Monday, November 12, 2012

Bites From Obama vs Romney, Murphy vs McMahon

I always wanted and was certain from the beginning that Barack Obama would win the recently concluded elections simply because of a few main reasons: he fights for the middle-class Americans and even pushes for the healthcare reform bill. There's a certain understanding from the people that a Democrat party-originated president will have a hard time to reverse the policies undertaken by the Republican Bush administration. Secondly, with the narrow aversion of the Senate and House's deadlock over the national debt matter last year, many people would not want to have someone like Romney that would make people suffer while reducing the tax for the wealthy.

Some people, even Warren Buffett thinks that people amass too much wealth but yet don't contribute much back to the nation in the period where things are so tough economically is somewhat greedy - an opinion that Obama doesn't hide by pointing to the elite at Wall Street as "the fat cat bankers". Many don't take kindly to him because he signed the Dodd-Frank Act. Add in the Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren (who pushed for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) - the rich end of the people layer will be very much angry, while those in the lower and middle would say at least it's better.

Many including overseas partners rather prefer Obama in dealing the foreign policy. In the final round of debate between Romney and him, Obama's way of addressing the matter was very much more careful -  even if there's rivalry with other nations compared to what Romney would do - more hawkish stance, given of his Mormon background. This of course is what Netahanyu would want - given of Israel itching to start a war with Iran over oil and nukes. The kind of thought by Romney nerved a lot of people. Any person would imagine how Romney would deal with the Chinese in a slam bang manner.

Facing the fiscal cliff due in January, there is a necessity of the U.S to cut expenditure on defense and the timetable of withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan needs to be accelerated, for a daily upkeep is around to the tune of $1 billion. Romney is not very keen on upscale cuts on that matter and this would put more trouble in addition to the $600 billion automatic cuts in January 2013. The contest is also seen as perceiving who is digging the bigger hole and sinking faster.

Wall Street on Wednesday took a big dip, and then it continued on Thursday only to parred its losses on Friday. The real pain is that Wall Street bet on the wrong horse - obviously as part of the extreme capitalist agenda and lost painfully - the Dow and S&P 500 drop between 300-400 points respectively.

The other interesting thing about that day was the Senate seat contest in Connecticut between Democrat's Chris Murphy against former WWE chairman Linda McMahon (Republic). Linda spent about $50 million of her fortune to campaign and win a ticket to the Senate - 5 times more than the amount of Murphy's expenditure. $100 million in two campaigns for McMahon but yet lost on both occasions. Arguably, the main reason why Murphy won against her was because of insights of those who worked under her describing her behavior in running the company. This senatorial seat contest was interesting because it points out that not even the amount of money can guarantee a politician a ticket to the Senate.

The closing speech by Murphy was also a turning point:

"I've spent my life running to people to help them and Linda McMahon has spent her life running over people to help herself, that's the contrast in this election. And so, whether it is the difference on taxes or Medicare or social security, whether it is the difference on fighting for manufacturers, standing up for women's health, whether it's the difference in terms of how Linda McMahon and I have prioritised the time we've spent on this Earth, we've got a story to tell over the next day.... We will prove over the course of the next thirty hours that Connecticut is not for sale."

Many have expressed contempt and disappointment over McMahon's answers and statements.

The re-election campaign would definitely provide some allegories to the Malaysian political context. Just like Obama's win, when Barisan lost more than they thought, the KLSE plunged 10% and trading got suspended on 9 March 2008. Quite similar of betting that the customary 2/3rds are there, but this time round, it didn't happen. Many are uncertain whether a change or government or a setback would affect the 5-year term policy making which they are used to.

As an allegory to the Murphy vs McMahon campaign, Barisan's war chest is estimated to amount to approximately RM 1.7 billion - no doubt from collective contributions by top national conglomerates and GLCs. If you visit a place where ceramahs by the non-Barisan parties, people would give donations with amounts more or less a fragment of the total money.

Let's say we use the maximum tune of RM 1.7 billion:

222 Parliament Seats X $200K campaign per seat = $44.4 million
505 State Seats X $100K campaign per seat = $50.5 million

The actual cost of campaigning for each coalition in total for any GE is actually close to $100 million. By spending $1.7 billion in total, even Barisan can't even stand and abide by their own election terms and regulations set by their unofficial component party, the Election Commission. So the remaining $1.6 billion is more or less used as "instant noodle" projects such as the road-tarring to Kuala Sepetang during the Bukit Gantang by-election (yes, I went ahead before the Special Bunch camped there in 2009.)

There is a different feeling when forking out the money vs big corporation contribution in donating to the election fund for a coalition to contest in an election. 

If we look at the map indicating states where Obama and Romney won, the parts that Romney win (in the early run of the count) would be those in the almost middle part of America including Alaska. When examining each of the state that are under the Romney count, you would notice that the pattern is somewhat similar to our rural area count (e.g Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma). However it is important to note that the voter mindset of the voter there is not the same as Malaysia and the voting system is not the same, so it can't be taken entirely to say what happens in America is the same as in Malaysia. The gist from the two things above is that

a) those who are savvy will not want to have a government that keeps spending bottomless.
b) if you are a tax payer person, you feel the real pinch compared to those who are excluded (i.e those earning under RM 2500, the elderly, the retirees)
c) no matter how much you splash out to people, it doesn't guarantee you to be a MP or an ADUN.

In spite of those things many say that the GE 13 is the proper contest atmosphere it would be - a very tense thing on the national scale that is equivalent to a final of a football contest. The exception is that one side will attempt to rig the game to the favor, while the other tries to show that they can do the job in a very proper manner - if they are given the mandate to do so.

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