Now what?

Cal Thomas's picture

Presidential elections decide only who wins the White House and a congressional majority. They don’t by themselves solve the nation’s problems.

George W. Bush had a majority Republican Congress and did little with it. President Obama had a majority Democrat Congress during his first two years in office, but appeared to let ideology trump solutions, causing additional harm to the economy.

What will happen if Mitt Romney wins the White House, but Democrats maintain a Senate majority? Even if Romney wins (likely) and Republicans capture the Senate (unlikely) and maintain their House majority (likely), will real change take place?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Mitt Romney’s appeal for bipartisanship “laughable” and said he would block Romney’s “severely conservative agenda.” We can guess what Reid’s agenda will be if Democrats maintain their Senate majority.

Perhaps Reid sees this as payback for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comment in 2010: “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” At least McConnell waited two years into the Obama presidency. Reid has launched a pre-emptive strike.

This is what a majority of Americans hate about politicians. It’s all about them and rarely about those who pay their salaries and are most affected by what they do, or don’t do. Politicians have managed to insulate themselves from the consequences of most of the legislation they pass.

Must we continue to watch them play “chicken” over the financial health of the country? Will Congress show some maturity during the coming lame-duck session and avoid the fiscal cliff and “Taxmageddon”?

My financial adviser, Ric Edelman has sent a letter to his clients about these twin financial monsters threatening the country. First is the expiration of several tax cuts, including the Bush income tax cuts, the payroll tax holiday and the coming new taxes associated with Obamacare, which conveniently kick in after Election Day.

Quoting from the tax firm Ernst and Young, Edelman lists them:

• The federal capital gains tax rate will rise from 15 percent to a maximum of 24.7 percent

• The federal tax rate on dividends will rise from 15 percent to a maximum of 44.7 percent

• The federal tax rate on interest will rise from 15 percent to a maximum of 44.7 percent

• The payroll tax will rise from 4.2 percent to a maximum of 6.2 percent

• The estate tax, currently applicable to estates above $5 million, will be applied to estates worth just $1 million.

Many economists believe such large tax increases will lead to reduced consumer spending, sparking another recession. Given its spending history and lack of self-discipline, it is unlikely Congress would use any extra revenue to shrink the national debt. It is more likely to engage in new spending.

As important as avoiding the “fiscal cliff” is, avoiding the impact of “sequestration,” mandatory, across-the-board federal spending cuts, which Congress stupidly believed would impose responsibility on its members, ought to be of equal concern. These spending reductions, including on defense spending, take effect Jan. 1. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said the impact on national security would be “disastrous.”

Voters can’t just cast ballots and think they have solved these problems. They must stay engaged.

There is a virus in Washington that eventually touches nearly all politicians. It’s called incumbency. Once elected, most politicians consider re-election their major goal, not doing the difficult work of reforming the tax code, reducing spending and living within the means of the people who do the work and send them money, hoping they will spend it responsibly.

Regardless of the election results, “we the people” must keep the pressure on our officials, because the lobbyists surely will. Who would you rather have your congressman hear from, you or them?

[Readers may email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.] ©2012 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

S. Lindsey
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Sort of glad Romney lost...

...with Romney in the drivers seat an economic collapse (which is on the way) would be blamed immediately on him the the Teaparty...by the lame stream media.

With Obama back in control all they can do is blame Bush, which after 4+ years is actually starting to get old, although it is STILL used an excuse for Obama Policy failures.

When Employment does not recover.. Jobs continue to be lost.. Debt skyrockets with the cost of energy.
Inflation rockets to the front because they are going to keep on printing the dollar to "stimulate" the economy which can't be stimulated without business growth.

Having Romney as President all of this would have been laid at his feet....He would not get the excuse of it was the other guys fault...

I hope I am wrong about the coming economic collapse I really do.. I was certainly wrong about the election.. I thought we were about a half generation away from the Country legalizing plunder but we are there already.

They keep forgetting that they can take 100% of all the wealth and it would not make any difference. So the spiral begins.. They will vote to plunder wealth from the rich.. and then spend it on new entitlements.. the debt and deficit will continue to rise.. so they will vote in more plunder.. and continue to spend it...so on and so on. Soon they will run out of other people's money and then it will be our turn.

Georgia Patriot
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Romney or Obama?

"When the people find out they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the Republic." Benjamin Franklin

It all came down to Free-dom or Free-stuff!

We are now a Democratic Socialist State, we need another "S"! USSA.

We have become a society of two classes, producers or consumers and apparently the consumers are in the majority, well guess what, production is about to cease and the collapse will follow, I say bring it on and lets get this thing fixed for our Grandchildren!

Just went to see Atlas Shrugged part two, great movie, watch the trailer here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1985017/ -GP

garfield47
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Voting for a president

I still am upset that the presidential election is not won by the American voters, but by the electorial college. Whoever came up with this must have been out of their mind. Why do we vote at all for a president when the electorial college decides who wins?

Georgia Patriot
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No Electoral College?

There is a lot of talk of eliminating the EC after the last election, has it's time passed?

I really think the largest mistake we made was the 17th amendment, individual states are no longer represented.

One of the best amendments was the 10th and it is time for states to stand up and demand it be enforced. -GP

PTC Observer
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garfield47 - Yes

they must have been completely out of their minds to leave us with people who don't understand anything about preserving freedom.

Why don't we just burn the Constitution and make certain the mob is in control?

NUK_1
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Electoral College

Because we're a republic, not a democracy.

Now, I'd be very in favor of retaining the electoral college system if electoral college votes were allocated proportionately to the amount of votes earned in each state instead of the "winner take all" approach that exists now in every state except with a slight difference in Maine. If it's 60-40 in a state, winner gets 60% of the electoral college votes and loser gets 40.

Of course, California, NY and Texas would not like the above idea whatsoever and neither would some of the rather small states that like to consider themselves as difference-makers.

Snow Bunny
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I would prefer to see every

I would prefer to see every state a single vote. This makes every state equally as important as the next and bring an end to this, "if he doesn't win Ohio, it's over!" crap.

MikePatton
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I agree with you. I think if

I agree with you. I think if we proposed an amendment, it would pass with flying colors when put to a vote.