Unlike my friend Hugh, I watched the Presidential debate, but wish I hadn’t because I could not sleep afterwards. I agree that Governor Romney came across better based on his assertiveness and the President was unusually timid, but I was disappointed in both candidates for various similar and different reasons. Style is important, but words matter, which is the reason for my insomnia. Let me summarize my thoughts by what I see as the similarities and differences.
As a true independent voter who will and has vote(d) for candidates from both parties, my main frustration is both candidates and parties are misleading the American people about solving the deficit. We must have an adult conversation about raising taxes on everyone, not just the upper income earners under the Obama plan. This is in concert with reducing spending. Otherwise, the math will not work. To my GOP friends, Romney can be as assertive as he wants, but his tax plan will increase the deficit, so says non-partisan economists, not the economists on his payroll. Plus, more on this later, but he did a big 180 on his position during the debate, so if you read what he said, you would walk away with a different impression.
Obama at least is talking about raising some taxes, but it is not enough. I am a huge supporter of Simpson-Bowles as a starting point and he is giving lip service to it. Please note, Congressman Ryan voted Simpson-Bowles down, so he should not be telling anyone what a great budget steward he is. And, Romney said he had his own plan, which non-partisan economist say will increase the deficit. Folks, we must raise taxes and cut spending. Both parties need to get real and stop misleading the American public. As a reminder, we are one of the least taxed countries in the world, so says the Paris based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Please know there is no such thing as a perfect candidate or president. Neither are nor will be. Yet, here is where my other frustrations lie, in general about the campaign, and specifically to the debate. Governor Romney, bless his heart, is a moderate leader for an extreme party. Because of this and due to some faulty premises underlying the GOP platform he has changed his opinion on several occasions. During the debate he made some more adjustments to make himself sound more believable to us independent voters. I mentioned the first one above where he moved away from reducing taxes on the upper income earners to jump-start the economy to making enough adjustments to come up to a deficit neutral budget. This was at the same time he was doing subtraction by addition saying he is going to reduce the deficit, by increasing military spending, adding back the mysterious Medicare cutback and eliminating Obamacare which the Congressional Budget Office (again one of those non-partisan economists) said will increase the deficit.
He also flipped on his regulation stance where he said not all regulations are bad and said there are parts of Dodd-Frank that should remain. This was likely news to his GOP followers. More on this later, but the President missed a huge opportunity to talk about the refunds that his Consumer Protection Bureau under Dodd-Frank have obtained for consumers totalling over $500 million for fraud and aggressive telemarketing by three credit card companies – American Express, Discover and Capital One – in the last three months. Romney also talked about how he supported education, although his stance has been to make cuts in education and he has spoken on several occasions about doing this.
Finally, he continues to be all over the place on the Affordable Care Act trying to define a sensible talking position against something that he created for Massachusetts that is patterned after a GOP idea that Senator Jim DeMint supported as late as 2007 for the whole country. Just two weeks ago he said he would continue parts of the ACA and then reversed that position. That Etch-a-sketch is getting a workout. I find it funny that the resolution to our federal budget woes under Romney is to push things like healthcare reform to the states who don’t have any money either, plus we lose some economies of scale.
My frustration with our imperfect President is he missed many opportunities to hold Romney’s feet to the fire. The President did do a mea culpa on several fronts and noted we should be doing better, but he did not aggressively defend himself. He could have done better. Yet, this will also shock GOP voters – the President can actually run on his record. I would encourage you to read the blog of www.vincentmudd.wordpress.com which looks at 18 measures of whether we are better off than four years ago. His conclusion is we are with most of the measures showing improvement. And, even Vincent’s measurements short change the President as do the GOP talking points, as many of the recession job losses turned up in the first few months of his presidency and those are directly traceable to the financial crisis started before he took office.
Yet, his record shows the following with respect to the economy:
- the stimulus did not fail – it saved us from a depression, added 200 basis points to the GDP and added 2.5 million jobs, so says six non-partisan economists like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, the CBO and others.
- the US auto industry and about one million jobs were saved and the US was paid back for the loans with interest.
- Dodd-Frank is not perfect, but it helps govern banks that continue to show poor stewardship. There is bad banking news on a weekly basis. Plus, as noted earlier, the Consumer Protection Bureau is doing precisely what it needs to do to rein in aggressive and fraudulent practices.
- more people got Pell Grants and the community colleges have been training even more people.
- the Affordable Care Act has allowed 3 million adult children to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans and preventive check-ups are now more available and preexisting conditions and lifetime limits are eliminated.
Finally, the President is at least aware that we have a global warming problem and is doing something about it. This above all things is reason not to vote for Romney because we are already ten years behind Germany on eco-energy planning and we cannot fall further behind. We must have a bi-partisan eco-energy plan that lasts the term of the next president.
Let me close with these statements as a true independent voter. I live in North Carolina. As a citizen of NC, I will be voting for Republican Pat McCrory for Governor as he is a moderate and collaborative leader and former mayor of Charlotte for fourteen years. I will also be voting for Democrat Barack Obama for President for the reasons noted above and for my disappointment in the GOP party platform. I will also be voting for Democrat Jennifer Roberts over he GOP challenger for Congress. She is former Board Chair of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners and is also a proven collaborative leader, while her opponent is a walking conflict of interest.
I am weary of the rhetoric and mistruths and am ready to vote. Yes, the President is not perfect, but he has done a better job than the GOP has given him credit for. He has actually earned your vote, but in our day and age of truthiness, you have to look past the carnival hawkers to see the real truth.