Pioneer Editorial: Romney offers promise for a way forward
There’s little argument President Obama has been aggressive, bold and willing to take chances in the name of returning our nation to a place of prosperity and security. Recall his stimulus bills, the bailouts, the Affordable Care Act and even the daring mission that took out Osama bin Laden.
But the president also has refused to fail quickly, to be willing to change course when things weren’t going as he thought they would – or should. Instead, without selling them to the American people, he stubbornly held tight to policies and approaches that drove our country into recession and a recovery that has been slower to arrive.
Unemployment remains high. It stood at jumped up over 8 percent after Obama took office and stayed there for 43 long months until this September when it finally dropped back below 8 percent. But even that seeming success was tempered by the reality that more than 4 million Americans since January 2009 simply had given up looking for work.
Also, under Obama, more Americans went on food stamps (46.6 million Americans in June compared to 31.9 million in January 2009), median family incomes declined from $54,983 to $50,964, the poverty rate jumped from 12.5 percent in 2008 to 15.1 percent by 2011, the national debt went up from $10.6 trillion on Inauguration Day 2009 to more than $16.1 trillion today, and the federal government nearly defaulted.
“Obama has never been the uniting agent of change he promised to be,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal opined this month. “His two biggest initiatives, the economic stimulus and his health-care reform law, were rushed through a Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote, and the electorate responded in 2010 by giving Republicans control of the House. Instead of moving to the center, as President Clinton did after the 1994 Republican Revolution, Mr. Obama has dug in his heels. He shares the blame for Washington’s gridlock.”
Yes, Obama inherited a declining economy, a pair of expensive foreign wars and Republicans in Congress who vowed to obstruct rather than work with him. But his party was in the majority in both the Senate and the House his first two years. And, “Other presidents have succeeded even with the other party controlling Capitol Hill,” as the Orlando Sentinel pointed out in an editorial this month. “Democrat Bill Clinton presided over an economic boom and balanced the budget working with Republicans. Leaders find a way.”
In February 2009, two months into his presidency, Obama gave a televised interview with NBC News in which he famously – or infamously for him – said: “I will be held accountable. If I don’t have this done in three years then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
On Nov. 6, voters can hold the president accountable.
Republican Mitt Romney has had a few stumbles of his own, including his unfortunate “47 percent” and “binders full of women” comments. But such campaign flubs are easily overshadowed by his message: Reviving the economy and putting our nation back on firm financial footing demand to be top priorities.
Romney has a bit of experience and a strong record of leadership with such goals.
After being elected governor in 2002, Romney straightened out Massachusetts. He made tough decisions to rein in spending, restructured and consolidated government programs to emphasize efficiencies and to eliminate waste. He got government out of the way of small businesses, signed job-creating incentives, lowered unemployment and eliminated a $3 billion deficit without borrowing or raising taxes. He did all of it while working with a state legislature controlled by Democrats.
Looking forward, Romney’s plan to bolster the middle class and reinvigorate the U.S. economy includes tax reductions, less government spending and the elimination of unnecessary regulations that hamper job creation. He wants to give states more control, realizing the best solutions come from the local level.
Romney faces a learning curve with regard to foreign policy, but so did Obama and other presidents. Romney’s performance in Monday’s final presidential debate provides comfort he has a firm grasp on global realities. Americans were reassured a Romney administration would deal with our enemies thoughtfully and with understanding, but also with strength.
If Romney doesn’t get the job done, voters can hold him accountable at the polls in 2016.