Mitt’s Moral Duty to the 47 Percent

Posted by on October 24, 2012 3:11 pm
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Categories: 2012 Campaign

{Editor’s Note: I’d like to welcome Evelyn Robinson to our group of Guest Authors.  She brings a different perspective to the blog.  Her writing skills and research skills are very good and she will be dropping in from time to time to give a less “Fiscally Conservative” Perspective to the issues of the day.}

It is the moral duty of governments to reduce the dependency some people have on state hand outs and benefits. This is the rallying call from some across the pond in Great Britain, but is a sentiment that fits right in with fiscal conservatives here in the United States. It is a feeling that has been stamped upon because of the clunky handling and bad publicity over GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 47% quote on film. Yet, now he has made political capital from the first presidential debate, it stands to reason that he spells out the needs of the nation to reduce that 47% tag wherever possible.

The 47% Problem

Nations across the developed world are facing a problem with productivity. In governmental terms this occurs when a country’s spending equates to more than its tax yield. Part of this overspend in the last half-decade has been down to financial indiscipline in the financial markets and trading platforms, but a significant portion still comes from ineffectual government spending. Debt repayment, overseas aid and military spending are big costs, but the first is essential, the second relatively minor and the third a potato too hot for any politician to touch. The biggest drain on finances is social security/welfare spending.

Even fiscal conservatives in power, like Governor Bob McDonnell in Virginia are finding it tough to make inroads into their fiscal deficits. This has led some to question the true cutting nature of those politicians. It is a far cry from those in other countries such as Britain who are perhaps not cutting as much as they should do, but who are being pilloried for it. This is the problem the fiscal conservative faces and one that Romney highlighted, admittedly in a really poor fashion and in such a way to guarantee bad exposure, in his famous 47% remark.

The main areas of welfare or social security spending that affects the budget are healthcare, unemployment or underemployment benefits and pensions. Naturally it would be easier to make any remarks should Romney pay his fair share of taxes, whether they are accepted or not, it makes for a bad example for a leader to set. Yet, if this subject is not broached, debated and talked about properly, then it will continue to fester. As the new leader of the GOP, it is Romney’s duty to start this debate in a mature fashion and then to win the argument for fiscal conservatives.

Healthcare

Healthcare spending equates to one fifth of the American economy according to the BBC. What may surprise is that publicly funded healthcare already costs more per person than compared to the socialized medical programs in Europe. Yes, that is right. This fact was confirmed during the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. David U. Himmelstein argues that with 62% of bankruptcies being due to healthcare, that coverage through Obamacare needs to be more comprehensive not less. For the fiscal conservative this may seem an odd position if the system is left as it is, but should it? Why does healthcare cost more in America than Europe when nearly everything else from homes to food is cheaper? The BBC report gives Dr. Brent James of Iowa as an example of how fiscal conservative policy can be achieved by reducing the costs of healthcare and improving its efficiencies. The reason for doing so? The less healthcare costs, the more people can afford and the less bankruptcies it causes, this mean there will be less people on Medicare and Medicaid and less people needing employment benefits to get by.

Unemployment/Underemployment Benefits

The most financially draining benefit to the state is employment benefits. The question has always been how to get people off the benefits and how much should someone receive from the state. This is then usually mixed in with benefits for children. It has been possible for a large number of families to live well off the state due to all the benefits received. For the fiscal conservative this needs to be cut back, but how? Mitt Romney needs to articulate the need for people to find work and the pride they receive in doing so, but they also need to be offered jobs that pay enough to get by. In offering hope to people across the nation, fair benefits or food stamps for kids, ensuring wages are not driven down while executive pay packets rise and rise, and ensuring a job is always worth more than a life on state handouts, Romney will offer a vision and hope to hard working Americans.

Pensions

It has often been easy for wealthy Americans to lambast those who cannot save for their own future, but with a graying society, a big question is how are people going to pay for their retirements? Will people be able to retire at all? Should they? How does the government at state and federal level ensure people can retire and live comfortably? Encouraging good pensions through private schemes that are stable and work well, by cutting taxes on private pensions and make sure state and federal pensions go only to those who cannot afford to get by, should reduce the cost. This may mean increasing contributions from some sectors or looking into tax breaks for middle and lower income savers.