Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recent Presidential Debate

I watched most of the Republican Presidential debate this past week, the one sponsored by the Tea Party.   I can't say it wasn't difficult at times to stay tuned,  but I feel it is important to hear the views of this disparate group of candidates.  Based on what appears to be a win for the Republican candidate for the House seat vacated by Rep Weiner in an area that has had a Democratic rep for quite some time, it is certainly possible that one of the candidates at that debate will become the next president. 

My impressions?

Well, first, I actually felt sorry for Gov Perry.  He had signed an executive order which required all teenage girls in Texas to receive the HPV vaccination.  Of course, there was an opt out for parents who did not want their children to receive the shot, but he was attacked nevertheless by Ms Bachmann and Mr Santorum.  At one point, Bachmann accused Perry of authorizing the vaccination as a result of the campaign donations he has received from the drug maker, Merck.  I felt sorry for the gov because it appeared that he was quite surprised to be taken to the mat for attempting to prevent cervical cancer in young girls.
He also appeared quite insulted at the suggestion that he signed the executive order as a reward for the donations. 

Funny, a republican candidate accusing a governor of allowing campaign donations to affect his/her governance yet when the Supreme Court came down with their decision last year which opened the door for even more money in our political system, it was the conservative/republican justices who voted for and it was the conservative/republican pundits and elected officials who defended the decision.  

Anyway, the look on Perry's face seemed to say "I was doing what I thought was best for the children and families of my state and I am being attacked?!".  I wonder if Perry will remember how he felt before he accuses President Obama (or any Democrat) of ramming the government down the people's throats when they propose or enact legislation that they believe to be in the best interests of their constituents. 

Another interesting moment came when the moderator asked Rep Paul who should pay for the medical care of a 30 year old male, without coverage, who has a medical emergency which costs a large amount of money.  It is a shame that all the candidates weren't asked this question, especially Bachmann who must have used Obamacare in a pejorative tone at least a dozen times.  In the case of Paul, he suggested that the victim's family, friends, community and church help pay the bill.  When pushed to respond to the possibility that there were no support systems in place for the individual, should he be left to die, Paul hesitated, then mumbled that no one is denied care.  Which, of course, does not answer the question.  However, it was clear that someone in the audience knew the answer as a resounding YES could be heard in the background when the question of letting the man die was asked of Paul.  We know that rep Paul will never have to face the prospect of deciding to allow a loved one to die or go bankrupt to pay for their medical care; let's hope the individual in the crowd who was so eager to condemn the man will never have to face this tragic situation.

Oh, by the way, in the meantime census figures just released for 2010 show that almost 50 million Americans are without health coverage.  That is one in seven people in a country that has no qualms about giving sports stars $100 million contracts, granting health care for life for its elected officials (yes, even the republican ones), and spends in the neighborhood of $300 million a day on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To give Rep Paul kudos, he did mention his belief that the wars should end.  But his clear libertarian views seem too austere for the voting center.  Most people, I believe, accept the government's role in assisting those in dire need and in protecting those who are not able to protect themselves.  Also, if his libertarian beliefs run completely through his campaign as I have read, he will not be opposed to gay marriage which may make him a non-starter for the tea party group dogma that wants government out of our lives, except for those that lead lives different from them. 

It was amusing to see Newt Gingrich's response to Jon Huntsman's statement that the current leaders in the republican presidential race are too far right of center to win a national election.  Gingrich seemed to defend the far right candidates by dismissing Huntsman's concerns.  I guess, at this point, that will be his role. 
I almost fell off my chair when Santorum claimed that he had won two Senatorial elections in a traditionally Democratic state, Pennsylvania which meant that he could win a general election.  Not because that isn't true, he did win, but because when he lost he lost by one of the largest margins ever by an incumbent Senator. 

We didn't hear from Herman Cain much although he did get in his 999 plan.  I believe it means 9% taxes for individuals, 9% taxes for corporations and a 9% sales tax, or VAT.  The mention of a VAT surprised me as I thought that this was anathema to republican candidates.  I give him credit for thinking outside the box.  Unfortunately, my taxes would increase under a 9% flat rate if all deductions were eliminated.  I imagine most middle class income earners would see the same result if they own a home and have children.  It is a shame that most people don't realize that a flat tax would benefit the rich far more than regular working class folk.  Of course, there could be a flat tax plan that may include some type of deductions for lower wage earners or a higher "flat" tax for higher earners, so while I traditionally believe in the merits of a progressive tax system, I am certainly in favor of tax reform which removes the plethora of deductions, especially if there is a means test or base line where the deductions are completely eliminated.  Despite what all the republican candidates said, there is a spending and a revenue  problem; it is the combination of over spending while reducing income that has created our current yearly deficit and overall national debt. 

Finally, there is the "scam" that is social security.  Let's be clear.  It is certainly possible, most likely actually, that if someone took the money that was removed from their checks and invested it on their own, they would have more to show for it today.  The problem is, IF they invested it.  What if they didn't.  What if even "only" 25% didn't?  Would they then be faced with the same response that emanated from the audience about the male without health coverage?  Let them die?

The fact is, social security was designed to counter a time in America when literally tens of thousands of Americans had no money, had no friends or family with the resources to help support them, and ultimately, had no life.  It was designed when people lived into their 60's and 70's, not 80's and 90's.  Is it perfect?  Of course not.  But has it prevented untold millions of Americans from facing a time in their life, a time when they were the most vulnerable due to age or infirmity, from losing all they worked for, and even their very lives.  The real scam is that all the money invested in the social security system during the years that intake exceeded output was "borrowed" rather than placed in trust.  If social security is a Ponzi scheme, Mr Perry then the people running the Ponzi were/are our elected officials.  60+ years of them.  So, rather than scuttling a program that should be sitting on a few trillion dollars of benefit money awaiting the rainy day that has now started with the aging of our population, how about some rationale thought as to how to make sure it survives the upcoming baby boom years. 

Or, how about another idea.  Since politicians from both parties participated in the looting of the trust fund, how about if we earmark all the money being donated to all the congressional and presidential races to help pay down the debt owed to the social security fund by the politicians who diverted the money in the first place. 


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