Romney promised he wouldn’t raise a cent in taxes to retire a debt far larger than the one George H. W. Bush faced. He had nothing at all to say about climate change. He said health-care reform should proceed state-by-state, but he proposed Medicaid cuts that would make it impossible for any other states to do what Massachusetts did in 2006. He offered no short-term help to the unemployed, proposing instead to concentrate on long-term initiatives like energy independence. He again proclaimed allegiance to his budget promises, which would mean a 40 percent cut in everything but Medicare, Social Security and defense spending by 2016, though the only specific cut he mentioned was to PBS.
The list of Mitt’s moderate moments, meanwhile, goes something like this. “Regulation is essential,” he said. “You can’t have a free market work if you don’t have regulation.” He also swore fealty to Medicare — though he wants to move it into a premium support system in which seniors use a capped voucher to choose between Medicare and private insurers. He forswore any intention to give tax cuts to the rich, or really to anybody, though he didn’t explain how that would work given his promise to cut tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board.
As the Republican party has moved to the right in recent years, so too has our standard for what counts as a moderate Republican. These days, if you’re willing to admit that President Obama was probably born in the United States, that the U.S. Treasury probably shouldn’t default on its debts, and that someone, somewhere, might occasionally have to pay taxes, then congratulations, you’re a moderate Republican!