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Currently there is outrage nationally over government bailouts, deficits, executive bonuses, unemployment and health care legislation that went (choose one) too far, too fast, not far enough, not fast enough.
I realize it is not popular to defend politicians, but the president and Congress have only had a little over a year to fix or improve the crisis situations they faced in January 2009. So I find it surprising that so many polls today show the likelihood of major Republican gains in the November elections.
What is most troubling is the lack of understanding of issues by the American electorate. The recent Senate election in Massachusetts, in which a Republican won the seat held by Ted Kennedy for almost half a century, was a classic "toss-the-bums-out" referendum, not specific to our current problems. So at the moment, the problem is us, the electorate, not Washington.
One poll of former Obama supporters who abandoned the Democrat in Massachusetts showed that 41 percent of those who opposed the health care plan weren't sure exactly why. If elected officials are supposed to act based on the wisdom of ordinary people, they're going to need ordinary people to be wiser than that. If we are going to have better government, we are going to have to become a more informed electorate and specifically look at facts and not "sound bites."
Over the years, starting in 1968, I have voted almost equally between Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans lost me during the second term of Ronald Reagan (who I voted for both times) due to fiscal irresponsibility. I know that isn't what the typical perception is, but it's true.
Over the years, the Republicans have been perceived as fiscally responsible. Of the past four presidents prior to Obama, Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush, all Republicans, ran high deficits; Clinton, the only Democrat, did not run a deficit and left office with a budget surplus. That's a fact.
The worst was President George W. Bush. Republican majorities in the House and Senate passed massive tax cuts in which 90 percent went to the top 10 percent of wage earners. That was an irresponsible thing to do, particularly when we were involved in two wars.
The Republicans are no longer the party of fiscally responsible presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon. The majority of our current problems are the result of the last Bush administration and the Republican Congress he had for his first six years. The Bush administration was asleep at the switch.
A case in point was his Security and Exchange Commission Chairman, Christopher Cox, who was told repeatedly about Bernie Madoff and did nothing. The Republicans pride themselves as "deregulators," and what we have in so many problem areas is the result.
Democrats are working on financial systems reform to prevent many of the problems we encountered from occurring again. I hope they finish this task before Republicans take control again. If they don't, we will get what we usually do from Republicans: A lack of reasonable government regulation, tax cuts for the top 90 percent of wage earners and increased deficits, which they will later claim only they can reduce and eliminate.