Five 2012 election issues pose problems that are dangerous, damaging, and cannot be ignored. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama have yet to give us believable, much less workable solutions to these problems, though both assure us that they have the answers. Have we entered the final stage of political dysfunction, where both parties agree to dispute solutions to election issues of their choosing, while tacitly admitting that national problems are not going to be resolved because their magnitude is simply too overwhelming?
Rising U.S. Unemployment Rate is Old News.
Suffering through the election season would be a lot easier if the president and Mr. Romney would simply admit that jobs are taking second place to the larger problem of destructive fiscal policy that raises our debt to new heights every time we run the numbers (note: this was written before the release of the August jobs numbers, which have put our employment catastrophe back in the spotlight). Of the election issues that will be thrown in our faces before November, the U.S. unemployment rate is passé. The battle over errant government spending, the first of these five election issues without solutions, will shut down Congress and blow us out of the water come January 2013.
The plight of the middle class and the greed of the wealthy are smokescreens. Lawmakers spent what they had, then spent what they didn’t have, and now taxpayers are buried in debt. Democratic politicians treat government spending as if the problem is class-based and controversial, but the only controversy is how to stop Congress from continuing to do what put us in this sorry place.
A question for President Obama:
Once you have raised taxes on the rich and spent the take on infrastructure, public employees, and the other trappings of your reelection platform, how can we continue spending at a level you insist is necessary to maintain our competitiveness without more tax increases?
A question for Mr. Romney:
You plan to immediately cut the federal budget by $20 billion, with $500 billion annual spending cuts coming by 2016. Other cuts, including reducing waste and fraud and repealing Davis-Bacon, are good ideas but will barely scratch our $16 trillion debt. What is the plan to put a real dent in spending and what will you do if an uncooperative Congress says “no”?
Sequestration and the Fiscal Cliff
Democrats and Republicans in Congress dreamed up sequestration because they refused to agree on spending cuts, so they can stop whining and finger pointing about the fiscal cliff. Sequestration was their final solution and now it is a problem they are ignoring until November 7. If the Congressional Budget Office had not projected what will happen if the fiscal apocalypse goes according to plan, legislators would still be in denial about the consequences of the Budget Control Act.
Debt and deficit have escalated to record levels on your watch. If you spend the money from your tax increase on the wealthy, how will you be able to reduce the debt and curtail historic levels of deficit spending?
We are hearing from Republicans who want to halt sequestration, in part because of military spending cuts and the resulting job loss. Were lawmakers correct last summer when they insisted on the magnitude of the cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act and its sequestration solution? Can you achieve the same reduction in government spending within the same time frame if we cancel across-the-board cuts?
The Middle East
Meltdown is another word Mitt Romney should use every day (see: Five Words Mitt Romney Should Use Every Day). Syria continues to self-destruct, Egypt turned its elections into an opportunity to further Islamic political dominance, and Iran is rubbing its hands together and laughing at the world.
Other than harsh words, do you have a plan?
You talk about building relationships and supporting groups in the Middle East that embrace representative government. Given what happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood and the violence inherent in the way the Islamic faith is practiced in this part of the world (see: Americans Are Not to Blame for Savagery in the Muslim World), is it not more realistic to believe that democratic values and peaceful coexistence are impossible goals? Should we focus on non-proliferation instead?
We have heard from Democrats and Republicans that our public education system is relegating America to second place. States are broke and Washington is out of money, but both parties want to make education a priority.
Taxpayers are spending on education at all levels of government but keep being told that we need to spend more on teachers. Why should public employees be exempt from the same economic pressures on their pay and benefits suffered by private sector workers, given that arguments for increasing teacher pay are based on private sector compensation?
Charter schools are great, but how do we establish enough of them to make a difference? How do we fund college scholarships as you did in Massachusetts when states are broke and we need to cut federal spending? Is it possible to fix public education by spending less, not more money?
You pride yourself on acting when Congress refuses to agree, declaring “If Congress won’t act, I will.” Should there be limits on a president’s exercise of authority?
You plan to immediately pass a series of executive orders, a habit Mr. Obama has been rightly criticized for. When should a president make the decision to strike out on his own?
One more question, for the incumbent:
When you take up these election issues you blame George Bush and the GOP for creating problems so overwhelming that you have been able to achieve only marginal success at restoring the economy. What are the ethics of asking for another four years when your best effort to correct the alleged wrongs of the past have only resulted in 4.5 million jobs, and the latest jobs report shows more Americans are giving up their work searches? Does the country come first, or the president?