In an interview with Fareed Zakaria that aired over the weekend, George Soros predicted that if Mitt Romney becomes president, he'll pursue an economic stimulus plan:
George Soros: ... the Republicans don't want to face elections where Obama can claim to have sort of seen the economy recover. So they will continue to push for austerity, no new taxes, and therefore cutting of services, which will depress economic activity and employment.
After the elections, if the Republicans win, actually they'll undergo a miraculous transformation where they discover that actually it wouldn't be so bad if maybe we can afford to have some stimulus.
Fareed Zakaria: So you think Mitt Romney, if elected would pursue a stimulus bill?
George Soros: I'm pretty sure that would happen....
I really, really don't think so. My gut tells me that Soros is wrong and David Frum's gloss on the speech Grover Norquist gave at CPAC last week is correct:
Norquist: Romney Will Do As Told
... In his charmingly blunt way, Norquist articulated out loud a case for Mitt Romney that you hear only whispered by other major conservative leaders.
They have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives....
The requirement for president?
Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.
The principal piece of "legislation that has already been prepared," and that Romney would rubber-stamp, is, according to Norquist, the Paul Ryan budget.
I find that entirely plausible. It exactly matches the M.O. of all the GOP governors who got elected in 2010: Get in and start enacting the agenda before the voters know what hit them. (And, yes, I know that doing this got most of the Teabag Year Zero governors into trouble with the voters, but I'm not sure their demise is guaranteed, and I'm not sure they care in any case. I'm sure the Kochs and their allies will take care of all of them if they get big chunks of the wingnut agenda enacted and then lose office via electoral defeat or recall.)
Many of us assume, like Soros, that the Republicans know they're destroying the economy through legislative intransigence. I'm not so sure. I think a lot of them by now have actually drunk the Rand/Laffer Kool-Aid and think tax cuts will unleash economic nirvana. I think some sincerely believe that if budget cuts hurt ordinary people, screw 'em -- they should sink or swim in a Randian world. And then there's Romney, who is just, well, pliable.
If he's the nominee, I worry that voters in the middle (and, for that matter, some on the left) will come to the same general conclusion as Soros. But we can't run that risk. Just to be on the safe side, we have to assume that Norquist is right.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)
UPDATE: See also "Mitt Romney Tells CPAC He'll Cut Social Security Benefits, Begin Privatizing Medicare," at Crooks and Liars.