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.....