I’ve always enjoyed the “town hall” style debates more than the “podium” debates because there seems to be more candor, more ability to interact with questions from everyday Americans, and while they are dressed in suits that look incredibly uncomfortable, they seem more relaxed. That’s how I want my President to feel when talking about issues. Nevertheless, I still have a few comments about the debate.
Voting in the Senate
Senators will never be immune from criticism on a bill. There is always something about a piece of legislation that is not worth voting for. To make up an absurd example, if a bill was up for vote that would give health care for every child under 18 no questions asked, yet a small portion of the bill would permit all child rapists convicted before 1990 to be set free on probation, the opponent of anybody voting against the bill would scream, “He hates children and voted against a health care bill!” In the banter about the details, Americans become lost as to what the bill was about and why it should or shouldn’t have passed. Both McCain and Obama have votes they must cast in spite of the fact that not everybody would be happy. Granted, some votes are more straightforward than others, and what a candidate votes is important. The surge is one of them. Tax cuts are another. But otherwise, the “no win” scenario is simply the nature of being a senator. They should both give up citing the myriad of examples, because it’s absurd.
Honestly, I wish both candidates would give up this global catastrophe scenario and say something unifying like, “Everybody knows that taking care of our planet is a priority, no matter if we are a cause of the problem or simply a minor contributor. Even if the science is debatable, nobody says we should pollute more. Nobody says we should increase our waste. So we all can agree that taking better care of our planet than before should be a priority of every American. As President, I will make it easier for everyone to want to care for the planet, and the power to be green is in the hands of the people.” Neither McCain nor Obama have stated something more unifying. It’s always about a crisis we have to face. When government throws a crisis in our face to deal with, I’m always leery to trust their solutions because usually there’s an agenda lurking in the bushes.
I recently read a book about why free markets always work for a country. The author spent each chapter explaining why the free market would help our education system, our economic trials, our immigration problem, and our health care system. He explained that the health care system that every government employee is privileged to get is essentially a competition-based model, where each year employees get to choose the best plan for them and their family. The insurance companies compete and the government employees win.
What I don’t understand is why Barack Obama won’t explain to the American people why he wants to open that system to the American people. It makes him seem pretty generous to offer that to us. I’m afraid that a free market model of health care is not what Obama wants the American people to know about, because Barack Obama has heavily criticized the free market (more on that below). If Obama would explain why his health care plan is best, he would quell one more fear of the American people. It would benefit him greatly.
First, I’m sick and tired of hearing about the failure of the “free” market. It was not a free market. And it was certainly not a “failure.” Infusing government mandates to make bad loans is not “free”; it’s socialism. When you blend the two and then call the free market a failure, it’s dishonest. We deserve better. And when a large group of investors and banks who gave loans they were told they must give to people who could never afford to pay the loans back fail in the market, the market is not what failed: the banks are what failed. To say that the free market failed because a large group of banks failed is like saying my body is failing when I have a fever. The fever is a correction to the virus in my body!
McCain fails to side with the free market system, which he knows works, because everyone has been sold the lie that the “free” market was the problem in the first place. Barack Obama continues to purport the lies about the failed policies of the last eight years, because most of the policies that brought us the Fannie/Freddie mess (which in turn started the snowball for the problems today) were policies of Democratic congressmen, also supported by Presidents Bush and Clinton.
There is also a fundamental difference between McCain and Obama with economics: When McCain says the economy is strong, he is talking about the American worker’s ingenuity, creativity, and work ethic. That’s a positive endorsement of every hard-working American. When Obama talks about the economy, it’s all about how the government needs to be more involved in our lives to make sure the economy is “fair.” Only after saying the government would be more involved in the economy did Obama say that we would have a “fundamentally strong economy.”
I always get angry when a politician talks about fairness, as if they are the true arbiters of fair policies. Who defines fair? Is it fair that I am not sexy enough to become a Hollywood actor? Should we have affirmative action for ugly people who truly are great actors and work very hard but could never land a starring role in a blockbuster movie? Should we mandate that women with flat chests should be employed as Victoria’s Secret models? The fact is, nobody can create equality, and nobody has the ability to “rig the system” in a “fair” way. Doing so amounts to a subjective understanding and no doubt faulty implementation of the system. When it comes to economics, Obama says that taxing the rich is fair. How does he know what is fair? What gives him the authority to claim a percentage of income of somebody else’s hard work? What’s ironic is that Michelle Obama claimed they paid off their student loans only recently (while they were making a lot of money the past eight years), yet apparently those who make what they do or even a bit less can afford a tax increase? Again, who are they to declare somebody as “rich”?
The truth is, we are all created equal, and we should all be treated equally. McCain would be wise to one-up Obama at his talk about fairness, and his earlier claim to make the tax code simpler. What could be more fair, equal, and simpler than taxing everybody an equal percentage of their income at every level (exempting the poor, of course)? But neither Obama nor McCain are interested in a fair and simple system. What Obama won’t tell you is that the top 1% of earners in our country pay 40% of the taxes, the bottom 50% pay only 3% of the taxes, and 40% of Americans pay no taxes. How on earth is that unfair toward the non-rich?!
When a politician says that healthcare is a right, followed by, “We have such a wealthy nation,” they are telling you they don’t like that rich people make a lot of money. Our government is not wealthy. It’s nearly 9 trillion dollars in debt and growing fast. That’s not wealthy. That’s broke. We owe half a trillion to China, and our great-grandchildren will pay it all off if we even remotely get on track soon. This is not prosperity. What the politician means by this is they don’t like a rich person who has wealth when somebody else goes without. Now don’t get me wrong, I have those thoughts, too. And I certainly don’t want people to go without health care. But unfortunately, a politician has absolutely no right to take away that of one person and give it to the other. In ANY OTHER scenario, person C taking from person A and giving to person B is considered theft. When person C is Barack Obama, they call it “fairness.” I’d love to explain that one.
I think both Obama and McCain held their own pretty well, though I think they need to shed the rhetoric and the finger-pointing, and give the American people a clear explanation as to why their policies will work. Obama’s health care proposal would make more sense. McCain’s free market strategy would be understandable. “Closing the deal,” for both of the candidates, will involve explaining their policies to the American people. Then we can decide who to vote for.