Thursday, April 26, 2012


 IT'S ON!!  Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president, and for once you could not get a clearer choice between a progressive President Obama and regressive Romney.  The terms conservative and liberal have lost any relevance in political discussions in the 21st century.  Despite all the debate in the Republican primaries about whether or not Romney is a "true" conservative, it is obvious he is a "true" regressive.  He, and his party, have articulated a vision for the nation which would return us to the days of the Gilded Age around the turn of the last two centuries.  It was the age of a weak federal government, no income tax, no regulations on industry and an income gap between the rich and poor remarkably similar to the one we have today between the 1% and the rest of us.  It is the key question in this election.  Which candidate will do the best job of increasing economic and political progress and move the nation towards its goal of prosperity for all of its citizens?

     In no area is the choice clearer than in the discussion about the future budget of the federal government.  Obama is proposing a budget which would bring spending down to around 22% of Gross Domestic Product and reduce the deficit over the next 10 years.  Romney has embraced the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan which would reduce government spending to 20% of GDP, and also reduces the long-term deficit.  The devil is in the details, and this is where the choice becomes clear.

     Obama has labeled Ryan's budget, which Romney fully endorses, as "...thinly veiled social Darwinism."  Darwin noted in nature the prime engine of natural selection is survival of the fittest.  Ryan and Romney want to apply the same principle to the American economy.  If you are rich and strong, a part of that magic 1%, their proposal will make you richer and stronger.  Under Ryan's plan, tax cuts for the rich would put an extra $150,000 a year in their pockets.  This would be on top of the enormous gains they have achieved during the 12 years of the Bush tax cuts.  Military spending would be increased, according to Romney, who has indicated he would be willing to start a war with Iran while continuing to fight in Afghanistan.  Taxes would be cut, military spending would increase and yet the federal government would reduce its spending to 20% of GDP and reduce the deficit.  This sounds too good to be true.  It sounds like a magic trick or maybe voodoo.  How would Romney and Ryan pull off this amazing feat?

     We can't ask Ryan or even Romney for the answer.  When asked what he would cut in order to achieve the savings he projects, Ryan is mute.  While his tax cuts would cost the treasury $4.6 Trillion (with a T) over 10 years, Ryan says his budget would achieve this enormous transfer of wealth, without increasing the deficit, by closing tax loopholes.  Which ones would he eliminate?  Perhaps he will end the mortgage interest deduction or start taxing health benefits employers provide to employees.  He could prohibit you from deducting what you pay in state income taxes from your federal burden.  He could end the earned income tax credit which rewards people making under $30,000 for finding a job and not being stuck on welfare.  However, unfortunately we are left to speculate, because neither Ryan nor Romney will specify what they would cut to pay for all the largesse they give to the wealthiest of Americans.

     Ryan does give us a hint.  He wants to gut Medicare.  He would dispute my characterization, but it’s accurate.  He wants to change Medicare from an entitlement to a system of vouchers.  You would get a voucher and then you would shop around and use it to buy health insurance from a private company.  There would be no mandate any company has to insure you.  There would be no provision about pre-existing conditions.  There would be no restrictions on what companies could charge for their plans.  Ryan does not explain what would happen if the cost of the plan exceeds the value of the voucher.  What happens if the voucher is not indexed for inflation?  What happens if a future Ryan or Romney wants to cut taxes for the rich again and decides to cut the amount of the voucher?  This is where Darwin rears his head.  Under a voucher system, you make up the difference between the value of the voucher and the cost of the health care plan.   For the rich and strong, this is no problem.  They can afford whatever the care costs.  For the rest of us, we would regress to the days before 1965 when seniors were forced to choose between medical care and pet food for dinner.  If you think I'm engaging in hyperbole, Google the poverty rate for seniors prior to 1965 and read some of the stories from that era about the Hobson's choices they were forced to make.

