So here we are 13 days away from one of the most pivotal elections we’ve had in this country in a very long time. I won’t go into all the catchy “stark differences” that the media and the candidates keep reminding us of, because I think we’ve got it by now. But I want to take a step back and look at the whole picture for a little bit. Let’s take a look at just what the next president, whether it be President Obama returning to the White House or Governor Romney replacing him, will be walking into. And while we’re at it, we might as well go ahead and straighten out a few of the misconceptions that are floating out there right now.
First off, let’s at the Middle East. The most important player in the region at this moment is Iran. Iran is a threat to Israel and wants to increase their nuclear program, possibly resulting in them building a nuclear weapon. The US and the global community has come together and placed the toughest sanctions on Iran than have been placed on any other country. Both President Obama and Governor Romney agreed that this is working, and I agree too. Iran’s economy is plummeting, the currency is at an all-time low, and there are no signs of the sanctions being lifted. With the situation in Iran growing worse and worse, we could possibly see another attempt at a revolution by the people. Mitt Romney referenced the Green Revolution a few years that failed. The Iranian police just shot civilians dead in the streets, virtually ending any credible threat of a revolution. However, the next time the government will be in a weakened state and may be less likely to be able to retain power. Who would have thought Mubarak would have fallen in Egypt? Also, if a revolution does happen, you better believe that Israel will do what they can to help the overthrow of Ahmadinejad, meaning the US will have extremely strategic interest in the area. We need a leader who is ready to step in and see the transition of power to someone more friendly to the western world.
Speaking of Egypt, the next administration will have the task of ensuring that the newly elected democratic government sustains its newly found democratic ways. A lot of people are hesitant, and justifiably so, in trusting President Morsi, fearing that he will turn the country back into a tyrannical state. I can’t stress how important it is that this doesn’t happen. Egypt is the heart of the Middle East. Cable shows, music, culture, political parties, and every other thing you can think of flows from Egypt to the rest of the Middle East. It’s important that a free Egypt serve as a template for the newly developing democratic states in the region, especially Iran if Ahmadinejad is overthrown. It’s also vital for the new Egyptian leaders to maintain their peaceful relations with Israel. That will be another important task for the new President to oversee.
While those are the two most important players in the Middle East, there are plenty other countries that need serious attention. The next president will oversee the ending of the war in Afghanistan and the transition of power to the Afghan government. A more peaceful Middle East will help ensure that the country is able to maintain at least some inkling of peace after our departure. Syria and Libya are both hot beds for the region that the next administration has to potentially deal with. Syria is a vital interest to Iran, not because they are the Iranian’s “access to the sea” as Mitt Romney said, but because they share a border with Israel. The next administration needs to ensure a more pro-Israeli government is put in place when the fighting in Syria draws down. And finally, countries such as Yemen, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Palestine all must quit enabling terrorists, or face repercussions of some type as well, possibly in the form of sanctions similar to Iran.
Now let’s look at domestic issues. THE most important issue right now is the economy. The economy is growing but is growing at a slow pace. This is the area that Mitt Romney has thrown the most heat towards President Obama for about a year now. But again, let’s look at the bigger picture here. First we have plenty of positives to draw from the last four years. As you’ve all heard if you watched the debate or listened to a speech by the president, we’ve went from losing 800,000 jobs a month, to 33 straight months of job growth. We’ve created 5 ½ million private jobs in those four years, bringing unemployment down below 8%. The auto industry went through a managed bankruptcy process, whether President Obama wants to admit that’s what it was or not, and is now fully recovered and back on top of the world markets. Wall Street has come through the recession and is now back at 2007 level stock pricing levels, making a full recovery. The housing market has stabilized, the government has got out of Fannie and Freddie, and AIG has paid back most of their bailout money. All of these are definite positives, which no one can argue with.
Now let’s look at the negatives. Job growth, while it has increased for 33 straight months, is getting slower and slower. It is not keeping pace with the population growth of the country and that’s something that must be addressed. More people are living on government assistance than ever before. The unemployment rate is still too high, with the preferred rate being closer to around 5%. Corporations, who have returned to pre-recession level sales, are maintaining those numbers without increasing their work force, because there is no incentive for them to. While the housing market has stabilized, banks are still leery to give out loans. And finally, interest rates are virtually at zero right now, and our next big economic bubble is growing more and more every day and that’s the bond market. The Fed is buying up so many junk bonds that aren’t making any money because interest rates are flat lined, that the country will soon feel the bubble pop and millions, if not billions will be lost from not just our government but investors all across the world.
