With 21 announced candidates for the Democrat and Republican Presidential nominations, once again we are reminded of what a great job POTUS is. These 21 Americans are willing to spend millions (of other people’s money) and rendered themselves naked though constant scrutiny from the media. Truly their lives no longer belong to them as they are steadily sucked into the public light. Why do people go down this path?
The candidates usually offer in one form or another the message that America has been good to them and they now wish to give back. Some candidates dress this basic statement in a dire description of today’s America. With a serious look each candidate tells America that they are the most qualified to become commander in chief and lead Americans towards the American dream. Hmmm.
None of the candidates, however, relay how much money they are spending, or at what type of expenses they are throwing their money at. Candidates almost never reveal the sources of their campaign donations and absolutely never discuss what they have promised (or what implied policy choices they will make) in order to gain a donors’ money.
And candidates leave no hint of how much time they spend on raising money versus how much time they spend thinking about policies. Hmmm.
The GOP hopefuls have been particularly vocal in the early primary stages. When not wrapping themselves in the flag, many have made it their business to tout their own qualifications by tearing down those of their competitors.
I wonder whether these candidates think that in the unlikelihood they were to become President that they could conduct foreign policy by pointing out how short sighted the French economic policy might be or how meager the effectiveness of British military efforts?
Sooner or later, all the candidates will address subjects like the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Defense Spending, Balancing the Budget, and keeping US interests abroad well managed. The GOP will see domestic issues as costs and foreign issues as national security concerns. This generally means less domestic services and more defense spending. Democrats will propose robust support of domestic programs if not increasing their coverage and cost.
The GOP will shrink costs without revealing the people and places which will obtain less while the Democrats will sing the virtues of more without confirming the “more” will also cost “more”.
More fundamental discussions such as really reforming healthcare and lowering the amount of money America spends will be absent. Making healthcare available to everyone (as in Europe) could have profound impacts upon the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid. The two dozen or so healthcare models around the world deliver better health outcomes than the US at about one half the cost. If America put its mind to it, a Universal Healthcare System would eliminate the need for the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid themselves.
Investments in infrastructure, education, and poverty reduction could enable America to become more competitive on a global stage and in doing so, provide better jobs for more Americans. More competitiveness will translate into a rebirth of the American dream. Hmmm.
So, when we hear candidate “X” speak of fixing Medicare by vouchers or Medicare by block grants or the Affordable Care Act by eliminating mandatory enrollment, you can be sure this candidate is really about rationing these services on ability to pay. This candidate has no interest in how to provide the service in a more cost effective manner.
If each of us had a magic wand, and when one of these 21 candidates began to speak we could raise a hand and say “stop, I have a few simple questions to ask”. For example,
- How much time are you spending raising money
- Who are the major contributors to your campaign
- What have you promised or implied in order to gain this money
- How can healthcare be made available to all Americans in an affordable manner
- How can American workers aspire to better paying jobs
- Where should America invest in order to improve our national productivity
- How should any improvements in national productivity be shared
In such an imaginary discussion, we would quickly separate the pretty face and slick one liner candidates from those of substance. Hmmm.