As I stood in the poll lines today, I felt a sense of empowerment and belonging among the voters. Akin to the adrenaline brought out by gathering crowds before a concert or sports event, this impression flowed deeply into my soul and, I’m guessing, yours. This powerful sentiment carries us far beyond election day—so far that democracies like ours aim to fight our battles with ballots, not swords. Continue reading
For almost anyone following closely our presidential candidates’ statements, it is absolutely clear that each pledges more than he can deliver. As a result, we must vote for the candidate who can better govern after over-promising. Consider especially the big three items driving upward the budget deficits: growth in health costs, growth in retirement costs, and the tax cuts that keep passing our bills and related interest costs onto future generations. One simply can’t balance the long-term budget without dealing with these three. Yet both Obama and Romney remain largely silent about what we might have to give up in these arenas for years to come. Continue reading
My fellow Americans.
Grave issues face this country. This year is unlike any other year. After listening to the Presidential candidates debate, I’ve decided to give Americans a real choice for president: me. Continue reading
Political campaigns, particularly modern ones, tend to revolve around promises. That’s as true of Republicans offering tax cuts as Democrats promising to maintain or increase spending programs. When you see candidates from both parties visiting regions hit by hurricanes or drought, you can be sure they are trying to indicate how much they care for those affected. When politicians do venture onto the other side of the balance sheet — how they will pay for all past and current promises — they move much more gingerly. Continue reading
If you are following the machinations over raising the nation’s debt limit, you know that both political parties expect much of the progress on the budget to be delayed until at least 2013—after the next major election. Not one compromise on the table has even come close to addressing the nation’s deficit issues head on. The big question is whether markets and the public will allow our elected officials to flounder around until 2013. Even if politicians can’t agree on adequate benefit cuts and tax increases to bring about a sustainable budget before then, their bigger mistake would be to avoid putting in place a process to make budgeting far more rational than it has been. Continue reading
Call it happenstance, but in the gospel proclaimed in many Christian churches on Sunday, October 24—about a week before the election—Jesus admonishes those “convinced of their own self-righteousness,” then makes a tax collector the hero in the parable cited. Actually, tax collectors seem to come out okay in a lot of religious stories; take the Buddhist one about the brahmin Dhananjani, an unscrupulous tax collector who exploited both the king and the public, yet still could at death attain a happier rebirth. Not to downplay these religious themes, but I couldn’t help seeing a secular twist: more than in any recent period, our newly elected representatives, many of whom ran on platforms of self-righteousness, are called to be our tax collectors. Continue reading
Poor Joe the Plumber. His fame has been established, but at what cost? Steve Weisman, a former New York Times reporter and colleague of mine, predicted that within an hour of that fateful presidential debate, Joe would find hundreds of press people camped on his lawn.
Not long after Joe achieved household fame, the BBC asked me to join a talk show. I was told that we would “plumb to the depth” of budget issues. The moderator, however, could never get beyond asking me what Joe the Plumber told us about the candidates’ plans. The incident of Joe, I replied, said less about what any candidate proposed than about the silly way we debate the issues and dodge how we pay for anything. Typically the government’s real balance sheet is ignored. Continue reading
I know. It’s campaign time. Time for our politicians to promise us more and more. Of course, it is always someone else who will pick up the tab. Senator Russell Long’s famous quip still holds: “Don’t tax you. Don’t tax me. Tax the man behind the tree.”
Today “the man” is increasingly the young, who are not only asked to pay more for others and get less for themselves, but who are increasingly being denied their fundamental democratic rights to share equally in deciding just what type of government we should have. Continue reading