Larry Kudlow

The Reagan in Romney

By Larry Kudlow - Saturday, March 24, 2012

The late William F. Buckley Jr. naturally put it best when he said: “The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.”

Bill Buckley’s law applies to Mitt Romney today. And it’s worth noting Rush Limbaugh’s recent update to the dictum. After Romney’s terrific Illinois victory speech Tuesday, Rush said flatly, “A conservative alternative to Romney is Romney.”

As the tough primary season ventures on, Romney has clarified and evolved his views into tough conservative positions.

On economic policy, for example, he would limit the government budget to 20 percent of gross domestic product, slash $500 billion in his first term and restrain Medicaid, food stamps and other entitlement transfers before block granting them to the states. His Medicare reform is nearly identical to the Wyden-Ryan approach. He’s for a true all-of-the-above energy policy that would take the regulatory handcuffs off drilling on federal lands. He would repeal Obamacare. And he has come up with a supply-side tax cut that would lower marginal rates by 20 percent across the board and drop the corporate tax to 25 percent.

Those are very conservative positions. One could seriously ask whether Romney isn’t the most conservative presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.

Yes, there is still work to be done on clarifying the difference between Romneycare and Obamacare, as well as the need for a strong King Dollar approach to monetary policy. And more tax simplification. But in broad terms, it’s impossible not to think of this former businessman as conservative on the key economic issues. He’s for limited government, lower tax rates, and deregulation, all with a fair amount of detail.

Columnists Dan Henninger and Jennifer Rubin have written about Romney’s close relationship with conservative icon Paul Ryan. It’s a point I made a while back, as I speculated a Ryan appointment as Romney’s budget director.

Sen. Jim DeMint, another conservative icon, recently told reporters after meeting with the former Massachusetts governor, “What I can tell conservatives from my perspective is that I’m not only comfortable with Romney, I’m excited about the possibility of him possibly becoming our nominee.”

The second half of the week was dominated by Team Romney’s Etch A Sketch gaffe. But folks shouldn’t let this fog out Romney’s brilliant speech about economic freedom at the beginning of the week.

On the night of his big Illinois victory, Romney offered a moral exposition of the merits of economic freedom and free enterprise business. And all the while, he mockingly referred to “professor Obama,” who has no clue about what makes business tick.

Romney railed against overregulation, noting that Obama’s regulators would have shut down the Wright brothers for their “dust pollution.” He said the Obama government “would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb,” adding, “Oh, that’s right. They just did.”

Romney made clear that economic freedom is the key to the American economy. He said, “The history of the world has shown that economic freedom is the only force that has consistently lifted people out of poverty.” He added: “The genius of America is that we nurture these dreams and the dreamers. We honor them, and yes, we reward them.”

Pause a moment on the idea of rewarding the dreamers. This is a crucial difference with Obama, who wants to penalize the dreamers. Make a bunch of money and you’re gonna pay higher tax rates. It’s class warfare, the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent. Tax the rich. Redistribute.

But Obama’s class warfare is an assault on freedom. It’s an assault on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s a key point in this election. It may be the key point. And by acknowledging the importance of rewarding success and constitutional freedom, Romney also shows he understands the incentive model of economic growth.

In fact, Romney recently told National Review’s Robert Costa that solving the budget deficit could be done in two ways — spending reductions and pro-growth tax policies.

The Ryan budget itself, when properly priced out in dynamic terms to account for growth incentives from lower tax rates, would be balanced in 10 years with substantially lower debt-to-GDP ratios. It sounds as if Romney gets this. That by itself is worthy of the nomination.

Then Romney told us Tuesday night: “This election will be about principle. Our economic freedom will be on the ballot.” He said essentially the same thing the day before during a University of Chicago speech. And for many months, he has been talking about the battle for America’s soul, between Obama’s big-government entitlement state and his vision of a merit-based opportunity society.

This is Reagan-like. This is Jack Kemp-like. This is Paul Ryan’s American idea.

This is, in short, profoundly conservative. An election winner.


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7 Responses to “The Reagan in Romney”

  1. Pendragonrise says:

    Anyone who will put their faith in that chameleon is simply deluded. He's just another Wall Street Sock Puppet.

