Thursday, February 7, 2008

America's Loss

I just spent awhile writing an in-depth but concise analysis about all of the recent goings-on in the race, and it all got deleted. I don't have the energy to write it all over again, so this will have to suffice!


Andy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Donna. McCain absolutely stole the nomination from him with his inner dealings with Huckabee!

Donna said...

That was one of the biggest factors in Romney's loss. McCain and Huckabee were actively working together against him, those scheming bums. It's tough enough to run for president alone, so how could he defeat two (or even more?) against one? Other things were that the GOP didn't support him well enough early-on, and too many Americans are ignorant and won't vote for a Mormon. Argh! I wrote about all of this and more good stuff and it all got deleted. So frustrating!

I'm doing okay though. Now I can be less emotionally invested in this race, which will have its benefits. And I've kept myself more insulated from Un-Super Tuesday and the resulting news since I've been up in Mass. for a few days. So that's helped too!

Peter said...

It is a sad day, but not surprising. With McCain, the conservatives are likely to be more apathetic and not mobilize like they had behind Bush, which will give the race to the Democrats.

Donna said...

I will be shocked if the Dems lose this year. The conditions now seem to be just right for them to win it. I think Hillary will get the nomination, and that Obama has a good chance of being her running mate because he is so popular.

Alyson said...

I sure hope that's not true about Hillary. I couldn't bear it if she won. I think Obama still has a huge shot. People like him more. If Hillary wins the nomination, I think McCain may have a shot at winning and I don't want that.

I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm now rooting for Obama. I was sad that Romney is gone. I was kind of shocked, even though I shouldn't have been.

Alyson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alyson said...

Oh, and I think it's true that Romney's religion was a big factor in this. I think his mormonism was a big problem mainly for other Christians. I don't think other people minded his religion, but other Christians have such a hatred of us. I'm sure a lot of that has to do with the fact that we're having such success converting members away from their churches! It's kind of sad to see so-called Christians acting in a mean, vindictive way. I know I wouldn't base my vote on anybody's religion.

Donna said...

Obama still has a good chance at winning the nomination, but I think Hillary will get it because "the Clinton machine" is more powerful and she seems to have a broader, more stable base of support than he has.

I'm not ready to support Obama yet. He's a good guy who says all the right things, but he doesn't seem to have a lot of concrete plans, just ideas. Plus he's really liberal and inexperienced. But, Abraham Lincoln had even less experience and he turned out to be one of our best presidents ever. So we'll see!

Donna said...

I read today that some Christian group was finally happy with Romney because they claim he stated that Mormonism isn't a Christian religion (which he didn't do, because it's not true). Some Christians don't want us calling ourselves Christians. That is so messed up. They are hypocrites and I try not to pay too much attention to them.

Alyson said...

I know what you mean about Obama, but of all of the candidates left, I'll root for him.

Katie said...

I really like Obama. I don't think he is as "inexperienced" as people seem to think... he actually has been elected into office more times than Clinton. Its just that she has the reputation as having more experience after being in the limelight for so many years as first lady.

As for his being "really liberal," its interesting that people say that. His voting record is only different from Hillary Clinton's in one or two votes. His stance is pretty much mainstream democrat. The main thing that he differs from the Clinton campaign is in his health plan. Obama thinks that health insurance shouldn't have mandates associated with it (so people have a choice as to whether or which plan they would buy), while the Clinton plan would penalize those who didn't buy her plan.

Katie said...

I should also say, its significant that his voting record is only slightly more liberal (1 or 2 votes) than Clinton's, because Hillary has been trying really, really hard to be moderate in her voting since being elected to the NY senate. Previous to her Senate run, she really had some way left-field (almost communist) viewpoints, but they were tempered by the desire to get the nomination for president.

Donna said...

Yeah, Hillary is a socialist at heart. I heard that Obama was recently voted the most liberal senator by his fellow senators. Was that just a joke or was that true?
I think senators aren't as well equipped to serve as president as governors are. But now there are no governors running, except for Huckabee, who I'm not really counting because we all know why he's still in it. I will be more likely to support Obama since you guys like him, so I might come around to your way of thinking. Right now I'm still getting over Romney's loss and everyone just looks so subpar to me in comparison to him.

Katie said...

He was voted one of the "most liberal" senators based on his votes, but that was because he usually voted along party lines. According to the website US Congress Votes Database, Obama voted with his democratic colleagues 96.7% of the time, thus he was very "liberal" (democrat). Its basically the same thing as saying that he was the most "Democrat" senator. Given that he has only been a US Senator for 1 term, its not too surprising that he voted along party lines the entire time. (He was also in the Illinois Senate before this, but that is not included in the analysis).

