Dossier: Buddy Roemer

Political resume: Roemer failed in his initial bid for Congress in 1978 (as a Democrat) but won election in 1980 and served in the House from 1981-88. He left after winning election as governor of Louisiana, where he served from 1988-92. In 1991 he became a member of the Republican Party, but lost the gubernatorial election later in 1991 as well as a 1995 comeback bid.

He formally entered the 2012 Presidential race on March 3.

On campaign finance/election reform (three points): He has a key point right on his current home page: “(W)e will talk about a lot of issues in this campaign. But we will start by tackling special interest money that impacts all the rest.” Roemer claims he won’t take any contribution greater than $100 nor will he take PAC money.

It’s a very populist position to take, but it’s the wrong one. I equate money with speech, and placing an artificial restriction on contributions is a limit on speech in my eyes. (It’s also suicidal when you figure Barack Obama to raise $1 billion from special interests.) I’m deducting two points only because he’s consistent with this stance since his days in Congress.

On property rights (five points): This video explains how he feels about “imminent” (sic) domain. I essentially like what he says, but that 1% and blowing the spelling will lose him two points of the five. Give him three.

On the Second Amendment (seven points): I have the feeling I’m missing something, but the limited amount I can find on Buddy (like saying “I’m a Second Amendment guy”) would make me guess he won’t trifle with the Second Amendment. Three points seems fair enough.

On education (eight points): As governor, he linked teacher pay to performance and enhanced accountability standards. But that’s all I know and he hasn’t really touched on the subject yet in his one-man debates. So I can only give him one point.

On the Long War/veterans affairs (nine points): He is half-right on Libya, but seems to have a pretty good train of thought on the Long War in general. It’s perhaps his strongest issue to date. He gets six points.

On immigration (eleven points): This video gives a pretty good summary of Roemer’s viewpoint. There’s a lot to like, although it’s still a bit short on specifics. He gives the Chamber of Commerce some necessary criticism as well. I think six points is fair.

On energy independence (twelve points): “No more subsidies.” That’s at the heart of his energy remarks. And while it sounds like he’s foursquare for more drilling (after all, he comes from an oil state) I worry about the tariff on Middle Eastern oil he’s proposing because that sets a bad precedent. So I’m only giving him three points.

On entitlements (thirteen points): Like many others, he will ‘reform’ items within the system rather than change a flawed paradigm. He likes the Ryan Plan, “but it’s not good enough.” I like his idea of the opting out of Medicare option, though, so I’ll bump him up seven points. Maybe we can get Medicare to ‘wither on the vine’ yet.

On trade and job creation (fourteen points): Here is where I have some issues with Buddy, since he’s speaking about protectionism. The problem with this approach is that we cut ourselves out of other markets as they ratchet up a trade war, and the jobs won’t be created. I can’t give him any points.

On taxation and the role of government (fifteen points): Buddy has a pretty unique feature on his website where he takes and answers reader questions. In reading some of these, I can see where he would cut a number of unnecessary departments, and that’s a good start. He would also simplify the tax system but doesn’t go as far as to support the consumption-based tax system. I think I can give him ten of the fifteen points.

Intangibles (up to three points): Buddy is pro-life and believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, which are definite pluses. So he nets two points.

Total (maximum, 100 points): Buddy scores 39 out of 100 points, which puts him back in the pack.

Perhaps the thing which holds Roemer back in my eyes is his populist streak. Certainly he attempts to portray himself as a common man who’s beholden to no special interests. But being “free to lead” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if the leadership is in the wrong direction, and in the area of trade and job creation I think he needs to temper his protectionist approach.

Yet there is something appealing about the plain-spoken Roemer that could help him attract a few votes and a few dollars – certainly not enough to win the nomination or even come close but it should keep him in the race through at least the early primaries.

He’s also quite accessible to the average person, although who knows just how many questions his little-noticed campaign has received. It’s telling that one of the articles I link to notes that he had an audience of about 10 people at a New Hampshire campaign stop. Granted, that state is the home of retail politics but Roemer has a steep uphill climb.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.