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by Robert B. Reich
We're closing in on Election Day, but the questions about what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would do if elected are only growing larger. Rarely before in American history has a presidential ticket campaigned on such a blank slate.
Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don't hear Romney, Ryan or some other exponent of the
Romney says that if elected he'll repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with something else, and promises he'll provide health coverage to people with pre-existing medical problems, but he doesn't give a hint how he'd manage it.
Insurance companies won't pay the higher costs of insuring these people unless they have extra funds -- which is why Obamacare requires that everyone, including healthy young people, buy insurance. Yet Romney doesn't say where the extra money to fund insurers would come from. From taxpayers? Businesses?
Talk about uncertainty.
Romney also promises to repeal Dodd-Frank, but here again he's mum on what he'd replace it with. Yet without some sort of new regulation of Wall Street we're back to where we were before 2008, when Wall Street crashed and brought most of the rest of us down with it.
Romney hasn't provided a clue to how he proposes to oversee the biggest banks, what kind of capital requirements he'd impose on them, and what mechanism he'd use to put them through an orderly bankruptcy that wouldn't risk the rest of the Street. All we get is a big question mark.
When it comes to how Romney and Ryan would pay for the giant
They say they'll limit loopholes and deductions that could be used by the wealthy, but Romney and Ryan refuse to be specific. Several weeks ago, Romney said he'd cap total deductions at
Make no mistake: Wall Street traders and corporate CEOs are supporting Romney and Ryan not because of the new level of certainty they promise but because Romney and Ryan promise to lower their taxes.
Meanwhile, many of the Romney and Ryan allies who are attacking Obama for creating uncertainty are themselves responsible for much of it. They're the ones who have delayed and obfuscated Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and any semblance of a federal budget.
"Continued uncertainty is the greatest threat to small businesses and our country's economic recovery," says Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the
That's the same
At the same time, congressional Republicans have done everything in their power to scotch any agreement on reducing the budget deficit. Because they've pledged their fiscal souls to Grover Norquist, they won't consider raising even a dollar of new taxes. Yet it's impossible to balance the budget without some combination of spending cuts and tax increases -- unless, that is, we do away with
Business executives justifiably worry about January's so-called "fiscal cliff," requiring sudden and sharp tax increases and spending cuts. But they have no one to blame but Norquist's Republican acolytes in
Average Americans, meanwhile, face more economic uncertainty from the possibility of a Romney-Ryan administration than they have at any point in their lifetimes. Not only have the pair thrown the future of Obamacare into doubt, but Americans have no idea what would happen to
Romney and Ryan are casting a pall of uncertainty in every direction -- even toward young immigrants. Romney vows that if elected, he'll end Obama's reprieve from deportation of young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally when they were children. As a result, some young people who might qualify are holding back for fear the information they offer could be used against them at later date if Romney is elected.
Conservative economists such as John Taylor of the
In truth, it's Romney, Ryan and the
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