Now Mitt Romney has his running mate, Paul Ryan the Republican ’ideas man’ —although his idea can be summed up as slash tax and spending, now and till kingdom come and the American elections are looming fast. It had me wondering how we in the UK, as grateful beneficiaries of a ’special relationship’, would fare if the Republicans were to win later this year.
NOW MITT ROMNEY has his running mate, Paul Ryan the Republican ‘ideas man’ —although his idea can be summed up as slash tax and spending, now and till kingdom come — and the American elections are looming fast. It had me wondering how we in the UK, as grateful beneficiaries of a ‘special relationship’, would fare if the Republicans were to win later this year.
We can expect that the Republicans will take a far more drastic approach to reducing the size of America’s deficit. Paul Ryan’s nutty plan calls for a reduction in taxes so drastic that Romney would pay only 0.82 per cent income tax (according to calculations by The Atlantic) and spending cuts that would all but do away with Medicare.
Almost immediately after the elections, the US will hit its fiscal cliff. Unless a compromise is reached to extend or modify current tax reliefs and spending provisions, stringent tax increases and spending cuts will come into effect. This are so severe that most analysts expect the US would plunge into recession, dragging the global economy down too.
One would hope that even a Republican government wouldn’t take such a reckless approach to cliff-jumping, but Ryan’s presence may make compromise harder. You could even argue that given Ryan’s views, he should be happily pushing his fellow policy makers off the fiscal cliff — aren’t these drastic measures precisely the bitter medicine he advocates for curing the US economy’s debt malaise?
The problem is that Ryan’s plan quite simply doesn’t add up. He’s unable to square huge cuts to public spending with his desired short-term increase in the defence budget. It would seem that even its most enthusiastic proponent is not quite able to face the logical conclusion of Ryan’s plan. Not to mention, of course, that tax increases are anethema to the likes of Ryan. The Republicans may make a big noise about it — they have to save face — but in all likelihood they will steer clear of the fiscal cliff.
That said, if the Republicans were to push forward a more radical deficit reduction plan, albeit it less steep than the fiscal cliff, this could help or hinder Osborne’s far more modest proposals. It’s unlikely that the Conservatives would want to associate too closely with the Republican’s dog-eat-dog mentality, but if the US does succeed in cutting its budget without crippling growth and job creation, Osborne will come out stronger for it.
There’s foreign policy to think of too. Romney’s recent world tour was so gaffe-prone that he made Prince Philip appear positively saintly in comparison. The UK wasn’t prepared for the Olympics he said, the Palestinians are culturally inferior and if you probe him too deeply on his diplomatic standpoints one of his aides might ask you to kiss his ass.
Not only should we not expect, given Romney’s remarks, that our special relationship will mean we are spared any of his insults, but the idea that we will have yet another Republican prime minister with all the subtlety of a flying brick is a frightening one. It’s not clear yet whether Romney will be as hawkish as Bush (his strong remarks about Iran and China suggest he may be) but although at home people are tiring of Obama’s emotive yet empty rhetoric, this will be missed abroad.
Read more by Sophie McBain