Views | Brennan Stavem, Bethel Democrats member, for The Clarion
President Obama. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of MCT
As everyone knows, November is National Model Railroad Month, and no one is as excited as me. (Except for the engineering students, although I’ve never understood why anyone would come here to learn how to drive trains.) However, as citizens, we need to lay our small-scaled enthusiasm aside. It’s election year and, for many of us, the first we’ll be able to participate in. Both candidates have painted their picture of where they believe the country should go. There are arguments for everything. I’ve tried to sum up my opinions on just two though, mainly a small portion of each proposed tax plan and some environmental aspects of energy policies.
Mitt Romney is a very successful man with a net worth between $190 and $250 million, making nearly $22 million in 2010. However, for that same year he only paid an effective tax rate of about 13.9 percent - much lower than the average family. This is because the majority of his income that year came from capital gains, which are taxed lower than regular income. Part of Romney’s tax plan would include nearly eliminating the capital gains tax on people making less than $200,000 a year, while keeping the current rates for those who make more than that. Obama’s plan calls for an increase in the capital gains tax to 20 percent, while taxing stock dividends paid out to company shareholders as regular income. This means that someone who earns $500,000 pays the same tax rate as someone who makes $50,000.
Energy is another huge issue in this election, as it has always been. Romney’s plan for energy includes expanding the United States’ natural gas, coal and oil production. There are a few issues with this. First, although the price of a gallon of gas or a monthly heating bill may go down for a while, they aren’t guaranteed to stay that way. What drilling for more resources does is push back the development of renewable fuels, because, why bother to do so when gas is $2 a gallon? The key thing to remember is that these resources are nonrenewable. Going after more of them doesn’t really fix the problem. At our current rate of use, oil will be gone in about 40 years, natural gas in 60 and coal in 133. And that’s without factoring in increasing demands. Instead of pursuing more of what we have, we should look at long-lasting solutions to the problem. President Obama has started to move the country toward renewable sources of energy and goods by providing more tax credits and loans to companies that are a part of a new, green economy. He has also set standards in place for automobile manufacturers to raise the MPG of cars and light duty trucks to 54.5 by 2025. If we do end up producing more natural resources, we need to weigh in the environmental aspects of what that means. Coal, oil and natural gas extraction destroys ecosystems and takes a huge amount of energy. This adds more pollution to a planet that we’ve already been poor stewards of, and it doesn’t get to the root of our energy crisis.
Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both want what’s best for the country. While I think that Romney’s intentions are good, they just don’t seem to add up, both economically and environmentally.