The pundits have proclaimed that the upcoming Presidential election presents the starkest contrast between the candidates of the major parties in generations.
And for once, we agree with the pundits.
The gaping chasm separating Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney on virtually every issue facing our nation, and their vision of America, has not been this wide since 1932, when Democrat Franklin D Roosevelt took on incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover.
Regarding the two big social issues of our day, Obama squarely supports the right of every woman to choose (which has been the law of the land since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade almost 40 years ago) and endorses equal rights for our gay citizens, including marriage, which most Americans also favor.
Romney on the other hand, wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, which he could do by means of his next appointment to the Supreme Court, and favors a Constitutional amendment to define marriage solely as between a man and woman, thereby discriminating against gay couples forever. (We might also point out that the Republican platform calls for a Constitutional amendment that would ban abortions, without any exceptions.)
With regard to tax policy, the deficit, and the national debt, Obama wants to restore tax rates for taxpayers who earn more than $250,000 to the rates that existed before George Bush reduced them to their current levels. This would mean an increase of three percent for these wealthy Americans. Obama also wants to use the peace dividend from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to improve our crumbling infrastructure, which would create jobs, and invest in the education needed for 21st century job skills. In addition, his Obamacare health plan not only will provide an avenue for health insurance for all Americans, but it also will rein in the runaway healthcare costs that are eating up more and more of our national income.
Romney on the other hand, wants to reduce tax rates by 20 percent across the board; dramatically increase defense spending even after the two wars are over; and eliminate federal funding for many social welfare programs, including a repeal of Romneycare (er, Obamacare).
However, Romney has not specified how his plan will reduce the deficit or the national debt. Indeed, the last two times that Republican presidents (Reagan in 1980 and George W. Bush in 2000) employed the formula of tax rate reductions for the wealthy and increases in defense spending, the national debt soared. Under Reagan, the national debt as a percentage of our GDP went from 26 percent when he took office to 50 percent by the time that George H.W. Bush completed his term. Although that percentage went down to 34 percent during the two terms of Bill Clinton, it went back up to 70 percent under George W. Bush.
Clearly, as the facts above demonstrate, voters have a clear choice between two vastly different directions for our country. But whichever you favor, be sure to express it at the ballot box next Tuesday.