At the top of this cycle's ballot are the presidential candidates. Our two major political parties both gave us big duds in my opinion and I didn't have to go out on the limb to make this suggestion. But for those of us nearing retirement or already in it, we still have to consider which candidate makes the best case for our situation. Down ballot the same. Although we are all mired in this rather ugly top ticket campaign, do not let that keep you from voting. State and local races are just as important as the big statewide and national seats up this time.
As this is not a political blog, I will refrain from endorsing any specific candidates. I also don't wish to get mucked up in the rhetoric of these politicians. There are many issues in any political campaign especially when looking at national campaigns. A President for example will appoint Supreme Court justices, write budgets, set general policy across the full spectrum of politics from social issues to fiscal management. All of these are very important to most Americans.
From a retirement standpoint, I believe that the fiscal issues have the most impact to retirees and near retirees. Frankly they are the most important issues we have regardless of one's age in my opinion.
If we go back to 1976, Jimmy Carter won the election and became the 39th President of the United States. Mr. Carter surely benefited from the events surrounding the Watergate scandal and the divided Republican party as Ronald Reagan made a very serious nomination challenge to the sitting incumbent, Gerald Ford, that went all the way to the convention. President Carter had a difficult time managing the crisis in Iran and also the economics of the time and ultimately lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Mr. Reagan was the last Republican President to truly stand on the traditional Republican platform of smaller government and lower taxes. His tax cuts were approved by congress but his budgets, that were filled with deep cuts in spending, were not. Unfortunately this led to large increases in the national deficit. Although the deficit was a problem, Reagan's policies led to the longest streak of economic expansion in US history that continued all the way through the Clinton Administration. One can only wonder what things may have looked like if Reagan had one party control.
|Hillary Clinton. (image from her website)|
|Donald Trump, (image from his website)|
All of this is important to consider as 20 trillion in national debt coupled with some 60 trillion in unfunded liabilities weighs heavy on retirees. Our government may not be able to keep the promises of social security, medicare, and medicaid. These are programs that are very import to all but the wealthiest among us.
As someone considering their retirement, voting for candidates with strong fiscal ideas is important. If you support a larger more involved government, Democrats tend to fill that void. But be wary of these modern Democrats that spend, spend, spend but fail to take the unpopular position of paying for it with needed tax increases. Likewise, if you believe that our government should be lean and trim with lower taxes and less intrusion, Republicans are generally the way to go. But be aware of these modern Republicans that like to slash taxes but won't make the tough and often unpopular cuts to the budget to pay for it. This notion of borrowing to pay for services we can't pay for has to stop. All the way down the ballot look for candidates that support the ideal you believe in whether it is tax and spend or small government and don't be fooled by the lies of those new modern politicians that think we can have both. It is one or the other my friends, low taxes and minimal government or high taxes and bigger government.
My personal beliefs are that the federal government should be lean and out of our lives. The old school fiscal ideas of Reagan are true and solid. Unfortunately there are not many Republicans that actually follow those ideas anymore. That said, tax and spend with a balanced budget is better than low taxes with a huge deficit. Are there any Republicans out there willing to make the hard decision to cut spending to support lower taxes? In Congress, yes there are, but at the top level, not since Reagan.
Get out and vote, you don't get to whine about the system if you fail to participate in it. Do not overlook the local and state level races. These are often low paid and even part time positions that are held by everyday people like us, not power hungry establishment politicians with high levels of corruption. Vote down ballot and make a difference in the place that you live and yes try to figure out which one of these two turds we have at the top will best serve your interests and vote appropriately. Remember as the wheels fall off the federal cart, and they will, the lug nuts are very loose; local and state governments will have to carry the load. Down ballot we have great control over how that plays out and the people that run for state legislature and local commissions are accessible unlike our federal level politicians that rarely have time for us lowly commoners.