Monday, November 05, 2012

A Clear Choice Indeed


One of the first pictures I took out here, a few days after I landed last January.

Bottom line: No-brainer, actually.

One candidate has presented moderate, sensible, and concrete plans to keep our recovery and country moving forward, the other has made vague promises that either lack detail or don’t add up, or has professed policy that would take America backward in many areas. And he lies constantly. Let's just get that out of the way. That should be enough, but in case you missed the policy behind all the obfuscation, here's a brief nutshell. Need more, check out the AP breakdown.

A bunch of links I've been saving up:

Tax plans and economy: Under President Obama, upper income earners, who captured 93% of the income growth in 2010, will be asked to pay their fare share. The deficit has fallen $238 billion this year thanks to lower government spending and higher corporate tax receipts, and the President has put forth a balanced approach that continues to invest in key areas that will grow our recovery. We have had 13 consecutive quarters of GDP growth, 31 consecutive months of private sector job growth, and have gained an estimated 5.4 million jobs back since the Great Recession.

Though he has denied it, there is no getting around the fact that Romney’s tax plan constitutes a major tax cut for the wealthy. Experts agree that there is no way his math can add up; the plan will either explode the deficit, or he will raise taxes on the middle class. That’s the bottom line. His claim that he will create 12 million jobs has been deemed a Four Pinocchio falsehood from the Washington Post as well as others. Romney does not have a plausible plan for either balancing the budget or growing our economy, period.

President Obama will use tax incentives to reward companies that bring jobs back to America, Romney would exacerbate the tax policies that encouraging outsourcing, such as eliminating the tax on foreign profits. And although he has talks tough on China now, the reality is that he has profited greatly from outsourcing jobs. If he were to label the country a currency manipulator, a trade war may ensue that would raise prices for the American consumer.

Health care: Obamacare will continue to lower the ranks of the uninsured. When the law is fully in effect, an estimated 92 percent of our citizens will have coverage, as compared to 81 percent now. Obamacare will lower the deficit by $84 billion according to the last report from the CBO. If the law is repealed by a Republican administration, the deficit will grow by $109 billion by 2022. The number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million last year thanks to health care reforms, and the rate of growth in Medicaid has slowed to 2% thanks to the improving economy.

Romney has not detailed a coherent health care plan, except to embrace the ever-changing Ryan budget that turns Medicare into Vouchercare, a move that the Kaiser Family Foundation has reviewed and found that the costs to seniors will rise faster than the amount of coverage. The plan, when detailed, is very unpopular. Romney has flip-flopped on pre-existing conditions repeatedly; his stump speech says they are covered, while his campaign says they are not. The American Enterprise Institute has concluded that 36 million Americans will be at risk of denied coverage if Romney’s real plans were implemented.

But the real problem with Romney’s health care plan will be Paul Ryan’s 38% cut to Medicaid, which will cause the states to slash over 37 million recipients – mostly poor children, seniors in nursing homes, and pregnant mothers - from health care, according to the Urban Institute. Those citizens would be forced back to increasingly expensive emergency care that will raise insurance premiums for all.

Social policy: President Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, guaranteeing fair pay for women. Romney to this day still will not clarify whether he supports that or not. President Obama believes in a women’s right to choice and keeping the government out of the doctor’s office when it comes to health care decisions. The President is also for equal marriage and employment rights for LGBT Americans.

Romney will cut funding for Planned Parenthood, ending contraception services and health care screenings for millions of women. His recent pivot to the center on abortion is a ruse; he wants to see Roe overturned, and surely would appoint judges that will do so. The Ryan budget, with its cuts Medicaid, food assistance, and other programs for vulnerable citizens, would affect mostly female recipients such as single parents and the elderly. Romney has said he would support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Energy and environment: President Obama believes in a balanced approach to our energy consumption that gradually moves us away from fossil fuels into the clean energy jobs that will power our future. Our dependence on foreign oil has fallen thanks to new fuel standards on autos and increased domestic drilling, and the Administration has moved America into 2nd place in the global investment race in renewable energy.

Romney will stop incentives for wind and other renewable energy jobs while continuing tax preferences for oil production. Romney has repeatedly promised consumers that the Keystone project would lower gas prices; this is untrue, as that oil would be subject to global pricing demands. Romney would let oil companies’ lease and drill on publicly held federal land privatizing those profits at the expense of the taxpayer. Romney would also roll back environmental protections, leaving our air and water at risk.

A fossil-fuel dependent approach to our energy consumption leaves our economy vulnerable to the whims of the oil market, and is contributing to man-made causes of climate change. Global investment in renewable energy reached a record in 2012, the United States should be a leader on the path to clean energy use and manufacturing; the Romney plan would concede that growth and those jobs to other countries.

Education: President Obama has doubled the amount of funding for Pell Grants to help students pay for college. He will not reduce eligibility, and will retain increases for inflation and rising tuition costs. The President also wants to increase funding to K-12 education.

The Ryan budget will eliminate 1 million students from receiving Pell Grants, according to a report from the Education Trust. Remaining students would see lower funding and increased eligibility measures. Education Secretary Arne Duncan testified before Congress that the Ryan budget would slash billions from Title 1 and special education funding, and would remove thousands of children from Head Start and other school-readiness programs. The budget presumes a cut of $115 billion to education over ten years according to the Associated Press.

Foreign Policy and Defense: President Obama has ended the Iraq War and has plans to draw down in Afghanistan, while bringing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists to justice. Romney has adopted a “me too” policy as of late to appear moderate and diplomatic – but in fact, he has presented a Cold War mentality and bluster that would see the United States return to the days of Bush, a time when we were distrusted and disliked in the international community. He proposes to increase defense spending – when the Pentagon has not asked for it, and the Untied States already spends more on our military than the next 13 countries combined.

Romney will not be allowed to govern from the center. With a radical House Republican agenda, he will always be beholden to the extremists that control the Party. The tax cuts for the wealthy will happen, the investment in our country and people - meaning health care, education, environment and infrastructure - will stop. Businesses don’t hire out of magical “confidence”, they hire out of demand, and Romney’s economic plans will pull demand from the economy and surely send us on a path back to recession.

Romney would have you believe that returning to Bush economics will somehow be different this time, without one shred of evidence to back up his claims. Don’t be fooled again.

President Obama took a country that was in total freefall from Republican policies and turned it around. We are on the path to more jobs, increased health care coverage, a better environment, and a nation that treats its citizens equally and gives everyone the opportunity for prosperity.

We are on our way. It sure would be to our shame to turn back now.

Vote accordingly.