#643 – Jack Burgess: Election 2012 #61. About The Office of President of the United States "I feel it's my duty to share what I've learned in 75 years."
Jack Burgess is a friend, and in retirement a regular columnist. His self-description: “Jack Burgess is a retired Chillicothe [Ohio] teacher and former Executive Director of the Columbus [Ohio] Education Assn., as well as Chief of Arbitration Services in Ohio’s Office of Collective Bargaining.”
The following commentary is long, but worth the time to read.
Dear Friend, October 31, 2012
If you haven’t voted yet, and you haven’t made up your mind who you will vote for, I hope you’ll read this letter. If you have a different point of view, and you want to write me back, I will read your views, but I won’t respond unless you ask for a response. I’m not looking for an argument. [4burgessATroadrunnerDOTcom]
Why am I writing? As I said in a letter like this in 2008, I was raised to take my citizenship seriously. It may sound corny, but I’m an old fashioned, patriotic guy. We fly the flag at our house almost every day. I call myself a “recovering” history and government teacher, meaning, I can’t quite break the habit of giving unsolicited advice—because I feel it’s my professional and patriotic duty to share what I’ve learned in my 75 years of living and 20 plus years of teaching.
I also write as a senior citizen, a dad, and a veteran. I come from a “mixed” family. My grandparents, with whom I lived for awhile, were Republicans. My dad and mom were Democrats. I, myself, like a lot of you I imagine, have voted for both Democrats and Republicans over the years. Not being on the payroll of either party or candidate, my opinions are my own. And, being a teacher, I would never say something I didn’t believe was true.
Some of you probably received a letter like this from me in 2008, when I said, in part:
…our country is in quite a predicament. Our economy is collapsing, not just right now because of wall street, but also because we have had policies—like trade deals supported by politicians of both parties—that have undercut our economic base. We don’t make as many things in the States anymore, we get most of our oil—which runs everything—from other countries, and our government is in debt to a potentially dangerous level, to countries like China and Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, we’ve gotten into two wars in the Middle East that don’t seem to have an end. They’ve lasted longer than our part in World War II!
And…I think it is time to wind down those wars and to begin to spend our money on creating jobs here in the U.S. We can combine a move away from oil dependency and toward a stronger economy by investing in alternative forms of energy here in the states. Windmills, solar panels, hybrid cars, and so on. We might think we can’t afford it, but if we’re not spending so much on foreign wars, we would have more to spend here. Anyway, it’s a start.
As everybody knows, in 2008 we elected Senator Barack Obama to take over the job of President, in that very difficult time, to try to do some things to improve the economy and wind down the wars in the Middle East.
Being an old history-government guy, I remember Presidents all the way back to when FDR died and Harry Truman took over. All of them had some achievements and all had their critics. We heard rumors about all of them—and Bill Clinton was nearly removed because of his private life. However, Clinton presided over the only economy since the 1960’s which produced a balanced budget and rising income for all income groups, top to bottom.
But I’ve never seen a President so unfairly vilified and obstructed as our current one. He has been called a Muslim, a foreign-born, and a socialist—none of which is true. In fact, if we compare him to our previous Presidents, he comes off looking pretty good. I don’t agree with everything Obama’s done or how he’s done it, but he did bring Bin Laden to justice and end the war in Iraq. He plans to bring most of our troops out of Afghanistan in 2014. He got the economy going again, with unemployment coming down, the auto industry back on its feet, housing construction doing well, and the stock market mostly up. We are now producing more oil than ever, but we are also seeing rapid growth in solar and wind energy technology. Gas prices in Ohio and most places have remained well below the $4.00 a gallon his critics predicted, and new EPA standards are going to provide us with cars and trucks that get better mileage—all of which will help us and the environment. Obama has also appointed more women to key positions, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first bill he signed was one helping women in their struggle for equal pay. He ended “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Right now, as we watch the news, we can see President Obama giving strong leadership in dealing with superstorm Sandy—drawing praise even from the Republican governor of New Jersey, who called Obama’s work “outstanding.” This super storm makes us wonder if climate change isn’t a reality. As the President and the Federal Emergency Assistance people provide critical aid, we are reminded that however much we may criticize government, we need it. We need it to work well in crises and all the time. In a time like this, we need a steady hand and a cool head in charge.
