The presidential debates are in full swing this campaign season. This is when candidates promise voters everything from a car in every garage, to a chicken in every pot, to eternal life.
Saturday night’s debate in South Carolina was probably no different. After watching my beloved Seminoles beat the Hurricanes, the last thing this politic ninja wanted to do was listen to the GOP make more promises, so I spent my eight o’clock hour watching Carrie Ann Moss in black leather in The Matrix.
While watching Hugo Weaving torment the heck out of Lawrence Fishbourne, I thought there must be a way for Americans to do some type of sanity check when listening to the litany of election promises that usually don‘t pan out.
And there has been plenty of litany. In 2008 then candidate Barack Obama promised change that we can believe in; to do things in a transparent fashion.
I couldn’t tell you what Mr. Obama is promising today. Until his recent announcement that we were finally pulling out of Iraq by year’s end, he didn’t quite keep his promise to get out sooner.
In terms of transparency, Obama did deliver on that promise – at least as far as the Affordable Health Care Act. We had a front row seat as the president turned over a few talking points to “Princess” Nancy Pelosi, and watched her and “Prince” Harry Reid help expand the health insurance companies’ corporate empire with a bill that did nothing to improve America’s state of health.
“Obamacare” did go far in guaranteeing the health insurance industry 40 million new customers, increased revenues from new premiums, and an increase in health care insurance premiums.
So much for seeing how sausage is made.
Unfortunately, for most of us, the only way we will be able to assess the guy or gal crazy enough to interview for commander-in-chief is to evaluate not only how they perform in a debate (is that three agencies or five?), but to evaluate what they are saying about the role of president.
Let me warn you. If you are one of the 90% locked into voting for the sitting president because he is a Democrat, these rules are not for you. If you are a birther or member of Occupy Wall Street, these rules may not be fringe-crazy looney enough for you. If you are willing to be free-thinking, centrist, and rationale for five minutes, Politic365’s Prince of Darkness welcomes you to his lair.
Rule number one. When a candidate says that they will do X,Y,Z without one mention of how they are going to get Congress to pay for it, run for the hills.
They can’t do it.
For example, it’s one thing when a candidate says they will change some agency rule on how direct financial aid payments are issued by the U.S. Department of Education. More than likely, the law that created the agency and program supports rulemaking by the agency.
It’s quite another thing for a candidate, like a certain governor from a southwestern state whose name I dare not mention for fear of being jinxed, to say that he will repeal an entire agency – especially when that agency was approved by Congress. And there are a number of vested economic interests, like banks, that aren’t ready to see that cash cow disappear any time soon.
Rule number two. When a candidate says that they will create jobs, run. This is a violation of economics 101. Presidents in particular, and governments in general cannot create jobs, unless you are talking about government jobs, which shouldn’t be authorized unless there are tax revenues to support them.
Besides, we have an economy seventy percent of which is driven by private consumption. This means that any jobs spurred by this type of consumption will be created in the private sector, the area of the economy that the president has nary a say.
Rule number three. When a candidate tells you that we need a Constitutional amendment in order to balance the budget and close the deficit, that is a candidate you should be wary of. Treat them as if they know nothing about government’s role in managing the economy.
You see, we already have written into the law a requirement that the president pursue a balanced budget as part of the overall goal of full employment and maximum productivity. Any candidate running for president should be familiar with this provision, which you can find in the Humphrey Hawkins Act of 1978.
Rule number four. A candidate should demonstrate that they have a working understanding of foreign affairs, including international trade and military affairs. If a candidate cannot answer the basic question about how the economic and financial problems of Greece and Italy impacts American workers, savers, and investors, they should not be president. If they cannot make a clear argument for circumstances under which military force would be used versus diplomacy, they should not be president.
Finally, rule number five. Since the President of the United States is the head of state, he or she should be reflective of your values. Do you want a president that promotes policies that calls for a more interventionist government or pursues a hands-off policy toward the economy?
Would a president that believes we should reduce our military presence around the world be more to your liking? Or should we do the opposite in the name of national defense? This is the toughest rule, especially given that everyone does not share the same value system. But we should be able to relate to a candidate on something more substantive than whether he is cool, good looking, White … or went to Florida A&M.
Whatever rule you apply, one thing you should do is to keep the emotion out of it. Hiring someone for a job as important as President of the United States shouldn’t be based on feelings or whether or not you like a candidate’s spouse’s legs … well, unless it’s Michelle’s.