Monday, November 5, 2012

On the balance, it's Obama for me

Okay, nine hours before the voting starts, I'm ready to tell you who I'm supporting for President. Here's why this is the right moment: 1) Students don't pay me to tell them how to vote, but many of my students read this blog. 2) I wanted to tell you how I feel so you can never say I based how I felt on the election results. And 3) although, I made up my mind several days ago, both candidates are decent and caused me to think and rethink this decision.

Mitt Romney is a classy man and may be a decent President. He earns high marks for his Mormon version of Christianity from me because I have a number of close Mormon friends and admire their consistency. My pals practice what they preach! Mr. Romney is also correct about the 47 percent issue. Nearly 47 percent of Americans don't pay any federal income tax and for everyone except an occasional politician, that's too many people to expect nothing from. For 19 years, Republicans and Democrats alike have been aiming spending increases and tax cuts at their voters. As Mr. Romney points out, it is disingenuous to reverse tax cuts on only those who earns more than $250,000. Hell, Presidents Bush and Obama have given me tax cuts over the last 12 years and as much as I like them, I don't deserve them any more than the rich guy. Of course, no defense of Mitt Romney would be complete without praising his intellect for putting a Miami University (of Ohio) grad like Paul Ryan on his ticket. I went there!

When there is an incumbent involved in election though, that process is to some extent is a referendum on him. Because this is so, President Obama deserves a second term. I am most impressed with the health care reform that some call Obamacare. The President will be remembered long after tomorrow, or 2016, because he was the first to identify an American's responsibility to pay for his or her own health care. He called it an individual mandate, although John Roberts and the Supreme Court referred to it as a tax. History books will list this alongside FDR's Social Security and LBJ's Medicare, but they will call those rights and President Obama's individual mandate a responsibility.

The President has also earned a second term by orchestrating the financial cliff. This is based on the arbitrary line in the sand that Congressional Republicans drew when they declared that no tax increase could be part of a budget balancing equation for any reason. In my opinion they were wrong. While the ideal budget reform would involve tax increases and spending cuts, the studies I've seen show U.S. spending as a percentage of GDP being more in line with other major economies than its level of taxation (which is usually below those of other economies). I don't think it is wrong to wish for smaller government, but I do think it's arrogant beyond the pale to insist that reversing Bush and/or Obama's tax cuts for all taxpayers is off the table. If we return Congressional Republicans to office tomorrow, and polls say we will, then we deserve to have our economy driven off the financial cliff if we have chosen unwisely. On the other hand, if President Obama is also returned, most of us expect some kind of deal.

What kind of deal would it be if a President Romney and the Congressional Republicans decided they couldn't increase taxes and also couldn't cut spending on their voters without risking their majorities? Well a repeat of the last 19 years, I would cuts, spending increases, and budget deficits! Call me naive, but I think President Obama is spoiling for a fight on this one in his second term--a necessary one. If this is so, the to paraphrase General MacArthur, Let the Battle Begin! 

No comments: