18 September 2008

Random election musings

I respect Chuck Hagel for the same reasons I respect John McCain and Joe Lieberman. He was dead-on in his assessment that Sarah Palin isn't qualified for the presidency. That said, Palin is as equally qualified as Barack Obama.

The idea that Obama is somehow qualified for the presidency because he's run a presidential campaign for 18 months is laughable. That's like saying that any person who's been a CEO of a small business for 18 months is ready to be the leader of the free world.

Every day that Team Hope takes shots at Palin is another day that the game is played on McCain's turf.

Speaking of the Senior Senator, he must sound like he knows what he's talking about when it comes to the Wall Street crisis. His campaign should dispatch Mitt Romney, Carly Fiorina, Steve Forbes and other well-respected economic voices among his surrogates and let them first take his message to the voters, then reassure voters that only McCain can be trusted to lead us out of this dark time.

Commentators all over the spectrum -- from Rush Limbaugh to moonbats on the left -- have speculated about the tenuous relationship Obama has with blue-collar voters in Rust Belt states. Pennsylvania and Michigan, in particular, are two states Obama must win if he wants to win the presidency. I'm genuinely curious to see how the final margins will differ -- or if they will differ at all -- from the recent polling data. Will Obama's aloofness and inability to connect with these voters alter the data at all? Will some of these voters simply find it impossible to vote for a black man? Time will tell.

I'd still like to hear Team Hope's explanation as to how their candidate plans to simultaneously cut taxes on 95% of Americans, provide socialized health care, and reduce the deficit -- all by simply cranking up the top tax bracket to the level it was at under Clinton.

McCain nailed it when responding to Joe Biden's asinine suggestion that the rich paying more taxes was in fact "patriotic": "Raising taxes in a tough economy isn't patriotic. It's not a badge of honor. It's just dumb policy."

It's worth asking at virtually every turn: How different would this race look if Obama had chosen Hillary over Biden?

Most conservatives roar approval when the topic of waterboarding is broached. But 60 years ago, the United States prosecuted Japanese interrogators for using that technique on American soliders during World War II.

The two most important issues in the election are none of the following: Iraq; Iran; Russia; the economy; the Wall St. collapse; earmarks; reforming Washington; judicial appointments. The two most important issues facing the next president are Social Security reform and energy independence. So to close, a final word on this:

The spirit of this site is grounded in the notion that although Republicans and Democrats might have different worldviews or ideas about the role of the federal government, good-faith compromises can be reached on crucial issues by working together. The Chairman and I have a deep respect for those politicians who have defied their party leadership and the extremists on their respective sides, and worked across party lines to spearhead things like welfare reform (under Clinton) and the Gang of 14 (headed by McCain and John Warner in 2005). The Chairman and I, while agreeing on many things, disagree on others. And so it is in Congress.

There exist some battles -- socialized health care, abortion, gun control, judicial appointments and tort reform -- where the two parties might not ever come to a consensus. But the greatest of accomplishments happens when elected officials from both parties tackle a problem head-on, together. And so it must be with Social Security and America's independence from foreign oil.

Both McCain and Obama have made energy independence a central issue in this election. Aside from McCain's penchant for nuclear power plants, it's not clear that the two candidates differ on much. However, no matter which one reaches the White House in 2009, the winner must put his money where his mouth is and forge a sensible yet ambitious national policy for breaking America's dependence on foreign oil. I believe either man could potentially do it; I'm voting for McCain because he's done things like this before.

Social Security expenditures will begin to outpace revenues in 2018. By 2042, well after the last baby boomer has retired, Social Security will be bankrupt. In 2042, I'll be 59. Republicans argue that Social Security must be privatized. Democrats argue that the cap on income subject to the Social Security tax (current at $95,000) must be raised or eliminated. Hyperpartisans on each side express outrage -- outrage, I say! -- at what they paint to be the outlandish suggestions of the other.

The bottom line is this: Congress -- led by the president -- must come to a compromise. As someone to the right of center, I abhor taxes. I fundamentally disagree with the 21st-century conception of Social Security. That said, it's unrealistic to, like a Ron Paul disciple, attempt to simply discard it to history's trash heap. If Social Security's life could be prolonged another 75 years by eliminating the cap on taxable earnings, I'd support such a change. However, Democrats are equally as hysterical, claiming that Republicans want to recklessly gamble with taxpayers' money and give it to their buddies on Wall Street. This is disingenuous and smacks of everything that is wrong with the Democratic Party.

The compromise inevitably will involve a bipartisan solution -- the Democrats likely will succeed in raising the cap on taxable earnings to perhaps $250,000. And the Republicans likely -- hopefully -- will succeed in allowing individuals to choose a private investment option in some sort of account -- with a government-guaranteed safety net -- that earns 4-5 times what the current Social Security accounts gross. Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Maureen Dowd and Keith Olbermann undoubtedly would howl with displeasure.

All the more reason to do it.

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