Life Under President Mitt Romney?

Mitt Romney is going win the contest to become the Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election. Even the White House now thinks so.

Meanwhile, Herman Cain is beginning to come under harsh attacks from his fellow Republicans, and press scrutiny in the coming weeks is going to be brutal. He will fade as the reality-based community realizes that his 9-9-9 plan is a bunch of hooey cooked up with the help of a right-wing accountant connected to the Krazy Koch brothers. And poor Rick Perry just doesn’t have enough time between now and the GOP convention to learn English. So, that pretty much makes Romney the guy.

All of this begs the question: What would life in America be like if Romney actually beats Barack Obama and becomes our next president? Well, for one, we’ll spend a lot less money on the social programs most Americans say are vitally important and shouldn’t be cut, and we’ll spend a lot more money on the machinery of war at a time when the majority of Americans say cuts to military spending are needed if we want to preserve social programs.

Romney has called repeatedly to increase defense spending by about $50 billion a year over President Barack Obama’s request. Romney wants to add Navy vessels, revive the missile-defense system and increase force levels by 100,000. He has given no indication yet what he plans to do with all those extra troops.

The ships would be an interesting new expense since we are already spending a jaw-dropping $3 billion apiece on some super-duper stealth destroyers that won’t be delivered until 2018. It’s also an interesting expense because of the fact that the last U.S. naval ship to be sunk in action was, as best as I can figure, the USS Sarsi, which hit a mine and sank during the Korean War in 1952.

On Sunday, Democratic Congressman Barney Frank held a town meeting at the Mass Bay Community College out in Wellesley that focused on the subject of military spending. With charts and graphs and history and humor, Congressman Frank made the case that we need to cut military spending if we are to have any hope of curbing the deficit and maintaining vital programs. Even if we cut spending by $250 billion a year, America would still have the strongest military on the face of the earth by far, he said. All we are arguing about is how big our margin has to be. Currently, its huge.

My favorite chart was this one:

The United States now spends almost as much money as all the other countries in the world combined. (Courtesy of Congressman Barney Frank)


While military spending remains high, the severe budget cuts at every level of government are now causing increasing pain and dislocation across the country. Services and programs at every level are suffering. You can see the results in places like Los Angeles, where a recent press account noted that some school classes now have more than 50 students.

Frank’s town meeting was not at all like the tumultuous ones we saw when health care reform was the subject. There was no yelling or heckling. There was frequent, polite applause. Only one gentleman expressed any real concern about the cuts. He said he worked at Natick Labs and was worried that the cuts would affect the Research and Development that goes on there. Congressman Frank said that would not be the case.

Frank reminded all of us of a certain age what it was like to live under a real, credible threat of attack and annihilation. That was during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. I can remember vividly the disappointment I felt as a teenager that my family could not afford a bomb shelter outfitted with a genuine chemical toilet and a lifetime supply of Spam. I lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and assumed that, without a proper shelter, I would be one of the tens of millions to be vaporized or die a horrible gagging death from the radiation poisoning after the fallout settled. After all, the Russians were armed to the teeth with nukes, and Kruschev promised, “We will bury you”. But I noticed that never happened.

Frank pointed out that even though our military spending is still near Cold War levels, the Soviet Union and its threats no longer exist. Our current enemies who do have nukes — have just a handful compared to the thousands in the U.S. arsenal. And that the leaders of those nuclear nations know with iron-bound certainty that if one of their nukes were ever used against us or our allies — it’s unique atomic signature would reveal the author of that awful deed. In rather short order — where that offending nation had once stood — there would be just a smoking, glassy crater.

Back in the Cold War, a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), proved to be an effective deterrent. Now we have YAD, or Your Assured Destruction, as a deterrent. Seems more persuasive.

But Romney wants us to be very afraid of the nut job in Korea with a few nukes, no rockets, and a bad haircut. And, of course, there are the bad men who live in caves.

The Republicans like to claim that it was Ronald Reagan who won the Cold War by provoking the Soviet Union into spending so much on its own military budget that it spent itself into oblivion and collapsed under the weight of all that military hardware. I wonder if the bad men who live in caves ever read about that?