Thursday, November 29, 2012

Obama's "Economy Built to Last" is a good start but needs fleshing out.

President Obama has presented a six part plan for a new economy. It's heavy on campaign promises and a little light on substance but the plan is logical. The proof will be in the details.  One thing Obama has to remember, and it's not clear that he understands, that this is no time for austerity - a focus on spending cuts. The net effect of his program has to be an infusion of money into the economy.  Austerity in Europe has been a dismal failure. A cut back in government spending in response to a reduction in private investment is insane and doomed to failure. All but the most reactionary economists have accepted the axiom of Keynesian economics.  Unfortunately, this group includes too many in the neoRepublican party or the Koch funded Teaparty. In reality, they probably recognize it but choose to ignore it in favor of personal short term gain.

It is true that the increase in the marginal tax rate due in January will reduce the deficit without cutting into consumption.  It is also true that the savings on expenditures on the oil wars could be used on infrastructure which would create jobs at the same time as improve the quality of life.  The problem here is, Obama's plan is to use half of those savings for deficit reduction.  I don't pretend to know the numbers but it is doubtful that  half of any such savings would not provide much funding for infrastructure, if any.  It is questionable that there will actually be any savings since, to a large extent, troops have been replaced with corporate employed "contractors" who are paid exorbitant salaries and their bosses make obscene profits.  The deficit, an emotion laden word, must be considered in perspective - size vs the gross domestic product, GDP, or our national income. It is not as high as it has been in the past and has actually receded receded under Obama. Some, monetarists, say some deficit is useful because it permits adjusting economic activity through monetary policy. Through open market operations, short term interest rates and the money supply can be expanded or contrasted depending on inflation and unemployment rates.

The president's plan:

Innovation: Not much here.  More of a "look what I've done" than a plan for bringing jobs back. He says he has a plan to bring jobs back to the U.S. by eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and creating incentives for businesses to bring jobs back to America.  Those are both good ideas but it will take more. He needs to look at Alexander Hamilton-like tariffs. He should make the price tag on exported industries so high that it would be cheaper to make them here. Another thing that would make American manufactured goods more competitive would be to take the burden of retirement costs and health care off their backs by a single payer health care system and a federal retirement plan.

Tax reform:  The president calls for restructuring the tax rates to shift more of the burden of taxes on the upper income groups. He emphasized paying down the debt, and that is important, but that needs to wait until the economy is more solid.  Taxes and expenditures redistribute wealth every fiscal period.  Since the Reagan years, income accumulation has moved from top to bottom.  The middle class is on life support.  A healthy economy depends on a middle class and a strong middle class depends on unions. The Great Depression was caused by lack of purchasing power and excessive speculative investment due to money being concentrated in investors instead of consumers. The same was true in 2008.  The disparity in income became larger than it was in 1929.  Only government intervention saved us from a crash worse than in 1929.

Nation building at home:  The president calls for an end to the oil wars and using the money to pay down the debt and improve a broken down infrastructure. He needs to change the amount he plans of debt reduction to less than half.  Recover and an expanded tax base will reduce the debt quicker than taking money out of circulation.  He also needs to get the private contractors out of the war. We need to know how much this is costing and who the contractors are.

Invest in clean energy made in America.  He has a good plan but it doesn't go far enough and there has to be more discussion regarding the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing.  This may be something that is more dangerous than burning fossil fuel. We also need to place more emphasis on renewable energy.
Oil companies have to be brought under control. American mined oil should remain in America and a heavy tariff should be placed on imported oil. A globalized oil industry is not in America's best interest.  Hybrid and electric vehicles should be subsidized as should development of public transportation - including fares.

Education:  Make it easier to go to college by cheaper loans and aid to state and local schools enabling them to reduce tuition and attract and retain good teachers.  He also needs to put a halt to the privatization of public schools through the charter system.

Health care: The Affordable Health Care Act was a good start and will bring health care to millions more Americans as it's provisions are  implemented. It will help many but it doesn't go far enough. We need a single payer system or at least a government option (which will eventually lead to a single payer through the market system)

recommended reading

Monday, November 26, 2012

Koch owned Teaparty hasn't changed a thing...

