Romney on GOP: “We have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need….”

Well, at least he said “want”. But we all know that Romney was affirming his belief in the morality of altruism, the idea that an action acquires its moral worth by virtue of its being done for someone other than oneself, that one owes a moral duty to care for those who are “in need”. Maybe that’s why he sees Obama as a “nice guy”. I doubt that anyone would mistake Romney for a member of the Tea Party, no matter what he says he has in common with them.

Also during tonight’s GOP debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry stood by what he wrote in his book, that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and said, as I understood him, that he thought it should be phased out. In response, Romney said the above, and went on to promise to keep the program. How? Who knows. But, importantly, Perry, while reiterating his characterization of the program as a Ponzi scheme, even when offered another rebuttal, did not question what Romney described as being “at the heart of our party”.

Nor did anyone else present at the debate, not even Ron Paul. In fact Paul made a point of explaining how liberty is consistent with “compassion” because, in fact, the market would provide for everyone better than government does. And Gingrich, who actually used the word “socialism” this evening, made sure to modify it with “bureaucratic,” because I guess it would be too much to actually criticize socialism as such.

I suppose that was to be expected.

Other observations:

Cain seemed to me to be the most improved, in that he seemed to own much of what he said, and didn’t always resort to lists of three or four things that sounded memorized. (His answer to the immigration question was an exception. It sounded like the same thing he said last time.) The substance of much of what he said tonight was good, particularly with respect to health care, where he made explicit reference to expanding the role of the free market in specific ways. And I loved the quip, regarding his 9-9-9 proposal that, if 10% is good enough for God, then 9% is good enough for government. Oh, and he also says he’d abolish the TSA. Bonus points.

Santorum was questioned about his commitment to the poor, given his Catholicism. I hated watching him defend his record of advocating for the poor and defending welfare reform as altruistic — as “saving people’s lives”. I also didn’t like the fact that he said he was already tailoring his proposals to appeal to Democratic senators. Why not adopt Bachmann’s approach of pledging to help get Republican senators elected? When I hear Santorum say “get stuff done”, I hear “compromise”. Not surprisingly, he’s also for altruism abroad, saying we should be a “force for good around the world”. I think he’s out.

Romney promised to issue Obamacare waivers, but given what he says about the GOP wanting to help those in need, I do not count on him to deliver a full repeal of that horrible pile of junk. And Perry said he would repeal Obamacare “as much as it can be”. Huh? Bachmann promised to work for full repeal, which is good, and had stats on how many jobs it’s killing. Not as good as saying “health care is not a right,” but as good as one can expect.

I liked that Bachmann mentioned the welfare issue with respect to immigration (I guess Ron Paul didn’t hear her, because he said no one else did). I also like that she addressed the problem with the situation in Libya: we don’t know who the rebels are, and whether they’re interested in supporting an Islamic theocracy, both in Libya and elsewhere. She also mentioned the problem of a nuclear Iran. I think she may have misspoken with respect to Reagan’s tax cut/spending cut deal, but we all knew what she was getting at, and overall this evening she was quite good. Notably, no real “social issues” were raised with her. Yes, she’s for parents’ rights with respect to vaccination decisions, but one need not be religious to agree with her on that. Oh, and Bachmann pointed out something that bears repeating again and again: gas cost $1.79 per gallon when Obama took office! $1.79!!!

Huntsman, to me, seemed to be too conciliatory, to use too many vague platitudes, and to come up short on substance. He said he won’t pledge anything, and we should look at his record for an indication of what he’ll do. My guess is that his record doesn’t include dealing with Obamacare. I’d like to see a pledge to repeal that, at least.

Ron Paul said some good things, as usual, but his discussion of “compassion” conceded the moral issue to the altruist crowd and, more importantly, sometimes he misspoke in such a way that I wondered whether his age is starting to affect his mental abilities. He did not discuss foreign policy this time, notably.

Glad to hear that Perry hates cancer. But the answer is not to mandate vaccination, especially by executive order. Oh, and he should have just admitted that he did not know the name of a scientist who questioned human-caused global warming. Then he could have just gone on to the arguments about the economic impact (or even the immorality) of the regulations designed to compensate for it. As it stood, he was forced to dodge the “name a scientist” question twice. Oh, and I think he’s wrong about Keynesianism being dead. Until altruism is abandoned, there will always be those who believe that Keynesianism will work if we just tweak it a bit differently this time.

And I guess that’s what Obama will try to do tomorrow in his “Jobs Speech.”


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12 responses to “Romney on GOP: “We have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need….”

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  2. Benjamin

    bachmann, WHO LIVES ON WELFARE……is a little off on Gas prices….like $3.79 per gal…………little george W. and crazy arsre dick….let the Oil companies steal as much as they wanted to.

    • I haven’t seen a “fact checking” news story on this. Do you have a link to one? I know gas prices were high in summer 2008, but maybe they fell again by the time Obama took office?

  3. J.H.

    I’m new to your podcast and blog but I love it! I get a huge value from your insight. Keep it up!

  4. Christopher Blakeslee

    Thanks for the post, Amy. As I have been unable to see the Republican debates, it is great to have a trusted source for covering the essentials regarding these candidates. Was there any mention about Perry’s view on changing the judicial branch?

  5. I suspect that Perry calling “keynesianism” dead was just an opportunistic, ill-thought sound bite, and that man doesn’t actually believe it or understand its ramifications. Keynesian thinking goes beyond altruism: the idea that consumption drives production sustains the idea that government can ever be a viable engine of wealth; that in the face of economic crises, the default reaction should be to surrender to government intervention; to build bridges not out of objective necessity for them, but for the side-effect of jobs created. An end to government meddling in markets is a necessary condition for the death of Keynesian economics. Is Perry prepared to dismantle that machinery, utterly? I don’t think there is currently any politician in the world who is. It’s an idea anathema to the scheme of political careers.

  6. John

    What Perry was saying is that he would immediately issue an executive order repealing as much of Obamacare as he could. The executive order doesn’t have the constitutional power to override a bill passed by Congress entirely, which is why he said “as much as possible.”

    I don’t particularly like many of the candidates, and am particularly scared of Romney and cautious about Bachmann. I think that Perry, despite his religion, is the most free-market oriented person as he at least mouths that he would actually do something about the entitlement state, something the other insider hacks will not say.

    Bachmann just seems to altruistic to me, and I agree with Dr. Brook on Ron Paul’s organic inarticulation.

  7. Mitt Wrongmney is the last best hope of the welfare state.

  8. Talal

    isn’t that the difference though. We can help those in need, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should

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