  2. Obama promised Change, and we all know now what that looks like.

    Romney has a perfect slogan for the future: He can promise ' Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness'.

  3. Reality Seeker says:

    "The Ryan budget itself, when properly priced out in dynamic terms to account for growth incentives from lower tax rates, would be balanced in 10 years with substantially lower debt-to-GDP ratios."

    Is there anybody who really believes that any of these jokers of whom Larry shills about will actually balance the budget in ten or even 50 years from now?

    "This is Reagan-like. This is Jack Kemp-like."

    To invoke Ronald Reagan and balanced budgets in the same story and expect any educated economist to not laugh is something only barkers like Larry could do with a straight face. Talk about lies upon lies. Just go back and take a gander at Reagan's campaign speeches about how he was going to balance the budget if elected, and then look at the facts.

    Anybody who believes this truckload of BS that Larry is shoveling deserves Sh*tt Romney as their President.

    Jim DeMint, Paul Ryan, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the GOP (Grand Orwellian Party) are nothing more than BS shovelers. A perfect example can be easily had by just stopping and thinking about how Orwellian Rush's statement is: "“A conservative alternative to Romney is Romney.”….. That's right out of "1984."

    I discontinued talking to Rush back in the 90's when I learned what a dirty bull-Sh*t-shoveling hypocrite he was. Rush has only gotten worse over time, and anybody who is actually taken in by Rush deserves getting bamboozled and dumped on.

    • Reality Seeker says:

      Do you want to listen to— instead of the truck loads of BS from CNBC-BS artists like Larry (Cud)low— some honest thoughts on the economy? If yes, then check out the recent interview with Gary North titled, "Who Get's The Old Maid?" This interview was just posted today on, so you can hear it for free.

      Note: Anybody who knows the history of RJR also knows that it was he who wrote about the "old maid" dollar during the Carter/Reagan era. This fresh update on the "old maid" by Lew and Gary is very timely.…

  4. reunion says:

    < sen. jim demint, another conservative icon

    i-con. that’s what con-serve-it-up pols & their apologists/mouthpieces do. redundant. iconoclasts are what’s needed…but, the 12-year sentence crushes that out of most.

    < romney also shows he understands the incentive model of economic growth.

    see d’amato’s touch on “models.behaving.badly: why confusing illusion with reality can lead to disaster, on wall street & in life”, in the essay “praxeology over positivism”, at mises dot org. ask yourself who is cobbling together incentivizing models – carrots for your consumption – & why. is “get out of my way”, or “detach your sucking lamprey mouth from my person” a “model”? “badges (models)? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges (models)”.

    < in fact … solving the budget deficit could be done in two ways — spending reductions and pro-growth tax policies.

    read “confessions of an economic hitman” (john perkins). see that debt is a tool used purposively to hamstring “countries”; that debt is sophisticated colonialism. recognize that this “model” does not only apply to the relative backwaters perkins was assigned, writes about; amerika, too, has been colonialized. there is no desire to “solve” what is “solution” from the perspective of tptb.

    • reunion says:

      < the battle for america’s soul, between obama’s big-government entitlement state and his vision of a merit-based opportunity society.

      as much as mormonism is dependent on “visions”, the only, as in sole (not “soul”), battle is for complete hegemonic con-trol by con-serves (the so-called libs are con-serves, too). and because it’s mostly won, it doesn’t really qualify as a “battle”, anymore than rounding up the remaining natives & shipping them off to reservations qualified as battles…just mopping up.

  5. Econoranter says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else remember it was the George W. Bush administration that banned the incandesent light bulb; not, as all good Republicrats now have it, the Evil Obama! Romney reminds me of W far more than Reagan, who was no bargain himself.

    I gave up on Republicans during the George W. Bush spend-o-thon and wars in hopeless hell holes exercise. There is little or no difference between the parties, perhaps the Democrats are more open about their destructive intentions than the Republicans but beyond that…………?

    The only thing that will stop the national government from its ruin of our country is the dollar going to zero value. When the checks buy nothing their game is over and we get a new system whether we want it or not.

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