With 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.
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.
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.
Politifact.com 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.