Economy & Budget

Make Obama own the economy

Make Obama own the economy

It’s simple. During the upcoming debates, no matter what question is thrown at him, Mitt Romney has to dump the economy onto the lap of its rightful owner. The president, Romney might suggest, shouldn’t be judged on the economy he campaigned so hard to inherit, but the recovery he has botched. As it stands, Obama is the owner of the most pathetic economic revival in American history. A recovery so weak, it’s difficult to believe that voters even think of it as one.

So, when the president starts unfurling his economic vision of growth through wind-powered fairness factories, Romney has to bring it back to reality. Mr. President, you passed $831 billion special interest “stimulus” plan that you promised the American people would spark growth, yet it has had a negligible impact on economic growth.

It was your administration that claimed growth would climb to 4 percent during your first term if we passed the stimulus. This year, growth is under 2 percent. And it was your economic forecasters who told us that the stimulus would help avert an unemployment disaster. But the unemployment numbers we’re now facing are actually worse than the ones your administration predicted we would have had without the “stimulus.”

Nowadays, the president and his advocates are compelled to cobble together ludicrous claims of success. “In the last 29 months,” Obama will say, “our economy has produced about 4.5 million private-sector jobs.” Or, under the Obama administration “we’ve created more private sector jobs than George Bush’s entire term.”

Romney can’t get bogged down deconstructing these ridiculous cherry-picked assertions. Mr. President, he has to explain, if labor force stood where it was when the Bush administration handed it to you, rather than being depleted by millions of Americans who have given up hope of finding a job, the unemployment rate would be somewhere around 11 percent. That’s what you own.

More than that, the economy has only seen a net gain of around 300,000 jobs over the course of your entire administration. If you’re telling the American people that it takes trillions in extra government spending to create those 300,000 jobs, I say your philosophy is an abject failure. Considering those numbers, it is, in fact, more likely that your policies have hampered the private sector economic growth then helped it.

Obama boasts about spending for stimulus and bailing out industry, but takes no credit for the cost of these enterprises. Recently on 60 Minutes, the president asserted falsely that “over the last four years, the deficit has gone up, but 90 percent of that is as a consequence of two wars that weren’t paid for, as a consequence of tax cuts that weren’t paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for, and then the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”

Ninety percent, you say? Now, if I may, Romney might retort: Mr. President, no one is disputing the fact that you inherited debt; what we’re arguing is that you’ve dramatically expanded it. George Bush didn’t promise the American people to cut the deficit in half during your administration’s first term. You did. And George Bush didn’t increase the nation’s accumulated debt by over 40 percent these past four years. You did. You, not George Bush, added 6 trillion dollars to the debt in a single term as president—without any plan to pay for it. You, not any other president, oversaw a trillion dollar deficit every year of your administration. Over 40 percent of last year’s debt can be tied directly to your policies—that’s according to the fact-checkers that you so like to quote. You’re certainly not in any position to point fingers.

Obama will, no doubt, continue his complaints about the democratic process and Republican opposition to his policies (“obstruction”). Romney might want to point out that if Republicans had allowed Obama to his own prescription the president would have spent trillions more not creating jobs and the nation’s debt would be far larger. The argument that Obama’s “jobs” plans would create jobs is undercut by his own history.

Romney must also take a more consistent stance on taxes. Not only did Romney recently claim, “I admit this, he has one thing he did not do in his first four years—he’s said he’s going to do in the next four years—which is to raise taxes,” but according to Gallup (and other polls), the Republican nominee has completely lost his lead among in voter on the issue.

Obamacare contains 20 different tax hikes. Actually, one could argue–if we accept the administration’s stand on the individual mandate–that Obamacare is the largest tax increase in American history. The president’s entire economic plan is based on the idea that taxing the millionaires and billionaires–by which he mean anyone making over 200,000, including thousands of small businesses across the country–we can spark prosperity. It’s a preposterous proposition that Romney must highlight.

These are the facts of the Obama recovery. Romney must make the president own it. These debates are his final chance to directly challenge the president and force him to own it.

More Human Events debate preview coverage:

How to debate President Obama — and win
by Newt Gingrich
EXCLUSIVE: Romney will “do just fine” in the Oct. 3 debate, says former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Newt, probably the most successful GOP debater, advises Mitt to relax, be honest and assertive and enjoy the evening.

It’s debatable
by George Will
The spectacles we persist in dignifying as presidential “debates” — two-minute regurgitations of rehearsed responses — often subtract from the nation’s understanding.

Mitt’s take-home-pay message
by Larry Kudlow
One of the reasons Mitt Romney and the GOP failed to get a convention bounce was their inability to talk tax cuts, economic growth and jobs.

Go large, Mitt
by Charles Krauthammer
How far ahead would Romney be if he were actually running a campaign? His unwillingness to go big, to go for the larger argument, is simply astonishing.

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