A sign of intelligence is acknowledging successful policies, and when possible, putting those into action regardless if it is a business model, war tactics, or economic policy. For the past two years, Republicans have attempted to follow the abject failure of European nation’s austerity programs that have resulted in zero or negative growth, and drastic cuts to government and social services that are negatively affecting their citizens. Willard Romney has bought in to the austerity philosophy of eliminating government services and spending at the same time he promises to increase the national debt by trillions of dollars with incredibly foolish tax cuts for the rich. His economic agenda makes no sense as far as fiscal responsibility goes, but over the weekend he changed his tune and acknowledged that raising taxes on the wealthy, providing universal health care, and limiting defense spending was a proven recipe for success.
It is not surprising Willard inadvertently praised President Obama’s agenda of higher taxes for the wealthy and universal health care because of his penchant for pandering to whichever audience he addresses, and it has cemented his reputation as a flip-flopper in Americans’ conscience. What will be shocking though, is if he continues extolling the President’s policies when he returns to America, or whether he will continue deprecating President Obama’s economic policies. Perhaps Willard is clueless as to Israel’s economic ideology or principles, but he said, “For an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel,” and then went on to praise Israel’s economic agenda and singled out their national healthcare system for particular praise.
Romney travels around America promising that, “If I’m President of the United States, we’re gonna get rid of Obamacare” despite his record of implementing a similar program while he was governor of Massachusetts. During his world fundraising tour, Romney lavished praise on Israel’s healthcare system and said, ”You spend eight percent of G.D.P. on health care. You’re a pretty healthy nation,” and that “we (Americans) have to find ways not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.” Israel’s nationalized health care system is predicated on a strong individual mandate requiring Israelis to pay 40% of their healthcare insurance cost through income-related contributions collected by the tax system, and the government pays the remaining 60%. Because carrying healthcare insurance has been mandated since 1955, Israelis get better health care than Americans, the infant mortality rate is much lower than in America, and its heart disease mortality rate is half the U.S. rate. Willard seems to like healthcare for all so long as it is restricted to Massachusetts residents and Israelis, but apparently thinks the rest of America is undeserving of better healthcare at lower costs and protections against predatory insurance restrictions.
Willard also praised Israel’s “economic vitality“ that he attributed to a strong culture that demands the wealthy pay their fair share to support the economy. Romney praised a system that raised taxes last November on high-income earners from 45% to 48%, and added an extra 2% on the extremely wealthy who pay a 50% tax rate on their income. Israel also raised taxes on interest, dividends, and stock market profits by 5%, and raised tax on corporations from 24% to 25% beginning in 2012. Romney pays around 13% on his income according to the only tax return he released, and promises to slash tax rates substantially for the wealthy if he is elected in November. Romney’s plan is a large tax cut for the top 60%, a huge tax cut for the top few percent, and a large increase for the bottom percent by eliminating tax breaks for low-income Americans. Conversely, President Obama proposes a 3% increase on all high-income earners that is precisely the same amount Israel raised rates to increase revenue and ensure they continued experiencing economic vitality. Part of Israel’s economic vitality is keeping defense spending low, and they accomplish that by taking advantage of American taxpayers’ government-forced largesse.
Israel’s defense spending is less than it should be because America funds over 18% of its military budget at more than $8.2 million a day. That does not include the extra funding President Obama just gave Israel for a missile defense system to protect against rockets coming into Israel. America’s deficit and budget woes would be greatly reduced if defense spending was reduced by 18% and the money was spent on infrastructure improvements and job creation, but Republicans are more concerned with subsidizing Israel’s military, the oil industry, and the corporate agriculture industry than helping the American people or our nation’s economic vitality by creating jobs and funding social programs.
Romney’s fundraising tour gave him an up-close and personal look at how austerity savages an economy while he was in England that engendered his insult to the British people. His remarks about Olympic security go to the heart of Republican privatization schemes, because instead of using highly-trained and efficient government security, England contracted the job to a private company that failed to deliver. Willard also saw, and praised, Israel’s “economic vitality” that raised taxes on high income earners and corporations and was effusive about their national socialized health care system. Undoubtedly, when he returns to America he will resume bashing the President’s economic agenda and promote his own outrageous tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, while promising to expand defense spending and privatize education, Veteran’s Health Administration, Medicare, and as much of the government as possible to enrich corporations and himself.
Willard put himself in an awkward position throughout his fundraising tour, because on the one hand, he questioned the efficacy of privatization due to austerity measures in England that he champions for America, and then praised, in effect, President Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on the rich and his signature healthcare reform law while gushing over Israel’s economic vitality. Whether or not Willard understands he spent the past few days endorsing all of President Obama’s economic policies is a question the media should be asking. There is no doubt that Republicans suspicious of Romney’s conservative credentials will be asking him whether he really meant to praise the President’s agenda, but there is no question that by praising Israel’s healthcare system and economic vitality, he endorsed President Obama.