On the debates, and politics. Warning: not polite.

Before I get into the very political post, I would like to first acknowledge that I will likely lose friends and followers over this, and am fine with it. But, like most important topics tend to be, this is something that I can’t really keep quiet on. If you disagree with me, feel free to, but my opinions won’t change.

Also, in a turn to the opposite, I don’t want feedback. I want to give food for thought. If you absolutely have to reply, you can contact me privately. But I’d rather you didn’t, and I’d rather you walk away with things to ponder on.

This is going to get very heated and profane, also very personal in a few ways, and I seriously don’t want to have to beat back commentary, especially on personal experience, whether mine or someone else’s.

So I watched the debates last night. I really couldn’t help it, because Mitt Romney and the Republicans are the world’s greatest trainwreck at this moment. For those unfamiliar with the term, think of watching a very bad accident: it’s horrible, but you can’t look away, no matter how bad it is. That’s how I felt about watching Mitt Romney.

Though after Sarah Palin and several other Republican political notable moments over the past four years, I stopped writing about politics. It gave me a headache, first of all. But I never stopped watching, because I know that my right to vote has not been handed over on a silver platter, and I want to know where the country is going.

What I saw last night… I had to drink some wine while watching this, because it was just godawful. And I’m not sure right now, the morning after the debates, what enrages me more: Mitt Romney’s entire presence, top to bottom, or the fact that media all over is drooling to say how he “won” and how this was “his best ever”.

If that’s his best, then Obama already won.

Let’s begin with the basic facts of debate. No matter what party you stand with, your plan has to be outlined. Your statements have to be backed up by comprehensive, checkable facts. You have to stay consistent and be able to refute your opponent cleanly, and actually be able to show that you understand what the issues are, whether or not you’re stating your point, or refuting someone’s.

Romney had accomplished next to none of the above. Yes, he was aggressive. Yes, he overrode Jim Lehrer more than once, who had the misfortune of moderating this debate. But seriously, look past the “aggressive” Mitt Romney and look at what Mitt Romney is actually saying. Nothing he says makes him a viable candidate and, in fact, if you dissect everything he said, he fails the very basic test of logic. He also flunked the truth test miserably. Not to say Obama hadn’t fudged a fact or two, but he hadn’t outright lied and displayed a disconnect with people.

First of all, I’m not sure if you noticed that in the first 20 minutes of the debate, Mitt Romney said that he’d cut funding to PBS. To Jim Lehrer, who’s one of the longest-standing news anchors out there right now, whose career was mostly with PBS. “Don’t get me wrong, I love PBS, I love Big Bird,” Mitt Romney said, “but I will cut funding to PBS.” The short version of this would be, “As soon as I’m president, Jim Lehrer, you’re fired.” I’m not sure if you gathered that bit. But I’m very sure that telling the moderator that he’d be out of a job as soon as you take office is really not the best way to appeal to him or the American public, especially if you consider the fact that PBS is viewer-funded. The contribution of the US gov’t to that network is .012% of the budget.

Secondly, let’s talk employment.

Let’s call a spade a spade here: Obama did not kill jobs. Bush, however, did. Let’s stop pretending that Bush hadn’t existed, because it is thanks to him that we got into this mess to begin with. Bush took a surplus and turned it into a deficit. Bush had started a war under false pretenses; no WMDs had ever been found in Iraq. Bush’s tax breaks for the upper tier had put the brakes on any economic growth, and if you believe that the super-rich are job creators, then I hate to disappoint you. No one ever got rich by giving money to other people. If there were no tax breaks for charitable donations, I severely doubt that anyone of a high net worth would ever donate.

That said, Obama knew going into his first four years that this would take time to reverse. In fact, he said that during his first campaign. And I’m not sure if you remember this, but four years ago, he was raised onto a very unrealistic pedestal. One simply does not take eight years of a mess and fix it immediately. He was bound to fall short of expectations because the expectations placed on him were deeply unrealistic. Funnily, no one remembers that anymore.

