|Complete naivete about how Washington actually works....yeah, that's what we need, a clueless liar in the White House.....|
Romney’s ambitious agenda for first day in office won’t be easy to achieve
By David A. Fahrenthold, Wednesday, April 11, 11:58 AM
It’s Jan. 20, 2013. This is the agenda for President Romney’s first day:
Demand that Congress cut corporate income taxes. Demand that Congress slash $20 billion from the budget.
Then: Allow states to escape parts of the health-care law (if it still exists). Rewrite the way all federal regulations are issued. Call out China for cheating on international trade.
And somewhere in there find time for all the solemn rigmarole that actually makes a president a president. An oath. A speech. A parade. Some mandatory dancing.
Mitt Romney isn’t president yet, of course. He’s not even his party’s nominee, though that appears to be a virtual certainty now that his main challenger, Rick Santorum, has suspended his campaign.
But already, the candidate has laid out an ambitious 10-part to-do list for “day one” in the White House — a preview of the kind of president Romney wants to be. In it, he imagines himself as a fast-moving executive, bold in his conservatism, with a businessman’s eye on the bottom line.
The big day one (or two or three) list is something of a campaign tradition, a way to underline your priorities and show where your predecessor went astray.
In the first three days after his inauguration, President Obama announced orders freezing the pay of his senior staff; rescinding the “Mexico City policy,” a ban on foreign aid to groups that provide abortions; and ordering the closure of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — a promise that he has yet to fulfill more than three years later.
Similarly, Romney’s first-day agenda is not as easily achieved as he suggests — either on day one, or, perhaps, ever. Some of his ideas seem predestined to run aground on Capitol Hill. Others could unspool huge new hassles in the federal bureaucracy.
“He’s going to discover that it is diluted a lot, because there’s a thing called a Congress and there’s a thing called a Supreme Court,” said Tom Korologos, who helped four Republican presidents — Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush — work with Capitol Hill.
What could Romney expect on his first day? Korologos thought of something President Harry S. Truman said about the incoming President Eisenhower, who was used to a general’s power: “He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen.”
Still, for now, Romney insists that he can do it all.
“A lot’s gonna have to happen quickly, because a new president gets elected and there’s a great deal of interest and willingness on the part of Congress and the Senate,” Romney said last weekend to supporters in Muskego, Wis. “Let me tell you some things I’d do on day one .?.?.”
From there, Romney talked for a full five minutes. And he got through only five of the items on his jam-packed agenda.
On day one, for instance, Romney says he would submit a series of policy ideas to Congress — then “demand” that legislators act on them within a deadline of 30 days.
One of these is the proposal to reduce the corporate income tax, from 35 percent to 25 percent. That’s already a popular idea — in theory. The GOP-controlled House wants a cut. President Obama wants one, too, although just to 28 percent.
But so far, nothing’s happened. The problem right now is that legislators would need to eliminate tax loopholes to balance out the tax money that would be lost when rates drop. And, in Washington, every loophole is sacred to somebody.
So how would Romney do it?
Unclear. An aide said the legislation hadn’t been drafted yet.
Also, Romney says he would issue an inauguration-day demand that Congress cut $20 billion from the federal budget. Which $20 billion? Here, Romney is also unclear.
He told the Weekly Standard that giving too many specifics would be a mistake.
“One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education,” Romney said, referencing his ill-fated Senate campaign in 1994. In this case, he has specified only what would be exempt, including the military, intelligence agencies and Homeland Security.
“So will there be some [programs] that get eliminated or combined?” Romney told the Weekly Standard. “The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you a list right now.”
The key to the two bills’ chances will probably be the very details that Romney hasn’t provided yet. Both will already face long odds in a gridlocked Congress on day one.
And probably on day 100.
“He’s not going to get ’em,” said Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Even if Democrats lose control of the Senate in November, they will almost certainly keep enough seats to block them with a filibuster. “He’s not just going to wave a wand and get everything that Republicans have been seeking for two years or more.”
Another of Romney’s plans is to start rolling back the health-care law. Romney said he would issue calls for issuing “waivers” to all 50 states, allowing them to escape some requirements of the health-care law. “So we’re gonna stop Obamacare that way, and then we’re gonna repeal it,” Romney told the crowd in Wisconsin.
This may be unneccessary, if the Supreme Court strikes down the law in the meantime.
But if the law survives, killing it may be harder than Romney lets on. The law doesn’t allow broad waivers to be issued to any states until 2017 — and then, only under strict conditions.
To do more, Romney needs Congress. Which brings him back to the filibuster problem.
Some of Romney’s other ideas don’t involve Congress: He would simply issue orders to the rest of the executive branch. But even these could carry maddening complications.
One calls for a reimagining of the way that federal regulations get made. Right now, the government calculates the potential cost of implementing new rules. But it doesn’t set an annual limit on what those costs can add up to.
Romney would. And his limit would be zero.
That, experts say, could create a confusing kind of inter-government swap meet. To put in a new rule, agencies would have to find old ones that cost just as much to implement. Then, it could trade old for new.
“It has not been done, and there’s a reason for it,” said Jim Nussle, who headed the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush. Nussle said it would be very difficult to measure the cost of old rules precisely, to be sure they balanced out the new ones. “You’re trying to land a jumbo jet on an aircraft carrier .?.?. if you’re going to say, ‘It’s going to be exactly zero,’ ” Nussle said.
Finally, Romney would use a part of his first day to reproach China for manipulating the value of its currency. By keeping the value of its currency artificially low, Romney argues, China gains an unfair advantage with cheaper export goods.
“So I’m going to label them a currency manipulator,” Romney told the crowd.
That move, by itself, will not fix the problem: Legally, it would only require the Treasury secretary to “initiate negotiations [with China] on an expedited basis.”
But some China experts say that Romney would nevertheless be risking a backlash from China — and over an issue that is not their top priority.
In a recent survey of the concerns of American businesses working in China, currency manipulation was only the 26th-biggest worry.
“You can’t go to the Chinese and say, ‘I demand eight fundamental changes!’ ” said Derek Scissors, a China expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “You’ve got to pick your thing.”
Told about Romney’s choice, Scissors said: “It’s not the thing I would pick.”