Wednesday, July 18, 2012
OBAMNEY. Ain't no difference twixt the two...
By W. E. Messamore
The New York Times recently made a less than half-hearted attempt to summarize the similarities between President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican Party nominee, Mitt Romney. As New York Magazine reports, the Times wasn’t able to do much better than: They both like Star Trek, Modern Family, and Chicken. Here at IVN, I thought we could find just a few more similarities of just a little more substance.
The following list isn’t just a bunch of opinions, but documented facts that together draw a compelling picture: Far from being polar opposites, the two “choices” offered as presidential candidates by this country’s two main parties are nearly indistinguishable on the substantive public policy challenges Americans face. Using the New York Times piece as a starting point, here are 100 ways Mitt Romney is just like Barack Obama:
1. Star Trek
2. Modern Family
4. The signature legislative accomplishment of the man that Republicans have chosen to repeal and replace “ObamaCare” was “RomneyCare,” which was the blueprint and model for The Affordable Care Act.
5. The most controversial aspect of “ObamaCare” for its critics, was the individual mandate. Mitt Romney, like Barack Obama, believes individual mandates can be a good ingredient of public policy.
6. Mitt Romney reminds critics that he believed “RomneyCare” was good for the state of Massachussetts, but shouldn’t be implemented nationwide, and that’s how he’s substantively different from Barack Obama. In 2007, however, Romney said: “I’m proud of what we’ve done. If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be a model for the nation,” suggesting that, like Obama, he is not opposed to federal mandates either– just controversial ones that his partisan opponents pass.
(Items 7 – 9) As Jon Stewart points out on The Daily Show, Mitt Romney’s proposed legislative replacement for “ObamaCare” would keep everything in it other than the individual mandate, according to Mitt Romney’s own words:
7. Like Obama and the Democrats provided for in the Affordable Care Act, Romney’s legislative alternative would make sure people who want to keep their current insurance can do so.
8. Like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney wants to expand federal spending on Medicaid to help each state cover residents who cannot afford health insurance.
9. Also like Obama, Romney’s “alternative” would make sure people with preexisting conditions will be covered.
10. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama flip flopped on whether “ObamaCare” is or is not a tax when it was politically suitable.
11. The same Wall Street recipients of TARP bailout money that were top Obama donors in 2008 are top Romney donors in 2012.
12. The Obama Administration has failed to prosecute a single Wall Street executive for malfeasance related to the 2007 – 2008 financial crash. Wall Street’s aforementioned donation patterns make for a compelling conclusion: A Romney Administration would be no different.
13. Setting aside the justice system, legislative fixes for perverse incentives on Wall Street have likewise been underwhelming. Dodd-Frank has been impotent to prevent risky trading and stress tests for federally insured banks only anticipate another housing crash, not a catastrophic hit to America’s very monetary system itself. Instead of a substantive alternative to Obama and the Democrats, Romney’s solution seems to be to do even less: he wants to repeal Dodd-Frank.
14. Like Obama, Romney supports taxpayer bailouts of struggling corporations– handouts that go from hardworking Americans to wealthy companies with irresponsible management.
15. The most controversial bailout for Republicans and one of the motivators behind the Tea Party protest movement that began in 2009 was the TARP bailout of big Wall Street financials. Like Obama– who voted for it as a US Senator and continues to support and defend it as President, Mitt Romney supported and continues to support TARP.
16. Not only does Mitt Romney approve of Barack Obama’s federal management of auto industry bankruptcies, he takes credit for it.
17. Republicans criticize Obama for his role in getting Solyndra’s hands dirty with federal money, but at his own big financial company, Bain and Co., Mitt Romney secured millions in a federal bailout of his corporation’s own struggling finances.
18. Though he’s flip-flopped on this issue along with so many others, Mitt Romney has also supported the federal stimulus package passed by the Democrats and signed by Barack Obama, writing that the “‘all-Democrat’ stimulus that passed in early 2009 will accelerate the timing of the start of the recovery.”
19. Another thing that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have in common is that the numbers strongly suggest they were both wrong about the 2009 economic stimulus package.
20. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama oppose a full, yearly, public, top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve’s finances and activities, citing the need for “Fed independence” from Congress.
21. On monetary policy, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama do not see any urgent need to change the status quo and any reform of the Federal Reserve system is not a public policy priority for either candidate.
22. Like Barack Obama, who reappointed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Mitt Romney has approved of Ben Bernanke’s handling of the financial crisis and monetary policy in America.
23. Mitt Romney approves of Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner’s record on economic policy as well.
24. Like Barack Obama, economic stimulus via federal spending on infrastructure development is a policy priority for Mitt Romney.
25. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama favor the extension of Bush’s deficit-funded tax cuts for the middle class.
26. Though they are currently sparring over whether or not to extend the tax cuts for high income earners (ibid.), Mitt Romney supports making these tax cuts permanent for them as well (ibid.), and as president, Barack Obama has already extended these tax cuts for high income earners once. Actions matter more than rhetoric. Are the two really so different?
27. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama supported the payroll tax cut extensions.