So when the Senate and House rep elections rolled around, Obama ended up having a House and a Senate that were more focused on having him fail worse than on getting anything done. It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans had held debt ceiling negotiations hostage to hold onto the Bush tax cuts. Same thing for extending unemployment, which was vital to people who had been displaced from their jobs. Think about what that says about Republicans as a whole. They would’ve happily let the economy collapse if it meant getting what they wanted. Even recently, when they blocked the Veterans Jobs bill, which would’ve put hundreds of Iraq and Afghan War vets to work, which the Republicans have introduced, as a matter of fact, they did that for what reason, exactly? It makes little logical sense. Why would they kill an act that they themselves have introduced? Simple: they want the President to look worse and worse, so he’d be unelectable. Hint: it’s not working, because these things are public record, and people know what came from where.

Despite that, jobs got significantly better than four/five years ago at this time.

Personal experience: I had to switch jobs, for various reasons, and leave behind a position I held onto for five years. I got into real estate. Brokerage firms in real estate will always hire, because agents = money for the brokerage if you consider the in-house splits. However, I had to also have a salaried job, because it takes months to get comfortable being a realtor, and my bills and billing agencies were far less understanding. I was able to find a job within days of starting a serious hunt. For three days of sending out resumes, I’d get callbacks and interviews. I was actually able to take my pick of employment, and am still turning down offers. I have a good salary, and I’m turning down offers for better, in fact, because I had the good luck to land in a place I like, and the salary lets me take a deep breath and pay bills comfortably. If you consider that I only have one significant piece of job experience after college, this should tell you something about the job situation right now, if I’m being offered my asking price plus a little something extra.

Romney saying that he’s “all about jobs” is a baldfaced lie.

Bain Capital, which he owns and has been running for quite a long time, regardless of what Bain had told the SEC (Romney’s signature exists on documents from 1999 – 2002, when he supposedly wasn’t in an active position at Bain), makes its money by bankrupting other businesses. American Pad & Paper Co., one of the older stationery companies of the US, has bankrupted after Bain had stepped in and bought it out, costing everyone who had worked for them their employment. Kay Bee Toys also.

Most notably, he has no idea what makes small businesses run. Usually, it’s a combination of good employees, steady clientele, and low tax liabilities. Now see this article, where Mitt says bluntly that he’ll cut deductions and exemptions for small businesses. How could those businesses hire more employees, then, if they won’t be able to afford to pay them, since their money will go to taxes? It’s simple budget mathematics. If your money is going steadily to X, then you cannot afford Y without getting into debt, which in turn stretches money further. This leads to cuts. And the first place all businesses try to save on is payroll. Business 101.

So, taking this into consideration, how could Mitt Romney possibly be all about jobs if he’s costing people theirs?

Consider also that jobs typically do not pay someone what they want or need. This is a typical thing and I’m not expecting that to change anytime soon. Romney has already demonstrated that he doesn’t know what the middle class earns. In his words, it’s $200,000 per year or less. That sound you hear is the bitter laughter of everyone who is actually in the middle class, who wishes they would earn that much money. Reality check: the average middle-class employee would make about $45-50,000 per year. It’s a living, decent wage if you don’t have debt liabilities. Unfortunately, debt is a way of life right now for far too many people. $200,000 per year, even after the taxes are taken out, would cover an average middle-class person’s bills very comfortably, even provide them with a little nest egg. It’s something that most of the middle class would love to have.

What I would like to ask, in addition to that, is if there has been a recent debate in your state about minimum wage. Republicans had made noise about dismantling minimum wage so that businesses can “set whatever wage they want and create jobs”. This is a logical fallacy that smacks heavily of Gilded Age-era attitudes. Businesses will not create more jobs if min-wage is dismantled. They will, however, slice the salaries of their existing staff, because there will be no mandated minimum for an hourly rate. Federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr. After taxes, that barely covers the rent of a room. It is very, very barely a living wage. Slicing even that creates a state that differs from indentured servitude only by virtue of a payroll record.

This is basic History 101. Look up the Gilded Age/Industrial Revolution era, 1876 – 1920 and employment conditions there. This was before the current workplace protections.

In the immortal lyrics of Shirley Bassey, “It’s all just a little bit of history repeating.”

And Mitt Romney’s claims on energy are laughable. Clean coal. Those two words, one right after the other, came off his lips. Clean coal is an oxymoron. It’s the reason that alternative/green energy is such a booming industry right now, because a good solid century of running on coal had wrecked the environment and we’re still cleaning up the mess. Wow, I guess breathing clean air is something of a luxury now. Good to know! /end sarcasm.

Now, let’s move on to one of my favorite topics in the world. Taxes. I’m not being sarcastic here.

