Possible rationale for a third run: Romney says leaders in both parties failing the …

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Awkward: Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney to meet privately in Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney says one of the biggest challenges facing the country is climate change and that global solutions are needed to combat it. WASHINGTON — Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are scheduled to meet privately this week in Utah, raising the possibility that the two former governors will find a way to avoid competing presidential campaigns that would split the Republican establishment next year, two prominent party members said Wednesday night.The most notable Republican reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night did not come from official respondent Joni Ernst, the rookie senator from Red Oak, Iowa, with the camouflage high heels. Bush requested the meeting, which was planned before Romney’s announcement two weeks ago that he was considering a third run for presidency, according to an unidentified party member.

Taxes were too high, and so was spending, unless there was a war on – in which case Democrats would be appeased with domestic budget increases, a fair trade for even bigger increases in the military budget. He used his remarks to broaden a populist platform he first touched on last week that marks a sharp shift from the rhetoric of his first two campaigns.

While hitting familiar Republican points criticizing the size of the federal debt, Romney at times sounded like a Democrat, calling for President Barack Obama and other leaders in Washington to act on common liberal priorities such as climate change, poverty and education. “I’m one of those Republicans who thinks we are getting warmer and that we contribute to that,” he said of climate change, charging that federal leaders have failed to enact global agreements needed to tackle the problem. On his Facebook page, Romney countered Obama’s speech by zeroing in on the president’s proposal to pay for $235 billion in middle-class tax breaks, as well as new spending on education and infrastructure, by raising taxes on capital gains and inherited assets for the very wealthy by $320 billion. “His tax proposal is a maze of new taxes and complexities,” Romney wrote. “The best way to lower the tax burden on all American families is straightforward: lower rates and simplify the tax code.” This reaction may seem entirely predictable—after all, Romney spent his entire 2012 presidential campaign calling for across-the-board tax cuts that independent analysts found would disproportionately benefit the top 5 percent of taxpayers. Convinced that Democrats’ obsession with income inequality has struck a legitimate nerve, establishment Republicans are working to respond in time for 2016. The seeds of a high-powered clash between Romney and Bush have spooked some allies, who worry the two could split the vote and give rise to a nominee outside the party establishment. What’s striking about Romney’s reaction, though, is precisely that it is such a rehash of his 2012 stance at a time when he has been seeking to recast himself as a different sort of Republican, one far more concerned with poverty, inequality, and middle-class wage stagnation.

Romney spent little time talking about poverty, the middle class or climate change in a 2012 campaign in which opponents cast him as an out-of-touch millionaire. But in public and private conversations in recent weeks he has focused on poverty, perhaps above all, a dramatic shift for the former private-equity executive. Romney acknowledged his past political struggles with a touch of humor, citing a remark from former Vice President Walter Mondale who was defeated by former President Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential contest. “He said, ‘You know, I always wanted to run for president in the worst way. And that’s just what I did,'” Romney said with a chuckle. “I learned some lessons, too.” Romney had previously acknowledged that climate change is real, noting in his 2010 book that “human activity is a contributing factor.” But he questioned the extent to which man was contributing to the warming of the planet and said throughout his 2012 campaign that America shouldn’t spend significant resources combatting the problem — particularly with major polluters like China doing little.

The talks come as both men have been making a flurry of phone calls to Republican donors and officials to sound them out and gather commitments ahead of what could be a bruising primary race. Though no one has come out and said it quite yet, the principle is powerfully clear: If our middle class is dependent for its existence on federal largesse, our economic system is broken, and our political system is corrupt. Before the speech — tickets were sold to the public — Romney spoke to a private dinner of about 130 clients of Diversify Inc., the investment firm that sponsored the event. Tyler Fagergren, a manager with the firm, said people asked Romney questions about the economy and investment but were not allowed to ask about a possible 2016 campaign.

Many of the contributors and elected officials they are courting are hoping to stave off a collision between the two that could imperil the party’s chances in a general election. That instinct, also deeply conservative, has its roots in James Madison’s recognition that the purpose of deliberative institutions is to slow down the passions that run wild and free in democratic life – ensuring that they don’t issue forth in a rush of hasty, ill-conceived and contentious policies.

So rather than pounding on Obama for his dream of a middle class that is an artifice of government policy, establishmentarian Republicans, instead, want to show that they can offer a positive agenda for lifting up those near the economic bottom. Just look at what has been the first order of business for Republicans after they won full control of Congress for the first time in eight years this past fall. For the presidential field’s two top establishment Republicans, it’s hard to say whether the politics of prosperity promises an opportunity or a guarantee.

It’s not expanding the earned income tax credit, but rather pushing a Wall Street wish list for tweaks to weaken the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2010. This will likely prove to be the primary achievement of Obama’s new tax proposal, which, as he bluntly put it in Tuesday night’s speech, is targeted at “giveaways the superrich don’t need” and “lobbyists [who] have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight.” No, it’s not going anywhere in a GOP-led Congress.

Now, he’s used the slogan to name and define his new Political Action Committee. “We believe passionately that the Right to Rise,” its mission statement declares – “to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success – is the central moral promise of American economic life.” Well. As Peter Beinart explains at the Atlantic, the instincts and theories that define the right “don’t oppose good education, good health care and good jobs, of course. Talk all you want about restoring shared prosperity, Obama is saying, but this is the kind of reform it will take to bring balance to an economy that has gotten so top-heavy and out of whack. But they have long opposed calling them rights, for fear that doing so would undo the limitations on government power outlined at the nation’s founding.” On the other hand, as some Republicans are quick to point out, there’s another conservative tradition that presents the problem in a much different light. The proposal will implicitly admonish not only Republicans but also Hillary Clinton, should her own Wall Street sympathies and upper-bracket aspirations keep her from adopting an aggressive platform to tackle inequality.

Bush, who in recent years has worked in the finance industry, would be vulnerable to the attacks that so damaged his own campaign against President Obama. These are the real stakes at play, Cannon and Obama both recognize, and they haven’t changed just because Romney and a handful of GOP presidential hopefuls have decided it’s time to show a new, more caring face. Romney’s expression of interest, made public in a speech to the Republican National Committee last week in San Diego, has stopped some of the party’s coveted fund-raising bundlers from making firm commitments.

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