28. Neither Mitt Romney, nor Barack Obama have charted a course away from the bipartisan consensus that deficit-funded tax cuts stimulate economic growth, so that other than putting up a big showy fight over the details of tax policy, their substantive philosophies of fiscal policy are essentially the same.
29. Like Obama, Mitt Romney is open to a Value Added Tax as a potential fiscal policy solution.
30. In discussions of tax policy, Mitt Romney’s working definition of “wealthy” or “high income” seems to be $200,000 a year (ibid.), the same as that commonly used by Barack Obama.
31. Like Obama, Romney supports raising taxes on businesses, and did so as governor of Massachusetts, despite speciously claiming otherwise by calling his tax hikes on businesses in the commonwealth “closing tax loopholes.”
32. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama‘s federal budget plans would add trillions of dollars to the already unsustainable national debt over the next ten years.
33. Neither Mitt Romney, nor Barack Obama have offered a plan of detailed, substantive spending cuts to the out-of-control federal budget that pass the straight face test.
34. On Social Security, Mitt Romney’s plan is to manage, tinker, and keep “kicking the can down the road.” Barack Obama’s plan is to manager, not tinker… and keep kicking the can down the road.
35. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have taken strong positions against earmarking in the US Congress.
36. Neither Barack Obama, nor Mitt Romney‘s actions are consistent with their rhetoric on earmarks.
37. Spending categorized as defense-related has only gone up during President Obama’s first term from $616 billion under Bush in 2008 to $768 billion in 2011, and Obama still wants even more. So does Romney.
38. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have international backgrounds and parents with international backgrounds…
39. But both are foreign policy amateurs with backgrounds in domestic policy, finance, law, and community organizing rather than foreign policy…
40. Yet their team of foreign policy experts, from Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden, and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to Mitt Romney’s team of Bush-era neoconservative foreign policy advisers, indicates their equal commitment to Washington’s unpopular and incoherent foreign policy status quo.
41. And for the first time since 1944, neither of the two major parties’ candidates, Barack Obama, nor Mitt Romney, have military experience.
42. Despite running on a platform of change, Obama’s first term as president has demonstrated his commitment to the Bush era strategies of nation building and counter-insurgency. Mitt Romney doesn’t think Obama’s commitment to nation building is strong enough.
43. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the Bush era doctrine of preemptive war.
44. Mitt Romney agrees with President Obama that the president can act unilaterally to take the country to war without Congress.
45. Though Obama paints Romney as an American unilateralist willing to take military action without the blessing and cooperation of the international community, Romney and Obama actually both agree with the Bush era foreign policy of unilateral US military action, and Obama took unilateral military action in the Osama bin Laden raid.
46. Though he has, unsurprisingly, held a different position before, Romney says he would have ordered the bin Laden raid like Obama did.
47. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama believe the US military can be used for humanitarian intervention overseas without an imminent threat to American national security.
48. Mitt Romney approves the NATO-led ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya supported by the Obama Administration.
49. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both agree that preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is a national security priority for the United States.
50. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama would unilaterally take the US to war against Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
51. Barack Obama has been a consistent supporter and escalator, as both Senator and President, of George W. Bush’s war and counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Mitt Romney thinks he isn’t supportive enough.
52. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are actively trying to outdo each other on which candidate supports economic sanctions against Iran the most.
53. Barack Obama has involved the US in Syria’s foreign civil war. Mitt Romney wants to get even more involved.
54. Mitt Romney supports continuing the Bush and Obama administration policy of cooperation with Pakistan despite its hostile activities toward US operations in Afghanistan and the fact that it appeared to have been harboring Osama bin Laden.
55. Mitt Romney supports the Obama Administration’s policy of unmanned aerial warfare via predator drone in Pakistan.
56. Tim Pawlenty– on Romney’s short list for a VP– has suggested that Mitt Romney would expand Barack Obama’s already unprecedented use of drone warfare.
57. Mitt Romney supported Barack Obama’s massive surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.
58. Though he tries to distinguish his position on Afghanistan from that of Obama’s, The New York Times reports that “despite the tough critique, Mr. Romney has loosely embraced the main thrust of White House policy for troop levels after the election: a timetable for pulling out nearly all troops by the end of 2014.”
59. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama consider Israel America’s best long-term strategic ally in the Middle East and are committed to using US military power to go to war alongside Israel against its regional enemies.
60. Barack Obama has failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised on the campaign trail and as president; Mitt Romney said in one presidential debate: “My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo.”
61. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney support indefinite detention of terror suspects without trial as a valid and legal tool in the national security state’s war on terrorism.
62. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney support the controversial practice of extraordinary rendition.
63. Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both speak in the rhetoric of American exceptionalism and divine providence concerning foreign policy.
64. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama base public policy positions and actions on dimensions of their religious faith.
65. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support and want to continue Bush-era faith-based initiatives.
66. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support the warrantless wiretapping of the Bush-era USA Patriot Act, which Romney has praised and Obama has acted to renew multiple times as both Senator and President.
67. Mitt Romney says that like Barack Obama did, he would sign the controversial NDAA, including its provisions for the arrest and indefinite detainment of US citizens on US soil.
