Willie T & Doctor X

Election Day

 

Dear Friends & Family,....
.. ..
I wrote this in the wee hours this morning, so please forgive any typos or grammatical errors!....
.. ..
Today our great national contest will draw to a close as we decide who will lead our country for the next four years, as well as the shape of the next Congress, and perhaps the makeup of the Supreme Court. We go into this election a deeply divided nation, more so than at any time that I can recall. I harbor no illusions that we will come out of it more united, as this great polarization has been part of the national landscape for some time, building up over the last couple of decades.....
.. ..
When you go to the polls today, you should take a long look, if you haven't already, at which candidate—and indeed, which party—best represents you, your interests, your values. Forget all the rhetoric, the attack ads, the lies, the half-truths (on both sides) and look at where each of the two major parties wants to take us. Let's consider the issues that have been addressed this campaign season.

Hi Folks,

I wrote this in the wee hours this morning, so please forgive any typos or grammatical errors!

Today our great national contest will draw to a close as we decide who will lead our country for the next four years, as well as the shape of the next Congress, and perhaps the makeup of the Supreme Court. We go into this election a deeply divided nation, more so than at any time that I can recall. I harbor no illusions that we will come out of it more united, as this great polarization has been part of the national landscape for some time, building up over the last couple of decades....... ..When you go to the polls today, you should take a long look, if you haven't already, at which candidate—and indeed, which party—best represents you, your interests, your values. Forget all the rhetoric, the attack ads, the lies, the half-truths (on both sides) and look at where each of the two major parties wants to take us. Let's consider the issues that have been addressed this campaign season.

 

Health Care:

I'd like to dispel the myth that the President's health care initiative is somehow a government takeover. Most of us who already have insurance will continue to get it through our employers and will experience very little change. The most obvious changes, already in place, are that pre-existing conditions will be covered, and our kids can remain on our health plans until age 26. I don't know anyone who has a problem with that. The plan is modeled somewhat on the Massachusetts model. Mitt Romney's signature —and only—achievement as governor (which he has since distanced himself from,) was initially very unpopular. Six years later, it has an approval rate of 2 to 1. 98 percent of our state's people are covered, with most of us choosing our insurance from an array of private insurers offered through our employers the same as we always have. There was no government takeover in Mass., and there won't be one nationally under "Obama Care." Of the 50 million or so without insurance, only about 1 percent will get it from a government sponsored plan. The individual mandate simply means that the taxpayers won't continue to foot the bill for the most expensive care of all to provide free care to the uninsured. Getting those folks out of the emergency room for routine care and getting them to choose a primary health care provider will save money for everyone. Is it a perfect system? No. But neither is it the "socialist nightmare" that the Romney camp makes it out to be.

 

Medicare:

Under a Romney-Ryan administration, expect a big push to replace the current Medicare system with a voucher plan. Those of us who are 55 and older will probably be grandfathered into the current plan. Those of you who are under 55 beware! Under a voucher system, you will be given xxx amount of dollars to be used for health care. If your care exceeds the amount of the voucher, (and most likely it will) guess who pays the difference? You do! If you're rich, you won't care. You can afford to get the care you need, price be damned. The rest of us? Not so much.


Social Security:

Mitt Romney and the Republicans want to privatize Social Security. Imagine what would have happened in 2008 if we had privatized social security—individually controlled accounts invested in the stock market that so violently crashed. For retirees, the years since the start of the Great Recession would have been sheer hell. Those accounts would have been wiped out. Sorry, but no thanks. Some tweaking of the current system may be necessary to keep it solvent well into the future, but scrapping it is not the answer.

 

Wall Street vs. Main Street:

Under Obama, steps were taken to reign in the excesses of Wall Street and the big banks that got us into the worst recession since the Great Depression. I would have preferred something stronger than the Dodd-Frank Act, something that would have re-instated the toothier provisions of the late Glass-Steagall Act, but it's a start, and we have a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (big thanks to Elizabeth Warren, for all you Mass. voters) to provide accountability and disclosure. Mitt Romney would love to roll the new regulations back, leaving the financial industry to resume its reckless behavior, as unfettered and unaccountable as they please. For the big banks and oversize investment firms, this is music to their ears. For the rest of us, we would be subject to the same old predatory practices that got us into the mess we're in now. Anybody who's had their 401k wiped out, their home foreclosed or was forced into a short sale because their mortgages were under water knows this all too well.

 

Taxes:

The U.S. is the 5th least-taxed country in the world. For the past 12 years we have been living with the Bush tax cuts. If tax cuts are the answer to all our problems, why are we in such a mess? Why did the economy tank? Why were all those jobs lost instead of more being created, as promised? The Bush administration funded two ruinous wars with money borrowed from China, instead of raising taxes to pay for them. Most of the "new" debt that Romney is blaming Obama for is either the interest piling up on the debt that was created by the Bush administration, or whatever new borrowing was necessary to fund those wars even as we wind them down, since the administration is prevented from raising the cash through taxation until the Bush cuts expire. Meanwhile, crucial services, and investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure have been starved for funds. To pull ourselves out of debt, it will be necessary to raise revenue through taxes, with the wealthy paying their fair share, balanced with responsible and fair cuts in spending. This does not have to be done at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable, or by gutting Medicare. Much of the spending cuts can be taken from the enormously outsized defense budget, which is currently about half of all the rest of the world's military budgets combined.

 

The Recession:

This has been the greatest economic catastrophe since 1929. Anyone who thought we were going to be out of the woods in only 4 years is seriously deluded. Most economists said from the beginning that it would likely take a good decade to bring the economy back. All in all, it's going better than they predicted, and much better when you compare it to Europe's misery (which does place somewhat of a drag on our economy.) The stock market is doing quite well--up about 13 percent for the year, and about where it was before it tanked. Manufacturing is at a 15 year high, according to reports I've read, and jobs are picking up, as evidenced by the fact that more people have resumed looking for work (the .1 percent uptick in the jobless rate this past month is misleading, because only those looking for work are counted. The fact that people are dusting off their resumes and once again seeking employment is seen by economists as an encouraging sign.) Housing is coming back. All is not exactly rosy, and more needs to be done to get people back to work, but the economy is definitely springing back, and people are feeling more optimistic, and spending money once again.


Bailouts:

The bailouts--the auto industry bailout in particular—were necessary to prevent complete economic collapse that would have plunged us into another depression. Aside from the auto workers, hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions--of Americans engaged in peripheral industries that are auto-related in some way would have lost their jobs, and the effect nation-wide would have been staggering. Most economists agree that in times of economic turmoil the government must spend money. Yes, you will rack up some debt in the short term, but the lessons of the Great Depression have shown that government stimulus is crucial to prevent economic freefall, and to provide the seeds of recovery. Most of the bailout money has been paid back—with interest. It was a good investment, and the auto industry is doing very well as a result. All that business that the Romney campaign is blathering about the auto bailout money being used by GM and Chrysler to ship auto-manufacturing jobs to China is pure baloney. The automakers themselves have called out Romney on this one.

 

So friends, it's your choice. Which side of the fence you're on may well come down to which side of the tracks you live on. Or you may be guided by an altruistic vision of what you think is best for the country as a whole, keeping in mind those less fortunate than yourself. The most important thing is that you do go to the polls and make a choice, so please make sure you vote today. Godspeed!


Best,

Willie T