Election_2012_AIA_Feature

Election 2012 – A Clear Choice

Election_2012_AIA_Feature

The question the electorate should be asking is not whether we are better off now then we were four years ago, rather, its which path do we want America to follow as we move further into the twenty-first century, and who is most qualified to lead us there.

When President Obama was elected to office in 2008, the country was alarmingly close to an economic disaster. What the public didn’t know was how close to the edge we really came. If they had, it could have led to panic and chaos with global implications. The few months prior to and after the election, the economy led by George W Bush, in office for eight years, was in a tailspin accelerating towards fiscal collapse.

Bill Clinton, Bush’s immediate predecessor, left office with a surplus and is uniquely qualified to assess the condition of the economy four years ago when he addressed the Democratic National Convention, “Given the state of the economy President Obama inherited, not I nor any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years.” So, the answer to , “Are we better off now then we were four years ago is a no brainer because we are definately better off now then we were facing the abyss that Bush and the Republicans led us to four years ago.

There is no disagreement that today the economy is not where we want it to be, but the facts are that President Obama has led the country through steady and sustained  job growth even though most agree its not enough, and although unemployment remains above 8%, Bill Clinton’s words resonate here with clarity and fairness. (Also note that the most recent statistics shows that the unemployment rate for September 2012 has dropped to 7.8%).

The Republicans have consistently held the notion that less government intervention in the private sector and tax breaks would be enough to stimulate job growth and wealth which would eventually trickle down to the masses as Ronald Reagan proposed. George H. W. Bush called this Voodoo economics for good reason. Trickle down economics proposes that wealth flows downward from the top, much as the capstone of a pyramid (the rich), to the base (the rest of the population), yet the U.S. was the first nation to propose that power should emanate from the people, a revolutionary view for its time, in a world composed primarily of monarchies. Why then should economic wealth be the exception?

The problem with Republican philosophy is that the private sector would, at their discretion, create jobs as an incentive from savings they would get from the proposed tax cuts. However, history has shown, over and over again, that this does not work. Corporate and personal greed is the overriding motivation that Republicans consistently ignore, and with less government oversight companies who owe their allegiances to the stock holders and not to the public would have less accountability and often be tempted to conduct business at the expense of the public, and by exploiting tax loopholes. This is the main reason the electorate should insist that Mr. Romney release more detailed tax returns, since his claim that his business experience qualifies him to be President.

Mr. Romney would also eliminate the Affordable Care Act and replace it with vouchers. This, he claims, would provide personal choice and reduce costs by increasing competition between insurance companies. It is unclear how this would work or how it would effect people with preexisting conditions. He further argues that the uninsured already have access to health care without insurance by going to the ER.

This is not a good option since the emergency room is the last place you want to go. It is where people sit undiagnosed making it easy to catch nosocomial infections such as MRSA while waiting for hours to be seen by a doctor. The emergency room should be reserved for a real emergency, not for routine medical care because there is no other place to go. This further illustrates Mr. Romney’s disconnect from the poor and middle class, adding credibility to the aristocratic attitude he displayed when he referred to the 47% of the voters who pay no taxes that he is not concerned about. This was a remark he made in an unguarded moment that was captured at a fundraising event that may very well cost him the election.

Another argument is that the amount of the vouchers would never be enough to keep up with the increasing costs of health care coverage. Oxford, a private insurer for example, charges $1,600 a month for an individual policy. Multiply that by twelve and the cost is about $20,000 a year. Imagine what coverage for a middle income family would cost. I find it difficult to believe that a Romney Administration would pass a health care plan that provides each person with a $20,000 voucher.

The other consideration is that the average person frequently does not take the time to read their policies, which often have their own language and fine print. This is the same reason why privatizing social security is a bad idea. Few people know how to invest money or have the stomach for a volatile stock market.

President Obama understands that a large part of our economic problem is interconnected with the increasing cost of medical care. His vision has short term components some of which are already in effect. The Affordable Care Act is sensible primarily because it focuses on preventative care which is good medicine and has been proven to reduce costs in the long term. This is where The Affordable Care Act promotes real choice.

This election is not just about The Presidency. It exposes the stark differences between Democratic and Republican philosophies which includes the congressional races which will determine  who controls The House and The Senate and ultimately The Supreme Court. Never-the-less, the main qualification for the House and Senate elections should be whether the candidates, Republican or Democratic are willing to compromise. If they are not prepared to cooperate and work for the best interests of country rather then partisan concerns, they should not be elected. Putting all else aside this is the one question that needs be asked of each candidate of both parties during the debates for The Presidency and for The House and Senate races in each state.

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