Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Obama Option

Author: Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project

 <-- This Guy is Obama

I was originally going to post an objective look at each party's platform and their accomplishments since the last election. However since I know who I'm voting for, I'm going to instead say why. This will include much of the same information that would have been included in the other articles.

The business I work in has seen many jobs lost to cheaper South American competitors. My own job is in constant threat of this outsourcing.

The American Jobs Act is the sort of bill that could help protect my job. It provides tax incentives to bring jobs back to America, among other things. Republicans have been blocking it for a year.

I'm not a rich guy and will likely need to rely on Social Security and Medicare in old age even if I become more wealthy. Romney and Ryan have been talking about privatizing (or partially privatizing) Medicare which non-partisan economists agree will double the out of pocket costs for future retirees.

Republican policies are bad for my wife's education and job. When the Republicans cut spending, they cut funding for schools and education. She still needs to finish college for her job in education-related fields.

It'll be awfully hard to not take personally anyone voting for Republican scumbags this election. Why? Republican policies will cause personal injury to me so those votes are essentially personal attacks on me.

I guess the "positive" side is that the GOP platform will prevent gays from getting married which is none of my business nor anyone else's except for the gay couple and the religious freedom of whoever wishes to officiate the ceremony. Also, the GOP will protect the zygotes and fetuses of rapists from the horrible women who wish to abort them. Wait, those aren't good things. There is no positive side to the GOP platform.

That's why I'm voting for Obama. This is the first election where the right and wrong sides have been so clearly defined. Here's a rundown of all the reasons.

Reason #1: Conservatives Suck at Economics
Reason #2: Republican Bigotry Disqualifies Them as a Political Party
Reason #3: Obama's Foreign Policy Is An Example of How It Should Be Done
Reason #4: We're Better Off
Reason #5: GOP Report Card
Reason #6: The GOP Has Been Willing to Hurt the USA in Order to Regain Power
Reason #7: They're Not the Same

Reason #1: Conservatives Suck at Economics

Republicans (and Libertarians) argue that we need to give more tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations, not incentives like the American Jobs Act. Fun Fact: Giving corporations more tax breaks doesn't give them any incentive to hire more. It doesn't create more demand for their product or make labor in America any cheaper compared to overseas.

Tax incentives for hiring Americans and raising wages are what's needed. Federal income taxes are already (in 2012) at their lowest point in 67 years, and America's corporate tax rate is the 4th effective lowest in the world. Though the base corporate tax rate is high, the rate companies pay when deductions are included is actually very low.

If the goal of conservatives is simply to make the rich richer, they're actually very good at it. Current wealth inequality is extreme. So, maybe it's that the people who believe what Republicans say are bad at economics. The income of the rich has been growing while the income of the other 90% of Americans has been stagnant. Meanwhile, inflation has continued.

What's more, two-thirds of private-sector job growth in the past five decades came with Democrats in the White House. Additionally, the economy has added 4.5million private sector jobs in the last 29 consecutive months. While this number doesn't factor in losses, the majority of losses occurred during Obama's first year before his administration had introduced any new economic policies. But any way you slice it, private sector jobs have still increased under Obama. Additionally, public sector (government) jobs have decreased under Obama. That's something which anti-government waste conservatives should praise. Yet, they hypocritically don't.

Lastly (for all the conservatives who criticize Obama for not creating more jobs), I thought you guys wanted the government to stay out of things. Why don't you people stop looking to the government to fix your problems? Some of them say the government doesn't ever create jobs so why do they expect it to? So you see, when it's government jobs they like, Republicans agree that government spending absolutely creates jobs.

Conservative government policies which favor globalism and outsourcing are to blame for many of the good jobs no longer being available in America. Democrats know that tax incentives for hiring American workers are needed to balance the playing field against cheap foreign labor. The same types of incentives could be used to raise wages here. It's foolish to expect the economy to magically improve if people don't have more money to spend domestically. This is why government money used to assist the poor is money well spent as it immediately recirculates back into the economy. Meanwhile, most tax breaks for the wealthy simply go into their bank accounts to be saved.

