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I’ve been a little negative (okay, very negative) about the GOP presidential field in recent weeks, so I should give credit where it is due.  Good speech by Romney today.  Taken in outline, the spending cuts and entitlement reforms he talks about are probably big enough to avoid national bankruptcy and moderate enough to be within political reality.  He avoided the twin temptations of right-of-center fantasy budgeting (namely easy answers and phony radicalism.)  He didn’t talk as if you could get to a sustainable budget primarily by cutting waste, fraud and abuse.  He also didn’t pretend that he would offer a balanced budget in his first year as President.  I have quibbles.  He was more detailed about how he is going to cut the Corporation for Public Broadcasting than for how much he is going to cut Medicare spending.  On the other hand, I think Romney’s plan to maintain a defined benefit version of Medicare FFS in competition with private plans is definitely more politically prudent and possibly better policy than Paul Ryan’s plan to convert Medicare entirely into premium support for the purchase of private plans.  Romney’s speech isn’t the last word.  He still needs to outline a tax policy that will be able to pay for the spending that will remain even if all of his proposed cuts and reforms are enacted, but this is a very realistic start.  It was the speech of a guy running for President and who is serious about enacting center-right reforms (and that includes being serious about winning over swing-voters to a responsible center-right agenda.)  Maybe Romney isn’t really the guy he played today.  But maybe he is.  And we need someone who approximates the Romney of today.

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