Well, it's official. With the formal nomination of Barack Obama for president of the United States, the contest is now truly joined.
The real highlight of the evening was when former Rep. Gabriel "Gabby" Giffords walked across the stage to lead the attendees in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. I imagine there were more than a few in attendance who either choked on the words or stood mute. Nonetheless, Mrs. Gifford's story is truly inspirational. A story of overcoming great obstacles with an even greater grace and courage.
Otherwise, it went along expected lines. When the cameras were rolling live the speakers toned down the rhetoric somewhat, while giving lip-service to beliefs not evidenced by their actions. Including, but not limited to, San Antonio's mayor talking about the ethic of pulling one's self up by their own bootstraps. How does that square with the demand that increased social spending is necessary because people can't make it without government help? Not to mention the claim that "you didn't build that"?
Over all, I was unimpressed (and unsurprised) with both the tone and substance of the event. Instead of a recitation of the administration's "successes" over the previous 4 years projected forward to illustrate a bright vision of the future, what was served up at the Democrat National Convention was a rehash of partisan "red meat".
The various Obama surrogates over the early days all made reference to the spurious claim that Romney/Ryan will raise taxes on the middle class to give themselves and their millionaire/billionaire buddies additional tax cuts. Claiming, among other things, that taxes for the middle class and seniors would go up by as much as $6400 per year (a claim that has been thoroughly debunked as a discarded plan put forth a couple years ago, not anything currently promoted by Messrs. Romney & Ryan, nor by any other leading Republican voice).
There were claims made that the Romney/Ryan ticket would immediately impact retirees and Medicaid/Medicare recipients, that a Romney/Ryan administration would see increased outsourcing of American jobs, that they would benefit the rich at the expense of the poor, etc.(see end of this post for extensive fact checking).
Some of the speeches were quite good. In fact, no less a conservative luminary than Rush Limbaugh said that, while he didn't think too much of the content, the First Lady's speech was a magnificent example of perfect delivery of a public address.
Others, not so much. Aside from the predictable Republican bashing, just the general tone was oddly disappointing for a re-election campaign. It was anything but uplifting. There was a steady undercurrent of doom and gloom only narrowly averted by our "courageous" President and a recitation of misfortunes that they say are certain to return if Obama is not reelected.
The speeches given on Thursday night by Vice-President Biden and President Obama were curiously unspectacular, given that they were preaching to the choir. VP Biden's speech began very slowly, beginning with a recitation of various hardships and ending with what I assume was meant to be seen as passion, but was interpreted by at least one political commentator as "angry rhetoric". I guess we've finally seen the appearance of the "angry white male".
The President's speech was hardly better, leading many to comment that instead of using the moment to inspire, he "phoned it in".
All in all, the DNC, in contrast with the RNC held a week earlier, seemed to be less effective at illustrating the reasons to vote FOR the Democrat nominee.
The Dem blogs were all afire with supposed "fact checks" after the Republican National Convention last week, often referencing liberal media outlets and each other as the cited "authority". In contrast, the fact checking posted below was not done by a conservative blogger, Breitbart.com or Fox News, but by the AP. Hardly a bastion of Republican/conservative thought.
[Publisher's note: The use of italics below denotes emphasis added.]
FACT CHECK: Obama and the phantom peace dividend
Obama says he wants to use money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down debt and put people to work in America.
Fact: Using war "savings" to pay for other programs is nothing other than financial sleight of hand. The wars were financed by borrowing, so there is no existing budgetary item that can be replaced by the new spending. It will have to be financed by continuing to borrow, thus, it can't result in any real savings.
Obama says that he wants to strengthen Medicare/Medicaid by reducing the cost of healthcare, not by making seniors pay more
Fact: Some of the administration's proposals that have been "floated" in negotiations over healthcare reform (re-vamping co-pays and deductibles) would, indeed, ask some Medicare beneficiaries to pay more, raising costs for retirees and increasing premiums for some.
