Veterans for Obama
Mack McDowell likes to spend time at the local knife and gun show "drooling over firearms," as he puts it. Retired after 30 years in the U.S. Army, he has lined his study with books on war, framed battalion patches from his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, a John Wayne poster, and an 1861 Springfield rifle from an ancestor who fought in the Civil War.
But when it comes to the 2012 presidential election, Master Sergeant McDowell is no hawk.
In South Carolina's January primary, the one-time Reagan supporter voted for Ron Paul "because of his unchanging stand against overseas involvement." In November, McDowell plans to vote for the candidate least likely to wage "knee-jerk reaction wars."''Terry Seawright, a Navy reservist who drives a Fedex truck, voted for Obama in 2008 and plans to do so again in 2012. "I like the coolness and calmness of him," said Seawright, 46. "I like the way he handled Egypt and Libya. He said, "No troops on the ground.'"
Unless a conflict with Iran or Syria pushes foreign policy out front, economic issues seem more likely to sway the veterans' vote than military concerns - as is true for the country generally. Like other Americans, former soldiers are worried about jobs, the federal deficit, and the cost of living.
Obama? "If no one else can get their act together, I'll vote for that Democrat," he said. "My concern is who will do right for the soldier."
If the election were held today, Obama would win the veteran vote by as much as seven points over Romney, higher than his margin in the general population.
The America that allows huge corporations to cut jobs here at home and get large tax breaks in the process is not the America I fought for. What has happened to basic fairness in our economy when so many troops come back from their service, unable to find a decent job, yet still pay more in taxes than the likes of billionaires or huge corporations like GE?
From 2008 to 2011, while hundreds of millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, and their dreams, GE made $10.5 billion in U.S. profits. Rather than pay federal income taxes, GE received $4.7 billion from U.S. taxpayers. We pay income taxes even on our unemployment insurance, but GE got away with paying a scant 2.3 percent in taxes over the last decade.
GE claims they've used these loopholes to create jobs. But that's not true. Since 2004, GE has cut 32,000 jobs, even though the corporation's board of directors is stacked with "job creators." Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for the youngest age bracket of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans topped 20 percent last year.
Those of us who served this country didn't do so in order to safeguard tax loopholes for the wealthiest 1 percent and giant corporations. We have a deep sense of duty and loyalty to our communities, to our children's futures, and to seeing our fellow Americans achieve their dreams.
It is time that those of us who served our country, and those we served for, join together to demand an economy and an America that work for all of us.
I think our post-war support for veterans is awful. Both parties need to do a better job supporting them when they return. As well as foster an environment that makes their sacrifices worthwhile. We are failing our veterans and our "wars" are for nothing.
It's time to recognize what we're fighting for.
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