Why I'm Voting for President Obama - Top 3 Reasons
1. President Obama has done a good job of turning the economy around.
President Obama inherited the worst financial situation since the Great Depression. The failed economic policies of previous administrations had put our economy into a tailspin, so that when President Obama took office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. The president's critics act as if President Obama - and not a Republican administration - led us into this crisis. And then they seem to forget that over the last four years, Republican Congressional leaders set as their top goal for President Obama to fail.
In spite of their opposition, the president's administration stopped our economic free-fall and for at least 29 months in a row we've had growth in private-sector jobs. We are much better off now than when the president took office.
Yes, progress has been slow. But anyone who thinks the problem could have been solved easily in two or three years "misunderestimates" the scale of the crisis. There is much more to be done, and I trust President Obama's basic direction.
The president's critics complain that the deficit has increased under his leadership, and of course that's true. The increase in the deficit was one of the costs of the crisis which was created by policies that the president opposes. His proposals for deficit reduction make much more sense than those of his opponent, and for this reason as well, I support him.
The disastrous double-whammy of recession and growing deficit was created in part by both Democrats and Republicans - but the Republican mantra of lower taxes on the rich and removal of regulations on corporations created the lion's share of the crisis. It seems absurd to prescribe those tried-and-failed remedies once again. I agree with Robert Reich's analysis: the President has a better plan going forward. So I'm supporting him in 2012 just as I did in 2008.
We are better off - far better off - than we were when President Obama took office. We were in a free fall then, a consequence of bad policies and poor governance. We are stabilizing now and on a long, slow road to recovery. I want to stay on that basic course and not revert to the course that took us to the brink of collapse.
2. Governor Romney impresses me as less than trustworthy.
Early in the campaign, he presented himself as an extreme, right-wing, "severe" conservative - toe to toe with Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, and company. Later he shook the etch-a-sketch and tried to present himself as someone different. If the early Romney is real, I would never want to vote for him. If the early Romney was pretending/prevaricating just to get elected, same result.
I'm sure that to his family, friends, and colleagues, he is a fine man. But as a politician for the most powerful office on the planet, he has presented no new or bold ideas. He seems to have little more to offer than going back to Ronald Reagan's trickle-down economics with different packaging. I consider trickle-down economics to be a tool for an unjust transfer of wealth - from the poor and middle-class to the wealthy. I don't want to support a candidate who wants to continue that transfer of wealth. Again, as Robert Reich explains:
The rich are far richer than they used to be, while most of the rest of us are poorer. The latest data show the top 1 percent garnering 93 percent of all the gains from the recovery so far. But median family income is 8 percent lower than it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation.
The gap has been widening for three decades. Since 1980 the top 1 percent has doubled its share of the nation’s total income — from 10 percent to 20 percent. The share of the top one-tenth of 1 percent has tripled. The share of the top-most one-one hundredth of 1 percent — 16,000 families — has quadrupled. The richest 400 Americans now have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together.
To vote for Mr. Romney would be to support the failed policies of the past, including the ongoing transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the richest among us, and it would reward the far-right extremism which Mr. Romney either actually believes in or has pandered to.
3. I think President Obama will do more good in relation to the issues I care most deeply about over the next four years than Mr. Romney would: the well-being of the poor, the health of the planet, and the pursuit of peace.
Regarding the poor, the Romney/Ryan ticket seems more attuned to "Atlas Shrugged" than the Sermon on the Mount. Regarding the planet, for Mr. Romney to flip-flop away from a more responsible position on climate change strikes me as childish and irresponsible at best, and pandering to his extreme right wing at worst. His continual dismissal of the value of regulating corporations suggests that he considers government inherently evil and business inherently innocent - a dangerous belief to me. And regarding peace, I don't trust Mr. Romney's affinity with the same Neo-Conservative advisors who led us into Iraq. The likelihood of war - especially with Iran - increases if Romney is elected. In each case, the Obama/Biden ticket has far superior policies.
Regarding peace, I have also been deeply disturbed by the rhetoric of Mr. Romney's party regarding Muslims, Palestinians, and others who quickly become "the other." As I've written about in my most recent book, I believe that in a multi-faith world, we must move from hostility to hospitality, from suspicion to solidarity, and from conflict to collaboration.
Many of my friends believe that only two issues matter - opposing abortion and gay marriage. Based on those issues, they prefer the Romney-Ryan ticket. I understand that, even though I think they have been misled. On abortion, I believe that President Obama's policies to improve health care can reduce abortion rates more than overturning Roe v. Wade would (as I explained four years ago, here). And I think that opposing gay marriage in the name of "protecting" traditional marriage is a sad case of scapegoating. The causes for the breakdown of traditional marriage are many and complex: whatever they may be, it seems silly to blame gay people, who haven't been able to marry, for damaging a social institution that straight people have been damaging just fine without outside help.
I haven't agreed with all of President Obama's decisions. But that's to be expected. When I compare what Obama/Biden have done* with what we've seen of Romney/Ryan, I will be glad to cast my vote for Obama/Biden in 2012, as I did in 2008.
