There is a fundamental problem with being a Democrat. The problem is quite simple, yet complex in an ironic sort of way. The issue is Democrats' inability to discuss positions in short, mind-numbing, explanations. There are two main reasons why Democrats struggle with delivering a clear, concise message:
- Democratic ideas are more complex and difficult to deliver in one line statements.
- Democrats, as a party, are splintered into several groups made up of various demographics.
Democrats have a fundamental problem of controlling the message. There is a saying which sums up debate in politics, “If you are explaining, you’re losing.” Republicans understand this concept and have perfected it in all aspects of conversation. Here are some uniformed Republican responses:
-How would you strengthen the economy? Cut taxes so employers have more money to hire.
-Talk about your stance on government? Inefficient and should be cut.
-How would you improve education? Remove teachers unions and develop charter schools.
Right wing talking points are precise and effective. Republicans believe government is the problem, so obstructionism is an effective part of the strategy, and help reinforce the right’s platform of smaller government. Republicans have a better chance of taking House and Senate seats the lower the approval rating is because “government does not work”.
Democrats have a much different perspective. Government has the ability to solve many of our Nations’ problems, so explaining the role of government in any conversation becomes difficult. For example, Obamacare has critical pieces of legislation that protect consumers and lower costs of prescription drugs. However, discussing a Democrat’s perspective of healthcare legislation takes several minutes as one tries to identify the issues, and then explain the solution.
If there is one fundamental problem President Obama has encountered, it is controlling the message. Today, very few citizens can recite what the stimulus package or President Obama’s education legislation accomplished for this nation. These types of programs cannot be explained in short 45 second sound bites which allow the opposing view to crowd out the rationale. President Bush was the opposite. Most of his policies were highly problematic for the country, but the messaging was so effective it won him reelection in 2004.
The second problem surrounding discussion is the demographics of the Democratic Party. Democrats as a whole have varying views on key social issues and platforms. Ask ten different Democrats a question, and you will potentially hear ten different responses. Some might argue this demonstrates how disorganized the party is. Democrats would argue this is what makes the party great. Politics is not about perfect alignment, it’s about constructive discussion that resolves in a unified solution. The founders of this nation were splintered in discussing the role of government, but they were passionate about compromising which led to a collective decision. Democrats won in 2008 largely because moderates flocked away from the rigorous views of the right and were welcomed with open arms by the left. You could be pro-life and be Democrat (Harry Reid is). You could support corporations and be a Democrat. You could be a fiscal conservative and be a Democrat.
Regardless of these varying degrees of opinions on key Democrat platforms, government has the capacity to solve many of our Nations’ problems. This is the only unformed principle fully supported by all party members.
Democrats need to understand these two principles when sharing their ideas in conversations. Although the immediate and easy response is to leverage anti-Republicans slander in debates, Democrats have the data and vision to be leaders of solutions and change, not part of the cynical problem and robust pessimism. Republicans use short, concise talking points to paint problems black and white in one quick stroke. Democrats should take the lead in fostering debate and discussion, understanding that internal differences place the party in the best position to represent the majority.
More has been added to our national debt under President Obama than all the other presidents combined. Partially true. However, of the $5.1 trillion added to the National Debt from 2009 to 2012, only $1.5 trillion is due legislation signed by President Obama. Of that $1.5 trillion, only $500 billion in incremental spending carries past 2010. The rest of the debt, or $3.6 trillion, can be directly attributed to legislation passed under previous administrations.
On January 20, 2009 President Obama walked into the oval office and was handed a negative annual deficit of $1.3 trillion. This was a stark contrast from his predecessor, who began his eight years in office with a $200 billion dollar surplus. However, through healthcare entitlements, unfunded wars, wealth redistributing tax cuts, and TARP that surplus had turned into the largest fiscal deficit our country had ever experienced. Obama was handed this budgetary disaster, coupled with a collapsed economy with the expectation of immediate change. Little did he know three years later, he would be held responsible for the gap he inherited, and full blame for the skyrocketing debt. Before we can understand what Obama was expected to fix, we need to first understand where our government spends money.
