The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, August 31, 2012

Choice for president offers a stark contrast

By The Building Tradesman


The Olympics are over.  By the end of August, the political conventions will be history, too.  Labor Day is just around the corner.  Finally, the voters – all the voters – can turn their attention to the presidential campaign.

And there you’ll find, to paraphrase a slogan about the presidential candidacy of the late GOP Sen. Barry Goldwater, “a choice, and an echo.”

The choice is between the ticket of Democratic incumbents Barack Obama and Joseph Biden and Republican challengers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

But it’s also a choice between two starkly different visions of the future of the U.S. and of the role of government in that future.

The details are sometimes gauzy, but Obama and Biden envision a future centered around restoration of the middle class, revitalization of U.S. manufacturing, increasing exports and creation of more jobs, either through tax incentives to the private sector or by the public sector, if necessary.

Those are the same goals they’ve been preaching almost ever since the day they took office – and they’re the same goals congressional Republicans have done their level best, often successfully, to blockade.

The Romney-Ryan vision is totally centered around the vagaries of the so-called free market.  Businesses are to be turned loose, freed from environmental laws, labor laws, safety and health laws, health care requirements and every other type of regulation imaginable.  They in return will make so much money that they will create jobs.  Naturally, Romney and Ryan don’t say what type of jobs or where they’ll be.

The mechanism for turning businesses loose involves tax cuts for the rich and for corporations, on the assumption that those individuals and firms will then reinvest those added dollars in the U.S., creating jobs and producing products.

So what’s the “echo?”  It’s only that, as an economy, the U.S. tried that GOP option for most of the last 30 years.  And for at least the 21st century, if not before that, it hasn’t worked.  Actually, it’s worked in reverse.  It’s lost jobs here, created jobs abroad.

In the eight years of the GOP government of George W. Bush, the mantras were tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of business, trashing of workers and sky-high corporate profits.

That policy brought us eight years of job losses and unemployment.  Joblessness was 4 percent, but headed upwards when Bush took office, and it never got that low again.  It was 8 percent and headed upwards when Bush turned the Oval Office over to Obama.

That GOP policy brought us the Great Recession, which we’re still trying to pull out of.

It brought us the financial finagling and outright thievery of Wall Street, which sent the U.S. and world economies crashing down around everybody else’s ears.

And it brought us the widest divide between the rich and the rest of us in the developed world, a gap so huge that it rivals that of 1929.

Romney and Ryan say Obama and Biden haven’t pulled the country out of the ditch fast enough.  Their “echo” is their call for return to those policies – dogmas – that sent us into the crash in the first place.

Remember that history and that contrast between those two visions as we head for the election.  And don’t let anything – even the World Series – detract you from it.