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Posts Tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

The 1956 Republican Party Platform vs. Todays

Sun ,02/11/2014

The chart at the right compares the 1956 Republican platform when Eisenhower ran with what the party’s platform seems to be today. Some things aagop platformevolve, and some things devolve. The modern Republican Party is an example of the latter. Trying to hold power, rather than govern well, the party has molded itself to satisfy the religious right, the anti-science anti-intellectuals, the false conservatives, and the very wealthy. Unable to progress as the world changes, without offending those, the party leaders have taken the path of obstructionism.

It is a rather vicious cycle for Republicans. As moderates and progressives move away from the party, the extremist are more in control. That influence is seen most in the primaries where the extremist and money interests can insert more influence to elect their candidates. It is tough to be an Eisenhower Republican these days.

The 2014 platform is very similar to that developed by the Republican Party in 2012. Republican leaders  used a push poll to develop the 2012 Republican presidential platform. Here  is an analysis of that poll.  The poll was an affront to intelligent Republicans as it was not really to solicit their opinions but instead an effort to spread propaganda and to raise money. It signaled the big money interests and extremists that if they gave generously, the Party would reward them. And it did. Here is an analysis of the 2012 Republican Party platform that Romney ran on. Can any Republican actually be proud of that platform? It is no wonder Romney lost.

Which platform in the chart do you prefer? It will never be 1956 again, but think where we might be today if the Republican Party had remained progressive. It is time for the Grand Old Party to become Grand again.

Who's Responsible for High Gas Prices?

Sat ,13/10/2012

    “It’s hard to see how President Obama is to blame for high gas prices when the record high was $4.12 a gallon in  July of 2008, six months before he took office.”

The Republican strategy during the 2012 election has been to try to pin the economic problems we have been facing on President Obama. Certainly President Obama inherited a mess and it is very difficult to figure out how well the president’s policies are working since we don’t know where we would have been without them.

The price of gasoline is something we are reminded of every time we fill up our car. So we’ve heard a lot about the price of gasoline during this presidential election. During the presidential debates, Mitt Romney said to president Obama ,”At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under your presidency.”  Bill O’Reilly in his debate with John Stewart said, “Gas prices have doubled since Obama took office.” And someone at Exxon Mobil even cooperated with this theme by placing the gas sign on the right on the Internet. And, it is true.  However, the conclusion drawn from it is not.

The implication is that Pesident Obama is responsible for our current high gas prices. You can only think that is true if you have a very short memory or are very dishonest. Average US gas prices hit a historic high of $4.12 per gallon in July of 2008,  six months before Obama took office and while  George Bush was still president. The International Energy Agency (IEA) graph below shows the historic prices in the US and other countries, showing that the US President is not responsible for gas prices. That is unless you consider the wars in the Middle East, which destabilized the region, to be a main factor in gas prices. The graph shows the gas prices were relatively stable until about 2002.

Exxon/Mobil has also been a little duplicitous about this. In the past, they have emphasized on their website that the high gas prices are reasonable when they are considered in terms of inflation. However, now that Mitt Romney has promised oil companies carte blanche to do pretty much as they please if he is elected, they’re only too happy to blame the rising gas prices on President Obama. Mr. Romney apparently does not believe in climate change, and even if he did  he certainly places money ahead of almost everything else, including the environment. Mr. Romney has promised that he would allow completion of the XL pipeline, which will make lots of money for the oil companies. He would also allow them to drill on public land, in National parks, in wildlife refuges, and in environmentally sensitive areas. Those policies might be okay if it were not for the fact that they would increase air pollution, increase greenhouse gas concentrations, and put a large number of environmentally fragile areas at a risk of being damaged.

And, it is very unlikely that allowing oil companies to do as they wish would bring down the price of gasoline. In the first Presidential debate, Mitt Romney blamed President Obama’s policies for limiting oil production. That is also not true, as you can see from the IEA’s table below.

Oil production  dropped during the Bush presidency but has risen by about 20% during Obama’s presidency.  It is clear that domestic oil production has  little effect on the price of gasoline. Last year our largest export was fuels, so it seems if we produce more, we will just export more while gas prices continue to rise in the U.S. It also appears that gasoline prices do not follow the law of supply and demand, both things that Exxon/Mobil and the other oil companies should have to explain. They receive large subsidies; their products do not bear the cost of dumping large amounts of CO2 into the environment; and they have been quite profitable while many other US companies are struggling to stay afloat, in part because of the high fuel prices. Many are international companies that have little allegiance to the United States, but if they’re going to do business in the United States, they should behave as good citizens. We should certainly not let their money and misinformation determine the outcome of our elections.

