The False Arguments of the 2012 Election

Romney vs. ObamaWith the Republican nominee determined, both parties have commenced posturing for the November election.  Unfortunately, presidential elections are more about manipulating the American people than they are about actual issues.

In future posts, I will discuss some of the real, practical differences over the next four years between a President Romney vs. President Obama. For now, I will identify some false claims that both parties will make over the course of the next six months. The election will probably come down to which party is better able to manipulate the public’s view of these issues.

Economic Issues

Republican Claim: Gas prices are high because President Obama refused to approve the Keystone KL Pipeline.

This is completely false. I did disagree with President Obama’s decision to block the pipeline, but that decision has nothing to do with current gas prices. The pipeline would be nowhere close to being finished right now, so there would be no more oil entering the United States. Gas prices are high for several reasons, one of which is the fact that demand is rising because the US economy is starting to recover at a faster rate.

Democratic Claim: The budget could be balanced if the Republicans would agree to close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires.

President Obama’s tax plans would bring in some revenue by closing tax loopholes that are paid primarily by the rich, but closing those loopholes would not come anywhere close to balancing the budget. The revenue increases would be relatively minor. In order to balance the budget, many more reforms will have to be made.

Social Issues

Republican Claim: President Obama wants to take away people’s guns.

For two years, President Obama had large majorities in Congress. How many gun laws did he propose? None. With that said, he is not exactly a member of the NRA. In fact, he probably wouldn’t mind reducing the number of guns in the United States. But that issue is nowhere near the top of his to do list. I think he has decided that the country is facing larger problems, so it is not worth wasting political capital on a losing issue. So, practically speaking, there is probably no difference in terms of gun laws between an Obama administration and a Romney administration.

Democratic Claim: The Republicans are waging a war on women.

The Republicans have been taking stances that are anathema to some women. But the Republicans would not seek out a war on women. Doing so would be political suicide. Women constitute a majority of the population. Most Republicans would like to see a reduction in federal funding going (even indirectly) to abortion and even contraception. It is quite a bit of a stretch to jump from that to “war on women.”

Foreign Policy Issues

Republican Claim: President Obama apologizes for the United States. rated this claim “Pants on Fire.” The analysis can be found here.

Democratic Claim: A President Romney would jump into a war with Iran.

This issue does present a bit of a real policy difference. President Obama is probably less likely to jump into a war with Iran than a President Romney would be. In fact, Romney has made some comments that have suggested that he would be very willing to use military force against Iran. But much of the difference on this issue is rhetoric, not reality. Deep down, Romney is not much of a military hawk. He is too much of a businessman for that. Despite his rhetoric, which was designed to win the Republican Primary, I think that as president he would be very hesitant to get into a war with anyone, including Iran.

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6 Responses to The False Arguments of the 2012 Election

  1. villagebear says:

  2. Jake says:

    Great summation Andy. The only comment I have is in regard to gas prices. Fuel cost are almost entirely speculative. As we have recently experienced, even the caution that the Straight of Hormuz may be closed will drive up costs. Fuel is subject to the principles of supply and demand like any other commodity, however; speculation in this particular industry is a bigger factor in the cost of the goods.

    The US gets most of its oil from the Western hemisphere, not the middle east, yet conflicts there drives up costs regardless of the conflicts impact on supply. The approval of the Keystone Pipeline could have the opposite effect by guaranteeing more efficient delivery fuel in the west. When speculators are confident on the production, refinement, and delivery, costs come down. I believe approval would have helped even though actual delivery wouldn’t have been felt for years.

  3. Pingback: You’re Damn Right Obama Should Campaign on Killing Osama bin Laden | more than twenty cents

  4. Suszek says:

    See, I would disagree with the statement that fuel prices are almost entirely speculative. Speculation comes into play when there is a possible imminent increase or reduction in the total amount of oil on the world market. That is why prices increase when spats with Iran arise. There is an immediate threat that the amount of oil entering the world market will decrease. That is also why the price of oil increased when the civil war began in Libya. The majority of refineries in that country were shut down as a result of the fighting (side note: they were shut down before the US got involved, so this was not Obama’s fault). The reduced world capacity to get oil to market increased prices worldwide.

    But those situations are both cases of immediate effects on the world market (in the case of Libya, a real one; in the case of Iran, a threatened one, but still an immediate one). The Keystone Pipeline issue is different. It has no immediate or even possibly imminent effect on the global supply of oil. In fact, even the long term effect is limited. Whether the pipeline is built or not will have little to no impact on the global supply of oil. The Canadians will harvest the tar sands oil whether the pipeline is built or not. If the Canadians do not send it to the US, they will send it to somewhere else, probably China. In that event, the Chinese will purchase less oil from Saudi Arabia as a result. Saudi Arabia will sell their excess oil to the United States.

    The point is, prices are affected by the global supply of refined oil entering market. Speculation about immediate changes to that global supply affects prices. But speculation about the Keystone Pipeline is not sufficiently connected to near-term global supply to affect prices.

    I believe that this Businessweek article would agree with me. As would this PolitiFact analysis.

  5. Jake says:

    The reason that oil prices are speculative is due the long time frame it takes to bring product to market. Industries that exist which have products with short shelf lives can more easily predict supply, and as such costs increases and reductions are short term.

    Things like oil, and crops, can take months from production to delivery. As such, the supply can be effected greatly long term based on current happenings.

    From your Bloomberg article:

    “Ken Green, who studies environmental science and policy at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, says supply and perceived future supply is more of a factor in oil prices than in gas prices, where more variables come into play.”

    So granted, gas prices may be influenced by other factors, but the biggest contributor to oil prices, and thus also contributing to gas prices, is supply.

    Also in the article:

    “In his speech in Cushing, President Obama said that “producing more oil at home isn’t enough by itself to bring gas prices down” because “the price of oil will still be set by the global market.”

    President Obama fails to mention that the global market values oil partially on available supply and anticipated supply.

    It doesn’t matter who or where the supply increases, and it will increase otherwise there wouldn’t be “excess oil” as you stated in Saudi Arabia due to Canada’s Keystone XL.

  6. Suszek says:

    But building the pipeline does not increase the global supply of oil. It would just transport oil from Canada to the US. That would literally have no affect on the global supply of oil, even once the pipeline is completed. So, even if I were to accept your contention that the global supply of oil in five years affects prices today because of speculation, the pipeline would still have no effect on prices today. The pipeline would just move oil that is already on the market around. It would not increase the amount of oil being pulled out of the ground. Thus, it would not affect global supply, and it would not affect prices.

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