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Queens Chronicle

Fundamental issues are at stake on Election Day

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Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 10:30 am

It’s less than a month from now that voters across the United States will determine the direction of the country for the next for years, by either re-electing President Obama or choosing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney instead.

The voters will be answering fundamental questions about how best to boost a still-lagging economy, what the nation’s role in world affairs is, how healthcare should be provided, how big the military should be and more — including, yes, whether the taxpayers should continue subsidizing Big Bird or if he should be left to stand or fall on his own in the marketplace.

Do the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio need the small amount of their funding that comes from the government? Obama says yes; Romney says no.

Should the budget of the armed forces, on which the taxpayers spend more than the next 17 largest militaries combined, be reduced? Obama says yes; Romney says no.

Will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act reduce healthcare spending without harming the quality of care people receive? Obama says yes; Romney says no.

Has the Great Recession been handled by the president as well as it could have? Obama says yes; Romney says no.

Is the recent drop in unemployment an indicator that things are changing for the better thanks at least in part to federal policy? Obama says yes; Romney says no.

The president believes the government should help drive the economic recovery through stimulus programs paid for by tax increases on the wealthiest people. His challenger believes the best thing the government can do is get out of the way and let the free market rebound on its own.

The country appears to be split nearly evenly between the two philosophies. Whatever your view, it’s crucial that you express it, and exercise your fundamental right as an American citizen, by going to the ballot box Nov. 6.

And while the presidential election is by far the most consequential, and the only one to be held nationwide, Queens voters will get to make their choices in several other races that also can have a serious impact on our communities and way of life. The issues driving the presidential contest are reflected to one degree or another in many of those races, for Congress and the state Legislature, as well.

Take the race for the 6th Congressional District, which covers large sections of northern and central Queens. The race pits Assemblywoman Grace Meng of Flushing, a moderate Democrat, against Councilman Dan Halloran of Whitestone, a conservative Republican. On most, though not all, issues, Meng’s views are in line with Obama’s and Halloran’s align with Romney’s. Voters have a clear choice in the contest.

More nuanced is a key race covering another large part of Queens, that between Democratic state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and his challenger, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich. Both lawmakers are moderates, but Addabbo’s views are certainly closer to Obama’s and Ulrich’s are closer to Romney’s.

The importance of voting, whichever side you take in a given race, cannot be overstated. It’s our right and our duty. There are a little more than three weeks left for those who aren’t already well-informed to learn the various candidates’ positions and decide who to support. We urge all Queens residents to become informed and put their knowledge to good use on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Welcome to the discussion.