What is the 2012 election really about?
From what I can see, it isn’t about the issues: unemployment, health care, the federal budget, or taxes. What it is about, and the Republican candidates say it during every debate and after every primary, it’s about beating Barack Obama at any cost.
They don’t like to give too many alternatives to what the president has done in the three years since taking office, but what they do provide are sophomoric names, most of which they probably don’t know the meaning of, such as socialist, communist and Newt Gingrich’s favorite, food stamp president.
What should the next presidential election be about? Well how about the issues mentioned above to name a few? I for one, would like to know what the candidates stand for. So far I don’t find much substance in what they have to say. The infighting and name calling detracts from the real issues and to top it off, the Republican party is so fractured that they can’t get behind any one candidate collectively. They continue to throw Ronald Reagan’s name around as though their passion for the past will pave the road to the White House. In addition, they act as though Reagan’s policies of the 1980’s are still relevant today. I’ve got news for you folks, they aren’t!
Bruce Bartlett, who as a domestic policy advisor to Ronald Reagan drafted the 1981 Reagan tax cut, says in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post on February 3rd,
I think Republicans misunderstand the premises upon which Reagan’s economic policies were based and why those policies can’t, and shouldn’t, be replicated today…Economic conditions are entirely different today than they were in Reagan’s era, and different conditions demand different policies. Those who say otherwise are simply engaging in cookie-cutter economics; proposing whatever was popular and seemed to work once, without regard to changing circumstances.
According to Mr. Bartlett, our current top tax rate is half what it was when Reagan took office and the Federal Reserve rate is far lower than what Reagan inherited. The Fed today can’t lower rates below zero percent. The bottom line is that 2012 is not 1980. They must stop trying to resurrect old, tired, irrelevant policies by shoving them down the American people’s throats. It’s time for conservatives to move on with new ideas, if they have any.
In addition, I would like to hear some common sense policies regarding taxes. I’m sorry, but continuously reducing taxes to the detriment of our military, senior citizens, our national debt and the poor is unconscionable. Regardless of what the Republican and Tea Party conservatives think, there will always be the need for government services and we as Americans and human beings should and must provide them. Conservatives will likely call this socialism. I disagree, but if that is what they want to call it, so be it. I can hear the right wing now, spewing their Darwinian survival of the fittest rants to anyone who will listen. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy them. Yes, these are taxpayer funded programs, but I would rather see my money go to these programs than to the wasteful earmarks that Congress loves to stick into every piece of legislation. I am a middle class taxpayer and I would gladly pay more in taxes to pay off our debts, provide services to those in need, strengthen social security and medicare, and fund our military.
The next issue that needs to be addressed is the state of health care in this country. There was a time when we had the best health care in the world; but in the last World Health Organization ranking of health systems, the United States came in 37th. That is a disgrace. Although I don’t like the way President Obama and the Democrats pushed through the bill, at least something was finally done to reform health care. During their years as the majority, the Republicans had the opportunity to propose their own comprehensive health care reform but instead, chose to bow to the insurance industry lobbyists, not the desires of the American people. If you don’t like the current law, at the appropriate time make changes to it, but make sure that they are to the advantage of the American people and not corporate interests.
Social Security and Medicare have become conservatives’ political footballs. Social Security is routinely used as the treasury department’s bank. According to Andrew Taylor, Associated Press writer, Washington,
The Treasury Department “borrows” surpluses in the Social Security trust funds for use across the federal government. As a practical matter, the amount of money borrowed equals the balances in the trust funds after benefits are paid out…This practice began in 1937 with the creation of the Social Security system during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. That first year the government paid $2 million in interest on money it borrowed from the retirement trust fund.
This practice, of borrowing money from the social security fund and paying interest, does not mean that the principal had been paid back to the fund. The surplus at the end of 2007, for example, was $2.2 trillion with interest paid back to the fund of $110 billion. It is dishonest for our politicians to place the entire blame on our aging population, when the monies paid into the fund should have been left there to grow with interest for future payments. Medicare does need to be reformed to eliminate fraud and provide more streamlined service to those whom the program is supposed to help, but it should not be used as political fodder for conservatives. Medicare has been a tremendous benefit to your grandparents and mine who might have otherwise been unable to afford quality health care.
Lastly, I would like to know how the education of our children became expendable. One of the first things put on the chopping block during this economic crisis was education funding. This is one issue that has hit my home recently. Our schools, which I’m sure are not atypical, don’t have enough books or teachers for the student population. My child has no books for use in doing homework assignments. Students are told that if they need to refer to the book, they will need to do it after school. Teachers are required to teach subjects outside of their specialty because the school can’t afford to hire enough teachers to cover all of the required subjects. The United States was once ranked at the top in education world wide, but is now ranked at a mediocre “average” and falling. Our 21st century global economy requires a much better than average educational system. Our public schools and our children should never be used as scapegoats for political gain.
This election should be based on the real issues, not simply beating President Obama at any cost. If the Republicans have something of value to offer, they should do so. This campaign isn’t fair to the American people: they deserve better than this.