I hardly even know what to add to this. In a well-framed, critical yet optimistic, to the point, and refreshingly presidential speech in Iowa on Friday afternoon, Mitt Romney simply and clearly laid out his economic vision for his presidency. He touched on all the major domestic spheres of our economy and our society — our budget, education, energy, health care, regulations, you name it — without shying away or making excuses. It was a remarkable difference from the petty tone and shrinking subject matter we’ve heard from President Obama of late, and as Romney points out, the president so often likes to blame his predecessor for the problems he “inherited” — but Obama also “inherited” the greatest, most productive country on the planet, and just look at what he’s done with it.
If there was any newly receptive post-debate audience paying attention, he definitely struck just the right tone on this one. Listen and weep, Team Obama (full prepared remarks below):
Thank you all. It’s great to be back in Iowa. And don’t think that this is the last time you are going to see Paul Ryan and me, because you Iowans may well be the ones who decide what kind of America we will have, what kind of life our families will have.
The choice you make this November will shape great things, historic things, and those things will determine the most intimate and important aspects of every American life and every American family. This is an election about America, and it is an election about the American family.
All elections matter. This one matters a great deal. Over the years of our nation’s history, choices our fellow citizens have made have changed the country’s course–they were turning points of defining consequence.
We are at a turning point today. Our national debt and liabilities threaten to crush our future, our economy struggles under the weight of government and fails to create essential growth and employment.
At the same time, emerging powers seek to shape the world in their image–China with its model of authoritarianism and, in a very different way, Jihadists with Sharia, repression, and terror for the world.
This is an election of consequence. Our campaign is about big things, because we happen to believe that America faces big challenges. We recognize this is a year with a big choice, and the American people want to see big changes. And together we can bring real change to this country.
Four years ago, candidate Obama spoke to the scale of the times. Today, he shrinks from it, trying instead to distract our attention from the biggest issues to the smallest–from characters on Sesame Street and silly word games to misdirected personal attacks he knows are false.
The President’s campaign falls far short of the magnitude of the times. And the presidency of the last four years has fallen far short of the promises of his last campaign. Four years ago, America voted for a post-partisan president, but they have seen the most political of presidents, and a Washington in gridlock because of it.
President Obama promised to bring us together, but at every turn, he has sought to divide and demonize. He promised to cut the deficit in half, but he doubled it. And his budget? It failed to win a single vote, Republican or Democrat, in either the House or the Senate. He said he would reform Medicare and Social Security and save them from pending insolvency, but he shrunk from proposing any solution at all.
And then, where are the jobs? Where are the 9 million more jobs that President Obama promised his stimulus would have created by now? They are in China, Mexico, and Canada and in countries that have made themselves more attractive for entrepreneurs and business and investment, even as President Obama’s policies have made it less attractive for them here.
And so today, his campaign tries to deflect and detract, to minimize the failures, and to make this election about small shiny objects.
But this election matters more than that. It matters to your family.
It matters to the senior who needs to get an appointment with a medical specialist but is told by one receptionist after another that the doctor isn’t taking any new Medicare patients, because Medicare has been slashed to pay for Obamacare.
It matters to the man from Waukesha, Wisconsin I spoke with several days ago. In what were supposed to be his best work years, he used to have a job at $25 an hour with benefits and now has one at $8 an hour, without benefits.
It matters to the college student, graduating this spring, with 10 to 20 thousand dollars in student debt, who now learns that she also will be paying for 50 thousand dollars in government debt, a burden that will put the American Dream beyond her reach.
It matters for the child in a failing school, unable to go to the school of his parent’s choosing, because the teacher’s union that funds the President’s campaign opposes school choice.
The President’s campaign has a slogan: it is “forward.” But to the 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job, these last four years feel a lot more like “backward.” We cannot afford four more years like the last four years.
This election is about big things–like the education of our children, the value of our homes, the take home pay from our jobs, the price of the gasoline we buy, and the choices we have in our healthcare. It is also about the big things that determine these things–like the growth of the economy, the strength of our military, our dependence on foreign oil, and America’s leadership in the world.
