Last week, Mitt Romney's campaign unveiled its first television ad of the general election, a generally positive spot describing what the Republican would do on "day one" if elected. In his first 24 hours in the Oval Office, Romney would apparently approve an environmentally-risky oil pipeline, cut taxes on the wealthy, and take away health care access for millions of Americans.
Yesterday, the campaign unveiled its second ad, this one called, "Day One, Part Two." Apparently, the Republican is sincere about hitting the ground running -- he has quite a few ambitions for Jan. 21, 2013.
For those who can't watch clips online, viewers learn that Romney -- still on his first day in office -- would also "announce deficit reductions," "stand up to China on trade," and "begin repealing" federal regulations, which the Republican believes are responsible for hurting the economy.
Voters who care about the truth won't find much to like about this spot. Romney's agenda doesn't focus on deficit reduction; it would add trillions to the debt through tax cuts and increased defense spending (a problem that would be made worse if he kills the Affordable Care Act). If Romney pushes us into a trade war with China, we all lose. And the notion that regulations are hurting the economy is plainly false to anyone who knows what they're talking about.
But the larger lesson here is that Romney, despite a breathtakingly-conservative vision, really doesn't have much to offer in the way of practical, real-world solutions to any of the nation's pressing economic problems.
As Jamelle Bouie explained, Romney's "key asset is the appearance of competence. By virtue of his look, composure and business background, voters assume that he has command over issues and that he could succeed if elected president.... [But] for all the talk of job creation, the Republican nominee doesn't have a plan for stimulating the economy."
Indeed, he's not even trying.
Consider the six ideas now on tap for Romney's first day: tax cuts for the wealthy (which we know do little to boost demand), an oil pipeline (which might create some jobs, but not as many as the right likes to pretend), less access to health care (which wouldn't do the economy any favors), deficit reduction (austerity doesn't work), fewer regulations (which is vague and pointless), and a trade war with China (which would be incredibly dangerous).
The myth of this guy's competence has been greatly exaggerated.