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Posts Tagged ‘budget’

On Why I Will Not Vote for Mitt Romney

October 2, 2012 3 comments

This is part 2 of a 3-post, pre-debate series on my¬†feelings about each candidate and why I am voting the way that I am voting this November. Part 1, “On What I Don’t Like About Barack Obama,” can be seen here. Part 3, “On Why I am Voting for Barack Obama,” can be seen here.

When I was growing up, I remember commenting to my mother that it was silly that people voted so passionately on issues that were “less important,” rather than focusing on the real issues which I believed that the government should be tackling. By these less important issues, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was talking about social issues. I just couldn’t understand why the government was even concerned with things such as abortion and gay rights when there were budgets to make and foreign policy to craft and safety to ensure and safety nets to weave. I now understand that these issues are so important to people because there are people who feel exactly the opposite of me. They can’t understand how the government could sit idly by and let things like abortion and homosexuality go forth unhindered. And thus, my desire that the government not concern itself with such things is matched by others’ insistence that the government be active in that arena. And it was this realization that pretty much ruled out most Republicans for me for the foreseeable future.

However, there are times when my childhood instincts kick in; there are times when events call for other issues to be prioritized above the social issues. At times like these, I might consider voting for someone even with a stated refusal to believe in and/or understand basic science or what I consider common decency if that person was clearly and uniquely qualified to address a specific crisis. The fiscal and economic mess in which the country currently finds itself is actually one of those times. If there was a Republican who I thought was clearly the most able to bring the nation back to fiscal and economic health through responsible and compassionate means, I would absolutely be willing to give that man four years. Mitt Romney is not that man.

I have previously stated that the Republican idea of lowering taxes (especially for the wealthy) to spur economic growth is a myth. Today, I had the pleasure of listening to Bruce Bartlett–a former Treasury Department official under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush–in person as he frankly stated that this Republican assertion is bunk (he used coarser language). The data backs up the viewpoint of Bruce Bartlett and me. I honestly am not entirely sure how the opposing view persists in the face of so much data, but that’s an entirely different blog post that I’ve already written.

Here, we’re discussing Mitt Romney’s plan. As is well known by now, a Tax Policy Center report claimed that Romney’s plan is mathematically impossible without raising taxes on the middle class or abandoning revenue neutrality. Republican Marty Feldstein has argued that the Tax Policy Center Report is wrong. And then an article in Forbes pointed out that Feldstein’s numbers might be feasible, but they would constitute a likely tax increase on all those making above $100,000. As you can see, the Romney plan is a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a mythical version of growth economics that makes the rest of the debate moot. Romney’s views on the capital gains taxes further benefit the rich, and fly directly in the face of Ronald Reagan, a man Republicans love to channel but whose policies they choose to ignore. Reagan counted capital gains as conventional income for taxation purposes, and yet investment did not dry up.

Outside of tax policy, Romney wants to make blunt, across-the-board cuts to non-defense discretionary spending without accounting for which departments can or can’t absorb those cuts without affecting potentially important services. This is a lazy man’s budget cut devoid of the sort of in-depth analysis I would prefer for important decisions. Meanwhile, he wants to increase defense spending to 4% of the GDP. A fiscally responsible plan rarely involves increasing your largest expenditures while cutting taxes. On top of that, he wants to repeal the federal health care bill that was so closely based upon his state bill that learning about their tenets separately seems redundant (and I have been taught about both of them in a classroom setting over the past month).

So leaving aside the reputation of being an out-of-touch rich guy; leaving out the comments about the 47% that do not pay federal income taxes; leaving aside even the social issues with which I vehemently disagree, I could not vote for Mitt Romney. His prescriptions for the economy are recycled, debunked economics that clearly plays favorites to those who need no additional help. His answers on the budget are to make cuts that disregard who is impacted, but most likely hit the safety net and the poor the hardest. And his qualifications for doing these things are that he is, himself, a representative of a special interest group–rich business owners who make their money through capital gains. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but claiming that running a business prepares you to run the economy is like claiming that being a student qualifies you to be a teacher. Like his budget ideas, and like his tax policy, it just doesn’t add up.

On Why I Don’t Like Democrats

July 16, 2012 Leave a comment

A while back, I was on the mailing list of both the Republican and Democratic national parties, as well as both parties’ Governors’ Associations. As you could imagine, that led to a great deal of e-mail. Eventually, I decided that I couldn’t stand reading the Republican rhetoric, and I unsubscribed from their lists. I decided to stay on some of the Democratic lists, though, because I couldn’t stand their rhetoric, either. Confused?

The thing is that even as a proud and outspoken independent, sometimes it’s difficult for me to remember why it is that I don’t like Democrats (as a party, not individually). They are in favor of gay rights; I am in favor of gay rights. They are pro choice; I am pro choice. They think taxes need to be raised in a progressive fashion; I think taxes need to be raised in a progressive fashion. They blame President George W. Bush for overseeing the country from peace and surplus to a country in economic turmoil, two wars and increased debt; I blame President George W. Bush for those things, as well.

So with all of that agreement, sometimes it’s nice to have a little note pop up in your inbox that serves as a reminder that out-of-context, ugly, dialogue-twisting messages to serve their own political purpose come from both sides. Distortions and occasional lies are just status quo for both parties. That has again been made clear recently with the Obama campaign dropping the word “felony” into its anti-Bain rhetoric, when all sources privy to the goings-on at Bain during the time in question seem to agree that Romney was not in the wrong for the time in question. The factcheck.org entry on this issue is pretty thorough, if you’re curious.

So the Democrats are all part of the same, faulty system. But there’s something else that bothers me that’s far less quantifiable but also far more important. It seems to me like Democrats have a difficult time making tough choices. It’s actually what Congress is paid to do: come up with solutions to tough problems by making tough choices.

This shortcoming is most evident in terms of budgetary issues. Back when the Democrats controlled the House and the Senate (and the presidency), no budget was passed. The reason given in the article was to wait on the bipartisan debt reduction plan to be published, though once it was, those recommendations were not heeded, anyway. More of note from the article was the following quote:

House Democrats will not pass a budget blueprint in 2010, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will confirm in a speech on Tuesday. But Hoyer will vow to crack down on government spending, saying Democrats will enforce spending limits that are lower than what President Barack Obama has called for.

You may notice that Rep. Hoyer mentioned the need to cut spending and enact new spending limits, but failed to produce the document that decided what should be cut and by how much. A similar failure recently took place in my home state of Maryland. The problem is that while it is easy to attack Republican cuts (easy because cuts are unpopular and because they are making some really bad choices about what to cut), it’s much harder to come up with a workable, realistic blueprint that makes the necessary cuts.

Among the most important things that need to be addressed when meting out fiscal policy is entitlement reform. Any knowledgeable, objective person could tell you that. Many Democrats may have even admitted it at some point during their careers. However, because the Republicans have a plan for reform that the Democrats and the American people probably wouldn’t like too much, the Democratic talking point has been more about preserving Social Security and Medicare than fixing them. This is likely setting themselves up for predictable counter-arguments if they ever come up with a solid reform plan on their own (what goes around, comes around).

I could go on about specific policies or examples of times that I’ve disagreed with Democratic talking points, but there should never be an expectation of 100% agreement. I think the most important issues I have with the party are as stated: they are an active participant in a flawed party system and when push comes to shove, they fail to make the tough choice. When Republicans rail against the ACA (Obamacare), a common retort is “where’s the alternative plan?” When Democrats rail against the Paul Ryan budget, I would ask the same thing to them.