They have just adjusted the emphasis on their talking points. There will be no compromise for them.  They still insist on obfuscating facts:

1. They insist that raising taxes will hurt the economy.  They refuse to, or are unable to, differentiate the targets for the tax increase.  They know very well that an increase of 3.5% of the marginal rate on incomes over $250,000 will not change consumption patterns.  It may, however, change investment patterns.  Perhaps there will be less wild speculation like in 2008 (and 1929). on the other hand an increase on taxes on the middle or lower classes will drastically effect consumption and will derail the fragile recovery.  The GOteaParty is still willing to do that even knowing that it will lead to another disaster in November, 2014.

2. Those who ostensibly have indicated a willingness to compromise by raising taxes are using the Ryan/Romney "closing loopholes" ploy - which WOULD have an impact on consumption and would have little or no effect on the deficit.  Cutting out deductions for charitable contributions would be the death knell for charities like salvation army and the Red Cross who depend on private contributions for funding.  Not only would it have an insignificant effect on the deficit, it would place more burden on the backs of those the least able to afford it - Romney's 47%.

3. Some are trying to give the impression of flexibility by agreeing to tax rate increases as long as they are accompanied by cuts in entitlements.  They are still throwing the word around like it was a dirty word.  They are talking about social security and medicare.  The know that is unacceptable to liberals.  It is a futile attempt to make the liberals look like the bad guys.

4. Spending cuts are viable. Specifically, in the defense budget and in contracts with corporations replacing our troops in the oil countries.  Their presence there has nothing to do with national security.  They are there for the benefit of the oil companies even though we are now an oil or energy fuel exporter now.  A world source gives the global oil companies a more flexible way of getting oil to the most lucrative markets with no sympathy or regard for American consumers. Terrorist are criminals not soldiers and we are not at war. We have a crime problem. They will never invade us and our contractors cannot stop acts of terrorism. Hunt them down and bring them to justice.  If we brought the contractors home, along with our troops, and let the Bush tax cuts expired for the upper income group, we have nearly balanced the budget.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hey, Mr. Boehner, your side lost....

We liberals, progressives, and other sane citizens just hope that President Obama remembers that.  We also hope he remembers how Lucy kept pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown when he tried to kick it. Please don't let them make you look that foolish again.

The  fact is in the upcoming deliberations is that our most important problem is the level of economic activity and jobs - not only the number of jobs but the quality of jobs.  We don't want to bring the unemployment rate down by increasing the number of fast food employees working below minimum wage! That means returning bargaining power through collective bargaining.

Now is not the time for fiscal austerity.  The deficit is a problem, of course, but there is no imminent danger from it's size.  The deficit is always considered as a percentage of the GDP or gross domestic product. People like to compare the federal government to the American family: "They have to balance their budget and so must the government." Actually,  most families don't balance their budget. Most finance their homes and major purchases like automobiles.  As long as they can make their payments along with other bills  and, hopefully, put some money into their savings, they are fine.  In other words the important thing is the ratio of their payments to their income.  Government debt as compared to GDP is not dangerously high.  It was 113% of GDP at the end of WWII and we literally spent our way out of it by sending veterans to college and investing on highways and financing new home purchases. As employment and wages rose, revenue increased and GDP expanded as the deficit came down.

During the Obama administration the budget deficit has shrunk; not total debt but the annual deficit. The real danger is not an increasing budget deficit, it is to the fragile recovery that Obama's republican scaled-down stimulus has managed to produce. Now is no time for austerity as we have learned, or should have learned, in Europe. What is needed is Obama's proclaimed program of economic growth through spending on infrastructure, energy research and development and investment in education.

Probably the most publicized issue is the argument over the "Bush tax cuts" which end in Janurary.  The Obama position and the most rational is to let them end for the upper incomes (above $250,000) and extend them for the middle and lower income groups - some 90% or more of the tax payers.  This approach is popular and the GOteaParty is in trouble opposing it - but it looks like they will.  The logic of the Obama position is simple.  Increased taxes at the high end will cut into the deficit without any impact on consumption.  Increasing taxes on the lower incomes will reduce consumption because lower income people spend more of their total income on consumer goods.  Economists call it the marginal propensity to consume or how much of each additional dollar of income will be spent.

