I'm a registered independent voter trying to figure out which presidential candidate to vote for in November. All the campaign bluster aside, here's my take on the candidates' policies that would affect the health of our nation.
Romney: He seems quite qualified with successful experience in both the private and public sectors. The fact that he's Mormon doesn't matter - these are good people. The fact that he's financially successful simply indicates that he was competent at doing private equity takeovers at Bain Capital. The bottom line is: What are his proposed policies?
• Regulation of banks and Wall Street: Rescind the regulations passed by Congress following the bank bailout fiasco.
• Taxes: Cut taxes for the wealthy/corporations and close unspecified loopholes.
• Safety Net: Diminish Social Security and Medicare benefits for the average citizen to reduce the deficit.
• Military: Increase funding for the Pentagon's budget, which is already bloated and wasteful.
• Eliminate the EPA and Energy Departments, allowing more uncontrolled development of domestic fossil fuels.
• International: Use strong-arm tactics to solve differences with Russia, China and Iran.
• Health Care: Replace the Affordable Health Care Act with a voucher system.
It would seem that Romney would return to the Bush policies that got us into trouble to begin with - all in the name of helping corporations compete globally and promoting trickle down economics. If the stock market is any indication, corporations are already doing well, and we know from history that the trickle down theory does not work. Trying to solve international problems with ultimatums and "drawing lines in the sand" often leads to war.
Obama: Winning the presidency in 2008 was, in part, a reaction to the unregulated free market policy of the Bush administration and their involvement in two unnecessary and expensive wars. The country was then brought to it's knees with a financial crash resulting in a free-falling economy, shedding 750,000 jobs per month and causing massive home foreclosures. The new president pursued corrective policies such as TARP, stimulus and automotive bailouts, but progress in the job market has been painfully slow because of the lingering global recession. His policies have been:
• Regulate the banks and Wall Street to avoid future bailouts.
• Reduce deficits by cutting expenditures (including the military), and increasing taxes on incomes greater than $250K
• Extend universal health care and improve system efficiencies.
• Promote renewable energy and efficiency to address climate change.
• Practice international cooperation through negotiation
The clinker in accomplishing either candidate's agenda is Congress, which continues to be paralyzed by special interest lobbying, ignoring the country's greater good through compromise.
On balance, I'm persuaded to continue with the President rather than regress to the "free-for-all" economic climate of the Bush era. Without question, the free enterprise system has brought us an improved standard of living, however, history has taught us that a certain amount of government regulation is necessary to avoid false prosperity and violent swings in the business world. Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.