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Posts Tagged ‘election 2012’

On Why I am Voting for Barack Obama

October 3, 2012 4 comments

This is part 3 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, and part 2, “On Why I am Not Voting for Mitt Romney,” can be seen here.

Before I really dive into why I’m voting for Barack Obama, I want to comment a bit on the decision-making process in general. I’m going into my third post on the candidates and my voting decision, and I have not mentioned Bain Capital, tax returns, or dogs on cars; I have also not mentioned hope, change, great speeches, dog eating, socialism, or birth certificates. I do not mention this to say that I’m better or above the typical voter, but because I think that most people feel this way. Most people do not want to make decisions based upon rhetoric and superfluous controversies, but it’s the bulk of what they’re fed and hey, they want to eat. I’m trying an alternative diet.

So I’ve already listed why I have some qualms about Barack Obama. And I’ve also explained why I would cast my vote against Mitt Romney. But I also greatly prefer to be voting for something, not just against other things. Despite the rhetoric that Barack Obama cannot run on his record, I actually think he offers a great deal for which I want to cast my vote.

Race to the Top

If someone were to tell you that they wanted to get a large number of schools to improve by only providing funding to a select few schools and they would do so by providing competition among schools and school systems, you’d probably say “that sounds like a pretty good idea, Mr. Republican,” and Barack Obama would say “Thanks, but I’m not a Republican.” I think that education needs to improve, but that we already spend a great deal of money on it–enough to have a much better education system than we currently have in this country. I believe that reforms should be more locally-focused, as different solutions work for different environments. Race to the Top takes all of these things into consideration and lets school systems use their own methodology to reach improvement standards in a competition for national funds to go farther. I like this program so much and I feel that Obama doesn’t get nearly enough credit for it.

The Stimulus/Bailout

This is a strange topic for me because I actually agree that the stimulus didn’t work. If you got an air conditioning system in the summer and set the temperature to 70 degrees and it cooled the house to 80 degrees, you would probably have to call for maintenance and certainly wouldn’t consider it to be a properly-operating machine. Normally, this level of disappointment would be considered a negative for me. However, the difference here is that there were very real calls for each of the following: a) do nothing, b) stimulate only through tax cuts, and/or c) simply take the amount of the stimulus bill and divide it up to American taxpayers and send them each a check. To return to the air conditioning analogy, it’s 110 degrees outside and humid and grandma’s going to die if we don’t get air conditioning, so I’ll take the one that doesn’t do the job as well as it could have or is supposed to. It’s annoying to rely on a counterfactual, but I have no doubt that the economy and the depth of the crisis would be much worse off without the actions taken by Obama.

Centrism

This one may be surprising, but I think that Obama is an ideological liberal who chooses to govern as a centrist. I think that he wants (or wanted) to work with Republicans and find common ground, but the fact is that there really isn’t that much on which they agree. That doesn’t mean that Obama hasn’t tried, though. If you don’t believe me, you should watch his 2011 State of the Union Address or his “pass this jobs bill now” speech. You can’t help but notice a number of times that he touts ideas that are or at some recent point were popular with Republicans, with many of them being Republican proposals.

Gay Rights

Mostly, I’m referring here to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I was in the Army when the repeal was announced and when it was made official, and maybe my unit was a little different, but no one seemed to care at all. Not a single work day was affected. This change was long past due. Standing up to support gay marriage was a nice gesture and many of my friends in the LGBTQ community appreciated it immensely, but I think the accomplishment of making a change to a stubborn institution like the military was incredibly significant. In a second term, I would hope for a continued expansion of rights for this community, and have reason to believe that it will happen.

Military Strategy

Another strange one. Things are not going particularly well in Afghanistan, I know. I have previously written that it is time for the troops to come home, and I wrote just two days ago about my mixed feelings about unmanned drone strikes. However, suffice it to say that I saw real changes made in Afghanistan that I think would have possibly sent the conflict in a different direction if they had been enacted earlier in the process, primarily rules of engagement that addressed the problem of creating new enemies with each attack, the embedding of Special Forces units into Afghan villages, and outreach to the female population who had been completely ignored for the first 9 years of the conflict. It was far too little far too late, but I thought them worth mentioning.

Completion

I will conclude my comments by stating that I want to see Obama’s policies played out through their completion. The rhetoric from the opposition that the president is running this country into the ground ignores the reality that the country had been run into the ground when Obama arrived. In the eight previous years, the country went from peace, surplus, and a dipping but still strong economy to two wars, doubled debt, massive deficits, and a financial crisis. These things may have been part of a broader trend over the past 30-40 years, but nothing was done in those eight years to stop the coming destruction. Barack Obama is moving incrementally in a different direction from the previous eight years–or at least attempting to do so. Before judging or cutting bait, I want to see where these policies lead, and I think that Obama has had enough successes in other arenas to earn the allowance of letting these policies play out.

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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.