For a few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the 2012 campaign’s closing argument as I would frame it. I wanted to provide some rationale in a single post for my decision to support President Obama in this election rather than Mitt Romney. Contrary to what some may believe, I do have valid reasons for my choice and I will share them here.
Since I am dependent on others for every idea I have ever had (I see myself as a victim, I am told), I will redistribute for you some excerpts from newspaper endorsements from around the country. I am smart enough to know that professionals can sometimes phrase things better than I can…only sometimes:
Tampa Bay Times
“Obama has capably steered the nation through an incredibly difficult period at home and abroad, often with little help from Congress.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Obama's leadership has made a difference when it mattered most. His stimulus package helped avert an even worse economic collapse and initiated investments in education, manufacturing and green energy that should yet pay dividends. His commitment to a balanced path toward deficit reduction won't please the most zealous members of either party, but it makes sense for the nation.
"Much of what beset America during Obama's first term lay outside his direct control. The bobsled slide into recession was in full motion when he took office. The economic calamity has been global; recovery, sporadic and weak. Obama's attempts to reach across the aisle politically were met with unbending resistance, even belligerence.
"Consider a defining moment early in Obama's first term -- one with special resonance in Ohio: The outgoing Bush administration had used TARP funds to throw a lifeline to General Motors and Chrysler, but the two automakers were still at death's door. They wanted more cash and offered vague promises to change their ways. Public opinion opposed another bailout. Romney urged the companies to file for traditional bankruptcy -- at a time when private-sector credit was frozen even for healthy firms.
"Obama told the companies to restructure using the Bankruptcy Court and set conditions for government financing: GM's chairman had to go. Excess plants and dealerships had to close. Chrysler had to be bought out by Fiat. Contracts had to be renegotiated.
"It was unpopular but gutsy. And it worked.”
“Obama has moved the country in the right direction on school reform. On higher education, he has taken steps to address affordability through increasing Pell Grants and streamlining the student-loan process. His executive order that allows qualified illegal immigrants brought here as children a chance to pursue college degrees is a positive step — though much remains to be done on immigration reform.
"As commander in chief, he has demonstrated himself capable in a tough situation. He eliminated the military's discriminatory "don't ask don't tell" policy, limited this country's involvement in Libya while still playing a role in the ouster of Moammar Khadafy, and hasn't allowed the U.S. to be drawn into the Syrian civil war. He has remained a friend to Israel, but isn't engaging in war talk over the Iranian nuclear issue.“
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“And yet, Obama has often been his own worst enemy.
"On stimulus and health care, in particular, he ceded too much freedom to doctrinaire Democrats on Capitol Hill and failed to engage the American people. When Republicans regained control of the House in 2010, he was slow to show that he had heard the angry cry from voters. Presented with a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by a bipartisan commission he appointed, he offered only a tepid embrace.”
(Obama) did not end, as he promised he would, “our chronic avoidance of tough decisions” on fiscal matters. But Mr. Obama is committed to the only approach that can succeed: a balance of entitlement reform and revenue increases. Mr. Romney, by contrast, has embraced his party’s reality-defying ideology that taxes can always go down but may never go up.”
Tampa Bay Times
“Among the Group of 7 industrialized countries, only three economies have climbed above the peaks they hit before the recession: Canada, Germany and the United States. France, Japan, Britain and Italy are in worse shape. So are Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece. Obama's economic policies clearly had a positive impact.”
Salt Lake Tribune
“Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.”
Why Not Mitt?
“Like a carnival barker cajoling a mark into spending the last bills in his wallet, the Republican Party is counting on Americans' not remembering that they've seen this trick before.
“GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney wants voters to forget their familiarity with the prize he's dangling before their eyes - a return to the disastrous economic policies that preceded the recession. Given that context, Romney's prize is no better than a fake pearl.
“The GOP would prefer the nation repeat history rather than remember it. Instead, remember unemployment rates above 10 percent; automakers going bankrupt; the stock market losing half of its value; the net worth of U.S. households plummeting; the nation losing 500,000 jobs in one month; the Dow Jones average losing 800 points in one day; hundreds of thousands of homes in foreclosure because people bought houses that they and their lenders knew they couldn't afford; banks collapsing because their debtors couldn't repay their debts, and neither could they.
"OK," say the Republicans, "President Obama was dealt a bad hand." Then they accuse him of failing to improve anything. That's simply not true. The recovery is weak. Too many families still struggle. But there are clear signs that the economy is picking up speed, including a lower unemployment rate that would get even better if those "job creators" sitting on record profits would get on the job and start hiring.”
