Everyone wanted this country to prosper under President Barack Obama's leadership, but that has not happened.
Four years ago at this time, the enthusiasm over Barack Obama's impending election as president of the United States was palpable.
Once relatively unknown to politics, he skyrocketed from a political nonentity in the Illinois Senate to the U.S. Senate to the White House in just four short years. In fact, he's been president for almost as long as he was a national figure before being elected president.
In the long history of the United States, there's never been a politician who's risen further faster than Obama, and it's hard to imagine any president ever to have taken office with such grand (some might say grandiose) promises and in such a euphoric atmosphere.
Obama pledged to remake this country block by block, and there's no underestimating the changes over which he has presided. Obama and congressional Democrats passed a landmark health bill that will put the federal government in charge of one-sixth of the national economy, presided over an $800 billion-plus stimulus bill designed to lift this country out of recession and approved federal spending on such a grand scale that it's pushed the national debt up from an unhealthy $10 trillion to a disastrous $16 trillion. He embraced a liberal domestic agenda that would have left former President Lyndon Johnson, author of the Great Society, agog.
There's no question that Obama has many accomplishments. But the better question is whether those accomplishments have moved the country in a positive direction.
Our answer is no, and The News-Gazette endorses Mitt Romney, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, in Tuesday's presidential election.
It's inarguable that President Obama inherited a bad economy from his Republican predecessor George Bush. Between the housing bubble burst and the near-collapse of the banking system, this country was nearly flat on its back.
Bush, before he left office, and Obama, after taking office, took steps to boost the economy — multiple stimulus packages as well as bailouts of the banking and auto industries. Some say those measures averted a depression, although that's impossible to state with certainty.
But for the most part, this economy has been stuck in the mud, unable to get out of a recession into a strong recovery. Economic misery, reflected by high unemployment, has been widespread. And while
Obama can blame his predecessor for the problems of four years ago, it's time for him to assume responsibility for his failure since then to address this country's top problem — the economy.
Rather than focus on the economy once he was sworn in, Obama myopically pursued his health legislation. His goal — insuring the uninsured — was laudable, but passing the biggest social spending program since Medicare at a time of economic misery was a terrible misjudgment.
Now Obama's Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, hangs like the sword of Damocles over the job-creators in this country who are frozen into place because they don't know how much Obamacare will cost their businesses. Instead of an economic atmosphere and a tax policy that encourages investment and hiring, this country's private sector confronts uncertainty.
Romney has pledged to change that, and his background in private business suggests he knows what steps to take.
Obama has done a bit better in foreign affairs. 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden was located and killed, and the president has pulled troops out of Iraq and is pulling troops out of Afghanistan. For that, a war-weary nation is grateful. Unfortunately, he has done so in a way that jeopardizes the gains made in the aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the ouster of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The world, of course, remains incredibly dangerous, no more so than in the Middle East where Iran's nuclear ambitions and Israel's determination to survive will soon collide. No president, Democrat or Republican, will be free of tough decisions and bad choices on the world stage. But Obama's response to those challenges, particularly with regard to Russia, North Korea and Iran, seem inconsistent at best.
That's one reason America is perceived to be in decline abroad. Another reason is that this country's finances are in a shambles. National strength depends on a successful, growing economy that provides jobs to those who want to work and tax revenues to support government programs.
It's pretty clear that President Obama wishes for this country to play a smaller role in world affairs. Unfortunately, if this country shirks its duties as the world's lone superpower, a slew of bad actors will move quickly to fill the vacuum, not just to our detriment but to the detriment of countries all over the world.
In our view, a new president is necessary, one who knows that more of the same is not acceptable.
In this race, Romney is that man. He's shown himself to be a strong leader who can work with Democrats and Republicans. He recognizes the major problems and, in contrast to Obama's limited pre-presidential resume, Romney brings to the table a long background of success in different fields.
Obama has had his chance to put the country on a healthy course. He failed and a new approach is required.