There are powerfully critical reasons to be FOR Barack Obama and AGAINST Mitt Romney in this presidential election. I have studied the issues, watched the debates, read up on the candidates' positions and ignored the deceptive attack ads. I hope my fellow voters find my conclusions from these carefully considered observations to be evident and persuasive.
HEALTH CARE: I believe all American citizens have a right to universal health care. President Obama did the best he could against powerful health insurance industry opponents to pass the Affordable Care Act, which was a step in the right direction, expanding access to more people in need. This was an historic and defining accomplishment. Mitt Romney will put control of health care back in the hands of the for-profit insurance industry.
JOBS: Americans are losing their jobs because American corporate interests have abandoned the American work force in favor of cheaper foreign labor. President Obama is trying to reinvigorate manufacturing in this country with proposed tax credits. He is trying to create jobs right now with government investment in infrastructure and community college job training. And he is trying to create the jobs of the future with government support of research and development, the incubators of new industries. While Romney has harped endlessly that he knows how to create jobs, he has no believable plan to do that, other than to let the free market run rampant without regulation or oversight.
TAXES: The current tax system in this country is rife with inequitable loopholes written into the tax laws to favor the wealthy. President Obama is trying to find a balanced way for all citizens to fairly share the tax burden commensurate with their financial wherewithal. In addition he has championed tax cuts for the middle-class and loans for small businesses. Romney would return more money to the wealthiest of us to the detriment of the poorest of us. Mitt Romney will drastically reduce taxes and regulatory oversight for corporations, allowing the predatory free market to further widen the gap between the rich and the poor.
DEBT & DEFICIT: The simple fact is that we have a debt and deficit problem because George W. Bush financed two wars and massive tax cuts for the wealthy with borrowed money, squandering the Clinton surplus he inherited and plunging the nation into recession. The eight-year Bush economic policy and rampant Wall Street unregulated malfeasance sent our economy into free-fall. President Obama has been trying for four years to dig us out of that economic hole while the congressional Republicans, in cynical political warfare, have done everything in their power to thwart all efforts for an economic recovery. President Obama has put forward a specific, balanced plan of spending cuts and revenue increases to help solve the problems. Romney would recklessly slash government social spending and extend the Bush tax cut for the wealthy, leaving the debt burden on the middle class.
INVESTORS: Investors are people who have so much extra money that they can use that extra money to make even more money. Right now, apparently, many are sitting on cash reserves until they get a sweeter deal from a Republican administration, with less government regulatory oversight or tax responsibility. President Obama wants capital gains (money making money) to be taxed to help reduce the country's debt and deficit. Romney supports no taxes on that money, letting investors keep their profits free and clear, making the wealthy even wealthier with no commensurate tax responsibility.
FINANCIAL REFORM: President Obama brought about the most far reaching financial reform in Wall Street history, meant to prevent future excessive risk-taking of the kind that led to the financial crisis, all against furious lobbying by the banking industry. Romney will bring back unbridled freedom to investment firms and banks to conduct business however they see fit, for the selfish benefit of them, their investors and their shareholders.
CONSUMER PROTECTION: President Obama created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect citizens from unscrupulous practices by financial service providers. Republicans, in cahoots with the credit card agencies, did everything they could to try and prevent this needed consumer reform. Romney is no ally of consumers.
EQUAL PAY: The first piece of legislation President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act which empowered women to recover wages lost to discrimination. President Obama supports equal pay for equal work. Mitt Romney has shown no support for equality in the workplace.
WORKER RIGHTS: Corporations and Republicans across the nation have been working to end worker bargaining rights, weaken unions, lower wages, export jobs, reduce benefits and eliminate pensions. President Obama is a friend to Labor. Romney is a foe.
ENERGY: President Obama has adopted an all-of-the-above philosophy to achieve American energy independence, increasing U.S. energy production and reducing oil imports. At the same time he has taken steps to encourage clean energy, protect the environment, control climate change, reduce harmful emissions and increase automotive gasoline efficiency. Romney is simply hell-bent on opening protected federal lands so that oil and gas companies can exploit them for further unprecedented profit.
IMMIGRATION: President Obama supports the Dream Act which would give children who were brought here by their undocumented immigrant parents a way to become citizens of the country they have now adopted as their homeland. Romney has pledged that he will make life so unbearable for those yearning to be citizens that they will be forced to "self-deport" and return to their places of birth.
SOCIAL SECURITY: Quite simply President Obama wants to find ways to strengthen Social Security and ensure its long-term survival. Currently Social Security money is invested in protected Treasury bonds. Romney would turn Social Security into a voucher program, giving citizens a check that they would then have to invest through the financial services industry, effectively risking that money in the stock market, reducing retiree benefits and increasing the profits of Wall Street.
