Health care: Voters cannot work if they are seriously ill. Many who are healthy today realize that might not be the case tomorrow. Nearly half of Americans – seniors, veterans, the poor and disabled – are covered by public health. Most people can well imagine the fear of losing their insurance, after a job loss or a medical condition. Yes, the seriously ill can seek care at the local emergency room, but that is not the most efficient form of treatment and hospitals are adept at pursuing payment.Reproductive health: Women and many men do not want to risk new regulations on birth control. Sadly, an unexpected pregnancy during an economic downturn is a nightmare and not blessing.
Wars: The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that about 15 percent of the deficit can be attributed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Into its 12th year, Afghanistan is the longest war on record. Investments in diplomacy and non-military foreign aid can reduce wars.Taxes: The Bush tax cuts account for about 30 percent of the deficit. The tax cuts were made without reducing programs. There’s a reason, Americans want many of those programs, especially during a time of need. No leader can both keep the programs and reduce taxes. Income for the wealthiest rose while the income of middle-class went stagnant or decreased. Many voters support tax hikes to reduce the federal debt. The Bush tax cuts had a sunset clause – and so could any tax hikes. Businesses and households with budgets typically want to eliminate debt – and do so by rising prices before reducing service, production or quality.
Education: Children who receive a substandard education are more likely to cause social problems. Some may enter a life of crime. Others will become home health aides or serve us in fast-food restaurants and struggle to do their jobs. It’s wrong to put 30 or more children into a classroom with a math teacher who is paid a fraction of she or he could make in industry or a university – and expect high morale, good community relations or academic success. Children are the future workforce and future citizens, and their teachers need safe conditions, training, respect and appropriate wages.
Immigration: More people produce growth – they work, buy products and fill houses languishing on the market. Good policymaking, regulation and business could come up with an enforcement system that charges undocumented immigrants a fee.
Social Security and Medicare: The elderly depend on these programs, the centerpiece of any retirement planning in the middle class. Candidates who propose any privatization or reductions should be clear just how much people have to save to compensate for reductions. Age cut-offs won’t work among the elderly because they care fiercely about their children and economic health. Younger workers will resist paying for a program that provides for current seniors but is slated to end.
Climate Change: The science points to rising carbon dioxide emissions as contributing to volatile weather and rising seas. Ongoing denial will only add to future costs of food, shelter, insurance and business.
In the end, voters need to understand the economic implications of every issue. Optimism, confidence in addressing challenges and cooperation do more to boost revenues than criticism, fear and every man and women out for themselves.
Photo courtesy of the US Department of Defense and Wikimedia Commons. US Army Spc. Tiffany Larriba teaches counting and English with the Soldier in the Classroom program at Karabti San, Djibouti.