Note added on 02/17/2015: This picture shows the gas prices in January of 2015 in Kansas. Does President Obama0gas get credit?

Medicare: Where Is the $716 Billion Robbery

Mon ,03/09/2012

With the heating up of campaign rhetoric, I’ve been hearing a lot about this $716 billion dollars that Romney is publicly saying President Obama “robbed” from Medicare. That is the exact word Romney uses. Well, if someone is stealing, I want to know how they are getting away with it so I did my research and discovered what the $716 billion is.

First, let me remind you that the Medicare trust fund does not have that much money and it’s not a piggy bank that can be raided. At the end of 2011 the Part A trust fund had only $244.2 billion.  The Part A, hospital insurance program, is financed through a payroll tax that goes into a trust fund similar to the Social Security trust funds. And that hospital insurance trust fund is being spent much more rapidly than the Social Security funds. No president can actually take money out of the Medicare trust fund as this money is in Treasury bonds which can only be cashed by Medicare at any time it is needed. As it is, with the continued increase in medical cost, Medicare can’t cover all the benefits without either more revenue (taxes) or reduced spending.

Ok, so where did the $716 billion come from? Actually this figure is for reductions in spending, so it really doesn’t take any money that is in the trust fund out of the trust fund. (Hum, isn’t that what Republicans are always saying—that we need to reduce spending?)

 Sorry Romney, there is no “robbery”. These reductions do not take any money out of Medicare, they are necessary adjustments to vendors who receive Medicare payments, and do not affect payments to beneficiaries.  They are aimed at insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes and most of all, the Medicare Advantage companies. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, with the idea that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to these private insurers. Medicare Advantage plans currently receive higher payments from the government on average than traditional Medicare – 9% higher than it was in 2010. The government pays Advantage companies 14-20% to manage patients health care. The Affordable Care Act cuts this fee to private companies. Romney and Ryan have a countdown clock showing how many days until Medicare (part A) is broke. The truth is that there would be even fewer days until the fund’s exhaustion if Obama’s health care law hadn’t included those $700 billion in spending reductions.

Romney’s campaign ad incorrectly claims that the “money you paid” for Medicare is being used to pay for Obama’s health care law. It is incorrect because the law doesn’t take money out of the existing hospital insurance trust fund. It cuts the future growth of spending. And in the future, seniors will still receive the benefits to which they are entitled.

Sources: Politifact.com, Factcheck.org

This is a guest post from Barbara Moore.

© 2012 Barbara Moore

The Shortcomings of the 2012 Republican Platform

Wed ,29/08/2012

Aristotle, the father of science, thought that nature could best be understood by observation and reason. Not only did he apply the scientific method to the physical world, but he also considered political systems. One of his conclusions was that a democracy could not function well without a strong middle class. Aristotle was also strongly opposed to sophistry. Both of those are things that our politicians need to keep in mind.

After a number of push polls to try to influence their constituencies’ opinions, Republican leaders have managed to get many of their most extreme positions into the Republican platform. Republicans have tried to create a coalition of one issue voters, and there is a plank in there for each of them. Some the planks are more extreme than even Romney would have liked, and they seem more to reflect Paul Ryan’s views.

Economy: The plan for job creation is “economic growth”– and to stimulate economic growth the platform requires a further reduction in taxes. The plan is to keep the  Bush tax cuts, eliminate taxes on capital gains for the middle class, pass a balanced budget amendment and require a supermajority for any future tax increases . Grover Norquist and most millionaires will be very pleased with that plank. The middle class may not be so happy because little of their income is from interest and capital gains. Then, there’s a problem of how to fund government programs, but other planks are going to eliminate many of those, especially those that help the disadvantaged and the middle class.

Social Issues: The platform is loaded up with social issues.  It calls for a constitutional amendment defining marriage, claims life begins at fertilization, and seeks to make abortions difficult to obtain, no matter the circumstances. It would not fund any health care that covered abortions. And, that would include most forms of birth control under that definition of when life begins. It also declares that only abstinence education be permitted, and that would likely greatly increase the needs for abortions – as that doesn’t work too well in practice. And in spite of the large number of public massacres that have occurred lately, it is opposed to banning high-capacity clips or assault rifles.

Minorities: It declares; “Voter fraud is a political poison”, although there are very few instances of voter fraud. It appears to be an attempt to justify the Republican Party’s attempt to disenfranchise a large number of minority voters. It takes a hard line on immigration, even for those born here who are children of immigrants. It rather forgets that most of us were originally immigrants and that President Reagan granted amnesty to almost 3 million illegal immigrants. It would prohibit federal lawsuits against states that make restrictive immigration laws, even though those laws might interfere with citizens’ rights or violate human rights.

