Thursday, September 27, 2012

Politicking: Part One

Hold onto your butts, everybody! I’m about to get political…

As I mentioned in the first post of this year, it is an election year!  YAY!!!

I love election years.  If you didn't know, I am somewhat of a political junkie.  I often look at politics as a sport, and my favorite at that. There are teams and players, ideas and game plans, preseason playoffs, finals, and then winners and losers. Everybody has their favorite team and players and ideas, and cheer on each of these as they advance, or attempt to defend them as they regress.  I am no different.

When I was in fourth grade, we discussed in social studies class the differences between the two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. This happened to coincide with the ’92 election as well, so I was already somewhat familiar with the two major candidates running in that election due to seeing them on TV and hearing older family members talking about them. It was during that time I became a fan of the Republican Party. I liked the grandfatherly image of George Bush, the Republican Party mascot (the elephant), and I liked that Bush seemed much more serious about the issues. I remember thinking being president must be very important and that between George Bush and Bill Clinton, George Bush seemed to want to talk more about the issues and knew more about those issues, than Bill Clinton who just seemed to want to have fun (little did I know then how much fun Bill Clinton would have in that Oval Office in later years). But what grasped me to the Republican Party most was just that sense of seriousness Republicans seemed to have. In short, I tell you all of this in order to describe what first led me to become a Republican. I made that decision then, and it has been a decision I have kept with ever since. It’s a decision I can say in all honesty I am proud of.

Over the years, I have supported every Republican presidential candidate put forward by the Republican Party. I have done so because I approved of most of the conservative policies they put forward. At heart, I am a conservative when it comes to fiscal policy, a moderate when it comes to social issues, a supporter of smaller government, and a supporter of strong defense. I supported Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, and now Mitt Romney because each have, for the most part, upheld those beliefs.

I was, and still am, a big supporter of George W. Bush. Unlike many, I don’t fault him entirely for the short falls of his presidency, particularly those which happened during his second term. I actually still believe it was the right thing for us to go to war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. I think it was important that we went after al-Qaeda after the events of 9/11. I think instituting the Patriot Act allowed for us to fight terrorism both here at home and abroad, and so I think this was also an important move by Bush, not only allowing his administration to better fight terrorism, but the current Obama administration as well. I think cutting taxes was a good move to help the economy after Clinton left it in recession and 9/11 further damaged it. I think it was important that Bush reformed Medicare to help make prescription drugs more affordable. This cut costs dramatically for people reliant on those drugs at all age levels. I think it was important that Bush did more to help fight in the war against HIV/AIDS not only in this country, but especially in Africa as well, where more people have been effected by that horrible virus than anywhere else on Earth. It was important, too, that Bush led the effort to end partial birth abortions. We should never allow in this country the deliberate death of a baby so near to birth. I also think it was important that Bush tackled education reform, social security reform, and immigration reform—even though he was unsuccessful with those last two.

Having mentioned some of the good points to Bush’s presidency, let me now discuss some of those down falls. People have blamed President Bush for increasing the debt/deficit, 9/11, the response to Hurricane Katrina, failed or manipulated intelligence used to get us into Iraq, and perhaps most importantly, the economic recession began during his last year and to which we are still feeling the effects of today. I personally do not hold President Bush entirely at fault for any of these things. Democrats looked at the exact same intelligence President Bush did, concerning the lead up to both 9/11 and the Iraq War. Democrats voted, right along with Republicans, to create the tax cuts which have presumably caused the greatest increase in our national debt/deficit. Democrats on the city and state levels were lacking in leadership leading up to and after Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans. And now we come to the economy.

In 2006, Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. As such, they took control of the economic affairs of our nation. They were in control of oversight and, to a great degree, what sorts of regulations would be in place. Those last two years President Bush was in office, he warned of the looming housing and banking markets collapse, to which the Democratically controlled House and Senate did very little to prevent either one. So, I do hold them just as accountable as Bush for the collapse of both markets, and the overall economic recession in which both created.