President Obama frequently reminds us that he inherited a troubled economy. But a troubled economy is not all that President Obama inherited. He inherited the greatest nation in the history of the earth. He inherited the most productive and innovative nation in history. He inherited the largest economy in the world. And he inherited a people who have always risen to the occasion, regardless of the challenges they faced, so long as we have been led by men and women who have brought us together, called on our patriotism, and guided the nation with vision and conviction.
Despite all that he inherited, President Obama did not repair our economy, he did not save Medicare and Social Security, he did not tame the spending and borrowing, he did not reach across the aisle to bring us together. Nor did he stand up to China’s trade practices, or deliver on his promise to re-make our relations with the Muslim world, where anti-American extremism is on the rise.
What he inherited wasn’t the only problem; what he did with what he inherited made the problem worse.
In just four short years, he borrowed nearly $6 trillion, adding almost as much debt held by the public as all prior American presidents in history.
He forced through Obamacare, frightening small business from hiring new employees and adding thousands of dollars to every family’s healthcare bill.
He launched an onslaught of new regulations, often to the delight of the biggest banks and corporations, but to the detriment of the small, growing businesses that create two-thirds of our jobs.
New business starts are at a 30-year low because entrepreneurs and investors are sitting on the sidelines, weary from the President’s staggering new regulations and proposed massive tax increases.
Many families can’t get mortgages and many entrepreneurs can’t get loans because of Dodd-Frank regulations that make it harder for banks to lend.
The president invested taxpayer money–your money–in green companies, now failed, that met his fancy, and sometimes were owned by his largest campaign contributors. He spent billions of taxpayer dollars on investments like Solyndra, Tesla, Fisker, and Ener1, which only added to our mounting federal debt.
Energy prices are up in part because energy production on federal lands is down. He rejected the Keystone Pipeline from Canada, and cut in half drilling permits and leases, even as gasoline prices soared to new highs.
No, the problem with the Obama economy is not what he inherited; it is with the misguided policies that slowed the recovery, and caused millions of Americans to endure lengthy unemployment and poverty. That is why 15 million more of our fellow citizens are on food stamps than when President Obama was sworn into office. That is why 3 million more women are now living in poverty. That is why nearly 1 in 6 Americans today is poor. That is why the economy is stagnant.
Today, we received the latest round of discouraging economic news: Last quarter, our economy grew at just 2%. After the stimulus was passed, the White House promised the economy would now be growing at 4.3%, over twice as fast. Slow economic growth means slow job growth and declining take home pay. This is what four years of President Obama’s policies have produced. Americans are ready for change–for growth, for jobs, for more take home pay.
We have had four presidential and vice-presidential debates. And there is nothing in what the President proposed or defended that has any prospect of meeting the challenges of the times. Raising taxes will not grow jobs or ignite the economy–in fact, his tax plan has been calculated to destroy 700,000 jobs. A new stimulus, three years after the recession officially ended, may spare government, but it will not stimulate the private sector any better than did the stimulus of four years ago. And cutting one trillion dollars from the military will kill jobs and devastate our national defense.
This is not the time to double down on the trickle-down government policies that have failed us; it is time for new bold changes that measure up to the moment, that can bring America’s families the certainty that the future will be better than the past.
If Paul Ryan and I are elected as your president and vice president, we will endeavor with all our hearts and energy to restore America. Instead of more spending, more borrowing from China and higher taxes from Washington, we’ll renew our faith in the power of free people pursuing their dreams. We’ll start with our plan for a stronger middle class, which has five elements:
One, we will act to put America on track to a balanced budget by eliminating unnecessary programs, by sending programs back to states where they can be managed with less abuse and less cost, and by shrinking the bureaucracy of Washington.
Two, we’ll produce more of the energy we need to heat our homes, fill our cars, and make our economy grow. We will stop the Obama war on coal, the disdain for oil, and the effort to crimp natural gas by federal regulation of the very technology that produces it. We will support nuclear and renewables, but phase out subsidies once an industry is on its feet. And rather than investing in new electric auto and solar companies, we will invest in energy science and research to make discoveries that can actually change our energy world. And by 2020, we will achieve North American energy independence.
