CORPORATIONS IN CHARGE
In the infamous, secretly recorded video of Romney speaking to wealthy donors, he laments that there are limits to how much he can gut agencies and departments, such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which protect the public against the greed and avarice of corporations.
He will, undoubtedly, go as far as he can within those limits.
The Bush days of industries writing their own regulations will quickly return — but with a far more public directive from the top.
"A great parallel would be Ronald Reagan," says Jack Beermann, professor at the Boston University School of Law. Reagan took office during a recession and used that as a rationale to "make cutting regulations front and center."
Rapid deregulation is the cornerstone of Romney's campaign policies. He promises, from day one, to "direct all agencies to immediately initiate the elimination of Obama-era regulations" they deem burdensome.
More far-reaching is Romney's day-one pledge to place a zero-increase cap on regulatory costs. That is, no agency will be allowed to issue any new regulation that adds any cost to businesses, unless they include "offsetting cost reductions from the existing regulatory burden."
By the six-month mark, the gutting of regulations and reduction in enforcement will be emboldening risky behavior, and the future versions of the Enron, BP, and Merck fiascos will be underway.
But, contrary to public expectation, I'll go out on a limb and predict that this let-'em-loose philosophy might not extend to the financial industry, and in particular the dangerous influence of the too-big-to-fail banks.
In No Apology, Romney devotes a three-page section to the importance of dynamic government regulations, which "provide the predictability and stability that is needed for investment and risk-taking." Some Republicans in academia and think-tanks have even recognized the need to break up the huge banks, not for ideological reasons, but pragmatic ones.
To be sure, Romney inveighs against Dodd-Frank, and is unlikely to empower the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But he just might try to clamp down on the banks, for the sake of the investors.