Why I’m Voting for Obama (with Lots of Data and Graphs)

For reference, the best non-partisan overviews I’ve found for each candidate’s positions:

For all the data used below, I try to use only non-partisan and mainstream sources. No partisan blogs to make the points.

    Budget/Deficit Reduction

    Background Reading:
    Wikipedia: History of the United States Public Debt
    Wikipedia: United States Public Debt

  1. I don’t think we need a tax plan that cuts taxes for the upper 5% by raising taxes for the lower 95%. To me, the upper 5% seems to be doing OK without needing any extra help from the government. Definitely not at the expense of the middle class.
    Romney Tax Plan: Change in After-Tax Income as Function of Income Percentile. Red is if tax cuts are funded by deficit spending and blue is if tax cuts are deficit neutral. Source (Data from non-partisan Tax Policy Center)
    Note: study also used dynamic scoring with a model from one of Romney’s advisers to account growth due to tax cuts and found no significant difference in the results. Romney’s own advisers “estimated that a broad-based income tax cut […] would recoup only about a quarter of the lost revenue through supply-side growth effects.”
  2. If one extreme is you close the budget deficit solely with tax increases and the other extreme is to close it solely with spending cuts, then isn’t the centrist way to close it with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases? Romney said he wouldn’t accept even a 10:1 deal (10 dollars of spending cuts for every 1 dollar of revenue increase). Obama has suggested a 3:1 deal (3 dollars of spending cuts for every 1 dollar of revenue increase).
  3. I don’t see the logic in increasing our deficit by $2.1 trillion over the next decade by raising government spending on defense from 3.5% of the GDP to 4%. To my knowledge, Romney has specified no spending offsets to pay for this increase, which implies it will come from deficit spending.
    Defense Spending Under Romney Plan
  4. Ignoring rhetoric (no one’s ever in favor of increasing the deficit), the data shows the deficit usually gets worse under Republican presidents. Never in my lifetime has a Republican president decreased the debt of his predecessor.
    US Federal Debt as Percent of GDP by President. Source (Data from U.S. Office of Management and Budget)
  5. We’re told deficit reduction is about making “hard choices”. I agree, but I don’t see any hard choices for the very rich in Romney’s plan. They’re being asked to accept a cut to their taxes. That’s not a “hard choice”. That’s not shared sacrifice. That’s a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the upper class.
  6. The biggest legislative reason for our debt in the past decade is the 2001/2003 Bush tax cuts. I’m very skeptical of Romney pledging to further cut taxes without specifying how he’s going to pay for it. If history is any guide, there is a good chance this will result in further deficit increases.
    Sources of Debt, 2001-2011. Source (Image Source)

    Legislative Effects on Deficit Under Bush and Obama. Source
  7. Romney’s budget plan (tax cuts targeted at high earners, increased defense spending, no specifics on spending cuts) sounds the same as Bush’s 2004 plan, which ended in large deficits and a GDP crash:

    President Bush and members of his administration have promised to cut that deficit in half by 2009 — by spurring faster economic growth that will lead to higher tax revenue, and by Bush’s pledge to hold the line on spending.

    But Bush hasn’t offered any more specifics for cutting the deficit.


  8. I don’t think Romney’s Bush-like job policies (large tax cuts for high earners to attempt achieving faster growth) would do better than Obama’s policies. Looking at the BLS data below, unemployment was 4.2% for Bush’s first full month in office (Feb. 2001) and 8.3% for Obama’s first full month in office (Feb. 2009). In so much as their policies affected unemployment, here’s how it changed from their initial conditions:
    • Obama (current, September 2012, 7.8%): 6% decrease since beginning of first term
    • Bush (end of first term, Jan. 2005, 5.3%): 26% increase in unemployment since beginning of first term
    • Bush (end of second term, Jan. 2009, 7.8%): 86% increase in unemployment since beginning of first term, 47% increase in unemployment since beginning of second term

    If unemployment under Obama had changed at the same rate it did under the best term of Bush policies (2001-2005), it would currently be at 10.5% instead of 8.3% (under the worst term of Bush policies, it would be 12.2%).

    Unemployment Rate (2001-2012)
    Job Record for Obama and Bush at same point in their presidencies. Source (Data from Labor Department)
    Note: I haven’t found any info that Romney is proposing an economic plan significantly different than Bush’s.
  9. I can’t find any data to answer this question:

  10. 80% of top economists agree stimulus reduced unemployment. Only 4% disagree. Only 12% think the costs will end up exceeding the benefits.
  11. Even Mitt Romney agrees that under some circumstances government spending can prevent job loss:

    His [Obama and Congress’s] trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs

  12. Health Care

    Background reading:
    Wikipedia: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)

