To start the Romney campaign postmortems a little early, I’ll throw this out:
Romney was a horrible candidate for small government conservatives because everything he targeted in the budget for cuts was either insignificant symbolism (PBS) or what a majority of people consider a core government function (FEMA). That coupled with holding entitlements sacrosanct and increasing defense made his plans implausible to begin with.
No where in a Romney campaign speech was the fact that the average senior takes out three times as much as they have paid in to the entitlement system (here meaning Medicare & Social Security combined) and that is unsustainable. This campaign was not about making tough budget choices.
How Lifetime Benefits and Contributions Point the Way Toward Reforming Our Senior Entitlement Programs
However, the Republicans do have a candidate available to make this argument, and it’s Chris Christie. This piece from the NYTimes magazine is worth a reread:
“How Chris Christie Did His Homework
Mark Peterson for The New York Times
By MATT BAI
Published: February 24, 2011”
How Chris Christie Did His Homework
If anyone can sell entitlment reform, he can:
“Christie, it turns out, has a preternatural gift for making the complex seem deceptively simple. Last month I saw him hold forth at a town-hall meeting in Chesilhurst, a South Jersey borough of about 1,600. Chesilhurst is about half African-American, and I sensed more curiosity than enthusiasm among the racially mixed crowd as it flowed into the little community-center gymnasium. An unusually large number of folding chairs were empty. About 20 minutes after the program was supposed to start, there came over the loudspeakers the kind of melodramatic instrumental that might introduce a local newscast, or maybe an Atlantic City magic show, and in came Christie, taking his position in the center of the crowd. The theme of the week was pension-and-benefits reform, and in his introductory remarks, Christie explained the inefficiency in the state’s health care costs not by wielding a stack of damning statistics, as some politicians might, but by relating a story.
When he was a federal prosecutor, Christie told the audience, he got to choose from about 100 health-insurance plans, ranging from cheap to quite expensive. But as soon as he became governor, the “benefits lady” told him he had only three state plans from which to choose, Goldilocks-style; one was great, one was modestly generous and one was rather miserly. And any of the three would cost him exactly 1.5 percent of his salary.
“ ‘You’re telling me,’ ” Christie said he told the woman, feigning befuddlement, “ ‘that no matter which one I pick, the good one or the O.K. one or the bad one, I’m going to pay 1½ percent of my salary?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’
“And I said, ‘Then everyone picks the really good one, right?’ And she said, ‘Ninety-six percent of state employees pick the really good one.’
“Which led me to have two reactions,” Christie told the crowd. “First, bring those other 4 percent to me! Because when I have to start laying people off, they’re the first ones!” His audience burst into near hysterics. “And the second reaction was, of course I would choose the best plan,” Christie said, “and so would you.
“Now listen, I don’t think this is groundbreaking stuff,” Christie added. “I don’t think this means that instead of being governor, you know, I should be at NASA, working on the space shuttle. I’m no genius. Just seems to me that if you give people an option to get something for nothing, they’ll take it.” Scanning the nodding faces around me, it seemed there wasn’t a person in the gymnasium, at that point, who wouldn’t have voted to make state workers and teachers pay more for the better plan.”
Filed under: 2013 and beyond, Republican Party | 16 Comments »