Intro

Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Issues


Sorry for the length of this, but much to cover.
I've been trying to find where candidates stand on the issues and working on this for the past couple of weeks.
The following information comes from the candidates sites or from their own speeches and debates.
I've tried to simplify the issues but hopefully not over-simplify.
The commentary following each is based on research from sites like Politifact, Factchecker and the Washington Post fact check as well as interviews I've seen with various Republican and Democrat pundits and experts.

So here goes...

Jobs

Romney
  • Job plan will create 12 million jobs.
  • Energy independence = 3 million jobs
  • Tax Plan will lower taxes and = 7 million jobs
  • Expanding trade and cracking down on China = 2 million jobs
Commentary
  • Moody's Analytics predicts that 12 million jobs will be created by 2016 regardless of who is president.
  • The report used by Romney on his campaign website does not use these ideas for job gain.  It is  in fact pegged on a 2011 report which is attached to the jobless rate at that period and the job growth discussed is over 10 years not the first term.
  • Recent historical surveys indicate that tax cuts do not = jobs in fact generally during tax cuts the poverty level goes up.
  • The two million job claim is based on the idea that we lost 2 million jobs to China.
  • Washington Post's Pinocchio test gives the jobs plan 4 Pinocchios which is the highest number it can give.
Obama Jobs Plan
  • Eliminate tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.
  • Jobs bill in congress creates jobs by rebuilding infrastructure
  • Continue to add jobs in private sector manufacturing
Comentary
  • While we have shown steady job growth since 2010, the figure does not include those who have given up looking, but in fairness those who have quit looking include more than just those who lost their jobs and quit looking but also groups who are simply not a part of the job force such as the retired.
  • The jobs bill which most economists agree would create jobs is blocked on the House floor.
  • The last 7.8 report shows lower unemployment and for the first time a rise in those applying and leaving the unemployment lines.
  • Again, Moody's analytic predicts 12 million jobs no matter who is president.
  • The 5 million jobs claim by Obama is overstatement and Received 3 Pinocchios.

Taxes and the Deficit (Economy)

Romney
  • Cut the marginal taxes 20 percent and make Bush tax cuts permanent.
  • Cut taxes on small business which he defines as basically any business.
  • Offset this by closing loopholes making tax cut revenue neutral.  Promises that he will not raise taxes on any income group. By doing so it will create through supply side economics jobs. 
  • Lower corporate tax.
  • Cut the estate tax.
Comentary
  • Supply side has never worked according to bipartisan economic studies.
  • Will not say what loopholes he intends to close.
  • According to the Tax Policy Center, a highly respected nonpartisan economist group, the tax cuts cannot be revenue neutral. The Policy Center has released a statement that since they do not have actual loophole cuts, they cannot give a specific figure as to actual cost but the Center maintains it is not mathematically possible to cut taxes and offset this without raising revenue.
Obama
  • Maintain Bush tax cuts on 98 percent.  Allow cuts to expire on the upper two percent. Cut taxes on small businesses which he defines as those making $250,000 or less (roughly 90 percent of all businesses are in this category).
  • Managed deficit reduction by offering $2.50 in cuts for every $1.00 of revenue sometimes referred to as the "Grand Deal."
  • Apply money from ending war, half to deficit and half to job creation.
  • Stock market has shown marked recovery under Obama
  • Housing is starting to show some minor movement.
  • Lower corporate tax rate?
Comentary
  • The Republicans will still likely be in control of the House and will oppose letting any of the Bush tax cuts expire.
  • Raising taxes to pre-Bush levels on the top two percent still does not work to eliminate the deficit. 
  • Cuts must be made and no clear statement of what would be cut.
  • As of this date, Republicans and some Democrats are opposed to the managed idea.
  • The money from ending the war was borrowed to begin with.
  • While it is true that this plan is similar to the successful Clinton plan, Clinton had one thing Obama didn't and that was the DotCom explosion on the internet.

The Military

Romney
  • Raise funding to military to 4 percent of  GNP.
  • Add to the Navy.
Comentary
  • The raising of the military budget will add 2 trillion dollars to the budget over the next 4 or 5 years.  It is not funded.
Obama
  • Set military spending at a cap of 3.5 of GNP (it was lower than this when he took office).
Comentary
  • Some addition to the budget but I do not have specific figures.