We see a lot of high-paid nonsense in the TV commercials, and we hear a lot of back and forth. But Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, has said he thinks emergency assistance should be handled by the states or by the private sector. Most states don’t have the funds to handle big emergencies like this, and I can’t imagine businesses stepping in to give aid to victims of natural disasters. Churches don’t have that kind of money either. I am not going to attack Mitt Romney personally, though I have to say, in all my years I’ve never seen a Presidential candidate change his positions so often. And I guess I should point out that I once served on the Ohio steering committee of Romney for President—George Romney, Mitt’s father, in 1967-8.
But Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan do offer a choice on a number of things. If you believe abortion is always murder and should be treated as a crime, that is the position of the Republican party this year. (Though they don’t say how we would enforce such a position). On the other hand, if you believe whether to carry a child to term is a woman’s decision, not the government’s or the church’s, you might not want to vote for candidates that will probably appoint several judges to the Supreme Court, where such decisions are made. If you believe we should leave our troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and maybe in Iraq, that has been Romney’s position. He wants to spend even more on the military—which is already by far the world’s largest and most successful military. He also said the government should not help out the auto industry, just let it go bankrupt. The auto assistance program which President Obama developed saved and created over a million jobs, many of them in Ohio. (Even Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal points this out). Private assistance, as Romney suggested, was not forthcoming.
Strangest of all, Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, signed into law a health care bill which was the model for Obama’s health care law—which Romney now opposes. He says he will repeal “Obamacare” on “day one.” What a shame that would be. For all the silliness about “death panels,” and “socialism,” and “government takeover,” Obamacare is doing a lot of good things for millions of people. It allows our son to remain on his mom’s insurance a couple more years. It means that I and my wife can’t be denied insurance if we have to change plans when she retires. She has a number of pre-existing conditions, as do I—including bouts with heart disease and cancer. Also, Obamacare plugs the “donut hole” in Medicare drug coverage and doesn’t allow insurance companies to place a lifetime limit on our coverage. Quite a few of us got money back on drugs and when the new law required the insurance companies to spend at least 80% on coverage instead of advertising and high salaries for executives. Obama pledges not to try to privatize Medicare. If that would happen, as Romney and Ryan want, it would take away the guarantee now there for everyone, and undermine the funding even for those of us who are older. Do we really want to trust our health care and our pensions to the uncertainties of the stock market?
Romney and Ryan are promising big tax cuts for everybody, and cuts in government programs—such as FEMA, education, public broadcasting, environmental protection, and so forth. If that were done, not only would we lose the services of those programs, but the deficit, which they say they want to close, could only grow a lot bigger because they can’t cut enough to balance the budget. They promise their tax cuts and government program cuts will produce 12 million new jobs, but history doesn’t support that idea, whether you look at the Great Depression which FDR inherited and ended, or the current “Great Recession,” which Obama inherited. George Bush’s tax cuts and unfunded wars, as well as bank deregulation, caused our current financial problems, and there’s no support anywhere for the idea that big tax cuts produce a lot of jobs. Obama’s stimulus programs brought the turnaround, and his jobs program for next year, which includes assistance to students, small business, and infrastructure, promises to extend the economic recovery. Obama wants to ask folks earning more than $250,000 to pay a little more, to help balance the budget and to help us invest in new energies, education, and government programs—like FEMA—that we need. A healthy economy, as President Clinton proved, is the best way to balance the budget and bring down the deficit.
I think President Obama has done a good job under tough circumstances. I don’t feel sure what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would do, but I don’t really trust them. As Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower said this week:
“As a result of this campaign, I am more confused than ever about what Mitt Romney stands for. I know little about his core beliefs, if he even has any. No one seems to agree on what they are, and that is why I do not want to take a chance on finding out.”
If you agree with Susan Eisenhower or with me, I hope you’ll vote to re-elect President Obama. He deserves it—but more important, so do we. So do our children and grandchildren, especially our daughters and granddaughters, whose rights he has defended and will continue to protect.
Thanks for reading this far, and best wishes in all you do!
You can read more of Eisenhower’s views at her website.
Feel free to circulate this letter.
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