Concomitant to tax structure is income disparity.  Historically, income concentration at the top has been  the genesis of recessions or, in the case of 1929, a world wide depression.  Income inequality is the highest today that it's been since 1929. Wealth redistribution is not a socialist ploy as the conservatives like to say, it's a necessary function to keep money where it will be spent on the right things. It's necessary for a balance of investment and consumption. There is nothing wrong with being mega rich. A lot of good things happen to the economy when people are in the process of obtaining wealth but, as Obama said, they didn't do it alone and wealth comes with responsibility.  The wise wealthy, and I believe this is most of them, realize that they need a vibrant middle class.  The right likes to claim to be a Christian nation, and of course, most Americans are Christian but "believing IN Christ" doesn't alway include "Believing Christ."  Christ tells us to share our wealth with the poor and take care of the weak. The Christian right doesn't believe that. Their candidate expressed their contempt for what he called the 47% who refuse to take charge of their own right before the elections and then reinforce his commitment to this view in his excuse to his donors for losing so badly.

As we approach what I believe will be a rerun of the last two years, Boehner and the right need to remember that there will be another reckoning in 2014 and that they will only be hurt further by irrational intransigence.

The following is taken from "msgirlintn" comments on the Huffington Post blog.

As long as Boehner is still campaigning for the 2010 elections, he is not serious about the sequester cuts or avoiding the tax increases that will affect every American on January 1, 2013. Republicans aren't interested in cutting the debt when they insist on tax cuts for the richest among us that don't help the economy and only add to the nation's debt.

Republicans are the ones 

FACT:  Boehner appointed Paul Ryan as his spokesman for the debt negotiations.  Paul Ryan's plan was soundly defeated in an election held just a few days ago.  Americans rejected the notion of raising tax rates for middle income Americans, cutting programs for the poor, the elderly, and the disabled just to give tax cuts to millionaires and people like Romney who pay less than middle income Americans do now.

FACT:  These cuts that are looming at the end of the year are a crisis that was manufactured by the House Republicans.  They thought that it was a good idea to force a sequester with deep cuts rather than allow the nation to pay for the bills that it owes.  They thought that it was a good idea to shut down the government rather than to pay for the bills already committed to, thus the first downgrade of the US credit rating in history.

FACT:  ObamaCARES is the law of the land.  It was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States.  It is Constitutional, despite what Republicans have said for 4 yrs.  It will not be repealed, despite Republican efforts to do so.
If you make less than 250k a year and your taxes go up on Jan 1, 2013, thank a Republican, then vote against them in 2014.

FACT:  ObamaCARES reduces the deficit by 109 Billion.  House Republicans have wasted 50 million in taxpayer monies and taxpayer time in holding over 30 votes to repeal the law.

When Boehner starts with a proposal like this, it just shows how disinterested the House Republicans are in working with the President.  House Republicans control 1/2 of 1/3 of the US Government.  Compromise is not a dirty word.  Undoubtedly they didn't get the message in the election held on November 6.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Benghazi - No Watergate here, folks;

just another CIA failure. But blame the president....for appointing Petraeus director.  He had no experience or qualifications for heading a covert operations organization.  If they had done a background investigation - half as thorough as is done for new CIA employees or for local cops, he would not have been hired.  Shame on the president for appointing an unqualified republican just to give the appearance of bi-partisanism. Every republican appointment he made has failed him. Geithner and Bernanke for example.

The victim here, in addition to the murder victims, is Susan Rice, who nearly word for word quoted the information provided her by the CIA as approved by it's director. There is clearly no cover-up or deliberate misinformation.  The scandal is why the CIA was surprised by the attack.  Why weren't they on top of it.  It was obviously planned for September 11. Of course the public disclosure had to be measured to prevent leakage of classified information but why was it so wrong.  It could have been much more accurate and still safe.  The release was approved by Petraeus who may well have been distracted with worry over the disclosure of his infidelity.

General Petraeus may be the most overrated and over hyped general in history. If he had any more medals to wear, they would have to extend onto his back.  He has never had a shot fired at him in anger. He testified in Congress to encourage more troops in Iraq and later to keep them there.  He was anointed hero through republican politics. Ironically, he is guilty of marital infidelity; and chastity is the foundation of the morality republicans have made a part of their party platform.

In defense of the professionals in the CIA, there was no one left at the scene on whom they could have relied for dependable information, although as it turns out the information they received from Egyptian officials was candid and accurate.  It is also possible that the CIA has much more information on who was involved than they can make public. The failure that we know of is in the awkwardness of the initial report they made available for the White House and congress. That is on Petraeus and hence on Obama for hiring him. The buck stops there.