Energy: The energy plank does not recognize the need to protect the environment, which Republicans in the past strongly supported, nor does it recognize the realities of climate change. It would give almost free rein to fossil fuel companies to pursue their interests without regard to environmental issues and it would restrict the EPA from taking action to protect the environment. It does mention an “all of the above” energy policy, but there is no specific mention of policies to encourage the development of alternate energy sources.

Health and Welfare:  The plank on health care would be disastrous for the middle class. It would repeal most of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, while promising to promote the free market and give you more choices. That is fine if you have plenty of money. There’s a lot of verbiage associated with Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid but it all boils down to changing them in ways that would cost less money and make them much less effective. It says, “the platform pledges to move both Medicare and Medicaid away from ‘the current unsustainable defined-benefit entitlement model to a fiscally sound defined-contribution model.’” And, it supports a “ Medicare transition to a premium-support model with an income-adjusted contribution toward a health plan of the enrollee’s choice.” Is that a description of vouchers?

Defense: This plank sounds a lot like saber rattling. It would restore “American exceptionalism” and take a hard stance toward North Korea, Iran, and China (China?). That would greatly increase military spending, particularly if we started another war. Our last Republican President started two, and we are still suffering from the loss of lives and the staggering cost. We already spend five times as much as any other country on defense, and there is no plank explaining where the money would come from without raising taxes. Nor is it clear how it might work out to have  as Comander-in-Chief someone who sat out  the Vietnam War in France on a rather easily obtained “divinity student” deferment. 

I think many traditional Republicans will be rather dismayed with the platform and it remains to be seen if they will still support the party and vote for its candidates. Certainly the wealthy and the one issue voters can be counted on, but it would appear to alienate many independents. Sometimes reason prevails and political parties do not follow their platform too precisely, and that is the most that we can hope for if  Mr. Romney is elected president.

(c) 2012 J.C. Moore

Healthcare Reform: The Affordable Care Act

Mon ,02/07/2012

 “Your family’s health and prosperity depends on that of everyone.”

The United States has just been through a recession that has left many Americans without jobs, financial security, and adequate healthcare. What could be a better time to see that every American has adequate healthcare? President Obama promised during his campaign to reform healthcare. His goals were to protect citizens from insurance company abuses, see that every citizen had adequate healthcare, and ensure that healthcare was affordable. It was up to Congress to write the details of the law.

For those who claim making law is like making sausages, the Affordable Care Act is more than an apt example. In the 1990’s, Hillary Clinton tried to reform healthcare – but attempts at reform stalled when Republicans came up with an alternate bill and the opportunity passed with no decision being made. In 2010, Congress used many of the ideas of the Republican bill to create the Affordable Care Act. Many of those ideas formed the basis of the Massachusetts health care bill that Governor Romney signed into law in 2006. The Affordable Care Act is certainly not ideal, but it came about as a series of compromises necessary to get it through Congress and avoid a filibuster in the Senate.

Controversies: Much of the controversy over the Affordable Care Act was about things that didn’t really exist in the law. It did not create death panels, provide public funds for abortions, provide payments to undocumented immigrants, take away fundamental rights, or threaten to bankrupt the country. Although there were many claims that the affordable care act will greatly increase the deficit, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the affordable care act would decrease the projected deficit by $138 billion over the first 10 years and by approximately $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. However, the laws constitutionality was a serious question – and several states filed suit claiming that the federal government could not require citizens to purchase health insurance. The lawsuits reached the Supreme Court and in  National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 6/28/2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. It ruled that the penalty for not purchasing insurance was a tax, and that Congress had a right to impose taxes.

Benefits: Now that the Affordable Care Act has been declared constitutional and will become law , below is a checklist from Whitehouse.gov  that summarizes what the affordable care act might mean for you:

  

 

The Future: There is still concern that the Affordable Care Act does not do enough to control the insurance costs or reduce the cost of care. The healthcare exchanges should provide more competition, and the 80/20 rule means that at least 80% of the premiums must be paid out in healthcare services.  There are also some intangible benefits to health care reform that may materialize in the future: 

  • It would cut the unpaid bills for emergency services. Currently, emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone, and those without medical insurance often use them for medical care when they cannot pay. Emergency room care is expensive and those costs must be passed on to paying customers.
  • It would improve the competitiveness of American companies. Most working Americans obtain health insurance through their employers; however, this puts U.S.businesses at a disadvantage with foreign competitors who do not provide health insurance for their workers. Small companies have the added disadvantage that they cannot negotiate as low rates as larger companies.
  • It would reduce bankruptcies. A Harvard study found that about 50% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by illness and unpaid medical bills. Bankruptcies affect everyone because the health providers, banks, businesses, and credit card companies who lose money in the bankruptcy pass the cost on to the rest of us.
  • It would improve everyone’s health. Your family’s health depends on the health of everyone. You and your family will likely come into contact with thousands of people during this next year. People without health insurance are less likely to receive immunizations and are much more likely to have untreated communicable diseases.

