Dear Fellow Independents,
We are six months from the Presidential Election and the race is on. President Obama officially kicked off his campaign today in Ohio and Mitt Romney is just formalities away from being named the Republican nominee. With record setting money on both sides in play from campaign donations, PACS, SuperPACS, and party committees we will be inundated with campaign ads especially in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia. North Carolina, and the western cluster of Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. Nearly every pundit, campaign operator, commentator, and analyst is predicting a close election, so forgive me for being cliché, every vote will matter. Especially for the nonaligned electorate. For me, the choice is clear.
America has not seen a level of competence as high as we are seeing today since World War II and the Roosevelt years. Under 3+ years of the Obama administration Bin laden is dead and his Al-Qaeda network has been decimated, we are out of Iraq, the timetable is set in Afghanistan, the U.S. is unequivocally THE Pacific power after years of ignoring the region, our global standing is at its highest level in 15 years, Iran is buckling under global sanctions, and we haven’t invaded anyone. Cowboy national security has been replaced with collaborative international cooperation. As for Mr. Romney, he is a neophyte in international affairs and geopolitics and he will have to pick a Vice Presidential running mate with international experience. The last time we faced this proposition from the GOP we got Bush/Cheney; I am not ready to take that chance again. When asked if he would pursue Bin Laden in 2007 Romney said "it's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." The businessman looked at a cost benefit analysis, not a national security analysis. We have made great progress and now’s not the time to go through a learning curve.
President Obama will be the first to admit that he is disappointed in the speed of the recovery as would most Americans. But the headwinds our nation faces are as strong as a Sonoran Desert Haboob in Arizona in August. Credit/Debt recessions are the most difficult to overcome as personal, local, state, corporate, and federal balance sheets needed massive repair. That being said, I believe the general strategy has been spot on, federal government spending, tax cuts, and funds for the states were the right thing to do so that the economy could repair itself: first with individual debt. For the record, I believed TARP was the right thing to do and I give President Bush credit for pushing it through, though the execution should have included some stipulations on the banks. My biggest knock on the President has been the failure to turn the housing market around quicker, it has been a drag on the recovery. I also believe if the House had the nation’s best interests at heart, an infrastructure bill would have been passed, using cheap credit, thousands of unemployed construction workers, and a plethora of projects to choose from, our nation in dire need of reinvestment would be better off. As for Mr. Romney, his plans lack detail and credibility. This is disturbing for a man who is a self-proclaimed successful businessman. His most recent plan would lead to an additional $500Billion in deficits in 2015. Mr. Romney claims he wants to cut corporate tax rates and make up the difference by removing loopholes and tax credits, of which is he severely vague in defining. If his credibility already was questionable, on Friday, Mr. Romney said “We should be seeing numbers in the 500,000 jobs created per month. This is way, way off from what should happen in a normal recovery.” Only four times in the last 50 years have we seen job growth numbers like that in a SINGLE month (twice under Carter, the man who Romney flippantly tried to offend last week). Romney also said when referring to the 8.1% unemployment rate "Anything over 4% is not cause for celebration.”, clearly showing a lack of understanding labor markets. The last time we saw unemployment rates that low was during the Clinton administration driven by a dot.com bubble. Sorry, the more Mr. Romney speaks on economic and labor matters the more I think he really is ill prepared for the office.
Once again America finds itself being torn asunder by the culture wars. The difference this time is the seismic shift in American views concerning gay rights, contraception, and abortion rights. Mr. Obama, while failing to adequately stake a position on gay marriage and DOMA, is light years ahead of Mr. Romney’s position for seeking to repeal DADT, establish a constitutional amendment establishing marriage between man and woman as the sole definition of marriage, and eliminate any partner rights under current civil unions. These attitudes counter the majority of Americans including us Independents. With respect to abortion, Americans are not pro-abortion, but they are pro-choice as protected by Roe V. Wade. Mr. Romney would see Roe V. Wade overturned, “Today, we recommit ourselves to reversing that decision, for in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America”, Planned Parenthood defunded, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that.", and woman’s health services greatly reduced. Make no mistake about it, Mr. Romney is further to the right than any other Republican President.
If you oppose universal healthcare or mandates, I am afraid neither candidate is for you. In this case, their actions speak louder than words as both have established systems; one nationally (Obama) and one statewide (Romney).
Never has education been as important an issue for American economic security. The need for scientists, technicians, engineers, mathematicians is outpacing the supply from American universities, community colleges, and vocational schools. A recent Deloitte analysis said 600,000 American jobs went unfilled due to a lack of supply. It is a matter of national security. Imagine a Manhattan Project on a national level. What do the candidates say? President Obama wants to increase the number of Pell grants, invest in community colleges, something the conservative newspaper The Economist supports, and liberalize primary education. Mr. Romney wants to cut the Department of Education and funding for higher education. Once again, the man is so used to milking dividends from an investment (e.g. carried interest) as opposed to taking a long term position.
President Obama has increased domestic exploration, production, and pipeline construction within the 50 states and offshore. He has not stopped hydraulic fracturing like several European countries and his policies have reduced domestic demand while increasing US energy exports. As for a long term approach, the President has urged investment in nontraditional sources as part of an all of the above solution. Yes Solyndra was a bad investment, but the strategy of alternative energy investment remains sound. Mr. Romney offers no such comprehensive energy policy other than he says he would go after OPEC. Not sure what that means.
To me the decision is whether we continue to look forward with President Obama or retreat back to previous economic and potential foreign policies that have not worked in the past. I do not believe Government can or should even try to fix all of our nation’s problems; but it should enable private and public institutions to develop and execute plans that benefit all Americans, not just a select few.
There are other issues that may be important to you that I have not covered. Come November, the choice is yours. You can see how I am voting, I hope you join me on November 6th.