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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Experts- What Are the Issues?

I asked our "experts" what they considered the major issues of this campaign. These are individuals who are across the political spectrum, but all very well read. Here are the questions they were asked-

1- From your perspective, as you vote, what do you see as the major issues in this election?

2- What are issues that either candidate are bringing up which you do not feel are important issues, that are more just campaign ploys?

3- What are issues the candidates do not seem to be dealing with which you feel should be issues of the campaign?

Here are their responses....

RR says....

#1.  The economy and the deficit.  Whenever times are tough, the economy dominates everything else, as evidenced by 1980, 1992, and 2008.  Economic growth is tied to deficit reduction, as the Greeks and Spaniards are finding out.  An underlying issue is just how much a national government can (and should) do to influence economic policy.  This will be subtext of the Romney campaign—government efforts to improve the economy are inefficient and inherently corrupt, as the government will assist its political allies, regardless of their contribution to economic recovery.

#2.  Each side is making noises about reducing the deficit, but neither side is being honest about what it will take to accomplish that.  Obama’s class warfare campaign calling for a “fair share” tax increase on the “rich” will raise no more than $70 billion, according to a study in the Wall Street Journal.  Romney’s statements about cutting funds for PBS and the Endowment of the Arts, etc. (with which I happen to agree) will not even save $1 billion a year.  With a deficit of $16 plus trillion, none of these suggestions will make even a small dent in the deficit.  The best hope of deficit reduction was the Simpson Bowles task force report (which the fanatics on both sides ignored) because it recommended the perfectly sensible approach of both raising revenue and limiting government expenditures.

Unless Congress acts before the end of the year, the Bush-era tax cuts will expire and the mandated cuts in spending agreed to last year will kick in.  The combined effect of which will take about a trillion dollars out of the US economy, which is more than enough to trigger another huge recession. 

#3.  Reform of the tax code.  America has the most complicated tax code in the world, and it has evolved as federal lawmakers have written exemptions and credits into the code to repay their supporters (see item #1).  It is estimated that the government would generate an additional $1trillion in revenue just by doing away with these exemptions and deductions.  These tax breaks are why rich guys like Romney pay an effective tax rate of 14% and every other household that makes more than $75,000 a year pays at least 20%.  It explains how General Electric generated a profit of $5.1 billion in 2010 and paid $0 in federal income taxes (Note:  GE disputes this data which was reported in a New York Times article, but refused to disclose its US income tax liability, saying it paid a “small amount”).  The system is so complicated that it costs the economy somewhere between $150 and $430 billion a year just to comply with the tax code.  Furthermore, I’ve seen estimates that more than $290 billion a year is simply never reported or collected, so each of us honest suckers who pays taxes is paying about $2,200 a year to subsidize the non-reporters and non-payers.  This is not a Republican or Democratic issue because both parties engage in this kind of conduct—trading tax breaks for campaign support.  (Note:  Paul Ryan did make this an issue in the 2010 elections—it will be interesting to see if he continues to do so.)

Obama talks about raising tax rates on the wealthy, but the really wealthy are the very people most likely to obtain and use tax breaks to limit their taxes, so increased rates really hurt the upper middle class.  If you couple this with a system where the lowest 50% of wage earners pay no federal income taxes, you get a system that is disproportionately taxing the very people who generate 80% of private-sector jobs—small businesses and professionals.  Romney, of course, isn’t talking about tax simplification, as the wealthy are the people most likely to take advantage of tax complexity.

HD says...
1.  Both parties try to please their constituencies.  I would be considered middle class.  I understand the market place.  However I don't believe the market should decide what would be produced, how it will be produced, and who will get what is produced.  I think middle class societies  are more stable and more productive.

