A letter is generally intended to inform. Dr. Alan Boone’s recent article, “ An open letter to Mitt Romney,” was instead like a mirror, reflecting back onto Romney all the distortions of his tedious campaign for president.
Hope springs eternal, and it’s my fervent belief that truth will win in the end. Therefore, let me offer the text of a possible reply Romney might send to Boone’s letter after the election, when a breath of honesty would no longer prove politically challenging:
Thanks for your letter of support. But now that the votes have been counted, I would like to offer some corrections to the opinions you expressed about President Barack Obama, since they may have been invented by representatives of my campaign.
First of all, my ability to fix the economy was widely overblown. My skills lie in what, unflatteringly, is called “vulture” capitalism. At Bain Capital, we would buy vulnerable companies, strip out the assets, fire the employees, outsource the jobs to China, borrow money in the company’s name, pay ourselves a huge fee and then sell the company and the debt — or let it go bankrupt. This is not a formula for building America’s economy.
Second, Obama is not a Marxist. Though he came from poor circumstances to start, he enjoyed the privileges of private school and an Ivy League education. In fact, both of us graduated from Harvard Law, hardly a bastion of Marxism in our elite circle. In your letter you equated combating this nation’s environmental pollution with socialism, but “downsizing” pollution is considered a good thing by any culture’s standards, no matter what the economic philosophy.
Third, your concern about the growing national debt does reflect my own. I must say, however, that Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposals, which I embraced, would have increased the national debt by $5 trillion. This was due in part to the tax cuts we would give our constituents, the wealthy 1 percent. The savings we planned on were to come from the 99 percent — especially the 47 percent I alluded to who presently enjoy Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance and other boondoggles of the sort.
Fourth, you are right to say printing money threatens inflation. However, nothing produced empty value in a more deadly way than those worthless credit default swaps and other corrupt financial instruments that were created through lack of government controls over Wall Street. It was that toxic waste that brought the worldwide economy to the verge of collapse. In all honesty, I must say that Obama has done an amazing job of pulling us back from the brink. Meanwhile, inflation can be controlled, as the Federal Reserve is now demonstrating.
You indicate in your letter that the president has done nothing to reduce the deficit, but the top priority right now is job creation – and that requires spending. Jobs create wealth and, thus, tax revenue to reduce the deficit. Unfortunately, in their haste to win the election, my Republican colleagues in the House and Senate have held all the president’s job creation proposals hostage. The most recent example was the Senate’s Veterans’ Jobs Bill, which Republicans killed by threatening a filibuster, on Sept. 19. A Congress of tea-party types would bring the economy to its knees for the sake of the GOP.
Fifth, you write of “planned energy starvation,” but I’m afraid that’s a product of corporate planning and not the White House’s doing. The Bush-Cheney administration was entirely in the pocket of Big Oil, and the war in Iraq was the result. If you doubt for a minute the avarice of the oil companies, just look at the damage BP’s reckless behavior did to the Gulf of Mexico. If the Keystone XL pipeline is rushed through, the same thing could happen on land.
Oh, and, by the way, under Obama, America has cut our reliance on imported oil. I’d have attacked him more on energy issues if I’d had anything better to offer. Meanwhile, clean and renewable sources of alternative energy are making an impact and have the potential to grow faster when the price of natural gas begins to rise. Why, take that “socialist” country Germany, where nuclear plants are being replaced with solar panels on every residence with exposure to the sun.
Sixth, you call Obamacare a “monstrosity.” I have to take offense at that, since the Affordable Care Act was based entirely on my own design for Massachusetts. It’s really been the most worthwhile thing I ever did in my privileged life and sure beats relying on emergency rooms – the most expensive form of medical care. The ER system truly is socialism. You say the majority of Americans don’t want Obamacare, but, believe me, everybody wants comprehensive health insurance when they get sick – and sooner or later, we all get sick.
Rather than drain money from Medicare (a scare, by the way, we almost got away with), Obama has taken wasted funds from bloated insurance companies and strengthened Medicare by closing the “donut-hole” in prescription drug reimbursement. A lot more useful, by half, than what Ryan planned to do with the funds. You seem so scornful of government programs, and yet few private programs are run more effectively than Social Security and Medicare, when you get right down to it.
Finally, you comment that Obama “insults and antagonizes our longtime allies.” I must say, I myself didn’t do so well in England, where I told NBC’s Brian Williams that England wasn’t ready with Olympics’ security, in Poland, where my staff screamed and swore at reporters, and in Israel, where I alienated the Palestinians. On that trip, I managed to insult nearly everybody. But then, I’d never practiced anything but aggressive capitalism in the past. That’s Bain training for you.
Anyway, Dr. Boone, thanks again for your support. Oh, and, by the way, would you please shred this letter after you read it? After all, you never know, I may try running for office again.
This letter may seem fanciful, I’ll grant you. Such a sudden burst of honesty on Romney’s part might seem unlikely – but stranger things have happened. Hey, he might even get elected.
Lee Witting is pastor of the Union Street Brick Church in Bangor, a columnist for the BDN’s Voices series, and the former publisher/editor of the Castine Patriot. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.