And his economic policies would be warmed-over Bush Sr. and Dole.
In 1980, George H.W. Bush was making the same argument against Ronald Reagan that Mitt Romney is making this year. Bush argued that he was the most electable against Jimmy Carter. The big money Republican establishment was behind Bush because they feared that Reagan was too radical to win, and would carry the entire party down to historic defeat, like Goldwater did.
Reagan even lost Iowa to Bush on that argument. But Reagan carried forward the pro-growth, supply-side economic message that ultimately swept him to the nomination. That message then led to landslide victory in the fall, carrying the Republicans to control of the Senate, and effective control of the House.
Real world election results showed just who was the most electable. After two Reagan landslide wins, it took George Bush just one term to trash the Reagan coalition, crawling out of town in 1992 with just 38 percent of the vote, barely better than Alf Landon in 1936.
Long History of Rejecting Conservatism
Romney assured Massachusetts voters when he was running for the Senate in 1994 that he did not want to go back to Reaganomics. He said during that campaign, "I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush."
Romney was also one of the few Republicans in 1994 to refuse to sign on to Newt Gingrich's Contract with America. He said during that campaign, "In my view, it is not a good idea to go into a contract, like what was organized by the Republican Party in Washington, laying out a whole series of things that the party says 'these are the things we are going to do.' I think that's a mistake." That mistake led to an historic Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. But Romney was one of the few Republicans to lose that year.
True to form, even today Romney is effectively promising not to take America back to pro-growth Reaganomics. Cowed by President Obama's class warfare rhetoric, Romney promises to eliminate taxes on capital gains, interest, and dividends, but only for middle income Americans. He says he would do that because they, not the wealthy, were the ones most hurt by the recession.
But effective tax policy does not distribute tax cuts based on who "needs" a tax cut the most. That is Obama neo-socialist class rhetoric. Effective tax policy enacts tax cuts that will do the most to promote economic growth and prosperity.
That is what Reagan did in cutting tax rates across the board for everybody, including the wealthy who have the most resources to invest. That is what the middle class and working people actually need most, cutting tax rates that will promote their jobs, higher wages, and personal prosperity.
Romney the Republican establishment businessman is telling us with his limited, crabbed policy kowtowing to Obama's class warfare rhetoric that he feels, like Bush I and Republican RINO moderates generally, that he cannot explain and defend good supply-side policy to the public. Given his background and who he is as a rich Wall Street takeover artist, he personally may be right about that. Who is going to take seriously a Wall Street millionaire calling for tax cuts for millionaires? That is why he personally is not a good vessel for carrying the Republican standard this year. He is actually a perfect caricature for the neo-Marxist class warfare arguments of Obama and the Occupy Wall Street rabble. That is one reason why Romney, in fact, is the least electable.
Romney's understanding of economic policy as a businessman is overblown. There is no real history of those with private business experience coming to Washington and making good policy there as a result. See, for example, Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. The term that free market activists use in Washington to refer to the business reps they know from first hand experience is "corporate pukes."
Only those from private business steeped in ideology and intellectual battle have done well advancing the free market cause in Washington, such as William Simon.
RINO Country Club Republican Establishment Takeover
On monetary policy, Romney again thinks like an establishment, country club, Republican businessman. He thinks devaluing the dollar against the Chinese currency is the key to restoring growth to America. But that cheap dollar policy actually only discourages the investment in America essential to getting the economy booming, as investors fear lower returns from a declining dollar, inflation, and the boom and bust cycles that such policies cause. Reagan favored a strong dollar policy that slew a historic inflation, and drew skyrocketing investment capital to America from around the world, resulting in a historic, 25 year, economic boom.
With Mitt Romney as the nominee, the Republican Washington Establishment will be back in charge, and the Reagan Revolution will be long forgotten history. That was the meaning of the endorsement of Romney by John McCain, embraced by Romney with such relish.