The Wrong Direction
Now we will look at the flip side of the Democrats policy paper:
THE WRONG DIRECTION
The policies of the Bush Administration and the Congressional majority have taken the country in the wrong direction, making us less secure and putting the privileged few ahead of the common good.
Let us take each point in turn....
Failed to capture Osama Bin Laden or destroy al Qaeda
Granted, but al Qaeda's operations have been severely hampered by our efforts, and many of them have been killed. Thus, al Qaeda is less able the attack the U.S. than they were before we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Still, I would like to see more troops in Afghanistan hunting down al Qaeda and the Taliban.
rushed to war in Iraq on manipulated intelligence...
No-one in the Bush administration manipulated intelligence. Congress had access to the same reports that President Bush had. Any congressman or senator who did not read those reports before voting on the invasion of Iraq should resign in disgrace.
...with no realistic plan to win the peace;
Did we have a "plan to win the peace" when we invaded Germany and Italy? Did Johnson have such a plan when he decided to invade Viet Nam? A realistic post-war plan is simply not possible to construct before the war, because the post-war situation is unknowable until the war is over.
failed to provide [a] strategy to stabilize Iraq
We are stabalizing Iraq. The "insurgents," many of whom are not Iraqis, are trying to destabalize it. That strategy is working, although the foreign terrorists are hampering the process.
or begin the responsible redeployment of our troops;
As I said in my last article, redeploy them where? ("Redeploy" does not mean "bring home," because if they are home, they are not deployed.) I'd like to see more troops in Afghanistan, but Iraq needs those troops for now. That's why the terrorists are attacking the police training stations -- to keep those troops from going into Afghanistan. We have about 150,000 troops in Iraq right now. Sixty years ago, we had several million troops in Europe alone. This is not a matter of can, it's a matter of will.
strained the U.S. military;
Only because the military had been gutted by the Commander in Chief who "despised the military."
wasted billions on no-bid Halliburton and KBR contracts;
Money was never wasted under Democratic adminstrations? Sure, money was wasted, but the Democrats haven't been any better when they were in power. Show me how you're going to deal with the waste, don't just point out examples of waste and say, "we won't do that."
failed to protect our borders, ports, transportation systems, and chemical plants;
Democrats have blocked or tried to block every effort by the Republicans to close the border. We have not done enough to protect our infrastructure. We have about 12 million people ages 18-20 in this country. The military does not want a draft, but how about DHS?
received failing homeland security grades from the nonpartisan 9/11 Commission;
The 9/11 Commission's report was considered in Congress, and many of the recommendations in that report were implemented. The Democrats do not specify which unimplemented recommendations they want.
cut veteransâ€™ health care.
I'm with them here. Our vets should never be short-changed.
RISING ECONOMIC INSECURITY
No minimum wage increase for 6.6 million Americans since 1997; real family income down since 2001 as CEO compensation soared; support for subsidies for outsourcing American jobs; $5.6 trillion budget surplus turned into $3.2 trillion deficit; national debt doubled to $12 trillion by 2011.
The Senate Democrats blocked a measure to raise the minimum wage.
The real median household income increased from 2004-2005, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Looking at the charts in that report, the current pattern matches earlier recoveries: first job growth, then income growth as the labor pool tightens. (Do you notice how the Democrats are not harping on job growth anymore?)
I do not know what subsidies they're talking about here -- their larger policy paper does not mention them at all.
The budget deficit and surplus they quote are ten-year projections. Nevertheless, the deficit spending is very disappointing to fiscal conservatives. It seems that whichever party is in power spends like drunked sailors, and whichever party is out of power (and so not getting the earmarks) becomes the party of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps Congress should look to the Constitution (for once), and only spend money on those things that are permitted. That would get us into a surplus in a real hurry.
RISING COLLEGE COSTS
$12 billion cut from college student aid; cost of loans increased; college Pell Grants frozen as tuition soars - 57% at public universities and 32% at private schools since 2000.