2.  I don't believe Obama is an evil scheming person as I read in the paper today.   

3.  Finding an acceptable mix of cuts and revenues.  Maybe the country is too divided??

Jim Wyman says...
Question 1:  
Here are the major campaign issues I've written about on my blog:  

1.  Who was responsible for the Wall St. meltdown which resulted in my house losing over $150,000 of its value, and why haven't those responsible been arrested, tried, and jailed?

2.  Why are there still gas guzzling vehicles on American roads that get 10-12 miles a gallon?  Wouldn't getting these vehicles off the road reduce the price of gasoline?

3.  Why are there so many tax loopholes for certain individuals and corporations?  Shouldn't getting rid of these loopholes be the first step in meaningful tax reform?

4.  Can oil companies drill for oil safely on American soil and in American waters?  If so, shouldn't they be allowed to do it?  Is green energy even viable?

5.  Should those who make hundreds of thousands of dollars receive Medicare or Social Security after age 65?  Shouldn't these people just get back what they put in?

6.  Hasn't standardized testing in schools gone too far?  The ACT test was not created to evaluate high schools, yet Illinois is using the test for just that purpose.  Shouldn't that be changed?

7.  Shouldn't the productive citizens who have come to the U.S. from Mexico and other countries be allowed to remain, and shouldn't just the criminals be deported?

8.  Why aren't the medical insurance companies held to the same rigid standards as property insurers?  My small tube of psoriasis medicine costs $416 without insurance.  My wife an I are paying over $11,000 in medical insurance premiums when we once paid nothing.  Plus, we have to fight for every dollar because our medical insurance carrier continually denies our claims.  Can't this be fixed?

9.  Shouldn't college students be able to work their way through school?  My mom and uncles waited on tables while going to college and then worked during the summers.  Today's college students can't do this because college costs are so high.  Should every kid even go to college?

10.  Why does the United States continue to violate the borders of sovereign nations by sending in American troops?  Shouldn't this be stopped completely?

11.  Shouldn't space exploration of the Solar System be reinstated?  Don't we get extraordinary benefits from space travel, and won't we need it some day when life on the Earth is extinguished?

12.  Should government programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps be reinstated to provide jobs for chronically unemployed workers?  My dad used the C.C.'s as a bridge from school to his first job.  Why can't this work today?

13.  If there is real scientific evidence that global warming is occurring, shouldn't the government be taking steps to reverse it?  Was our warm March an accident or a symptom of global warming?

14.  Shouldn't there be restrictions on how much political action committees can spend on elections?  Isn't the argument that limiting PAC spending is restricting free speech completely bogus?

Question 2:  Bogus issues (from blog posting):
Rev. Wright forming Obama's political ideas through inflammatory rhetoric from the pulpit.
Republicans always using the President's middle name:  Barack Hussein Obama, tying him to Muslims.
The President's birth certificate (You didn't think that would go away did you?)
The President's old girlfriend(s).  Just think what your old girlfriends/boyfriends would say about you!
First Lady Michelle Obama promoting an anti-obesity campaign but having a large posterior.
The President as a socialist or communist.
The "You didn't build it" quotation.

Mitt Romney's days at an exclusive high school where he terrorized weaker, gay students.
Mitt Romney amassing large amounts of money at Bain Capital and putting people out of work.
Governor Romney's grandfather avoiding American polygamy laws by fleeing to Mexico.
Governor Romney's wife Ann never working a day in her life while raising five sons.
Governor Romney not caring about the poor.
Governor Romney's dog riding on a cage on top of the vacation car.
Romney's tax returns.

Question 3:  See my response to Question #1.

HB says....
1. The economy is the issue. There are several sub-issues such as the deficit, curbing entitlement spending and tax rates
2. Attacks on Mitt Romney's business ability and wealth. Statements that the Republicans want to "put y'all back in chains"
3. Medicare will be the biggest part of the Federal budget within the next few years. Something must be done to change it in a way that it can be sustained. Discussing it has traditionally been taboo in politics. A real solutions must be developed for undocumented immigrants. That issue is being addressed with only demagoguery.

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