Foreign Policy

Romney
  • Had criticized Obama but at last debate made a shift to the middle seeming to agree with Obama on most issues.
  • His one attempt as candidate insulted the British and Palestinians.  In the infamous 47 percent tape he did announce that he would "kick the can down the road" in regards to the Israel and Middle East.
  • Did seemingly use the death of the American ambassador to Libya for political gain, making commentary of the attack before outcome was known.  This does break with previous protocol established by previous presidential candidate.
  • Neither he nor his running mate have any real experience in Foreign Policy.
Obama
  • Has targeted, attacked and ordered killed the upper leadership of Al Qaeda.  While not getting along with Israel's prime minister, he has been very clear on his support of Israel. 
  • Recent surveys that 16 of 17 nations support the policies and working with Obama.  The one nation opposed was Pakistan. 
  • Has ended the war in Iraq and set the draw down time line in Afghanistan.
  • Supported the Libyan revolution without loss of life.
  • Most experts agree that the recent issues in the Middle East are the results of new nations trying to find their way.  One put it that in dealing with the Arab Spring was like dealing with a moving target.
  • There is confusion over the release of information on the death of the ambassador in Libya, but this is not uncommon especially when so many agencies were involved.
  • Running mate was chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and was ranking minority member.

Social Issues

Romney
  • Supports voucher system for Medicare for those under 55 with an opt out for those over 55.  It has been noted by some that if more than 5 percent of those on Medicare opt out the entire system could collapse for the rest of the members.
  • Has supported in past cutting or reduction of Medicaid.
  • Supports cutting of Planned Parenthood
  • Supports cutting support of the arts and programs such as PBS funding
  • Is Pro-Life with exceptions.  Running mate is Pro-Life without exception and has presented two "personhood" bills which also a part of the Republican Party platform.
  • Supports banning abortion except in case of danger to life of the mother, rape and incest.  He has stated he would support an amendment to ban abortion and would appoint supreme court justices who would oppose Roe v. Wade.  One Republican pundit put it that Romney has held virtually every position on abortion that someone can hold. This includes the "personhood."
  • Opposes equal marriage for Gay and Lesbian community.
  • Does not support government funding of contraceptives and believes that insurance funding for such should be left up to a company's CEO.
  • Would repeal Affordable Health Care Act (this can only happen by congressional action and as long as Democrats control the Senate or Republicans control less than 60 votes in the Senate, repeal is unlikely to occur.) In its place he has made two statements that he would create a better health care system still covering  those on parent health plans for 25 and younger and cover pre-existing conditions.  The campaign officially walked the pre-exisiting  statement back saying that it will cover pre-existing conditions only if the patient already has insurance.  On Sixty Minutes, he said that we already have a health care plan in the use of emergency care for those who are uninsured.
  • Has in past announced he would cut Department of Education and that classroom size does not matter. Supports school choice (voucher system).
  • Opposes the Dream Act and supports the idea of "self-deportation."
Obama
  • Supports Medicare and Medicaid but agrees both need reform work although we do not know what these reforms would entail. 
  • Supports Planned Parenthood
  • Supports arts funding and funding for social/educational programs
  • Removed or expanded no child left behind act
  • Would appoint more liberal judges to Supreme Court
  • Pro-Choice -- does not believe the government should control the personal moral choices on others. Running mate who is Pro-Life agrees.
  • Created Affordable Care Act
  • Supports required insurance coverage of contraceptives unless in conflict with religious beliefs.
  • Supports smaller class rooms and educational funding. 
  • Would continue to try and pass the dream act.
  • Supports equality for all marriages straight, gay, lesbian.
As near as anyone can tell they have no stated difference on drug policy or gun control.

Romney 
  • Supports all forms of energy including clean coal and particularly gas and oil.  
  • Would cut subsidies to alternative energy groups. (You can debate with anyone you like whether there is such a thing as clean coal.)
  • Would fast track Keystone Pipeline regardless of environmental impact on the basis of job creation.
Obama
  • Supports all forms of energy and subsidies to alternative energy while cutting or reducing subsidies to "big oil."
  • Supports environmental restrictions. 
  • Vetoed the Keystone pipeline on "national interest basis."

Appointments and Promises

The next President is likely to appoint two or three Supreme Court Justices. This is actually one of the few true influential choices a president can make without the Congress which could influence decisions long after the president has left office.

Much of what both candidates have discussed require Congressional action.  Congress is likely to remain divided as Republican House and Democrat Senate.  Both candidates will need "reach across the aisle." Both claim to have done so, but most nonpartisan experts agree that both did not succeed.

My Thoughts

The following is my point of view based on my observance of the campaign   You can take it as you like.  You can place your own arguments in comments if you like but they should be civil and thought out.  Your use of support from sites which are clearly left or right have little credence with me.  It will make little difference to me. I've already voted.

Despite claims, Obama has frequently been seen as aloof and described as condescending, and having a tenancy to change the bulls-eye when working for a compromise.  He tends to be too professorial, although I am not sure what that means exactly or how that might be a bad thing.

