I am a proud American citizen currently living in Montreal and I will be casting my ballot for the first time this upcoming Presidential election. Currently, the state of the union is uncertain; the United States has been embattled with a perpetual state of high unemployment and a sluggish recovery. Typically, history has shown us that the deeper the recession, the more robust the recovery that follows. However, we are currently living in a period that will surely prove to be a historical outlier; or perhaps a trend altering catalyst indicating structural economic change. In either case, the importance of the upcoming election cannot be diminished.
Without sparing any niceties, the notion of a Romney-Ryan Presidential administration would be characterized by an outdated and ill-equipped foreign policy perspective to complement a plethora of disastrous domestic policies. At the crux of that disastrous domestic policy lies my main contention with the possibility of a Romney-Ryan Presidential administration, primarily since it would be predicated on an abysmal budget plan.
Governor Romney claims that he would not support any tax cuts that would increase the United States' debt, claiming he would only cut taxes if those cuts would prove to be "budget neutral". However, it is certain that he would be able to find some supply-side economists that could justify his policy in theoretical terms while the practical application of achieving budget neutrality would be doubtful, to say the least. As a result, spending cuts will naturally need to be made elsewhere to counter-balance any tax cuts; most likely vital social services will be the first to visit the guillotine. Oddly enough, and contrary to sound rationale, some justifications would certainly be found and defense spending would be spared from any fiscal slicing and dicing.
To add further insult to injury, Congressman Paul Ryan proposes simplifying the tax code into two brackets in his acclaimed budget plan; given the title of "The Path To Prosperity". The rates would be set at 10 percent and 25 percent, intended to eliminate "loopholes" in the tax code. However, the plan fails to comprehensively point out most, if not all, of these loopholes specifically. Moreover, the Ryan plan aims to "rollback corporate subsidies for the energy sector". As laudable as this may be when taken in context of large oil conglomerates, one must take into account that this would drastically cripple and crush the alternative energy sector in the US; a sector both necessary and vital for the nation's economic strength, whether it be with respect to creating jobs or lowering energy costs as well as being, what should be, an important component of the United States' national defense policy.
Most disconcerting was the first policy initiative and foremost priority outlined within the Ryan plan, which aims to increase national defense spending. Some conservative politicians may win over their districts by playing on the fear entailed in peoples' concerns of an attack on American soil. However, it can be comfortably assumed that the vast majority of the electorate realizes that spending more money on aircraft carriers won't do much to stop acts of domestic terrorism that take place in our cities, planned and perpetrated by American citizens raised in our homes and educated in our schools.
The United States spends more money on national defense than every other nation in the world combined. Moreover, the respective Congressional committees have been throwing money at the military, often against the explicit request of the Pentagon. If the Republicans and Democrats would truly care to debate what constitutes wasteful government spending, this example would surely be paramount.
During the Democrat national convention, President Clinton delivered a rousing speech where he said "Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: Arithmetic." Clinton continued "It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was just a country boy from Arkansas, and I came from a place where people still thought two and two was four. It's arithmetic." This certainly begs the question, how would the Romney-Ryan hopefuls explain how we are going to cut vital social services, increase frivolous military spending, cut taxes on the rich and the poor alike and somehow, perhaps by pure happenstance, decrease the government's deficit (eventually). It simply defies arithmetic. And of course, this is all meant to lead the nation towards economic prosperity. I feel quite safe in saying that both Keynes and Hayek must be rolling in their graves.
America was once a shining city on a hill; a beacon of light to the world. But America's light has dimmed. Economically, we are no longer revered as we were globally and our citizens struggle to find the work they yearn for locally. Militarily and diplomatically, we are despised and mocked by our allies and adversaries alike. Eventually, this light may dim into obscurity; no longer visible or relevant to the outside observers. However, this light can certainly shine brighter than ever before if we take the necessary steps to rekindle it.
I believe in an America where our government mandates that the automobile manufacturers that the taxpayers saved produce cars with higher fuel efficiency so that their quality of life may be bettered; both with respect to financial and environmental sustainability. I believe in an America where our citizens are entitled to justice when they are discriminated against and deprived of the money that these same honest, hard-working Americans labored for. I believe in an America where we continually improve our infrastructure and invest in our education; an America where we understand the importance of investing in the public goods and the private goods alike. I believe in an America where our scientific research is unencumbered by the shadow of the Church. I believe in an America where our government is vehemently pro-life, characterized by leading innovative medical advancements and saving lives with stem cell research. I believe in an America where any citizen of our United States can serve in the armed forces regardless of who they choose to love in their private lives. I believe in an America where we take care of our national heroes and our ordinary civilians alike.
There are countless examples of success that the Obama administration can proudly point to; specifically with regards to domestic policy. Whether we take President Obama's executive orders or legislative victories such as the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act or the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act as evidence, the benefits are undeniable and appreciated by many citizens whose lives have been affected. Or perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (colloquially referred to as "Obamacare") which has provided thousands of uninsured and under-insured Americans with healthcare while it helped control healthcare costs, so that it remains a manageable component of the federal budget (according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office). Most importantly however, the Obama administration faced the very real possibility of entering a depression the likes of which the American people have never seen. With decisive action the economy was saved from falling off the metaphorical cliff; both with large scale capital mobilization, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and more modest assistance to the small businesses of main street America, through initiatives such as the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act and the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.
I'm voting for President Barack Obama. Why aren't you?