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It’s a good question.
Luckily, a woman named Susan Katz had the opportunity at last night’s presidential debate to ask Mitt Romney that very question:
Governor Romney…Since both you and President Bush are Republicans, I fear a return to the policies of those years should you win this election. What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?
Mitt Romney thanked Susan about the time, and followed by quibbling with moderator Candy Crowley about how much time he was allotted. Clearly, it’s not an answer Romney wanted to address head on, because the answers don’t bode well for him.
This is why: The promises Romney is making in 2012 are not that different from the promises George W. Bush made as a candidate in 2000. Many of the economic policies Romney is proposing are not so different from those of George W. Bush’s administration. If anything, the Romney-Ryan agenda is more conservative, more accommodating to the wealthy, and more disastrous for working families than that of George W. Bush.
Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney tells us that cutting taxes for the wealthy will help create jobs.
Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney wants to keep subsidies for big oil companies.
Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney wants to let those big oil companies write our country’s energy policy.
Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney wants to let Wall Street police itself, and wants fewer regulations on the very people whose reckless behavior drove our economy into a ditch.
Like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has promised lobbyist Grover Norquist that he will not raise taxes on anyone, ever, regardless of the needs of the country.
And like George W. Bush, Mitt Romney has spent his entire political career opposing the collective bargaining rights of working people.
But in some ways, the Romney-Ryan plan goes further. Although President Bush tried and failed to ram through an unpopular plan to privatize Social Security, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s agenda includes ending Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system. On immigration, Bush pushed comprehensive immigration reform, while Romney advocates for “self-deportation” and called Arizona’s draconian SB 1070 a “model for the nation.”
At the debate last night, Romney did return to Susan’s question. He said he had a different energy plan than Bush did “by virtue of new technology.” He said he’d “crack down on China” on trade issues, although he had criticized Obama for being too protectionist on trade.
Third, he said, “I’m going to get us to a balanced budget,” unlike Bush. Yet by proposing additional tax cuts, ending the estate tax, and an increase in military spending – without any details on how to pay for any of it – that promise is about as plausible as George W. Bush’s grammar.