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Things I think about.

Why I wouldn’t vote for Romney today.

I’m an independent. I vote for who I think will be the best person to lead the country in the context of the current times and in the context of my vision of the future. I have serious concerns about the Romney/Ryan ticket, some of which may be addressed as the campaign rolls into high gear (no hope for a high road, I’m afraid). Others cannot be changed and will continue to be strong negatives.

I’ll start with his wealth. Nobody knows for sure, but it’s estimated to be about two hundred and fifty-million dollars. If elected he will be one of the richest Presidents in history, among the top three. He earned over twenty-million in 2010 and 2011 on those assets — a nice return of 8-10%. It’s been a longtime since those kinds of returns were available to the average American. Since we have no idea where his wealth is invested and since he refuses to share any other tax returns, he opens himself up to criticism and concern about the integrity of his wealth and the honesty of his tax payments.

I don’t begrudge him his wealth and, in and of itself, wealth is not a bad thing. One could argue that some of his wealth was gained at the expense of others’ losses while he was with Bain Capital. That’s not my issue — capitalism allows for companies like Bain to thrive. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and the big dogs usually win.

No, my issues is simply this: with that kind of wealth, I think it is impossible for him to make decisions about anything that has money involved without creating a conflict of interest. He could assuage my fears by simply divulging his assets — you know, the ones in the blind trust about which his wife recently said “I’d like to know what’s in it myself”. So he should do his wife and the rest of us a huge favor and end all the speculation.

The other aspect of his wealth that concerns me and his decision making boils down to one word: empathy. He doesn’t live in the real world of the middle class or lower class. He can’t possibly feel their pain or understand how programs that reduce income by even a few dollars a week could be so important to some families. He’s a big business man and he will do everything in his power to assure that the power remains with the elite. The little guys, the unemployed, the seniors on fixed income, none of them will benefit from with an elitist leader.

The next major hurdle he’ll have to clear to get my vote is his energy policy. His “can’t drive a car with a windmill on the roof” comment was ignorant at best and insulting at worst.  His lack of vision and concern for the future of the earth is evident in the energy policy he’s espousing: more fossil fuels, coal, oil pipelines and drill, drill, drill. So what if CO2 emissions are scientifically proven to be damaging the ozone layer and that the greenhouse effect is being felt as we speak (warmest July ever)? Not his concern. It’s about energy independence. My guess: it’s a win-win situation for him. He’s probably hedging his investments on both sides of the energy bet and he’ll make money whichever way it goes. Like many of the GOP he’s an Ostrich on the “No Such Thing As Global Warming” beach. My advise: better get some sunblock soon to avoid getting your butt burned.

I’m a pro-choice guy. I fully support any and all advances of Women’s Rights (go, Connie, smack that ball). This ticket does not align well with my values and beliefs on this aspect of our society.  While it’s not a deal breaker, I would like to see a clear definition of how their policies will affect this important aspect before I make a decision. Any sign of rigidity based on some religious principle will definitely weigh negatively on my decision.

And then there’s Paul Ryan. A cheesehead made famous by a budget plan that’s full of holes and a MediCare plan that will put future seniors in a huge financial hole. Vouchers for “affordable” health care, from? How about the big, for-profit, publicly traded providers? I smell a rat, or maybe just strong cheese, but this strikes me as one more attempt to feed the monster called big business that feeds the insatiable greed of the moneyed elite. This one will take some work to convince me he’s got future seniors best interests at heart. (I can’t believe he put his Mom to work selling a MediCare plan that won’t affect her even if it does come to fruition. Something missing there — integrity comes to mind.)

But above all, it is this that holds me back today: specifics. His plan for  a “Stronger Middle Class” is vague — I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that all such plans, by nature, have to be — and sounds more like a point by point counterpoint to Obama’s current plans. I would welcome some original thinking with some concrete plans that address the underlying problems we have, not the symptoms.

So I ask you, Mr. Romney — how are you going to reduce unemployment while cutting government jobs?  How are you going to reduce business taxes while trying to reduce the national debt? How do you define the middle class in terms of income and how does a tax break for the over $250k income threshold help the 90% plus below that amount? And what are you going to do to assure that Wall Street and big Banks don’t send us to the edge of another depression? How will you change ObamaCare (modeled after your Massahuttes plan)? You can read his “Stronger Middle Class” plan here:

http://www.mittromney.com/blogs/mitts-view/2012/08/mitt-romneys-plan-stronger-middle-class01

I may still vote for him. How he addresses my issues will help determine that, as will what the President has to say.

Fact is, I wouldn’t vote for him today, either. Next blog I’ll tell you why.

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