Romney's FDR envy

Politico tells us we'll love Mitt's "200-day" plan to fix the economy. But it's a big secret!

Published September 28, 2012 3:10PM (EDT)

If only we knew the true Mitt Romney -- the man with both a plan to jump-start the U.S. economy and the leadership capabilities to execute his agenda. Voters, Politico tells us, would adore that man.

Yes, the very same reporters who pounced on the Romney campaign like starving hyenas two weeks ago, with their anonymously sourced account of dissension and disarray, are now back to tell us that the reason Mitt is imploding actually has nothing to do with the incompetence of Mitt's campaign staff. He's just a bad politician, we're told. All that glad-handing and telling people what they want to hear doesn't come naturally to the cool "data-driven" executive. If we could just get a look at the real man, a proven leader already busy at work polishing his list of action items to save the economy, we'd surely vote for him.

Yet many of the folks who are despairing about Romney would actually love what he would do in office. Romney’s metric-obsessed transition team is fleshing out a “200-day plan” (100 days wasn’t enough time to pass a bunch of big bills) aimed at goosing the recovery and creating jobs by bringing corporate cash off the sidelines in the United States and attracting investment from abroad.

The weapons would include tax and regulatory policy and what one aide called a “very aggressive” series of executive orders, many already on the drawing board. Two of Romney’s friends told POLITICO he would be eager to sign a bipartisan grand bargain in the first four months in office to calm markets and ease partisan tensions.

There s so, so much to love here.

Let's start with Mitt's 200-day plan. While it's understandable that no modern president wants to be compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt's astonishing record of achievement, let's take a second to remember why FDR was able to get so many "big bills" passed shortly after taking office. He had huge majorities and bipartisan cooperation. Romney will have neither. On the contrary, he will face a group of Senate Democrats mindful of how Republicans made it their first priority to cripple Obama's agenda even in the middle of the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Good luck with that.

Next up, Mitt's tax and regulatory weapons and his "very aggressive" executive orders. How stupid does Politico think its readership is? (Don't answer that!) One of the gaping holes in Romney's campaign has been its utter failure to offer any specifics on how Romney would address slow economic growth. You can't fix that problem by telling us that we would "love" his tax and regulatory plans, while continuing to offer no details. I second Bloomberg's Josh Barro recommendation here: "Romney should announce his plan!" How could it hurt? His campaign is already in free fall; surely things wouldn't get worse if he detailed his 200-day agenda.

Finally, and most ridiculous of all, is this assertion from Romney's friends that "he would be eager to sign a bipartisan grand bargain." How is this different from Obama? And how does he intend to achieve this? A grand bargain requires compromises by both sides. We already know what such a deal would require. Democrats will agree to spending cuts if Republicans agree to some tax hikes. But Republicans won't agree to any tax hikes. And one of the few areas in which Romney is on record is in his support for additional tax cuts for the rich, which is an absolute grand bargain deal-breaker.

Romney's eagerness to sign a grand bargain, his imaginary executive orders, and his ludicrous "200-day" rebranding all add up to exactly why Romney has managed over the course of this long summer to establish a good claim at being the worst candidate either party has nominated for president since at least Michael Dukakis. His spin has zero content save for the bucketloads of contempt it dumps on the American voter.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2012 Elections Mitt Romney Unemployment U.s. Economy