Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Case for Both Sides

How Should You Vote in November?
This November's election is exciting and its impact will be real. Democrats seem sure to lose seats in both houses, but the extent of those losses will have a profound impact on government policy for the next 2 years. There are three plausible scenarios:
(1) Minimal Losses
This scenario would lead to very little effective change versus the status quo. The GOP would still have working filibuster capability in the Senate and moderate Republicans such as Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins would still rule the day in terms of getting legislation through.

Democrats would still set the schedule and the agenda and GOP-backed bills would likely not see the light of day.

So, Republicans would continue to be relegated to slowing down Democratic-backed legislation without much recourse to drive their own agenda.

(2) The GOP Takes the House
This would be huge as it would give operating control of the body from which all tax and spending legislation must originate. House rules would allow the GOP house to pass whatever agenda it chose to and would no doubt set up for a lot of showdowns between the President and Congress over budgets and taxes.

The GOP still couldn't get bills to the President's desk as the DEMs would still control the Senate, but they would have huge leverage in that they could cut off funding from anything already not enacted. They could, for instance, refuse to pass the appropriations bills for various cabinet departments until the President agreed to their demands to extend the Bush tax cuts.

(3) The GOP Takes Both Houses
This would effectively give the GOP full control over the budget, although they would still struggle to get other bills through a Senate, where Democrats would no doubt rediscover their respect for the filibuster. Senate control would also give the GOP a lot more leverage over Presidential appointments including cabinet seats and the Supreme Court.

President Obama would still hold the veto pen, but he really couldn't get anything done without compromise with the GOP. It would be like the second half of Bill Clinton's first term.

So, as you can see, our vote will be significant in November. In that vein, I asked two of my friends, one a Republican and one a Democrat, to list the top 5 reasons why a voter should vote for their party in November. These are obviously generic, not specific to any race, but I think they are still instructive.

Why You Should Vote Republican:
(5) Balance the Power
Let's say, for sake of argument, that you are a fan of the present administration's policies. Are you comfortable with them having their way 100% of the time with no need for compromise? Are you comfortable with how Obamacare was passed? Do you think the Democrats have a real plan to reduce the deficit?

There is a strong argument that the best periods for the country have come during periods of divided control of government. The 1980s and mid-to-late 1990s are the 2 most obvious examples.

Why does divided government work? Because when parties have to compromise, they come up with better solutions.

Wouldn't you like to see critical issues such as the deficit, health care, entitlements, immigration and energy policy decided in a bipartisan manner? Do you really think this will happen if the GOP doesn't control at least some of the power? Wasn't the central tenant of the President's 2008 campaign how he would work across the aisle?

(4) Out of Control Spending
Democrats love to point to the deficits during the Bush Administration as evidence of Republican fiscal irresponsibility. And it is true, President Bush spent too much. Too much on a prescription drug benefit that wasn't paid for. Too much on the continued federal takeover of local schools. Way too much on bailouts and giveaways.

But, make no mistake about it, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have done more damage to our fiscal situation in less than 2 years than George W. Bush did in 8. A stimulus bill that will cost over $1 trillion once accounting for interest that was supposed to keep unemployment under 8% that has, instead, left real unemployment stagnant at almost twice that level. Another $1 trillion health care bill that does nothing to control costs and is paid for by promises of future cuts in Medicare which are both wrong and will never happen. Huge supplemental spending bills loaded with pork. Earmarks continuing to grow, in spite of promises to the contrary. And everywhere you look, promises for more spending.

(3) Taxes You Can't Afford
Since taking office promising not to raise taxes of any kind on anybody making less than $250K, the President and Congress have ALREADY enacted:
* A tripling of the federal tax on cigarettes
* New taxes on employer-provided health care plans, many to lower-middle class hourly workers
* A new tax on sun tanning

With no Republican control in congress, the President and his friends are eager to take up choking taxes on your utility bill, new taxes on business profits that will discourage companies from investing and hiring new workers.

And while we are at it, let's talk about those taxes on the "rich". The President says we can afford to tax the rich because they invest their money rather than spend it.

Exactly where are jobs going to come from if we discourage investment?

(2) Broken Promises
The only way to hold a President accountable for breaking his promises is to vote his party out at the mid-terms. Let's review the President's promises that have been broken (and this is far from a complete list):
* He was going to post all bills online for 5 days before signing them....broken with the first major bill he signed (the so-called stimulus) and he never looked back
* He was not going to appoint lobbyists to administration jobs, yet he has more than any previous administration on record
* He was going to reach across the aisle and break the partisan divide
* He was going to reduce earmarks and veto bills that were packed with pork
* He was going to end income taxes for seniors making less than $50K
* He was going to introduce immigration reform in his first year in office
* He was going to have his health care negotiations on CSPAN

The list goes on and on...can you honestly say that the President has kept his word?

(1) The GOP Is a Better Alternative
Lower taxes, less wasteful government spending, less regulation. Let's let the private sector do what it has always done best...create jobs and innovate and quit getting in the way with cumbersome, expensive and ineffective government programs.

"He Who Governs Least Governs Best"

Why You Should Vote Democratic:
(5) No Return to 2000
You may not love every solution that President Obama has come up with to our nation's problems. But do you really think this is worse than the Bush administration? Do you really want to return to the days of no financial regulation, tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of needed programs for the middle class? Wars with giveaways to Halliburton and ineffective government response to crises from cronies in power?

(4) Real Solutions with No Alternative
Health Care Reform, Immigration, Energy, the Economy. Republicans love to take potshots at the President's solution. But what is their alternative? Can you tell me how the GOP would cover the uninsured? Reduce our dependence on foreign oil? Tackle the deficit? The answer is that they have no answers other than to say "no" to everything the Democrats propose and refusing the negotiate compromises. Do you really want to reward this platform with House and Senate seats?

(3) Scary, Fringe Candidates
Are you in favor of returning to prohibition? Repealing the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Abolishing the federal Department of Education? Eliminating Social Security?

Than you'll love the crop of GOP Senate candidates, because all of those are real, on the record positions held by candidates for Senate this year.

(2) It's a Matter of Priorities
The GOP filibustered extending unemployment benefits during the midst of a recession. They are threatening to hold up middle class tax relief unless the rich get a tax cut too. They have opposed raising the minimum wage, prohibiting health insurance companies from discriminating against those with such "pre-existing conditions" as pregnancy and voted against a bill that would allow contractors who were raped in Iraq from seeking compensation against companies like Halliburton (and I'm not joking!)

Ask yourself...who represents you?

(1) Real Solutions
Health Care Reform, Economic Stimulus, FInancial Reform, Credit Card Reform. Can you think of a 2-year period in your lifetime where the government has done more to protect the average American?

Can you even name 1 bill with as much significance as any of those 4 that was passed during the Bush administration which was 4 times as long?

My Take
Judge for yourself. I'm still undecided. I'm not happy with the Democrats lack of willingness to candidly deal with the deficit but I'm not particularly impressed with the lack of a GOP agenda either. And I am scared of some of the tea-baggers. More on my personal decision later. But above all, please vote.

No comments: