Republicans–and right-wingers generally–love to say that the United States Government should be run like a business.
But what does that really mean?
If we ran the United States like a business,” Johnny Carson once joked, “we’d burn down the country and collect the insurance.”
And of course the joke got a lot of laughs.
Yes, it’s true: A lot of Americans just don’t trust businessmen–especially Big Businessmen.
And especially Big Businessmen who’ve made their fortunes the old-fashioned way–by raiding and despoiling other companies.
But consider this for a moment:
When was the last time we had a President who could honestly say, like Mitt Romney–
“I understand, for instance, how to read a balance sheet”?
And that’s a truly valuable qualification for public office.
Mitt Romney doesn’t get weepy over people and their messy, sob-sister problems. Consider:
ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.
ROMNEY: I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.
ROMNEY: I’m not concerned about the very poor.
ROMNEY: Don’t try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.
You have to be cold-bloodedly unemotional if you want to win the game.
Like Meyer Lansky–”The Mob’s Accountant.” He understood that perfectly.
And he knew how to read a balance sheet.
It was Lansky who famously said of the Mafia: “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel.”
And think of all the money this made for his business partners–like Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel.
Or take stockbroker Bernard Madoff.
Think of where his clients would now be if he hadn’t been able to read a balance sheet.
And you can be sure that Ivan Boesky knew how to read a balance sheet.
As a successful stock trader, he became the inspiration for an entire generation of corporate CEOs: “I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”
It was Boesky who inspired the producers of the 1987 movie, “Wall Street,” to create a fictional character based on him: Gordon Gecko, played by Michael Douglas.
So imagine what a successful corporate businessman–like Mitt Romney–could have done as President.
Or, better still, let veteran political analyst Chris Matthews imagine it for you, as he did on May 24, 2012:
Mitt Romney has one pitch, and since it’s his only one, he makes it again and again, is that he is a man of business, someone who spent his life in business, doing it, thinking about it, experiencing it.
And this is why he, Mitt Romney, is a better man than the president to direct the business of the country.
But the question, and an important one, is whether Romney would take his business training and use it for the country or take the office of the presidency and use it to help his fellow business people.
- Will he serve the people or the CEOs?
- The 99 percent or the 1 percent?
It’s a basic, useful question to ask.
- What if he plays the business game in ways that favors the wealthy like himself?
- What if he cuts taxes for the wealthy?
- What if he eliminates environmental and safety regulations?
- What if he pulls down the financial regulations put in places the crash of ’08 and `09?
- And what if he sides with the wheeler-dealers and opens the door for the hell to break loose like it did under Bush?
- And what if he can’t see what was done wrong before, but wants instead to do it all over again?
This is the danger.
We elect presidents to look out for the people.
Business, especially the people like Mitt Romney, already have a voice in our national government. They’re called lobbyists.
They push for lower taxes for the rich, lower taxes on corporations. They work with friends in Congress, to pull back on regulation, to make live easier for them, to make more money.
- …Would we like someone who thinks only about the interest of big business, doing away taxes, we pay–deciding what taxes we pay, what working conditions we have to endure, what protections we get for food safety, airline safety, the safety of our investments from Wall Street sharpies?
- Is that what we want looking for us–the people whose primary concern is the bottom line of those Mitt Romney calls “the successful”?
- Government of, by and for the economic elite–is that what we want?
Because if you listen, you can hear that this is precisely what the man from Bain is now out there selling.
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So go ahead: Imagine what a Mitt Romney Presidency would have been like.
And then be grateful that you don’t have to live out that reality.