The federal budget is broken into five major categories; healthcare, defense, social security, interest, and everything else. The first four categories equate to 80% of the total federal budget consistently over the past 20 years. The “everything else” category includes spending from education, governmental programs, appropriations, earmarks, federal departments, etc. The “everything else” category dominates 90% of federal budget debates and discussions, and is leveraged in political perversions of reality. Here is the last 20 years of governmental spending broken down by category:
President Obama signed two major pieces of legislation that grew short and long term spending. In 2010 President Obama signed the American Recovery Act. This legislation accounts for $800B of new debt through $224b in entitlement spending, $275b in grants, and $288b in tax cuts over 2009 - 2010. You can see these amounts reflected in the 2009 and 2010 budget lines as the “everything else” category spikes and then declines the following years.
The second piece of legislation that President Obama signed into law was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. In crafting the legislation, House Democrats worked closely with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to ensure the new legislation would remain deficit neutral. The potential increase in spending was offset by penalties due to mandates and some additional taxes directed at the super wealthy like "cadillac" healthcare plans. The CBO produced a report confirming President Obama’s claims. The only credible report opposing the neutral claim came from the highly conservative Heritage Foundation, providing a high side of $75 billion annual increase around the legislation (roughly 8%). Since Obamacare was created to be deficit neutral, repealing Obamacare has a negligible impact on our Nation’s budget.
The rest of the budget growth relies on legislated “stabilizers” that kick in based on marketplace conditions. For example, spending on Social Security will continue to increase as more individuals reach the threshold, unless we restructure the program. Defense will continue to increase unless we make changes to our policies. Medicare costs will continue to skyrocket as more individuals reach the required age. Welfare costs should hold flat unless unemployment grows, and interest expense will continue to rise as more debt is issued to pay for all of these programs. This entire group has little to do with any of President Obama’s policies, and would be growing at the same rate regardless of who sat in the Oval Office.
One of the most overlooked causes of our budgetary problem is due to governmental income, or receipts. Like our own household budget, when our income stays flat, so should our spending. Over the last decade this has not been the case. From 2000-2009, budgetary spending increased almost 96% and our nation’s receipts (income) only increased 3%. Imagine doubling your household spending after receiving a 3% pay raise! In 2000 receipts were roughly 20% of GDP. In 2009 receipts were 15% of GDP. If the 2009 receipts were equal to 2000 levels, our annual deficit would decline by $700 billion.
What caused this shortfall in income? The collapse of the economy and the 2002/2003 tax cuts. In 2002 and 2003, tax cuts were signed into legislation based on the premise that the red hot economy of the 1990’s would continue through the next decade. The collapse of the housing market and war spending were not part of the equation, nor was TARP funding and other bailouts. Even more problematic was when President Obama extended these tax cuts compromising with the Republicans to avoid a governmental shutdown. Declining receipts due to the economic collapse is straight forward; less income tax is being collected due to unemployment and less is being spent by the consumer.
As we go into the 2012 elections voters beware. You might be inclined to blame President Obama for the rising National Debt. However, if Governor Romney takes office in 2012, he will have four years of continuing rising deficits unless the big four spending categories are re-legislated. Why? Because minimal has been proposed in controlling rising spending, and any additional tax cuts will only expedite the problem. Of course the desire will again be to blame President Obama, but that will fall on deaf ears due to lack of rhetoric consistency.
If you still believe President Obama is to blame for $5 trillion in new debt, feel free to comment below identifying what legislation he signed to deliver such a disastrous fiscal decline. Whatever your belief, cut through the media’s rhetoric and read the actual budget. http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb
Super PACs make me so mad. Regardless of party affiliation, I think that everyone can agree that Super PACs are seriously undermining our democracy. Allowing individuals and corporations to make unlimited and undisclosed contributions is a sure way to buy politicians and thwart the democratic process. Please watch this excellent two-minute NYTimes Cast that gives a very clear and succinct explanation of how Super PACs work. For a more light-hearted and entertaining explanation, watch this clip from The Colbert Report that shows Colbert transferring control of his Super PAC over to Jon Stewart, whom he cannot "coordinate with." It gives me chills of horror when he concludes with: "And God bless Citizens United!"
Here are three simple ways you can take action:
1. Sign this petition started by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to reverse the Citizen's United Decision.
2. Sign this petition to President Obama started by the League of Women Voters to put appoint new commissioners to the FEC. I am a long-time member of the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan group that seeks to promote democracy by educating and registering voters and supporting voting rights. They argue that one way to keep money out of politics is to improve the Federal Election Commission: "The FEC is supposed to be the government agency that enforces campaign finance laws, but it isn’t working and hasn’t for a long time. Of the six commissioners at the agency, three of them simply refuse to enforce the law, and five of the six are serving despite the fact that their terms expired some time ago."