THE POOR: Remember the poor? Remember when politicians had concerns for them and policies to help them? President Obama is trying to strengthen the so-called social safety net. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helps provide food, housing, heat, job training and income support for those in poverty. Obama understands more needs to be done. Romney sees the poor and unemployed as irresponsible, government-dependent "takers", a burden on the "makers." He'd leave them to be ministered to by churches and cared for in charity emergency rooms.
SUPREME COURT: Right now the high court is almost evenly divided. Many decisions hinge on one key vote, whether a liberal justice will swing right or a conservative one swing left. President Obama appointed two left-leaning justices - Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Romney has pledged he will appoint judges in the mold of the most conservative justices now on the court - Scalia, Thomas, Ailito. These are the judges who defined corporations as people and uncapped campaign contributions as free speech. Undoubtedly, Romney will choose nominees that fall in line with what he has touted are his "severely conservative" positions.
ABORTION: The Supreme Court, in it's Roe v. Wade decision, ruled that a a right to privacy included a women's decision to have an abortion. Mitt Romney has said he would work to overturn Roe v. Wade. If he becomes president he is likely to have the opportunity to appoint far-Right justices who might decide to do just that.
CONTRACEPTION: President Obama's health care reform included provisions that required all health care plans to include access to contraception. Romney believes that employers who oppose contraception should be able to restrict access to birth control for their employees.
GAY RIGHTS: President Obama ended discrimination against gay men and women in the military and supports gay marriage. Romney is stuck in his outdated attitude against gays and lesbians and would fight to entrench the idea of marriage as only between a man and a woman.
WARS: President Obama pledged to end the two wars he inherited from George W. Bush. He has ended the war in Iraq and is ending the one in Afghanistan. Obama is increasingly isolating Iran with crippling economic sanctions to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapons system. Romney's bluster and blind allegiance to Israel's aggressive preemptive military plans will certainly get us into a war with Iran. Romney is also threatening war in Syria.
ARAB SPRING: No president can control world events. The citizens in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Syria have risen up against their dictatorial regimes. President Obama has taken action on each uprising based on its own unique circumstances, the extent of the humanitarian need and the national interests of the United States. Successful diplomacy is an art that relies on intelligence gathering, restraint and resolve. Wisely, not a single American troop has been sent to intervene in these regional struggles. Instead Obama has used our strategic influence in partnership with other countries to bring humanitarian aid to the victims of the conflicts and military support to any freedom fighters we can realistically identify. President Obama has been a prudent leader, doing whatever he reasonably can to help bring in secular, democratic-leaning leaders instead of religious ideologues to form these nascent governments. Mitt Romney would be a reckless, undisciplined, unrestrained instigator in the region.
TERRORISTS: President Obama hasn't demonized countries or religions because they have been used as harbors for misguided terrorist members. He has, instead, gone after the individual terrorists, wherever they are. His bold actions have led to the killing of Osama bin Laden and many members of the al Queda high command. He has waged a concerted war against the Taliban. If one of our troops in Afghanistan has a known terrorist in their crosshairs they don't hesitate to pull the trigger and kill that enemy. While I am conflicted about the drone program, I understand that it is just a more sophisticated way for a troop to kill an enemy in his/her crosshairs. President Obama is waging a focused war against terrorism, not Islam or Middle East countries. Romney will exacerbate our tenuous relations with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan with demands and bluster, losing sight of the fact that our terrorist enemy is distinct, dispersed and targetable.
VETERANS: President Obama signed the Vow to Hire Heroes Act and the Returning Heroes Tax Credit to help employers hire returning war veterans. Obama has repeatedly stood in support of jobs, housing, health care and educational support for troops and their families. Romney has made no such pledges. He is more interested in increasing our arsenal than in helping the military victims of our battlefields.
GOVERNMENT: President Obama understands that government, We the People, has a role to protect its citizens from harm, educate the populace and stimulate the economy. Romney's call for a "smaller, smarter, simpler" government is code for eliminating social programs, returning tax money to the wealthy, growing the military-industrial complex beyond reason and protecting the powerfully privileged.
SOLUTIONS: I believe President Obama has done his best to work against a strong, obstructionist opposition to solve our nation's problems, to some significant success. He has repeatedly reached out for bipartisan agreements only to be cynically dismissed. He has brought about substantive health care and financial reform. He is moving the economy in a positive direction with effective policies for the long term. In spite of setbacks he continues to advocate for those most in need in this country, continues to look for practical solutions. Mitt Romney has an economic plan that is smoke and mirrors and a social plan that will hurt the most vulnerable and help the most affluent.
CHARACTER: I believe that President Obama is FOR me and that Mitt Romney is AGAINST me. President Obama supports the rights of workers, women, consumers, veterans, students, gays, the elderly, the poor and the ill. Mitt Romney will turn back the clock, giving more power to the privileged, more money to the wealthy and carte blanche to corporations. He will try to starve the federal government until it only provides for a military to protect the global interests of corporate America. And he will work against the interests of workers, women, consumers, veterans, students, gays, the elderly, the poor and the ill.