Publisher, Democrat, and MSNBC talking head Mort Zuckerman voted for Obama in 2008 but soon soured on the president’s economic policies. In October Mort penned a piece in U.S. News & World Report where he’s also the publisher: “Why The Country Is Unhappy Under Obama.”
And the Wall Street Journal in September: “Those Jobless Numbers Are Even Worse Than They Look.”
“Our choice for America’s future” New York Daily News: Four years ago, the Daily News endorsed Obama, seeing a historic figure whose intelligence, political skills and empathy with common folk positioned him to build on the small practical experience he would bring to the world’s toughest job. We valued Obama’s pledge to govern with bold pragmatism and bipartisanship.
The hopes of those days went unfulfilled.
Achingly slow job creation has left the U.S. with 4.3 million fewer positions than provided incomes to Americans in 2007. Half the new jobs have been part-time, lower-wage slots, a trend that has ruinously sped a hollowing of the middle class.
The official unemployment rate stands at 7.9%, marking only the second month below 8% after 43 months above that level. Worse, add people who are working part-time because they have no better choice and the rate leaps to almost 15%. Still worse, add 8 million people who have given up looking for employment and the number who are out of jobs or who are cobbling together hours to scrape by hits some 23 million people.
Only America’s social safety net, record deficits and the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented low-interest policies have kept the label Great Depression II on the shelf.
New Yorkers have fared no better. The state is alone among the 50 in suffering significantly rising unemployment over the last 12 months, with the rate now at 8.9%. The city’s pain index is 8.8%, and the five boroughs have been trading down in salaries.
The trend over the Obama years: Goodbye to middle- and high-income jobs in New York City; hello to positions that pay less than $45,000 a year.
Recovery from the disaster that Obama inherited was going to take time. But four years is a long, long slog. Had the President guided a typical upswing, America would by now have regained essentially all its lost jobs. At his present pace, Obama would reach that milestone in the third year of a second term.
The regrettable truth is that Obama built a record of miscalculations and missed opportunities.
First came emergency economic stimulus. Because Obama gave free rein to House and Senate Democrats in deciding how to spend $800 billion, the legislation was heavily designed to satisfy the party’s constituencies and hunger for social programs, and inadequately weighted toward job-multiplier projects like building and repairing bridges and railroads — including subways.
After originally projecting that the program would produce 4 million more jobs than the country now has, along with a 5% jobless rate, Obama pleads that he saved Americans from more dire straits.
Next came Obamacare. While the country bled jobs, the President battled to establish universal health insurance — without first restraining soaring medical bills. Then he pushed one of the largest social programs in U.S. history through a Democratic-controlled Congress without a single Republican vote.
R.I.P. and never to be resurrected — Obama’s promised bipartisanship.
While the legislation has yet to take full effect, the typical family’s health insurance premium has risen and many businesses will experience a hike of $70 per week per employee, further restraining wages or producing part-time jobs that lack coverage.
Next came trillion-dollar deficits. Deep in the hole thanks to former President George W. Bush, Obama helped run up a $5 trillion increase in the national debt.
Along the way, he appointed a bipartisan commission to devise a plan for restoring America’s fiscal health, but he abandoned the panel’s menu of spending cuts, entitlement reductions and tax reform. Finally, Obama failed to close a deal with Republican House Speaker John Boehner for budgetary discipline and a path to job creation.
That was 15 months ago. Since then, Obama has presided over paralysis.
There was, of course, more to the President’s record than economic stewardship.
Entries on the plus side of the ledger include Obama’s Race to the Top school reforms, withdrawal from Iraq and his aggressive drone strikes against Islamist radicals. And then there is, or was, Osama Bin Laden. Obama ordered the mass murderer’s dispatch in a presidential act of courage for the ages.
In deficit on the balance sheet, he stepped to the front in ratcheting up sanctions against Iran only after the country’s regime had moved ominously close to nuclear weapon capability, and he executed a misguided strategy for achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians that left the parties further from a settlement.
But those pluses and minuses pale in comparison with middle-class prospects in recommending whether to entrust Obama or Romney with the future.
Romney’s approach is the stronger.
Critically, he has tailored his policies to create jobs, jobs, jobs.
The centerpieces of Romney’s plan call for spending restraint and rewriting the Internal Revenue code to lower rates by 20%. He would make up much of the lost revenue by eliminating deductions and loopholes that have made the tax system a thicket of strangling complexities. On its own, paring the personal and corporate rules to the basics would catalyze business and consumer spending.
Romney has pledged that, as a group, the wealthy will bear no less a share of the burden than they do now, while individuals lower down would enjoy breaks. Many contest as mathematically impossible the Republican’s ability to cut rates and balance the books through tax reform. He disputes the points but, in an encouraging show of pragmatism, he has made clear that moving the nation toward balance may require sacrificing the size of his rate cut.
Romney’s energy plan calls for reemphasizing oil and natural gas production, in a shift away from Obama’s tilt toward trying to develop wind and solar into workable alternatives.
His proposal for Medicare would permit future retirees to choose between tried-and-true health care and private insurance to produce savings through competition. It took political bravery even to broach such concepts, and they are well worth exploring.
His immigration strategy entails markedly increasing visas for highly skilled workers, such as engineers and computer scientists, who are in short supply in the United States — and are proven jobs generators. Obama let economic energy go by the boards by declining to up these H1-B work permits.
No, Romney’s not perfect. His overall immigration policy falls below comprehensive reform, and he’s no friend of gun control. But, under these circumstances, growing the economy takes precedence.
Offering a rosy vision of a country already on the rise, Obama argues that he would lead a resurgence by staying the course. He posits that spending in areas such as education and clean energy would be beneficial, and he sees raising taxes on high-income earners as key to “balanced” deficit reduction. Each on its own is attractive, but the whole comes up short.
The presidential imperative of the times is to energize the economy and get deficits under control to empower the working and middle classes to again enjoy the fruits of an ascendant America.
So The News is compelled to stand with Romney.