As far as placing blame for the economy during Obama's first year before his economic policies had taken effect, economists on both sides like to use their own math. They agree that 8 million jobs were lost as a result of the recession. When the previous administration sets the building on fire, it's not fair to blame the new guys for the building still being on fire when they first arrive. This is why I disagree with the report at, not the numbers but the interpretation. It says that 1 million net jobs were created under Bush. However, that number is closer to negative 3 million if losses from 2009 (4.1 million) are included. Don't blame the fire on the firefighters, at least not until they've had a chance to get started fighting it.

Of course, the kicker is that the real culprit is decades of incorrect economic policies. However, Democrats have been better at guiding America's flawed policies. For example, the 2001 recession in Bush's term could be blamed on Clinton. However, that recession cost 2.7 million jobs total whereas the recession started under Bush cost a total of 8 millions jobs. So, even if that full 2.7 million wasn't counted against Bush, he'd still have a net job loss for his term. Recent numbers have shown that, including losses - some of which should be attributed to Bush, Obama's term has so far still generated a net 300,000 jobs. Likewise, unemployment has now dropped below 8%. That is, mind you, with Republicans having blocked most job bills pushed by Obama and the Democrats.

Likewise, the federal deficit and the blame for it is entirely a red herring for similar reasons. The deficit is only bad if other countries consider the USA not good for its debt. Conservatives (the GOP House voted into power in 2010) got America's credit rating downgraded by fighting the debt ceiling increase which is America's promise to actually repay the debt it owes. Junior Tea Party Congress people and other Republicans somehow felt that not raising the debt ceiling could win them political points. They hurt America instead.

The conservative idea of reducing the federal deficit by only cutting spending is bogus. I wonder how many conservatives pay off debts in their personal lives by only decreasing their spending and balk at the idea of increasing their income. Making more money is a great way to pay off one's debt, yet Republicans think they can pay off the debt only by cutting spending while also decreasing federal income (the federal taxes which are already at a 67 year low). Some of them want to increase military spending at the same time while also promising to not cut Social Security or Medicare. They simply refuse to use logic and promise the impossible. Meanwhile, Obama has reduced the increase of federal spending (not since Eisenhower has an increase been so small) while being unable to raise taxes on those who can afford it and whom Romney agreed aren't the people who need help (when at their first presidential debate).

How does Romney suggest reducing the deficit? He disliked that Obama wanted to end specific tax breaks for oil companies totaling $24 billion despite oil companies raking in record profits during recent years. Romney then said energy independence was good and complained about $90 billion in federal assistance to clean and green energy programs which promote energy independence and a cleaner environment (reducing pollution protects people from pollution-related health problems). Romney then said he'd end federal funding to programs like Sesame Street (“just $445 million from the government in 2012—or about 0.014 percent of the federal budget”) which promote education despite saying he was pro-education. So, Romney will cut spending for education, the environment, and energy while preserving tax cuts for the oil companies which can afford to make political donations.

Reason #2: Republican Bigotry Disqualifies Them as a Political Party

Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan,said this: “The things you talk about, like traditional marriage and family and entrepreneurship, these aren’t values that are indicative to any one person or race or creed or color. These are American values, these are universal human values.” By including “traditional marriage” Ryan is saying that preventing gay marriage is a universal human value. In fact, preventing it denies people their civil rights and some religions their religious freedom (the ones that use the Bible correctly).

Any party whose platform includes denying a portion of the people their civil rights should automatically be disqualified from consideration. It's no different than racism or bigotry. In my eyes, those bigoted against gays are no different than racists or misogynists. The Family Research Council is a hate group no different than the KKK.

It baffles me when I hear people complain about a militant gay agenda. If I didn't have the same rights as other people and there were groups actively trying to prevent me from gaining those rights, I might be far more militant than gays throwing a parade. Frankly, the homophobes have been lucky the gays have been as civil as they have.