 More information:  Here is some additional information from Whitehouse.gov with links to the topic: ”

A major impact of the Court’s decision is the 129 million people with pre-existing conditions and millions of middle class families who will have the security of affordable health coverage. 

We should also remember that under today’s ruling, having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice. If you can’t afford insurance or you’re a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to your employees, you’ll get tax credits that make coverage affordable. But if you can afford insurance and you choose not to purchase it, the taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free.” 

 

Research Credit: Barbara Moore

(C) 2012 J.C. Moore

 

The 2012 Republican Presidential Platform Survey

Mon ,04/06/2012
All registered Republican voters have just received yet another survey from the party leaders, along with a request for donations of course. It is difficult to answer many of the survey questions as they contain assumptions that bias your answer – if you can answer at all. Below are some of the worst examples; please see how you fare in answering them.
 
3. How important is it to voters in your state to have candidates give attention to the following issues during the 2012 campaign?

        (d)Exposing Obama’s radical left-wing policies

              ( ) Very important    ( ) Somewhat important    ( ) Not important

 8. Do you support a federal balanced-budget amendment to the US Constitution to stop deficit spending in Washington

                                                    ( )  Yes   ( ) No

 16. Do you believe Obama’s strategy of treating all countries as equals to the United States has strengthened our security and weaken the resolve of our enemies?

                                                     ( )  Yes  ( )   No

29. Do you believe the Republican Party needs to do a better job of exposing the Obama record and his radical liberal agenda?

                                                     ( )  Yes  ( ) No

30. Are you committed to helping ensure that in 2012 the Obama era policy of radical liberalism reckless spending and embarrassing foreign-policy comes to an end?

                                                       ( )  Yes   ( ) No

The questions above are from the 2012 Presidential Platform Survey sent out by the Republican Party to registered Republican voters. This is better than some of the surveys received under Michael Steele, where we also received his four-page letters telling us how to answer. Still, many of the questions are biased to get a particular answer – and are also designed to send a message rather than ask the constituent’s opinion.

For instance:

 Question 3. No matter what you answer, you are accepting the assumption that President Obama’s policies are radical and left-wing. His policies are considered to be slightly right of center and many of them were proposed in the past by Republicans.

 Question 8. Is cutting spending the only way to balance the budget? The budget could also be balanced by raising taxes to pay for our debts and our wars.

 Question 16. To answer it you must accept the assumption that Obama has a strategy of treating all countries equal. Does that mean “equal” as in treating them all with respect, which might lessen tensions and make them less likely to behave as our enemies?

 Question 29. In case you missed the inferences of Question 3., here president Obama’s agenda is called “radical liberal” to make sure you don’t miss it again. Wink, wink.

 Question 30. Repetition, repetition, repetition. That is the key to teaching slow learners, which is how the Republican leadership seems to see their constituency. To answer this question, you must not only buy into the “radical liberalism” label, but also into assumptions about “reckless spending” and “embarrassing foreign-policy”. How can you answer the question if you disagree? Oh, you are supposed to be a good “Stepford” Republican and not disagree.

If this survey is any indication, Republican leaders seem to be more interested in defeating Obama than they are in governing responsibly. It is more likely that those who agree with the biased assumptions will fill out and send in the survey, further biasing the results. I would hope that the party can develop a reasonable platform that traditional Republicans can support. My concern is that the Republican leaders will use the results of these biased surveys to try to whip into line the candidates who might object by telling them, “This is what the Republican voters want.” But is it really?

Note added on July 30, 2012: I received another Republican Presidential Platform Survey last week. Interestingly, it was almost identical to the one received  less than 2 months ago – and it did not mention the results of that survey. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what the results were because the surveys main purpose seems to be to provide propaganda and to request donations. It contained all the questions listed above above, but there was another section that is noteworthy. The section entitled “Values Issues” had 4 questions, and 3 of them were about the abortion issue. Are there no other values issues that should go into the Republican platform?

(c)2012  J.C. Moore