3. Find ways to get involved with your local community through the organization Move to Amend whose stated mission is to "get the money out of politics." They recently called for protests at federal courthouses all across the US on the second anniversary of the Citizens United decision.
Post by Joseph M -
I used to be rather surprised whenever I would see Mormons referenced in the media or popular culture (remember the last line of Raising Arizona?) This is not the case anymore. Here are several links about Romney and his Mormonism. Thanks to all of you that sent us links (my liberal sister for one,) and if you find more, please send them our way!
From Fox News, Jan 12th: Mormons confident US ready to elect first LDS president, survey shows
From CBS News, Jan 14th: Is America Ready for a Mormon President?
From Yahoo! News, Jan 16th: Will America Get Its First Mormon President? Five Facts About Mormons
From Huffington Post, Jan 25th: Why Mitt Romney Can't Be the Mormon JFK
From CNN Belief Blog, Jan 26th: On Call with Conservatives, Romney Speaks to Mormon Beliefs
After losing the South Carolina Primary to Newt Gingrich, possibly in part due to his waffling at the pre-Primary debates about releasing his tax returns, Mitt Romney released his tax returns for the past two years, which show that he paid about 14% in federal taxes on income of nearly $43 million. The timing of Romney's tax return release was impeccable- for Democrats. For months, President Obama and Democrats have been attacking Republicans for wanting to maintain tax breaks and loopholes for the super-wealthy. Last August, Warren Buffet pointed out in an op-ed that he paid a lower federal tax rate than his secretary in 2010. He paid about 17.4%, whereas his office staff paid an average of 36%. Buffet rightly pointed out that this simply isn't fair. He added, "it’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."Read more
My hope is that most people by now have seen the State of the Union Address given by President Obama on Tuesday or at least some of it. That said, regardless if you have or have not, I would recommend you view it with the nifty "PowerPoint" graphics along side by watching it from the official www.whitehouse.gov website. Click here to watch the speech.
I am sure there will be more on this topic posted soon...in the meantime, please lets us know what your thoughts on the address or this great new site.
Let me state the obvious, just because I am Mormon, I don't feel the need to vote for a Mormon. Although I might say that I am voting for Obama because I'm a Mormon. In that same vein, I suppose that every Jew was not lining up behind Joe Lieberman for his 2004 presidential bid just because he is Jewish. (Although I admit that Lieberman is probably more of a Jon Huntsman of Jewish religious practice, so it is not a perfect analogy. But again, if Huntsman was in Romney's position, then my very liberal sister just might throw her support his way because she finds him rather attractive.)
At church a few weeks back, a discussion came up about how one should interact with the numerous homeless people on the streets. The opinions were varied and numerous and stretched across the spectrum of possibilities. We heard everything from a Mr. Wendal-styled approach (this is where I tend to fall) to a response that seemed to be directly pulled from Mosiah 4:17. The point is this: I don't see that Mormons agree on everything, so why would Mormons necessarily all agree on the same candidate for president, regardless of religious affiliation? And I realize that most Mormons know this. So possibly I am writing for those of us that may not understand the diversity of opinion within the LDS church.
But back to my first paragraph: is it possible that a Jew might not vote for Romney because he is Mormon? According to an article posted today on the Huffington Post website, some Florida Jews may take issue with Romney because of the past practice of baptisms for the dead of Jewish Holocaust victims. Or maybe this may be used against him by his rival(s)? Either way, I have to agree with Gary Mokotoff, the Jewish genealogist quoted in the article: "Romney should be judged on his political views and political past and not on the views of the president of his church." True. That is why I am not voting for him.
I guess I could begin by explaining what this website is not, before explaining what the website is. Firstly, we don't hate Mitt Romney, and we don't want to character-assassinate him here. Personally, I kind of like the guy and wouldn't mind having him as my home teacher. My sister (who is unabashedly liberal) keeps emailing me links to various anti-Romney videos, cartoons, and articles; I mostly read them, laugh, or shake my head in pretend disdain, but occasionally I feel the need to reply back in Romney's defense, forgetting to check myself that I am in fact a Obama supporter. (But more on that later.)
