Mitt Romney tells people he won't fire federal workers or cut education spending. He says he'll spend more on the military. He sounds like a big-government guy. Or is he just pandering for votes?
Ann Coulter came on my TV show to defend Romney.
"What you call pandering is called getting elected," Coulter said.
Romney says he'll repeal Obamacare. Great! But he wants to keep popular parts: coverage for pre-existing conditions and keeping grown kids on their parents' policies until age 26. Those mandates are popular. But that's not insurance. That's welfare.
"If we do not repeal Obamacare in the next few years, America takes the first step into 1,000 years of darkness. ... Romney is far more free market than any recent Republican candidate, including George Bush. What Romney is talking about here is the free market."
But that's not the free market. It's a forced handout.
"If it's popular, it will be provided on the free market. There are insurance products we can't even think of, including buying insurance for your unborn children. ... The problem with health care — and the reason Romneycare was a libertarian solution for a governor to provide because the governor can't repeal all the federal government stuff — is that right now, you already have government intervention. Government pays for nearly 50 percent of all health care in America. It is already 50 percent socialist. Romney is going to roll it back, apply free-market magic, and everything you want covered is going to be covered."
But he says he will force every insurance company to cover pre-existing conditions.
"He's not saying 'force.' ... The free market will cover it. I promise you that's what he means."
Really? He does say, "Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan." That sounds like force. A free market is voluntary. But I decided to move on.
Romney wants to increase military spending. America is going broke, and yet we still spend about as much on "defense" as all other countries combined. How can we afford this?
"For one thing, I do trust Romney to cut a lot of government — more than Ronald Reagan did. That's why we need Romney right now as much as we needed Reagan in 1980. This is a free-market guy. He saved companies from going into bankruptcy. He saved the Olympics from going into bankruptcy. In Massachusetts — the Soviet Union — he balanced the budget and cut taxes. You need someone who'll go through the budget line by line and look at the things that can be cut."
But he says he's going to increase military spending by $2 trillion!
"With a booming economy we're going to have under Romney, we will have so much money we won't know where to spend it."
I moved on again. In one debate with Obama, Romney said, "I don't have any plan to cut education funding." He doesn't? Why not? Education is a local responsibility. The federal government wastes $100 billion every year, intruding on local schools. But Romney won't even cut that?
Coulter wouldn't defend her candidate on that point.
"But I will just say in his defense ... he said, 'We want to send that money to the parents.' He's talking about vouchers there."
My last complaint about Romney was his promise to label China a currency-manipulator, and if China doesn't respond, raise tariffs. So he wants a trade war? That would hurt everyone. And raising tariffs means Americans pay more for things.
"You're having a kneejerk reaction to the word 'tariffs.' ... That's not the issue. The issue is the intellectual (property) theft. ... Every libertarian I know is very concerned about intellectual theft."
Well, some libertarians don't think that's theft, but that's another story. Romney mostly talks about the Chinese currency, not intellectual property, and yet currency manipulation is something our Federal Reserve has been known to do. If China devalues its currency, Chinese people suffer, but we Americans get to buy cheaper products. We win!
Coulter dodged my argument. "If we continue for five more seconds on currency manipulation," Coulter said, "I'm going to need a bottle of NoDoz."
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="http://www.johnstossel.com" <http://www.johnstossel.com>>johnstossel.com</a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.