As I mentioned in my earlier article, a higher percentage of people in the U.S. have at least a bachelor's degree than ever before. That does not sound like a crisis. While I'd sure like to get the feds to send my kids to college, I can find nothing in Article I, Section 8 that allows Congress to give my child money for college. Holding to my "only spend money on those things that are permitted" line above, I have to oppose the federal government's student aid and grant programs. That said, the programs may still be good, and the States do have the authority to implement such programs.
Of course, interest rates have been rising everywhere, not just in student loans. Forcing a reduction in credit card interest rates would probably do more people more good.
RISING ENERGY PRICES
Gas over $3 per gallon; growing dependence on foreign oil; billions in new subsidies for oil and gas companies despite record profits; blocked efforts against price gouging; opposed energy efficient technology and alternative fuels.
Didn't Clinton, ten years ago, block drilling in ANWR, saying we wouldn't see anything from it for ten years? So much for long-term thinking. Ten years later, the Democrats still oppose drilling in ANWR, drilling off our Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and wind farms off Cape Cod.
Anyway, the price of petrol is coming back down, and even at the $3/per gallon price we had this August, gas prices had only risen 5.6% per year since August of 1990, according to the Department of Energy. At the current price of $2.26/per gallon, gas has only risen 3.4% per year since October of 1990. That is not out of line with the inflation rate over that period.
RISING HEALTH CARE COSTS
Family health insurance costs up 70% ($4,500 per family) since 2000; 6 million more uninsured; confusing Rx drug benefit prohibits negotiating lower drug prices; stem cell research obstructed.
The main policy paper recommends that we "Provide universal, affordable access to health insurance, beginning with a 50 percent tax credit and multi-insurer pools to help small businesses provide affordable and comprehensive health care coverage for their employees."
Why don't we just stop taxing the businesses in the first place. The tax costs just get passed on to the consumer anyway or, as the Democrats indicate here, come out of employee benefits.
Since the insurance laws are state laws, the states should be implementing the "multi-insurer pools," whatever they are. (I think they mean multi-insured pools, in which several small businesses band together to buy insurance as a group. I think this is already legal, but that depends on the state.)
I'll grant that the prescription drug benefit is confusing. It's unconstitutional, too.
As for "obstructing" stem-cell research, since when has "not funding" become "obstructing"? I guess if the government does not pay for my new car, it is obstructing my purchase of a car?
In any case, Congress did vote to fund stem-cell research, and the bill was vetoed by Bush. Since Bush is not running ths year, there really is no point to this point.
RISING RETIREMENT INSECURITY
Promoting substantial privatization of Social Security and benefit cuts for millions of retirees; employee pensions collapse while CEOs get golden parachutes.
The larger paper also gives no indication of how Social Security will be saved from collapse when it is no longer running a surplus. (Mind you, that's projected to be in 2007, and as we
have seen with the ANWR drilling, it is not for Democrats to think ten years ahead.)
They do, however, promote "AmeriSave," which will match the first $1000 of retirement savings for low- and middle-income people. (Where in that in Art. I, Sec. 8?) Of course, many people who now have matching 401(k) plans do not participate. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, one fifth to one quarter (depending on age) of the people who can contribute to a 401(k) do not do so, foregoing any matching contributions. Since 83.4% of plan participants are eligible for employer contributions, some are already not taking the bait.
Those that won't take the bait are primarily those who need their money now -- the poor, whom the Democrats say they are trying to help.
The solution to that problem, of course, is to make the contributions mandatory via payroll deductions. The net result is an increase in the Social Security tax, and private accounts. So we're back to privatization as the solution!
My own solution is detailed in Fixing Social Security.
Employee pensions have collapsed partly bacause of regulations preventing a company's over-contributing in the good years to cover the bad. The reason these regulations were in place was because money going into pensions is not taxed, so the feds weren't getting "their" money. Once again, the solution is to eliminate the corporate income tax, and then there will be no problem with companies' funding their pensions.
I encourage everyone to read the Democrats policy paper.
If you want my opinion on a specific aspect of their plan, just ask.
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