Attacks trump issues in presidential campaign
The current presidential contest has been characterized by disregard for truth without engaging in fact-based discussion of our national dilemmas: lagging recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s, a string of $1 trillion-plus deficits, inexorably rising medical costs burdening state and federal taxpayers, and a Social Security system unable to pay full benefits for more than another 20 years. Just to name a few.
So what are campaigners actually talking about instead?
Democrats have harped on the date Mitt Romney left Bain Capital because they want to blame him for decisions made after Feb. 11, 1999. But evidence shows that he was working 12-hour days six days a week as president of the 2002 Winter Olympics committee and exercised no active control over Bain’s decisions after that date.
Democrats also have stooped to false claims that Romney favored banning abortion in cases of rape or incest, mirroring distortions of opponents who accused Barack Obama of favoring infanticide and setting up death panels. Obama aides suggested that Romney was guilty of a tax felony.
For their part, Republicans claim that Romney created 100,000 jobs while at Bain, shamelessly taking credit for hiring that happened long after he left. They have accused Obama of waging “war on women” based on job losses from a recession that started more than a year before he took office. They claim that an inspector general found stimulus contracts steered to “friends and family … when the IG made no such finding.” They repeatedly misrepresent Obamacare, and a Romney surrogate said the president should “learn to be an American.”
Meanwhile, neither candidate speaks candidly about what he would do if actually elected. Romney won’t say exactly how he would cut taxes without losing revenues. Reduce or eliminate home mortgage and/or state income tax deductions? Obama offers no concrete plan for preserving Social Security.
Raise payroll taxes?
Perhaps the candidates will become less personal and more substantive in days to come, but based on campaign behavior so far, our 2012 presidential choices are more than a little depressing. (This letter is based on and paraphrases information from Factcheck.org.)
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