By Danielle Cook
November 1, 2012 (Jacumba)--Much talk is being bandied about especially by conservatives on how there could possibly be undecided voters out there. After all, there hasn’t been such a clear choice between the two parties in years (goes their argument). The implication is that we are stupid or uninformed. In reality, it isn’t as simple as that.
Like many Independents, I have a love/hate relationship with election years. As someone who isn’t tied to either major political party, I am like the un-attached and solo guest at a Valentine party, relegated to the sidelines and watching the enthusiastic bonding of committed couples with envy.
As a Libertarian- leaning independent voter, better aligned economically with conservatives (the ones that want to limit government), but socially with progressives, I also have to sort through all the suspect sound-bites and ugliness from both side’s surrogates in order to determine which candidate is the better of two evils. This is the hate part.
The love part is that I am a political junkie and fascinated by the way people choose their government and how that choice is implemented. This means in election years, I probably spend way too much time watching MSNBC and Fox news, listening to NPR and conservative radio and researching what is said by BOTH parties to uncover the truth or, as close to the truth as possible. This is what makes election choices so hard.
Because I am not aligned with either party, I vote for the candidate. I do not vote based on what candidates say during the heated campaign season since past elections have shown that most candidates will say anything to win. I put candidates stump speeches in context with their experience level, how they have governed in the past, who their friends are, what their voting record has been and I look at their ability and willingness to work with other political parties. I find that this is a much better predictor of how a candidate will govern as President. President Obama has failed the test in all of these areas as far as I am concerned.
I find President Obama very likable. By all accounts he is a good father and husband to Michelle. I cheered when he overturned “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” and again when he stated that he would not back the wrongly titled Defense of Marriage Act (I am a Libertarian after all). Unfortunately, I have major concerns about his failed economic and foreign policies. I have also grown weary of his continual blaming of the Bush administration for his own administration’s failures. Yes, he inherited a mess from Bush but he has had four years, two with a Democratic majority in Congress and the Senate, to get the country back on track and has stumbled badly. We are nowhere near where we should be in the recovery.
As a Libertarian, social issues are important to me. Libertarians believe that the government should stay out of citizen’s personal lives. We see this as a freedom of religion and a Constitutional right. If you look at how Romney has governed in the past, you can see he has taken moderate or even liberal positions on social issues (for a Republican). I am not as concerned in this area as I would be if he was a right-wing social conservative. Even so, I do not feel that social issues should be the heaviest weighted factor for this election. Given today’s challenges, I believe economic and national security issues should hold greater weight.
Economically, America is in big trouble. We have 23 Americans still out of work and scores of others who have given up. There can be no argument that the big spending Bush administration left the country in dire straits. The country was in a recession when Obama took over and the deficit was $3 trillion dollars. Obama promised to cut the deficit in half during his first term in office and he promised that if we passed his stimulus plan he would keep the unemployment rate at under 8%. He has failed at both promises.
Obama has ignored entitlement reform, signed payroll tax cuts that widened deficits, and promoted the misleading idea that simply raising taxes on the rich will take care of much of our monetary problems. In each year since Obama took office, the government has borrowed, or is projected to borrow, well over a trillion dollars, pushing the government's total debt to $16 trillion. If he continues at the same pace, the debt will soon be over $140,000 per household. On Obama's watch, the federal government has been spending at a rate equal to 24.4% of the economy (the highest rate among presidents since World War II).
Household incomes for all Americans are rapidly declining. If you look at when the recession ended in June, 2009, the decline going forward has been greater than it was during the recession. Three years into the Obama recovery, median family income dropped nearly 5% by June, 2012 as compared to June, 2009. That is nearly twice the decline of 2.6% that occurred during the recession from December, 2007 until June, 2009. As the Wall Street Journal summarized in its August 25-26 weekend edition, “For household income, in other words, the Obama recovery has been worse than the Bush recession.”
I believe that this has happened not because President Obama is a socialist or “hates America” as some right wing pundits say, but because he does not have a sufficient understanding of business economics. Obama has never been a governor or a business owner; he has not had to manage complex budgets and payrolls. He simply has no applicable experience to draw on.
Romney has been an experienced governor, global business owner and past CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney worked alongside a Democratic legislature to cut Massachusetts then deficit-ridden budget by $1.6 billion. As governor, he reduced unemployment and increased household income. Outside experts say his administration excelled at efficiencies that help bureaucracies run better, such as streamlining permit approvals and modernizing jobs programs. Oh sure, the picture was probably not as rosy as his campaign paints it, but if you look carefully (and at un-biased reports), the facts are there. He also did this while working with a legislature that was 87% Democratic. As the CEO of the 2002 Olympics, Romney took a financially troubled, badly managed and scandal- laden organization and completely turned things around. This proves to me that he has the right leadership skills and can reach across the aisle and work with the opposition. Romney has proven he can get the right things done, isn’t this the kind of leader that we want?
You +1'd this publicly. Undo
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare (or the federal health care law), is another economic disaster waiting in the wings. When I was still in the corporate world, my employer health care plan went up 22% (a far greater leap than usual) because of Obama care and I could no longer see my same doctor (both situations Obama said would not happen). There are all kinds of hidden taxes in the plan that will hit the middle class hard including a 2.3% tax on medical devices such as stents and pacemakers (the manufacturers will just pass the costs on to us) a new $2,500 annual cap on Flexible Spending Accounts (there was no cap before) and an increase on the floor of allowable health care deductions from 7.5% to 10% adjusted gross income.
