Which presidential candidate is more likely to restore prosperity for the middle class and give poor people a chance to work their way into it? To build a 21st century American economy which creates the jobs of tomorrow, reduces our debt and maintains our leadership in the world? To keep leading our country forward to a more perfect union, when there are so many forces working to divide us?
Mitt Romney says that the economy is not fixed and if he is elected it will produce 12 million jobs in the next four years. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but that’s exactly how many new jobs independent business forecaster Moody’s Analytics says will be created if we don’t mess up what the president already has done.
Romney also says that because the debt is a terrible problem, he will cut taxes for everybody by $5 trillion, increase defense spending $2 trillion more than the military has asked for, and tell you how he will pay for it after the election.
Here’s the case for President Obama:
He took office with the economy losing 800,000 jobs a month in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. No president could have repaired all the damage he inherited in just four years. But since the private sector job losses ended 31 months ago, the economy has produced 5.2 million private-sector jobs. This year we had the largest one-year drop in the unemployment rate since February 1995, monthly exports are up 41 percent, auto sales and new home starts are at four-year highs, and we’ve added nearly 250,000 jobs in the auto industry since it retooled in June 2009, thanks to the restructuring plan Governor Romney opposed.
The president’s economic plan is better: Making investments in innovation, infrastructure, manufacturing, new sources of energy, education and training, and reducing the deficit by more than $4 trillion, with $2.50 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases on the most fortunate Americans.
Governor Romney plans to reduce taxes again on the wealthiest Americans and make large cuts in programs that help the middle class and poor children and spark new economic opportunity. He wants to eliminate the tax credits for solar and wind energy, which boost industries that support about 175,000 good-paying jobs, and helped make Iowa the second-largest producer of wind power in America. He even wants to cancel the plan to double fuel efficiency standards, which will effectively cut Americans’ gasoline bill in half by 2025.
The president’s education plan is better. Investments in early childhood education helped expand Early Head Start and Head Start, and the Race to the Top initiative helped spur nearly every state to raise academic standards. Romney will have to cut these investments to fund his tax cuts.
The president’s student loan reform will help reverse America’s slide to 14th in the percentage of our young adults with college degrees. It lets students pay back federal student loans as a small, fixed percentage of their income, funds Pell Grants and builds on the college tax credit for middle-class families. It ends billions in subsidies to banks serving as middlemen for the student loan program. Governor Romney wants to repeal the law and return $60 billion to the banks, making loans more expensive and harder to repay.
The president’s health care plan is better. The requirement that insurance companies spend 80 percent of their premiums on health care, not profits or promotion, yielded $1.1 billion in refunds to consumers this summer. Health care reform is spurring innovative efforts to control costs, and over the past two years, health care cost growth reached its lowest level in 50 years. Three million more young people are covered on their parents’ policies.
When the law is fully implemented, 30 million people will be able to gain affordable coverage. This is a huge economic issue. According to USA Today, exploding health care premiums prevented many employers from giving their employees a pay raise over the last decade.
What’s the Romney plan? Repeal the law, enabling insurance companies to return to their old pricing policies and leaving millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions without coverage, spend $716 billion more on Medicare providers that even the AARP says is unnecessary, reducing the life of the Medicare trust fund from 2024 to 2016. And cut Medicaid by a third, hurting children, Medicare recipients whose nursing home bills are paid by Medicaid, and middle-class families whose children have autistic conditions, development disabilities and other severe problems which their parents can’t manage without help.
The president is creating a more inclusive, fairer America. He has given young immigrants the chance to stay in America if they go to college or serve in the military. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help women fight back when they don’t get equal pay for equal work. Governor Romney won’t say if he would have signed it. The president has opposed those who want to restrict access to contraception and eliminate a woman’s right to choose in cases of rape or incest. Governor Romney has endorsed them.
President Obama has met our national security challenges in a rapidly changing unpredictable world with strength, and he’s worked hard to take care of our troops when they come home.
I’m for Barack Obama because his policies will bring back middle-class jobs and incomes and help the poor. They will help us build a modern economy of shared prosperity and continuing world leadership, and his policies will keep us on the road toward a more perfect union.
President Clinton’s essay originally appeared on the opinion page of the Des Moines Register in response to the newspaper’s endorsement of Mitt Romney.
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