November 2012 And The Choice We Face – Part 2

Initially, in the second installment of this series, the focus was to be on three separate issues. However, while doing research, it became clear that one issue demanded complete and undivided attention. That issue is SPENDING.

Ronald Reagan: “I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.”

Dick Cheney to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill: “You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter. We won the mid-term elections. This is our due.”

But apparently, when a Democrat inhabits the White House, it’s a different story.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it is fair to say that we all know the deficit must be reined in because Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney were wrong. The truth is deficits do matter, regardless of who is president. This is the legacy we will leave to our children, to those who come after us. So it is important to know how each candidate plans to spend the money we have in order to bring our country back on track to fiscal wellness.

A surprising article found on FOX illustrates how the Ryan Plan doesn’t reduce spending so much as it slows the rate of budget growth. This is the same Ryan plan that has been highly praised by Mitt Romney, who said he would sign it (before he distanced himself from it but then said that their plans are very similar), so it’s a good sign of what we’re facing with a Romney-Ryan administration. According to FOX, numbers for budget growth show a difference of $.9 trillion, with Ryan’s plan coming in at $4.9 trillion in 2022, while Obama’s plan comes to $5.8 trillion in that same year. The difference, they say, is in the long term deficit, which under Ryan’s plan would be $3.1 trillion by 2022, while under the Obama plan the long term deficit would total $6.7 trillion.

However, in order to “save” the $3.6 trillion over the next ten years, the Ryan plan slashes aid to the poor, guts Medicare and Medicaid, slashes Social Security and leaves not a shred of the Affordable Care Act intact, while giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy and at the same time raising taxes on the poor and middle class to pay for them. There are some assumptions made in the plan that are not backed up by any real numbers, reminiscent of a favorite phrase coined by former President Bush:  “fuzzy math.”

Both Romney and Ryan fail to take people into consideration and we are a nation made up of people. People have problems and sometimes they need the help of their government. But Mitt Romney has plans of his own to privatize FEMA even as we face climate change producing drought conditions which led to the catastrophic wildfires in Colorado, crop failures in the midwest, as well as heavy downpours in Florida that have caused unprecedented flooding. The Republican governors of both states have asked for and received funding from FEMA to combat the havoc wrought by Mother Nature. But Mitt thinks the states should do it on their own.

Mitt Romney wants to end Title X grants for family planning, even though elimination of the grants will have little effect in reducing the deficit but a huge effect on those who rely on them. One could argue that the results of defunding the program could ostensibly cost more than the money saved in terms of health costs. Romney wants to cut education spending, even as our schools are staggering under the weight of earlier cuts, taking teachers out of the classrooms and books out of the hands of students. He wants to reduce subsidies for the National Endowment for The Arts and Humanities, a piddling $600 million “savings” that impacts the art and culture of our nation. He has vowed to repeal Obamacare, even though Romney care is a resounding success in Massachusetts. As referenced in Part 1 of this series, the Congressional Budget Office has determined that repealing Obamacare will add an additional $109 billion to the budget over the ten-year period 2013-2022, so the savings Mr. Romney says are there—really aren’t.

Both Romney and Ryan advocate increasing military spending, while Obama wants to make cuts that will take us back to the level of spending during the Bush years when we were fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We are now out of Iraq and will be drawing down in Afghanistan, so it begs the question: why is it necessary to increase expenditures? A visit to Romney’s web site explains the need in terms of 20th century warfare, not the kind of threat we face today from terrorist groups. Battleships and strategic bombers are not the weapons of the 21st century.

There is a saying: You have to spend money to make money. But how you spend that money is important. You can keep pouring it into a black hole that benefits a tiny part of society or you can use the money to stimulate the greater population, thus stimulating the economy and raising all of us up from the depths of the Great Recession. The past ten years of the Bush tax cuts have not produced the jobs promised by those who are intent on extending and even expanding those cuts. Why would they all of a sudden produce a different result? As for the draconian spending cuts embraced by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, we need look no farther than Europe to see the effects austerity programs have had in combating the global recession. Austerity does not work.

One of the favored talking points from the right is that government doesn’t create jobs. Of course, that isn’t a true statement. Government pays the salaries of public school teachers, firefighters, police and all of those politicians who collect paychecks, as well as their staffs. But in the private sector it is also a fallacy that government doesn’t create jobs. It creates the conditions for the private sector to create jobs by funding public works projects like roads, bridges and the electrical grids. There is not one private company in the entire nation that has decided to build an interstate highway on its own. The funding for projects like that comes from government. The money in the pockets of the workers then goes out into the economy, creating demand and that demand creates more jobs.

Mitt Romney is a cipher. Little is known about him, even though he has been running for president for the last decade. What we do know about him is through his business experience and that paints a chilling picture of how he operates. When profit is the only consideration, people fall by the wayside. Ryan is another story. A look at his voting record tells us all we need to know about his priorities.

This combination of two candidates—Romney the vulture capitalist and Ryan the far right ideologue—both of whom will do and say anything to capture the prize of the presidency, is a toxic mix this country cannot afford.

Ann Werner is a blogger and the author of CRAZY and Dreams and Nightmares. You can view her work at ARK Stories

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