Conservatives, even right-leaning moderates, tend to get really scared by the word "liberal," when all it usually means in these sorts of things is whether they voted along Democrat or GOP lines. I didn't like John Kerry at all, but apparantly that was the big thing that made him lose the 2004 election. He was painted as a liberal nutcase (in some ways though, he really was...). Anyway, Kerry votes along party lines 94.4% of the time, Hillary 97.1% of the time, and McCain 87.7% of the time (making him the "maverik" b/c he doesn't follow party lines).

I agree that governors make better presidents than senators. They are actually out there is the real world and not just in D.C. Did you know that the US has not elected a Senator as president in over 50 years?

I can't stand Huckabee either. Donna, why do you think he is staying in the race? Do you really think it will help him get the VP nomination? I think McCain would be pretty dumb to choose Huckabee, given that he is not a conservative and he is having trouble uniting the conservative base.

Donna said...

I definitely think Huckabee is staying in it because he wants to be VP, which is most likely not going to happen. McCain would be crazy to name him as his running mate for the reasons you gave. Huckabee may also be hoping for a Cabinet post if VP doesn't happen.

Those are interesting percentages and I'll have to check out that website. The reason a senator voting liberal/Democrat a lot is because I disagree with a lot of the Democratic causes and philosophies. For instance, I don't support national healthcare the way they want it. From what Peter knows about it he says that it would sink us.

Another thing is that our taxes will be more likely to go up under a Dem Prez. That would really stink. Our taxes are far too high already. Ever since we made our way into the bottom of a certain income bracket we are taxed at a rate that I can't believe. It almost seems communist. It's not fair that we're taxed at the same rate as people who make far more, and that we're penalized for Peter's innovation and success with his side business, and as far as I know that was instituted by the Dems. One of the reasons I like Ron Paul and just about the only reason I like Huckabee is that they recognize these facts and want to abolish the IRS, which would be awesome. So from a purely financial perspective when it comes to taxes and healthcare, a "liberal" voting record makes me nervous.

I also worry that Barack and Clinton would be too quick to pull out of Iraq. I know you don't like the war, and I don't really either, but it's a slowly stabilizing situation and getting out as quickly as they want could make things dangerously unstable again, which is scary.

Who was the last President who was senator and not governor? I know I could look it up, but it's more fun to ask you since you are a walking, talking version of google!

Donna said...

I noticed a typo in my comment--I meant "The reason why a senator voting liberal/Democrat a lot worries me is..."

Alyson said...

Yeah, I know what you mean by taxes. We are part of a certain tax bracket too (thank goodness we have 4 kids and that helps with dependants, but they're also very expensive to raise). It's hard to watch all that hard earned money just going to the government (we talked about how much we're paying for property tax when you were here! Yikes!) But I also don't want to be like Utah. They are so concerned about taxes that they don't mind accepting a crappy school system so that they don't have to raise taxes. It shows where their priorities are! I'm ok paying semi-high taxes if my family and community are benefiting. I also don't think that any of the presidental candidates are going to want to raise taxes if they don't have to. It tends to make them unpopular, obviously.

Of course if they want some sort of national healthcare, taxes would have to be raised. In Canada they didn't raise taxes high enough when they went that way and now it's a mess up there. Clinton, though, would be the most likely to push for a national healthcare system. Though, I must say, I do believe something needs to happen with our healthcare in this country. It's a complete mess.

Katie said...

Nixon was the last US Senator to be elected to the presidency (although he was VP first, to Eisenhower). The last person to be elected straight to the presidency from the Senate was Lyndon B. Johnson.

As for being a walking encyclopedia, Wikipedia is my friend :-) I've just been doing a lot of research on these topics, because I want to make sure I vote for the right person this year.

Ok, here are my thoughts on some of the things you brought up...

Taxes - I was really for lower taxes for a long time, and Andy and I have gone around and around over this, primarily when it comes to tithing. I was of the opinion that the money that is taken for taxes was never my income to begin with, but I've slowly evolved into understanding that what we pay in taxes we get in kind. For instance, I am a frequent user of our public library system, which comes out of tax money, getting 15 books at a time that I could never afford if I had to buy. I realize some of that is state legislature, and I am still all for moving the govenment back to the states. However, at least some of it has been national decisions.

