Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fiscal Cliff, Debt Crisis, 2012 Election, Partisan Politics

The Election is Over – It’s Time to Govern
By Mildred Robertson
As Washington politicians wrestle with shifting ideology, changing demographics and an electorate bored with partisan rhetoric, it is safe to say that America’s political future is uncertain. Even with a resounding victory by Barack Obama during the 2012 election, many still wonder how much of his progressive agenda he will be able to enact over the next 4 years.
The Republican opposition, though not quite as vociferous as during the election, is still trying to find solid ground upon which it can take a stand against the President. At risk is the safety and security of America’s working class men and women who must depend upon federal programs to retire and live out their lives in some level of comfort and stability; mothers who must struggle to educate,  feed and clothe children; the chronically ill—Romney’s 47 percent.
The Republicans, having been scorched in the heat of battle, speak less ruthlessly about Americans who depend on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to survive. However, their intentions do not seem to have changed. They are attempting to walk the razors’ edge, where it is safe to attack these compassionate social programs without alienating the voting public.
Among the laws set to change by January 1, 2013 are a 2% temporary payroll tax cut, healthcare taxes associated with Obamacare and certain tax breaks for businesses.  In addition, spending cuts that could impact more than 1000 government programs will go into effect.  Both the defense budget and Medicare will experience deep cuts unless Congress can come to an agreement on a spending bill.
Lawmakers have a number of choices to avoid the impending financial meltdown if the nation’s debt crisis goes unaddressed. They can do nothing and let the current policy go into effect on January 1, 2013. This would cut the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product deficit in half, but would burden the economy and possibly push it back into recession.  Scheduled tax increases and spending cuts could be cancelled, adding to the deficit and growing the debt. Or, they can opt to do what they were elected to do. They can develop a non-partisan approach to address the issue.
Americans understand that doing nothing is not an option. We understand that all of us must share some of the pain. We know that we must determine ways to better finance social programs. We understand that we must ensure that federal dollars are invested wisely and used prudently. We have to identify fraud, waste and inefficiency and eliminate them wherever they are found.
What we cannot abide is that the burden of years of poor financial planning be born on the backs of those least able to bear the load. What we cannot accept is that the rich be given a pass, while hourly laborers are burdened with more taxes and fewer resources.
Now that this election is behind us, Washington has a brief moment when both sides of the aisle can come together to do what they were sent to do.  Govern.
It is time to lay ideology and partisanship to the side. It is time to stop the debate about why Romney lost, or why Obama won.  It is time to get down to the business of “creating a more perfect union,” where "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is more than just a well-worn phrase. It is the reason that government exists.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

2012 Election, Governance, Obama Legacy, Political Donations

Battling the Giant with Five Smooth Stones

By Mildred Robertson
It is now 3 days since the 2012 Presidential election. It has been a brutal slog from the mid-year elections in 2010 to the Tuesday night victory acknowledging Obama’s effort to right our ship. We waded through billions of dollars worth of attack ads spewing hate and misinformation, and somehow found the truth. Americans acknowledged that Barack Obama led us through harrowing times, and was, for the most part, successful.  As I watched the returns come in late into Tuesday night, I have never been more proud to be an American.
Historians will be writing about this election for years to come. They will deconstruct every moment in an attempt to determine how Obama defeated the monolithic machine designed to make him a one-term president. I believe the answer is simple. The opposition underestimated the American people and the hand of providence in this administration.
It is a much used cliché to equate daunting struggles with the tale of David and Goliath, but I believe it is an apt comparison in this case. With hoards of dirty money flooding the airwaves, Obama and his team fought back the tide with $3 and $4 dollar donations from folks like you and me.
A handful of millionaires and billionaires were positioned to buy this election, but were struck down by the miniscule donations of millions. The part of this battle that the opposition did not understand is that every one of those $3 and $4 dollar donations represented a vote. Each one of those donations said, I believe in what you are doing. I believe you will bring us through this harsh economy. I believe you can keep us safe. I trust you.  
Those are all things that money cannot buy.
The trust that the American people put in this president does not mean that his path will be easy. He must still fight with a Republican House not invested in his success. Tough issues like the looming “fiscal cliff,” the implementation of “Obamacare,” high unemployment, and the recent natural disaster all demand his immediate attention. But I believe he is up to the task, and so do the majority of Americans.
As we transition from campaign mode to that of governance, let’s not forget what we were able to do together. We were the stone that brought down the giant. As long as we continue to support this president, he can overcome the obstacles that face our nation. If we work to keep our elected officials on track, we can make real progress on the hard issues that face us.
We must not become weary. We must continue to be five smooth stones.