by Shadee Ashtari
In less than 24 hours, our nation will face one of the most crucial decisions of the decade, not only for America, but for the entire world. Our nation will face a decision that not only directly impacts every American citizen today, but every American and global citizen for years to come.
All my (politically cognizant) life, I have been told by greedy, bigoted elders that I am a liberal because I am “young,” “naïve,” and “don’t pay taxes.”
Well, I may still be young (luckily), but I have in my short life: served as a caregiver for a mother with cancer for ten years; lost her to cancer at the age of 20; and worked multiple jobs to help pay for my family’s and school’s expenses (and hence, paid taxes for the last five years). I have experienced my fair share of bitterness and loss, sacrifice and hard work.
And still, I believe that I would rather work hard every day and give as much as I can to those who cannot fight for themselves. I still stand for the liberating and mobilizing power of a strong educational system. I still stand for whatever socially and economically most benefits the greatest amount of people in my country. I am first and foremost a caretaker of my fellow American, and I will defend whatever truly allows the majority of them to succeed.
I believe the greatest American tragedy and hoax has been the intentional and manipulative inception of a deluded lie to masses of good-intentioned Americans by a few profiting con artists. These con artists should be finally called for what they are: anyone who tells the American people that voting for Mitt Romney is in any way beneficial for the majority of Americans.
It is truly not shocking that upper class politicians and voters support his platform and policy outlines—(despite the clear moral and civic duties they choose to ignore) it makes sense that a millionaire would vote for a fellow millionaire to protect their mutual interests. Fine.
But what on earth is the other 96% of the population even considering? The decision between voting for Obama or Romney is not a complex, relative “opinion”—it is a simple fact-based decision between one man’s platform directly economically and socially benefiting 96% of the American population vs. the latter directly and exclusively serving less than 5% of the population.
Anyone who is a student, a member of the middle or lower class (96% of Americans), a woman, a champion of American jobs, cares the slightest about the rest of the world and the future of their children, has half a heart or half a brain ought to vote for President Obama; otherwise, they literally, socially and fiscally, VOTE AGAINST THEMSELVES. They vote to increase their student tuition. They vote to outsource American jobs to China and India. They vote to veto bills ensuring equal pay for men and women. They vote to alienate global allies, increase tensions with unstable countries like Iran, and essentially significantly increase risks of another unnecessary and financially impossible war. (Note, I am steering clear of a few social issues like gay marriage because I am making a point that the majority of Americans, despite their religious or cultural beliefs, will financially and socially benefit on more “indisputable” social issues like equal pay for women from voting for President Obama.) Unless you are part of the top 4%, if you are voting for Romney, you have been conned in Romney’s longest-standing scam. Let’s break it down, for fact’s sake:
To begin with, what would a Romney presidency do to the rest of the world?
Well, it seems like the international community agrees: the outcome would be disastrous. A BBC World Service opinion poll recently found “sharply higher overseas approval ratings for US President Barack Obama than Republican challenger Mitt Romney. An average of 50% favored Mr. Obama, with 9% for Mr. Romney, in the survey of 21,797 people in 21 countries.” Only Pakistan’s respondents chose Mitt Romney as a preferred winner in the November election.
Ouch. Quite the disparity there, Mittens. Apparently the rest of the world seems to understand their inevitably interrelated fates within the international economy. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and Professor at Columbia University, explains, “Romney’s proposed contractionary policies – the attempt to reduce deficits prematurely, while the US economy is still frail – will almost surely weaken America’s already anemic growth, and, if the euro crisis worsens, it could bring on another recession.”
At that point, U.S. demand will be shrinking and the rest of the international community will directly feel the negative economic impacts of a Romney presidency. In the face of globalization, countries around the world need resolute and collaborative efforts to confront issues of trade, climate change, and nuclear arms. And although Romney’s chest-puffing may have fooled some Americans, the rest of the world agrees his macho rhetoric will not serve as a constructive leader in the challenging years to come.
How would a Romney vs. Obama administration value you as a student?
–Has launched an initiative to help universities and community colleges cut the rate of inflation in half in college expenses. The new system, explains former President Bill Clinton, “sets aside a long reserve in the federal budget, gives money directly to colleges and to students so the loans cost less money… far more important, every single person after next year that gets a college loan from the federal government…can pay that loan back as your choice as a small fixed percentage of your income for twenty years.” Essentially, no student should ever have to drop out of a college or university again because of the cost of college tuition.
–The Romney administration’s plan would “slash more than $15 billion of mandatory and discretionary funding from the Pell Grant program beginning next year, resulting in a 42 percent cut to Pell Grants,” explains Stephen Steigleder, Policy Analyst at CAP Action.
