January 10 2012
Populism on the Right Is Unbecoming
It’s hard to ignore that Mitt Romney’s victory in the Granite State yesterday might have been, in part, a function of populist rhetoric from the right. While analysts anticipated that the Massachusetts governor would leave his neighboring New Hampshire with a double-digit lead, his success was likely facilitated by the aggressive attacks coming from rival GOP contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.
His opponents tried to make Romney out to be a Wall Street barracuda, preying on working Americans — undoubtedly a suspect political strategy. But more importantly, it was a one-dimensional view of Bain Capital and free markets, intended to spur the kind of class warfare that the left — and President Obama — is inclined toward.
To be clear, the act of buying up failing companies — with the understanding that many employees will be laid off — makes people uncomfortable. Still, this is a one-dimensional view. The fact is while the attention has been focused on Bain’s “destructive” qualities, it is also Bain investments that are responsible for the expansion and job creation at such well-known companies as Staples, Dunkin’ Donuts and Guitar Center.
In the end, it’s Romney who benefits from this populism. As he alluded to in his victory speech, it’s not a zero-sum game. Raiding the pockets of millionaires and billionaires to feed government programs doesn’t create growth. In the end, we need sensible economic policies that create an environment of certainty, eliminate burdensome regulations, keep tax liabilities low and encourage robust private-sector growth. Let’s hope Romney’s up to the challenge