If You Want To Advance the Centrist Democratic Agenda …

… then you might hope that Romney wins the election in November.  Here’s my thinking on this crazy notion.

We know what Washington looks like if Obama is President but the Democrats don’t have the House and don’t have 60 votes in the Senate.  Republicans dig in.  The Democratic agenda doesn’t move forward.  It’s gridlock.  If Obama is re-elected but the Congress doesn’t shift strongly Democratic, we can expect more of the same. That’s just the way it is with Republicans on Capitol Hill these days.  We can speculate as to whether House Republicans would feel more or less empowered opposing a re-elected Obama.  Maybe less right after the election, but growing over time as Obama becomes more of a lame duck President.  And history doesn’t favor an improvement for the Democrats in the 2014 midterm elections if they control the White House.

But now consider what happens if it is President Romney.  We can presume that if there was enough sentiment to make that happen, the Republicans will not have lost ground in Congress.  So what is Romney’s record in the organizations that he has run?  It has been pointed out many times that he does not seem to be driven by ideological principles.  It is less often emphasized what he is driven by.  He is results oriented.  He tries to turn things around and add value.  It was true at Bain.  It was true in the 2002 Winter Olympics.  And, most instructively, it was true of his time as Governor of Massachusetts.

So how would a President Romney get things done?  He wouldn’t make the mistake of trying to transcend politics.  He would play politics to the hilt.  Unencumbered by restrictive ideological principles, he would work very hard to get 60 votes in the Senate while retaining a majority in the House, so that he could take credit for the results while he’s in office. The need to get those 60 votes in the Senate is what allows the centrist part of the Democratic agenda to move forward.

I believe that the way to understand the Romney campaign is simply to acknowledge that his ambition is to be the guy in charge who gets things done on the grandest scale possible.  That means being President.  Nothing he has to say or do in the process of getting elected will substantially affect what he does when he gets there.  And that would be good news for centrist Democrats, even if it would be a bitter pill to swallow.

About Andrew Samwick 89 Articles

Affiliation: Dartmouth College

Andrew Samwick is a professor of economics and Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

He is most widely known for his work on the economics of retirement, and his scholarly work has covered a range of topics, including pensions, saving, taxation, portfolio choice, and executive compensation.

In July 2003, Samwick joined the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, serving for a year as its chief economist and helping to direct the work of about 20 economists in support of the three Presidential appointees on the Council.

Visit: Andrew Samwick's Page

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