Today, as we face even bigger problems than the Benghazi raid, liberals and progressives are concerned about Obama's naivete in dealing with the right wing of the republican party who have not really admitted that they are not in tune with what the voters called for in the election.  McConnell made it perfectly clear that his position has not changed at all. Personally, I am worried about Obama's fortitude.  It would be nice if he had the determination in doing the right thing for America that George Bush had in doing the right thing for the oil industry and the Neocons.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's lack of jobs not the deficit that threatens our progeny.

President Obama is in danger of being jerked out of his seat by extending a hand of bi-partisanism. Our immediate problem is unemployment and low wages, not the size of the deficit. Keynesian economics has proved that increased spending by government can offset a decline in business activity in the private sector. These declines can be temporary or long term and devastating as in 1929.  Austerity in Europe has not worked there and short term austerity will not work here. Planned balanced budgets by government in times of business slowdown usually end up in deficits due to the decrease in tax revenue.

Trying to balance the budget by cutting spending is like a dog chasing it's tail. The dog just goes in circles until he collapses in exhaustion.  Spending reductions by government aren't restricted to the public economy. Every dollar spent by government, with the exception of those spent on private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, enters the private economy.  Teachers, cops, firemen, and doctors who are paid by Medicare, all spend their money at the local market, restaurant, auto dealer, clothing store or theater. And who in our community contribute more to that community than teachers, firemen, cops and doctors?

Conversely, when you fire them or cut their pay, you reduce the number of dollars entering the private economy and private income goes down, spending goes down, the deficit increases and government has to try once again to reach a balance by firing more public employees and cancelling government contracts with private firms. The dog runs faster, even more futilely, and eventually collapses. This is happening right now. Make no mistake about it. No one will escape it. The GOteaParty, through Paul Ryan's budget would try to balance the budget in the most unfair way, on the backs of the poor by cutting so called entitlements.  International corporations think they can escape by globalizing their market but as the world situation worsens, they will be caught up in the collapse as well.  Some of the more enlightened ones know that and are privately pushing for a jobs bill.

The only way to reduce the deficit, or more realistically, slow down it's growth, is by raising revenue by making those people pay more who are getting more from the economy. The upper income group and corporations. The money taken out of their pockets, or portfolios, wasn't going to be spent at the local market, auto dealer or restaurants, anyway. It was going to be spent on more speculative investments or on firms who are successful by exporting jobs where they can get below subsistence labor. This could be augmented by drastically reducing our expenditures in the oil countries.

Low income Teaparty members demanding deficit reduction are going to be the first ones hurt! The mantra, "households have to balance their budgets and so should the government," borders on it goes beyond stupid. How many families actually do that.  The golden age of the greatest middle class in history, 1950 -1980 was enabled by borrowing; borrowing to buy homes, automobiles, furniture and even clothing. The key has always been to maintain the ability to make payment on the loans. The same is true of government.  The Federal government has ALWAYS had public debt. It has always been measured by it's percentage of GDP or Gross Domestic Spending, a measure of national income.

At the end of WWII, our national debt was 105% of GDP, the highest in history. Although worried about it, our government worried more about the welfare of those people who had just rescued the world from the worst threat in modern history.  So they spent more money on the GI Bill, sending GIs to school and on guaranteeing low interest loans for purchasing homes and automobiles. The result was a burgeoning housing market  that created millions of union jobs. Everyone benefited. The bank loans were all paid off, the banks made money, full employment meant more tax revenues and guess what, the budget was balanced.

Balancing the budget in 1941 would have meant making Japanese our official language and in 2013 would mean a crash that would make 1929 look like the good old days.

President Obama campaigned on a promise to structure the tax code to place more responsibility on the upper income groups, to bring back jobs from overseas or at least to stop the outward flow through tax policies and to create jobs at home by mass transit projects, infrastructure repair, alternative energy projects and improving the educational process.  Stand and deliver, Mr. President!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflections on the election and recommendations to President Obama.

Anyone who was surprised by the results must be a Fox News/Rush Limbaugh disciple.  Dick Morris, predicted a Romney win as did Karl Rove.  The main stream media coverage indicated a probable Obama win and the one I follow in the New York Times, Nate Silver's "FiveThirtyEight," was nearly perfect, predicting an easy Obama win.  He even got the total popular vote right.