68. Like Obama, Romney believes in the legitimate power of the president to execute American citizens by “targeted killing” done in secret without charges or trial.
69. Mitt Romney emphatically supported Barack Obama’s decision in 2011 to use “targeted killing” to execute US citizen Anwar al Awlaki by drone strike without charges or trial.
70. On the Bush and Obama-era TSA, Mitt Romney’s position is tinker a little, but maintain the status quo.
71. On undocumented immigration, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama‘s position may differ in some details, but can both essentially be summarized as “provide amnesty, but on certain conditions.”
72. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama support continuing drug prohibition and the forty-year-old, Nixon-era War on Drugs.
73. Mitt Romney also supports the continued raids and prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries (and even patients) that have characterized Obama Administration as well as Bush-era policy on medical marijuana.
74. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both support executive line item vetoes.
75. Despite criticizing Bush for unconstitutional executive overreach via signing statements, Obama has continued the practice, and Mitt Romney says he will too.
76. Exemplary of their respectively mixed records on transparency, is the recent exchange between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney over releasing Romney’s tax returns and releasing the DOJ’s Fast and Furious records.
77. Because he’s adopted multiple positions on abortion throughout his political career, it’s hard to determine what his actual views are, but Mitt Romney has agreed with Obama’s position multiple times on the importance of upholding Roe v. Wade.
78. On gay marriage, what Obama and Romney have in common is that they have both changed positions (or “evolved”) on the issue, and curiously done so when it would be of maximum electoral benefit to them.
79. On campaign finance, both Romney and Obama have supported campaign spending limits.
80. On the campaign trail, both major party candidates frequently invoke and heap praise on Ronald Reagan, but it’s hard to tell if either Romney, or Obama, who once said, “In this country, prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy few,” is really sincere.
81. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are both supporters of strict gun control measures.
82. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney prioritize “reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” pursuing alternative energy sources, and setting regulatory efficiency standards as part of federal energy policy.
83. Like Obama, Mitt Romney has said that he believes in global warming.
84. Like Obama, Mitt Romney supports capping carbon emissions and did so as governor.
85. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both support international cap and trade policies via global carbon regulatory treaty.
86. As The Atlantic reports, both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have demonstrated a capacity for taking bold and unapologetic 180-degree turns on their stated policy positions.
87. As exemplified by a Mitt Romney campaign spokesman’s infamous Etch-a-Sketch comment and Barack Obama’s plea to the Russian president for some space on missile defense until after the election, which was caught on a hot mic, both candidates have also demonstrated a willingness to be insincere on the campaign trail.
88. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’s signature legislative policies are unpopular with voters.
89. This is likely one reason why both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have engaged in so much negative campaigning emphasizing their opponent’s weaknesses rather than their own strengths.
90. This is also likely for the regression of both candidates’ campaign rhetoric into the same old, worn-out, partisan talking points and the trite political rivalry of left and right; blue team and red team; Democrat and Republican.
91. Though Romney has worked in big finance (to lobby for federal bailouts as aforementioned) and Obama did a stint in finance for one year, neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama have any small business experience.
92. But both were community organizers and Harvard Law school graduates.
Several more items that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have in common are the following people, who represent multiple political points of view, and who all agree that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have too much in common and few substantive differences on important matters of public policy:
93. George Soros: “If it’s between Obama and Romney, there isn’t all that much difference except for the crowd that they bring with them… So it won’t be that great a difference and I think there won’t be a great deal of enthusiasm on either side of the battleground. It will be more civilised than the previous elections have been.”
94. Newt Gingrich: “There’s a lot of parallels between these two guys…”
95. Judge Andrew Napolitano: “Can a man who essentially agrees with President Obama on all the key issues realistically become the Republican nominee for president?”
96. Rick Santorum: “And there’s no difference between President Obama and these two gentleman [Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich].”
97. Gary Johnson: “Most Americans are hard pressed to find a difference between Romney and Obama when it comes to intervention.”
98. Ralph Nader: (CBS News) ‘Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader says he sees “far too little difference” between President Obama and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, arguing that “we deserve more choices in this country.”
In the interview with Hotsheet on Monday, Nader said the president and his likely Republican challenger are essentially the same when it comes to foreign policy and their attitudes “toward Wall Street and corporate power.” The primary difference, he said, is their position on social services.’
99. The Des Moines Register, the newspaper that endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008, endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican Party nomination in 2012.
100. Voters: (Yahoo! News) “A new Quinnipiac poll shows Barack Obama holding a four-point lead over likely contender Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Politico noted that other recent polls project similar preference, with CBS/NYT calling the candidates tied, PPP giving Obama a four-point lead, and Gallup giving Romney a two-point lead. Only CNN/Opinion Research turned up a significant spread, with Obama in the lead by nine points.
Why is the spread so close? Voters don’t seem to find much difference between Obama and Romney. [emphasis added] Gas prices and women’s issues are the only issues where either candidate has a decisive advantage, Politico said, with gas prices favoring Romney and women’s issues in Obama’s camp.”