Friday, November 9, 2012
It has been three days since President Obama was reelected. The President got ten million fewer votes than he got four years ago, but it was enough to win. It wasn't so much that Obama won, but more that his opponent lost. So who was Obama's opponent? He must have been a terrible candidate, right? One would assume that he was worse than Kerry, worse than Dole. But actually, the opposite was true. In my opinion, never before had the nation been presented a candidate who so perfectly matched the problems America faced and still faces.
Everyone knew that America was and is deeply in debt. Everyone knew that our economy was and is not as good as it should be. The President faced a candidate who had turned around countless organizations. Romney's resume was deep, his record was one of high achievement, and not only were there no skeletons in his closet, he actually had no closet. And get this: Mitt Romney looks like a President. Was Mitt a poor debater? No, he was a superb debater. Was he too extreme? No, Mitt was much more moderate than the president. The election should have been a slam-dunk for Romney.
So what happened?
Much as been written about changing demographics. Much has been said about Republicans failing to get more of the minority vote and the Hispanic vote. Other questions have been asked since the election like: "Is America becoming less conservative"? Are we becoming a nation who wants hand-outs? Was the democratic "get-out-the-vote" apparatus more effective? Was Obama more likable than Romney?
While each of the above factors contributed to Romney's defeat. I would like to present what I believe should have been central to the campaign, and yet was strangely absent.
"What got us into this mess?"
It has been said that our nation is divided. We are conservatives vs. liberals. The rich vs. the poor. The workers vs. the idle. And yet, nearly 100% of Americans have felt the effects of the recession. Each of us has had our home go down in value, each of us has had to tighten our belts. The housing bubble, with the subsequent collapse was felt by nearly all of us.
I believe that it was Romney's inability to effectively explain "what got us into this mess" that was his undoing.
Obama's explanation was pretty simple. "We can't return to the policies that got us into this mess". When asked to expound, Obama would explain that tax-cuts for the wealthy, and a lack of regulations are what got us into the mess we are now in. Whether or not you think his statement was accurate, the President was offering some kind of explanation. You'll notice that he never went much deeper than this. "The Bush policies got us into this mess, and Romney wants to return to those policies." It was actually pretty brilliant.
So what was Romney's explanation for the collapse of 2007? He never offered one. In fact, Romney's stump speech often admitted that "Obama didn't cause the collapse", but simply that the "President had made it worse". Mitt also went on to say that the first rule of any turnaround is to "focus, focus, focus". But focus on what? What was the problem? Was Mitt conceding the point, that it was indeed Bush's fault for the housing bubble? That tax-breaks caused the recession? That lack of regulations were at the heart of the whole fiasco?
You see, Mitt gave no answer to the President's central argument; that the Bush policies are "what got us into this mess". Notice I used the phrase gave no answer. There certainly were answers for what got us into the mess. It may have been a lack of regulation, but it was a lack of regulation of a program that government had no business ever engaging in. Over and over, I heard the President make the case that the Bush tax-cuts, and lack of regulation were what got us in the mess in the first place. And what was Romney's response? I never heard one.
Time magazine gave an excellent overview of who really was to blame here. The article goes through 25 people to blame. On the list is Bush, but guess who else was there: Democrats, including Bill Clinton. So there was certainly plenty of blame to go around. But never has anybody with any credibility ever attributed the housing bust to the Bush tax cuts.
Obama was sloppy. He tried to blame everything on Bush. His argument was only effective if no one ever called him out on it. And yet, no one ever did call the President out on this.
