Multiple Issues

Twenty years ago, then President Bush was confronted with the harsh reality that the economy held more sway in his reelection bid than did his success in the first Gulf War.  Raising taxes after we read his lips that he wouldn’t do so was enough to prompt Ross Perot into the race where he took enough votes away from President Bush to hand the presidency to Bill Clinton.  The rest is history.

“It’s the Economy Stupid” has become an overused phrase since that election with both sides using it to advance their own case that it’s always the fault of the other for our national malaise.  Wrong!  Both sides are equally culpable for the economic free fall we are facing as they use an ‘us vs. them’ mentality to sway voters.  President Obama and crew chastise the 1% for not paying their fair share without ever mentioning that they already pay over 90% of all federal income taxes.  Never does he mention that 50% of the population pay no taxes and are at the receiving end of most entitlement programs.  Governor Romney fails to counter with these facts for fear of alienating needed voters.  Instead the retort, while mostly accurate, he focuses on lack of job creation and government infringement on the private sector.

The overspending by government and an inequitable tax structure continues to wreak havoc and the solution lays only in bipartisan efforts and a mutual understanding that ‘We Are All Americans’.  The rhetorical blame game may garner votes but does little to change the gridlock encumbering not just the economy but our national psyche in general.  Our national debt can never be repaid and low interest rates only make it manageable for a short period of time.  Continued deficit spending will have our debt swelling to $20 trillion in the next 5 years at which point it will exceed our GDP.  Continued spending on special interest and entitlement programs only exacerbates an already critical situation.  We will never be able to turn off this spigot but it clearly needs to be turned down.  Congressional elections are of equal importance since they are the ones that ultimately vote for this spending.

Issues not to be overlooked include our war on terrorism, immigration, health care, education, and a multitude of social issues that may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.  All should hope that these important issues will be addressed with a meaningful debate and exchange of ideas rather than election speak bickering meant to arouse special interest voters.  If they listen, most voters should be smart enough to make electoral decisions by the facts and plans presented, however, the mindset of most who go to the polls is a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality.

The fact that so many Americans depend on the social outlays of governments both state and federal leads one to believe we are in for more of the same.  Entitlements and benefits paid to current and retired public sector employees is starting to bankrupt municipalities across the country.  State governments are reeling under the burden of underfunded pension and medical benefit programs.  Underfunded state and local pension benefit programs currently stands at $4 trillion.  Contracts made with public sector employees entitle some retirees to bloated pension and medical benefits for life, some acquired at a relatively young age.  Only a total restructuring of pension and entitlement programs will pull us back from this brink of fiscal collapse.  But who on the receiving end of this largess will vote for the candidate intent on changing it?  Therein lies the problem.  We have granted a lifelong safety net for millions, paid for with the tax dollars of millions more with no such benefits of their own.  Some candidates support the recipients while others endorse fiscal prudence on behalf of those who pick up the majority of the bill.  Once again, it seems all are in favor of fiscal responsibility on a national, state, and local level, as long as it doesn’t affect them.

Pandering for votes usually means telling voters what they want to hear, but what good does that do with so many special interest groups looking out for their own.  We need to look no further than Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France to see that long term entitlement programs can strangle a nation.  We are not a Socialist country, if we truly want change we are responsible to vote for it.

Job creation and growth will come from the private sector, not by more people on the public payroll.  A tax incentive for business gives them reason to expand and hire.  If there was more of an incentive for businesses to expand here rather than to outsource they would.  The 8.2% unemployment rate is a bogus number yet I hear little from the candidates saying as much.  Unemployment, underemployment, and a labor participation rate of only 63.8% does not add up to the official unemployment rate being 8.2%.  That correlation should be made in any debate about job creation.  Our economy was built on the insight of entrepreneurs and our further success depends on the free enterprise they inspired.  Government overreaching into the private sector only inhibits future growth.

Voting is not only our right, but our responsibility.  Decisions being made in Washington affect not only us, but our children and our children’s children.  The people we elect have a responsibility to all, not just the special interests and PAC’s they may feel indebted to.  The candidates need to be asked the right questions and we deserve spin-less answers.

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