By Bill Scher
Today, presidential candidate Mitt Romney outlines his "jobs" plan in USA Today, by asserting that: "All too often ... government gets in the way. The past three years of unparalleled government expansion have retaught that lesson all too well."
Funny that Romney's lesson-learning stops at 2009, and skips over those inconvenient years from 2001 to 2008.
That's when President George W. Bush's government didn't just get out of the way, it rolled out the red carpet for corporations to be irresponsible as they wished, and showered CEOs with big tax giveaways for good measure. The result? The "worst jobs record on record," according to the Wall Street Journal.
The net job losses under President Obama are solely due to the financial crisis and subsequent Great Recession caused by decades of conservative deregulation. The government action President Obama has taken may have yet to be enough to propel a robust recovery, but it indisputably stopped the bleeding inflicted by government getting out of the way.
Yet all Romney proposes is a return to those failed Bush-league policies.
More tax cuts for multimillionaires.
Romney writes: "Marginal income tax rates and tax rates on savings and investment must be kept low."
Translation: Keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, forever. Never mind that they were the centerpiece of a economic strategy that resulted in the "worst jobs record on record."
More free passes for corporations
Romney writes: "I will pare back regulation, including eliminating 'ObamaCare.' I will direct every government agency to limit annual increases in regulatory costs to zero. The impact of any proposed new regulation must be offset by removing another regulation of equivalent cost."
Translation: Why regulate Wall Street when you can deregulate Wall Street all over again? (Yes, Romney has explicitly pledged to repeal the President's financial reform law.) Never mind that deregulation caused the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
And why regulate health insurance companies? Never mind that rampant profiteering had left tens of millions uninsured and underinsured, while driving up health care costs for everyone.
And why judge regulations by their costs and their benefits? When you only look at costs, then every regulation looks horrible, which means no more regulation.
More dirty energy
Romney writes: "The Obama administration has severely restricted domestic energy production. I will ensure we utilize to the fullest extent our nation's nuclear know-how and immense reserves in oil, gas and coal ... We are an energy-rich country that, thanks to environmental extremism, has chosen to live like an energy-poor country."
Translation: Why use facts when you can make up stuff?
Fossil fuel production was actually higher in 2010 than in any year during the Bush administration. There is no severe restriction in domestic energy production.
President Obama did pursue an "all-of-the-above" energy policy as part of a compromise carbon cap bill that would have kept fossil fuels in the mix while increasing production of renewable energy and nuclear power. But you would never know that from Romney's smear rhetoric.
The truth is: conservative extremists are the ones who restrict our domestic energy production, our renewable energy production.
President Bush had a policy of sounding like an environmentalist while doing noting to create green jobs and avert a climate crisis. Similarly, Romney occasionally sounds like a climate realist, but offers no policies except the same old sweetheart deals for Big Oil and King Coal.
More scapegoating of unions
Romney writes: "Seeking to pay back political favors, President Obama has catered to the institutional interests of union bosses at the expense of both workers and businesses. I will fight against measures that deprive workers of basic rights, such as the secret ballot. And I will not tolerate federal intrusions of the kind that the National Labor Relations Board initiated when it filed suit against Boeing for opening a plant in a right-to-work state."
Translation: I will use the White House to intrude on the National Labor Relations Board, instead of taking politics out labor-management issues and simply letting NLRB judges weigh the evidence. I will go back to the Bush policy of a dormant NLRB that never questions management when it tries to deny workers the right to organize, and stands by while the middle class shrinks.
Romney is not an outlier among conservatives.
Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman's "jobs" plan is also focused on cutting taxes for the wealthy and fewer rules for irresponsible corporations, including the repeal of the Wall Street reform law.
The conservative front group known as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued a similar call, though it at least gets some credit for remembering that conservatives used to have limits on its skepticism of government and allowed for public investment in infrastructure.
But the Chamber has yet to convince, or even tried to convince, conservative leaders to break from its Bush past and embrace something different.
And so, without any serious attempt to rethink and revise since driving America into a wall, conservatism is left with offering just more of what it gave us in the last decade: the same policies that produced the worst record on jobs since the Great Depression.