The campaign for president -- to be decided in the election in November 2012 -- is going to be decided, most people believe, by the state of the economy and its impact on each of us as we enter the voting booth. I believe while the economy will hold a high priority with the voters, they will consider domestic policies and foreign affairs as well.
Most Americans understand the difference in views on the domestic agenda between the two candidates -- Obama and Romney -- and the parties they represent. President Obama and the Democratic Party believe we must never privatize Social Security and Medicare, but instead take measures to keep them solvent, and to always keep them as entitlements. The Republican Party and Mitt Romney and his predecessor George W. Bush have made it clear they are desirous of ending the entitlement contract between the government and the individual American and substitute the concept of privatization with individual stock accounts, making Social Security dependent in part on the stock market and ending Medicare as we know it, providing instead a voucher system, allowing those eligible to receive a government voucher with the beneficiary being personally responsible for the cost of an insurance policy as the voucher buys less with each passing year. The Democrats believe Medicaid -- health care for the poor -- should remain an entitlement, no matter the number of poor qualifying, while Republicans believe Medicaid should instead become a block grant to the states, eliminating the federal responsibility to care for the poor, giving the 50 states the power to decide the benefits to be provided and the funding.
In the field of foreign affairs, one major issue is that of Iran and what to do to prevent Iran from achieving possession of nuclear bomb capability. The president's position was recently stated by the American ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. According to the New York Times of May 18, 2012:
The American ambassador to Israel said this week that not only was America willing to use military force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, but that preparations had already been made for a possible attack. 'It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force,' the ambassador, Dan Shapiro, said Tuesday at a meeting of the Israeli bar association. 'But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available. And not just available, but it's ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready.'
I believe that here both parties and candidates are basically in accord.
Another major foreign policy issue is our commitment to defend Israel. Most people know of my expressed concern on this issue, putting the president and me at odds at one time. I am convinced as the result of the president's actions: his statement in support of Israel given at the United Nations, which supporters of Israel unanimously concluded was magnificent, his preventing the entry of the Palestinian Authority as a state at the U.N., and his personal actions at the Security Council that accomplished that feat and, finally, the statement of the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who said that he could "hardly remember a better period of support, American support and cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now." He had earlier said, "I don't think that anyone can raise any question mark about the devotion of this president to the security of Israel."
Most important, convincing me of the president's firm commitment to the security of the State of Israel was our personal extended conversation on that issue on September 21, 2011.
Finally, there is the issue of fairness in taxes, collected from the wealthy (millionaires and billionaires) and the middle class. The Republicans and Romney do not believe in collecting more taxes from the wealthy; President Obama and most Americans do.
I will, whenever the president asks me, go on his behalf to Florida and anywhere else where I can be helpful to campaign for him. This will not be an easy campaign for either side. I believe the Democratic positions considering domestic and foreign affairs are far more preferable to that of the Republicans, and I intend to do my part to assist in the reelection of President Barack Obama.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deserve enormous thanks and applause for having gotten the leaders of the people's Republic of China to release Chen Guangcheng and his family, allowing them to travel to the U.S. -- where he now is -- and attend New York University School of Law as a visiting professor and take whatever classes he deems necessary for himself. It is a tremendous accomplishment on the part of the president and secretary of state.
Follow Ed Koch on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mayoredkoch