The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.
NEW YORK (
) -- As the presidential primaries continue, it seems increasingly likely that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will eventually win the Republican nomination. Current polls show President Obama enjoying a solid lead over Governor Romney in the general election, but a lot can happen between now and November. Should Mitt Romney win, here's a list of 10 things he
do as president.
. The situation in Syria is volatile and will probably get worse before it gets better. Some politicians, perhaps most notably Senator John McCain, are calling for the U.S. to intervene militarily. Candidate Romney hasn't yet spoken out in favor of bombing Syria, but President Romney should resist any pressure to do so. The U.S. has finally gotten (mostly) out of Iraq, and is winding down its war in Afghanistan. Our troops are exhausted and deserve a well-earned break. If the U.S. intervenes in Syria we should do it with diplomats, not combat troops.
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Inflate the military budget
. Mitt Romney is proposing a slew of cuts to trim the national budget, many of which have merit. At the same time, however,
The Boston Globe
reports that Romney has pledged to commit at least 4% of the nation's gross domestic product to "core" defense spending, with many war expenses tacked on top.
Romney's proposed expenditures are not only extravagant, they reflect a fundamental failure to grasp how technology has changed modern warfare. Instead of buying fleets of new ships and aircraft just for the sake of having them, Romney would be wiser to propose targeted spending on research and development to ensure that America's military is the best, not just the biggest.
. There's a lot to dislike about the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a rambling behemoth of a statute that won't be fully understood for years. Candidate Romney has promised to repeal the act, "recognizing that some revisions make sense" (again from
The Boston Globe
). Thus far, however, Romney has offered no explicit proposal for what he'd put in place instead. Repealing financial services reform without enacting alternative safeguards would leave the U.S. in the same precarious position it was before the 2008 financial meltdown, hardly a desirable outcome. A more thoughtful, surgical approach to amending the act would likely yield better results.
Repeal health care reform
. Like Dodd-Frank, the Affordable Care Act is a lengthy, complicated statute -- and its passage is one of President Obama's proudest achievements. Candidate Romney has said that, if elected, he would issue executive orders excusing the states from compliance and push for the act's immediate repeal. Again, though, a blanket repeal would deprive consumers of needed care without offering better options. Romney would do well to develop an alternative proposal before scrapping the act altogether.
Drill indiscriminately for oil
. Romney believes that, to lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil, oil producers should drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Pacific Outer Continental Shelves. He has promised "day one" to pen executive orders to issue permits as quickly as possible. However, as we learned from the
Valdez shipwreck in Alaska and the
disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it's a lot easier to spill oil than to clean it up. Instead of rushing to authorize oil drilling that could do lasting harm, President Romney should slow down and make sure that any drilling in environmentally sensitive areas will carefully managed before it begins.
. Some of candidate Romney's statements on the death penalty suggest, as president, he might execute terrorists who launch attacks on the U.S. While that position may play well with some U.S. voters, it fails to take into account the likely impact such executions would have abroad. We've just seen two U.S. soldiers and at least 13 civilians killed during protests after our officials burned copies of the Koran; just imagine the conflagration that would ensue if the U.S. were to start public executions.
If the war on terror is intended to demonstrate who we are as a nation, it would be better to give fair trials to accused terrorists and, if they're convicted, humanely incarcerate them.
Defund Planned Parenthood
. Romney made headlines last week when he proposed defunding Planned Parenthood as a step toward balancing the federal budget. Given the size of the national deficit, defunding Planned Parenthood would make about as much difference as chucking pennies down a well. If President Romney wants to take on Planned Parenthood and all the good it does, he needs to do so directly, not by playing funding games.
Withhold needed apologies
. Romney's book,
, is a manifesto of American exceptionalism. He seems to think it unpatriotic ever to apologize for the U.S. (although he's acknowledged that it's sometimes acceptable to apologize for things our government has done). Unfortunately, the U.S. is made up of fallible human beings just like every other human institution on Earth, and sometimes our policies and actions cause offense abroad. If elected president, Romney will need to park his machismo and apologize when that happens.
Keep mum about his faith
. Some voters admit to discomfort with Romney's Mormonism, but that discomfort might well be alleviated if they knew more about it. The Mormon Church is a respected institution to which millions of Americans belong. If, instead of sidestepping the matter, Romney were to educate voters, speaking directly and passionately about his beliefs, greater understanding might well breed acceptance.
Take premature positions
. Candidate Romney has been accused more than once of flip-flopping on the issues. A careful review of his positions suggests, however, that his real problem may be jumping too soon to strong points of view, then having to backtrack to a more nuanced stance as factors contradicting him come to his attention. If elected president, Romney would be wise to ensure that his positions are well researched and defensible before going public with them.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.