mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

So, about that presidential election...

So, evidently there is a presidential election in the next 10 days.

I guess I'm already bracing for a McCain loss. Everything seems to point to Obama winning, and the dems picking up a bunch of seats in congress. Granted, I was surprised that Bush won the last two elections, and it would be nice if I was surprised again, but it seems unlikely. Obama seems to be a media darling, but he has also done a good job of appearing moderate and blaming everything bad that's ever happened on Bush. More importantly, the economy is bad, and when the economy is bad people want to try something new, even though nobody can seem to actually articulate what specific things Bush did to cause the current economic crisis - so instead they drop phrases like "failed policies", "greed", and "de-regulation" without actually demonstrating what specific deregulation or policies could have a changed a crisis, that, IMO, was caused primarily by an inability of financial institutions or anyone else to understand the probability of unlikely but hugely damaging things like a huge drop in housing prices and a huge increase in foreclosures.

Do I think that the US will errupt in chaos once the Dems take over? No. After all, we survived Clinton, and there are plenty of things I think Bush should have done differently.

But I do think that Obama is someone who wants to massively expand government and increase taxes, and I think that's bad both for individual liberty and for the economy. One thing the Republicans have done a decent job of late is pointing out that Obama wants to give tax credits to most of the population, and inevitably that means that some of those credits will be like the earned income tax credit, where people get more back from the government than they actually paid in taxes - in other words, welfare disguised as tax cuts. I'm not a fan of using tax policy for public policy - it would be a lot simpler if it was just used to collect the money the government needs to run. Of course, if you try to take away my mortgage interest deduction, my tune will change - but even with it, I still pay a decent amount in taxes.

While I'm anything but rich, tax credits always seem to just miss me - I bought my house a year too early to qualify for deducting PMI, and despite the fact that student loan interest is deductible, the income cap on it means I usually end up saving about $50 off my taxes thanks to the deduction.

And with the redistributive tax policies, will come more spending. I think the national health insurance that Obama is promising will cost a huge amount of taxpayer money - insurance without exclusions for prior conditions isn't insurance, it's welfare. I doubt the magical promised green jobs will ever appear, but tons of money will be dumped into creating them.

And with this will come a less business-friendly environment - I did find it funny a few weeks ago when I was at the gym, watching Hillary give a speech, and within two sentences heard her talk about creating jobs - and then about how she is going to go after insurance and energy companies. Because, you know, nobody works for them. And it looks like it will become even easier to form unions, which is the last thing you want to encourage if you are trying to keep American companies from moving jobs overseas.

I wonder what the next few years will be like. I'm hoping that, if we end up with a democrat in the white house and a democrat-controlled congress, that there is a pushback in the next few years, that this provides an opening for the Republicans and that we don't start moving to a social democracy ala Sweden. The biggest factor is going to be the economy, and while I think the government policy can influence it, usually for the worst, I think it often moves independently.

I'm also curious about who will run in 2012 if the Republicans lose. I've heard Palin, Huckabee, and Romney among the names tossed out - and I desperately hope that the Republicans can come up with someone else in the next four years, or the election will be a repeat of what this one looks likely to be.


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