Rather than Barack Obama’s “trickle-down government,” Mitt Romney could offer a foundation-up prosperity. This kind of prosperity would be powered by strong economic fundamentals: vital agriculture, manufacturing, technology, health-care, and innovation sectors. The fruits of this prosperity would be broadly shared. Romney has emphasized again and again that his policies would not only increase the number of jobs but would also increase take-home pay. The economic growth of the working and middle classes would increase the demand available for various products. This increased demand would lead to an economy that expands faster. Everyone can win in a vital, expanding market.
The five key points of Romney’s economic reforms (trade, education, energy, deficit reduction, and regulatory changes) could provide the first steps in the direction of such a foundation-up policy. Allying policy specificity to principled clarity and a sense of opportunity for a broad range of Americans, Romney at once scored a win over the president and revived his campaign. This is a Romney who can win, but, even more importantly, this is a Romney who can govern. Tax cuts will not be enough. Reforming Medicare will not be enough. Indeed, fixating on those goals to the exclusion of all else could actually set conservative policies and the national dialogue back. We must be willing to explore more thorough-going reforms in order to restore economic vitality to the broad range of Americans. Romney’s stance last week showed this kind of willingness.
The rhetoric alone of common improvement will not suffice; results must follow. Romney the businessman might realize that, should he win in November, his chances of re-election will in part depend upon making prosperity available to all Americans. And his chances of winning in November themselves are tied to how successful he is at convincing all Americans — not just the base or movement conservatives or the connected few — that his policies can work for them.
Market-oriented policies can work for all Americans, and Romney as well as other Republicans should embrace the message of improvement for all through conservative policies. As Congressman Ryan said in another context, Republicans should want to have this debate about expanding opportunity for all, and our country certainly needs this debate — and, with the right policies, conservatives can win this debate.
Fred Bauer is a writer from New England. He blogs at A Certain Enthusiasm, and his work has been featured in numerous publications.