Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Mitt Romney has presented himself as a reasonable alternative to President Barack Obama, the idea being that Romney, a seasoned and successful businessman, knows how to turn the country around.
That sounds appealing, given that the country’s recovery from the Great Recession has been painfully slow. But, after studying the campaign, we’re not sure who Mitt Romney really is or what he really stands for.
Romney has been called a flip-flopper, but his changes over the past year would make a chameleon blush. Consider:
• The Mitt Romney of the primary ran to the right of his opponents to curry favor with the Tea Party. He proclaimed himself to be “severely conservative,” a hawk who talked about cutting foreign aid and denounced Obama as weak on foreign policy. He pledged to dismantle Obamacare and said government should get out of the housing market and let it “bottom out.”
• The Mitt Romney since the primary has resembled the Massachusetts moderate whom conservatives complained about. On foreign policy, Romney says he wants to increase aid, and he was nearly indistinguishable from Obama in the last debate. And despite his opposition to Obamacare, which happens to be modeled on Romney’s own health care law from Massachusetts, Romney wants to replace it with policies that include key parts of Obamacare. And on housing? He pledges some unspecified help, blames Obama and plans to gut regulations designed to protect homeowners.
So what does Romney believe?
We’re not sure. His campaign has been short on specifics. Where he has offered detailed plans that differ with the current administration, they haven’t been persuasive. For example, his grandiose plan for the economy literally doesn’t add up, and it would put a new burden on the middle class to the benefit of the wealthy and larger corporations — the “job creators” that haven’t been creating jobs lately despite record profits.
How a Romney administration would govern is something of a guessing game given his ever-shifting positions. The indications, however, show that the nation would see a foreign policy run by neocons who have been all too willing to send Americans into harm’s way overseas, and on domestic policy, the middle class and the “47 percent” would be left behind.
While Romney and his positions remain murky, we know what Obama stands for, and his policies have been aimed at restoring the economy and helping all Americans. His administration’s actions — including the auto industry bailout and the stimulus — are the only reasons the country’s woes haven’t gotten worse. Of course, his term hasn’t been all we had hoped. For example, we would have liked to have seen bolder leadership on domestic issues, but he faced some incredible challenges, including an economic crisis that no one fully understood and an opposition party that has gone to incredible lengths to polarize the nation.
Despite a Democratic Congress in Obama’s first two years, Senate Republicans effectively used the threat of filibuster in incredible numbers to obstruct progress. Once the Republicans won control of the House two years ago, the obstruction became worse — to the nation’s detriment. We are especially troubled that the Republican Party was more focused on making Obama a “one-term president” than on working to stimulate the economy.
For the next four years, the nation needs someone with a positive vision to push the economy forward and to address the difficult issues.
Unlike his opponents, Obama has offered plans for the entire nation, and he has done a credible job of working to stimulate the economy and to help homeowners as well as businesses.
Obama has argued for extending middle-class tax cuts to help families. He has pushed for a better education system and more opportunity, which will help business and the economy well into the future. And he champions fixing the nation’s roads, bridges and other infrastructure, which would help create jobs and provide for further economic development. In Nevada, the planned Interstate 11 would be a huge benefit, but the lack of funding has slowed the project.
The president also has shown a strong hand in foreign policy. The killing of Osama bin Laden showed incredible courage, from the president on down. The coalitions he formed have worked, and his efforts to bring the troops home from the Middle East and wrap up the military’s actions are welcome.
Overall, the country is on the mend, but the middle class, small businesses and homeowners need more help. We see only one candidate who has the experience, plans and vision to provide that help. The Sun endorses Barack Obama.