The race for US president: Obama vs. Romney

Obama and Romney

It’s one month till the election and the race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has evidently tightened since last week’s debate.

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

81 comments to  (Including 16 Discussion Threads) The race for US president: Obama vs. Romney

  • 1
    Paul Zorn says:

    I’ll vote to re-elect President Obama.

    Lots of reasons, ranging from the economy to foreign policy to taxes and spending to social issues to supply-side silliness to the importance of likely upcoming Supreme Court appointments.

    Here’s another, possibly less self-interested, reason.

    Obamacare, for all its imperfections, seems to me a laudable, humane, and under-appreciated effort to get health insurance to a pretty good slug — in the tens of millions — of our least fortunate fellow citizens. Former Governor Romney could reasonably take some credit for a similar system he supported in Massachusetts. Far from doing so, he wants to replace Obamacare with a vague and shifting collection of free-market “solutions” that seem to me not just unworkable but an abdication of our collective responsibility to each other.

    • 1.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      Paul, did you think Obama’s debate performance last week was as poor as most pundits did? I didn’t, but then I’ve never been put off by his low-key, thoughtful, hesitant, intellectual style.

      Funny made-up quote I saw somewhere:

      Obama: “I know I sounded a little professorial in the last debate. I’m going to ameliorate that.”

  • 2
    kiffi summa says:

    Here’s another solid vote to re-elect President Obama.

    I agree with all that Paul stated as reasons, and would like to further develop one statement he made.

    Since Massachusetts had a very similar, almost identical health care plan under Gov. Romney, his objections against ‘Obama’ care hold no legitimate ‘water’, and indeed suggest that by his railing against that plan, Gov. Romney shows no core values … just an urge to unseat a Democratic President for replacement with a Republican .

    As to the Debate, I was disappointed in the President’s seeming hesitancy to ‘engage’; but after he says Romney’s facts are not true, and explains why, and then Romney says they are true but does not explain why, there is not much room left for anything but accusation, and this very substance oriented President is loathe to go to those ‘depths’.

    • 2.1
      William Siemers says:

      Kiffi and Paul…I am ‘undecided’. Regarding ‘Romneycare’: It seems to me he embraced his plan (in the debate) as a state solution rather than a federal solution and stood behind it as such. Obamacare is by no means a known entity. It did move us closer to full coverage but few people seem to know what the cost will be. I remain concerned that Obama has not clearly answered the accusation that his plan will take 700 billion out of medicare.

      Facts were flying from both candidates and post debate fact checkers said there was plenty of disinformation coming from both sides.

      Obama has not been particularly effective on the economy. The stimulus bill was part boondoggle, and part welfare for public employees. Shovel ready projects to improve infrastructure amounted to a small part of the spending. I’m of the opinion that the modest recent improvement in the economy is in spite of Obama rather than because of him.

      On the other hand Romney’s ideas for the economy do seem like more of the same ‘trickle down’ philosophy that has led to the growing income disparity in the country. And I am very concerned about the christian conservative social agenda that he seemed to embrace in the primaries.

      My question, and a question that many voters are asking themselves, is who is most likely to move to the middle and get some things done? Who will be able to build a consensus to reduce the deficit? Should I believe that Obama’s ineffectiveness is just because of congress? Will Romney really bring his ‘Mr. Fixit’ persona to bear, or is he the right wing ideologue we saw in the primary debates.

      Who do you trust?

      • 2.1.1
        kiffi summa says:

        OBAMA !

      • 2.1.2
        Matthew Rich says:

        As to the question of whether Obama’s plan robs Medicare of $700 billion, I suggest a quick read here: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/15/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-said-barack-obama-first-history-rob-me/

        Spoiler alert: it’s “mostly false”

      • 2.1.3
        Paul Zorn says:

        William,

        Politics ain’t beanbag, and undoubtedly truth, clarity, and nuance sometimes get bruised by all combatants in the scuffle. But IMO the Romney/Ryan mendacity — when indeed their policies are discernible at all — is vastly out of proportion to the simplifications and corner-cutting one sees from the other side.

        The 700-billion-from-Medicare-to-Obamacare refrain (Romney said it at least 5 times during the recent debate) seems to me to have been thoroughly and convincingly debunked. In fact (I’m channeling Hendrik Hertzberg here, but the facts seem checkable) that these savings do *not* represent cuts in patient benefits. In any case, Obama would use this money to expand health care services (through Obamacare) to seniors. The identical sum, Hertzberg points out [and this deserves emphasis], is “included in the House-passed Republican budget, endorsed by Romney and authored by … Ryan.” Ryan and Romney, moreover, would use the same money for high-end tax cuts. Holding economics problems mainly against Obama takes Republican chutzpah — as it would for children who had burned a house down to blame firefighters for dampening their playroom.

        On the economy: Indeed, it’s bad, though improving, but the majority opinion on the stimulus (which began under Bush, after all) has been on balance effective — and by no means principally a “boondoggle or a bonanza for public employees”. (Read the Economist, hardly a liberal rag, on this subject.) Sure, not everything worked as well as one might hope, but that’s in the cards in any very complicated situation, like this one.

        Bottom line for me on the economy is that Obama inherited, in ways neither he nor we nor even the Republicans could have anticipated, an economy in near total collapse. Republicans, on whose watch this collapse occurred, were not solely responsible, but, having been in power through two disastrous Bush presidencies, they were disproportionately responsible. Having largely destroyed the edifice — and having resolutely opposed efforts, on balance more successful than not, to address problems — Republicans are in no position to complain. Nor have Romney and Ryan proposed anything plausible — or even intelligible — to address the undoubted economic problems we face. Neither unspecified deduction changes nor supply side economics seem to me to be commensurately serious with the seriousness of our problems.

        Who will work best with the opposition is an excellent question. Again, the answer seems clear to me: it’s the Democrats. Sure, there’s no love lost either way, and Obama isn’t exactly the schmoozing Clinton type. But recent history may be the best guide to answering the question. Republicans have done little but obstruct in recent years, while Democrats — vainly, but to their credit — have comparatively tried to play nice. For instance, the basic structure of Obamacare, problematic as it seems to me in some ways, reflects quite clearly ideas originally advanced by, no less, the Heritage Foundation.

        I could go on, but won’t. Obama seems to me the clear choice.

  • 3
    Robert Palmquist says:

    I finally got around to watching the debate, wonder if I got the right YouTube clip? .

  • 4
    Joe Dokken says:

    ROMNEY…..amazing a conservative Christian voting for a Mormon.

