A Romney administration will be a fiscal disaster. But this is precisely why Romney should be elected
Disclaimer: I don't actually want Mitt Romney to win. But here's why it might be good if he did.
Mitt Romney's economic plan makes no sense. When even The Economist, which likes a free market, thinks that 'for all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says,' you have to be wary.
US federal spending is dominated by health (23 per cent), welfare (20 per cent) and defence (19 per cent), and Romney would only make this worse – which is a good thing.
He wants to cut taxes and raise defence spending, adding $7 trillion to the deficit. The extremists in the Republican party (which is to say, the Republican party) won't allow any tax rises at all. A Romney administration – which would no doubt involve a couple of expensive wars (good morning Tehran!) – will be a fiscal disaster.
But this is precisely why Romney should be elected. America is on an unsustainable path whether Obama wins or not: consider healthcare spending. As the chart below shows, it is going to grow and grow as a proportion of GDP. It is becoming ever-less affordable, even with President Obama's healthcare reforms.
The chart below shows quite how unsustainable America's spending is (the dark blue is outgoings, the light blue one revenues):
Once spending becomes so out-of-control that a national clamour emerges for its severe reduction and sensible reorganisation (stop giving the Department of Defense $700 billion a year, for example, or paying healthcare insurers to do stupidly expensive and unnecessary tests), America might choose a sustainable path.
Demographics also offers an interesting view. Over half the babies in America are now born to ethnic minorities (who make up 36.6 per cent of the population), suggesting that America will no longer look as white in the future. Indeed, it is predicted that by 2040 at the latest non-Hispanic whites will be less than half the population.
Romney is not big with any of these communities, and so the chances that he'll govern moderately and sensibly – passing something like the DREAM Act to give residency to the children of illegal immigrants or not building a massive fence between America and Mexico – are small.
With Romney's attitude to the minorities (soon majorities) of America's changing demographics, we could see a secular shift whereby no Republican post-Romney is electable for years.
There is also an argument that another Obama term would be legislatively pointless. (I am of course passing over that the next president can probably appoint two Supreme Court justices and thus have a massive, if not immediate, sway.)
Even if Obama is re-elected *and* manages to keep hold of the Senate, he will still not have a majority in the House of Representatives nor a filibuster-proof party in the Senate, meaning he will be unable to pass almost any legislation, given the extreme hatred the Republican party bears him. Obama has not talked about specific policies or bills during the campaign because he knows he has no chance of enacting or passing them. It would be four years of gridlock. (Mind you, Romney will likely not have a Senate majority either.)
The argument in favour of Mitt Romney is not one of hope and change and improvement: it's that if America hits rock bottom sooner – and Romney would without doubt hasten that – it might start to make the fundamental reforms it needs for its economy and for its changing population and to reshape policies and politics for the twenty-first century.