I got a note regarding next year’s election of our nation’s president—our commander in chief. This is from a good friend and West Point classmate who lives in the Northeast part of our nation and is a long-time Democrat. I really appreciate his insight and the thought he’s given to this, and, while I don’t agree with all of it, it’s definitely worth sharing. He wonders what has happened to his party.
For whatever reason, I have chosen not to give up my Dem registration for Independent (and definitely not Republican), but my leanings are much more conservatively based than my party of registration, and it is most likely that, if nominated, I will vote Romney while holding my nose, mainly because I believe that he and Huntsman are the only candidates who show any competency (well, OK, I think Gingrich may also, but I can’t stomach him). I’ll be holding my nose because Romney’s reversals on policy are just awful. Maybe a deus ex machina will suddenly appear for the Republicans.
Let me outline my reasons why I would vote for anyone of perceived competence over President Obama:
• When candidate Obama stated that it didn’t matter that the 15% capital gains rate brought in more revenue because it was a matter of “fairness”, ideology trumped practicality, not my favorite direction, and an indicator of where he wanted to go
• When pre-candidate Obama stated that the Constitution was “a collection of negative liberties that didn’t go far enough to re-distribute wealth”, he revealed a mindset contrary to my own and to what I believe if a founding principle of our country, individual responsibility i a meritocracy
• When new President Obama inherited an absolute economic mess, his focus was laser-like for more than a year in drafting a 2409 page Healthcare bill which was unimplementable (I tried to build an organization chart from it for its implementation) and found it impossible to read and understand. The country was not supportive. Speaker Peolsi spoke volumes when she said “we won’t know what’s in it until we pass it”. Very perceptive on her part. What followed it in legislative initiative was an abortive cap and trade bill. Then, finally, we went to an $800B stimulus for “shovel ready” projects which, as he later mirthfully said, “weren’t quite shovel ready”, and funded back-to-work teachers and cops which were really local funding decisions (like the many quoted Newark and Camden cops who refused to take a pay freeze which resulted in layoffs).
• Now, another stimulus proposal. Hmm–I wonder if it would be more palatable if he also recommended a suspension of Davis-Bacon for all stimulus construction. To take on additional debt to the tune of $500B is so completely contrary to good management that it deserves a resounding no. Then, a continuation of reduced payroll taxes (like SoSec) when it takes current revenues to bolster SoSec revenues staggers me, especially considering that the SoSec trust fund reserves are all in Treasury IOUs
• Comprehensive immigration reform: if I could make a lame analogy, if my ceiling begins to show a water stain, I don’t tear out and replace the sheet rock; I call a roofer, and when the leak is fixed, I repair the ceiling. While even lamer, let’s get spending under control before we hit the taxpayer for new revenues (I’m not as fixated on this one)
Now allow me to comment on the absolute failure of the opposition party to make points with the electorate. If I were running an opposition campaign, here’s where I would go:
• Concede some need for more revenues
• Use real data to demonstrate that eliminating the Bush tax cuts “for the richest of Americans” brings a very small amount of added revenue to the Treasury; challenge the media to produce and publish easy to understand arithmetic to illustrate this point. The “tax the rich” mantra (or, more correctly, “the wealthiest of Americans”, drives me crazy because it produces so little revenue)
• Do some research on foreclosures and underwater mortgages—many Americans resonate with the idea that they’ve kept up their payments. BTW, if you can make payments (and if you made the correct financial decision), and you like your home, why is this a problem? It’s your home, you raise your family within it; it’s only a problem if you have to sell it. This is a classic bubble, and I’m with Romney on this one—let the process work itself out and let Adam Smith do his work. Yes, there are sad stories, but I believe there are more stories of bad judgment on the part of borrowers and lenders
• Lay out a case that the automobile companies would have survived classic bankruptcy proceedings, and the bailout was to forestall employment contract regression
• Publicaly, ask the Democratic Party leaders for a few specifics on how they plan to “eliminate equality” after you’ve made the case that taxing the rich doesn’t amount to any substantial leveling at all.
Immediately propose the following actions to be written into law:
• Eliminate 62 year old SoSec on an accelerated basis (adding six months to the age every year going forward until early retirement is 65
• Raise the current retirement age gradually to where most of us are now: 70
• Institute a large annual deductible for Medicare (~$2000) somehow adjusted for means (to include wealth holdings)
• Add substantial administrative help to Medicare to ID fraud and questionable behaviors on the part of physicians; I no longer want to hear that “Medicare and my insurance paid for my motorized wheelchair in full”
• Recognize seniors as strong, capable people rather than as poor souls to be pitied
• Eliminate the “carried interest” provision which allows hedge fund managers to be taxed at capital gains rates; while it won’t bring in a lot of money, it will take the argument away from the left
And ……… most of all, be up front and honest about how bad the situation really is and state that you are ready to be a one term President to begin set the ship on a straight course, that many oxen will be gored big time and it will not be an easy time.