Romney had a very low approval rating as governor and if he had sought re-election many agree, he probably would not have won.  Democrats in Massachusetts have a very different view of his bi-partisan work and frequently point to the fact that if Romney were so very fondly remembered that Obama would not be polling at more than 16 points ahead in the state.

Fact is neither have a very good record on bipartisan work.

Obama has succeeded on several of his promises and failed on others.  The economy has not recovered as quickly as anyone would like, but in all honesty, like it or not, we all knew the recovery would be a long  haul. The Stimulus package is debatable as a success or failure. Some argue that it did not create jobs as promised- true.  Others argue that it stopped the free falling job loss and economy - also true.

His bailout of the automobile industry was a success. Romney did advocate a managed bankruptcy for the industry with private sector banks bailing them out.  The problem is that at the time there were no private sector banks willing to loan the money.  Several companies were asked including Bain and all declined to fund.

Obama does need to become a more steady and accessible leader.  His leadership on domestic issues has been inconsistent. Perhaps his biggest mistake was concentrating on the Affordable Care Act rather than jobs at the beginning of his term.  He did realize, I am sure,  that national health care a longtime Democrat favorite, was for the first time in reach with Democrat control of both houses and the presidency.  I don't think he believed it would be the battle it became nor take the time it did.  We still do not know what the actual effect will be since it does not come into play in full until 2014.  All predictions that have been made on both sides of aisle are exactly that...predictions.  We do know that the parts that have gone into effect seem to be popular.  Ironically, health care was also a major problem for Clinton's first year or two in office.

Despite his own lacking as a bipartisan leader, Obama has been blocked by the single most obstinate congress in history which has refused to negotiate in good faith and passed fewer bills than any congress in history.  It is clear that both houses have placed party over country.

Obama tends to present as a social liberal, prefers to look at himself as more of a centrist, while seeming to present some things as both liberal on some items and conservative Democrat on other issues.  This is clear in the example that as a Democrat he seems to have a stronger position on foreign affairs than Republicans.  This is a position that is extremely unusual for a Democrat.  His methodology of leadership though remains very difficult to pin down.

Romney, whether he accepts it or not did develop the ground work for Affordable Care Act, something he has both endorsed and distanced himself from at the same time.

Romney's record at Bain is not one of job creator.  Bain is a leveraged investment company which means that they borrow huge amounts against a company they purchase making the company responsible for the debt and making large amounts for the investors.  Few companies survive the buyout.  In regards to the Olympics, Romney did save the struggling Olympics when he took over. He did this by getting control of spending and convincing the government to give him $342 million dollars in direct support and an estimated $1.1 billion dollars in indirect support.

The other problem that Romney has seemed to overcome in part because of Obama's dismal first debate performance is that he is not a flip-flopper and has begun to move to the moderate which is how he presented himself as governor and was predicted as the Etch-A-Sketch moment by one of his staff last spring.

As someone who has watched several stump speeches of both candidates before and after the debates, Obama has done a good job of painting Romney as a Plutocrat and Romney has covered virtually every base in social and foreign issues that one can take. He has announced in the primary that as governor he was a "severe conservative." He seems to deny that stance as does his current ads deny his abortion stance from earlier in the campaign. On many issues as one editorial put it, Romney would be difficult to debate because on many issues his stance is like "trying to nail jello to a wall."

Many former staffers from previous campaigns have said that he doesn't really seem to care about these issues and takes the stand he finds most politically expedient.  Most troubling, at least from my perspective, is the 47 percent tape which was taped "off the record" where Romney is among his peers and discusses seeming extreme ideas in a very comfortable manner.

If Romney really does take the stance of whatever is most expedient, then I worry about him becoming the "five working digits to sign laws" that Grover Norquist has announced is all the far right needs in the office, since Romney doesn't really care about these issues. He has been described as "a boss,"  not an inaccurate description given his business pedigree. A boss can be both a good or bad thing depending on the type of boss and we really have no information on what kind of boss he will be.  We do know he was a successful one, however.

A Grand Finale

I hope that I helped.  I encourage everyone to vote.  If you disagree with my opinions on either Romney or Obama, then you need to vote your beliefs.  All I ask is do your research on reputable sites and don't believe the hype of either campaign presented by their ads and their Super-Pacs.  The ads, although effective, are often a clear misrepresentation, stilted, or an out and out lie.  There is no truth in advertising laws that apply to political ads. The polls do not dictate elections and in an election like this one their accuracy on both candidates really depends on who answers the phone when they call.  Both candidates are in the margin of error. The Pundits on FOX and MSNBC also have very specific jobs to do.  Remember that as well.

VOTE your beliefs, your conscience and not your prejudices and hates. Remember you do not live alone in this country and what happens to others does matter. Big government or small government, conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican or Independent, your mind and your heart are your own and are none of these labels.  Use them well.

VOTE