Mitt asserted that 47% of Americans don’t pay taxes. That is a lie, and it’s also a sign that Mitt needs to take a basic accounting course and find out how it actually works. Even if someone receives a refund of the taxes that they had paid in, they had still paid in taxes by having them withheld from payroll. If someone makes little enough, the standard deduction for taxes would issue them a complete refund of their final total federal income tax. They’re still paying in social security and medicare withholding tax, which they later get back in the form of retirement benefits and healthcare. They’re still paying in unemployment withholding and disability insurance, which covers them later on if they ever lose their jobs or get injured at work. They’re also paying in state income tax; whether or not they get a refund based on the deductions is different on a case-by-case basis.

People pay sales tax off things they buy. They pay property tax if they own a home, which is a local jurisdiction tax, but loops back towards the federal as a deduction. They pay tax on capital gains. They pay additional tax on their properties if they’re worth over 1M. They pay business taxes if they’re running their own business. They pay tax even after they die – because guess what, every outstanding tax liability from when you were alive has to be settled on your demise.

In other words? Everyone pays. Everyone. Each and every person. Even if they are disabled, veterans, on Social Security, retired – there’s still a tax, somewhere, that they pay. It’s basic accounting. It’s things that I had seen in practice every year from January through April, for five years.

So I really want to know how it is that Romney would ease the burden on the middle class. He can’t eliminate property taxes; that would gut state revenue. He can’t kill the federal income tax, because that guts federal revenue. He can’t possibly raise tax on the top earners, because there would be a riot on Wall Street; haven’t we already seen the backlash that Obama had faced when he had first suggested that top earners pay a little more in tax? Cutting social programs shoots the middle class in the foot. Cutting education blasts off the other foot clean. There is no mathematical way for Romney to engineer tax breaks for everyone; someone has to pay up. And Obama got one major thing right in the debate: if you can afford a jet of your own, you can afford to pay up a little more in taxes. Whether or not you want to is not up for debate here. If you have a jet, you can pay your tax bill.

Coming back to the debates, though, healthcare was the major topic, and so was education. On those topics, Mitt Romney has proceeded to fail the litmus test of logic, and bombed the test of continuity. He had also demonstrated a level of cognitive dissonance that the expression, “pot calling the kettle black” doesn’t even come close.

Romney’s plan for Massachusetts health insurance and Obamacare are all but identical. Romney said several times that he would dismantle Obamacare and in its place, put in a program similar to MA state’s program under his purview. Considering the similarity of the two laws, this routine equates to Romney crossing out Obama’s name on the author byline and scribbling in his own. So when he said that he’d get rid of Obamacare and put his own plan into place, it equals out to no change whatsoever, if you lay it out in the style of a logic equation. You know, if A = B, and B = C, but C =/= D, then A = C and A =/= D. And later in the debate, he backpedaled again and said he liked Obamacare, but would still dismantle it for his own plan. See above logic equation formula. What you observed with Romney is known as a backpedal. Also, circle logic.

The one thing that had driven me into a state of apoplectic rage was Romney’s claim that the private health insurance market already had several of Obamacare aspects in place already, notably the clause of young people staying on their parents’ insurance through 26. That is utter, complete, undiluted bullshit.

Personal story time, again. And mine is only one such example; the Internet is full of horror stories about private insurance pulling this and similar tactics. But this one is just what’s been going on with me: an average, middle-class employee working and paying bills.

I was originally kicked off my parents’ policy on my 18th birthday. The policy language stated that I could, technically, stay on until I was 21. This would’ve lasted through most of my senior year in college. But they booted me off at 18, and I didn’t find this out until I tried to go to the dentist. My mother had to fight with them to get them back on, citing their own policy language. I got reinstated, but the process took a month, and I discovered the very hard way exactly how much healthcare costs. Hint: a lot of money. A root canal costs at least $1,000, apparently, not counting the post, core, and crown. Finding this out was a lot of fun, as you can imagine, especially if you consider that I didn’t make a cent until I started work-study.

The second time I was without insurance was shortly after my divorce, but before I got insurance through my now-former job. I have a pre-existing condition. I found out that labs charge in the high $900s to process a blood test. The medicine for my condition is $35/mo, which is feasible, but not if you consider that I need a blood test every 3 months to make sure things are functional.