Three, we will make trade work for America. We’ll open more markets to American agriculture, products, and services. And we will finally hold accountable any nation that doesn’t play by the rules. I will stand up for the rights and interests of American workers and employers.
Four, we will grow jobs by making America the best possible place for job creators, for entrepreneurs, for small business, for innovators, for manufacturers. This we will do by updating and reshaping regulations to encourage growth, by lowering tax rates while lowering deductions and closing loopholes, and by making it clear from day one that unlike the current administration, we actually like business and the jobs business creates.
Finally, as we create more opportunity, we also will make sure that our citizens have the skills to succeed. Training programs will be shaped by the states where people live, and schools will put the interests of our kids, their parents, and their teachers above the interests of the teachers’ unions.
If we do those five things, our economy will come roaring back. We will create 12 million new jobs in just four years, raise take-home pay, and get the American economy growing at four percent a year—more than double this year’s rate. After all the false promises of recovery and all the waiting, we will finally see help for America’s middle class.
Paul and I won’t stop there. When we take office, we will take responsibility to solve the big problems that everyone agrees can’t wait any longer.
We will save and secure Medicare and Social Security, both for current and near retirees, and for the generation to come. We will restore the $716 billion President Obama has taken from Medicare to pay for his vaunted Obamacare.
We will reform healthcare to tame the growth in its cost, to provide for those with pre-existing conditions, and to assure that every American has access to healthcare. We will replace government choice with consumer choice, bringing the dynamics of the marketplace to a sector of our lives that has long been dominated by government.
These things among others we can only do if we work tirelessly to bridge the divide between the political parties. We will meet with Democrat and Republican leadership regularly, we will look for common ground and shared principles, and we will put the interests of the American people above the interests of the politicians.
I know something about leading because I’ve led before. In business, at the Olympics, and in Massachusetts, I’ve brought people together to achieve real change.
I was elected as a Republican governor in a state with a legislature that was 85% Democrat. We were looking at a multi-billion dollar budget gap. But instead of fighting with one another, we came together to solve our problems. We actually cut spending–reduced it. We lowered taxes 19 times. We defended school choice. And we worked to make our state business friendly.
Our state moved up 20 places in job growth. Our schools were ranked number one in the nation. And we turned a $3 billion budget deficit into a $2 billion rainy day fund.
I know it because I have seen it: Good Democrats can come together with good Republicans to solve big problems. What we need is leadership.
America is ready for that kind of leadership. Paul Ryan and I will provide it. Our plan for a stronger middle class will create jobs, stop the decline in take home pay, and put America back on the path of prosperity and opportunity. And this will enable us to fulfill our responsibility as the leader of the free world, to promote the principles of peace. We will help the Muslim world combat the spread of extremism; we will dissuade Iran from building a nuclear bomb; we will build enduring relationships throughout Latin America; and we will partner with China and other great nations to build a more stable and peaceful world.
We face big challenges. But we also have big opportunities. New doors are open for us to sell our ideas and our products to the entire world. New technologies offer the promise of unbounded information and limitless innovation. New ideas are changing lives and hearts in diverse nations and among diverse peoples. If we seize the moment and rise to the occasion, the century ahead will be an American Century.
Our children will graduate into jobs that are waiting for them. Our seniors will be confident that their retirement is secure. Our men and women will have good jobs and good pay and good benefits. And we will have every confidence that our lives are safe, and that our livelihoods are secure.
What this requires is change, change from the course of the last four years. It requires that we put aside the small and the petty, and demand the scale of change we deserve: we need real change, big change.
Our campaign is about that kind of change–confronting the problems that politicians have avoided for over a decade, revitalizing our competitive economy, modernizing our education, restoring our founding principles.
This is the kind of change that promises a better future, one shaped by men and women pursuing their dreams in their own unique ways.
This election is a choice between the status quo — going forward with the same policies of the last four years — or instead, choosing real change, change that offers promise, promise that the future will be better than the past.
If you are ready for that kind of change, if you want this to be a turning point in America’s course, join Paul Ryan and me, get your family and friends to join us, and vote now for the kind of leadership that these times demand.
God bless you. And God bless America.