[Publisher's note: The AP report left out the the proposal by the Obama Administration to cut payments to Medicare/Medicaid providers as a cost saving measure. Something sure to result in fewer doctors and medical facilities willing to accept new Medicare/Medicaid patients.]
Obama claims that this election is a choice between a party that wants to give tax breaks to "corporations that ship jobs overseas" and the party that wants to use government to "open new plants and train new workers and create jobs here in America", while Joe Biden claims that Gov. Romney's proposed territorial tax system "will create 800,000 jobs, all overseas".
Fact: Gov. Romney's proposal is aimed at encouraging investment in the U.S., not overseas. His plan would replace the current global business tax system that, thanks to the various credits, exemptions, and deductions actually provides a incentive to business to keep profits overseas as a means of avoiding higher U.S. tax burdens. Expert opinion differs on the impact of Mr. Romney's territorial tax system on U.S. employment, but Biden's implication that it would send jobs overseas is not supported by the expert he cites.
Kimberly Clausing is an economics professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. She stated that a territorial tax system could increase employment in low-tax countries by 800,000, but that did not mean that it would be because U.S. jobs were outsourced. She later wrote: "My analysis does not speak to the effects on jobs in the United States."
Obama claims that his economic plan, if adopted, would cut deficits by $4 Trillion over the next 10 years.
Fact: Then-candidate Obama promised in 2008 that if elected he would cut the deficit he "inherited" by half by the end of his first term. He's not gonna even come close to that mark. The deficit when he took office was $1.2 Trillion and his additional $800 Billion of stimulus spending increased the shortfall to over $1.4 Trillion. So much for cutting the deficit in half. In fact, the White House's own projections are for this year's deficit to be appx. $1.2 Trillion, the fourth consecutive year of $1+ Trillion deficits!
[Publisher's note: Obama's $4 Trillion figure includes more than $1 Trillion in cuts already signed into law.]
Biden claims that the Obama administration has created 4.5 million private sector jobs. It was a line repeated by several speakers at the convention.
Fact: It's a very misleading use of statistics. Intentionally so. (I'd call that a lie, myself) They are counting jobs created only from the lowest point in the recession, intentionally ignoring the jobs lost earlier in his term. This lets them hide the fact that overall joblessness has actually risen over Obama's term. Other claims of job gains by the Obama administration are supported only by
cherry picking their statistics. From the beginning of Obama's term,
manufacturing jobs have declined by more than 500,000, according to the Labor Dept.'s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Never since World War II has the economy been so slow to recover the jobs lost in the previous downturn.
Obama says that our troops will be brought home from Afghanistan in 2014, finally ending "our longest war".
Fact: Not quite. While most troops will leave by the end of 2014, some analysts say the U.S. will require a post-conflict force of as many as 20,000 American troops to continue training Afghan forces, continue the search for terrorists, and to keep watch on other activity in the region.
VP Biden claims that Romney/Ryan aren't telling the American people that their plan for healthcare would "immediately cut benefits to more than 30 Million seniors already on Medicare".
Fact: A Medicare plan put forward by Rep. Ryan in Congress would have no immediate effect because it would only apply to future retirees.
[Publisher's note: Rep. Ryan's proposal would restructure Medicare for those under 55 at inception, including an option for a government sponsored healthcare voucher to help individuals purchase their own insurance, chosen by themselves according to their needs (they would also be allowed to keep any money left over after the purchase of insurance to use as they want as an incentive to search out the best coverage for the lowest cost, helping to lower premiums over all), while giving them the option to remain in traditional Medicare.]
Romney's plan to restore Obama's cuts in payments to healthcare providers could have unintended consequences for the program, since restoring payments to providers could accelerate the depletion of Medicare's trust fund for inpatient care.
[Publisher's note: This issue is addressed by the restructuring of Medicare for those under 55 proposed in the Ryan plan.]
You can access the entire article at the link below:
After all this, I think a little levity is called for. Libertarian blogger/financial writer Peter Schiff was at the DNC speaking with some of the attendees. Here's what they believe is a reasonable solution to part of our economic problems.