Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reactions to the First Night of the Republican National Convention

I just watched the first night of the Republican National Convention.  Here are some of my reactions.

1.  I can only speak for myself personally, but I thought that the Convention made quite an impression when it comes to policy.  Seeing that $15 trillion national debt on the debt-counter certainly was scary----but I wish that the speakers had illustrated how the national debt could concretely impact Americans in a negative way.  I also thought that the speakers did a fairly decent job in explaining how President Obama's taxes and regulations discourage job creation, as some appealed to the testimonies of entrepreneurs; moreover, a New Hampshire small businessman spoke.  Nikki Haley's speech was pretty good, especially when she talked about how the National Labor Relations Board's lawsuit against Boeing was inhibiting the creation of thousands of new jobs in South Carolina.  I had to read the speech online (see here), though, because I saw pundits instead of Nikki Haley as I flipped through the channels.

I did some online research to see where the Republican rhetoric was right and wrong.  A couple of people claimed that Republican-run states were better in job creation than Democratic-run ones, but this article argues that reality is more complex than that: While there are a number of states with Republican governors that have unemployment rates below the national average, there are also a number of states with Republican governors that have unemployment rates above the national average.  Moreover, according to the article, Nevada "has the second lowest tax burden in the country but tops the national unemployment list with a rate of 11.6%."  And, while Republican John Kasich at the convention touted his record as governor of Ohio, detractors argue that jobs were being created in Ohio near the end of his Democratic predecessor's term, that city Democratic mayors (and even President Obama) deserve some credit for Ohio's economic upswing, and that Kasich shifted the tax burden from the state to the local governments (see here).

On regulations, the Republicans may have a point, for even an article on the Huffington Post contends that there is a sentiment among a number of small businesspeople that government regulations are problematic (see here).  I don't want to compromise environmental and worker safety, but I think that steps should be taken to reduce red tape and perhaps streamline any bureaucracy that inhibits businesses from getting started.

I was trying to find some balanced information on the national debt, and some articles were better than others.  The national debt has indeed increased by about $5 trillion since Obama took office.  Why?  Some blame the stimulus, but that's not entirely at fault because it was only $700 billion (approximately).  Some blamed the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the prescription drug benefit, but then others countered that we had these things during George W. Bush's Presidency, and the national debt did not increase as rapidly as it has under President Obama.  Probably the answer that made most sense to me is that the economy has been bad, and that means that the government's revenue has not been adequate.  I'm not confident that the Republicans would ameliorate the problem of the national debt, though.  For one, the Republicans were powerful in Congress while the debt was going up, so how could they escape at least some of the blame for the growing national debt?  Second, it has been argued that the tax cuts proposed by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could exasperate the deficit.  But, on the other hand, does raising taxes on corporations really solve the problem, especially when the corporations could then move to another country to avoid the taxes?

Regarding Nikki Haley's comments on Boeing, the National Labor Relations Board thought that Boeing was locating from Washington to South Carolina (which, if I'm not mistaken, is a right-to-work state) to punish a union in Washington.  This is a hard issue, in my opinion.  On the one hand, I think unions are good because they bring decent wages and benefits to workers, and I fear that workers are at a loss when a company can move to a right-to-work state and pay lower wages (or at least I'm assuming that wages are lower in right-to-work states).  On the other hand, South Carolina needs jobs.

2.  I wasn't overly impressed by Ann Romney's speech.  I thought that it was unfocused and that Ann was rather giddy.  The speech had its moments, as when Ann talked about the struggles of working women, and a woman in the audience was weeping as she applauded.  Also, Ann can be quite powerful in interviews.  But I did not feel that I knew Mitt Romney better after hearing Ann's speech, and that was supposed to be the speech's goal.  Ann talked a little about Mitt's willingness to help people, but I thought that Elizabeth Dole in 1996 did a much better job in describing her husband's reticent beneficence.  Ann perhaps should have told more stories.

Regarding Chris Christie's speech, he called for sacrifice, and that somewhat coincided with his "speak the truth even when it's hard" reputation.  But, as some of my more liberal acquaintances have noted, Christie acknowledged that his own father benefited from the G.I. Bill and that his grandmother took three buses (which I assume is public transportation) to work, and these are government services.  Moreover, my friends have said that Christie called for sacrifice and yet is not for the rich or corporations sharing in that sacrifice. 

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