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Uprising

Wednesday, Aug 1, 2012, 11:25 am

Romney in Poland

By Bhaskar Sunkara

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Mitt Romney has gone global and the results are hilarious. With the amount of gaffes he’s unleashed on his world tour, you’d think that he was auditioning for a buddy comedy and not “leader of the free world.”

According to the admittedly odious Daily Mail, British officials thought that Romney’s trip to the United Kingdom was "a total car crash, even worse than Sarah Palin's." He fared no better in the Middle East.

"Yesterday, he destroyed negotiations by saying Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and today he is saying Israeli culture is more advanced than Palestinian culture," a Palestinian leader commented before asking, "Isn't this racism?"

Things were a bit better in Poland. There Romney met with Lech Walesa, once of the Solidarity labor movement that toppled Stalinism in the country, now a neoliberal with little allegiance to the Polish working class.

After the meeting, Romney spoke glowingly about austerity:

"Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means,” Romney said. “Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.”

The candidate suggested that we should emulate Poland’s transition towards a small, accountable government, because you know ever since “Obamacare” passed we’ve been living in a virtual Soviet gulag. Can you imagine the fallout if Obama did something similar, like lauding the European welfare state on a trip to Sweden?

But even on the specifics Romney’s, as Mark Adomanis points out, dead wrong:

If you want to find a country that has truly embraced austerity look to Spain, Ireland, or Estonia. But since Poland has been running significant budget deficits for most of the past 20 years, it’s basically impossible to cite as an example of the wonders of fiscal discipline and balanced budgets. Basically over the past several years Poland hasn’t done anything that the Republicans recommend. The fact that is has continued to grow offers many lessons on economic and fiscal management, but these lessons are precisely the opposite of the ones that Romney suggested.

Austerity programs and cries for balanced budgets are all about asserting class power, not necessary medicine for ailing economies.

Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @sunraysunray.

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