We shouldn't forget that as an 18-year old senior at the Cranbrook School, Mitt Romney had his buddies hold down a closeted gay student (whom Romney felt was effeminate) so that he could shave off his hair as his victim screamed for help. It was a brutal attack designed to hurt and humiliate. This is who Romney is. Sure, Romney has apologized (because it was brought to light). However, his insincerity is evident in that he laughs it off when it's mentioned. He claims he didn't do it because the student was gay. That's doesn't make it better. That would mean the only reason for doing it would have been to hurt and humiliate someone else in an unfair fight simply because he could.

It's the easiest litmus test of all to realize that people must not be listened to if they support the oppression or marginalization of any minority in the USA. It's distinctly un-American. Two consenting adults should be able to marry. Religious institutions that want to marry them should have that freedom. It's personal freedom and religious freedom at stake here. Under the guise of religious freedom, Republicans claim that their religious tyranny is otherwise.

Frankly, the social control that is desired by social conservatism is big government intruding into the homes and personal lives of people. That's not small government. This is why I say the current meaning of political conservatism has lost all elements of being conservative.

Reason #3: Obama's Foreign Policy Is An Example of How It Should Be Done

Instead of unilaterally invading countries that were of no threat to us and giving the rest of the world a negative attitude towards us, the Obama administration ended major operations in Iraq which we earlier invaded under false pretenses. Obama also made pursuing Osama Bin laden, the leader of the terrorist organization behind 9/11, a priority and successfully killed him. While it is true we are still in Afghanistan, perhaps unnecessarily, the Obama administration is only as conflicted as other groups of politicians from both parties about that effort.

However, Libya is where Obama has shined. As part of a UN force requested by Libyan citizens, we helped the Libyan people win their freedom from terrorist supporter Muammar Gaddafi whom Ronald Reagan failed to kill. We did that without any U.S. military casualties (though journalists did die) or troops on the ground. Although our ambassador was killed by an al-Qaeda affiliated group using protests against an anti-Islamic movie as a cover, the Libyan people then rallied in support of America and kicked the extremist militias out of their city. Helping people win their freedom from dictators and gaining the support of people is how an international community should behave.

Republicans somehow think this reflects badly on the president when it is something to be praised. In fact, they launched an investigation (with taxpayer money) to figure out how to blame the Democrats for the attack on the Libyan embassy despite it being the same Republicans who voted to reduce the budget for the embassy's defense. In any case, our President isn't responsible for an American who makes an offensive movie or the ensuing al-Qaeda attack on our embassy. Obama rightfully condemned the movie, defended its freedom of speech, and sent marines to catch the killers.

Reason #4: We're Better Off

Under the Obama administration, I've gotten married and bought my first new car. That seems pretty good for me. We're also better off as a country.

Obama is one of only five Presidents to see the stock market gain over 50% in 3 years. That's a free market capitalist's dream.

Shortly after Obama took office, the Dow hit 6626. It's now at 13,066. The stock market has DOUBLED.

He's created 4.5 million jobs in 29 consecutive months. This link also shows how our GDP and unemployment would have been worse without the stimulus.

Obama's policies have clearly helped. If anything, the stimulus should have been bigger; however, right wing propaganda has turned America against government direct economic stimulus. After the Great Depression and WWII, the government spent significantly more to help the recovery. There are other things that could have been done, but Republicans have obstructed everything except tax cuts which don't help. Taxes are already the lowest in 67 years, and lowered taxes don't create a need for more jobs or an incentive to hire Americans. Obama knows this.

Obama's administration saved the auto industry (without the massive layoffs the Romney plan endorsed), passed universal health care (which Romney endorsed in 2006), and killed the top terrorist in the world (whom Romney says he'd have gotten except that he clearly said he wouldn't have been looking for). I point out that Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks might not be such a household name if George W. Bush hadn't dropped the ball on defending us.

Americans living abroad love having a President who is admired and respected overseas.

Obama helped the welfare program by giving states more leeway in choosing how they administer it. That's something Romney asked for when he was Governor of Massachusetts. Romney's attacks on Obama for this show just what a hypocrite Romney is.

Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than Bush and taken less vacations than any other recent President. Only Carter and Clinton took less vacations. Reagan took approximately twice as many vacation days while George W. Bush took triple the amount of vacations within the same time frame as Obama.

