course, has no intent of regulating funds that drive commodity prices, like oil and gold, through the roof. When Romney talks about Barack’s “old” and “from the past” ideas, he’s really talking about ending national health care and reforming entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
Romney’s new agenda involves streamlining the federal government, cutting thousands of jobs, just like he did as a leveraged buy out guy for Bain Capital. His new idea of scaling back the federal workforce would add to the nation’s unemployment rate and budget deficits, reducing the nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Romney’s Tea Party friends have a real plan to shrink the size and influence of the federal establishment, costing the nation untold numbers of government jobs. Obama’s views are “rooted in the perspective of the past,” insisted Romney, not saying in black-and-white how he plans to add private sector jobs. Calling Obama’s crowd “old liberals” hints that Romney’s “new” plan involves dramatic cuts in the federal workforce and scaling back entitlements of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Mitt wants to go back to the future but won’t say what he plans to do.
About the AuthorJohn M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma
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