The biggest promise Mitt Romney made on accepting the Republican presidential nomination wasn’t to create 12 million jobs. It came when he ridiculed Barack Obama’s 2008 pledge to “heal the earth” with his own: “My promise is to help you and your family.”
It sounds like a platitude, but Romney’s promise can – and should – be taken literally. Americans ought to measure exactly how Romney’s policies would help them and their families.
Imagine that Mitt Romney is sitting in this empty chair beside me. Imagine some Americans and their families posing questions to him:
“I’d like to start a small business, but I can’t afford to give up our health insurance. Besides, my wife – like yours — is a cancer survivor, so she can’t get insurance. How would repealing Obamacare help my family?”
“I work hard at my new job, but at far less pay than at the job I lost. My mortgage is underwater and I can’t get refinancing. How would cutting the budget and repealing Dodd-Frank help my family?”
“My husband is being deployed to Afghanistan – again – and I don’t know if either of us will survive this one. How does your open-ended commitment to that war help my family?”
“Our family is just getting by, so we’ll notice it if the payroll tax cut Obama signed expires Jan. 1. If you repeal the estate tax and cut taxes more for wealthy people and pay for it by taking away my deductions for mortgage interest, college tuition or health insurance, how does that help my family?”
“I want to improve my skills, but college costs and student loans are killing me. How does cutting Pell grants and letting banks charge higher interest rates on student loans help my family?”
“Grandma’s in the nursing home and I don’t know what we’d do if Medicaid wasn’t covering her bills. How does cutting Medicaid or returning it to the states to be cut help my family?”
One of the problems with the new radical Republicans is that, while they have plenty of sympathy for families in need -- especially when asking for their voters – they have an ideological aversion to the idea of government helping them. Government is the problem, not the solution. Families should look for help elsewhere.
It was a nice line in Romney’s speech, but he shouldn’t make promises his party isn’t interested in keeping.
Rick Holmes, opinion editor for the MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News, blogs at Holmes & Co. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.