Felicia Muftic: Anyone but Obama? Maybe not
February 7, 2012
The GOP presidential contenders are putting their eggs in one basket: The voters are feeling so much pain, anyone would be better than Obama. Oh?
Some in the GOP seem to yearn to return to the time of John Adams, when Abigail could run the farm and cash flow was only a nagging problem because she could raise their own food, sew her own clothes, and pay the doc in chickens.
That bucolic life is long gone thanks to the industrial revolution, the intertwined world economy, urbanization, an economy driven by middle income consumer spending, and expensive life-saving medical technology. “Each to his own and each on his own” has moral and economic implications. To what extent should we be our brothers’ keeper? Is it good for the economy to leave one half of Americans near or in hopeless poverty?
To compensate for tax cuts, ground wars, and stagnant income, we plunged ourselves into deeper government and personal debt. Starry eyed, we put our money in unregulated investments based on questionable mortgage loans until the economy imploded in 2008.
When I hear voters wistfully say they just want it like it was before, for which “before” are they yearning? – the latter 1700s or the bubble of the early 2000s?. Most of the GOP’s roadmap to prosperity is the bubble model that replicates their previous route that led to prosperity for the few, a col de sac for many, and eventual disaster for all.
Low taxes and less regulation did not lift the boats of the middle class much from 2001-2007, while the upper incomes soared, per the Congressional Budget Office. Job loss and recession began nearly the year before the crash of fall 2008. The theory that wealth trickles down to the middle class did not work well in practice.
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The GOP is not about applying balm to middle income pains. They want to repeal help for Elm Street to aid Wall Street and Fifth Avenue, with more tax breaks to an already robust financial sector and the comfortable rich, repealing health care and Wall Street reform, and weakening consumer protection.
We can imagine a GOP future by going back to their past. What would it have been like with a Republican or a Mitt Romney controlling Washington for the last three years instead of having the reforms and policies Obama supported and instituted? The financial sector would still be free to hoodwink investors and homebuyers, one bank failure could still bring down other banks, and we would still drown in the cost of more or indefinite ground wars. There would have been no pressure on banks to refinance responsible homeowners, and the housing market would be seeking an even deeper bottom. Detroit would have gone bankrupt; 1.4 million jobs would have evaporated as the industry would have moved abroad. The 2009 stimulus would not have been passed and another 2.3 million jobs would have been added to the unemployment count.
The Ryan plan would have passed so future seniors would pay $6,000 more a year for Medicare. 30 million citizens could never hope to afford health insurance. Sending kids to college would have become a fading dream, with shrinking access to student loans, and continued unrealistic burden of paying back them back.
Simpson Bowles debt reduction plan would have been completely ignored because it recommended GOP no-no’s of reducing military spending, continuing cost saving Obamacare, and raising taxes on the rich, the very recommendations embraced by Obama.
In his State of the Union address, Obama gave us a new vision of “hope,” a fair shake for the future for the middle income. With all economic indicators zigzagging upward, he can rightfully claim he has indeed turned around the economy, if not yet cured it, and that a Republican future would be a leap back to the policies from whose consequences we are now trying to escape.
For more commentary, go to http://www.mufticforum.com