Also, as a scientist, I am opposed to Republicans cutting taxes at the expense of science funding. Scientists are not typically paid by the universities they work at, but by the US Government. Pretty much all researchers get a portion of their funding through the NSF (National Science Foundation) and in my area, through the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

The Republican Congress cut funding to the NIH in 2006 for the first time since 1970, and the effect has been dramatic. This is funding not just for paychecks, but for things like reagents and equipment. So many fewer researchers are being funded (from 30% of applicants funded to 20% and rapidly decreasing) in an era when interest in biomedical science is increasing dramatically. It means fewer individuals can go into research, and other labs have had to close down for lack of funding. I've actually seen labs close down, and people have to lessen the amount of work that they can do b/c they simply don't have the funding anymore. This reduced research affects more than just our scientists - it affects our economy and our ability to compete globally.

I also think that its outrageous that the US deficit has increased so much since Reagan fixed things (which was really apparant under Clinton). We've gone from a budget surplus to being over $9 trillion in debt. That amounts to over $30,000 of debt per household. This is one of the reasons I like Ron Paul so much - his fiscal policies are great! However, I think that something obviously needs to be done about the borrowing we are doing as a nation. Obviously raising taxes isn't the only answer - cutting spending is also key - I just think its vital to determine where the spending is cut. I am not a fan of welfare cutting; reform, certainly, but not cutting.

Maybe Peter should run for president. Has he ever considered running for politics? I think he would be good at in and might have some insight as far as the fiscal issues.

Health Insurance - Personally, I agree that something needs to be done about health care. Did you know that although we have S-CHIP for kids w/o health care, there is no similar program at a state (or national) level for pregnant moms? We have a friend (Donna, did you know Nicole who married Andre Wilkens?) who doesn't qualify for medicaid by $500 (she makes $23,500 per year). She is pregnant, and can't afford private coverage. Plus, pregnancy is considered a precondition. So, she is having to pay for all her prenatal care - on credit cards.

I am not for government controlled, single-payer healthcare (like Canada, and like HillaryCare, which she has said in interviews that she will try to push through congress again if it stays all dem). I like Obama's plan b/c it covers more people by making a government plan available, but voluntary. That way, if you don't qualify for Medicaid, you still have a low-cost option for your health insurance.

For whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on getting rid of the "freeloaders" who are getting "free care" at the ER. Thats ridiculous. People don't go to get free care at the ER b/c they want to leech - they do it b/c they can't afford health insurance. Its definitely something that needs to be addressed.

War - I am against the war in Iraq, but I agree that we have to leave there responsibly. I don't think the Dems are really going to just leave in 6 weeks or anything like that like Mitt seemed to imply in his goodbye speech. Ron Paul is about the only one who calls for an immediate withdrawal. An immediate withdrawl would cause more problems that good. Besides, it would be foolish as Congress would never allow it (how I love checks and balances!)

However, the Dems have set some timetables for getting us out and getting the government into the hands of the Iraqis. This is quite a bit different from McCain, who seems to think goals and strategies for getting out of the war are heresy. Goals are good; we never went in there with the intent of staying 100 years, despite what Johnny McCain may say. Even Colin Powell has said that he is considering voting for a Dem or Independent this year, and that Obama has some great ideas. I don't think he would say these things is he thought voting Dem would lead to a national security meltdown.

One thing that hasn't brought up, but which I also think is vital, is the issue of American perception in the world. I think that Bush has created a lot of bad blood abroad, and I think McCain would decidedly make it worse. If Bush was a cowboy, McCain is a rogue sniper. The man "joked" about his goals for the middle east by singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" to the tune of "Barbara Ann." Issues. Serious issues.

Alyson said...

Oww, that last comment by Katie made me hate McCain even more. I had totally forgotten about that little ditty he sang!

Donna said...

Yeah, McCain is beyond a hawk on war. Just another reason that I really don't like the guy and will not be voting for him.

I agree with what you both said about taxes. That is such a shame about the science funding. The thing that gets to me personally is that Peter and I get taxed at the same federal rate as people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the richest men in the world. How does that make sense? We're still paying off our school loans and making our money stretch to do things like fix up our house, not to mention the fact that our income is many, many times smaller than theirs, whereas these guys are big-time billionaires who can afford anything and everything they want, and then some. And we're taxed at the same rate as them. It's so wrong and it ticks me off.

Peter is the one doing the work that brings in our income, not the government. They shouldn't be getting such a big chunk of our hard-earned money yet, not at this stage of our lives. But we're lumped into this group of incredibly high earners. I'm all for paying taxes at a fair rate, that makes sense and it's one of the things that keeps our country running and our public services good, but not at the unfair rate that it's at now. This is one of the reasons I'm wary of a Democratic president and Dem-controlled Congress. As far as I know, they are the ones who set up these unequal rates in the first place. I worry that it would become even worse for so-called "rich" folks so that things like a national healthcare plan could be instituted, speaking of which...

