Before the Arrogant Jackass Tape blew up in his face, Mitt Romney had started hawking what he calls his “5 Point Plan”, which is every bit as vague as the campaign itself, save this: he’s as creative with the plan’s numbers as he is with his taxes. Here are the 5 points as he laid them out for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Monday:
“First, we will take full advantage of our oil, gas, coal, nuclear power, and renewables to achieve North American energy independence in 8 years. That will not only give us the affordable, reliable energy we need; it will also create nearly 4 million jobs. And it will help bring manufacturing back to our shores.
Energy independence in 8 years is impossible, if for no other reason than, any effective energy policy will have to include efficiency as an integral part of the plan. Romney and the Republicans would like to do away with, if not prevent all regulations geared toward efficiency. Here are some other points compiled by The Week:
Romney’s plan would expand drilling on federal lands and off our coastlines, while easing environmental regulations on the oil, gas, and coal industries. Romney would also approve the Keystone Energy pipeline from Canada, which President Obama suspended over environmental concerns. And Romney says he will discontinue government investments — such as subsidies and loan guarantees — in wind and solar power that have been a hallmark of Obama’s energy policies.
…the U.S. can’t become energy independent on its own: Romney is cheating a little by calling for “North American” energy independence, since he knows the “U.S. can’t come close to achieving oil independence on its own,” says Steven Mufson at The Washington Post. The key to his plan is the Keystone pipeline, which, for better or worse, would give the U.S. a flood of oil from Canada’s “controversial, greenhouse gas-intensive oil sands.”
Wind and solar are vital to energy independence: That’s not Romney’s only cheat. His plan “over-promises on results while ignoring many of the biggest energy problems the U.S. faces,” says Michael Levi at Foreign Policy. Even if the U.S. imported no oil from the Middle East, the price of oil would continue to be determined by the global market, which means Romney will not have broken the energy link “putting the U.S. economy at risk and constraining U.S. freedom of action.” True energy independence can only be achieved if the U.S. reduces its “massive consumption of oil” and increases its reliance on energy alternatives, and Romney bafflingly says “nothing to address this Achilles heel.” His strategy “falls woefully short.”
And the truth is: Alternative energy shows real promise: Mitt Romney says he likes wind and solar as much as the next person, but you “would be forgiven for thinking that the next person doesn’t like them much at all,” says Bloomberg in an editorial. His plan “largely ignores the solid promise of clean energy,” which, thanks to federal investment, is expected to drive 10 percent of U.S. power by 2020. “Given how far clean energy has come, why stop it in its tracks now?”
“Romney’s energy plan ignores solar’s success”
Then there’s the “job creation” part of the plan:
Second, we must give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today – and give our children the education they need for the careers of tomorrow.
Boy, that’s profound. But Mitt doesn’t tell us precisely which skills Americans need today, and which careers will be the careers of tomorrow; I’m sure folks would love to hear his crystal ball readings as soon as possible so they can start training right away. Of course, first he’d have to pry some of that Bush “job-creating tax cut” money away from the so-called job creators.
Third, we will make trade work for America by forging new agreements with nations that play by the rules, while cracking down on nations that do not. We can jump-start our economy by expanding trade with Latin America – and our nation’s 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses will have the most to gain. President Obama has not initiated a single new trade agreement with Latin America…
I’m sure he just temporarily forgot the three trade bills Obama signed this past October, two of which were Latin American.
Fourth, we must cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget…
However, as Business Insider reported: Romney’s Plan Will Balloon The Deficit And Radically Increase The National Debt
And finally, I will look to sharply increase the productivity of Washington by reducing federal government employment by 10% through attrition, by combining agencies and departments to reduce overhead, by cracking down on the $115 billion a year in improper payments in government programs, and by aligning government compensation with that of the private sector.
Blah. Blah. Blah. Yes, Mitt, let’s dump more people onto the unemployment rolls right away, please. And when you get some spare time, say… after you lose in November, maybe you could read up on some of the stuff you seem to be clueless about, like the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) of 2009, which is responsible for:
- recovering $4 billion in fiscal 2010 that was stolen from federal health care programs
- recovering $2.5 billion in civil health care matters brought under the False Claims Act
- launching 1,116 criminal health care fraud investigations in fiscal 2010, and a total of 726 defendants…convicted.
- filed 140 charges against 284 defendants who billed Medicare more than $590 million. Of those, 146 defendants were sentenced to an average of more than three years of jail time.
President Obama directed agencies to perform more payment recapture audits, in which highly specialized accounting and fraud specialists would search for improper payments in government billing records and work to get that money back. “Improper payments” include over-payments, payments for services not actually rendered, payments to the wrong individual or group, and even payments to vendors that do not exist.
As for that beloved Republican myth that public employees make so much more than private sector employees: Kevin Drum wrote a brief, but to the point post about the wage comparison of public vs. private wages in 2010, citing research from Jeffrey Keefe of Rutgers. The comparisons are shown in this table from the Economic Policy Institute:
As Kevin explains:
Public employees get a bigger share of their compensation in benefits than private sector employees (34% of total comp vs. 26-33%), and because of this the lower rungs of the public sector ladder get paid a bit more than their private sector counterparts. Anyone with a college education or more, however, is paid far less, and this brings the overall average for the public sector a bit below the private sector.
In a separate calculation that controls for full-time status, education level, years of experience, age, gender, race, employer organizational size, industry, and hours worked, the report concludes that public employees are compensated 2-7% less than equivalent private sector employees.
Quite the opposite of Romney’s 2011 claim that:
“average government workers are now making $30,000 a year more than the average private-sector worker.”
So let’s recap: we have claims and numbers that are dubious at best; calls for oversight that we already have; an energy independence target that is mostly fantasy, and a fiscal plan that cannot possibly do what he claims it will do…
“The only thing worse than being incompetent is not knowing you are.” ~Ethan Winer