Personally, without the benefit of Nate Silver's poll, with the weak economy, I would have expected Obama to lose; considering that this was the first presidential election since the Citizen's United decision enabling unlimited and undisclosed spending by international corporations. It was my feeling that the democrats would be overwhelmed.  Fortunately, progressive political organizations like Act Blue, Move On.Org and others, were able to raise massive funds from small individual contributors like myself. Collectively, the two campaigns spent $2 Billion. Obama matched Romney dollar for dollar mostly, but not entirely, through small contributions. I won't even speculate as to how much health care that would provide for Romney's 47%.  My mind hits the tilt button with 7 figures.

Actually, the die was cast for this election when the once honorable GOP was captured by the Koch Brothers' wild bunch; a group having nothing in common other than hatred of government in general and an African American president in particular.  Their unifying goal became the failure of Obama - regardless of the consequences to the nation. This position was well stated by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and a pact agreed upon by a group of Republican congressional insiders:

"A new book by the well-sourced writer Robert Draper reveals that Republican congressional insiders met for a private dinner on the night of Obama’s inauguration and mapped a strategy to “show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies” from Day One. On the way out the door, Newt Gingrich, an invited guest, reportedly told his former brethren, “You will remember this day. You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.” Newt has a flair for the dramatic, but in this case he was right."

With the division of the party, there could be no republican candidate that would be acceptable to all unless he lied to the various factions.  This was done adroitly by Mitt Romney; not that he fooled everyone but he convinced the de facto owners of the party that he could fool the general electorate.  The largest faction of the right wing, the evangelicals of Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, located largely in the south and plains states, didn't like Romney who they don't consider a Christian but they liked Obama, who they considered a Muslim, even less. Their constituency was for the most part low information voters who were pulled by their nose via the wedge issues of abortion and gay marriage - or gays in general. 

Romney conducted a masterful campaign of duplicity and mendacity.   He nearly pulled it off.  He fooled nearly half of the electorate.  Actually, he didn't have to fool all of them; most of them didn't care, but he fooled a lot of them even as  he made the fiddler on the roof look stable.  Even with his constant exposure by the legitimate press, he might have pulled it off were it not for the secret taping of his now famous 47% statements and the Hurricane Sandy disaster that displayed the vital roll that big government has in juxtaposition with Romney's earlier statement that FEMA should be abolished and disaster should be left to local government, or better yet,  private industry! If one were religious and believed in an omnipotent God, as I do, he might think that the storm was an act of God sent to protect America from the more tragic disaster that a Romney presidency would impose. 

In the wake of the wreck of the GOP, party spokesmen, sincere people who want a healthy party, a loyal opposition, as it were, are engaged in frantic rumination of what went wrong and how to fix it.  The consensus is that it was a failure to recognize demographics.  Blacks and Mexicans make up a larger proportion of the electorate and it is growing.  One of the more astute members of this group said it wasn't about minorities vs whites, it was about blue collar vs white collar.  Whatever the reason, when they say we have to "reach out" to them, they're not thinking, "how can we help them," they are asking themselves "how can we convince them to vote against their best interests?"  This may be difficult to do.  As Reverent Al Sharpton, who may be smarter than reverent, put it,  "We are not born democrats, we choose to be democrats because for the most part they are more sensitive to our needs."  

In all likelihood, however, all the introspection, absent some party members with fortitude to  step up,  is  an intellectual exercise.  Post election statements by Boehner and Mitchell indicate four more years of active resistance.  The  driving force of the republican party, even with responsible leadership will always be  the one that the three R's - Romney, Ryan and (Ayn) Rand presented - greed and selfishness.  In the past, this policy was not so severe; much more compassionate and humanitarian.  I remember when there was a manageable difference in the parties.  

America is a better place to live today than it was in 2008 - unless you depend on Obama's failure for your happiness or emotional stability.  The banks were on the brink of global collapse in January of 2009 and we were on the brink of economic melt down, losing jobs at a rate not seen since 1929.  The auto industry was near bankruptcy.  We were embroiled in two wars and Bin Ladin was on the loose and a constant threat. Bush acted quickly to rescue the banks and Obama followed through.  His stimulus bill ended the recession and put it back into a positive mode. Slow but positive. 

His quick action on the auto industry turned it around. 

