As the Republican primary season gets into full swing and the pretenders are winnowed from the contenders we think it is time to focus on the policies of the candidates rather than their personalities. Romney's flip-flops, Newt's lack of discipline and Paul's vision form outer space all make for good copy but; but they don't tell us where they would take the country.
As you listen to the various speeches and debates you will hear certain phrases, labels and buzz words repeated over and over again: fiscal conservative, small government conservative, tax cuts, job growth, job creators, intrusive regulations, immigration reform and last but not least…repeal “Obamacare”.
Let’s focus on the four policy issues that all the candidates seem to dwell on the most…lower taxes, less regulation, job growth and the repeal of Obamacare.
Lower taxes - The Republicans say that we need to cut taxes; particularly taxes on the rich and the corporations that create jobs. The current tax policy is the one implemented by Republican President, George W. Bush. It includes the lowest tax rates in our country’s history. The tax structure is such that it contains loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans to pay a smaller percentage in taxes than the help who service their needs. In spite of statistics showing that many corporations are now making record profits; corporations use these same tax loopholes to avoid paying any taxes at all. Some corporations not only do not pay any taxes but they get government subsidies to help their “struggling” bottom lines. Our question is…how much lower can you reduce taxes than zero? We need more revenues to get out of our economic malaise. Simply cutting taxes won’t solve the problem.
Intrusive Regulations – Republicans say that businesses are not prospering because of intrusive regulations that hamper business. We wonder how intrusive theses regulations can be when, as previously stated, corporations are posting record profits. Republicans have successfully blocked the President from initiating many of his reform policies so the regulations currently in place are the same ones that were operable during the Bush years. Need we remind Republicans that the lack of regulatory oversight is what allowed the predatory banking practices that trashed the economy to go on? Are they suggesting that we allow those practices to continue?
Job Growth – The Republicans say that the President’s policies are killing job growth. This statement is simply false. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics states that we have had 24 months of continuous job growth under Obama after losing jobs at a rate of 740,000 per month under George Bush.
Repeal Obamacare - Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. We agree that the President’s Affordable Health Care Act needs work. However, repealing it will discontinue some of the provisions that are wildly popular such as: no cancellation for pre-existing conditions, the ability to take your coverage with you if you change jobs and the ability to allow children to remain on their parent’s policies until the age of 27. When asked what their solution to Obamacare would be they say increase competition by allowing insurance companies to market across state line. This increased competition will lower costs. If Republicans would do their homework they would know that insurance companies can already market across state lines. They must simple agree to abide by the laws of the individual states in which they do business. States Rights!!!...a concept Republicans hold dear. This position is admirable; but as proven by the out of control increase in insurance costs prior to the passing of Obamacare…ineffectual. Rising health insurance costs are still a huge problem in this country. Obamacare did not go far enough; and Republicans have no solution to fix the problem.
So as we watch these primaries unfold and we listen to the candidates criticize the President we should ask them this simple question: what is your solution to the problem? If their answer is a return to the policies of 2000-2008 we have definitive proof that that won’t work. The free spending, deregulatory policies of the Bush years are what led us to this mess.
Therefore, when analyzing the policy solutions offered by the candidates always remember that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.