  13. Obamacare was a Republican plan (for the 20 years just prior to Obama’s election). Mitt Romney was a far better advocate for the policy than Obama ever was. We’ve had universal emergency health care since Reagan signed it into law and now we have a more structured way to pay for it. I think Obamacare was the centrist approach to health care reform.
  14. 86% of Medicaid spending goes to children, the disabled, and the elderly (as shown by the first graph below). Those are the people that inherently have no other way to get health insurance. 60% of nursing home residents use Medicaid for at least part of their payment. Chances are if you’ve ever had a parent, grand-parent, or other loved one in a nursing home, they were receiving Medicaid payments. As the second graph below shows, Paul Ryan’s budget would cut Medicaid spending by 75%. That’s right, 75 percent.
    Medicaid Expenditures by Enrollment Group, 2012. Source (Data from CBO)

    CBO Estimates of Federal Spending on Medicaid, Baseline vs. Paul Ryan’s Plan. Source
  15. Obamacare was basically paid for and doesn’t increase the deficit. There are caveats about the “Doc Fix” which may make the first decade closer to revenue neutral rather than a deficit reduction, but it’s still far from the deficit impact of the 2003 Medicare part D bill, which Paul Ryan voted for, that increases the deficit in this decade by $727 billion.
    Projected Impact of Obamacare on the Deficit. Source (Data from CBO)

  16. Social Issues

  17. I prefer a leader who didn’t co-sponsor a bill regulating “forcible rape”. Our country has many complex problems to solve…I don’t think regulating rape is one of them.
  18. To reduce abortions, I believe you have to reduce the demand, not just the supply. For example, more access to birth control and better health care availability for mother and child.
  19. I think divorce, pornography, and extramarital affairs are a bigger threat to marriage than gay marriage. I don’t think it’s the government’s place to make any of those illegal.
  20. This:
  21. I think immigration policy in this direction makes more sense than Romney’s “self-deportation” idea.
  22. I think Obama’s DREAM Act is closer to how Reagan did immigration reform than what Romney is proposing.

  23. Military

  24. Amazing accomplishment from the special forces team all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief. No apologies to Pakistan. And sometimes you want a commander-in-chief to “move heaven and earth” for one person.
    Time Magazine: May 20, 2011

    War Room for Osama bin Laden Raid

6 Replies to “Why I’m Voting for Obama (with Lots of Data and Graphs)”

  1. Re: Jobs: there are PLENTY of jobs to be had in the U.S. I toured a truck plant yesterday morning and learned that the trucking industry is one small example of a huge need for workers. I think our country is just struggling with laziness, a lack of willingness to switch career gears, move or people have a sense of entitlement. If you work closely with truckers, you’ll learn that they’re really quite wonderful people and work for amazing companies. And these guys can make up to six figures. And when I see how much time my agency and client counterparts put into their workday for not even half the salary, doesn’t seem like the time away from home is much different. Transportation companies are literally begging for drivers, and can’t meet customer demands as a result of driver shortage. And a technician making the truck itself can make up to $140K.

    Anyway, major digression, but just a few things I observed that, regardless of the economy and presidential hopeful, still contribute to the underlying unemployment problem.

  2. I doubt that I’ll get into too many of these (and even though I reach a different conclusion, I agree with some of your assessments). However, I would object to considering the New York Times Opinion section a “non-partisan source” for the highly interpretive figure in [6].

  3. A large number of the points here don’t seem to be so much about “why [you’re] voting for Obama” as they are “why [you’re] not voting for Romney”. I’m not complaining really; maybe you intended it this way, but they’re really not the same thing. i.e., an argument against Romney isn’t an argument for Obama. The lesser of two evils argument is a crock.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not voting for Romney either. But that doesn’t say anything about whether I think Obama is a good presidential choice and worthy of a vote.

  4. I’ve read very persuasive arguments that the design of our current political system actually causes most candidates that we would consider ideal for higher office to get weeded out, rather than to be selected and nominated.

    And… I just noticed that my avatar image is still a pirate Sophia picture that I set as a joke about a year ago. Don’t let that diminish the validity of my comments 🙂

  5. Fair enough. Maybe I should write a blog about why I like Obama’s policies if he wins reelection. (In fairness, I doubt you’d find many “Why I’m Voting for Romney” articles that aren’t mostly “Why I’m Voting against Obama”).

    Some of the points, e.g., $2.1 trillion in defense spending increase for Romney, are hard to frame as an affirmative for Obama, but still seems like important considerations in making a decision. And, there are some affirmative points in there (e.g., Obamacare, bin Laden raid, immigration policy).

    Also, given the title of this blog, avatars of Pirate Sophia are met with adulation and praise, not ridicule and scorn. As are any avatars of Ninja Sophia 🙂

  6. I’m Matt’s father. I don’t think Matt’s views supporting Obama from 2008 came to pass. Why should Matt’s predictions be any better for 2012? Certainly Obama’s predictions and his supportive media didn’t come true either! I wrote an analysis of how Obama compares against past presidents – some comparisons clear to Eisenhower or 1948. NO PRESIDENT IN HISTORY HAS SUCH A DISMAL ECONOMIC RECORD AND MASSIVE DEFICITS, that is since World War 2.

    I will send my analysis to anyone who wishes. Email request to david-milATmsnDOTcom.

    PS: Matt did not post the link I gave to my rebuttal, so this is the best I can do. I hope he posts it.

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