We are out of Iraq and will be out of Afghanistan in 2014.  And Bin Ladin is dead! 2016 can be even better if the Teaparty will get out of the way.  One thing is sure - the United States will not be transformed as inspired by Obama's father.  

Here are my recommendations to Obama:
1. The ball is in your court and you are the point guard.  MAKE something good happen. Forget about the "reach out" nonsense, all they will do is try to jerk you off balance.  Let the public know that there is room at the table for anyone from the opposition to sit and keep the public appraised by stumping if necessary to display who is doing what to whom and why.  

2. A balanced budget is high priority but not as high as stimulating a fragile recovery.  A huge step toward a balanced budget would be to end the Bush tax cuts on the upper end but not the middle class.  The higher taxes on the rich would not hurt the economy.  The higher taxes on the middle class would.  Make a permanent tax structure that would redistribute wealth downward - yes, redistribute wealth. It happens every fiscal year. Wealth disparity has always led to business decline.  There is nothing wrong with being wealthy, a great deal of public good has resulted in people becoming wealthy but becoming wealthy takes a village - as Obama said.  Possession of wealth, publicly enabled, imposes responsibility.  One more step, one which could balance the budget and start on the road to debt reduction,  would be to stop being the world cop.  It isn't working and if we stop oil imports, it wouldn't matter. 

3. Pass another stimulus bill, this one with some heft, that would create non-exportable jobs.  Rejuvenate a decaying infrastructure,  reopen space exploration,   fund energy research and renewable energy projects,  take the load off the highways and cut down on gasoline use through government sponsored private public transportation activity.  Next time try the bus and leave the driving to them. 

4. Do what you have to do to revive the blue collar workers.  Tax policy is a start.  Free trade as we know it today is anything but free trade.  It doesn't come close to the "guiding hand" of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.  Bring back the unions.

5. Be very careful with your immigration policy.  Don't forget that illegal workers have been the tool that businesses have used to destroy unions. 

6. Ward off the next debt ceiling crisis administratively.  Let the Republicans and the world know that we will pay our bills.

7. Make Obamacare more affordable by making the private companies more competive through a government option - through budget reconciliation if necessary.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thoughts to take to the voting booth....

The candidates:
Mitt Romney is an unknown.  He has taken every position on every issue in the 2012 election.  He probably had to do it to win the nomination in a party that is in total disarray.  It is currently controlled by the so called Teaparty who are loud, amateurish and anti government.  They are well financed by billionaires like the Koch Brothers who have a vested interest in government that does nothing more than provide a legal framework through which international corporations can impose their will on workers and undeveloped foreign economies. The one thing we do know for sure about Romney is his disdain for what he calls the 47% of Americans who are lazy, pay no taxes and milk the government. His secretly taped conversation with rich backers in Florida is well known.  Ryan is a newcomer but has become well known.  His position is clear. His philosophy is clear.  He is an Ayn Rand atavist.  The R & R team represent a program of greed and selfishness with the philosophy that what is good for a gifted few will somehow make society good - an intellectual excuse for the very economic trickle down or supply side economics.

Their campaign has been one of mendacity - dissembled facts at the least and  outright lies at the worst. Romney's position on the auto bailout bailout is one example.  This is just the most obvious and outrageous, there are too many to articulate.  Their dishonesty is deliberate; they don't care.  They keep on telling the same debunked lies in their ads knowing that the uninformed voters on which they thrive will believe them.  

Obama and Biden are well known. They have a track record.  Obama has ended the Iraq war and the troops will come from Afghanistan in 2014.  He has stopped the bleeding from a ruptured economy and the economy is now growing - albeit at a snail pace.  Although progressives like me are not satisfied with his health care plan, Obamacare, because it didn't include a government option, it has brought health coverage to millions of Americans.  He has also revived respect for America abroad.

The issues:
Tax structure.  Obama will let the Bush tax cuts for the upper incomes (above $250,000) expire but will keep them for the lower incomes. Romney will increase the tax rates - he says for everyone but offers no details on how this will not add Trillions of dollars to the deficit or raise taxes on lower incomes. Either way, it will not have a positive effect on consumption and job growth.  A report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service totally rebuked the Romney plan but was suppressed by the Republicans who had requested the study. The fact is that income concentration has historically led to economic recession, highlighted by the 1929 crash and the 2008 recession. If Obama is elected, the Bush tax cuts will expire in January and with or without support from the GOP, he will reactivated them for the lower income groups - administratively via reconciliation.

