Looking at the opinion polls, there is no contest for which of the presidential candidates would be better for Europe. In a survey published this week by U.K.-based YouGov, 90 percent of European voters said they would support Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. But does this lopsided support correspond to the true interests of Europeans?
The numbers are not entirely surprising. The Republican stance on emotive social issues such as abortion, healthcare and environmental protection create an almost unbridgeable cultural divide for many Europeans. On foreign policy, there are understandable fears in Europe that a Romney administration would downgrade the United Nations, increase the risks of war in the Middle East, or possibly provoke confrontations with Russia over Georgia or NATO enlargement.
However, if we focus on the issues that are preoccupying Europeans now en masse — global economic stagnation and the deepening euro crisis — then we reach a different conclusion. Maybe Europe should root for Romney, despite his social views.
Romney’s election could help the European economy and the euro for three reasons. The first is Romney’s tough Russia and China rhetoric. This could allow European companies, which already export two-and-a-half times as much as their U.S. rivals to China and eight-and-a-half times as much to Russia, to become even more dominant in these markets.
The second is Romney’s tax policy. Amid the many vague economic promises from both candidates about creating jobs, closing tax loopholes, balancing budgets and so on, only one stands out for its specificity, and makes its implementation after November 6 very likely: Romney’s commitment to cut income and corporate tax rates by 20 percent. It may be, as Mr. Obama has argued, that such huge tax cuts could not conceivably be offset by savings in public spending or tightening loopholes. But Romney has strongly suggested that he would cut taxes anyway, relying on a Keynesian argument that any resulting deficits would be temporary and would eventually close through faster economic growth.