I agree that the healthcare system is in chaos and really needs to be fixed. What is happening to Nicole and Andre is so wrong and so sad, and I'm sure it's not all that uncommon. I like what Romney did in Mass. with privatizing healthcare and making it available to all. I think it was a brilliant plan. Now my younger siblings can get health insurance more easily, which makes me feel better about their well-being. I know it doesn't matter now, but I believe he really could have helped fix the healthcare mess--he's great at going in and fixing things that are all screwed up. So anyway, healthcare needs to be fixed somehow but in as cost-effective, fair a way as possible. It sounds like Obama's plan is better than Hillary's.

You mentioned Colin Powell. He's been one of my favorite people in government for years, and I keep wishing he would run for president, but unfortunately he doesn't want to. And the Iraq/U.N. situation years ago might have ruined his chances anyway. But I think he could be great.

LBJ was the last Senator to be directly elected to president?? Yikes! I studied his presidency quite a bit for one of my classes at Penn and I wasn't very impressed by him. Not that that means some other senator won't do a better job...

Peter said...

A few points.

LBJ was not the last president elected directly from the senate. I believe that was JFK. LBJ was JFK's vice president before assuming the presidency.

Regarding Left vs Right, Katie brings up a good point regarding Democrat vs Republican. The fact is most of the bills that aren't bi-partisan tend to have significant left or right tones to them. Those tones are generally controlled by the more extreme elements of the party. This means that the centrists (McCain, Lieberman and their ilk) tend to anger the respective extremists in their own party. I personally respect the centrists more than the extremists, since both the far left and the far right can have problems.

Most of the painting that occurs in the primaries are because the extreme elements of the party are the ones most motivated to vote. Romney ran far to the right in his rhetoric because he saw the opportunity to steal votes from McCain. Think of the political spectrum as a continuum. People tend to vote for those closest to their particular point on the spectrum. Thus, a candidate more conservative thank McCain is likely to garner a lot of the extreme right (and motivated) vote. Candidates for president often have to run to the extremes during the primary to get elected, then try and run to the center to get elected in the general election. That is why most people don't trust politicians, since political realities force politicians to change positions or be unelectable. So why did McCain win? I know that one of your friends disagree, but I truly believe it was because of Huckabee splitting enough of the conservative votes with Romney to give McCain the edge among the winner-take-all primaries.

I agree that Obama and Hillary are virtually indistinguishable as far as rhetoric and voting records are concerned. I'm very concerned about their health care policies, particularly something like HR676. Why? We cannot afford the entitlements that we currently have. We are running deficits of a mere 250 billion dollars only because we are counting in our general revenue the SS & Medicare taxes. We are then taking that money (which is more than enough to pay the current liabilities but comes with accrual of benefits on the part of the tax-payers) and using it as general revenue to fund all government activities. We are then writing ourselves an "IOU" and considering those as assets available to help spend in the future. The problem is, as time goes on, the liabilities for SS & Medicare keep rising, reducing the resources available for the general election (which would require expense reductions or additional taxes simply to maintain the same level of deficit spending). Once the revenue received is lower than the expenses paid, then we are going to have to cash in those "IOU's", which are really empty pieces of paper that must be funded by taxes.
It is truly the equivalent to borrowing from your retirement account, writing yourself an IOU, and then trying to use that IOU at the grocery store to buy groceries when you retire. Nobody will accept it. Yet for some reason the government is doing it and the politicians are sticking their head in the sand. To make good on our current SS & Medicare obligations, our tax rates are going to have to rise to about 60% (If I remember the statistic right) on EVERYONE.

Add a national health care system and that rate will go to what? There are several countries in the world who have those rates. They have poor quality health care (all those who can afford to come to the US for their care, otherwise you can wait 8 months for lower quality care), anemic economies, and high unemployment. THe only reason why their health care is as good as it is is that the US currently rewards medical companies who innovate new technologies. The companies can earn enough money in the US market to make it worth the development expenses (which are considerable). Remove that last market where innovation is rewarded, and innovation will stagnate. Imagine if the world moved to that position 100 years ago. How many individuals would have never made it out of infancy because of the lack of technology to detect problems and fix them, or the proper intensive care units to preserve life. Imagine how many more heart conditions/cancer and other diseases would be fatal.

It is very unfortunate that the Wilken's cannot afford health care. I'm a bit surprised since I though the poverty line (where medicaid qualified) was higher than that. Even if it wasn't, most states have woman & infant programs that provide medical care for people above the poverty line but below specific income amounts. Is there any possibility of getting coverage through Andre?

