So, this is why we must remember that the challenge is not simply to replace Obama in 2012. The real challenge is who and what we will replace him with. It’s not enough to just change up the uniform. If we don’t change the team and the game plan, we won’t save our country.
— Sarah Palin September 3, 2011
The above quote was taken from Governor Palin’s famous speech in Indianola, Iowa late last summer. In her speech, she put the crony capitalism issue front and center. Unfortunately, her warning that we need to do far more than simply change the uniform doesn’t appear to have been heeded by the GOP Establishment’s choice for the Republican nomination. Indeed the evidence that Romney would do very little to alter the corrupt, unsustainable path on which America finds itself is piling up at an alarming rate. Just yesterday, Steve noted that Mandate Mitt continues to hide the names of his well-heeled campaign bundlers, something even Obama hasn’t had the gall to do:
What we know is that just like Obama, McCain, and Bush; Romney enjoys his own list of campaign bundlers and fat cat donors. But unlike the aforementioned politicians, Romney is the first to keep his list of bundlers a secret.
As concluded by Jake Tapper of ABC, this serves as a “blow to transparency advocates.” This proclamation of Tapper’s is proof that folks like us in the grassroots exist. It also demonstrates how Governor Palin is being heard just as strongly as she’s being feared.
An even greater indication that a President Romney won’t fundamentally alter the way business is done in Washington is his choice to lead his transition team should he be elected in November. For this important position, Romney chose former Governor Mike Leavitt (RINO, UT). This is a disaster. Not only does Leavitt, like Romney, have a history of advocating expansive government, but he has a big crony capitalism problem as well, and will be in a position to benefit handsomely if Mitt becomes President. The Washington Examiner has done an excellent job of summarizing why the Leavitt choice ought to send chills down the spines of those of us who remain deeply suspicious of Romney’s convenient and sudden conversion from being a moderate with progressive views to a ‘severe conservative’ in his 60s:
One of the major questions during the Republican presidential primaries was whether Mitt Romney intended to actually govern as a small-government conservative if he is elected president, or whether he was merely talking tough about shrinking government to appeal to a conservative GOP electorate. Unfortunately, Romney has already given limited-government advocates reason to worry.
Over the weekend, Politico reported Romney had tapped former Utah governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt to lead his transition effort should he win the presidency. At best, Leavitt is a puzzling choice. Although most Republicans, including Romney, have warned about the dangers of President Obama’s national health care law, Leavitt is a leading Republican advocate for implementing Obamacare’s burdensome health insurance exchanges in all 50 states. Conveniently, his consultancy group won a contract last month to set up the new exchange in New Mexico.
This is troubling. Romney, who championed a health care law in Massachusetts that included exchanges like the ones in Obama’s national law, has vowed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with market-based reforms. But how does this square with his choice of Leavitt for such an important post, from which he would lay much of the policy and personnel groundwork for a Romney presidency?
Leavitt’s embrace of big government, unfortunately, does not end with health care. As governor of Utah, Leavitt received a D in the Cato Institute’s 2002 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors — the same grade as then-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean received that same year. Cato detailed how Leavitt boosted spending and became known as “Mr. Internet Tax” because he lobbied for a federal law to allow states to tax out-of-state Internet companies. “It is ironic that one of the most conservative states in the union has one of the most pro-big government governors,” the report remarked.
Leavitt’s no better than Arlen Specter, folks. I vividly remember his efforts to tax out-of-state internet sales, and couldn’t believe a Republican could advocate such a scheme. Not only did he advocate it, he led a nationwide effort to put it into effect. And yet this is the guy Romney would count on to lead the selection process for literally thousands of people to staff his administration should he win the election? What could go wrong? No wonder liberals are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of a Romney Presidency. Beyond Leavitt’s liberalism, the Examiner also took a look at his crony capitalism problem:
Beyond the health care issue itself, there is a cronyism issue involved. One of the biggest fears about the “CEO presidency” that Romney’s election would herald is that his business background would cause him to conflate a pro-business philosophy with one that favors free markets and a limited government. As somebody who could profit personally if more states implement Obamacare exchanges, Leavitt clearly comes from the tradition of a Republican Party that is willing to expand government in the name of helping well-connected businesses.
Remind me again: Why should I believe Say Anything Mitt will repeal Obamacare, end Obama’s crony capitalism, and govern as a small-government conservative? What’s the evidence beyond what comes out of his mouth at conservative venues? There’s certainly no reason to believe Leavitt, as head of Mitt’s transition team, will seek out and hire those with such a philosphy. Public funds will simply be redirected from Obama’s campaign bundlers … to Mitt’s. And maybe, as an added bonus, Leavitt will talk Mitt into implementing a national internet sales tax. Fantastic.
Update: More on the Leavitt pick from Gary Jackson here.