Whoever wins, I will respect them, pray for them, speak up when I think they mislead, and do what I can to "change the wind," as Jim Wallis says - to build a social and spiritual movement for peace, for the poor, and for the planet, rooted in my faith, values, and vision of the common good.
*After the jump, a list of Obama/Biden's accomplishments - from the Obama/Biden campaign.
(Just a couple of) the Obama Administration's accomplishments:
1. The first bill President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to help women fight back when they don't get equal pay for equal work.
2. His Recovery Act supported millions of jobs and helped to stave off a second Great Depression.
3. He pushed for and won middle-class tax cuts that benefitted every American worker, and saved the typical family $3,600 in taxes over the last four years.
4. President Obama rescued the auto industry, and now GM and Chrysler are healthier than they've ever been. The American auto industry has added nearly a quarter of a million jobs since June 2009 -- and they most likely wouldn't exist right now without President Obama's leadership.
5. He doubled funding for Pell Grants, helping to make college more affordable for nearly 10 million families.
6. His student loan reform ended billions in subsidies to banks serving as middlemen and reinvested those savings directly into students.
7. The President established the American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth up to $10,000 over four years of college.
8. His Race to the Top Initiative helped spur nearly every state to raise academic standards.
9. His tax cuts, social-welfare programs, and economic policies lifted nearly 7 million Americans above the federal poverty line in 2010.
10. President Obama has signed 18 tax cuts for small businesses since taking office.
11. We've seen 5.2 million new private-sector jobs over the last 31 months.
12. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level since President Obama took office.
13. Health care reform -- passed after decades of failed attempts by every previous President -- provides affordable health coverage to every American and will lower premiums by an average of $2,000 per family by 2019.
14. Obamacare expanded access to lifesaving preventive care such as cancer screenings and immunizations with no out-of-pocket costs for 54 million Americans.
15. Obamacare ends insurance discrimination against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.
16. Because of Obamacare, over 3 million more young adults have health insurance today than would if the new law hadn't passed.
17. The parents of over 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry that their children will be denied coverage.
18. President Obama has ordered the overhaul of federal government regulations to make them smarter, practical, and more efficient. Just a fraction of these commonsense initiatives will help save businesses $10 billion in the next five years alone.
19. His historic investments in clean energy have helped more than double the amount of electricity we obtain from wind and solar sources and helped increase biofuel production to its highest level in history.
20. President Obama is doubling fuel efficiency standards, which will save drivers more than $8,000 at the gas pump, not to mention lessen the impact of automobiles on our environment.
21. President Obama has taken unprecedented action to address climate change, reaching historic international agreements to curb carbon emissions, and taking action here at home to reduce carbon pollution from our vehicles and promote clean energy production.
22. He has taken historic action to protect our environment -- signing one of the largest expansions of protected wilderness in a generation and putting in place standards to reduce toxic air pollution that will save thousands of lives.
23. President Obama fought for and won landmark Wall Street reform that reins in the abuses that led to the financial crisis and ends the era of taxpayer bailouts and "too big to fail."
24. Wall Street reform created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation's first federal agency focused solely on consumer financial protection -- and the Bureau is already protecting families from unfair and abusive financial practices from Wall Street banks and shadowy corners of the financial industry.
25. As part of President Obama's commitment to transparency, the White House has posted its visitor records online for the first time ever.
26. President Obama's all-of-the-above approach to energy has helped cut the United States' dependence on foreign oil to its lowest level in 20 years.
27. President Obama responsibly ended the war in Iraq.
28. He announced a plan to end the war in Afghanistan and transition security responsibility to the Afghan people.
29. President Obama sent the largest security assistance package to Israel in history and funded the Iron Dome system, which is protecting Israeli homes and schools from rocket attacks.
30. President Obama rallied the international community to implement the toughest sanctions on Iran in history.
31. Through the President's historic increases in Veterans Affairs funding, he has expanded and improved healthcare and job training access for our returning veterans.
32. President Obama negotiated the New START Treaty with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries. At the same time, he also secured commitments from dozens of other countries to lock down nuclear materials.
33. His administration naturalized 11,146 military service members as U.S. citizens in 2010; more than in any year since 1955.
34. President Obama set a bold new plan for the future of NASA space exploration, using the skill and ability of the private sector for short trips to the International Space Station, while building a new vehicle for exploration of distant space, and doing everything in his power to support the economy on Florida's Space Coast.
35. President Obama recognizes that tourism is one of America's largest economic engines; he's worked to encourage international visitors to come here, maintaining our security while keeping millions of Americans in good, paying jobs.
36. He has affirmed his personal support of marriage equality, directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in federal courts, and took the practical and compassionate step of extending hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners.
37. He fought for and won the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, allowing gay and lesbian members of the military to serve openly for the first time in history.
38. When Congress failed to fix our broken immigration system, his administration did everything in its power to improve it, streamlining the legal immigration process and announcing a policy that lifts the shadow of deportation from hard working young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
39. Oh, and he gave the order to send troops in after Osama Bin Laden -- and has decimated al-Qaeda's senior leadership.