When President Obama became president, I believe he made several serious missteps toward getting control over the declining economy. I think, in a very real sense, he and a large number of Democrats, believed the Bail Out would be enough to halt and reverse the economic decline. In some ways it did help, but in other ways it didn’t. One of the biggest failures of the Bail Out is the added deficit/debt it created for our country. The question is, did we get enough back for our buck? I don’t think we did. A lot of banks took the money and kept it, rather than loaning it out as they were supposed to. Some companies like GM and Chrysler didn’t need the money. They could have gone through a structured bankruptcy, which would have allowed them to stay afloat, without costing the federal government huge sums of money. And then certain government investments, through the Bail Out, haven’t paid off. A solar power company called Solyndra, for instance, was given millions, but wasn’t able to stay afloat. The state of Nevada has received over one billion dollars to create green energy jobs, but to this date, only about 300 jobs have actually been created by all of that money. It was also promised that the Bail Out would prevent unemployment from getting to double digits, yet in many of the months since the Bail Out, unemployment has been at 10% or higher. During the last four years, it has never been below 8%. The Bail Out also did not nearly accomplish the degree of infrastructure spending that had been promised in the last election, nor that has been needed in the years since.

Another misstep by our current President was to add several thousands of new regulations, which made it harder and slower for companies to do business during this recession. Not only has our president hampered economic growth in this fashion, but he has also tried to increase tax rates across the board in various ways. Neither of these two things has helped promote economic growth—quite to the contrary, they have prevented it.

And now we can look at Obamacare. In many regards, Obamacare is a great piece of legislation. I wouldn’t dispute this, and many more Republicans wouldn’t either. But in some very real ways, it is not good legislation at all. To begin with, it has added regulations that have already began costing American companies up to billions of dollars in extra spending, prompting several companies to lower their employment numbers so that they can avoid extra costs. It also expands the IRS and creates a healthcare board, both of which add to the federal debt/deficit. Furthermore, it creates no provision to open up insurance between the states—a Republican idea, which would lower the actual costs of healthcare.

Something else we can look at is the rise in government spending. Spending has continuously risen, even though Congress has not passed a budget in more than three years now. The budget President Obama proposed called for three trillion dollars of spending in just a single year (and I thought he promised he’d bring down the deficit/debt). When it was voted upon in the House, it received no yes votes whatsoever. When it was voted upon in the Senate, it also received no yes votes. Not one Democrat in Congress would vote for President Obama’s budget proposal. If that doesn’t tell you how disconnected President Obama is on the subject, and how bad his proposal was, I don’t know what will. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, hasn’t put forward any budget proposals the last three years. The Republicans in the House have put forward and passed a budget proposal, but it has been held up in the Senate and President Obama has threatened to veto it if it did get through. This is the epitome of economic irresponsibility, and it rests solely with the Democratic Party. They call Republicans the party of No, but just who is really saying no to a budget? It sure isn’t the Republicans.

It is also not the Republicans saying no to a real “all of the above” approach to tackling our energy problems in this country. President Obama often touts his “all of the above” strategy, yet he often fails to tell us that the EPA, under his direction, has imposed many regulations halting or slowing new coal and natural gas sites from development. President Obama has also halted the Keystone Pipeline, approval of additional nuclear sites, and approval of additional on and offshore oil drilling. In fact, the only energy he seems to be in favor of is renewable. Now, I am in favor of renewable, green energy, just as many Republicans are (in fact I encourage going green as much as possible), but it cannot be the only source of energy we promote. We must truly have an all of the above approach if we are going to have any real chance for energy independence. Had President Obama truly taken such an approach, we may not currently have gas and oil prices as high as they are, and have been.

Looking at the results of Obama’s handling of the economy over the last four years, I think speaks for itself though. Unemployment hasn’t come below 8% in the last four years, those no longer seeking employment (because they’ve exhausted benefits and the like) has risen, banks still aren’t loaning sufficiently, the housing market still isn’t good, more people are on Food Stamps and Welfare than ever before, household incomes are down, the price of gas and other commodities have increased significantly, college tuition has continued to rise, healthcare premiums have continued to rise, foreign investments have decreased, and the debt/deficit have both increased significantly.

President Obama has not helped our economy. I say that, not to mean that he has done no good, but to mean that by what he has done overall, it has not brought back, or even seriously begun to bring back, our economy as it should have been. There is a reason/s why this current economic recovery has been the slowest since the Great Depression, and it is purely due to the economic policies of Barack Obama.

In contrast, I believe Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the presidency this year, would actually be able to spark much more economic growth than President Obama’s policies have. His plans call for a 20% tax cut for individuals at every level, a reform of the current tax code to make it simpler, a rollback of most all the regulations President Obama has added to businesses, a repeal of those parts of Obamacare that have hurt the economy, a repeal of Dodd/Frank, an amendment of Sarbanes-Oxley, getting tougher with China and other nations on trade, opening up trade with additional countries, supporting right-to-work laws, eliminating and reducing government waste and spending to help cut the debt/deficit, and raising visa caps to allow more highly skilled workers to come into the country (for more information about Romney’s Plan, check out the following:

To be continued...

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