Rounding off on Romney

Our panelists examine the possible ramifications a Romney administration could have on social issues, economics and foreign policy

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Photo illustration by Tiffany Lam

Richard Brilli, ArtSci '14

On Nov. 6, there’s potential for monumental change in the US.

If Mitt Romney gains the presidency, this could spell vast social change nation-wide. Rights to abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage could all be subject to change.

Abortions are legal nation-wide as a result of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in 1973. During his campaign for the Republican nomination, Romney made it very clear that he doesn’t agree with the decision reached in this ruling. Instead, he believes that abortion is a state issue and shouldn’t be legalized at a federal level. Romney describes himself as pro-life and this belief is echoed in the official Republican Party platform. Also potentially concerning for women is Romney’s stance on Planned Parenthood, which he’s vehemently opposed, suggesting on numerous occasions that he would remove its funding from the federal budget. The Republican platform calls for abstinence-only education for young adults, a direct contradiction to the works of Planned Parenthood today.

Currently, contraception is covered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act but Romney argues that this infringes on the religious freedoms of those who don’t support it. The Republican Party platform calls for “protecting rights of conscience” which would allow any doctor, nurse, or pharmacist the right to refuse any medical treatment or referral that goes against their moral or religious beliefs. This could have devastating effects on women — any women in need of emergency contraceptives could be outright denied.

While Romney’s personal views may indirectly come into conflict with the views of many American women in particular, the views of the Republican Party he represents are much more forward in their assault on current American society.

The Republican platform lists a section entitled “Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage” in which it highlights the belief that marriage is inherently heterosexual and that same-sex marriages should not be recognized as equal to those of heterosexual couples. Same-sex marriages have recently been legalized in a few select states and popular support is growing thanks in part to the Obama administration. If Romney is elected, this progress may be undone and measures to restrict future progress could easily become a reality.

The current state of American society is truly unprecedented. Issues such as abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage have become very contested in public discourse. If Obama is re-elected, it’s safe to assume that these issues will continue to progress in the directions he’s taken them. Abortion will stay legal, contraception will be widely available through healthcare and same-sex marriage rights will continue to develop.

If Romney is elected, the future won’t be so clear. The state of American social issues could undergo only marginal adjustments or could endure a complete overhaul. A Romney election brings upon uncertainty that an Obama re-election would not. Under Romney, social changes aren’t guaranteed. Only one thing is certain — change is coming, for better or worse.

Richard Brilli is the chair for the research and outreach committee in the ASUS equity office.

Alexander Rotman, ArtSci '13

When Barack Obama walked into the Oval Office, he found the US government $10 trillion in debt. Today, the debt stands at just over $16 trillion. That’s about $50,000 for each American — to put that in perspective, last year the median income for American families was the exact same figure of $50,000. Though the President will protest, he did build this.

The unemployment rate in the US right now is 7.8 per cent, which, to be fair, is down from the 8.3 per cent during Obama’s first month of office. But, for most of his administration, unemployment has been above 9 per cent.

So, what are the prospects for the economy if Mitt Romney should win? Romney has been campaigning on a cut to corporate tax rates. Currently, the US has a corporate tax rate of 35 per cent, the highest of G8 countries. Romney would cut it to 25 per cent, a good start for encouraging economic growth, allowing US corporations to become more competitive.

Romney’s plan to institute a 20 per cent reduction in tax rates for all income levels will help free up capital to grow the economy. Americans (including the rich ones), will do one of two things with more money in their pockets: spend it or save it.

Both of these actions help grow the economy, allow banks to give more loans to businesses to help them expand and increase the incomes of other businesses.

The way to rebuild the economy is to promote more money in the private sector, rather than have it remain tied up in government bureaucracy.

Now one might object, “how would the debt ever be paid if we don’t increase taxes and use it to pay it off?” Well, the current administration hasn’t even made a dent in the debt, meanwhile the size of the government has expanded and unemployment is still up.

I foresee two options for the next four years. Either the US continues as they have for the past four years with a rather stagnant economy and a growing debt crisis or we see the economy recovering and the debt being paid down (or at least not growing).

The latter option is more likely to occur if Romney wins; Obama’s had four years to change the course of the US, instead he dug in deeper.

Romney also plans on expanding free trade agreements, which will open new markets that the US can trade with. This will present new opportunities for increased economic growth.

When it comes to whom you can trust to manage the debt, there are clearly better odds with Romney.

The most important thing for the economy right now is restructuring tax incentives to ensure a competitive America and a president who will set a favourable climate to get the economy rolling again. Obama had a chance to prove himself; it’s time for a breath of fresh air.

Alexander Rotman is a fourth-year economics and political studies medial.

Devin McDonald, ArtSci ’13

If one was to adhere to the images portrayed on the campaign trail, either by the blue or red team, it might appear as if a change to the inhabitants of the White House would bare great changes to all spheres of policy.

Though no doubt the election will have an impact on many policies, , there seems less of a case for marked changes in American foreign policy whether Obama or Romney take the winner’s podium.

As an example, the last of three presidential debates, was intended to be focused on foreign policy. Despite both candidates seemingly more keen to talk about multiple pointed economic plans, when they did cover foreign policy their positions were hard to distinguish from each other, even at times openly acknowledging the merit of each other’s positions. It might be noted that this isn’t due to a lack of policy creativity on the part of either camp, but rather because it really makes no electoral difference.

The American public pays, at best, scant attention to an administration’s foreign policy — few elections have been decided on the basis of the subject. Foreign policy in American elections is more of a campaign liability than a core tenet. One of Romney’s talking points has been about getting tough with China, especially on currency manipulation. He claims that his first acts as President would be to label China a currency manipulator. It’s often suggested that Chinese exports have an unfair advantage against domestically produced goods due to the undervalued Renminbi currency driving China’s export-based economy.

Yet it’s not too certain whether the renminbi is all that undervalued. Early this year, China loosened controls on it, allowing it to float more during trading. If the currency was as artificially undervalued as Romney suggests, it would jump as soon as controls were removed. Yet the first day on the market , the value was little changed. This proves that Romney’s willingness to play hardball is more showmanship than realpolitick.

A key issue in US/Canadian relations has been the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would bring crude oil from the Albertan oil sands to the US to be refined. Obama has postponed any approval of the pipeline until 2013 in an effort to appease the concerns of environmental activists. Yet despite his delay, the pipeline brings

immense economic boon and will be approved, whether by Obama or Romney.

The Middle East might be the sticking point against the idea that foreign policy is of little consequence to electoral politics. The common assumption that the War in Iraq was a right wing policy directive is tenuous. Al Gore would have faced similar post-9/11 pressures to respond to an Iraq with ambiguous weapons of mass destruction capability.

Apathy regarding foreign policy issues and what I would characterize as a lack of effectiveness of the politics of personality in the international system ultimately limits the effect a change of office can have on foreign policy outcomes.

Devin McDonald is a fourth-year philosophy and political studies medial.

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