Welcome to Behind the Lines, a weekly conversation with Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley and BYU economist Val Lambson: Bagley:
My cartoon showing Romney moseying on his immigration stand could apply to any number of his other deeply held convictions: gay rights, gun control, abortion, health care and the individual mandate . . .
Lambson: An interesting criticism coming from an Obama supporter who backed Richard Nixon, but I recognize that one must make allowance for the foolishness of youth.
Bagley: Ah, the foolishness of middle age! Now that Romney is late middle-aged, I'm sure he wishes he could have those wasted years as a moderate Massachusetts governor back.
Lambson: Now is usually the time for candidates, having secured their nominations by appealing to the party faithful, to head for the center while attempting to brand the other side as extreme. So I expect we will see more adjustments in policy and stated beliefs on both sides before November.
Bagley: Run to the right in the primaries and to the center in the general election: that was advice to Republican candidates first articulated by the aforementioned Richard Nixon.
Just as Nixon had a secret plan to end the Vietnam war, Romney has a secret plan to rescue the economy, which is much like his secret plan to balance the budget, and bears a striking resemblance to his secret plan to reform immigration. The High Plains Drifter needs room to move and doesn't want to be fenced in by showing his cards too early (I know; mixed metaphors. But at least they're all Western-themed).
Lambson: Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam war seems to have been to declare victory and withdraw. I would approve if Romney had similar secret plans for rescuing the economy and reforming immigration: withdrawing some government from the economy and allowing peaceful people to immigrate freely to this nation of immigrants are arguably good plans. I doubt these are the policies in the cards Romney is hiding. It would be nice to hear more.
Bagley: We'd all like to hear specifics, but I put my money on bromides and platitudes this election cycle.
Lambson: If you can find someone foolish enough to take the other side of that bet, go easy on him or her.
The best comment for last week was by SuperEllipsoid. Here is the first paragraph of it, but it is all worth considering:
The volume of regulation multiplies when we move away from bright-line rules. Glass-Steagal imposed bright-line rules separating commercial and investment banks. Then we got rid of it, leaving nothing in its place. This deregulation brought us the financial crisis of 2008. Now, we have tried to wrap the Volcker Rule up into Dodd-Frank, and we have a mess of regulation. Prof. Lambson is right to observe that over-regulation is its own burden.