Mitt should have owned this subject. A turnaround artist learns what is going wrong, and then fixes it. Throughout the campaign, I kept wondering when Romney was going to respond to Obama's silly charge that Mitt wanted to return us to Bush. I wanted to see Mitt give a speech entitled "What really got us into this mess". Romney could have put on his suit and tie, got out power-point, and gave a step-by-step analysis as to what really got us into the mess, who really was to blame (include Rs and Ds) and what to do about it. I envision the speech being detail rich and full of charts and facts and figures. Give us a sample as to what the CEO turnaround artists does when he's in action. Once Romney demonstrates that he "get's it", he could then add, "you see, adding Obamacare at the end of one crisis only made matters worse, it was going from one crisis to another". Romney needed to demonstrate that he was the master of the subject.
And so, when the Republican convention came along, I was expecting a big educational event. A time to set the record straight. A time to admit where Republicans had been wrong, and where we'd been right. A convention full of facts and figures. A conservative forum to tout our ideas, and to prove where they had worked. Instead, it was vague. It was flag-waving, and Obama bashing. It was at times petty. "We did build that!" An entire convention based on a gaffe by the President? I have to admit that I feared we had lost the election the minute I heard Romney say: "I don't want to lower the oceans, I want to help you and your family".
Ouch! Ronald Reagan had once said that "the nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help'." And then there goes Mitt, "I'm going to help you and your family". Totally vague, and totally assuming undecided voters would buy such a vague promise.
In contrast, Bill Clinton gave the kind of speech the Republicans should have been giving all through their convention. He had facts and figures. He had details. He got into the weeds. He showed real passion. He spoke to the big recession and said "Let me assure you, no one could have done any better with the economy the President was handed". Clinton spoke to 100% of the American people. He spoke directly. He spoke without pandering. He didn't assume we were stupid.
Many of you know that I have been one of the biggest Romney supporters ever known. I read his book, No Apology. I happen to still firmly believe he would have made a fantastic president. His policies were ones that I almost salivated over. But there was a disconnect from the Romney who wrote the book, and the Romney who ran for President.
Why did he not address the central argument Obama had made? Was it due to the fact that he had hired McCain people? Was it his campaign strategy? He admits in a leaked video that he figured the race was 47% vs. 47%. That he had to win over the middle, or the undecideds. Was that kind of thinking that prevented him from seeing that 100% of the American people wanted some kind of explanation as to what caused the recession in the first place?
I don't believe that Americans rejected conservatism. I believe that they simply went with the candidate who most effectively spoke to what got us into our current mess, and what would get us out of the mess. The frustrating part for me is that Romney never lost the argument, but was, instead, absent from the argument. An argument, I believe he could have won easily.
I hope Republicans learn the right lessons from this election. And it would help if the American people woke up a little more too. If Obama fails to turnaround the economy in 8 years, he'll be left with little excuse.
2016 can't come soon enough.
Monday, July 26, 2010
by David Alvord
We've all seen a movie like this: The hero rushes towards a cockpit only to find that the airplane's pilots have parachuted-out minutes ago. The plane is plummeting towards the ground as the altimeter is spinning like a fan. The protagonist looks stunned as he decides what to do next. He puts his hands on the wheel while the camera zooms in on his face as beads of sweat form. "PULL UP ON THE CONTROLS" we all scream, (at least in our minds).
America is facing a similar fiscal crisis. But too few are demanding that we "pull up"... and make the needed correction.
This year, Americans will pay 2.1 trillion dollars in taxes. Yet, in spite of this gargantuan income, the federal government will spend 3.6 trillion taxpayer dollars causing the deficit to reach 1.4 trillion dollars! This is money that is going to be spent by the government in excess of the taxes collected.
Put another way, the government is spending 170% of what it is able to bring in. That is like an individual making 50K and spending 80K that same year. Obamacare has yet to be paid for, and retiring baby boomers start their entry into social security and medicare next year. We can expect federal expenses will only increase as an aging population begins to collect their entitlements.
The CBO's latest report said:
Unless policymakers restrain the growth of spending, increase revenues significantly as a share of GDP, or adopt some combination of those two approaches, growing budget deficits will cause debt to rise to unsupportable levels.
(Pull up! Pull up! Is anyone listening?)
