Elections are a time of hope, but no matter what national candidate I like best, it’s difficult for this cowboy to have a great deal of hope. For too long, the dirty can has been kicked down the dusty road for others to take care of. Consequently, our country faces grave financial challenges.
The sheer size of the federal debt indicates that neither presidential candidate will do a lot to reduce it.
If President Obama is elected and has the backing of Congress, his next jobs bill will be a mini-stimulus program, with more billions spent just to keep the economy stumbling along like it has since it was wrecked on George Bush’s watch.
If Mitt Romney is elected, he will predictably cut taxes on investment income, pandering to the wealthy base of the Republican party in hopes of stimulating more investments in companies -- hopefully, jobs in this country.
But in a recent debate, even Romney said he doesn’t foresee a balanced budget for 8-10 years. And of course, any tax reductions will further strain the federal budget.
Either way, we’re apt to see higher deficits in the immediate future, not lower. Pick your poison at the voting booth.
It appears that the only way to get the federal government back on track is for more of us to get involved in real solutions. Until voters are more engaged, good government will continue to be more talk than walk.
A bright spot in all this comes in the proposals of a handful of maverick senators who work outside the confines of their party. Conservative Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is a good example. At the top of Coburn’s website is a place where anyone can report government waste. A deficit-counter rolls ever-higher for all to see in the middle of his website, and he has published a lean but adequate federal budget proposal, entitled Back in Black.
Coburn is also a medical doctor, a common sense man of courage. He doesn't take the party line, blindly follow or set his conscience aside. Spend a little time on his website and you will be impressed.
And surprisingly, Coburn and Democrats sometimes agree.
Bob Kerrey has bucked his party during the campaign to propose specific cuts to Social Security and Medicare – reforms that would save Social Security and extend the life of Medicare – and proposed specific cuts to the federal budget, rather than the blind adherences to pledges of no new taxes or the right’s proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, both of which Deb Fischer has made key to her campaign.
And, Kerrey has said he would like to have the chance to work with such lawmakers as Coburn in the Senate.
A handful of senators can and often do make the difference. Sen. Mike Johanns is part of a “gang” of bipartisan, independent-minded senators who are poised to cast swing votes and enact key legislation when Congress reconvenes. Kerrey, who has served 12 years in the Senate, understands that process and the pressure that comes with it.
And, Kerrey would help counteract the tendency of the far right to radically cut social spending while building up the military and increasing business incentives, and then kick the date those debts are due for payment on down the road.
Kerrey also wants to limit terms of senators to 12 years. He wants to stop Congress' practice of letting those who have been there the longest (such as Harry Reid and John Boehner) set the agendas. Those changes would bring a fresh attitude to government, and de-institutionalize the partisan diviseness of the ole boys.
I recommend Bob Kerrey for the U.S. Senate.
As Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut said recently, Kerrey can "do more to break through some of this gridlock (in Washington) than anybody else I can think of."
Kerrey, he said, is "an independent thinker (who) has the courage to reach across party lines."
George Lauby is the Editor of the North Platte Bulletin. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.