Right Angles column published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent on September 18, 2012 http://www.postindependent.com/article/20120918/VALLEYNEWS/120919885&parentprofile=search
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will debate three times in October. Don’t get distracted when the moderators waste time on fringe topics like Obama’s commitment to abortion rights or the supposed transgressions of Bain Capital when Romney was at the helm.
In this election, four of the most important issues for Americans are the economy, health care, social security, and taxes. When the candidates are questioned on these, dismiss empty statements and political posturing. Listen carefully for specific answers.
The economy is the top issue for voters. That’s because 23 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. In less than four years, federal spending has increased 25% and pushed our national debt past $16 trillion. Meanwhile, businesses face the looming threats of higher taxes and increased regulation.
Government is the cause of our economic woes. Restoring the fiscal strength of America is dependent on unleashing the private sector and individual citizens.
According to MittRomney.com, Governor Romney would foster job creation and economic recovery by reducing the federal government size and spending, lowering tax rates on families, and removing excessive regulation from businesses.
On BarackObama.com, the most prominent initiative on jobs and the economy is providing government incentives to manufacturing and clean energy.
Health care encompasses more than one sixth of the U. S. economy and it ranks second in importance to Americans. If current trends continue, the government will control half of all health care spending by 2020. Spending by Medicare and Medicaid has already surpassed $520 billion and $400 billion, respectively. These programs have trillions in unfunded liabilities.
Obamacare exacerbates this situation by cutting $500 billion from Medicare while adding 25 million more people to Medicaid. It adds a trillion dollars in new health care spending along with a web of regulations, fees, and bureaucrats that trump freedom of choice for individual Americans.
Without transferring authority and responsibility back to individuals and the private sector, the U.S. health care system is destined to become unaffordable and unsustainable. Medicare and Medicaid will be doomed.
Governor Romney’s website promises repeal of Obamacare, more control of Medicaid by states, and options for Medicare enrollees to utilize health saving accounts and vouchers to purchase superior private health insurance.
President Obama’s website touts Obamacare, claiming it will give “free” health services to 47 million new Medicare beneficiaries, prevent private insurance companies from raising rates, and allow government to control “waste and abuses”.
Social Security is another top concern for voters. The program is running deficits and seniors face a 25% benefit cut by 2035 if Washington, D.C. fails to enact meaningful reforms now. Raising taxes on the wealthy to save the program is mathematically impossible.
There is no way to save Social Security without gradually raising the retirement age. Those in or near retirement get the full benefits promised, but everyone thereafter must adjust. Additionally, benefits will need to be weighted toward those with the most need.
The Romney website proposes adjustments to the retirement age and benefit structure as part of a solution.
On the Obama website, one can find links to accusations that Romney will destroy Social Security, but no plan from the President to save the program.
Most Americans know that taxes will increase at the end of 2012 unless Congress extends the Bush tax cuts. Currently, the top 1% of income earners pay 40% of all federal income taxes. The bottom 40% of income earners actually receive money from the IRS in excess of any potential taxes they might have paid.
In addition to the income tax disparity, the U.S. corporate tax rate of nearly 40% is the highest in the industrialized world. Yet government wants to take more of our money!
The plan on Mitt Romney’s website includes reducing federal spending, maintaining the Bush tax cuts for all income levels, and cutting the corporate tax rate to 25%.
On Barack Obama’s website, the one stated objective on taxes is to make millionaires and billionaires pay more.
Expect Presidential debate questions to venture into the realm of irrelevance. And the candidates may talk in lofty platitudes and abstract statements without providing any real answers. But you can focus on what matters. An informed and discerning electorate is the best chance for a brighter American future.