    Miracles still happen:)

    • 4.1
      john george says:

      Joe- You and I have the benefit of having read the end of the Book. Since all things seem to be in one piece (Col 1:17), it is evident that God is still on the throne. Also, since we recognize that all power and authority, in Heaven and on Earth, has been given to Jesus, then we have little worry about who eventually gets elected. That being said, I am with you on Romney. In Numbers 22, we read how God even used a donkey to speak to Balaam. If He can do that, then using either Obama (better donkey analogy) or Romney will be simple to carry out His plan for America.

  • 5

    Obama talks like a preacher, Romney was one.

  • 6
    norman butler says:

    Watch Rick Hanauer on “Rich People Don’t Create Jobs” and settle your mind at least on the subject of taxing the rich:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKCvf8E7V1g

    Christopher Hitchens is always brilliant on how religion poisons everything.

    • 6.1
      john george says:

      Norm- The slant in this speach is different than I have considered before. My take on resisting taxing the rich has been that this will reduce the amount of money they invest back into the economy. Hanauer presents the side that consumerism actually creates jobs through supply and demand. An interesting concept that I believe is true. The problem we face today in our economy is the compassionate distribution of accumulated wealth. Will this best be done through the government’s redistribution of wealth through taxation, or is there a way to actually change a person’s heart? Does government redistribution create actual wealth in the middle class, or does it create a dependence upon a system that doesn’t increase the GDP? In the country’s past, people produced goods and services within our borders to be consumed here which provided a natural flow. Now, so much production is done off shore that money we pay for products does not return to the American worker. Take a look at this clip about Bruce Cochrane and what he did with his family’s business-
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twaurP8usJ8
      I think we must somehow reverse this offshoe production trend, and to do so is going to cost us more. Just wondering what you think.

    • 6.2

      I think the offshore production trend is a good example of why reducing taxation on the rich does not necessarily lead to more money being invested in the economy. :)

      • 6.2.1
        john george says:

        Well, Peter, the focus of the video clip, as I would interpret it, is how do we get the rich to invest in the economy? They can only consume a certain amount. With offshore production we are talking about impersonal corporations. The arguments presented affect individual people who derive their income from capital investments, both short and long term. You can look at a fellow like Romney, who still has many prpductive years left in his life, and say, “Hey, you need to pay more capital gains taxes, and if that seems to make your lifestyle a little tight, either change it or get a job!” But, there are many seniors, 70+, who derive their living from capital gains on investments. Many of them just get by with a little suppliment from social security. How do you treat them fairly without making the tax code a greater labyrinth than it is presently, requiring many more bureacrats to emplement it? My point here is that I’m not convinced that government coercion is the most efficient, let alone compassionate, way to re-distribute accumulated wealth.

      • 6.2.2

        If capital gains were another kind of income, instead of being treated specially, Romney would pay more taxes, but the old folks living off their retirement funds would almost certainly pay less — because unless they have a pretty high income, their marginal tax rate is likely to be relatively low.

        Agreed that government interference is probably not a good way to redistribute wealth, but for the most part, I think people would rather eat than not, and since the options our world offers are that the government feeds them or they starve while people self-righteously condemn them for not having prepared better, I guess I will put up with the government.

        I would be all for seeing the government get out of this business, and as soon as people start arranging for the poor to get fed (and not just the poor they know, but the poor people who don’t have rich friends and family to rely on), I am sure the government will spend the money on something else. But as long as I know multiple people who are unable to get that aid (and more of them than I think I can afford to feed, even) because the programs are underfunded, I’m going to theorize that the programs are probably not particularly overfunded at the moment.

        And like I said, a more-efficient system is welcome to come along and show us all up. I’ll totally donate money to them if they show up and try to do something about it.

      • 6.2.3
        john george says:

        Now, you talk about a complicated system, here is one. When taxation on capital gains is changed for one, it would appear to be changed for all. There is all kinds of talk about having a progressive tax increase on those making $250,000 or more. I’m sure there are many seniors who would be delighted to have even 10% of that amount. So, how do you structure capital gains taxes, as one example, to reflect this variant?

      • 6.2.4

        The solution someone suggested (I think I heard it from my mom), which I quite like, is simple:

        We eliminate the notion of “capital gains” as a distinct category. Now, we do want people to be encouraged to invest, so the way we do it is, you can tag a purchase as “investment”. When you “invest”, the money goes into a separate category (similar to the way an IRA works), and you can do anything you want with it within that category, and you are not incurring “income”. Buy stuff, sell it for more money? You haven’t got income, you just have a larger “investment account”.

        And if you take the money out, then it’s income, same as any other income.

        And then we have all the fancy magic we want about how we charge taxes at different rates based on amount of income automatically handled, because it’s just income, and we already have that working.

        This preserves the incentive to invest, without the distorting incentive to create artificial “investments” that you hold on to for a particular length of time so they can be counted as capital gains.

  • 7
    Griff Wigley says:

    During tonight’s VP debate, I can’t understand why Biden would do all that condescending smirking while Ryan was talking. Didn’t he and his campaign debate coaches learn a thing from how damaging Al Gore’s condescending sighing was when he debated George W. Bush?

    • 7.1
      Griff Wigley says:

      NY Times: Biden and Ryan Quarrel Aggressively in Debate, Offering Contrasts

      As soon as the debate was over, Republicans were trying to liken Mr. Biden’s performance to that of Al Gore against George W. Bush in 2000, when unflattering cutaway camera shots caught him sighing and rolling his eyes impatiently as Mr. Bush spoke.

    • 7.2
      Robert Palmquist says:

      I agree with you on most points Griff, and certainly this one. I was trying to listen and Biden kept interupting. If something is going to get done in Washington the politicians need to start listening to each other. Biden’s example was not the tone I’d like to see for the next four years. Especially the laughing that happened during moments when extremely serious topics were being discussed.

    • 7.3
      Paul Zorn says:

      Griff, Robert,

      I don’t much care, either, for the smirking, interruption, and other antics we see in these (so-called) debates. FWIW, I thought Romney’s overbearing bearing and talking over the moderator was worse In the first Romney/Obama debate than Biden’s grins at Ryan. Linda Raddatz, the Biden/Ryan moderator, deserves credit for having kept things somewhat under control, and for asking slightly tougher questions.

      But, IMO, the blovia-sphere gets easily overwrought about these theatrics, personal tics, and other matters of style, mistaking them for matters of substance. This tendency peaked (I hope) when Gore was savaged by an ignorant, lazy, and style-addled press for … wait for it … sighing.