He's also repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), and there have been no catastrophic consequences. The benefit is we're no longer at risk of losing skilled military personnel who happen to be gay. He also stopped defending DOMA (the discriminate against gays act) which I believe is unconstitutional.

Of course, I'd be remiss to not mention that he laid the groundwork to improve health care and extend the life of Medicare. For the last few decades, many politicians have talked about reforming health care. Only one actually bothered to take the political risk to do it, and for that, he deserves our praise. In 2012, the rate that health insurance premiums rose dropped to a historic low. My own health insurance premiums actually dropped instead of increasing.

If you'd like to hear my mock horror at what the liberals have done, click here.

Reason #5: GOP Report Card

What have the Republicans done since they were elected to a majority in the House in 2010?

Republicans have blocked Obama's American Jobs Act as part of their obstructionism strategy. The American Jobs Act is much closer to the real economic solution than any other plans suggested by our politicians.

They've spent too much money (up to $1.5 million) protecting DOMA in order to not recognize any gay marriages performed by states where it's legal.

The House GOP had America's credit rating downgraded by fighting the debt ceiling increase which is America's promise to actually repay the debt it owes. Junior Tea Party Congress people and other Republicans somehow felt that not raising the debt ceiling could win them political points. They hurt America instead.

They spent $50 million of Congressional time in efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without trying to replace it with anything. This would have denied health care to $30 million Americans, let people with pre-existing conditions be discriminated against, and prevent over $700 million in medicare savings which will help keep it running. Politifact rates this as false because they calculate it at $20 million instead, which is still a hefty sum. However, the CBO calculates the costs that would be incurred from actually repealing it would be much higher ($210-$300 billion). Romney says repealing it would save $95 billion in 2016 which is false. And if Romney wins, it's very doubtful he'll actually repeal it.

Republicans obstructed re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act because they didn't want protections for American Indians, illegal aliens, or LGBT people. When women are afraid to come forward for help, it keeps them in abusive situations, essentially creating an example of modern day slavery. Just because a woman might be a non-citizen or minority doesn't mean they're not entitled to human dignity within our borders. America needs to be a better country than that.

Instead of focusing on jobs, Republicans have been intent fighting abortion rights, gay rights, and worker rights. Apparently, they think the solution to our economic problems is to degrade worker's rights. I guess they'll be happy once we're like China. Battles have been fought in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana. The Republicans have lost their way on this issue. They should look to Reagan to remind them that: "Where Free Unions and Collective Bargaining are Forbidden, Freedom is Lost."

They've also promoted fear and hatred of Muslims. Michele Bachmann (MN), Peter King (NY), and Joe Walsh (IL) are some of the most guilty of this. This Islamophobia has even led to attacks on Sikhs just because they look similar to the ignorant.

On the campaign trail, Republicans have been happy to use dishonest propaganda. Romney/Ryan accused  Obama of weakening Welfare by letting States have some leeway which is what Romney wanted as Governor and of harming Medicare by cutting it by the same amount that the Ryan plan did. Only, Obamacare makes the cuts by reducing overpayments to hospitals and otherwise making the program more efficient while the Ryan plan cuts benefits to people on Medicare.

That's a dismal and frankly un-American record. What's more, the GOP party platform is both disgusting and shows a lack of comprehension of our Constitution:

Reason #6: The GOP Has Been Willing to Hurt the USA in Order to Regain Power

The Republicans like to claim that Obama hasn't been bipartisan. The truth is that they threw all offers of cooperation back in his face.

There's evidence that Mitch McConnell sabotaged our government for political gain. Numerous sources have corroborated that he orchestrated obstruction of every vote that Democrats supported. That's right, the Republicans decided to oppose the Democrats on everything before the Obama administration even took office.

Joe Biden said, “McConnell decided to withhold all cooperation even before we took office.”
Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) went on record telling Grunwald that Republican marching orders were to oppose everything the Obama administration proposed. Republicans Bob Bennett of Utah and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania both confirmed this.