Economic stimulus. Obama will create jobs, if he can get any GOP support, by improving the infrastructure and with renewable energy projects.  He will also address the, perhaps impossible, effort to bring jobs back to America through the tax code.  Romney has no plan.

Health care.  If Obama is elected, all the elements of the Affordable Health Care Act, Obamacare will go into effect. Romney has vowed to abolish it but will probably be unable to carry out his threat. Obamacare has received a cool reception largely as a result of negative propaganda by the GOP but will gain in popularity as it reaches full implementation.  There is nothing in it that will hurt anyone except the health insurance industry.  To be honest, there is some intrusion into Americans who resist carrying health care but the alternative is to continue to place the burden of their health problems on the back of the insured.  In addition to the immediate effects, in 2014, everyone will be covered through affordable insurance pools with income tax help for low income people.

National defense. Obama will continue with a streamlined military with emphasis on police tactics and microscopic strikes against terrorists as opposed to the former policy of preemptive invasions such as Iraq. Romney's plan is to increase the military budget beyond what they have asked.

The GOP has historically been the party of the privileged - the wealthy. The democratic party has historically represented, if not unprivileged, the less privileged masses.  The GOP realizes this and to win elections they have had to convince a part of the electorate to vote against their best interests.  They have done this by introducing issues that will overcome the self preservation instincts of the voters. Recently they have been called wedge issues.  The constant ingredient has been some kind of fear and/or hatred; usually including a mindless fear of big government.  In the Roosevelt years, there was no resistance, or very little.  Roosevelt was just too much of a hero. The opposition to him was usually personal and varied. Of course, there was an underlying but not articulated fear of communism - probably not irrational but unfounded.

Post Roosevelt the prevailing issue was communism and the cold war. Sincere and credible at the time but in retrospect out of proportion and grossly misunderstood and mishandled. More than a wedge issue it became the GOP mantra who capped on what was perceived as their superior grasp and treatment of the problem. This was displayed by their treatment of treason in government which peaked and was defused in the McCarthy hearings - perhaps the most shameful government activity in modern time.  In the sixties, the wedge issue became the civil rights movement, and fear and hatred took center-stage. After the horrors of integrated schools,neighborhoods and restaurants, etc., was defused, and before the cold war ended, the myth of international synchronized communism became the public concern.  The "domino theory," sincerely believed by most Americans but in retrospect, without foundation, led to Asian wars and thousands of unnecessary deaths. The Korean war was an early, albeit less popular and less institutionalized, version of this reaction to the "domino theory."

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet Union and it's subsequent rejection of a centrally planned economy, Communism as a common fear was gone. The mantra became national security in a dangerous world and the insidious creep of Socialism in our economy. Reagan made a campaign issue out of the threat to national security that giving up control of the Panama Canal posed.  He gave our "disgraced" military self esteem with a mindless and bungled invasion of Grenada. He started the process of dismantling all the reforms of the New Deal which culminated in the return to disparity of wealth and the advent of international corporatism.  The fear that he and his followers used was fear of Socialism as embodied in his earlier, now proven ridiculous, prediction of the dire and inexorable consequences of medicare.

The 2000 election was dull. The major issues were education, medicare and social security with Bush advocating increased privatization of all three...of course the underlying motivation was  turning back Socialism which had already seized our economy and American way of life. It was a dull campaign between dull and dumb and was actually won by Gore but given to Bush by the Supreme Court.

Bush's actual agenda was oil and international peace through intimidation, Pax Americana, as it was called by  it's advocates, Project for a New American Century or PNAC. The cause celebre was Saddam Hussein who was seen as a threat to American security by the Neocons and an encumbrance to free access to oil in the middle east by oil people. Bush and his Neocon allies were given their excuse for invading the oil fields by the terrorist attack on 9/11/01.  From that day forward the new rallying cry was Islam in general and terrorism in particular.  In spite of his bungling of the war in Iraq and against terrorism, the fear of terrorism won the next election for him.

Now the threat of terrorism is, while still alive, controlled and the GOP had to come up with a new fear.  The unexpected election of an African American, one with a Muslim sounding name, gave them their new mantra. This time, racism and a poorly articulated and totally unsubstantiated fear of Africanization of the USA. All Romney and Ryan have to offer is the termination of an African American and return to Bush economics.