Democrats, the clear choice in November

| Staff Columnist

With the midterm elections less than a week away, it’s important to reflect on how the two major political parties have governed. With that in mind, it’s clear that the Democrats should continue to be in power.

When the Obama administration came into office, America was in crisis mode, losing 700,000 jobs a month, and the markets were plummeting. The problems were just as vast as they were abundant. The Obama administration focused on getting the country back on track, cutting taxes and investing in infrastructure projects in the stimulus package, which according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has created or saved 3.3 million jobs.

With the market unstable, Congress passed emergency legislation to help troubled companies minimize job losses, save themselves and prevent worse economy-wide damage. Many of these companies have repaid Congress with much of the given money. To prevent repeating these actions, Congress passed financial reform to regulate more effectively and protect consumers.

With America spending significantly more per capita on health care (and not living longer for it), Congress passed a health care reform bill that not only increased competition by establishing health insurance exchanges, but also eliminated the practice denying patients coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The plan aims to make Americans healthier and make health care cheaper for both the patient and the government, reducing the deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years according to the CBO.

Democrats improved the economy even at their own political expense. Despite all the conservative accusations of draconian Obama tax hikes, the administration cut income taxes by $116 billion for 95 percent of Americans. Few Americans know about it because they cut taxes the most effective way: They stopped taking money out of individuals’ checks. Sending rebate checks is better politically because people see the check and recognize the tax cut, but sending out millions of checks is costly and less economically effective. Unfortunately for Democrats, this more effective strategy cost them credit: A recent poll showed less than 10 percent of Americans knew that Democrats lowered taxes.

Despite the progress made, the problems were deeper than originally thought, and the economy has not improved as much as needed, leading many voters to look for alternatives to the party in power. All of this progress—passing financial reform, stabilizing the economy, cutting taxes for 95 percent of America—has been done by Democrats. Many voters look to Republicans for new ideas and fresh faces, but this alternative is the same irresponsible and political doublespeak that got our country in trouble the last time the Republicans were in power, during the Bush administration.

The Republicans claim to be committed to fiscal discipline and reducing the deficit. They have put out their “Pledge to America,” which lays out what they plan to do. The Republicans have committed to do what they usually do: eliminate a woman’s right to choose, deny homosexuals the right to marry and undo all the progress made by the Democrats. What’s more important is that the pledge says little that is concrete related to the economy. It commits to reduce spending, but it does not mention specific cuts. Republicans say what voters want to hear but refuse to say what voters need to hear.

While Republicans do not commit to policy specifics, they do commit to John Boehner and his House leadership team to lead their reform efforts. But many of them led during the Bush administration. They are responsible for many of the failed policies like the deregulation that led to the recession and a corporate handout disguised as a Medicare reform bill (that according to the CBO, contributed more to the debt than the health care bill, TARP and the stimulus bill combined).

How do the Republicans manage to get away with passing themselves off as the party of fiscal disciple, especially when Bill Clinton was the last president to balance the budget? Certainly they have some members willing to do the hard things, but their leaders care more about their corporate donors than their constituents. The Republicans can do this because they are more committed to playing politics than the Democrats are. For them, rhetoric is not a means to sell their policy; it is their policy. They stick to talking points and hope people accept their lies as truth. A health care bill that lowers costs and expands coverage turned into death panels that kill Grandma. Preventing bailouts and keeping big business responsible turned into institutionalizing bailouts.

In a time of difficulty, we need a party that works to improve our country, not one that cares more about rhetoric than America’s future.

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