Mitt Romney told more than his fair share of whoppers last night. But my favorite fact check of the second debate concerns Romney’s answer to the questioner asking him how his policies are different from George W. Bush. Here’s the New York Times’s Jackie Calmes:
When Mr. Romney was asked how he and former President George W. Bush were different, he said they were different people and because the times were different, “my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done.”
But Mr. Romney’s five-point plan, which is light on specifics, is an echo of the platform that Mr. Bush ran on in 2000 — energy independence, education, expanded free trade and a get-tough stance toward China, balanced budgets and small business. As Mr. Romney pointed out, Mr. Bush fell short in those areas, for instance by turning balanced budgets of the Clinton era into annual deficits. Still, their campaign platforms are remarkably similar.
It really is amazing just how much Romney’s plan is an exact echo of Bush’s, despite twelve intervening years and a vastly different economic landscape.
If anything, the comparison is unfair to Bush. After all, Bush in 2000 ran with not only Romney’s five point plan, but also a “compassionate conservative” agenda — No Child Left Behind, a faith-based initiative, immigration reform, and more. Not only does Romney have no similar agenda, there’s also a real overall policy deficit if you compare the two. Sure, on taxes there’s some similarity in that both deny the deficit-busting implications of their plans. But overall Bush just ran on far more well-developed domestic policy ideas than Romney.
On foreign policy, meanwhile, there is a lot more similarity in their shared vagueness. I’ll give the last word to Mark Adomanis:
That Romney and Bush are using almost identical language to describe China, South America, and small business (among other things: a more detailed treatment of their rhetorical similarities would run to novel length) is not in the least bit surprising. In case we’ve forgotten, Bush and Romney are Republican politicians of the same generation (Bush is 66, Romney is 65), appealing to the same base, and supported by the same powerful business interests. Given their similarities, it would be surprising if Bush and Romney didn’t sound the same.