What if Mitt Romney was actually elected President, how might America be transformed?
Based on the statements he has made and his pandering allegiance to the right wing extremists in his party, one can reasonably extrapolate out what policies and laws Romney would support and approve.
To begin, it is conceivable that the GOP could retain the House and win over the Senate. It’s also conceivable that having seen how effective their use of the filibuster was against Obama, Senate Republicans could pass rules limiting the use of it by Democrats.
In such an admittedly hypothetical scenario, the damage to the American society and democracy we have come to know could be severe and long term, with numerous permanent aspects.
The End of Medicare as an Entitlement
The Ryan Plan, which Romney heartily supports, transforms Medicare from being an entitlement into a partial subsidy for buying health insurance. Thus, Americans would no longer be entitled to health insurance when they grew older. This would have a profound and devastating impact on tens of millions of seniors and society in general.
The amount a senior would received from Medicare, as a Ryan-type subsidy program, would be insufficient to fully pay for corporate insurance premiums. At current rates, seniors would have to pay an additional $6,000 a year to have basic medical insurance that would give them less coverage than they receive now between Medicare and Part B. As time goes by, that gap and the percentage of their premium they will have to pay will grow, requiring them to pay $10,000 annually, then $20,000 and on and on until more and more are priced out of being able to afford health insurance. The CBO estimates that by 2030, under the Ryan plan, 65 year olds would be required to pay 68% of the total cost of their coverage, which includes premiums, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs. That compares with the 25 percent they would pay under current law.
And if seniors can’t afford to pay that growing amount of their premium that their subsidy doesn’t cover? They don’t get partial insurance, they get none. No health insurance. End of story. There are around 40 million senior citizens, many of whom live on a very limited budget with Social Security as their primary income (more on this below) and simply can’t afford this additional expense. The numbers of uninsured senior citizens will grow and one result will be that millions of Americans will die younger as part of this Romney/GOP plan to make the wealthy wealthier.
Ryan and the GOP have cynically played the selfish card on seniors to win their support, assuring them that their changes to Medicare wouldn’t affect them, just their children and grandchildren. In other words, we assume you’re greedy and selfish like us so as long as you get yours, screw the rest of your family. Fortunately, the push back by seniors after Ryan’s first proposed budget reflected that even elderly parents care about the welfare of their children and grandchildren. However, with Romney in the White House and Republican control of Congress, there may be no stopping such a drastic change.
So in addition to the shocking precedent of shrinking lifespans in a modern, industrialized nation, how else might our society be affected by having tens of millions of seniors unable to afford health insurance?
Emergency rooms would likely become increasingly congested with the millions of elderly who don’t have insurance. Since they would not have been treated regularly, many will have more severe conditions, requiring more time and resources at emergency rooms. This will severely tax the already burdened emergency room system, financially and staff-wise, eventually past the point of their capabilities. In such an environment, what kind of care, resources and attention will those without insurance, who only have the emergency room for treatment, receive? And what about people who are brought to an emergency room due to a car accident or severe illness? How quickly will they be able to receive care when many other patients are ahead of them with just as urgent life-threatening conditions?
What happens when the ranks of the uninsured swell towards one third of the nation’s population? When emergency rooms and hospitals have waiting times that double and triple? Or after hospitals close from being bankrupted by their unpaid emergency room costs that multiply? When the resulting domino effect is created that overloads and bankrupts other emergency rooms?
And add to that the cost to society of the potential for mass outbreaks of illnesses and diseases that result from so many Americans not having regular medical care.
This viable scenario would devastate our society.
The End of Social Security as an Entitlement
There was a time in our past when people who worked their whole lives would get too old and/or ill to keep a job and live out the remainder of their lives as desperate and indigent. Some might bring a financial burden on their children, others might be reduced to a horrible life of squalor. To most Americans, that would seem like a tragedy of the past but for Mitt Romney and the GOP, they welcome our returning to those times.
The reason for their wanting to privatize Social Security is obvious. They want to take the over $2.6 trillion in the Social Security trust fund out of government hands and pour it into Wall Street coffers where it can be sucked away by them in part or in whole.
