All indications are that the public doesn’t think that tax cuts for the wealthy, budget cuts in needed services and deregulation sounds like much of a plan for addressing America’s economic woes, which puts Romney in a bit of a bind for tonight’s debate. Writing at The Washington Monthly, TDS managing editor Ed Kilgore agrees with Ezra Klein’s assessment that Romney “doesn’t have an appealing policy agenda capable of turning this thing around, and his party hasn’t given him the freedom to construct one.” Further, adds Kilgore,
…The dirty little secret of the GOP at the moment is that it has to run a national campaign focused on unhappiness with the economy while advancing a policy agenda that has little or nothing to do with the economy, and in fact would almost certainly make the economy immediately worse. It hasn’t gotten much attention, but the Republican Party (including its presidential nominee) is committed to deflationary monetary policies, and austerity federal spending policies. Despite its occasional gestures in the direction of understanding the need for a more skilled work force, the GOP is also fully committed to the destruction of public education as we know it (or at least that’s how I would interpret the full-on, unrestricted voucher system Romney has proposed), and to fiscal policies that would almost certainly get the federal government out of the business of skills development within a decade. More generally, the Republican assault on the very concept of collective bargaining and its treatment of wages and benefits (not to mention regulations and corporate taxes) as nothing more than cost-boosting burdens on “wealth creators” harnesses the GOP to a concept of economic development that if it were effective would have long made Mississippi the nation’s economic dynamo.
It’s a tough sell to a public which wants bold action to create jobs sooner than later, especially for a candidate who has been much more substantive in expressing support for an arch-conservative social agenda. As Kilgore concludes, “So Romney’s struggle to articulate an economic agenda while running a campaign that is supposedly about nothing else is no accident. And thus he will be driven to evasions and lies. It’s all he’s really got. ”