      Why should we care about such demeanor trivia, especially in the utterly artificial context of a TV debate? As you say, Robert, politicians need to cooperate in Washington if our real problems are to be addressed. But I think we learn less on that score from debate antics, on either side, than we do from articulated policies and accumulated lessons of recent political history. On both of those scores the Democrats win decisively.

  • 8
    kiffi summa says:

    The arguments about who did what, and who will do what, about the economy health care, etc., will go on ad infinitum, and will be fully partisan structured; BUT, what was the most instructional part of the debate, IMO, was the answers given when the moderator asked each candidate how their religion informed their life personally , and as a politician.

    VP Biden was at his most thoughtful when he told how as a lifelong practicing Catholic, he believed and supported the instructions of his church.
    But, he also made it very clear that he understands the difference between his personal religious practice, and what he must do as a representative of a larger population who may have differing views.

    This is the essence of democracy, and representative governance; strong personal principals held personally, but a willingness to represent, equally, without prejudice , the entire population … in that elusive search for the true freedom: the responsible self determination of a citizen, who functions without harm to the larger society while contributing to that society’s greater good.

  • 9

    To say one man is better than the other and one needs to lead is hogwash. Both men are good in certain areas and both men could learn from one another. If I were Obama I would drop that southern Baptist Sunday morning church sermon style of speaking and get serious right away. If I were Romney, I’d talk more about how he lives a life based deeply in compassion and concern for humanity. How he gives 30% of his income to charity, even if it was this one year.

    The details of plans of any candidate put forth in the media won’t make sense or tell anyone any real information.These plans require hundreds if not thousands of pages of information. If I read through that or sat and listened to it, by the time I got to the last hundred pages, I surely would have forgotten the first hundred. Each candidate knows the other will ‘steal’ ideas and claim them to be their own.

    Obamacare is another way of taking our freedom away. We should have a society and culture where the indigent are cared for privately. Many of us have room in our budgets and/or homes for such giving. To love is to act in the name of compassion and generosity of spirit. It’s not just some Beatles’ song.

    • 9.1
      Paul Zorn says:

      Bright,

      I don’t follow much of what’s above, but IMO you’re dead wrong on this:

      Obamacare is another way of taking our freedom away.

      This is false. Obamacare is — for all its flaws, inescapable unknowns, and nature as a work in progress — a commendable effort on society’s part to help care for many millions of our less fortunate fellow citizens. There’s nothing wrong with private efforts to help in any good cause, but it’s no less noble, and in this case far more practical, to do good things through the engine of government.

      • 9.1.1

        Paul Zorn said, “I don’t follow much of what’s above”, referring to my statements.

        I will explain that Obama’s rhythmic style of talking, is in fact the same form that many Southern Baptist preachers and other preachers use to whip up the audience, devotees, and so on. I grew up in Chicago where these types of church sermons were often televised and I recognize it. Apparently, not everyone does.

        As for candidates not putting forth highly detailed plans during their run time, no one does that. It’s stupid to do that and no one does ever does it in truth. It’s just a bad move strategically to let any opponent know exactly what you are going to do.

        Obamacare forces all USA citizens to buy insurance. Romneycare was Romney working with the Democrats in his state government, doing something the people wanted for themselves. It’s much different, it’s government of, by and for the people.

        Our health and medical business has turned into a runaway highway to hell because no one wants to argue with the people who are supposedly saving their lives for them, but when we look at the real story, we see the equipment giving us cancer, the hospital mistakes costing thousands of lives still, the unnecessary drugging and operating on people, the overcharge on medical equipment, that is where the real problems lie and must be eliminated. For this, I will give Obama some credit because I heard him say he had made some effort to cut back on the fraud.

        Obama looked tired, even defeated during the last debate. Romney, an older man by 15 years or so, running his campaign nearly every day for two solid years, looks much more refreshed and invigorated. This kind of thing inspires others to look to Romney for leadership.

  • 10

    If the number of people who were willing to take care of the poor were even within a factor of 100, or a factor of 1000, of the number of poor people no one would care for, maybe that would be an argument. But it’s not.

    The choices are:
    1. The government takes money to care for these people.
    2. They die.

    Don’t like it? Change it! If all the people insisting that they would totally solve this problem if the government didn’t put even a tenth of their remaining discretionary income even after our taxes into taking care of the poor, the problem would be gone and the government programs would end up with nothing to do.

    • 10.1
      Paul Zorn says:

      Peter, Bright,

      Concerning whether Obamacare (or other government programs, for that matter) effectively reduce our liberty, here is a link to a pertinent opinion piece that appeared in the Strib a few months ago. Here’s a key point (but read the whole thing for context, attribution, etc.):

      For those who do not have reliable access to basic social goods, the primary enemy of freedom is not government interference but, rather, the lack of resources that are necessary conditions of valuable choice.

      Should basic social goods be provided by government, or only through private institutions? Well …

      Governments do many things poorly that private institutions can do better. But the essential role of government has always been to manage precisely the kinds of social challenges that require resources and coordination on a massive scale.

      Health care certainly seems to me the poster child for such a “social challenge”.

      Note: The Strib author happens to be a St Olaf colleague of mine; he professes political philosophy. I don’t claim to speak for him in any way.

  • 11
    David Henson says:

    I will vote for Romney -- he is not my ideal choice but Obama seem hostile to business and a free and private economy.

  • 12

    I don’t understand why the same people who want to keep people from being born, but once they get here, don’t want to let them go.

    • 12.1

      That’s an interesting reversal of the usual observation, which is that it’s odd that people who are supposedly “pro-life” appear to be outraged at the notion that something should be done to prevent small children from dying. :)

      Really, though, this is nothing all that new; it’s there as far back as the Old Testament, where causing a woman to miscarry is a property crime (Exodus 21:22 or so). People who are out there breathing air with the rest of us are generally viewed as being actual members of society; things that could become people and breathe air, but haven’t yet, aren’t in the same category.

      (It gets a lot more complicated when you start looking at how people cope emotionally with miscarriages, etcetera, and basically, there is very little consistency of thought among humans, even in any one specific human, on when personhood happens. Social recognition of personhood is tied strongly to how people feel about something, not to any kind of inherent biology.)

  • 13

    I don’t understand why the same people who want to keep people from being born, but once they get here, are OFTEN the same ones don’t want to let them die.

  • 14
    Paul Zorn says:

    Bright,

    You say:

    Obamacare forces all USA citizens to buy insurance. Romneycare was Romney working with the Democrats in his state government, doing something the people wanted for themselves. It’s much different, it’s government of, by and for the people.

