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10 Awful Things a President Mitt Romney Would Likely Do

It's hard to predict with a candidate who's had five positions on every issue, but here's our best shot.
 
 
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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (C) greets supporters as he arrives at a campaign event with US Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock (R-IN) (L) at Stepto's Bar B Q Shack in August 2012 in Evansville, Indiana.

 

With the polls showing a tightening race, a Mitt Romney presidency is becoming a real possibility. As I write, New York Times polling guru Nate Silver gives the Republican a 29-percent chance of emerging victorious when the votes are cast in just under two weeks.

The Romney-Ryan campaign has offered a bewildering and often contradictory array of positions on the issues, which makes predicting what a Romney agenda might look like exceptionally difficult. What's more, we'd see a very different Romney administration if Democrats retain control of the Senate. Silver gives them an 88 percent chance of doing so, projecting Dems to hold 52.4 seats in the next Congress (it's highly unlikely they'll win the House).

But if Romney were to sweep the tossup swing states – which he has to do in order to win the White House – that would require a strong GOP turnout and a stronger showing in those Senate races.

Despite the difficulty nailing down a chameleon-like candidate's positions, we've tried to discern some of the economic measures that Romney would likely champion if he wins. We'll follow up with a look at non-economic policies in the coming days.

1. The Romney-Ryan Budget

Let's assume, for the moment, that the Republicans take the Senate.

Mitt Romney has at times embraced Paul Ryan's “ roadmap,” and he's also distanced himself from it. But there will be quite a bit of pressure from conservative activists and the Republican House to enact something along the lines of the roadmap.

There are two things to understand about Paul Ryan's budget. First, it has been carefully written so that most of its provisions can be passed under a process known as budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of votes in the Senate. Second, it is a right-wing fantasy that, if enacted as written, would trigger a major drop in employment and send the economy into a tailspin. Its cuts are so deep, and would effect so many constituents – including traditionally Republican constituents – that it would have to be modified. It's one thing to campaign on such a plan and another to govern with it.

What does it do? According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “by 2050, most of the federal government aside from Social Security, healthcare and defense would cease to exist, according to figures in a Congressional Budget Office analysis.”

The CBO report, prepared at Chairman Ryan’s request, shows that Ryan’s budget path would shrink federal expenditures for everything other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and interest payments to just 3¾ percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050. Since, as CBO notes, “spending for defense alone has not been lower than 3 percent of GDP in any year [since World War II]” and Ryan seeks a high level of defense spending — he increases defense funding by $228 billion over the next ten years above the pre-sequestration baseline — the rest of government would largely have to disappear. That includes everything from veterans’ programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement, and the like.

Ryan has already modified his plan in response to the outcry over a CBO analysis that found future retirees would face $6,400 more in out-of-pocket healthcare costs. We can expect further modifications because no Republican administration is actually going to slash veterans' benefits to the bone, to name just one example. It's untenable, but that doesn't mean President Romney wouldn't push through something moderately less damaging.

 
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