In a presidential election centered on domestic economic issues at a crucial moment in history, voters this year must decide if they are or are not satisfied with and confident about the direction in which America is moving.
We are neither satisfied nor confident. In our view, change is needed.
Because we wish to see the country chart a new course to economic vitality and fiscal sanity, the Journal endorses former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to be the next president of the United States.
In Romney, who we endorsed to be the Republican nominee before both the 2008 and 2012 Iowa Caucuses, we see a man possessed of successful, executive decision-making experience in both the private and public sectors who understands economics and who would apply necessary conservative principles to meeting the country's fiscal challenges. We would rather put our faith in the blueprint put forth by Romney than in another four years of Barack Obama.
We concede Obama inherited a heaping plateful of problems in January 2009, but we do not believe his performance in managing them earned him a second term. Simply put, we don't believe more government, more spending and more debt is the answer to what ails us, and we fear only more of the same in a second Obama term.
A question: How many of your fellow Americans seem genuinely energized and bullish about the nation's future? Not many, we would guess. In fact, a Rasmussen Reports survey taken earlier this month showed just 37 percent of Americans believe the nation is moving in the right direction. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken earlier this month, 61 percent of Americans view the economy as staying the same or getting worse.
Consider these numbers from Obama's first term:
1) During the Obama post-recession recovery (which began three years ago, in July 2009), average real GDP growth has been just 2.2 percent — less than half the historical norm for post-recession rebounds, according to investors.com. Of the last 11 recoveries from recession, the Obama recovery is the worst.
4) The nation's jobless rate remains the same today, nearly 8 percent, as it was when Obama was inaugurated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when Obama was sworn in, there were 2.6 million people who had been unemployed for more than six months, but by June 2012 the ranks of the long-term jobless had increased more than 100 percent to 5.3 million. Some 23 million Americans, according to the Bureau, are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work. All of this, despite an almost $800 billion stimulus plan.
5) Federal welfare spending has increased by 32 percent over the past four years. Federal spending on more than 80 low-income assistance programs reached $746 billion in 2011, and state spending on those programs brought the total to $1.03 trillion, according to figures from the Congressional Research Service and the Senate Budget Committee, the Washington Times reported earlier this month. Under Obama, 14.7 million more Americans began using the food-stamp program than had been using it under former President George W. Bush, an increase of 46 percent to one in every seven Americans.
6) In four years of the Obama administration, the nation's federal debt has increased by $5 trillion, to more than $16 trillion. He added 66 percent more to the federal debt than did Bush (who we also criticize for increasing debt) in half the number of years.
America can't afford another four years like the last four years. Continuing this course of growing government, more spending and more borrowing eventually will crush this nation. It simply isn't sustainable.
The approach articulated by Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, is fundamentally different. To create more consumer confidence, business opportunities, jobs, investment, trade and domestic energy production, Romney promises less. His vision involves less federal spending, lower taxes for individuals, families and businesses, a smaller number of government programs and streamlined regulations on businesses and industries (according to the Small Business Administration, the annual cost to Americans of federal regulations is $1.75 trillion).
In our view, this is the roadmap to short- and long-term economic growth, strength and prosperity.
To enact his plan, Romney must forge consensus within Congress and rally the nation. Romney founded his own venture capital and investment company and turned the once-troubled 2002 Winter Olympic Games into a profit-maker. He led a state in which registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans nearly three to one and 85 percent of the Legislature was Democratic at the time from a $3 billion budget deficit when he took office in January 2003 to a $700 million budget surplus by the end of 2004. In other words, he knows how to build success, achieve reform and bring people of different political stripes together in support of goals.
Romney represents the change America needs.
Finally, we offer some thoughts about America's troubled political landscape.
Regardless of who wins what likely will be a close contest for president on Nov. 6, all elected leaders - Republicans, Democrats and Independents - must come to Washington in January to begin the work of the new Congress not possessed of dug-in, party-line intransigence and visions of political retribution, but with a spirit of bipartisan compromise so necessary to move this nation forward and meet our formidable challenges.
If our nation's capital - and the nation itself - remain bitterly divided and polarized, it won't matter who occupies the White House for the next four years because little, if anything, will get done.