Also, have they thought about seeking the Bishop's help? My understanding is that the Bishop can use welfare funds to help out in that situation. My prayers will be with them.

Regarding deficit spending & the debt levels, while we are running extreme debt levels (which I don't agree with) at around 9 trillion, that represents about 70% of GDP. By comparison, our national debt level in 1946 peaked at 128% of GDP. This means while I don't agree with our current policy of spend, spend, & spend some more, we actually are in a far better position to afford it than we were in 1946. If we don't fix the trend, however, that will quickly change.

Regarding the War. Pulling out would be disastrous. Hillary stated in a recent rally that the troops will be in Iraq until 1/20 but not one minute longer. Iraqi officials have stated publicly and repeatedly that US support is necessary or the fragile government and infrastructure will collapse. They simply don't have the resources to support themselves. What angers me is that they likely would have been in a lot better position by now if the politicians had stuck to the reconstructive policies originaly formulated by the experts instead of overruling them in the financial interests of certain companies. That has made this war drag on far longer and cost far more both in human lives and $$ than necessary.

Taxes. I am for lower taxes. Why? Because it spurs economic growth. It has been proven time and time again. See the benefits of "Reaganomics". By combatting inflation and lowering taxes, a wave of investment in technology and new businesses occurred. Years later, during the Clinton presidency, the fruits of those investments were born out. Clinton "balanced the budget" not through his shrewed economic policies (which were more of a result of a republican congress and a Democratic Presidency that stalled any large increases in spending) but simply by riding the wave of increased productivity and innovation. He started raising tax rates which slowed down capital investment which slowed down innovation. By the end of his presidency, the economy had already entered recession. Some of that would have been inevitable, but I don't think that it would have been as bad if taxes had not been raised.

Bush took office as the economy was already in Recession and acted quickly to combat it. By cutting taxes, he encouraged a significant amount of capital investment which started to bear fruit just in time to save his re-election bid. Unfortunately he also failed to restrain spending (which is why DC should have 1 party controlling the white house and the other controlling Congress), which has soaked up a lot of extra capital that might have been invested in business.

You can see, however, a pattern emerging. Reagan cut tax rates, enjoyed a short term boom that ledwas folowed by a small recession which was followed by a larger & longer boom. At the onset of the recession, the savings and loan crisis severly hurt confidence and dried up capital resources. The seeds for the productivity boom had been laid, however, and when confidence was restored in the market we went on an unprecedented economic boom.

Bush took office during a recession, cut taxes and enjoyed a small boom. The Sub-Prime meltdown has severly shaken confidence in the markets and dried up capital investment leading to a small recession (which I believe we are now entering). I also believe that the seeds of the next wave of productivity enhancements have been laid and will likely bear fruit in another 3 years or so. If taxes are raised as both the Democratic candidates desire, that is likely to have a curbing influence that will mute the benefits and bring the boom to an earlier close.

Do I believe we get back everything we pay in taxes in kind? No, simply because there is a LOT of re-distribution of wealth through entitlement programs, inefficiencies, and earmarks. I do not have problems with the use of tax dollars to build & maintain infrastructure (in which I include scientific research), provide for national defense, provide a common legal system etc, but a lot of the other spending is simply wealth redistribution. Most of the items that I do directly benefit from (libraries, schools, etc) are generally paid for by state & local governments through those taxes.

Anyways, this has been long enough!

Donna said...

Geez Peter, you are really smart. I never could have come up with an analysis like that.

Katie: oops, we were wrong about LBJ! I wasn't thinking and totally forgot that he was Kennedy's VP. I've gotta start getting more sleep at night.

Katie said...

Wow, Peter, like I said, you should run for president. You have a much stronger hold on these economic issues than I do.

Still, haven't converted me to vote for McCain/Republican. Sorry! :-) We fall too much into the need-stuff than into the able-to-give-back category.

As for the Wilkens', its a complicated situation. She can't get insurance through him, and CHIP in their state does not have extended coverage for pregnant moms (not all states have extended coverage - PA does, so we thought DE did as well, but it does not). I haven't asked about whether they have talked to their Bishop.

Its not just the Wilkens', though... my in-laws are having similar issues, since Andy's dad lost his job about a year ago and hasn't found work yet. Unemployment has ended, and they have 3 kids still at home, plus one on a mission... Their bishop told them to sell off all their stock (the last of their savings) before they will help them. So, its not just a case study. I see it alot, especially in our ward that is 90% students.