"...a growing level of federal debt would also increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget..." (CBO 7/27/2010)
The Democrats argue that taxes must be raised, but offer little by way of spending decreases. Worse, their party seems drunk on spending at the time. And so, it begs the question: Can any amount of taxing satisfy the spending habits of Washington? Could the economy afford this added burden? Will businesses continue to hire if they are so heavily taxed? The answer is obvious: No! And there is no amount of taxing could ever cover the spend-lust of those currently in power. Besides, many economists will argue (correctly, I believe) that an increased tax burden would actually hurt the overall economy and that the IRS would, in fact, collect less money. The increase in taxation without a decrease in spending can only result in an increased deficit.
Where is the cap? Where is the limit? When do we say enough is enough?
An unknown author once noted:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result: the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."
Can our democracy exist as a permanent form of government? Will we watch from afar as the fiscal solvency of the country plummets towards the ground? Are we naive enough to think that a collapse wouldn't effect us individually. Can the republic be saved?
The solution to our fiscal problems isn't complicated. Simply put, the federal government needs to live within its means. Like any family or individual that has to prioritize its expenditures and abide by a budget, so must our government prioritize its expenditures and stay within a budget. But there must be force. The budget must have teeth.
Therefore, I propose a Fixed Budget Constitutional Amendment. This Amendment would go beyond that of a "balanced-budget amendment". The problem with a balanced-budget amendment is that if congress wants to spend more, all they have to do is raise taxes...just as long as the budget is balanced. No. We can do better than that. And frankly, we must do better than that.
The Fixed Budget Constitutional Amendment (hereafter FBCA) would mandate that congress shall not spend more than the National Fixed Budget for the year. This NFB would be figured by taking the national GDP of the previous year and then multiplying that by the percent we Americans feel should go towards federal government expenditures. I think 10% of the GDP should be more than adequate to cover what we really need our government to do for us. Maybe the actual percent could be debated and voted on. But once agreed upon, it would be the law of the land.
The FBCA could be worded as follows:
"Congress shall not authorize spending beyond that of the National Fixed Budget. The National Fixed Budget shall be no more than ten percent of the previous year's national Gross Domestic Product as certified by independent auditors. Taxes shall not be collected in excess of the National Fixed Budget."
By the way, 10% of the GDP would be 1.4 Trillion dollars. This is more than adequate to protect our nation from foreign invaders, as well as pay for infrastructure and welfare. But that is the point. Congress will have to argue and get the consent of the people about how to spend the 1.4 trillion. Maybe the people want NASA. Maybe the people want military. Maybe they want free pop vending machines. But whatever congress allocates money towards, it must keep in mind that it can spend no more than the fixed amount. As the population grows, and as the economy grows, the amount of dollars government can spend will increase, but not the percent, that remains fixed, unless another amendment comes along. If a threat to our security arises, other programs must be curtailed to pay for it. 1.4 trillion could buy a lot of bombs and F22s, even if we can't build new roads or pay for NPR for a couple of years. If we stay out of debt, we'll have the economy to support another war should our enemies dare threaten our freedom!
It is imperative that we, the people, take bold action to insure that our form of government remains. Our freedom has been a bright light and unique gift in all the history of the world. Our children deserve to receive an inheritance of freedom, not an inheritance of debt and oppression. Now is the time to "pull up on the wheel" by employing fiscal restraint and wise leadership. I believe that God has given us the Constitution for this very reason and that only a constitutional amendment has the power to enforce the fiscal sanity that Washington so dreadfully lacks.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
by David Alvord
“In our friendly neighbor city of St. Augustine great flocks of sea gulls are starving amid plenty. Fishing is still good, but the gulls don’t know how to fish. For generations they have depended on the shrimp fleet to toss them scraps from the nets. Now the fleet has moved. …
“The shrimpers had created a Welfare State for the … sea gulls. The big birds never bothered to learn how to fish for themselves and they never taught their children to fish. Instead they led their little ones to the shrimp nets.
