Sunday, November 4, 2012

What Priorities Drive Your Vote?

Do you vote with a purpose?

I am a small business owner and in the last four years it’s been the most hellish time of my life. Literally. The economy has decimated our business primarily due to many of my customers either not having jobs or their jobs are insecure. This is a form of Trickle Down economics that IS very real. The super rich don’t buy much of my products. My customer is Joe Plumber and everyone else that puts on their tool belt, so to speak, each and every day. When the housing crisis hit it was like someone turned off a faucet and turned it off hard. Without jobs, you worry about keeping a roof over your head and paying the bills. You just hold on to what you have and you fight for your life and for your very survival. And when you don’t have a job you don’t buy a lot of chicken.

George Bush gets a lot of blame for the downfall of the economy by those on the Left. I have to admit I think GW screwed up a few things as president but I don’t blame him for the wrecked economy. The housing crash was the single biggest reason for the financial meltdown and Bush didn’t cause that. The template for the downfall actually started with Jimmy Carter back in 1977.

Jimmy Carter enacted the Community Reinvestment Act requiring banks to give loans to lower-income areas and consequently people who couldn’t afford those loans. Bill Clinton ramped up the CRA which actually put requirements on banks on how many of these types of loans they were to make and if they didn’t comply they weren’t allowed to expand other lending or grow their size. In essence, Congress was forcing the banks to be risky. With Clinton’s expansion of the CRA, banks began finding ways make these loans available to others including lending on second homes, in some part to fill their lending requirements.  In no time at all, borrowers were up to their eye balls in debt that left the chance that any little ripple would send them tumbling down and it was only a matter of time before that ripple hit like a tidal wave.

It was during this time that Congress gave Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac permission to back all of these loans by buying them from the banks then grouping them together and selling them on the open market. This, my friends, is where the whole subprime market took off. But it was all ok, right? After all, it was backed by the government. To his credit, George Bush personally went before Congress in 2003 to appeal to them to reign in Fannie and Freddie. But Barney Frank and his Congress buddies would not hear of it.

As more and more people purchased homes the housing market grew like there was no tomorrow...but very soon that tomorrow would come. Many of these borrowers could barely afford their loans and when the gas spike came in the summer of 2007 these risky borrowers began their drive off a financial cliff. Since they were allowed, according to CRA rules, to be in their homes with essentially no money down many began to walk away from these loans they couldn’t afford. This began the burst of the housing bubble as we know it. I am not saying the banks didn’t play a part in it but the go ahead for this dangerous loan cycle all came in the name of giving something for nothing from our politicians.

So at this point you are probably saying gee, thanks for the history lesson buddy but what does this have to do with voting and priorities. I think it has everything to do with giving things away we can’t afford and our elected officials screwing up the market. I think it has everything to do with voting in responsible men and women who understand that this country is worth the risk but not a foolish risk. And it has to do with understanding that there are consequences when you vote the wrong people into office.

I consider myself a Republican but I differ much with my party on several issues. I am not gay but I support gay marriage. I jokingly say I think gay people should be as miserable as the rest of us so why not let them get married.  I don’t like abortion being used as birth control but I think women should have the choice. But I don’t think its government’s job to provide free abortions. I think health care is screwed up in this country but I think the answer was to fix the cost structure first to make it more affordable to others. And I believe there is a time in everyone’s life they need a helping hand but I think we should expect there to be a time limit for the able bodied and during the time we are helping them we should expect that people should be doing all they can to better their situation. To me it has a lot to do with personal responsibility and not the obligation of government to fix everyone’s lives.

President Obama inherited a bad economy. No one debates that. But what he has done to fix it OR I should say not fix it is a disgrace. He is not a man I want to follow for the betterment of this country. For me, it is about jobs and I know firsthand by the policies and presidential acts he has enacted he is not helping but actually hurting. I’m sure he is a man that wants to do the right thing but I just don’t agree with what he thinks is “good” for this country. Even NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who reluctantly endorsed the president this last week was quoted as saying he is disappointed in how the president has not tried to work with both sides of congress and instead “has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it”.

Is Mitt Romney the best man for the job? I don’t think so. But he is the best choice of the two by a long shot for the position of leading this country back to health. He has a successful record of working with both parties when he was governor. I am impressed when I read about what he did to save the finances of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. This to me is the proof of his leadership skills. And all this venom spewed out about his time at Bain Capital is nothing but partisan mud-slinging. Unless you have been the leader of for-profit organization you don’t know the tough decisions one has to make. He was a savvy businessman that made tough decisions and has successful experience in leading.  This to me says I can trust him more than I can trust Barak Obama. I didn’t say Romney was perfect…just the better choice.

My priorities are about providing for my family and my employees and myself. With financial strength I can then get back to helping others but at the moment I am holding on for dear life.  Sure I care about the social issues but I really don’t believe that anyone is going to ban abortion or stop helping the poor or disabled. But we are in trouble and in times of trouble you have to put things in order of precedence. Everything else is secondary. Not that these other issues aren’t important but we continue the discussion when we are in better shape, financially.

So my priority is to vote for whom I think will help the country best. My priority is to vote the men and women who will give me the best chance to chase the American Dream, as I’ve tried to do my whole life. But this is my priority and not necessarily yours. I just hope that there are enough people in this election that feel as I do. That America is best served by those that wish to provide the environment to chase the Dream and not the nightmare we have lived the last four years.

So what priority will drive your vote?