We all know what can happen to the majority’s money when Wall Street has their hands on it. As bad as it has been, imagine what would have happened in the midst of the 2008 economic crash if the 40 million senior citizens who rely primarily on Social Security to pay their monthly expenses and Medicare Part B insurance, had that money in the stock market instead of Social Security. What kind of hell would America be with the majority of seniors unable to pay for a roof over their head, food, health insurance and medicine (add the privatizing of Medicare into the mix and you multiply the disaster)?
This massive economic crash would have been made exponentially worse if seniors had all of their Social Security money in the market and in a crisis, they had to sell their stocks for whatever they could get. Add to that, the steep loss of seniors’ spending that would result and further deepen an economic disaster (which of course didn’t occur and helped the economy in this recent case, thanks to Social Security being as it is).
The depth of such a depression that would result from seniors losing everything because their Social Security was in the stock market could dwarf the original Depression and fully climbing out under such a rigged system might not even be possible.
How can we choose to have 99% of our elderly vulnerable to losing their home, food and health insurance when the market has its next crash?
That is of no concern to Mitt Romney and the GOP. Though many of them inherited their wealth and advantage in society as Romney did, they will give lip service to “the dignity of self determination” while actually working to take away the security and independence of the elderly because it interferes with the wealthy achieving greater wealth.
The Destruction of Democracy, the Middle Class and an Inclusive Economy
It is a cornerstone of the modern GOP to continue down the path of cutting taxes for the wealthy and gutting services for the poor and the rest of the 99% of Americans who aren’t wealthy. The overall scheme includes keeping downward pressure on salaries, limiting economic mobility and gaming the system to maximize the accumulation of wealth for the top 1% by taking it from the bottom 99%. Along with this is the perversion of our democracy into a plutocracy, where those with money control elections and use their advertising and marketing expertise to sell the public on voting for “products” that will, in the end, serve only the wealthy.
The ideal America for Romney and his Republican colleagues is one where the wealthy freely buy the White House and Congress that best serves them, reroute the tax revenues from social programs into their pockets, remove all regulations that prevent them from polluting, economic fraud and harming the public if preventing it interferes with greater profits.
Their America has only two classes, the wealthy and workers. The middle class is already shrinking and hastening this is part of the scheme. Attacking unions (which created the Middle Class), job protections, rights and through off shoring, depressing the salary value of American workers.
In 2000, corporate America was already off shoring jobs at a fast clip, sharply reducing the number of jobs it had in the US. When the economic crash of 2008 hit, it just accelerated the off shoring.
These are jobs that are lost forever and are never coming back…unless American wages drop down to being more competitive with third world wages. The whole Free Trade scam was presented as something that would bring up wages around the world and add more jobs in the US due to exports. In fact, it was designed to do just the opposite, to slash labor costs for corporations and put severe downward pressure on workers’ wages in the US. And it has worked well.
The Romney/GOP agenda is to seal the deal on America as a plutocracy, a country of the wealthy, for the wealthy and by the wealthy. They have drilled Orwellian terms into the minds of Americans, deeming the greedy as benevolent “Job Creators” even though all evidence proves that they are willfully not creating high paid jobs in America (the job growth in the public sector has been coming primarily from small businesses).
Romney is running on being wealthy, that is his central platform, “I made a lot of money so that means I’m a good businessman and would make a good President.” Donald Trump flirted with running for President for the same reason, because they define wealth as success. So the reverse would be true, those like Romney view those who aren’t wealthy as failures and lesser people. Thus, it is not so bewildering to see how Romney stumbles around regular Americans like a king trying to pander to those he sees more like odd human-like animals than people like him.
So the concept of the majority’s purpose being that of serving Romney and his ilk is a mentality they already possess. For them, empathy for most Americans just doesn’t compute. With such a President, the depth of exploitation and oppression of the majority would have no limit, there would not be a conscience to say, “That policy would hurt too many people’s lives,” so even if he does it merely to benefit his fellow elitists and isn’t motivated by harming others, he could be capable of subjecting the American people to damaging things and being as oblivious of its impact as he is of how his constant gaffes are perceived.
