For the average American, the economy, unemployment, and the federal budget deficit are by far the most pressing issues when going to the polls in November.  A recent Gallup poll of registered voters indicated that voters ranked the following issues either “extremely important” or “very important”:

            The economy – 93 %

            Unemployment 87%

            Healthcare – 84%

            Federal Budget deficit – 78%

http://www.gallup.com/poll/127247/voters-rate-economy-top-issue-2010.aspx.  Polls also demonstrate that Republicans are favored to win a majority in the House. http://portfo.li/o/253068-republicans-favored-to-take-control-of-house; http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/08/10/key-trends-favoring-republicans-in-the-2010-midterm-elections/.  The logical conclusion is that the Republicans are favored because they are viewed to be better at dealing with economic issues than Democrats.  The Republican platform demonstrates that certain issues advocated by the GOP would actually increase the debt. 

1.  Abortion. 

The Republican platform explains:

“We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children…”

http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Values.htm#5

Yet a Constitutional amendment preventing abortion would have HUGE financial implications.  The first logical comparison is between the cost of an abortion compared to the cost of delivery.  In Dallas, Texas, the cost of a routine abortion is less than $500.00.  A normal vaginal, uncomplicated, delivery costs $5,000-$8,000.  

The cost of raising a child to 18 years old, EXCLUDING college, is between is about $130,000.00.

In 1976 Congress passed the Hyde Amendment which excludes abortion from the comprehensive health services provided through Medicaid.   Under the new health care law recently passed, federal funds are only available in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.  

In 2006 there were 4.3 million child-birth related hospitalizations of women costing an estimated $14.8 billion in hospital costs.  Forty-two percent of the costs associated with maternal-childbirth related hospital stays ($6.3 billion) were billed to Medicaid.

Approximately half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.  When considering the cost of having an unwanted child it is essential to consider the cost to society during the child’s lifetime.  Additional considerations should include: 

Women who gave birth as teenagers make up nearly half of the welfare caseload.  This group of women is less likely to have high school diplomas, and they are more likely to have larger families.  Both of these characteristics increase the likelihood of being among the poorest welfare recipients. 

Teenage mothers may have the hardest time earning their way off welfare and becoming self-sufficient

Teenage mothers make up nearly half of the AFDC caseload

Teenage mothers are less educated, have larger families, and are more likely to have never married.

Teenage mothers are more likely to have incomes below 50% of the poverty line

The strongest predictor of whether a person will end up in prison was that the criminal was raised by a single parent

70% of inmates in state detention centers serving long-time sentences were raised by single (never married) moms

When children born after Roe v. Wade reached their teenage years, the crime rate dropped.   Legalized abortion led to less crime

2.  Special Needs Children: Palin has worked to promote her image as an advocate of “special needs” children, and has repeatedly criticized the 90% of Americans who would opt to abort a fetus known to have Down syndrome.  http://beevine.newsvine.com/_news/2007/08/16/901037-90-of-women-choose-abortion-when-child-has-downs-syndrome-   While we may respect Palin’s attitude about what she believes to be best for herself, and her family, it is the taxpayers who pay for her to make that choice. 

a.  Education.  Studies performed 10 years ago indicated that the cost to the nation to educate students with disabilities was approximately $78.3 billion. http://www2.ed.gov/inits/commissionsboards/whspecialeducation/reports/three.html .

  b.Health Care:  Children with Down syndrome, on average, require five
times more outpatient care than the typical child.

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-news-sunday/transcript/sarah-palin-talks-immigration-economy-and-political-future

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-57

Each year, 40 percent of pregnant women—1.6 million—depend on Medicaid for their prenatal care.  Thus we can assume that a child born to that woman will also rely on Medicaid for their health care.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3231/genetic_disorder/.

c.  “Obamacare”: Both Palin and the Republican party oppose nationalized health care.   

http://www.ontheissues.org/republican_party.htm#Health_Care.  However most families with a child who has Down syndrome have difficulty obtaining health care because Down syndrome is considered a “pre-existing” condition.  Even the NDSC considers the “debate over health care as an opportunity to address the problems persons with Down syndrome and their families face in accessing quality health care services. We support the enactment of truly universal, comprehensive health care that is equally available to all Americans, regardless of health or disability status. We believe that adequate health care is a basic human right.” http://www.ndsccenter.org/resources/position6.php

