The pundits have proclaimed that the upcoming Presidential election presents the starkest contrast between the candidates of the major parties in generations.
And for once, we agree with the pundits.
The gaping chasm separating Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney on virtually every issue facing our nation, and their vision of America, has not been this wide since 1932, when Democrat Franklin D Roosevelt took on incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover.
Regarding the two big social issues of our day, Obama squarely supports the right of every woman to choose (which has been the law of the land since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade almost 40 years ago) and endorses equal rights for our gay citizens, including marriage, which most Americans also favor.
Romney on the other hand, wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, which he could do by means of his next appointment to the Supreme Court, and favors a Constitutional amendment to define marriage solely as between a man and woman, thereby discriminating against gay couples forever. (We might also point out that the Republican platform calls for a Constitutional amendment that would ban abortions, without any exceptions.)
With regard to tax policy, the deficit, and the national debt, Obama wants to restore tax rates for taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 to the rates that existed before George Bush reduced them to their current levels. This would mean an increase of three percent for these wealthy Americans. Obama also wants to use the peace dividend from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to improve our crumbling infrastructure, which would create jobs, and invest in the education needed for 21st century job skills. In addition, his Obamacare health plan not only will provide an avenue for health insurance for all Americans, but it also will rein in the runaway healthcare costs that are eating up more and more of our national income.
Romney on the other hand, wants to reduce tax rates by 20 percent across the board; dramatically increase defense spending even after the two wars are over; and eliminate federal funding for many social welfare programs, including a repeal of Romneycare (er, Obamacare).
However, Romney has not specified how his plan will reduce the deficit or the national debt. Indeed, the last two times that Republican presidents (Reagan in 1980 and George W. Bush in 2000) employed the formula of tax rate reductions for the wealthy and increases in defense spending, the national debt soared. Under Reagan, the national debt as a percentage of our GDP went from 26 percent when he took office to 50 percent by the time that George H.W. Bush completed his term. Although that percentage went down to 34 percent during the two terms of Bill Clinton, it went back up to 70 percent under George W. Bush.
Clearly, as the facts above demonstrate, voters have a clear choice between two vastly different directions for our country. But whichever you favor, be sure to express it at the ballot box next Tuesday.
U.S. SENATE RACE
The choice between Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren and Republican incumbent Scott Brown also is dramatic. Warren supports the tax and economic policies of Pres. Obama and the Democrats, while Brown favors Romney’s tax and defense spending plans (see above).
On the social issues, Warren is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. Although Brown says he too, supports both, when he was asked at a debate who his favorite Supreme Court justice was, he mentioned Antonin Scalia, who has voiced the view that Roe v. Wade should be overturned. So while Brown says he is pro-choice, he clearly will be another vote for a Romney Supreme Court appointee if Romney should win.
In short, the contrast between what Warren and Brown offer Massachusetts voters is clear. But your choice must be made known at the ballot box.
THREE BALLOT QUESTIONS
There are three ballot questions for Massachusetts voter to decide. We urge all voters to read the questions ahead of time, either on-line on the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office or in the pamphlets that went out to every voter from the Secretary of State.
In addition, there are opinions offered on each question by the Attorney General’s office as well as pro and con opinions from those who support the questions and those who oppose them.
All of the ballot questions (auto repair information availability from the manufacturers; the right to request end-of-life medication from a doctor; and medical marijuana as prescribed by a doctor) are fairly long and complex. However, the latter two are modeled after similar statutes in other states and have incorporated safeguards based upon the experiences in those states.
All three of those questions, and the new laws that would become effective if passed, will affect the quality of life for just about everyone. Most of us own a car at some point in our lives; many of us get diseases for which marijuana is an excellent, non addictive pain reliever; and all of us will die.
There are arguments to be made on both sides of these questions, but ultimately, the only opinion that counts is the one that comes when the votes are counted which is why all of us must express our view by voting on Tuesday.