The Salem News
---- — Barack Obama inherited a deeply troubled economy when he took office in 2009. While there has been some movement toward pulling the nation out of recession, real progress — the kind that makes a difference in the lives of middle-class families on the North Shore — has been elusive.
The last four years have crippled us with massive unemployment, record home foreclosures and an ever-growing federal debt that now tops $16 trillion.
The situation calls to mind the question Ronald Reagan asked of voters during a 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter:
“Next Tuesday, all of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago?”
For too many of us, the answer to that question is “No.” We simply cannot endure another four years of President Obama’s “hope and change” policy — for simply waiting for things to get better.
Mitt Romney’s proven track record as a businessman, Winter Olympics president and Massachusetts governor indicate that he is far better suited to tackle the central challenge facing the country — the moribund economy.
When Romney was elected governor in 2002, the Massachusetts economy was in recession. The technology bubble had burst, and the state was losing jobs at a record rate. The state budget had an immediate shortfall of $450 million and was about to be $3 billion in deficit, and the overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature had little appetite for making the necessary cuts to bring it into balance, as required by law.
As a governor, Romney was pragmatic and managerial, focusing on problem-solving before politics. He appointed smart, accomplished people to key positions, regardless of political affiliation, and he held those people accountable for their work. He made decisions quickly, without hand-wringing.
By the time Romney’s first and only term ended, the deficit was gone, replaced by a $600 million surplus. The state’s reserve fund had grown to a healthy $2 billion. The hemorrhaging of jobs had stopped.
Romney showed a talent for working with the House and Senate, forging a landmark agreement on health care insurance reform, and a willingness to stand up to the business community, closing tax loopholes to bring in much needed state revenue.
Romney understands that to get America moving again, we need to unleash the growth potential of business. He wants to cut corporate interest rates, now among the highest in the industrial world, to provide the stability and predictability needed to encourage corporate expansion and job growth. He seeks regulatory reforms that will remove undue burdens of compliance on businesses, while still protecting consumers. He knows we need to open more global markets to American goods.
We agree with Romney’s call for a “smaller, simpler, smarter government,” returning power to the states and the people. He will safeguard America with a strong military and clear foreign policy. And his national immigration strategy promises to ensure our safety while carrying on America’s tradition as a nation of legal immigrants.
Romney spent much of the presidential primary season running to the right to please the hard-core conservative wing of his party. In the past month, his positions have somewhat softened and seem more in line with his center-right record in Massachusetts. If he is to be successful in the White House, he needs to resist the fringes of his party and follow the more moderate path he laid out as governor of this liberal state. He must support women’s reproductive and health rights, and he must stick to his support for the troop withdrawal schedule in Afghanistan.
Four years ago, in 2008, this newspaper endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency. Like so many others in America, we had great hope for great change, calling him “someone capable of rousing the country from its present malaise and inspiring it to new heights.” Unfortunately, President Obama’s leadership fell short.
There is no question that Mitt Romney has the experience, intelligence and resolve to rebuild our economy, restart this great nation’s economic engine and bring about change needed to secure our children’s future.
With his proven record of success as a leader in the private sector, the nonprofit world and government, Mitt Romney is the clear choice on Tuesday.