Winning the Present with TR and Civility

It might seem like an odd pairing, but what the GOP field needs is TR and civility to win the present — and defeat President Barack Obama in 2012.

TR, of course, refers to larger-than-life Republican Theodore Roosevelt, who served as president from 1901-1908, then ran on the Progressive Bull Moose ticket in 1912.

While he was a rock-ribbed Republican, when theory ran afoul of doing what’s right by the little guy, he always chose the latter.

His brand of politics is perfect for slaying today’s dragons that have gutted the middle class and precipitated runaway spending.

Take, for example, housing prices. The Case-Shiller index recently revealed they’ve declined more steeply than during the Great Depression. The fact that 75% of consumers can’t even get loans to purchase a home, let alone refinance, is a big reason why.

Investment banker Christopher Whalen, whose father served in Ronald Reagan’s “kitchen cabinet,” says the way around this problem is to raise the FHA loan cap and help small and medium size banks increase lending. This would mean giving more power and money to community banks. Obama prefers letting Wall Street call the shots — in spite of its role in precipitating the 2007-08 housing meltdown — while the little guy gets slammed.

But, Republicans, Whalen says, should out-progressive Democrats and do what is right, which is TR writ large. TR basically stared down Wall Street, thus saving it from itself; so should today’s Republicans.

One hundred years after TR’s Bull Moose gambit, many in the GOP field seem well-positioned to take up his mantle.

For instance, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty emphasizes Main Street production over Wall Street consumption. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has that “can do” spirit. And Texas Governor Rick Perry shares TR’s tough-as-nails persona.

Then there’s Mitt Romney, who, like TR, favors universal health care as the key to economic stability, signing it into law as governor of Massachusetts (2003-2007).

Many conservatives deride the 2006 Massachusetts law as ObamaCare’s twin and Tea Party poison — a comparison Obama smugly reinforces. But, in fact, ObamaCare and RomneyCare are apples and oranges. Whereas ObamaCare reduces what doctors are paid; RomneyCare ensures that doctors are, in fact, paid when a patient, who could otherwise afford it, lacks insurance.

Also, as Romney underscored in Monday’s CNN debate in Manchester, RomneyCare did not raise taxes, whereas ObamaCare does — to the tune of $500 billion — in addition to shifting $500 billion out of Medicare to fund it.

Sixty-three percent of Massachusetts residents favor the law, according to a recent poll by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Boston Globe, up 10 percentage points in the past two years, with only 21 percent opposed.