    I get that (though admittedly not why) you don’t like Obamacare, but your comparison with Romneycare seems factually mistaken. In fact the two systems are very similar. Both, for instance, “force” citizens to buy insurance — and offer premium support to the (relatively) poor. Both OC and RC regulate the terms and coverage of these policies. Yes, OC is national and RC was enacted (with considerable help and relying on assistance from the feds, under the Bush administration!) at the state level, but this is a distinction without any meaningful difference I can detect.

    Beats me how one could represent good government and the other impermissible intrusion.

    • 14.1

      Paul, once we get any laws on the books on a Federal level it seems impossible to withdraw or change them in any way efficiently or swiftly. I think Obamacare is also much more involved and long and unknowable, open to more errors of assumption. Health care should not be that difficult. People can die in weeks or months after being diagnosed. We don’t all have the leisure plowing through thousand of pages of rules and regulations. Too much govt in other words. It makes more people want to hold back, drop out and give up.

      • 14.1.1

        Honestly, I think these are valid criticisms of our current health care system, but they were valid criticisms of the one it’s trying to build on, or of Romney’s, as well.

        The real problem is that “insurance” is a pathologically stupid model to use for basic health care. Insurance as a model works well for things like house fires — you may well never in your life collect on home insurance. It works very badly for stuff that ordinary people are likely to use regularly.

        The tradeoff we face is that our system creates a huge incentive for multiple parties to have multiple full-time staff engaged in nothing related to actually making people better, but rather entirely on billing disputes. The inefficiencies of large systems are not necessarily any worse than the inefficiencies of multiple small systems interacting badly. I’ve put in two hours at least trying to get a bill sorted because the insurance company and the doctor can’t agree on how to spell my name, and they’ve put in at least an hour or two each of clerical work. The work done probably exceeds the cost of the bill…

        And I do agree, doing things at a federal level can make them less efficient to change. On the other hand, the country has suffered noticably from the manufactured inefficiencies that come from having different health care rules everywhere…

      • 14.1.2
        john george says:

        Peter- I don’t see how private insurance companies spreading the cost of health care over all their “customers” is really different than the government spreading the cost of health care over the whole populace. I suppose an argument could be made either way as to which is more efficient and cost less administratively. Right now, I would be hard pressed to make claims one way or the other.

        I have heard this one argument against manditory universal health care is that there are a lot of independent people in this country yet who value being able to make the choice to buy coverage or not. The “tax” on people who don’t want to purchase health care goes against their grain, because they feel they have no choice in the matter.

      • 14.1.3

        The big difference is: In a system where all the medical expenses go to one source, there’s no epic battles between conflicting insurance companies, hiring quack doctors to certify that the problem isn’t their responsibility to pay for. That can make up for a fair bit.

        The other big difference, of course, is that if it’s insurance companies, and there’s no mandate, there’s a scaling problem; either they don’t cover people who are sick, or they lose money because the people who are sick are disproportionately likely to want coverage.

        As to the freedom thing: That is something of a real argument, but ultimately I think it’s a bad argument, for the same reason that we don’t let people opt out of paying for police, military, or education. This is especially true because some of the famous examples of people who have come forward to challenge the laws are people who have gone bankrupt from medical bills they can’t pay. Which is to say: They have had their medical expenses paid for by everyone else already. (Because that is how the system works; if you can’t pay, the hospital passes the costs on to everyone else.) So basically, they’re trying to cheat, demanding that they get health care they can’t pay for, and refusing to contribute to the pool.

        Yes, health care is expensive. The alternatives are also pretty expensive. It’s easy for us to overlook the costs of smart people dying young for lack of treatment, because we can’t itemize them. We don’t have a list of the things those people would have accomplished if they’d lived. But we suffer a lot from the indirect effects of people who don’t have good health care, and it is a crippling cost to bear. There are lots of things we could do to try to reduce health care costs, but I think “just let people die” is not one of the good options.

        And at that point, the distinctions between higher taxes funding the government paying for things, and a mandate that people get coverage but the government will pay for it if they can’t, are pretty much irrelevant; they have the same net effect. Except that Romneycare (which is what the law is, after all) allows us to migrate towards that in a way that doesn’t disrupt our large and established lobbyist base of insurance companies…

      • 14.1.4
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        You said:

        I don’t see how private insurance companies spreading the cost of health care over all their “customers” is really different than the government spreading the cost of health care over the whole populace.

        Good question — just what single-payer advocates have been asking for years. Welcome to the radical left!

        That said, one difference between the private insurance and governmental models is scale. On the up side, economies of scale can operate even more effectively at large scale, and it’s hard to get larger than the feds. On the down side, bad effects — just like good ones — can grow with scale, too. There are no perfect solutions or infinitely wise actors.

        And this:

        … one argument against mand[a]tory universal health care is that there are a lot of independent people in this country yet who value being able to make the choice to buy coverage or not. The “tax” on people who don’t want to purchase health care goes against their grain, because they feel they have no choice in the matter.

        I’ve heard this, too, but don’t buy it. Everyone (me, too) would rather get good stuff free. But we see the moral hazards or, at least, fear getting dissed as freeloaders. IMO reasonable people can differ on how — but not whether — a good society provides for the care of its ailing members.

      • 14.1.5
        john george says:

        Paul- I am radical in many ways, some of which might line up with your convictions! (Ha! Ha!) Granted, there is a much larger demographic of resources in the whole populace as compared to an insurance company’s “customers.” I think the attitude that a “government” administrated system must be a “coerced” system because there is no choice as to whether you must pay a tax (premium) or not, as compared to “choosing” a provider. Supposedly, having a single provider would be more efficient (see Peter’s experience), and that may prove to be true. Those of us who do look at supply and demand price controls don’t necessarily trust that concept.

      • 14.1.6
        john george says:

        Peter- I never responded to your comment 14.1.3. One, you pointed out some thinking that medical care should be considered equal to police, national defense, and education. I’m not sure I want medical care that could be compared to that level of services. Police, to we law-abiding citizens, seems pretty passive. Our involvement with them is almost non-existent unless we violate one of the laws they are charged with enforcing. Perhaps that is evidence for their effectiveness, depending on how you wish to evaluate it. The military? Again, seemingly pretty impersonal involvement unless we happen to be serving in one of the branches. And, there are big budget cuts to the military beginning this coming January unless the next president and congress cn come to some type of agreement about them. Education? My experience with public education, limited as it was in my children’s careers, left a lot to be desired. I think it is this idea, that government medical care could be like one of these, that is most frightening to me.

