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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

KnoxViews Randy Neal asks “how (last night’s election) will affect our lives this year, next year, and going forward.” That’s an interesting question.

Since the margins of the majorities are pretty thin, I have to think that they won’t affect me as much as they would otherwise. I don’t foresee many policy initiatives getting through that would be considered ultra-liberal (read: socialized medicine, etc.). However, there will likely be some affect.

Will my taxes increase? Almost assuredly. They already have, since Congress failed to extend the deduction for state sales tax. I’m all for reining in fraud and waste, but I believe cuts in marginal rates and capital gains tax rates are anathema to economic growth, and the economic conditions of the last several years prove that.

Social Security will always be a hot button issue for me, but I’m also resigned to the fact that the public doesn’t have the will to deal with the problem. I believe that I can better decide for myself how to handle my retirement. I already do so with a pension fund, a 401k, and an IRA. I believe I should be allowed to do so with the percentage of my income that the Feds already take in the form of Social Security taxes. I agree that Congress shouldn’t be raiding the Social Security coffers and borrowing money for other programs, but I’d also point out that every Congress since the inception of Social Security has done so. I’d even wager that the next Congress will too.

How about prescription drugs and Medicare? I would have to agree that it is an absurd entitlement program in its current incarnation. Retirees that I know didn’t even bother to enroll because it would affect their private insurance benefits. Those that did enroll have found it to be cumbersome and inefficient, not unlike most government mandated programs in our country’s history. So how will a Democratic Congress fix it? Beats me. I haven’t heard any ideas from them except to say “I’m not Bush”.

I know one thing though. I don’t support mandating that private companies negotiate lower prices with the government. That’s against every free market principle I know, and I’m not amongst the folks that think pharmaceutical companies are “gouging” consumers. Drugs cost money to make. Research. Development.  They require incoming capital. Mandatory lower pricing leads to less innovation and companies will exit the marketplace.

I’m going to also issue an agreement on the issue of VA benefits with Mr. Neal. Veterans should get the benefits they have been promised. Period.

Democrats and the environment? Well, historically, I’d say there has never been a government program they didn’t like, so regulating power producers certainly would be expected. Along with that, expect increases in energy rates, while the environmental impact will be marginal at best. Think Kyoto and a 0.7 degree Celsius benefit by 2050.

CAFÉ standards? I’m agnostic about this, although any such regulation will certainly affect the manufacturer’s bottom line. Will the Dems pursue this as a centerpiece of their energy policy? Probably. They most certainly won’t open ANWR for exploration, and alternative fuels aren’t yet cost-effective, nor will offshore drilling or refining capacity increase. Look for gridlock where energy prices are concerned.

Medical insurance? Well, hopefully, HillaryCare will stay off the docket. But how will the Democrats address skyrocketing health care increases? I’ve yet to hear anything substantive on this matter from them. I don’t have the answers to this one, nor have I claimed to. But mandated insurance coverage on the backs of the taxpayer isn’t the solution.

No Child Left Behind? Please. Should we get rid of it? Absolutely. It accomplishes nothing but lowering the bar and “equalizing” the outcome of each child’s education. One has only to look at the reduction and elimination of gifted and AP classes to see evidence of this. Will the Democrats get rid of it? Not likely. After all, it’s a government program. Look for more tax credits for the “working poor” so that they can fund post-secondary education. Real reform, like school choice, is set back years under this Congress.

Raising the federal minimum wage? Why not? Most states have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum anyway. I believe this will be one of the first things Congress will push for, and I believe that it will pass. Should it? Who knows? This just isn’t an issue I care much about.

The war? Here is the major uncertainty. We don’t yet know the direction the Bush administration is going to go after the resignation of Rumsfeld today. We don’t know the degree of conflict the Democrats are willing to inflict upon the executive branch. Will they fund the war effort? Murtha probably wouldn’t were it up to him. It all depends on whether the liberal hawks or the doves win out in the interparty posturing for power. I’d like to think America will fill the vacuum in Iraq until the Iraqis themselves are capable of doing so, but at this point, even a wholesale evacuation of the Middle East wouldn’t surprise me.

As I review what I’ve written and what others have written, I think that mostly, when we aren’t blinded by partisanship, we all want the same thing. Prosperity. Freedom. Security. We just disagree on how to achieve those goals. No matter who is in power, we know America is great, and we’re proud to live here.


.: posted by Dave 5:34 PM

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