–Governor Romney’s advise to students? “Borrow money if you have to from your parents.” Romney then goes on to tell a story about a friend who once needed money and borrowed $20,000 from his parents at a “low interest rate.” Must be nice. Oh wait, except for the fact that students who even qualify for Pell Grants probably don’t have parents who can just cough up $20,000.
Impact: Eliminating Pell Grants for more than 1 million students and adding thousands of dollars in loan debt to college students and their families.
JOBS & THE MAJORITY CLASS
Who will protect your job? Who will ensure a secure and fruitful future for your children in the job market? Who will make America a competitive leader of the free world?
Romney (as Massachusetts’s governor):
-Vetoed a bill banning state contracts with companies outsourcing state work overseas.He opposed George W. Bush’s tariffs on imported steel from China and opposed President Obama’s tariffs on tires imported from China (factcheck.org).
-Argues that companies like his Bain-owned company Sensata Tech. betray American workers because of a “high tax burden.” But the truth is, the effective corporate tax rate is the lowest it has been in 40 years, while many of our largest corporations pay close to or nothing in taxes (similar to Romney and his offshore Cayman accounts). So the actual explanation for Romney’s record of outsourcing our children’s jobs to China and India is essentially, the bottom line. His priorities are not the 96% of hard-working Americans—his priorities, as reflected by his policies, are cutting overhead costs and finding the cheapest labor possible, for the maximum amount of profit possible, for the fewest number of people possible.
Obama: The majority of Americans, 96% according to Pew Research, are not upper class, so why do half of Americans choose to vote for them?
Maybe they think a businessman like Romney can fix the economy? Well, let’s look at the numbers.
When was a last time our economy witnessed a surplus?
Under a Democratic administration, the Clinton Administration. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22.7 million jobs were added between January 1993 and January 2001. What about in the last Republican administration? “There was a net increase of nearly 1.1 million jobs”—20 million less jobs for American workers (factcheck.org).
What about today?
Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics “showed that the economy added 171,000 jobs last month, beating analysts’ expectations. The private sector added 184,000 jobs…making this the 32nd consecutive month that the private sector has grown.” Overall, under Obama, “the private sector has added 759,000 jobs. At this same point in the George W. Bush administration — October 2004 — the private sector had lost more than 1 million jobs.”
Not to mention, when it comes to Romney and his tax rhetoric, there is an enormously annoying point missing: “the fact that although the rich pay higher taxes than the poor, middle-class people actually pay a higher percentage of their income in total taxes,” according to a 2010 study by Citizens for Tax Justice. Although federal income tax rates are progressive, deductions, loopholes, and “special treatment of capital gains reduce actual tax rates for the top earners.” So what is actually happening? Upper-middle-class taxpayers are paying the highest actual percentage of their income (over 31%).
How strange, I guess a deregulated pro-business, upper-class tax-cutting model didn’t really work out. Seems a middle-class economic growth plan, empirically, yielded a fiscal surplus and that Romney does not seem too opposed to taxes when it comes to pushing them down to America’s working class.
-Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, legally eliminating wage discrimination barriers for women, as his very first executive action as President.
-Increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act in an effort to protect victims of sexual assault and combat violence against women.
-Obama’s Affordable Care Act also ensures women can receive cancer screenings and mammograms without co-pays or deductibles.
-“Get rid of” Planned Parenthood funding, “overturn Roe V. Wade,” and hand over women’s rights to “employers” to decide their access to birth control coverage.
There is no excuse for any human being who values a woman’s safety and her access to life-saving resources like mammograms to vote for Romney (who plans to repeal these measures)—a woman doing so, is yet again, voting against herself and every other woman’s basic liberties. There is more at stake than one’s particular (and irrelevant) religious or cultural reservations; “the bottom line” is the universal civil rights and health of an entire female population.
VOTE FOR YOURSELF
So as voting day approaches, I make my last plea: vote for you; vote for the student, the woman, the middle class, the majority; vote in the interest of the international economy.
Despite your particular traditional reservations, this year, VOTE FOR YOURSELF.
Martin Kaplan, associate dean of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication, once said:
“…news is not what it used to be. It has fallen into a bizarre notion that substitutes something called ‘balance’ for what used to be called ‘accuracy’ or ‘truth’ or ‘objectivity.’ That may be because…the notion of a truth doesn’t have the same reputation it used to, but, as a consequence, straight journalists both in print and in broadcast can be played like a piccolo by people who know how to exploit that weakness.”
There is a difference between opinion and fact—don’t be played like a piccolo.
Facts and figures from factcheck.org, Pew Research Center, The Huffington Post, and CNN.
Shadee Ashtari is a senior at UCLA majoring in Communications with a minor in Political Science. At the Burkle Center, Shadee is the Editor-in-Chief of The Generation. She debates on the UCLA Debate Team and edits for the UCLA School of Law’s Communications Department. Her current research focuses on student homelessness in the U.S. and the rise and decline of religiosity in industrialized nations.