Secondly, we don't want to imply that Mormons, by some definition of being Mormon, should of necessity vote for Obama, although my faith does influence my voting decisions. I have observed this sentiment from some conservative Mormons: that because I am Mormon, I need to vote Republican to be a "good" Mormon. We don't want that to be the case here.
Finally, this website is not purporting to speak on behalf of any candidate or the LDS Church. We are Mormons, and we are voting for Obama, but our ideas are our own, and any guest contributors to this website also take responsibility for their thoughts as well.
It probably goes without saying that we originally thought to make this website because of Mitt Romney's campaign for President and the expectation that because we are Mormon, we logically would vote for the Mormon candidate. We noticed that some Facebook groups of Mormons supporting Obama existed from the 2008 election. However, we wanted to have a place to express our support for the President, his vision and policies, and his campaign for reelection; hence, we've created this website.
Through this site, we are hoping to provide a space for an online community for those who are like-minded, but also for those who may differ or disagree that they might learn as well as teach us something. So please feel free to comment on posts and links!
Additionally, we are looking for content. Therefore, if you have thoughts or ideas that you would like to contribute, or if you come across any relevant news links, please send them to us and we will post them here. A brief explanation of submission guidelines will follow, but as long as it's "nice," there shouldn't be a problem. Thank you for your interest!
(Written responding to a friend asking about the party I support)
The fundamental difference between Republicans and Democrats is one: the role that government plays. All the social wedge issues? Just talk.
I believe the government has the ability to solve many of our problems, and I also believe that Democrats over the last 100 years have been more consistent, more fiscally conservative (save FDR), and more in line with principles that I believe.
On the surface the parties do not represent what is core about each group. For example, on the Democrat's side you look at Occupy Wall Street, a sliver of what is representative of Democrats, and paint the whole party in a similar manner. What is interesting about the OWS movement, is the wealthy blue states pay for all the social programs of the red states. Also, of the richest 20 individuals in the US, 12 vote Democrat which is again inconsistent with the OWS sliver.
Let me give you another example to why I side with Democrats over Republicans; the only true conservative in the Republican primaries is Ron Paul. He is small government. He is, by definition, a true conservative. An actual conservative should embrace this guy like their own mother, but they don't. Why? The Republican party has an identity problem. They do not understand the definition of conservatism and wrap themselves in issues like gay marriage and abortion which has as much to do with conservatism as Chuck Norris does to baseball. Republicans vote socially, and instead of wedge issue legislation their leaders grow government, give disproportionate tax decreases which shifts tax burden, and funnel more money into the military and subsidies for industries that fund their elections. Jon Stewart said it best ... "Republicans are for limited government...limited to the stuff they want to do."
Economic policy is another example as to why I side with Democrats. Every single candidate on both sides of the aisle are Keynesian except one (RP). One of the fundamental beliefs of Keynesian is the idea that you can deficit spend (ie use government -- a core Democratic principle) to overcome recession and economic busts. Although Republicans like to pretend they are fiscally conservative, I struggle to find a concrete example of when they demonstrated this principle.
The most popular Republican president in the last 100 years was Reagan. People label Reagan as a true conservative, but he was far from it. He presided over two substantial tax increases because governmental spending was out of control, provided amnesty to three million illegals, had a very liberal foreign policy (which I like), and expanded government spending by 60%. Reagan was respected for the bipartisan deals he made, never went to church, and was very silent about his pro-life stance. Reagan would be crucified by the Tea Party, but today he is shrouded as a true conservative. Why? The Republican party has become the voice of the extreme, forgetting their core beliefs. Compromise is an ugly word and moderates, the same people that gave Reagan an astounding 49 state win in 1984, have switched sides, effectively giving Obama a landslide victory in 2008.
Democrats also have an identity problem but this is due to the wide umbrella the party casts on smaller groups. This is the reason Democrats have 20 million more registered voters than Republicans. I can be a pro-life, anti-gay marriage Democrat and be completely supported by my party. Could you be pro-choice, pro gay-marriage Republican and say the same? Democrats are more accepting of differentiated opinions and positions. There are examples of moderate Democrats, but after the 2010 elections, I struggle to think of any moderate Republicans.
Your question is a good one, and I am answering it because I know its sincere. You look at me and wonder why I support the party I do. I look at you and ask the same question.
~The Editors of MormonsforObama.org