A President Romney would be in a position to appoint perhaps two or more Supreme Court justices which could cement a right wing SCOTUS for generations. The lasting damage from the last dozen years of Gore v. Bush, Citizens United, etc. is already profound but another thirty to forty years of such pro-corporate, anti-democratic decisions could permanently cast the nation in the image of the wealthy and the majority of Americans as powerless, second class citizens.
War and Conflict That Destroys Our Future
America is pretty war weary. We’re getting out of Iraq, we’re slowly getting out of Afghanistan but trillions of dollars and precious lives have already been lost and continue to be. Americans want it to be over.
To that, Mitt Romney says, “My party’s core says, ‘Screw that! War rocks!’ so I do too!”
Romney has absolutely no foreign affairs experience or education so he merely adopts the stances of those in the Republican right wing he panders to and has hired as consultants. And they profit from the military industry. So, war with Iran sounds good to them. Hostility towards China and calling Russia our enemy, that’s good for business.
If not influenced by others, Romney doesn’t seem like the war mongering type but being greedy and self-serving, Romney would take any position if it benefited him. And threatening war with one country after another yields a gold mine of campaign donations.
What would happen if the US started a war with Iran? Even if it was just air strikes, it could create a hostile backlash against the US around the world while miring us in a very complicated war we could never win, using an already overused and depleted military that could deteriorate as a whole.
What would happen to gas prices and oil prices in this fragile economy, if the Straight of Hormuz became a war zone? How would it affect inflation and jobs in this country if the price of gas went up towards $10 per gallon?
Yes, Romney and the GOP exude hypocrisy when attacking Obama on gas prices while whipping up support for war with Iran but it would be naive to think they wouldn’t be just fine with energy costs skyrocketing…along with revenues for oil companies…who are the top GOP sponsors anyway.
Our remarkable volunteer army has been stretched thin in two simultaneous wars over the last ten years and another war could require more soldiers than we have able to serve. By creating a growing lower class of unemployed and economically excluded people, they have created a great ongoing supply of cannon fodder for their eternal wars-for-profit, draining our nation of blood and treasure.
The Ryan budget and Romney’s budget greatly increase military spending while insisting on reducing the deficit and balancing budgets so there is no alternative but for ongoing war to be financed by degrading America’s social and physical infrastructure even more than it has been and it is already past the point of sustainability.
At the same time, their insistence on cutting taxes paid by the wealthy will transfer that loss of revenue from social programs to the wealthy, adding a greater hacking away at social programs on top of what would already be occurring.
A Romney Presidency, especially when coupled with a Republican Congress could be a profound and devastating blow to the future of this nation. This is not because Romney is a worse person than other GOP candidates (GW Bush can’t be argued to be better) but because America is at a tipping point in so many ways that each Presidential term during this period is make or break.
Had President Obama made disastrous decisions after taking office, never passing a stimulus bill, agreeing to drastic slashing of Medicare and Social Security with no revenue increases, we could have tumbled down into an economic depression beyond what we could have imagined.
If Romney is enabled to tear apart Medicare and Social Security, lock in a pro-corporate SCOTUS for 30 years, cement plutocracy and economic injustice into place and be the vehicle for legally oppressing minorities and women in America, it would be hard to imagine ever fully reversing the damage to the nation.
These are the concrete kind of considerations that should be discussed on the MSM instead of “scandals” like President Obama not literally saying that he supports gay marriage or puff pieces on how Ann Romney helps “humanize” Romney.
There are serious and powerful issues at stake right now, we can’t afford to be distracted by the trivia of the horse race and gotcha games in the media.
We need to have the public discussing what really matters and what country America is going to be in reality, not just in mindless nationalistic blather.
There might not be a more important election in our lifetimes than the one we will have in November. The value of keeping that in mind and impressing that on others can’t be understated.