        That being said, I and my wife are now enroled in Medicare. My positive personal experience so far is that I am paying less than half what I payed on my employer’s plan. The scepter waiting for me out there is 2014, when my payments will increase 250% of what I am paying now. I am already experiencing rationing of care. I have a problem with my left arm and hand becoming numb. We started looking at this when on my employer’s plan. Starting at the root, and most likely source, of pressure on the nerve system, namely my neck, was an MRI of my neck and subsequent appointment with a neurosurgeon. This eliminated my neck as the source, at least. Then came 6 weeks of physical therapy to address any possible muscular involvement. This proved non-productive. Then came the change in our medical coverage. Since the numbness still exists, my doctor’s next suggestion was an MRI of my shoulder to see if there is any scar tissue there from an injury many years ago. This is where the treatment stopped, since medicare would not approve further diagnostics. So, unless I come across a monumental financial windfall, it appears I am destined to live out my days with diminishing use of my left hand and arm. My take at this particular point in time is that I am spending less than before, but I am not getting any better.

      • 14.1.7

        Oh, I am not at all sure that I want medical care to be like those services. But then, insurance as a concept is fundamentally broken for the same reason; it’s not supposed to be for regular expectations, it’s supposed to handle special cases.

        As to rationing: There is not enough money in the world to pay for all the medical care anyone could benefit from. Every system finds some way to decide who gets what care, and what care is denied. The way it’s done can change, but they all end up causing some care not to be received. The historical US system has been that poor people mostly don’t get anything but very expensive emergency services, while people with health coverage of some sort get varying degrees of care depending on what their plan chooses to cover. Prior to the health care “reform” (I use the term broadly), in general there was no coverage for people who already had diabetes unless they got put in a group plan that already existed. (MN has a small tax on health care services which goes to provide a backup plan which is available to people who get turned down repeatedly, but the MN social services are stretched a bit thin.)

        Underneath it all, part of the reason this is hard is that we know perfectly well what we want (“everyone gets all the treatment which is useful”), and that it’s obviously impossible.

      • 14.1.8
        john george says:

        So, Peter, I guess there is some merit to the President’s level of compassion when he says that some people are better off left untreated. Reminds me a little of the story about the chicken and the hog discussing their farmer-owner. The chicken suggested they provide the farmer with a special breakfast the next morning, because he was so good to feed and protect them. She suggested bacon and eggs. The hog replied, “That is just a contribution for you. For me, it is a life commitment!”

      • 14.1.9

        In an ideal world, with infinite resources, treatment decisions would probably be entirely up to doctors and patients. In our world, the question of who pays for it, and how much they are willing to pay, enters into it. All the various kinds of insurance out there will in some cases refuse to pay for something even though a doctor says it’s medically necessary, whether it’s medicare or something else. Limits on benefits paid, policies that let the insurer retract coverage if it gets expensive… It’s all over.

        There are a lot of hard problems left to solve here. I’m not particularly enthused about the “health care reform”, but I think some of the rules (can’t withdraw coverage as easily, can’t refuse preexisting conditions) are probably good ones — but they’re unsustainable without something comparable to the individual mandate.

        Whole thing’s sorta crazy, though.

    • 14.2
      Paul Zorn says:

      John,

      I’m puzzling over what this (from 14.1.8) might mean:

      … I guess there is some merit to the President’s level of compassion when he says that some people are better off left untreated.

      What utterance of the President are you referring to here?

      I hope and trust you’re not channeling the old Sarah Palin canard about “death panels”.

      • 14.2.1
        john george says:

        Paul- I should have noted that comment is my paraphrase, not a quotable comment. This whole idea of limiting treatments is something that is facing health coverage in every developed nation. As medical science advances its understanding of various diseases, there are more and more things that are now treatable, albeit expensively, than were available a decade ago. There is a really good (IMO) Wall Street Journal article about it in the following link.
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203863204574344900152168372.html
        This is dated 2009, but I have not seen answers to these questions yet. The crux of the matter is, who makes the decision on treatment availability? Right now, it is being driven by financial means. Will there be a point in the future where this does not have an effect upon availability? In the quest to level the playing field, so to speak, will the level attained end up with everyone under water? Will there be a suppression on medical research simply because it will no longer be affordable, or at least there will be no one who can afford the advances because of the single payer structure?

      • 14.2.2

        What I think would probably work best would be some sort of hybrid system where there’s basic care that’s available for everyone, and if you want exceptional care you pay for it. But it is a fussy problem, to put it mildly.

      • 14.2.3
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        As you say in 14.2.1, medical care is *now* rationed, in a practical sense, by ill persons’ ability to pay. And, as (I think) you’d agree, medical research has already led, and will lead, to new and more techniques and methods that aren’t and won’t be affordable universally. So, inevitably, hard questions of “rationing” arise.

        What puzzles me is the suggestion (in your post and in the WSJ article you mention) that any governmental involvement in such decisions is somehow more blameworthy, or a slippery-er slope to moral hazard, than the present system of rationing by wealth.

        Why? What are the alternatives?

        This quote from a British official —

        “Money for the NHS isn’t limitless,” as one NHS official recently put it in response to American criticism, “so we need to make sure the money we have goes on things which offer more than the care we’ll have to forgo to pay for them.”

        is cited as though it’s shocking. Is it? Why?

      • 14.2.4
        john george says:

        Paul- This is just my conviction, but it seems too often, when these decisions are made by government bureaucrats, that the person making them has no medical trasining, but just has a manual of treatment plans they build around. At least if the decision involves input from a medically rained person, I would expect more objectivity.

      • 14.2.5

        And this differs from how insurance companies make the decisions, you think? Insurance companies, if anything, have a stronger incentive to make bad decisions. They lose money if they pay out too many benefits. The government just prints the money, and furthermore, the government can reasonably hope to collect taxes from people who live. :)

  • 15
    norman butler says:

    The Presidential Debate will be on telly tonight 8pm at The Cow.

    • 15.1
      john george says:

      Well, if you want to have a Cow over the debate tonight, you can join Norm. Be sure to at least buy a drink, as this will increase his ability to stay in business!

  • 16

    What happens in ten to twenty years after all the wealth has been evenly distributed by the socialist democrats? The people spend on different things. Some enduring, some need replacing. So, then, do all the folks that needed a hand up and got on the even playing field, who spend their money on beer and sports attendance, do they get more? And where will that more come from? Inflated low value US dollars, or more foreign aid?

    • 16.1

      This question has so many unstated presuppositions that it’s hard to meaningfully answer it. Honestly, no one really knows what is gonna happen with economies; if you’d told someone in the 1920s that within a hundred years, only 2% of the US population would be working in agriculture, and we’d have excess food, they’d not have believed you.

