Travelin’ the Political Road

It’s an election year and no matter what road I travel…it’s paved in politics. Like millions of other Americans this year, I’ve listened to both parties and come to my own conclusions. This week I read the 50+ page Republican platform document and confirmed that I won’t be voting for the Romney/Ryan duo. Here’s why… 

  1. The Republican platform calls for “tax reform” that – according to every non-partisan, third-party source that I can find online  – all agree results in lower taxes for the wealthiest among us and, once again, higher taxes for the poor and middle class.  This has been our nation’s paradigm since Ronald Regan “simplified” the tax code in 1980. It’s still our paradigm as the Obama administration has continued the Bush tax cuts despite the fact that every non-partisan organization has said the Bush tax cuts primarily benefitted the wealthiest among us, did little to help the middle class, and are a major contributor to our current federal budget deficit.  How is this “lower taxes for the wealthy” working for our country?  It hasn’t increased jobs. It hasn’t lowered the deficit.
  2. The platform calls for lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent. This is a joke. Corporations DO NOT pay 35 percent. Every source I can find shows that the “effective” corporate tax rate – after deductions, loopholes, etc. – is about 12 percent.  Lowering it to 25 percent and changing nothing else means an effective corporate tax rate of about 2 percent. Keep in mind that there are many Fortune companies, like GE, Citi, AGL, etc. that pay ZERO federal taxes or actually get a federal tax refund.  If lowering corporate tax rates generates jobs – where are the jobs? The reality is corporate profits are at their highest in the history of the world and U.S. companies are NOT investing in activities that create jobs. They are sitting on their cash. How could you incent these companies to invest the cash? TAX them! If you institute a higher tax rate – like 50 percent – it becomes more prudent to INVEST the cash in the business, e.g., capital expenditures, etc., than to sit on it and have it taxed at such a high rate. Remember the high tax rates of the Eisenhower, JFK and LBJ years?  They didn’t curtail job creation.
  3. The Republican platform calls for the repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations which would leave the financial industry essentially UNREGULATED once again.  Wall Street MUST be regulated – we learned that in the 1930s and instituted the Glass-Stegall regulations.  A Republican-led Congress – with President Clinton’s endorsement – repealed Glass-Stegall in the late 90s and we had to learn, again, in 2008 that Wall Street MUST be regulated. Do we really need to learn this lesson AGAIN by repealing Dodd-Frank?
  4.  The platform calls for replacing the current Medicare system with a voucher-system that, according to everything I’ve read, will increase the cost to seniors by as much as $6000 annually.  Why? Everything that I’ve read says that for a voucher system to work, insurance companies HAVE to sell coverage to ALL at an affordable price – regardless of health status (e.g., pre-existing conditions). The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) lays the foundation for insurance companies to do this, but the Republican platform calling for Medicare vouchers also calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act. Remember, Medicare came into existence in 1965 because there was no affordable private insurance market for seniors.  Sixty-five percent of seniors have chronic illnesses (aka, pre-existing conditions). Without ACA or something like it, there will not be an affordable private insurance market for seniors.  So going to a voucher system is really hanging millions of soon-to-be seniors out to dry.  Further, switching Medicare to a private insurance system seems really untenable when you look at the numbers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average annual per-capita spending growth rate through 2019 is projected at 3.1 percent for Medicare, compared with 4.9 percent for private insurance plans. That means private insurance costs are growing faster than Medicare costs. Given this fact, how is a voucher system a more cost-effective alternative to Medicare as it now exists?
  5. In 2010, we spent about $510 billion in Medicare. Our military expenditures exceeded our Medicare spending. Yet, the Republican platform plans NO cuts to military spending. Instead,   Mr. Romney wishes to tie our military spending to GDP growth. He has publicly stated that the minimum military spend should be 4 percent of GDP. That means that as our economy grows, he thinks our military spend should grow with it – regardless of whether it’s necessary vis-à-vis the world situation and irrespective of what other nations are spending. To put this in perspective, in 2011 the world spent $1.63 trillion on military expenditures and guess who spent 41 percent of that? We did.  Our closest competitor was China at just 8.62 percent.  Russia, the nation Mr. Romney has publicly stated is our biggest threat, accounts for just 4.1 percent of the world’s military spend.  I look at these numbers (http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending) and ask myself – why are we spending at such an extreme rate in comparison to the rest of the world? We could spend HALF of the $668 billion that we do and
    still DRASTICALLY outspend every other nation on the planet. How does spending more money make us safer when we already spend vastly more than any other country on earth? So, why would we adopt a policy that would GROW our military expenditures when we already outspend everyone else? The answer is real simple – follow the money – straight to defense contractors.  The same companies whose tax rate the Republican platform wishes to lower.
  6. My assessment of the Republican platform is that it is, in essence, a plan to take from the least among us and give to those individuals (and corporations are now individuals thanks to the Supreme Court!) with the most – leaving the ever-shrinking middle class to pay for it all. Not a recipe I can support.
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