Who Deserves Your Vote?
Many of you may be under the misapprehension that I am enamored of Obama. I am not. He has done some indisputably good things (abolished Don’t Ask Don’t Tell so that any citizen can serve in our military, signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Act that assures equal pay for equal work, implemented regulations so that credit card companies can no longer gouge their customers with hidden rate increases, withdrawn our troops from Iraq, road-mapped a withdrawal from Afghanistan, fomented the demise of a tyrant without involving troops on the ground, dealt crushing blows to the Al Queda network, etc), but he's also made some incredibly poor decisions, like handing over the stewardship of the financial crisis to Timothy Geitner, the New York Federal Reserve governor who was the regulatory non-factor during the run-up to the 2008 financial meltdown. Implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, while good in theory and intent, has become a nightmare of regulatory red-tape for smaller banks while the too-big-to-fail ones for which it was intended continue business as usual. Likewise, putting Jeffery Immelt, the CEO of GE, in charge of fixing the unemployment situation while he’s sending his own company’s jobs to China is not a great idea either, especially since he was simultaneously exploiting the outsourcing segments of the tax code. Possibly the most egregious affront was putting two former Monsanto executives in positions of authority at the FDA and the USDA. These decisions were contrary to the primary responsibility of the government which is to protect its citizens, not exploit them. *
On the flip side, people who are concerned about the economy seem to favor Romney because of his portrayal as a financial magician. But while his strength might be finance, all evidence points to his expertise being limited to a very narrow application: creating debt and personally profiting from it. I'm not convinced that's what the country needs. His record at Bain speaks for itself: of the 77 companies which they took a controlling stake in, 67 under-performed the S&P 500 index. For all intents and purposes, they might as well have put the money in a savings account. The remaining 10 investments yielded 75% of Bain’s earnings, but of those, four of the companies went bankrupt under the crushing debt they were saddled with. So only 6 out of 77 investments really benefitted everyone involved. For you baseball fans, that’s an .078 batting average, which is pretty much an automatic ticket back to the minors even if he did hit 6 home runs.
He likes to refer to his
experience as head of the
He campaigns that his
term as governor of
Even though on the books
it looks like he balanced the budget, long term debt increased by $2.6
billion. While I do not fault Romney for
all the economic problems of his state, manufacturing job losses were twice the
national rate and there’s really no way to make finishing 47th out
of 50 in job creation look like a good thing.
Most troublesome is his grasp of foreign policy. A man who thinks “Syria is Iran’s route to the sea” (Syria does not border Iran and Iran has two coasts of it’s own), who does not understand the difference between a secular strongman (Syria’s Assad) and a religious oligarchy (the ruling clerics of Iran), whose first instinct upon hearing about the Benghazi incident was to "bomb them", who thinks that our biggest geopolitical foe is a country (Russia) who sells us nuclear warheads to be turned into fuel rods that provide 80% of our nuclear power, who thinks our biggest problem with China is currency manipulation and not the theft of trillions of dollars in intellectual capital, who somehow managed to offend the English (our closest ally) on a goodwill mission and who thinks the number of weapons is more important than the power and effectiveness of those weapons… this is a man who is utterly clueless about the rest of the world and has no business as the primary emissary for our way of life or as commander-in-chief.
The greatest negative
for a presidential candidate is short-term thinking and Romney exhibits
this in spades. Look at the body of
work: at Bain, they specialized in takeovers and quick turnarounds. The long term health of each company was of
secondary concern. He took over the
Olympics in the middle of the planning, secured a bunch of money to spend his
way out of the morass and then moved on to the next score. He served one term as
So all the things Romney supposedly brings to the table – improving the long-term outlook of business, a bipartisan approach to government and lowering costs for consumers – he actually doesn’t bring at all. In some cases, it’s the opposite. Given the choice between the less than ideal Obama and Romney (which is looking an awful lot like a redux of George W. Bush), it's really a no-brainer: President Obama is a more sound choice for the next four years.
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* I didn’t get into the health care law because we’ve yet to get a handle on its full effect. We’re seeing some of the costs early on but how much they will be offset by the insurance exchanges created by the law remain to be seen. We’ve also yet to see how much costs will go down due to people engaging in more preventative care rather than emergency care due to more people being covered and more people paying into the system. At this point, it’s pointless to argue about those kinds of things. What is important is that something was done that needed to be done. And just like Medicare, which has gone numerous changes since its passage in 1965, how much we need to fix, repeal or applaud will be determined later when we have actual evidence to examine.