      Ultimately, the question is whether we want poor people to die for lack of food, shelter, and health care, or whether we are going to try to find a way to provide those things for people who can’t provide for themselves. As to how that works out…

      There’s this single mom in the UK who spent a couple of years on “benefits” (what we call welfare). Basically dirt poor. She was having no luck finding work, so she decided to try writing. She could do this, because she and her kid were fed and supported by their system. So, the writing thing sorta worked out. And because she was grateful for the couple of years of no-strings-attached support, Ms. Rowling chose to remain in the UK and pay their taxes, rather than fleeing to Monaco. She used to be a billionaire, before she gave away enough money that she isn’t anymore.

      She has paid more taxes in the last decade than you and I will earn money in our entire lifetimes. By far.

      There is something to be said for a society that has a little faith in its people. They tend to react well to that. If you treat people like cheaters, they will probably not waste time proving you wrong.

      • 16.1.1

        Peter, You know I just try to imagine the unintended consequences. I know there are people who need help and they often get it if they try. There are people, who, believe it or not, do not wish to have any help, who do not care to live any longer, who do not like this world, and I would not call those people sick or ill or depressed. They have their good reasons. I have talked to people like this. They will not take help. They prefer living out their lives in whatever box or whole or cave they can find. Their bodies grew strong enough. Not like us weak, dependent two legged beings.

      • 16.1.2

        In general, I would call people who are suicidal “depressed” because, well, here’s the thing: If you keep them from killing themselves, and investigate, and treat them as though they were depressed, the number of them that end up delighted and glad that they did not die is somewhere well in excess of 50%. I’d guess it would be >95% if we had better treatments on offer.

        As to whether people who want help can get help… I dunno if I’d agree with “often”. The system in its current form makes it extremely difficult to get help, and in particular, the more you actually need help, the less likely you are to be able to overcome the system.

        Last I heard, in Rice County, the turnaround time on benefit applications for people who are undeniably eligible was about 3-4 months. That’s assuming no paperwork mishaps, misunderstandings, demands for supporting documentation, and so on. That’s a pretty long time for someone to, say, have to go without their antipsychotic meds. :)

        Unintended consequences are a real thing, and we totally need to think about them. But! We need to think about them for the whole system, not just in one particular direction. There are a lot of things that were adopted in the hopes that they’d “reduce fraud” which have turned out to have horrible consequences which were almost certainly not carefully considered.

        These days, if you want to file for disability, how it works is that you file, and no matter what, you are absolutely ALWAYS rejected. Then you have to hire a specialist lawyer who will take on the case on contingency; if you get approved, the lawyer takes the money from when you originally applied to when you finally got approved (because the approval is retroactive).

        This system is not saving the government any money; it’s just making sure that a few thousand dollars per person are going to paying a lawyer instead of going to keeping disabled people off the streets. Unintended consequences, as you say.

  • 17
    kiffi summa says:

    The Salt Lake Tribune, the largest newspaper in Utah, endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election; they stated that there were “Too many Mitts” for anyone to know what his core principles are.

    This is amazing; lack of endorsement of a Mormon presidential candidate in the heavily Mormon state of Utah, is a significant stand for that newspaper to take.

  • 18

    And I think it is sad that Obama had no postive stance on gay marriage until a few months ago.

  • 19
    Paul Zorn says:

    John,

    You say in 14.2.4 (where “these decisions” appears to refer to coverage priorities in the UK health system):

    … it seems too often, when these decisions are made by government bureaucrats, that the person making them has no medical training, but just has a manual of treatment plans they build around. …

    Several questions (to go along with those I raised in 14.2.3):

    1. Do you use “government bureaucrat” a term of abuse? If so, why? Or does “government bureaucrat” simply mean someone who works for the government — as Romney would like to do, for instance.

    2. What makes you think that the “government bureaucrats” who make “these decisions” have no medical training?

    3. What, more precisely, are the “these decisions” you have in mind? Do you see them as policy decisions (what should be covered, at what level, etc.) or are they individual decisions (when do we pull the plug on Grandma?). Makes a difference, no?

    4. When policy decisions on health coverage do need to be made (as I think we agree is or will be the case), who do you, John, think should participate in making them? Only doctors? Taxpayers? Government bureacrats?

  • 20
    Paul Zorn says:

    John,

    You say in 14.2.4 (where “these decisions” appears to refer to coverage priorities in the UK health system):

    … it seems too often, when these decisions are made by government bureaucrats, that the person making them has no medical training, but just has a manual of treatment plans they build around. …

    Several questions (to go along with those I raised in 14.2.3):

    1. Do you use “government bureaucrat” a term of abuse? If so, why? Or does “government bureaucrat” simply mean someone who works for the government — as Romney would like to do, for instance.

    2. What makes you think that the “government bureaucrats” who make “these decisions” have no medical training?

    3. What, more precisely, are the “these decisions” you have in mind? Do you see them as policy decisions (what should be covered, at what level, etc.) or are they individual decisions (when do we pull the plug on Grandma?). Makes a difference, no?

    4. When policy decisions on health coverage do need to be made (as I think we agree is or will be the case), who do you, John, think should participate in making them? Only doctors? Taxpayers? Government bureaucrats?

    • 20.1
      john george says:

      Paul- I’m glad I am not the only one who reates a double post now and then. You give me hope!

      As far as who makes the decisions, I think there is an age old disagreement between the large government camp and the small government camp. The large government camp sees government as the most efficient and humane way for decisions, be they medical, environmental, or wealth related, to be made. The small government camp sees this as an intrusion upon personal liberty and a threat. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way, perhaps, but I think, concerning medical treatment decisions, the less that the patient and doctor are involved, the more the patient will feel dis-enfarnchised. This does presently happen with various insurance companies, so I don’t look at them as the answer, either. As Peter so eloquently stated, if there could be some mix of basic preventative care available for everyone, then a private-pay for advanced trearrtment, it would be some kind of answer. I think both he and I would agree that this would open up a can of worms of class warfare we have not experienced or even want to consider. The issue here is how to compassionately care for the sick. I think this can only happen as we each give less importance to leisure time and more importance to caring for people. It just can’t be done cheaply, and I think it must encompass all of us.

    • 20.2
      Paul Zorn says:

      John,

      Yeah, I noticed the double posting, too. I blame a flaky Internet connection at O’Hare, where I was killing time Saturday night. Blame bad wifi, too, for all typos, grammatical infelicities, logical errors, and incorrect opinions.