“The sad answer is there is no way to know what Mr. Romney really believes. His unguarded expression of contempt for 47 percent of the population seems as sincere as anything else we’ve heard, but that’s only conjecture. At times he has advocated a muscular, John McCain-style foreign policy, but in the final presidential debate he positioned himself as a dove. Before he passionately supported a fetus’s right to life, he supported a woman’s right to abortion. His swings have been dramatic on gay rights, gun rights, health care, climate change and immigration. His ugly embrace of “self-deportation” during the Republican primary campaign, and his demolition of a primary opponent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for having left open a door of opportunity for illegal-immigrant children, bespeaks a willingness to say just about anything to win. Every politician changes his mind sometimes; you’d worry if not. But rarely has a politician gotten so far with only one evident immutable belief: his conviction in his own fitness for higher office.
“So voters are left with the centerpiece of Mr. Romney’s campaign: promised tax cuts that would blow a much bigger hole in the federal budget while worsening economic inequality. His claims that he could avoid those negative effects, which defy math and which he refuses to back up with actual proposals, are more insulting than reassuring.”
“From running to the far right on immigration and women's health in the primary and then saddling his campaign with Rep. Paul Ryan's extreme and unrealistic budget, the Romney of this election cycle is not the man elected in Massachusetts.
“Romney has said he will repeal Obamacare, yet insists he can keep its most popular provisions without fully explaining how he would pay for it.
And his pledge to create 12 million jobs in four years sounds good, but Moody's Analytics has predicted that type of job growth regardless of who is elected.”
Salt Lake Tribune
“Romney, though, is shameless, lavishing vastly diverse audiences with words, any words, they would trade their votes to hear.
“More troubling, Romney has repeatedly refused to share specifics of his radical plan to simultaneously reduce the debt, get rid of Obamacare (or, as he now says, only part of it), make a voucher program of Medicare, slash taxes and spending, and thereby create millions of new jobs. To claim, as Romney does, that he would offset his tax and spending cuts (except for billions more for the military) by doing away with tax deductions and exemptions is utterly meaningless without identifying which and how many would get the ax. Absent those specifics, his promise of a balanced budget simply does not pencil out.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“All politicians change positions over time -- Obama in 2008 shifted his position on health care reform more to the center. But Romney's frequent changes raise questions about his core principles and make his lack of policy details all the more troubling. They make you wonder if he would stand up to the more extreme elements in his own party, especially to the House Republicans who undercut Ohioan John Boehner's attempts to negotiate a deficit and debt deal.
“Romney's tendency to bluster on foreign policy provides more cause for doubt. With tens of thousands of young Americans still in harm's way in Afghanistan, the United States cannot afford to be drawn into new wars without clear national interests at stake or to sap its resources in further open-ended conflicts. The Benghazi killings reveal the risks of an "Arab Spring" in which terrorists have gained new weaponry and new freedom to operate. But these challenges require inventive diplomacy and international engagement, not slogans or swagger.”
San Antonio Express-News
“These shortcomings (Obama’s), however, don't justify a change in leadership, particularly when many of Mitt Romney's proposals — such as an across-the-board 20 percent cut in taxes and the elimination of unspecified itemized deductions — invite skepticism. So does his goal of repealing the Affordable Care Act without offering any meaningful replacement. In addition, the video of him behind closed doors dismissing 47 percent of the population as government-dependent slackers was disheartening and possibly disqualifying for anyone seeking the presidency.”
Tampa Bay Times
“In contrast (to Obama), Romney would transform Medicare into a voucher program that likely would force many future seniors to pay more for less coverage. He rejects raising even $1 of new revenue for every $10 in spending cuts, and he promises to cut taxes by $5 trillion but won't say which loopholes or tax breaks he would end to cover the cost. Meanwhile, he wants to reduce the federal deficit while increasing spending on defense beyond what even the Pentagon requests — even though the United States spends nearly as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. This fanciful math could only add up to deep cuts in spending on education and other domestic programs — and tax increases on the middle class.”
Salt Lake Tribune
“In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.
First and foremost, I do view the election as a choice between two visions and two approaches to national issues, and not as a referendum on the Obama’s Presidency, so given that framework, the choice was easy. While Obama has not been everything I would have wanted or want now, the alternative is untenable. The GOP in charge of the House and the White House would be a mistake.
I stand for the reelection of President Obama. Mention my name at the polling station and receive an additional 5% off your health insurance. Enter discount code MSRP.