The 65,000 empty seats at Ford Field today when Mitt Romney delivered a speech on the economy seemed an appropriate audience for a candidate who, along with all the other GOP hopefuls, opposed federal recovery assistance for the auto industry. As the Detroit Free Press noted in 2010:
The fact that GM and Chrysler are not only alive but modestly profitable in a weak market, after years of losing billions of dollars when car and truck sales were 50% higher, looks like more than just a successful government intervention. It looks like a flat-out miracle.... And that's about as big a triumph as the president can claim from his first 18 months on the job.
Romney, poster child for crony capitalism, chose that label to describe the federal auto industry assistance. In his 2008 NY Times op-ed piece Romney promoted a "managed bankruptcy" of Chrysler and General motors. Let Detroit Go Bankrupt, he wrote. Perhaps no wonder that today he addressed a nearly empty football stadium.
Meanwhile, Romney and fellow candidate Rick Santorum have echoed Obama administration calls for cutting the corporate tax rate, although the GOPers won't commit to closing any tax loopholes, as the administration has advocated. While advocating deficit reduction on the campaign trail, both Romney's and Santorum's budget proposals would increase the deficit by trillions of dollars.
Moreover, Romney supports retaining a major tax loophole that let's private equity and hedge fund managers like himself pay only 15% tax on money they earn managing other people's money, compared to the 35% corporate CEO's pay. The editorial board of Bloomberg News declared Romney Should Showcase Leadership and End Carried Interest. Ending this so-called "carried interest" provision is part of the tax overhaul that Obama has recently proposed.
Inconsistent in many things, Romney's is consistent in advocacy on behalf of fellow wealthy individuals. He's scheduled to headline the Michigan Prosperity Forum sponsored by billionaire oil-and-gas magnates David and Charles Koch, who support ultraconservative causes nationwide, including the Tea Party movement, and efforts to discredit climate science.
Rounding out his quest for conservative bona fides this week, Romney confirmed that his position on immigration is the most extreme of any of the GOP candidates. He called Arizona's Draconian immigration law a model for the country. The Arizona law requires all immigrants to carry "alien registration documents," and permits police to question them at any tie, with or without cause. In this Romney achieved something significant: he made Rick Santorum look moderate.