3.  Taxes:  The Republican Party says: 

“The last thing Americans need right now is tax hikes. On the federal level, Republicans lowered taxes in 2001 and 2003 in order to encourage economic growth, put more money in the pockets of every taxpayer, and make the system fairer. It worked. If Congress had then controlled its spending, we could have done even more.”   http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Economy.html

However the reality is that the Bush tax cuts are part of the reason we are so far in debt now.  The Washington Post clearly explains why continuation of those tax cuts would only make the financial situation worse.

Argument presented by the Republicans:  “Extending the tax cuts would be a good way to stimulate the economy.” 

Response:

            “… each dollar of government spending or tax cuts should have the largest possible effect on the economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office and other authorities, extending all of the Bush tax cuts would have a small bang for the buck, the equivalent of a 10- to 40-cent increase in GDP for every dollar spent….

Dollar for dollar, each of these measures would have about three times the impact on GDP as continuing the Bush tax cuts.”

Argument presented by the Republicans:  Allowing the high-income tax cuts to expire would hurt small businesses.

Response:  “If, as proposed, the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire for the highest earners, the vast majority of small businesses will be unaffected. Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by taxpayers in the top two income brackets — individuals earning more than about $170,000 a year and families earning more than about $210,000 a year.

And just as most small businesses aren’t owned by people in the top income brackets, most people in the top income brackets don’t rely mainly on small-business income:

  Argument presented by the Republicans:  Making the tax cuts permanent will lead to long-term growth.
Response:  “… when it comes to fostering growth, this isn’t the whole story. The tax cuts also raised government debt — and higher government debt leads to higher interest rates. … then the tax cuts have raised the cost of making new investments. As the economy recovers and private borrowing rises, the upward pressure on interest rates is likely to grow even stronger.

I have used standard growth and investment formulas to calculate that the overall effect of the Bush tax cuts on economic growth has therefore been negative — and it will continue to be negative if the cuts are extended.”

  Argument presented by Republicans:  The Bush tax cuts are the main cause of the budget deficit.

Response:  “Although the cuts were large and drove revenue down sharply, they are not the main cause of the sizable deficit that exists today. In 2007, well after the tax cuts took effect, the budget deficit stood at 1.2 percent of GDP. By 2009, it had increased to 9.9 percent of the economy. The Bush tax cuts didn’t change between 2007 and 2009, so clearly something else is to blame.

The main culprit was the recession — and the responses it inspired. As the economy shrank, tax revenue plummeted. The cost of the bank bailouts and stimulus packages further added to the deficit. In fact, an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicates that the Bush tax cuts account for only about 25 percent of the deficit this year. “

Argument presented by Republicans:  Continuing the Bush tax cuts won’t doom  the long-term fiscal picture;  entitlements are the real problem.

Response:  “… The deficits we face over the next decade reflect a fundamental imbalance between spending and revenue, one that goes beyond entitlements. … even if the economy returns to full employment by 2014 and stays there for the rest of the decade, the continuation of current fiscal policies, including the Bush tax cuts, would lead to a national debt in the range of 90 percent of GDP by 2020. That’s already the highest rate since just after World War II — and Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security aren’t expected to hit their steepest spending increases until after 2020.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/30/AR2010073002671.html

Finally, consider Sarah Palin’s experience with taxes in Alaska, during the short time she was Governor.  In 2007, Palin raised taxes on oil company profits by $1.5 billion a year, enabling Alaska to double its oil revenue. However, in 2008 she said, “Windfall profits taxes alone prevent additional investment in domestic production.” [Bloomberg, 3/8; Seattle Times,  http://thinkprogress.org/palin-digest/

4.  Frivolous Lawsuits:   The Republican party indicates that it is important to “eliminate frivolous lawsuits.” http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Economy.htm

            Consider the lawsuits instituted by Sarah Palin during her short term as Governor of Alaska.

