In a recent American Prospect piece, Jamelle Bouie makes the case that Mitt Romney, far from returning to any moderate-leaning instincts he may once have possessed, will, if elected, turn out to be a willing tool of a resurgent ultra-conservative Republican Party. While he makes it clear that he sees this as a dire scenario, some of us are downright hopeful when he quotes Romney saying, as he did in an April 13 speech at the NRA, that “instead of expanding the government, I will shrink it. Instead of raising taxes, I will cut them. Instead of adding regulations, I will scale them back.”
Echoing president Obama’s skewed depiction of the Republican agenda as “social darwinism,” Bouie contends: “The modern Republican Party isn’t trying to build a fairer or more equitable society, and it doesn’t care for the interests of low- or middle-income Americans. To borrow from Paul Ryan, it stands for the “makers” against the “takers.” It aims to gut government and give the spoils to the rich. In a sense, it seeks to revive the age of Calvin Coolidge, when government was small, inequality high, and the economy an exclusive playground for the wealthiest and most powerful Americans. If Mitt Romney is elected, the GOP will have a president who shares that vision.”
Besides the overblown and ridiculous claim that the GOP is merely a tool for “the rich,” I submit this also is a remarkably one-sided characterization of the Coolidge years. By most unbiased accounts, the Coolidge 20s were a period of rapid and, more importantly, broad-based economic growth, while the Mellon-Coolidge taxation regime lowered taxes for all, and disproportionately for the lower rungs of society. It is true that in Coolidge‘s day there were fewer “takers,” or recipients of redistributed wealth, and I for one would argue that the nation was better for it.We can only hope that Mitt Romney, once he is duly nominated and hopefully elected -if possible in tandem with a Republican House and Senate- will return Calvin Coolidge‘s picture to its rightful place on the White House wall and to Coolidge‘s nostrums in dealing with the “prairie fire of debt” he has already identified as the nation’s number one problem.