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Gazette Editorial Board
President Barack Obama has made his mark during his historic first term. The Affordable Care Act of 2010, a massive overhaul of the health care system that has some features we support. A stimulus measure that the majority of economists said was necessary to avoid an even deeper recession. Some flawed, but needed financial sector reforms. Efforts to expand green energy development.
But where the nation was most in need - restarting the economy and making significant progress on reducing our enormous national debt that recently soared past $16 trillion and dangerously threatens our future well-being - the president and his administration have come up short.
And more recently, the ever-changing account of how his administration has responded to and explained - or hasn't - the assassination of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya is raising troublesome doubts about the chain of command and whether there's been a cover-up.
Most important, we think Mitt Romney's business savvy, understanding of the nation and world's financial ins and outs, and leadership skills proven in public venues are more likely to ignite a robust economic recovery in the next four years.
Obama inherited a most difficult situation, to put it mildly. A crashing economy and two wars that carried an increasingly heavy human and financial toll with modest results at best. A stubborn core of Republican opposition that dug in its heels and vowed not to help him succeed, even when there was room for needed reasonable compromise.
Still, the president's leadership on our massive debt and job problems has been lacking. He hasn't delivered on promises. Budget deficits have topped $1 trillion every year of his term. Little progress has been in reducing too-high unemployment, and the underemployed segment remains huge. Opportunities for recent college graduates are meager for half of them. The number of Americans on food stamps is unprecedented.
And puzzling to us was why the president didn't carry the flag for his bipartisan Simpson-Bowles panel, which recommended a necessary combination of spending cuts and revenue increases to seriously launch our way out of the deficit quagmire.
No one in the Oval Office could have completely turned around all those things in the last four years. The world economy, including Europe's major problems, have impacted us, too.
But we need to do better, much better, and soon if this great nation is to break out of its slump and avoid sliding back into a deeper one.
Romney's record, experience and his heart give us reason to hope for better.
His days as Bain Capital's co-founder and former leader have drawn much scrutiny. There's room for criticism and whether Bain's decisions under Romney sometimes were overly brutal for employees and sent too many jobs overseas. However, the record shows that this American asset management and financial services company had many more success than failures and saved many companies and jobs. Like it or not, it's the way part of the financial world works. Romney understands how to make it work.
While he's only recently shown his more human side in public, there's little doubt that Romney is a strong family man, charitable and giving to his church and community. Not unlike Obama.
The Romney record also demonstrates an ability to lead in the public's eye. He led the 2002 Winter Olympics out of financial straits. He negotiated balanced budgets and tripled the reserve fund as governor of Massachusetts, where he worked with a legislature of more than 80 percent Democrats. Those skills are so important toward breaking the gridlock that chokes Congress.
That said, we like many Americans long for more concrete detail in Romney's “five-point plan,” especially the tax section that he promises won't reduce the tax burden for the wealthy, nor add to that of the middle class, while also not increasing budget deficits. We understand that lower tax rates, fewer loopholes, especially for the higher-income sector, and more job creation to create more taxpayers are at its heart. Almost certainly there must be some sacrifices, too.
It's vital that small businesses get a fair shake under the Romney plan, as he's vowed during the debates. And there remain some issues where he's been vague or inconsistent.
Some Romney critics say he's “anti-women” and doesn't care enough about the poor or making sure there's an adequate safety net for those hit by tragedy or severe circumstances. We believe most of those fears are overblown or misrepresented. He and running mate Paul Ryan want, for example, to save Medicare from imploding and know it will take bold reform.
We recognize that Romney is largely unproven in the foreign policy world - as are most presidents at the beginning of their terms. But his experience on big stages should serve him well.
What we believe most strongly is that Romney has the pragmatic skills and commitment to address Job No. 1: get our economy humming and create many more of the jobs Americans need to take care of themselves and their families.
Creating more opportunities for all Americans - not more safety net guarantees - must still be at the heart of this nation's future if we are to prosper. We endorse Mitt Romney as the best choice toward making that happen.
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