      Peter can speak for himself (and surely will if I’m misstating his view), but I think your summary —

      … some mix of basic preventative care available for everyone [and] a private-pay for advanced treatment…

      of his recommendation (in 14.2.2) is incorrect. Peter distinguished between “basic” and “exceptional”, not between “preventative” and “advanced”. The difference seems to me (again, I don’t speak for Peter) not just linguistic hair-splitting but at the heart (as it were) of this debate.

      Clearly, everyone should have ready access to basic, ordinary medical care, like vaccinations, prenatal and well-child visits, etc. But to leave “advanced treatment”, like heart surgery, to a “private pay” system seems to me both heartless :) and wrong-headed. Such “advanced” treatments are precisely those that “private pay” is least able to cover, especially for non-wealthy patients, who will always be in the majority. Relying on private pay for “exceptional” stuff like single rooms, better food, diamond-studded tooth implants makes better sense to me (though even these things raise subtler ethical questions, IMO).

      Any thoughts on my numbered questions (in #19/20)?

      • 20.2.1
        john george says:

        Paul- Sorry I did not answer each one individually. I took an averaged swipe at all of them with my large/small government comparison. Here goes-
        1) No, I was not using it as a derogatory or term of abuse. I simply wanted to differentiate be tween “government” bureacrat and “insurance company” bureaucrat.
        2)This is just my take, but it seems that most lower level people who make these decisions do so from a “scripted” analysis manual, rather than being a hands-on physician.
        3)Per my answer above, each “decision” has personal consequences for those being affected, but it seems, having experience with my mother, and now my own, that they are made more like a general “policy” decision would be made.
        4)I think I answered this in my other post, that decisions being made top-down without the involvement of the patient or his immediate physician end up disenfrnchising the patient, no matter what organization is doing so.

        As far as “advanced” verses “exceptional” treatment, I was equating them in my own mind. I can see that there are some nuances between the two terms. We would hope that “advancements” in preventive and maintainence care would be available to all.

      • 20.2.2
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        Thanks for alluding to my numbered questions. Sorry to push back, but IMO you still haven’t addressed my question 4, which was about *policy* decisions on coverage. You’ve said (twice) that uninvolved and uninformed people should not make medical decisions in particular cases; I doubt anyone disagrees.

        But (unless I missed something) you haven’t addressed the question I actually asked: Who should make *policy* decisions, such as whether particular services are covered or not under Obamacare or any other plan?

        In an ideal world everyone would be covered for everything, regardless of cost. But this world is not ideal.

      • 20.2.3
        john george says:

        Paul- I’m sorry, I evidently didn’t understand the question accurately. I’ll take another stab at it. I agree that we do not live in a perfect world. Now that Peter has clarified what he means by “exceptional” treatment to include “experimental” treatments, I’m not sure that I would want this type of coverage to “automatically” (which I’m assuming a “coverage policy” entails) be done to me or one of my realtives. But, I would still like the chance to choose that treatment rather than having that decision made for me. Under a government run single-payer plan, I think the greatest fear anyone faces when they become ill is if they will get better, and if the appropriate treatment be withheld from them. Chronic diseases, like diabetes or auto-immune conditions pose a real challenge. Who actually makes these policy decisions is a sticky wicket, whether you are talking about a plan like Obamacare or a Blue Cross plan. Are we better off having a “blind” policy for treatment? For that question, I do not have a good answer.

      • 20.2.4

        Oh, it’s definitely a bit sticky no matter what. In practice, I trust the government more than private insurers, because the government has less of a powerful incentive to do the job badly. A publically-traded company can face shareholder lawsuits for spending more money treating patients than they were legally required to, because they’re failing to maximize shareholder value. Government agencies have different (not always better) incentives. Furthermore, there is one trait a single-payer system has which is a mix of advantage and disadvantage: Whatever the rules are, they are consistent. Instead of, say, discovering that when you picked one of three health plans your job provides, you happened to pick the one that has a really good contract lawyer who can get out of covering long-term care for something ongoing like diabetes, or whatever.

        Down side, no matter what we do, there will always be people who could have been saved if we’d spent more, but we didn’t have the money.

        I think we tend to want more control (this is why cars and planes aren’t pure autopilot yet; we’d rather have a 1% chance of killing ourselves through stupidity than risk a .01% chance of being killed by a machine’s inability to do its job….), so there’s a strong appeal to letting us choose the provider, etcetera, but it’s not obvious that it really produces better care…

      • 20.2.5
        john george says:

        Peter- I have the opposite opinion of yours (Hah! What’s new?) for the same reasons. Insurance companies can and have been sued for improper treatment of patients, just like physicians can be sued. That is why there is malpractice insurance. The government, on the otherhand, is immune from being sued for damages by the private sector. Not much of a threat here if you only do your job halfway. Remember the big flap over the last few years about some veterans who were not receiving proper care through the VA Hospital? Perhaps the problems experienced by many people with both private and public coverages is indicative of a deeper problem within the whole medical complex. IMO, this problem lies around the fear of litigation, not that there is a lot of it. It could be that the many seemingly redundant tests prescribed by physicians has had the desired effect. There are not grounds for litigation when a health problem goes awry because of the documentation of these various tests. Another expensive exercise to CYOB.

      • 20.2.6
        Paul Zorn says:

        John,

        You said:

        The government … is immune from being sued for damages by the private sector.

        By “private sector” I suppose you mean “private citizens”. If so, you make an interesting and point, and perhaps a valid concern. But here are two countervailing factors:

        First, it’s not quite true that governments can’t be sued. True, the legal doctrine of “sovereign immunity” prevents this in many cases, especially at the federal level. But the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) specifically allows certain types of suits against the feds, including those that allege that a federal employee has acted (ouch) “tortiously” in the course of his or her work. I’m not a lawyer, but would guess that the FTCA would apply if, say, a G-man acted capriciously in carrying out duties under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

        Second, while the feds might indeed be immune to lawsuits about, say, ACA policies, I’d be surprised if such immunity extended either to the private insurance companies that play a role in ACA or to individual doctors, few of whom are themselves government employees.

    • 20.3

      To clarify a bit: I was thinking more of a distinction between basic best practices and experimental/research work. My theory is this: New techniques are often very expensive, and not very reliable. Paying for a single experimental treatment may preclude paying for hundreds of well-established treatments that would save lives. We don’t have enough money to pay for everything. So… Why not have the basic system cover things that are well-established, and let people buy (through insurance or directly) exceptional services like experimental treatments or things that are not likely enough to work for doctors to recommend them normally?