a.       Palin sued the Federal Government to remove Polar Bears from the Endangered Species list.   www.reuters.com/article/idUSN2145097820080522. Not only was this suit expensive for the Federal Government, and the State of Alaska, it was also contrary to the position taken by the marine mammal scientists from Alaska. http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/17/sarah_palin_and_global_warming_alaska

b.Palin sued the Federal Government attempting the recognition of Native Alaskans to hunt and fish according to ancient customs.  Palin’s goal was to invalidate all the subsistence fishing regulations the federal government has issued to date to protect Native fishing, and to force the courts instead to take over the roll of setting subsistence regulations. Palin’s law suit seeks to diminish subsistence fishing rights in order to expand sport and commercial fishing. http://www.counterpunch.org/miller09122008.html.

c.At the time Palin resigned from the position as Governor of Alaska, Palin declared that she was “exploring legal options” related to a federal investigation into the contracting and building of her house on Lake Lucille at the same time, and by the same contractor building the Wasilla Sports Complex.  http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7283.

5.  Wasteful spending:  The Republican party indicates that it is important to eliminate “wasteful” spending. http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/GovernmentReform.html.   Consider the “wasteful” spending of Sarah Palin before she resigned as Governor.

a.  Road to Nowhere.  During her short time as Governor, Palin approved the construction of the “Road to Nowhere” which is a road leading to the edge of a cliff where the Bridge to Nowhere was going to be built.  Knowing that the bridge was never going to be built, Palin authorized the building of the road, regardless of her knowledge that it would never be used.  According to the Alaska Transportation Priorities Project, a group promoting  “sensible transportation systems in the state” the “Road to Nowhere” is an “irresponsible waste”.  http://articles.latimes.com/2008/sep/19/nation/na-bridge;  http;//www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/03/sarah-palin-earmark-hypocrisy.

b.During the time Palin was mayor of Wasilla, she authorized the construction of the      Hockey Center on land she knew the city did not own.  The city attempted to confiscate the property through an eminent domain suit, which it lost.  The result was an additional cost to the small town of Wasilla of over $1,600,000 over and above the fair market value of the property.  Bennett, Lorenzo, Trailblazer.     

6. Earmarks:  The Republican Party indicates that “Earmarking must stop.”  “Tax dollars must be distributed on the basis of clear national priorities, not a politician’s seniority or party position. http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/GovernmentReform.html.

a.When Palin was mayor she hired a lobbyist for the small town of Wasilla. As a result the town of Wasilla obtained earmarks totaling almost $27,000,000.00.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/01/AR2008090103148.html

b. When Governor Palin requested earmarks of $256,000,000.00 and Alaska received more earmarks per person than any other state. 
www.politico.com/news/stories/0908/13353.html.

     7.  Debt:   Consider the increase in debt caused by Palin as mayor and as Governor. 

a.  As Mayor Palin expanded the town’s operating budget by almost $2,000,000.00 and when she ended her term as Mayor she left Wasilla $20 million dollars in debt.  Anchorage Daily News 10/23/06; the Politico, 8/29.

b.  Sarah Palin has long sold herself as a fiscal conservative, arguing against the Democrats’ health overhaul on the grounds that the nation simply can’t afford it.  But when the former vice presidential candidate resigned as governor of Alaska in the summer of 2009, she left the state with a 70 percent debt-to-GDP ratio — the highest state debt burden in the United States.  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/03/postpalin-alaska-largest-debt-burden.

In conclusion, the GOP’s economic platform is totally unrealistic.  The economic situation can’t possibly improve if we eliminate the possibility of choosing abortion.  If the 90% of Americans who opt to have an abortion rather than giving birth to a child with Down syndrome are suddenly required to have the child, the resulting cost to the American tax payers is beyond comprehension. It’s popular to say that a politician won’t raise taxes while balancing the budget, but the truth is that we can’t balance the budget without raising taxes.   It is easy for Palin to criticize the politicians who are in office, as she no longer has a record against which anyone could compare. While the road ahead is a treacherous path, things ARE better now than during the crisis in Oct. of 2008.  If we are to assist in Restoring Sanity, we must work to educate others about the inconsistent goals of the Republican Party’s platform, and those promoted by Palin.

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