In the 2012 election cycle it is more important than ever to vote Democrats back in to control of both houses of Congress and to give President Barack Obama a second term in the White House. What hangs in the balance is affordable health care for all socioeconomic classes and an end to private insurance company abuses like refusing coverage based on pre-existing conditions (if the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act survives a conservative majority in the Supreme Court). Also at risk is the social welfare state as we know it.
Conservatives will tell you that welfare programs are bankrupting America, but the biggest drivers of deficits are Social Security and Medicare (both of which are programs partially funded by payroll taxes), veterans' benefits and the interest on our debt. Are these programs really "entitlements," as they are so often called? The most well-known welfare program, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) comes with a price tag of about $16 billion annually. That's a fraction of 1 percent of annual government spending. Even if you entirely eliminated food stamps, you wouldn't put a dent in the debt any time in the near future.
Rep. Paul Ryan and Gov. Mitt Romney would like to see a restructuring of the tax code and spending cuts that collectively target the working-class poor, all while massive tax cuts once again go to the wealthiest Americans. We've tried this starve-the-beast, trickle-down economics (it was tried on steroids during the George W. Bush administration) and it landed us with astronomical government debt leading up to the worst recession since the Great Depression.
If you believe the government has a role to play in helping the less fortunate attain quality, affordable health care and quality, affordable higher education in an age that demands it, in helping the poor, disabled, elderly, unemployed, underemployed and children ... if you believe we need taxation and spending policies that make sense by acknowledging our need not only for controlled spending but for greater revenue that is not ripped from the lower- and middle-classes ... if you disagree with Dick Cheney when he said that "Reagan taught us that deficits don't matter," then I encourage you to vote for Barack Obama and congressional Democrats in 2012.