      The general outrage about the rich getting better care is somewhat mitigated if they’re the ones subsidizing the research and taking the risks. :)

  • 21
    David Henson says:

    http://www.2012presidentialelectionnews.com/2012/10/larry-king-to-moderate-third-party-debate-on-oct-23/

    Link to 3rd party presidential debate with Larry King (at least 7 candidate choices are on the ballets)

  • 22
    Robert Palmquist says:

    Can’t say I’m much for following politics, but I did manage to wade through last night’s debate. One question, Obama kept saying he was going to balance the budget by raising some taxes and cutting some programs. Other than the military, can those of you who follow campaigns closer than I do tell me which programs Obama has stated he’ll be cutting? He didn’t mention any during the debate. I went to his website, but couldn’t find the information there either. If you could point me to another website where I can find the info, that’d be appreciated. Thanks :)

    • 22.1
      Paul Zorn says:

      Robert,

      Fair question, and well-taken: I’d like to hear many more details from both candidates on economic plans.

      Can you point us (e.g., from a transcript or YouTube clip) to what Obama actually said on this subject? I was only half (if that) watching much of the “debate”.

      Meanwhile, it might be worth pointing out that military expenditures can indeed be expected to drop rather significantly, though certainly not enough to balance the budget, in the next few years, according to the DOD 2013 budget request document . A chart on page 1-1 shows the “base” DOD request declining slightly, from $528bn in 2011 to $525bn in 2013. More important is the “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) part, which declines from $159bn in 2011 to $89bn in 2013. Turns out that OCO refers to the costs of our … uh … “contingency operations” in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

      • 22.1.1
        Robert Palmquist says:

        Thanks Paul. Again, I don’t follow politics to the extent that I probably should, and I certainly applaud all of you who take the time to do so. I did a quick google search on the “cutting programs” phrase and there are lots of hits, it’s a phrase he commonly says in his speeches. Here’s a portion of a transcript from a speech that he gave in Iowa (I think on Aug 13th) where he says he’s going to cut a trillon dollars worth of programs.

        ————————-

        THE PRESIDENT: So now I want to keep taxes right where they are on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income. So if your family makes $250,000 a year or less — like 98 percent of Americans — you won’t see your income taxes increase by a single dime next year under my plan. Not one dime. (Applause.)

        Now, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the other 2 percent, you’ll still get a tax cut for your first $250,000 worth of income. But after that, we’re asking you to contribute a little bit more so we can pay down our deficit and invest in things like education that help our economy grow. (Applause.)

        I’ll make sure the government does its part by cutting away spending we don’t need. We’ve already cut a trillion dollars of spending we didn’t need and we can do more. I want to do another trillion, trillion and a half of cuts.

        ———————--

        and in his closing remarks at the debate he said the following:

        “Yes, I want to reduce our deficit by cutting spending that we don’t need but also by asking the wealthy to do a little bit more so that we can invest in things like research and technology that are the key to a 21st century economy.”

    • 22.2
      Paul Zorn says:

      Robert,

      Thanks for the pointers to Obama utterances on taxes, etc. None of them seem to me quite to fit your report on Monday’s debate:

      Obama kept saying he was going to balance the budget by raising some taxes and cutting some programs.

      so perhaps you had some other Obama sayings in mind.

      In any case, I don’t recall either candidate asserting — let alone “ke[ep] saying” — that he would balance the federal budget. And a good thing, too, as neither candidate has made any plausible pretense of doing so in the short run. (They do sometime talk about reducing deficits.) And, to be fair, the ostensible focus of Monday’s debate was foreign policy, so the economy was in some sense secondary in those circumstances.

      On the substance of what Obama might do to reduce the deficit: On the spending side, I don’t know much, but pointed earlier to reduced military spending. Obamacare — Republican bloviation notwithstanding — is projected by the CBO to *reduce* the deficit in the long run. On the tax side, Obama’s stated goal to leave taxpayers under $250K harmless while asking richer folks to pay “a little bit” more seems modest, to put it mildly. How much “a little bit” means, and how much difference it would make are impossible to know without more details; I’d guess “a little bit” will turn out, if at all, to be “too little.”

      I’d rather have more information from Obama. And I’d rather have *any* information from Romney.

      • 22.2.1
        Robert Palmquist says:

        Fair enough. The phrase “cutting spending that we don’t need” is used by Obama quite often in his speeches. He’s given targets for the amount he’s cutting (a trillion to a trillon and a half) but of course that doesn’t mean that’d it’d all happen in one year. There’s plenty of non-information from the other side as well, so I’m not trying to say one person or the other, I was just curious as to what programs Obama is targeting. Cutting a trillion dollars worth of programs is a lot, even if it’s spread over multiple years. Thanks again for your comments Paul and responding to my question — much appreciated.

      • 22.2.2

        I wouldn’t mind if we mostly abandoned the TSA, the “war on drugs”, and a lot of other programs that are mostly expensive ways to not accomplish anything of value.

  • 23

    Obama said that most of the debt we owe to ourselves. What would it mean if we didn’t pay ourselves back? We still have our country’s natural resources and the trillions that is worth. Does anybody really need to borrow money? Why not just pay down the debt like we do the layaway plans at Kmart and others. Perhaps it would diminish us in the eyes of cheating, currency manipulating countries. Eh.

    Personally, I like Shakepeare’s, ‘Never a borrower nor a lender be’ from Hamlet. J. Christ wasn’t much taken by the lenders, as we well know.

    • 23.1
      Phil Poyner says:

      I believe a large chuck of the money we owe ourselves is the Social Security IOUs. Failure to pay those back would result in decreased payments to recipients and a possible collapse of the system.

  • 24
    kiffi summa says:

    I think former President Clinton expressed the difference in this choice most succinctly, in his speech at the D/Convention.

    I believe, as he expressed, this is a time to declare what kind of a ‘country’ you want America to be; the difference between Obama and Romney is that stark.

    Regardless of all the statements that need to be fact checked on many individual issues, the difference between the broader social and cultural goals of the two primary parties seem to be clear: the Democrats,a more open society which keeps striving to open opportunities and lessen differences … or the Republicans which are, IMO, punitive to any segment of society that they seem to value less, or identify as ‘other … and to my way of thinking that includes women. (Tell a Republican male he does not have the right to make choices about HIS body!)

    This is not a ‘goody two-shoes, ultra liberal’ POV; ask anyone not perceived to be a member of the ‘ruling class’, and that is way more than half the country.
    There is a culture of ‘dominion’, in the religious sense, in the Republican party that is injurious to equality.

    The choice is clear, for the big picture of the future of our society.

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