Romney schedules the long-promised “bathtub drowning”

[actually, three political shorts, but bear with me]

Mitt Romney has scheduled Grover Norquist’s long-planned “drown government in the bathtub” party!

Per AEI’s Norman Ornstein, writing in TNR:

The Ryan budget says that it will reduce all discretionary spending, domestic and defense, to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050, less than half of what it is today; but Romney has also pledged to put an ironclad 4 percent of GDP floor under defense spending alone. Taken together, then, a Romney administration would be committed to abandoning the entirety of non-military government. No air traffic control, no Coast Guard, no transportation, energy program, NIH, CDC, Customs, FBI, NASA, and so on. None.

Well, someone finally had to specify those “unspecified budget cuts” at some point in time. The answer, as Sarah Palin would say, is “Um, all of them” — well, he has specified them. The entire federal government would be shut down, and then some, an outcome which some (who might know about the matter) have deemed not very Christ-like.

I suppose once government disappears once and for all, we won’t have to fight over things like this anymore: a Republican SuperPAC TV ad attacks the Obama administration for stimulus spending that went to “traffic lights… in China.” Even putting aside the Gravitron of spin needed to generate that headline from the underlying story — that Chinese-assembled LED components were placed into energy-efficient traffic signals installed in U.S. cities — it’s absurd to find fault with a program that saves the public 80% on energy and maintenance while improving safety with brighter, longer-lasting signals.

Besides, only the diodes were made in China; as “teardown reports” of iDevices have shown, the cost of assembly in China is a tiny slice of the final cost of a finished electronic product in the U.S. — much less one sold with an installation and maintenance contract, as traffic lights are.

Which brings me to the closer from Dick Lugar’s concession speech:

I don’t remember a time when so many topics have become politically unmentionable in one party or the other. Republicans cannot admit to any nuance in policy on climate change. Republican members are now expected to take pledges against any tax increases. For two consecutive Presidential nomination cycles, GOP candidates competed with one another to express the most strident anti-immigration view, even at the risk of alienating a huge voting bloc. Similarly, most Democrats are constrained when talking about such issues as entitlement cuts, tort reform, and trade agreements. Our political system is losing its ability to even explore alternatives. If fealty to these pledges continues to expand, legislators may pledge their way into irrelevance. Voters will be electing a slate of inflexible positions rather than a leader.

I hope that as a nation we aspire to more than that. I hope we will demand judgment from our leaders. I continue to believe that Hoosiers value constructive leadership. I would not have run for office if I did not believe that.

Um, actually, I might remind Mr Lugar that the ACA cut into Medicare, which Republicans used to whip up seniors’ opposition (and Obama’s opening, $4 trillion offer on deficit reduction last April included vast additional Medicare cost cuts, before assenting to even larger cuts in debt-ceiling talks that failed when the House Republicans walked out) and that Obama has signed into law the largest trade agreements since, oh, Bill Clinton introduced NAFTA. Meanwhile, no Republican “leader” dares to speak truth to power on climate change, because they’re then quickly drummed out of the party.

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