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Mark Olmsted Headshot

Watch What You Pray For, Mitt

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You can hear the champagne glasses full of sparkling cider clinking on Romney's jet skis as he celebrates another mediocre jobs report. "There's hope!" must be his toast, hope that enough people who can't get unenthusiastic about voting "for" him will at least be willing to vote "against" Obama.

How stupid can the Republicans be? Have they never heard of "you break it, you buy it?" If Romney inherits this GOP-sabotaged recovery, his only plan is to return to exactly the same policies that brought us the Great Recession in the first place. Does he honestly believe that corporations that have experienced record profits under Obama are suddenly going to use a Romney victory to unleash a torrent of new hiring? By what logic? If they don't need the employees now, why would they need them in November?

Romney's stated platform proposes a less plausible future than any summer blockbuster based on comic book characters. Higher defense spending, a shredding of the social safety net, and more tax cuts for the rich are supposed to miraculously lead to full employment, reduced deficits and companies freed from the shackles of regulation that for some reason still self-police their way to a pristine air and water. Corporations will set to repairing American infrastructure even though no federal or state funds are available to pay for it, teachers with 40 students to a class will suddenly produce better results than when they only had 30 students, and women denied access to abortion will suddenly raise happy, law-abiding children. In the rosy utopia, I suppose Iran and China will be so intimidated by the new square-jawed president that they will bow and scrape just like the good old days.

It is a ludicrous fantasy, but a dangerous one, as believing in it makes another scenario far more likely, one in which a return to the policies of George W. Bush lead to exactly the same results. As unemployment creeps back up, one could imagine a panicked Romney proposing an infrastructure jobs bill, only to discover the Tea Party Congress has no more intention of cooperating with him than they did with Obama. Another signature promise, the repeal of Obamacare, would be complicated by the gradual recognition that many of the constituent elements of the law are quite popular. One can almost hear the peals of laughter from a Democratic Senate minority that suddenly rediscovers the joys of the filibuster.

As the economy spins into recession-redux, the 2014 mid-terms would return overwhelming Democratic majorities to Congress. Romney would scurry to the left in hopes of finding some way to salvage his presidency, but 2016 would bring a return of Obama for an I-told-you-so second term, unless he ceded to Hillary Clinton the colossal headache of overseeing the decline and fall of once a great country, now irretrievably damaged by the nightmarish policies of rightwing-nut politicians.

The smart Republican move would have been to sign on to a massive bipartisan jobs bill and claim all of the credit of its success. They could have conceivably spun this into a win in November, garnering all of the benefits of a robust recovery truly kicking in by 2013, and a realistic shot for two-term GOP hegemony.

A Romney presidency will first be disastrous for the bottom half of the population, and then for everybody. The obstruction of the Obama recovery may be tactically effective in the political short-term, but as a long-term strategy, it is nothing short of Republican murder-suicide on the grandest scale imaginable. Unfortunately, they could take the whole country down with them.

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
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Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
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Seats won 201 234
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