Now that we have the positives and negatives laid out, let’s just try to find how much of the negatives can be attributed to President Obama and will Governor Romney be able to solve them. First of all, unemployment is at 7.8%. I start with unemployment, because if you fix it, then the rest are fixed as well. It’s all hinged on job growth. So many people argue that the president hasn’t done enough to get the rate down. Well I happen to agree, but he’s not solely to blame. They love to point to Ronald Reagan’s recovery. Well I love pointing to it too. Unemployment dropped from over 10% to 7.2% during his first four years in office. How did he manage to do it? I won’t go into all of the details but the biggest part was public sector jobs. He LOVED jobs in the public sector. When President Obama wanted to create more public sector jobs, Republicans in Congress were screaming “we can’t afford it.” Governor Romney says “government doesn’t create jobs.” I guess someone forgot to tell President Reagan that. So whoever is reelected has a true chance to bring down the unemployment through increased job creation in the public sector, with jobs such as such as teachers and fire fighters.
Another way to drop unemployment, as Mitt Romney pointed out in the debate, is an increased interest in opening up trade to Latin America. The region is one of the fastest growing markets in the world and is just next door to us. There is zero reason we shouldn’t be increasing US exports to the region. I feel it’s a safe bet that whoever is in the White House after this election will make this a priority.
And a final way, to save time, to bring down unemployment is to bring down corporate tax rates to a more competitive rate. However, to do this, we MUST stop currency manipulators in places such as China. When China holds down their currency, forcing their workers to work at lower wages, corporations are willing to ship jobs overseas. If we can enforce restrictions on currency manipulation, we will be able to be more competitive in the global market, and give corporations an incentive to bring jobs home. Now, if corporations intentionally ship jobs overseas no matter what, pull their tax deductions. Lower their rate based on their job creating in the US. President Obama has done a decent job at forcing the Chinese to increase wages, but hasn’t done enough. The next administration must be tougher, and I feel like both will. Also, many people argue that if you try and force China’s hand, they’ll be less willing to trade with the US. Uh, really? We are the single largest importer of Chinese goods. They are more dependent on us than we are them. If we open up markets in Latin America and threaten to decrease imports if they aren’t willing to create a more equal playing field, China will play ball.
But perhaps the most important aspect of the economy that has virtually not been mentioned is the fact that the US economy isn’t alone. There’s a reason that the recovery here is going so slowly. It isn’t because of regulations enacted by Dodd-Frank, which is only about 30% working right now. It isn’t because of Obamacare, most of which still hasn’t been implemented either. The absolute reason that the economy is growing as slowly as it is, is because of the world economic situation. No other time in history has the world economic situation been in the shape it’s in. China has been the fastest growing economy in the world in recent years, thanks to its state sponsored capitalism, but it’s beginning to stall. Economic growth is at its lowest point in several years there. I talked about the bond bubble in the US that is a growing threat. When that bubble pops, China is going to be hurt by it as well. In the European Union, Greece is in a mountain of debt which is looking to be almost impossible to solve (by the way, the United States of America is NOT Greece, nor will it ever be. Please stop making the comparisons!). Also Spain is on the verge of a debt crisis and France is slowly deteriorating away also. Germany maintains the strongest country in the EU and is keeping it afloat.
The IMF and World Bank Group wrapped up their yearly meeting last week and reported that there are 200 million people in the world looking for jobs that can’t find one. That’s not in the US, that’s globally. So the unemployment problem isn’t just one in the US. This is one of the biggest reasons that the unemployment rate is dropping as slowly as it is and the economy is growing as slowly as it is. Republicans however, would have you believe it is 110% President Obama’s fault. So how do you get the global economy moving again, aside from another world war? (Remember the adage that the best way to improve an economy is to start a war). That’s a job that the next president is going to have to figure out. The United States is the engine that drives the global economy. He will have to figure out a way to grow our economy while the world economy is stagnant (which Reagan didn’t face btw), and at the same time, lead the rest of the world up as we go.
In closing I just want to say that I hope you understand just a little bit better the situation the next administration is walking in to. In 13 days the nation will make its collective voice heard and the world will be watching with interest. When you walk into that ballot box, don’t sit and say “oh I’m going to vote for this man because of his stance on gay marriage or abortion” because frankly those issues don’t matter. They haven’t been dealt with in policy because on the grand scheme of things they aren’t important. I hate to bust the bubble of all the social conservatives out there. So please, exercise your right to vote in this election. But don’t be a low information voter. Gain as much knowledge as you can over the next 13 days. Don’t depend on me, or other bloggers. Don’t depend on Fox News or MSNBC. Look for yourself at the situation we’re facing and ask yourself “who is the best man for the job?” When you answer that question, mark your ballot.