This is quite evident in many of the votes Congress has undertaken, from the American Jobs Act to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which uses past Republican ideas. They even opposed providing aid to fire fighters who incurred illnesses from the 9/11 tragedy.

Yes, they opposed efforts to provide care for first responders and emergency workers who suffered illnesses related to 9/11. It's unbelievable to me that Republicans would deny aid for medical care to the true heroes who helped in the face of our great American tragedy, but they did. Eventually, a stripped down version that provided about half as much aid passed. However, Paul Ryan opposed it every time.

Frankly, the Republicans have made the call for the death of bipartisanship. Because of their obstructionism, they've given no reason for future Democrats to ever attempt bipartisanship again. Romney deviously claims that Obama has failed to be bipartisan. I don't know what makes him think that Democrats would not now seek to undermine him the same way Republicans have done to Obama. We'll have to wait and see whether bipartisanship is now dead for all time. I think it could come back if the Republican Party somehow changes.

Reason #7: They're Not the Same

Some people claim all politicians are the same, that Obama and Romney are the same or that Obama is Bush the Third. They're fed up with Washington and think nothing ever changes or get done. All one has to do is look at Obama's record and see that change for the better can happen. However, not much gets done when a President has a Congress that won't cooperate or that is gridlocked by obstructionists.

How is it that George W. Bush and Obama are similar?
Did they both drop the ball on defense, letting terrorists attack us on American soil, and then retaliate by invading the wrong country? Did they both then attack civil liberties and religious freedom by trying to ban marriage for a minority? No, those were both only Bush. Who was it who tried to take the first step in eliminating Social Security by privatizing it? Again, that was only Bush.

How is it that Romney and Obama are similar?
Do they both want to curtail civil rights for minorities? Do they both want to provoke a war with Iran? Do they both belong to parties that suck at economics? Do they both belong to parties that increasingly feel that Welfare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are unconstitutional? Do they both want to change government to lift the burden from the wealthy by increasing the burden on all the rest? No, those are only Romney.

The praise I've given is sure to cause some to call me an Obama-bot or Obama-worshipper. Others will say Obama and Romney are just the same. Both claims are tacitly untrue. If I could design the person who would be our president from scratch, that person would be different from Obama in a great many ways. But of the two candidates, Obama is the clear choice. Of the third party candidates, I only see Governor Gary Johnson as viable. In fact, I see him as the only other valid choice besides Obama. Johnson is a Libertarian and more economically conservative than Obama without being disqualified due to wanting to institutionalize discrimination like Romney. However, Libertarians adhere to the same bad economic theory as most conservatives.

The would be Obama-clones, Jill Stein (Green Party) and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party), would have you believe they could do a better job than Obama despite not having the same experience or legitimately different personal beliefs. They fail to account for the political realities that cause politicians to be unable to get everything they want.

Meanwhile, the Constitution Party candidate, Virgil Goode, crusades against America giving out green cards. So, he criticizes both legal and illegal immigration. The truth is that America has imported many great minds which have increased our industry and science fields, leading to the creation of new jobs.

And of course, there is Ron Paul. The Federal Reserve is his great White Whale, and he's certainly no social libertarian. He'd use his religion to guide his views on abortion and gay rights, instead of science or a philosophy of individual liberty. Whereas Gary Johnson is a true Libertarian, Republican Ron Paul appeases Southern racists by calling Abraham Lincoln a failure and claiming he could've done a better job, ignoring the reality that it was the South who attacked the North first (at Fort Sumter).

As much as I'd like this election to be between Obama and Johnson (in which I'd still support Obama but could actually respect Johnson), it's between Obama and Romney (or "R. Money" as known to his friends). Many voters simply treat their political party the same as their religion or favorite sports team, not really caring about information because they won't change their belief that “X” is always the right choice. Therefore until the election system is changed (and it should be), I do believe that voting a third party or not voting are both a vote for whoever ends up winning. At a time where we stand at a precipice where never before has the correct choice been more clear, allowing the wrong choice to be picked is unconscionable. That is why I support Obama.