“Now the sea gulls, the fine free birds that almost symbolize liberty itself, are starving to death because they gave in to the ‘something for nothing’ lure! They sacrificed their independence for a handout.
“A lot of people are like that, too. They see nothing wrong in picking delectable scraps from the tax nets of the U.S. Government’s ‘shrimp fleet.’ But what will happen when the Government runs out of goods? What about our children of generations to come?
“Let’s not be gullible gulls. We … must preserve our talents of self-sufficiency, our genius for creating things for ourselves, our sense of thrift and our true love of independence.”
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Taxing energy and expanding health care will only make things worse.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
President Obama has failed his early foreign-policy tests.
by Mitt Romney
At last week’s Summit of the Americas, President Obama acquiesced to a 50-minute attack on America as terroristic, expansionist, and interventionist from Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. His response to Ortega’s denunciation of our effort to free Cuba from Castro’s dictatorship was that he shouldn’t be blamed “for things that happened when I was three months old.” Blamed? Hundreds of men, including Americans, bravely fought and died for Cuba’s freedom, heeding the call from newly elected president John F. Kennedy. But last week, even as American soldiers sacrificed blood in Afghanistan and Iraq to defend liberty, President Obama shrank from defending liberty here in the Americas.
In his first press interview as president, he confessed to Arabic television that America had “dictated” to other nations. No, Mr. President, America has fought to free other nations from dictators. And in Strasbourg, the president further claimed that America has “showed arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” London’s Daily Telegraph observed that President Obama “went further than any United States president in history in criticizing his own country’s action while standing on foreign soil.” Of course, it was not just the Daily Telegraph that was listening: People around the world who yearn for freedom, who count on America’s resolve and support, heard him as well. He was heard in China, in Tibet, in Sudan, in Burma, and, yes, in Cuba.
The words spoken by the leader of the free world can expand the frontiers of freedom or shrink them. When Ronald Reagan called on Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” a surge of confidence rose that would ultimately breach the bounds of the evil empire. It was the same confidence that had been ignited decades earlier when John F. Kennedy declared to a people surrounded by Communism that they were not alone. “We are all Berliners,” he said, because “freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s confident commitment, spoken as he led us into the war that would free millions in Europe, inspired not only Americans but freedom fighters around the globe: “The American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.” Such words of solidarity, of confidence, and of unwavering conviction that America is indeed “the last best hope on earth” are what freedom’s friends would have expected to hear from our president when our nation was slandered. Instead he offered silence, smiles, and a handshake.
Even more troubling than what he has or has not said is what he has not done. Kim Jong Il launched a long-range missile on the very day President Obama addressed the world about the peril of nuclear proliferation. As one of the world’s most oppressive and tyrannical regimes is on the brink of securing the “game changing” capability to reach American shores with a nuclear weapon, the president shrinks from action: no seizure of North Korean funds, no severance of banking access, no blockade.
Not to be outdone by Kim Jong Il, President Ahmadinejad announced that his nation has successfully mastered every step necessary to enrich uranium, violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it has signed. So, like North Korea, Iran will have changed the world’s equation for peace and security: It will be capable of devastating Europe and America, and of annihilating Israel. And as with North Korea, the Obama administration chooses inaction — no new severe sanctions, no hint of military options. Ahmadinejad can act with confidence that the forceful options once on our proverbial table have been shelved.
Vice President Biden was right that the new president would be tested early in his administration. What the world learned was not good news for freedom and democracy. The leader of the free world has been a timid advocate of freedom at best. And bold action to blunt the advances of tyrants has been wholly lacking. We are still very early in the Obama years — the president will have ample opportunity to defend America and freedom, and to deter nuclear brinkmanship. I am hoping for change.
— Mitt Romney, formerly the governor of Massachusetts, was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
This article appeared in the National Review Online on April 21, 2009