It’s January 20, 2013 at noon. Mitt Romney has just been sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 45th president of the United States of America. Yes, this is the nightmare many of us have been having since the first debate, and I would like to share how I think this would play out.
Romney was elected in a very close election, winning Ohio by a few thousand votes to capture a majority of the Electoral College. President Obama won the popular vote. The Republican Party’s momentum allowed for Republican candidates to win in Senate elections in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Virginia, along with Senator Scott Brown’s reelection here in Massachusetts.
This caused the Senate to be comprised of 50 Democratic members and 50 Republican members, meaning that the Republican party would hold control of the chamber through Vice President Paul Ryan’s tiebreaking vote.
Meanwhile, Republicans maintained their control of the House of Representatives, effectively in control of all three segments of the elected government.
A Democratic filibuster in the Senate might prevent President Romney from actually repealing Obamacare on “Day one,” but he would only need a simple majority in the Senate to defund the act through a process called “reconciliation,” that is, amending a previous law with just over half of the possible votes. This would allow for a Romney administration to effectively make the law moot. Through reconciliation, Republicans would also be able to enact massive tax cuts, mainly for the wealthiest individuals and largest corporations.
However, without 60 Republican votes in the Senate, a Romney administration would not be able to embark on some of the other more ambitious aspirations of the Republican Party.
These include drastically increasing off-shore drilling, enacting a national Arizona-style immigration law and turning Medicare into a voucher system.
A Romney presidency would also be disastrous for foreign affairs. The last time a Republican was president, under George W. Bush, the United States was heavily criticized by our allies, such as France and Germany during the Iraq War, for abiding by unilateral, destructive policies.
The Obama administration has taken many steps to not only improve our image overseas but to make the world a safer place. The Obama administration touts the signing of the New START treaty with Russia, which allows for United States oversight of Russian nuclear programs, an invaluably important provision supported by presidents and presidential candidates since Reagan—until now, that is.
A President Romney would withdraw from the New START treaty. This would put America at egregious risk purely for the appeasement of Romney’s political party. A President Romney would also further exacerbate tensions with Iran, and would be more likely to go to war. As we have seen in the recent vice-presidential debate, a Romney administration would be dubious of economic or diplomatic sanctions against Iran. The result would surely be military action.
A Romney administration would repeal Obamacare, make permanent the Bush tax cuts, and return to the same style of diplomacy as President Bush. These are not trivial accomplishments by any means. However, they are surely not the Armageddon that many on the left are predicting from a Romney presidency. That is, unless one key event occurs.
The Supreme Court is currently comprised of four liberals, four extreme conservatives and one moderate conservative. One of the liberals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is currently 79 years old. She has had multiple battles with cancer in the past, but is currently in remission. If Justice Ginsburg would have to retire or otherwise be replaced during a Romney presidency, it might very well be the end of the world that many are predicting. Romney has a history of being called “not conservative enough,” so he would have an added impetus to appoint an ultra-conservative to the court. Otherwise, he would risk drawing a primary challenger from the ultra-Conservative wing of the Republican Party for his possible re-election bid in 2016.
This new Supreme Court justice would alter many of the most important cases to come before the court. Once he or she took office, the new justice would be the deciding vote in a number of key cases including: a case overturning Roe v. Wade, a case overturning N.F.I.B. v. Sebilius (striking Obamacare) and a case that would prevent a national recognition of marriage equality for a generation. Further, I feel there is a very low chance that Romney’s nominee for the court would ever side with liberal justices. If someone claims that a Romney administration will not be able to accomplish anything significant because they could not block a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, they would be simply wrong. With the smallest of majorities in Congress, the theoretical President Romney could, for all intent and purposes, repeal Obamacare and make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
Without congressional approval, a Republican administration in the White House could severely alter foreign relations with other nations. However, most importantly, a Romney administration could destroy the integrity of our Supreme Court for a generation to come.