Because I have a pre-existing condition, I had to dogfight with my insurance more than once to cover my medicine or a repeat blood test. Luckily, my doctors knew the system and took some pity on me and billed the check-ups as preventive care, which is covered any way you slice it. My insurance tried to drop me twice. They denied claims a few times for services I was clearly covered for. When I went to the lady-doctor, the office manager let it slip to me that every time I come in, she fights it out with my insurance to convince them that my annual exams are part of preventive care.

My regular doctor, as of two weeks ago, wants to monitor my sugar, even though I’m not diabetic. I’m terrified to get my supplies filled, because I already know that I will be dogfighting it out with insurance to stay on.

Had I been younger, I would be on my mother’s insurance. I’m 27. I aged out of the Obamacare range where I would’ve been covered. Had this law been put into place upon Obama’s election, I would not have shelled out the money I had shelled out for medical care. I would not be wondering right now if filling my supply ‘scrips is worth the fight with the insurance.

And mine is just one of those stories. One of my friends in TX, an Army veteran, knows she has skin cancer and has described herself as uninsurable – and she’s right. Because most private insurances will have her pay an $800/mo premium for bare minimum care, if they’d even offer her that option, because her cancer is a pre-existing condition. My insurance premium is almost $500, and there is no cheaper option in NY for a single payer. Believe me, I looked, and am still looking, but I’d have a fun time trying to find anything for less than $700 on the private market.

Romney saying that the private insurance market offers everything that Obamacare offers is a lie. They don’t. In fact, private insurance companies go out of their way not to pay, because they make money off not paying.

Romney saying that ERs and hospitals turn people away because of Obamacare is a lie. ERs and hospitals are now able to get people temporary insurance coverage to help them pay an exorbitant bill.

Romney saying that Obamacare tells people and doctors what services they can and cannot have is a lie. That’s the private insurance companies that do it, and HIPPA is in place to protect these patients.

Romney saying that Obamacare has hurt people is a lie. Right now, more people than ever have access to insurance and healthcare, and nearly all of those newcomers are people who couldn’t afford it before. Right now, people are actually encouraged about seeking medical care because they know that they will not go broke trying to pay a bill. How is that, precisely, hurting people? It fails the logical litmus test.

What infuriated me the most, however, was Romney’s thinly veiled implication that people should just buy private insurance, as if that would eliminate any need for Obamacare. Not everyone can afford it. See my prior figures. I’m paying $500/mo for COBRA. That’s a weekly paycheck for me right now. That is not affordable, considering that same $500 could cover a college class, a student loan payment, an outstanding bill, food for myself and Mom for a month, or part of my rent. NY average single-payer shitty policy through any insurance is upwards of $700. In the cheapo areas, that’s a month’s rent straight up. How, exactly, with those prices, does private insurance qualify as “affordable” for people who could have that same money pay basic living expenses?

Also, about Medicare, check out this link. Watch the video. Apparently, “future people” (read: me, you, anyone under 50) will lose Medicare. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an insult to the intelligence of my generation, the 21-30 set particularly. Does Romney honestly think that we don’t think that far ahead? Please. My mother is about to retire, and is wondering how that’ll be possible, considering she has little to retire on. And I see my own future if this continues clearly enough. If my family pattern for longevity holds true, I’ll live through my 80s. Medicare will be my only recourse for healthcare. Yes, I do think that far ahead. We all do. Because we all see our parents and our peers going through hell and a half trying to survive, and we know that unless something helps them, they are plainly screwed when the time will come for them to retire. No one wants to work themselves to death.

Moving on to education.

At the DNC, Obama said something that forced me to sit up and do a double take. He mentioned, specifically, working with colleges to reduce tuition. This and the student loan issues are the elephant in the room when it comes to higher education, and this is the first I heard of any politician addressing the root of the problem: out-of-control college costs. Student loans have skyrocketed in the past decade alone, and people are graduating with a debt load that ranges anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000. Also consider that a standard entry-level position is hardly likely to pay above $30,000 per year.

Mathematically speaking, how will these new college grads survive? You can pay loans, or you can pay rent. It’s not always the case where you can cover both.

But Romney…Oh, Romney, seriously, if your state lagged in education in a near “dead last” place at the time you left, how can you possibly insist that it’s #1? Yes, MA has Harvard. But Harvard is only one school, and a private one, to boot. Considering that Romney had gutted out education in MA, and killed job growth to where MA was ranked at #47, his claim that MA was #1 is laughable. Public schools everywhere are suffering, and new teachers are burning out all over the place, because the states are more concerned with telling them what to teach, while simultaneously slicing the education budget. The same states will then wonder why their schools fail.

