By David Huebner
The candidates and the arguments on both sides have not been clear, and they seem almost incapable of leaving the safety net of the same one-liners and tear-downs that they’ve been using for months. I have had a hard time believing either side’s level of conviction or sincerity.
I thought Martha Raddatz as moderator in this most recent VP Debate helped to bring out some degree of authenticity from the candidates. She asked hard and interesting questions, and did not let the candidates walk all over her. Her guidance enhanced their differences as well as interesting aspects of their character.
I don’t profess to have a wealth of knowledge about all the issues at hand, but with Google at my fingertips, I think that puts me in league with most voters out there. We have ideals, faith, and biases, and we have search engines for researching them. We judge accordingly.
Let’s start with Energy. For me this is a big issue. How we progress in this field will greatly determine the quality of life that our grandchildren inherit. Romney’s line, “And guess what, I like coal.” was a distinctive moment in the first presidential debate. The Romney/Ryan ticket is focused on a short-term plan for American Energy Independence that relies completely on increasing North American oil, gas, and coal production while removing financial support for alternative energy sources. Make no mistake that the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Romney supports and President Obama does not, is a big deal with big consequences for numerous communities not to mention the world at large, and “Clean Coal” is generally accepted as a gross misnomer. Romney would like to roll back regulations that he insists are crippling growth.
Obama also has a goal of American Energy Independence that includes increasing our domestic production of fossil fuels but in a key difference includes transitioning the four billion a year in government subsidies that currently go into the fossil fuel industry over to alternative energy production like wind and solar, while also maintaining strong environmental regulations, increasing the fuel efficiency standards of automobiles, and at least acknowledging Global Warming.
Next is abortion. Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973 in a 7-2 majority vote. The court deemed it a “right to privacy” question, which they found was supported in the constitution. It’s surprising to me how powerful the issue remains, since the decision has stood for nearly 30 years and numerous Presidents.
On Thursday night during the Vice Presidential debates, Biden and Ryan, both Catholics, spoke about their feelings regarding faith and politics. They both oppose abortion in regards to personal faith, yet Ryan stated he would extend his beliefs to the entire country in opposing abortion while Biden clearly stated that he feels it inappropriate for him to do so, leaving that decision up to a woman and her doctor.
The United States of America was founded on the idea of separation of Church and State. The Romney / Ryan ticket in this case does not respect that, preferring to make their personal religious beliefs the law of the land, while the Obama / Biden Administration is actually following closer to the constitution in allowing Roe v. Wade to stand, and keeping their personal religious beliefs out of politics. Personally I think it’s time we start letting go of this major whipping post in American politics and just let Roe v. Wade stand. Thirty years is a long time to still be fighting about something that government should not be involved in.
On the issue of taxes there is almost no clarity but what seems to be interesting to me is that the Romney / Ryan campaign believes that a company making over $250,000 a year can still be considered a “small business” while the Obama / Biden Administration draws a line there on how their tax policies are designed. This is why it’s so confusing because they’re both just talking about “small businesses” in the debates, but Biden did clarify in saying that 97 to 98% of small businesses make less than $250,000 a year so they would be receiving a tax break while those two percent over the line might see a tax increase. The Romney/Ryan campaign has presented an ambitious across the board tax cut but have not been able or willing to enunciate just exactly how they can achieve the dramatic cut while not adding to the national deficit which they have sworn not to do.
As for this deficit. I’ve heard a lot of talk about reigning in government spending and balancing the budget. The last time it came up President Clinton was in office. By the end of his second term there was a budget surplus. Unfortunately within one year of being in office, the next president, Republican George W. Bush passed tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that effectively eliminated that surplus and put us back in debt. And if you look back over the years, Republican Presidents have been equally into debt spending, if not more so, than Democrats. So there is not a party line to follow here. Obama would like to cut defense spending, which makes up a whopping half of our national budget, and let the Bush tax cuts expire. Romney does not. Instead, he has proposed eliminating federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, PBS, and Amtrack as well as close un-specified tax loopholes.
This election has been all about jobs. Does anyone really think that a different president would’ve miraculously lifted us from the worst economic recession since the 1930s in less than four years? Has that ever happened? In my own sphere of life I’ve seen several friends that were chronically out of work find full time work again, and the national numbers seem to reflect this improvement. Romney has a plan for short term, rapid job growth mostly in fossil fuel industries and Obama intends to continue his pursuit of sustainable, albeit slower, growth via a mix of “green collar” jobs in the alternative energy field, increases in American manufacturing and tax breaks for companies that keep jobs on U.S. soil, while also, like Romney, increasing but to a lesser degree, growth in domestic fossil fuel production. It should be noted that the Obama Administration has had a Jobs Bill sitting for a year in congress going nowhere.
So while I understand the frustration that many have with the current Administration, coupled simultaneously with a lack of enthusiasm for Romney, his opponent, don’t let that frustration keep you from voting for the candidate that best serves the interests you care most about. In a true democracy you will never, ever find yourself voting for a perfect candidate. There will always be a need for compromise, and what you choose to compromise on decides who you will choose to vote for this year.
The second Presidential Debate airs tonight, Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. PT. Check your local listings.