I do believe we need some kind of national health care plan. Obama care is not the answer. Proof of this is that he had to give waivers to over 220 unions and other organizations to get it passed (is it just a coincidence that the unions were also big contributors to his campaign?). By the way, these new taxes that will hit the middle class were designed to kick in in 2013, comfortably after the 2012 Presidential election. Another coincidence? Read the entire bill, it is available on-line. Your jaw will drop. Romney has pledged to eliminate Obama care and replace it with something better. Based upon his track record, I believe he will.
In the foreign policy area, Obama has had some successes. One big success is that unlike Bush, Obama vigorously pursued and killed Bin Laden and should get big kudos for this. It is important to recognize though, that a successful assassination does not equate to a coherent and strong foreign policy.
Obama has failed in several key foreign policy areas: China for one. President Obama, during his 2008 campaign, criticized President Bush for taking “out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion … so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back.” But Obama has been unable to slow the rapidly mounting debt. The nation owed $10.6 trillion on Jan. 20, 2009, when he was sworn in, and has added another $5.4 trillion since – more than Bush piled up in two terms. Chinese growth is slowing and Obama has offered no answers or plans on what to do when the global house of financial cards collapses.
Obama has weakened our relationship with Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East, and failed in his rapprochement attempts with the Muslim world as the anti-American riots across the Middle East in September and the Benghazi debacle prove. The Arab world continues to hate America as much as it ever did, despite Obama's outreach efforts, which have at times cringingly approached the level of groveling. Unlike bin Laden, al Qaeda is very much still alive. It is not on the run, or in disarray, as the administration keeps saying. Developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere show this clearly. Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead, but so is Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, killed at the hands of bin Laden's followers.
Benghazi is particularly difficult to understand as the story of what happened keeps changing (by the Democrats) and there is perhaps too much partisan positioning (by the Republicans) around the tragedy. There are some embarrassing facts that have already come to light that President Obama cannot ignore. In a May 3, 2012, email, the State Department denied a request by a group of Special Forces assigned to protect the U.S. embassy in Libya to continue their use of a DC- 3 airplane for security operations throughout the country. This was not refused because of a budget issue as Nancy Pelosi suggests (she tried to blame the Republican controlled Congress for cutting the State Department’s budget) but was refused for some other reason. Under oath at the September Government Oversight and Reform Committee’s hearings on Benghazi, the Obama Administration’s own State Department officials said finances were NOT an issue in the decision. Transcripts are available on-line-check it out. There is also Obama’s puzzling contradiction of claiming on National TV (in his second debate) that he did indeed call the Benghazi attack a” terrorist action” the day after the event in a Rose Garden speech- yet for weeks after the Rose Garden speech, he and his spokespeople appeared on multiple TV shows claiming the attack was not terrorism but a spontaneous action of a mob from anger over a video. Does he suffer from amnesia?
In Afghanistan, President Obama inherited a situation from former President Bush that was shaky but salvageable. It is unfortunate and puzzling that when our generals said they needed 40,000 troops they were only given 30,000. Obama has also promised to be totally out of Afghanistan by 2014. This withdrawal has played well in campaign speeches. Meanwhile, American and Afghani deaths have skyrocketed since he promised to leave, a promise seen in the Middle East as weakness.
In conclusion, Obama’s domestic promises to cut the deficit, lower unemployment under 8% and create significant new jobs turned out to be hollow campaign promises. We have only seen modest and erratic drops in unemployment and job creation has been anemic. His supposed crowning domestic achievement of Obamacare has already caused health policies to skyrocket, and when the new taxes tied to the program kick in, the middle class will suffer more.
Without a strong economy, America will continue to decline whether we admit it or not. This affects our national security. Four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits, even if not primarily Obama's fault, leave the country weaker than when he assumed office.
I believe President Obama's overseas policies have placed Americans around the world in jeopardy. I believe Obama is setting us up as targets with his puzzling policies of “leading from behind”, indecisiveness, and apologizing for America ( again, seen as weakness in the Arab world). I believe he has allowed Al-Qaeda to gain strength because of our weakness and has created a leadership vacuum in his dealings with the Middle East. Undesirable militants will always rush to fill such a vacuum and they are doing so.
It is sad that this campaign season is rife with both sides trying to demonize each other’s candidate and supporters. Romney is not an unfeeling capitalist who wants to send women back to the 1950’s, Obama is not a foreign born American -hating socialist. Really, Obama is not a bad guy, he just hasn’t been effective. Why would we want to continue with the failed policies of the last four years? (Oops, sounds like Obama in 2004 when he was talking about Bush).
It is time for a change, Romney is not perfect, but no candidate is. I believe he is sufficiently different from Bush and that he and Ryan have some economic ideas worth considering. I also believe (again based upon his past record) that he will reach out across the aisle and seek democratic input for improving our economy and making us stronger abroad. Obama wants to take more money from the most successful citizens (the one’s that create jobs) and “redistribute” it to the lower income. This will have the effect of creating a huge welfare class dependent upon the government and at its mercy. Romney and Ryan in contrast,want to give all citizen’s the tools and freedom’s to create their own wealth while still keeping a safety net in place for those that truly need it. This does present a clear choice. There are many issues on which I disagree with Republicans. However, I am more confident about economic recovery, the future of our children and national security with Romney at the helm.
Finally, I urge everyone out there that is still undecided, to ignore the rhetoric of each party and do your own research. You may come to a different conclusion than I did, but at least it will be an informed decision. For all my friends who vote strictly party, remember when the voting is over, no matter which candidate wins, we are all still American’s who love our country. Let’s just agree to disagree, support whoever wins and leave all the personal insults and vitriol behind.
The views expressed in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.