Did Mitt Romney ever say, at any point in his debates, exactly where the money would come from to fund his ideas? No.

Did Mitt Romney ever lay out where the money would come from to make up for all the tax cuts he wants to give? No, but his running mate, Paul Ryan, would’ve instituted draconian cuts to all social services. As a fun fact, the states with the highest recipients of state benefits and social programs are staunch Red states.

Did Mitt Romney ever lay out his approach to foreign policy? No, but through various press appearances, we saw that he seemingly cannot utter a word that doesn’t rub a nation the wrong way. Even Putin took notice of Romney’s gaffes, and believe me, that’s not a good thing. Cold War #2 is not a good idea.

Did Mitt Romney ever lay out a concrete and direct jobs plan? No, but he was quick to say that he worked across the aisle to create jobs, when his record of activity in MA, and the Republican record of activity in Congress says the direct opposite.

Did Mitt Romney ever, at any point in the debate, say anything that made mathematic or logical sense? No.

If you believe that “both parties are the same” – please stop right there, and walk away from my page. They’re about as different as they get. Obama never backed laws that outsourced my job to China. Obama never leveraged a business with debt and collected a profit while putting people out of work. Obama had stepped in for the auto industry instead of letting it hit rockbottom. And Obama definitely never hid assets offshore while taking advantage of every tax loophole offered by the IRS.

If you assert that both are the same and there’s no one to vote for, your ignorance is showing, number one, and number two, by not voting because you think there’s no one to vote for, you automatically lose any right to complain about how things are. You have the right to change things. It’s been fought for since the country’s inception. By not exercising it, what right have you to complain if you do nothing whatsoever? Apathy doesn’t win you favors.

The ignorance of people who are now saying that Romney won the debate is amazing. They completely missed the body language that came with every lie; the rapid blinking, shifting eye contact, gesticulating, and atop that, the little smirk as he publicly announced that PBS would lose funding. The media is drooling all over itself at how “confident” Romney was. Don’t make me laugh. Anyone who knows even the most basic psychology will tell you that this was the opposite of confident. He went on the attack because Obama let him, and the reason that he let Romney do that is to ensure that Romney would expose himself, as he had done. Romney didn’t win. He just succeeded in looking aggressive, but upon analysis, he made himself look like an idiot. He exposed his true colors as a liar, and as someone who has no idea how the government, the budget, or the tax systems work. That is not a victory.

Responses online are no better. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to smack whoever said Obama was a “socialist”, when the person saying that likely has zero idea of what life in the Soviet Union was like, especially circa the 50s and 60s. That was socialist. That also has nothing in common whatsoever with the United States. A little knowledge of history and logical reasoning goes a long way.

Obama is not perfect, but he had made life a lot easier for many people, recovered most of the TARP money, and ensured that people would actually be able to get treatment instead of the runaround. Romney put money in his pocket at the expense of other people’s jobs and education. And we got to see both at the debate.

And I am looking forward now to the Biden/Ryan match-up. Biden’s wife is a teacher. I’m pretty sure that he will not take the topic of education likely.

K.G.

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3 thoughts on “On the debates, and politics. Warning: not polite.

  1. I have tried to not be Political and as I do promote Peace so avidly it cannot be misunderstood where my views stand.
    As an American, a mother and a writer I feel that it is imperative to understand the ridiculous low ratio that NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS http://www.arts.gov/ recieves in comparison to the TAXABLE income it provides. This is one of the great industries that makes America GREAT!
    I hope people respect your courage and enjoy your most worth while post.

  2. Kudos for calling “bullshit” on the myth that Romney won the debate – and for taking the time to make your points in such depth. Republicans are telling EVERY POSSIBLE lie to try to regain the reins of power, and woe be unto America should this happen.

    Romney, if elected President (shudder) will complete the economic destruction of America begun by Reagan 30+ years ago, and accelerated dramatically under Bush 43 (the un-elected Bush).

    Not sure why half of American doesn’t see why this party is so frickin’ dangerous – only 1% of America that are rich folks, yet they’ve managed to bamboozle 46% of America.!

  3. Excellent, excellent post. Thank you for that bit of sanity restoration.

    One correction, however: DAME Shirley Bassey, madam. ;-)

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