Anticipating the Presidential debate and Social Security 101

Posted By on October 3, 2012

Most of America is waiting to hear from President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney tonight for the  first Presidential Debate. The president must defend his 4 years of  leadership and stop offering excuses or pointing at Republicans; he needs to either convince the majority that his policies are working or that the changes that he will make in a second term will grow business and bring jobs back. Governor Romney for his part needs to be positive and communicate a message much better than “points in a plan.” His ideas need to be convincing and reinforce that they will move “all people” in this country forward — it is that simple. Whoever does their job best will win the election — it’s the economy stupid.”

I started my list of topics that I’d like to hear discussed last night. First on my is a clarification and justification for each candidate’s plan to grow the economy and create jobs. The only way forward from our monstrous hole  is a robust and growing economy. Our debt is too large and our promises too many for anything else to work  (the social security video below being part of it).

Second, and possibly part of the first topic, is how do you intend to control the size of government — its spending, cost and reach. It now intrudes beyond anything the founders of our country would ever recognize and is starting to resemble the countries people came to America to escape. The “land of opportunity is turning into a land of regulation, fees, fines, taxes and red tape.

A third area, most likely still connected to the above two points is tax fairness. We can’t continue the crony capitalism that rewards the connected people, their lobbyists/industries with tax breaks, credits and deductions while everyone else is forced to decipher our complex tax code. We’re foolish if we keep corporate rates higher than other countries in a global economy and expect companies to make their money and create jobs in America. At the same time, half the country can’t be excluded from paying income taxes while they expect those already paying the highest percentage and most dollars to pay more and continue to work hard and expand their companies. Central control and more regulation will not create jobs or bring business to America.

We’re also failing in education. The blame can equally be divided between students, parents, teachers, administrators and bureaucrats.  One thing that has become clear is that the more money we pour into education, the bigger the Dept of Education grows (from 4% to 6% of GDP since I was in school), yet fails to educate students that can keep pace with other first world countries spending far less … and we are particularly lousy at educating our bottom third. Part of this may be the lack of a “carrot” (good jobs for high school graduates) and part of it the lack of a “stick”  (we’re still rewarding “carrots” — life on entitlements).

The final topic is national security. President Obama has tried his hand on both soft-diplomacy and hard core military muscle. We can see the results in how special ops decimates the leadership in terrorist networks and where weak power gets us in dealing with the changing nations of the middle east and their willingness to test our resolve. I’ll be listening to what changes (if any) Obama will make if he serves as commander in chief for another 4 years or what a President Romney will signal to the world (I come back to my memories of Carter and Reagan, but am not sure Romney is a Reagan?)

My final concern is addressing the “elephant in the room.” Medicare and Social Security … and we might as well toss in military and public employees’ pensions and healthcare to be fair. These a big topics that no elected official is going to tackle … even though we all know the time is coming. I’ll include a short video clip on just one of the topics, Social Security. This CNBC clip is about as simple and clear of an explanation as I have seen.


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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