What We’ve Learned this Election

Tim Bean



Tick-tock, we are just five days away from Election Day (November 6th) and the candidates from the big two political parties have reignited their campaigns following “Superstorm Sandy.”  For my part I have very little to add about my thoughts regarding both of these guys.  I stand by my belief that outside of rhetoric there is precious little difference between the two in how they have governed and how they will govern.  Nonetheless in just five short days one of them will be declared the victor, and then . . . well then about the only thing that anyone can say with any certainty is that we won’t be bludgeoned with innumerable, and insufferable campaign ads; which I think most everyone will agree is a definite positive.

There is a little news on the campaign front though.  President Obama spruced up his campaign slogan “Forward” to “Forward!”  I guess hoping that the exclamation point will provide the extra oomph to put him over the top.  He has also announced that if he is reelected he will add a new secretary to his cabinet, a Secretary of Business.  Yeah, that’s just what we need, another bureaucracy that suckles off the tax payers; and can cast forth mandates and “wisdom” from on high atop the ivory towers of Washington DC.

Of course Mitt Romney has already attacked the President’s wish to add another layer of government, saying, “His solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat,” in a new campaign add.  So I guess I stand corrected, there is one thing that is different between these two guys after all.

Outside of that, let’s take a look at some of the “big” issues that have been tackled during this election.

Medicare, that is certainly something that gets a lot of people fired up.  After watching the Democratic National Convention, particularly former President Bill Clinton’s speech, we were told that under a second term of President Obama Medicare will remain solvent until 2024.  Huzzah!  We can all rest easy knowing that program will survive another twelve years (actually only eight, because the current projections has it going broke in 2016 – which is just in time for another election).

Then there is the ever present issue that is taxes.  One guy wants to lower taxes across the board, the other guy wants to raise taxes on high income people ($250,000 p/yr. and up).  The guy that wants to lower taxes across the board says that he will maintain government revenues by closing loopholes.  The guy that wants to raise taxes on the wealthy says that they should pay their fair share.  Both however claim that their efforts would stimulate the economy, and help pay down the deficit.  Here’s my take on both.

To the guy that wants to lower taxes and close loopholes I say I have heard the whole closing loophole argument before, and it never  happens.  Plus, even if you should succeed in your plan (lowering taxes and closing loopholes) then you have also essentially negated the lower taxes part of your plan, because while the tax rate would be lower, there will be fewer deductions, which means that people will either be paying the same, or more in taxes.

To the other guy who wishes to make the wealthy pay their fair share, umm yeah…no matter how you choose to spin that it is nothing more than an attempt at income distribution (aka socialism) and history has provided many glorious examples of the failure of those policies.  This guy likes to jet set around and tell everyone how well those policies worked under the afore mentioned President Clinton, but where that argument fails is that the economy was booming at that time DESPITE Bill Clinton’s policies.  Companies were upgrading, embracing, and even being created by the still burgeoning internet/digital/computer/information revolution.  Today there is no such boom, and that/those revolution(s) are all but over.  Basically there is no ipso facto in the argument that those policies caused the increase in wealth, prosperity, and economic growth.

Another big issue we are told is foreign policy.  Did anyone watch the candidates’ debate this?  There was so much agreement between the two that I think it is pretty safe to say that little to nothing will change.  One guy has sworn to increase defense spending, while in the same breath saying he will decrease government expenditures.  Yeah, whatever.  Given the fact that the United States spends more on defense than at any time during the Cold War, and accounts for nearly 50% in global defense spending (that means that the U.S. spends about as much in defense as the rest of the world combined) I don’t think we really need an increase in defense spending; unless we are going to enter into more conflicts around the globe; and I for one am more than a little tired of war.

Then there is education.  One candidate wants to higher more math and science teachers.  The other is for expanding school choice.  One candidate wants to expand government assistance for college.  The other does not.  Neither has called for the dissolution of the Federal Department of Education.  Ever since the establishment of that department in 1979, student test scores have simply gone lower and lower.  For every tax dollar that goes into that department, the schools get forty-four cents.  After administrative costs to meet federal mandates the schools’ “return on investment” deflates to a whopping sixteen cents.  Basically the only beneficiary of the Federal Department of Education is the Federal Department of Education, with that department keeping 56 cents out of every dollar, and sending out that massive sum of 44 cents to the schools.  Knowing this I think it is safe to say that the Federal Department of Education is one gigantic and glorious failure.  So, despite the talk, I seriously doubt we will see any real improvement in our educations system, regardless who wins this election.

Finally the other big issue is our national debt.  Both candidates talk to this issue, and both also talk around this issue too, I haven’t heard one concrete proposal from either on how to solve it.  One of these guys is espousing a path towards a balanced budget in something like 10 years.  The other guy recently unveiled a plan to cut the national debt by $3 trillion in 10 years.  Okay, in the first plan to balance the budget in 10 years, that’s all well and good, but a balanced budget does not equate a lower national debt.  In fact the national debt is expected to continue to grow while we are on the path towards a balanced budget.  Basically the problem still grows.  With regards to the other guy’s plan to reduce the debt by $3 trillion in a decade again really doesn’t solve the problem, because all such a reduction will do is take us from $16 trillion in debt to the oh so “manageable” $13 trillion in debt, and that is assuming the debt stopped growing today – which it hasn’t; and probably won’t stop growing over the next decade either; in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”

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us debt.


So, going back to one of my three simple questions, what exactly does everyone actually expect to change, regardless of which one of these guys wins?  I will admit that there are some policy differences, but they are small, and I highly doubt those small differences equate to any substantive difference in the direction our country is heading.

I put a dollar in one of those change machines.  Nothing changed.  (George Carlin)

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