     This election is the clearest choice yet between a progressive and regressive candidate in the modern era.  In 2000, Bush tried to prevent this debate by disguising his true philosophy under the mantle of compassionate conservatism.  He was going to cut taxes on the rich, increase military spending, cut Medicare and Social Security, but he would be compassionate.  The resulting tsunami of debt, along with an orgy of de-regulation in the financial world, led to the depression of 2008 and left Obama with a broken country.  Since the emergence of Ronald Reagan, regressives have tried to "trickle down" on 99% of us.  It is not lost on anyone, that under Clinton, after raising taxes on the rich without a single Republican vote, the nation enjoyed a period of unprecedented prosperity and job creation unknown for over 25 years.

     IT'S ON !!  This election could not be clearer.  One side wants to cut taxes for the rich again while watching the deficit climb and would gut most of the social programs in a half-hearted attempt to balance the budget.  The other would increase taxes on the top 1% and reduce the deficit by slowing the cost of medical care by radically changing the health care system.  (if the Supreme Court's five regressive acolytes don't gut it first)  Obama wants to cut military spending and end wars while Romney is looking for reasons to fight.  The Ryan budget is no different than the Reagan budget, or the Bush budgets from 2000 to 2008.  The results will not be any different either.  Reagan led the depression of 1983 and raised taxes 8 times to offset his budgets while Bush brought on the second biggest economic disaster in modern history.

     In 2012, voters can vote for Darwin or for progress.  The choice can’t be any clearer than that.....


  1. Great to read a new post from you Bernie!!!!!!
    A great post it is!!!!! So true, so obvivous, hopefully there's enough Americans smart enough to make the right choice. I love when you write about the regressive GOP. Take Care Bernie

  2. Wrong metaphor, Bernie!

    In his day, Darwin's ideas represented revolutionary progress.

    Compared to "Intelligent Design", they still do.

    1. Actually I believe the Darwin reference was Obama's, and the context here is the "survival of the fitest" concept

  3. Bernie,

    There's another side to this not-so-clear story: we cannot continue to spend way more than we take in (and, no, taxing the rich won't cut it -- even if you tax the rich at 100% of income, you wouldn't dent the debt, not even nick it). The budget gap and national debt are shameful and must be cut - now. I'm not in favor of cutting Medicare for the elderly, but I am in favor of taking strong medicine now to avert an otherwise irreverisible slide into national insignificance and poverty. And make no mistake - on the borrowing binge we're on, that's exactly where we're headed.

    BTW, do you really trust any politician, of any party, when he promises something (i.e. debt reduction) ten years into the future??

  4. Just a few facts, Bernie.

    So Bernie is pulling out hair over a 2 percent difference? Interesting.

    Obama cut Medicare by $500 Billion! Hello, Bernie!!

    Mr. Obama was given a very detailed report - which he asked for - by the Simpson-Bowls Comission... and Obama wouldn't even pass what they came up with!!

    Obama hasn't passed a budget in what, 3 years?

    Any cuts Obama claims to implement in the next 10 years are guesswork. And this is after Obama skyrockeed the baseline spending.

    God bless, Bernie.

  5. I agree Romney is a regressive and Ryan's budget isn't even worth commenting on, but to say Obama is a progressive is almost as wrong as calling him a nazi. Where is Obama when the progressive caucus proposes a reasonable budget? Where is Obama when it comes to violating our civil liberties? Why is Obama intentionally misusing Reagan's legacy of economic destruction to RAISE taxes on the rich and in last summer's debt battle. I could go on and on.
    Obama is definitely the lesser of two evils, but thanks to the undemocratic way we determine the president, Obama doesn't need your support. A look at the electoral map, historical data and the polls, shows Obama has already won (if you are a pessimist and live in Florida, Ohio or are a multi-billionaire, you might want to support Obama). This is not 1980 or 2000 where a psychopath could win by voting for a third party. We have been losing as a nation for 30 years. Why don't we send a message of hope and vote for a true progressive like Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.

  6. With Obama you get drones and a drug war.. He even lied about leaving MMJ dispensaries alone. I could go on and on citing his Bush like antics.

    Obama is NOT a progressive.

    Yeah, there's a "clear choice" alright: Republican #1 or Republican #2.

  7. Although i would have preferred Grayson or Kucinich, I will take BHO over Romney any day of the week.

  8. What people don't seem to get is that Romney is a trained hatchet man. He will get us all jobs and the only problem is you will need to southeast asia to work at any of them