Romney, the “Knight in Shining Armor” of American Small Business?

Business, Politics, U.S. News

As the Iowa primary approaches, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney weighs in on the detrimental effects of the Obama administration’s economic policy on small business.  In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Romney distances himself from other candidates by asserting a centrist position on tax code, and claiming a commitment to the middle class.

Image from Salvatore Vuono

According to Mitt Romney, President Obama’s positions on economic policy make traditional routes of entrepreneurialship increasingly difficult to travel.  In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday (Romney’s first Sunday show interview in nearly two years), Romney defended that traditional small business owners are falling by the wayside as White House economic policy fails to address the needs of this pivotal portion of the US population.

Romney stated: “I get the chance to speak with business leaders of big and small businesses, largely small. And I say to them—do any of you believe that the policies of this Administration have helped you be more successful in your enterprise and hire more people? I don’t see a single hand go up when I ask that to an audience. His policies have hurt, not helped.”

Romney takes a position that is unique to his fellow frontrunners in the Republican primaries.  That is, that the Obama administration has adequately defended the well-to-do, while simultaneously falling short in his responsibility to represent small business owners and the middle class.

“The people who have been hurt in the Obama economy are not the wealthy. The wealthy are doing just fine. The people that have been hurt are the people in the middle class so I focus those precious dollars that we have, I focus that on the middle class…”

Romney defends a surprisingly centrist approach to economic policy.  While fellow candidates Gingrich and Perry endorse radical cuts to the tax code (15% and 20% flat tax, respectively), Romney proposes to maintain the 35% tax rate on the highest bracket, and would not lower the rate on capital gains over $200,000.  Romney asserts that he would also remove some of the loopholes and fine print of the tax code that allow some to avoid paying their fair share.

Responding to Wallace’s suggestion that he maintains a status quo stance on tax policy similar to that of President Obama, Romney defends: “I’m not looking to dramatically reduce taxes for the wealthiest in our society, not that there’s anything wrong with being wealthy… But my intent in running for president is to help middle-income Americans and a plan that dramatically cuts taxes for the very, very wealthiest is in my opinion not the right course.”

Romney’s position on maintaining the status quo is an alluring “moderate” stance that will attract the independent voters that he needs for any shot at a successful campaign.  But given this convenient reality, we are forced to ask ourselves, “Is Romney’s position on tax code a sincere representation of his personal ideology?  Or is this merely campaign rhetoric?”  Based on every political campaign of the past, it is difficult to align Romney’s intentions with anything but the latter; people-pleasing talk that is agreeable to all, offensive to none, and essentially hollow.

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