Good advice for Romney: Declare war on debt

by Ryan Streeter on February 3, 2012. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Good words from Sebastian Mallaby in the FT:

[Romney’s] campaign is devoid of an animating idea. So here is a modest suggestion for Mr Romney – one that allows him to be both staunchly capitalist and stirringly radical, pro-business and yet mad as hell. Mr Romney should declare war on the central flaw of modern American capitalism: its addiction to debt. Government debt, household debt and especially bank debt should become his whipping boys. Equity-based capitalists – entrepreneurs who are willing to take the risk of owning things – should become his heroes.

This is a good idea for two reasons.

First, to Mallaby’s point about Romney lacking an animating idea, the biggest problem with this is that absent such an idea, other things fill it up – like Romney’s wealth or his claim to being a “manager” who’s good at “fixing” things or his patchy record.

The second reason this is a good idea is political. Obama can’t escape the facts about America’s debt and deficit spending under his watch. It’s a great issue to keep bringing up, because it’ll force Obama to do what he does well: blame others for the problem. And whenever he starts doing that, his numbers sag and he looks weak.

The whole Mallaby piece is behind the pay firewall here.