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21 October 2012

Pondering the Debates (part 4)

I am not keeping up with the sheer mass of debate material. It's not going to happen. But I like looking at the debates, and a number of my friends have said kind things to me about the posts I did about the debate, leading me to think that it's useful to others when I share my thoughts, so I thought I'd have a go at another section here on my blog. If you're a real glutton for punishment, you can have a look at the previous installments too:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

So. Here goes. I'm starting on page 5 of the transcript.

Obama: It means that Governor Romney talked about Medicaid and how we could send it back to the states, but effectively this means a 30 percent cut in the primary program we help for seniors who are in nursing homes, for kids who are with disabilities. And — and that is not a right strategy for us to move forward.

Alright. I've said before, I am firmly convinced that government is not only not the best way to deal with doing charitable works, but it's not a particularly moral method of getting that important work done. (Please note, this is NOT the same as saying that it's not important; it is.) In addition, it's not Constitutional. There is no authorization in the Enumerated Powers for Congress to do this sort of thing. I laid out the details in part 3. But, as a quick recap, I offer the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The Constitutionally correct course of action is to return this power to the States. Mr. Obama is, Constitutionally speaking, out of line in his comments. And, he's invoking some very emotional imagery in his arguments, which is a tactic I never appreciate. While compassion is important, it is very easy to become blinded by emotion when discussing these things, and to the extent that emotion rules, reason is excluded and nothing constructive can happen. Calm collected reason gets a bad rap, but it doesn't need to be uncompassionate, whereas, the mind ruled by emotion cannot think clearly. I consider it bad form for Mr. Obama to make such a blatantly emotional appeal, particularly when he does so in defiance of the highest law of our land.

Next question: Governor, what about Simpson-Bowles? Do you support Simpson-Bowles?

OK. I first have to figure out what is "Simpson-Bowles." Turns out that it's a plan for reducing debt. I read a Business Insider synopsis here, and they have a link to a more technical synopsis here. It comes from a commission created by President Obama, and Mr. Ryan served as a member. They suggest avoiding our debt crisis by both cutting back government and raising taxes. Apparently, neither party likes it at all, but some version may be used anyway to try to avoid the looming financial cliff at the end of the year, according to the Business Insider synopsis.

Romney: I have my own plan. It's not the same as Simpson- Bowles.

He never says any more than that about his own plan, other than he doesn't want to see taxes raised; he's distracted by talking about Mr. Obama's performance and plan, so I can't say anything here about how Constitutional his plan is, other than to point out (yet again) that the President, alone, has no power to raise or lower taxes. He can only sign or veto the bills that Congress sends him. Other than that, it's not his job.

Lehrer: Mr. President?
Obama: Well, we've had this discussion before.
Lehrer: About the idea that in order to reduce the deficit, there has to be revenue in addition to cuts.
Obama: There has to be revenue in addition to cuts.

I'm not sure what this means in relation to Simpson-Bowles. Once again, Mr. Obama is more interested in talking about Mr. Romney's plan than his own. He does this a lot. At least this time, he's saying what he wants to add, rather than just saying that Mr. Romney's plan is a bad one. And he's making the same Constitutional misstep that Mr. Romney just made: the President doesn't really have the power to say he will raise or lower taxes. That's Congress's job. Unless they are both talking about the use of the signing and veto powers, this is a conversation that belongs in a Congressional candidate's comments or debate.

Once again, Mr. Romney feels like Mr. Obama is misrepresenting his position, so he clarifies. He does want more revenue, just not from raising taxes. He wants to see existing taxes pull in more. I don't know what this has to do with Simpson-Bowles, but it's useful information for the voters nonetheless. 

Romney: Look, the revenue I get is by more people working, getting higher pay, paying more taxes. That's how we get growth and how we balance the budget. But the idea of taxing people more, putting more people out of work, you'll never get there. You'll never balance the budget by raising taxes.
Spain — Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy on government. We're now spending 42 percent of our economy on government. I don't want to go down the path to Spain. I want to go down the path of growth that puts Americans to work with more money coming in because they're working.

Spain recently got another bailout, and is struggling. But even without that example, 42%?? Oi. (It's worthy of note that the candidates don't really get to look up their figures to make sure they're perfectly correct, so there is likely some human error on both sides.) If that figure is even close to correct then we are in serious need of some major cutbacks in the size of our government. I knew it was bad, but I didn't realize we had that much government. Oi. That is not cool.

But, now that I think about it, it's also not surprising. We have a number of whole departments, entire agencies that are not authorized by the Constitution. Among them are the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency, and there's others as well. Basically, if you can't find it in the Enumerated Powers, the feds shouldn't be doing it. It sounds here like Mr. Romney is looking at reducing the size of government, but he doesn't say how. There's no specifics. Politically, it's a smart move; people say they want less, but when it comes right down to it, lots of folks are pretty attached to "causes" that they feel are only possible through our oversized government. So, reducing or eliminating some of these unconstitutional departments is perceived as an attack on children (the Department of Education) or the environment (the EPA), and is usually also denounced because it does create some temporary job losses. However, if you are to reduce the size of government, that must inevitably mean that some people are going to have to move from the public sector to the private, and not necessarily on their own time table. But Mr. Romney doesn't really go into any detail here, so there's nothing to approve (or disapprove) of, other than I think that the idea of reducing government is excellent and likely very Constitutionally sound.

OK. It's late again. This is interesting, but I've gotta sleep; those boys of mine will be needing me.

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