The American people have spoken, but I am not sure what they were attempting to communicate through their vote in this presidential election.
President Obama received a stunning groundswell of support from key constituencies and extraordinary turnout after an ugly, bitter, divisive campaign in which charges and counter-charges were hurled by both sides.
Were the American people afraid of a President Mitt Romney, given that he has adopted both sides on most key issues, attempting to have it all ways? Were they offended that he painted with a broad brush when he branded 47 percent of us as moochers who would always choose government handouts over personal responsibility?
Is it possible that we like the lackluster economy which has persisted on Barack Obama’s watch with high unemployment and underemployment; tax and fiscal policy uncertainty which causes businesses to decline to spend and hire; a big, expensive, expanding federal government with trillion dollar-plus annual deficits; an exploding national debt which currently stands at $16.4 trillion; one out of seven Americans being beneficiaries of the food stamp program, many of them having utilized for years a program that was designed to be a temporary bridge? Do we feel that the Affordable Care Act is outstanding legislation that will truly bring down the cost of health care and make the system better in most respects, that it is realistic to claim that reimbursements to health care professionals and hospitals can be slashed to achieve savings? Are we not terribly concerned about four Americans that were abandoned by their nation in Benghazi, Libya, before and during a terrorist massacre?
Nevertheless, President Obama shall be the president of all Americans for another four years. He deserves congratulations for his victory, which did not come easily. Mitt Romney was right in his gracious concession speech. It is time to set aside for the good of the nation what he described with understatement as “partisan bickering.”
The most immediate action needed is to take evasive action as the proverbial “fiscal cliff” approaches, spending reductions and tax increases that it is widely believed would trigger a recession and a significant decline in economic output if enacted. After that looming disaster is addressed, I must hope that President Obama will seek and be able to achieve a breakthrough which will enable a “grand bargain” to be struck, one in which the national debt is addressed through the judicious reductions in spending that the Republicans claim they want and the revenue enhancements demanded by the Democrats. Both sides will need to sacrifice for the good of the country. Campaign pledges will need to be broken and special interests set aside as radical solutions are adopted to address monumental problems. A good start would be to increase the age at which individuals qualify for full Medicare and Social Security benefits and to scale back cost of living increases in Social Security, at least for higher income recipients. The status quo alternative is to maintain a system which ultimately collapses under the weight of promises that it cannot fulfill. The president cannot claim a great mandate, given the ideological split of the nation and his slim margin of victory in the popular vote, rendering bipartisanship absolutely critical.
Is a House of Representatives which remains under Republican control prepared to work with the president to get our nation on the right track? Shall we have a chance at four years of accomplishment for the American people, or are we embarking upon four years of continuing stalemate, bluster, contempt, hyper-partisanship and disdain for the public and our future?
It is now time for all federal officials to roll up their sleeves, set aside party, and work for the good of the nation, recognizing that we are all in this together. The alternative is frightening.
Upper St. Clair