Over at Slate, Eliot Spitzer points out a couple of disturbing notions that Mitt Romney has trotted out in recent interviews. At one time, Romney was a very competent businessman. If this is what he truly believes nowadays, though, he would be a spectacularly bad President.
Point 1: Romney says he’s going to “treat his Cabinet like a Board of Directors“
As Spitzer points out, Cabinet secretaries have radically different roles than directors. The Board of Directors of a large corporation is generally made up primarily of outsiders — people who don’t work in the day-to-day operations of the firm. Instead, on a part-time basis, they provide oversight to the CEO and senior managers. They review the strategic direction of the company, approve executive compensation, and if the company is underperforming, they have the power to remove the CEO and hire a replacement. Cabinet secretaries, on the other hand, are the day-to-day managers of the operations of the executive branch. They take their marching orders from the President, and they are responsible for the details.
Point 2: Romney would spend at least 4% of GDP on defense
By all measures, defense spending has been substantially increased since 9/11. The 2013 defense budget is 35% larger it was in 2001. Romney’s promise would grow defense spending by 87% over the next decade, despite the fact that we have pulled out of Iraq and are slowly winding down operations in Afghanistan.
But even more than that, one has to wonder what the substantive linkage between GDP and defense spending is? Shouldn’t our level of defense spending be based on an assessment of what our defense needs are? Arbitrarily tying military spending to the economy — particularly at the levels proposed by Romney — is a recipe for waste and grift. Is there anyone out there who really thinks we need to nearly double our defense expenditures?
So why is Romney making these sorts of proposals — that defy any rational look at the issue? One can only wonder, but unfortunately, such efforts to cloak dubious policies in the language of business by people who are better than talking about business than actually engaging in it are not uncommon from today’s GOP.
There’s ways that make sense to bring the principles of business into the workings of government — tenets of program and project management, for instance. Applying rigorous measurements and scoring to determine the effectiveness of programs is another way. But when politicians cloak half-baked policy ideas in business-speak, it degrades the very real expertise and knowledge that business leaders can bring to the political process. If I tried to run these sorts of nonsensical ideas past my boss, I’d get shut down in a hurry and told not to come back until things had been completely reworked. We should tell Romney and the GOP the very same thing.