Paul W. Barada
Finally! Election Day is over! The votes have all been counted and President Obama has been re-elected for a second term. What’s particularly interesting is that, for all intents and purposes, nothing has really changed at the national level. The Republicans still control the House of Representatives, the Democrats still control the Senate, and the Obama administration has four more years in office.
What’s disturbing about the maintenance of the status quo for the next four years has been the deadlock we’ve been watching between the House and the Senate and between the administration and the House over the last two years. Is there any reason to think anything will now, magically, be better with the same configuration of power between the legislative and executive branches of government? Probably not.
The only real hope for a change is the mid-term elections coming up in just two years. The outcome of those elections could dramatically change the balance of power in the Congress for the final two years of the Obama administration. If, however, the Republicans retain control of the House and the Democrats keep control of the Senate, we could have four straight years of stalemate during which nothing gets done – assuming the past foreshadows the future in Washington.
What this last election was about was a referendum, at least in part, on whether we, the American people, wanted more or less government regulation of our daily lives and a continuing effort to artificially level the economic playing field through government mandated redistribution of the wealth. Social issues, however, also played a crucial part in the outcome. Social issues are not, and never have been, part of the regulatory role of the federal government, in my view. Special interest groups, however, successfully made a variety of social issues central to the outcome of the election just past.
Here’s one social issue that, as one might expect, will undoubtedly end up in the courts. A handful of states passed measures that will make the recreational use of marijuana legal – despite the fact that the use of “weed” still violates federal law! How is that going to be resolved? Some states say it’s OK to lawfully use small amounts of marijuana for recreational use – not just medicinal use – but for anyone who simply wants to get high! The states that voted to permit recreational use of marijuana will run headlong into existing federal law that makes that same recreational use illegal. Obviously, the issue of which law takes precedence will ultimately be decided – someday – by the Supreme Court. As a sidelight, it will be interesting to see how the states handle recreational use of marijuana while driving on the streets and highways of their respective states. One way to monitor the impact of the new state laws will be to keep track of any change in the number of traffic accidents in states where marijuana use is legal.
Far more important issues, however, are facing this nation. Not the least of which is the president’s plan to address legitimate issues that are the responsibility of government – things like energy independence, education, national defense and healthcare – not to mention debt reduction. Throughout the campaign, we heard – many times – about the need to do things like “invest” in public education. The use of the word “invest” is just a clever way to conceal a word that’s really more to the point. That word is “spend.” What the president really meant was “spend” more on energy independence, public education, job creation, healthcare and all the rest except, of course, national defense. The plan is to spend less on national defense. With the national debt hovering around $16 trillion dollars, where does the newly re-elected administration think the money is going to come from to “invest/spend” on all this stuff. Why, we’re going to tax the rich! It’s time that the people with lots of money gave more of it to the government to spend on the important issues of the day. Wait and see how the definition of who’s rich and who isn’t changes in the months and years to come. I’m afraid lots of Americans who’ve always thought of “those people” as being rich are going to find that this administration is going to include them in the “rich” category before they know what’s happened. The only other option is borrowing more money from others, especially the Chinese. Furthermore, I’m willing to bet that any new dollars coming the government’s way won’t be used to reduce the debt, but will be used to “invest” in the areas previously enumerated. But, of course, I could be wrong and we’ll all just have to wait and see what actually happens.
Of one thing we can be fairly sure, however, that the taxes are going to go up on far more Americans then anybody expects. Lots of middle-class Americans are going to find out that they’re actually wealthy and that they, too, will pay higher taxes. How else can we “invest” in the programs the president thinks are important? And, we’ll all be for it, as long as we’re not reclassified as being “wealthy.” We’ll see.
I’m afraid, to be totally honest, that far too many people based their decision on whom to vote for on social issues and not on economic issues. I hope I’m wrong and that the economy starts to improve right away – but only as long as the “save the spotted owl” crowd is happy about it. Duh!
That’s –30—for this week.