I watched a substantial portion of the Republican National Convention and its nearly endless, repetitive, divisive and negative rhetoric. I can summarize the convention in one sentence: The RNC provided an ounce of truth, a pound of lies, a ton of distortions, yet not a trace of substance.
If these guys have all of the answers, why, at this critical stage of forming public opinion were they reluctant or incapable of giving the Americans listening even a hint of what those answers might be?
The speakers provided a constant stream of disdain for our president’s “failures,” without ever even suggesting that most of the blame for the country’s lack of progress lies not with the executive, but with the lowliest-rated, and most highly disrespected Congress in the country’s history. The Republican commitment to some mythical “no taxes ever” pledge to an egocentric political extremist has stymied all attempts at reasonable compromise to keep the country from a financial precipice. The country has no place for demagogues like Grover Norquist, and the Republican Party must return to the spirit of cooperation and compromise that existed under President Reagan and the first President Bush.
Why not suggest that returning the top marginal income tax rate to the 50 percent value that Republican hero Ronald Reagan instituted in 1982 (down from 70 percent under Richard Nixon) would almost, all by itself close the current federal budget deficit?
Why not suggest that the artificial cap on the Social Security payroll tax be removed, so that the 6.2 percent tax that employees pay on earned income is paid on all of their earnings, not a regressive limit to the first $110,100?
Why not even suggest that Medicare costs, whether it is under traditional Medicare or the new Affordable Care Act, can be very sharply reduced by requiring co-pays and making benefits partially needs based, so that seniors will shop for healthcare with the same attention to need and price that they apply to shopping for groceries, choosing a restaurant or buying a television? Why should a senior, with a nice car and home, pay absolutely nothing for a routine colonoscopy, or care for an avoidable heart attack, just because he has Medicare and a low-cost Medicare supplement plan?
Why not even suggest that Social Security benefits are actuarially unstable? When Social Security started, average life expectancy was age 67, so that payments would have to be made for an average of two years. Life expectancy for someone turning 66 in 2012 is 16 years for men and 19 years for women. Social Security benefits now last an average of almost 18 years, nine times more than when Social Security was originally implemented. To be actuarially sound, the Social Security tax would have to be at least 20 percent, not 6.2 percent. Obviously that would not be sustainable, so why not suggest that benefits be partially needs based, and full retirement age be advanced a year, every two years for the next few decades to slowly bring the system into fiscal balance without materially affecting people close to retirement?
In answer to the question, “Am I better off today than I was when President Obama took office in 2009?” I say that anyone who has stocks, bonds, a 401K or IRA, investments in gold, silver, oil futures or a home mortgage that existed before the runaway real-estate bubble created during the George W. Bush administration, yes, yes you are far better off.
Since January 2009, the Dow Jones Index is up 62 percent, the S&P 500 is up 65 percent, the NASDAQ index is up 101 percent, and gold is up 99 percent. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is half of the 6 percent rate that it was in January 2009, making a new home more affordable for the 90 percent of the young people who are working today than it has ever been since the end of World War II.
Besides bringing no answers to the Republican National Convention, the party leadership brought a ton of distortions, as well as the biggest lie of all. The work of the Obama-led government over the last four years has not only avoided civil and economic disaster, but has taken a major step toward returning our country to real prosperity.