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Editorial | Re-elect Barack Obama

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 08:11


Some elections, like 2008, are about transformative, revolutionary change, about uprooting the status quo and enacting sweeping reforms. 2012 is not one of them. This time around, we have a choice between moving forward in inches or backsliding in yards. But that doesn’t make the choice any less clear or the result any less vital: America is best served if President Barack Obama is re-elected to a second term.

When Obama took office nearly four years ago, many of us believed the economy was poised to come roaring back from the depths of recession and that the many failures of the Bush Administration could be wiped away with a few presidential pen strokes.

The reality has been a slow and uneven, but promising path to recovery. The United States has come a long way since 2009, when the economy was bleeding hundreds of thousands of jobs each month and the auto industry was on the brink of collapse. But we still have an exceptionally long to-do list for the next term. The next president’s priorities will have to include immigration reform, a sensible policy to tackle climate change, a safe troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, comprehensive tax reform and job growth — to name just a few.

These goals were not all achievable over the last four years. They won’t all get done over the next four either, no matter who wins the election on Tuesday. But the fact is, whereas Mitt Romney hasn’t offered any realistic proposals for meaningful reform, Obama has outlined and begun to implement an agenda to move the country forward in these critical areas.

Let’s start with what Obama has already accomplished. And his record of accomplishment is prodigious, especially given the unprecedented level of Republican obstruction with which he has had to contend. His economic stimulus measures — which Romney opposed — saved millions of jobs, created millions of others, and spared the nation from an economic calamity that could have been on the scale of the Great Depression.

He executed a successful troop withdrawal from Iraq and brought an end to the military’s discriminatory ban on openly gay soldiers. And under his leadership, U.S. forces have decimated Al Qaeda and killed Osama Bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

But it is the Affordable Care Act that will define Obama’s first term legacy — provided the act is not repealed. This country is too wealthy, our medicine too advanced, to continue to allow our citizens to go bankrupt or die from serious illness simply because they cannot afford care. Providing people who suffer from preexisting conditions with access to health insurance and preventing insurance companies from imposing lifetime caps are measures that are crucial to the social and medical wellbeing of the nation, and we do not believe these protections would survive a potential Mitt Romney administration.

We recognize that Obama has not been a perfect president. We recognize that he has failed to address comprehensive immigration reform, work to tackle the social justice issues of poverty and mass incarceration, show leadership on the issue of gun control or display the political deftness he needs to enact an agenda in spite of a Republican Party determined to thwart his every initiative. But it is impractical to hold Obama to the standard of the staggering expectations that existed for him when he took office.

Instead, there are two questions we must ask when we decide whom to support in this election: Is the country better off than it was when Obama took office? And will the American people prosper more with him or with his challenger, Mitt Romney, at the helm?

If not for the Obama administration’s reforms the past four years, we would not have had 31 consecutive months of job growth. We would not have a functional auto industry or a health reform law that has already given thousands of children who were previously denied insurance coverage access to medical care. We would not have a government mandate that employers and insurers include contraception in their health insurance plans.

A Romney presidency would endanger all of this progress.

Whereas Obama has proposed investing government funds in sustainable energy sources like wind and solar, Romney has failed to produce any viable agenda for reducing our oil dependency.

Whereas Obama would penalize companies that send jobs overseas, Romney has failed to articulate any ideas to cut down on outsourcing.

With regard to deficit reduction, Obama would repeal the windfall tax break the Bush administration awarded to the top five percent of income earners; Romney has proposed new tax breaks that would cost $5 trillion without offering any specifics about how he would pay for them.

Obama has already made progress on student loan reform: He has expanded the use of Pell Grants, prevented the interest rate on loans from increasing, and introduced a government program in which federal student loan repayments are capped at 10 percent of income. Student debt has rarely even emerged as a concern in Romney’s stump speeches, although he did once suggest that students who want to get an education should “borrow money from [their] parents.”

Romney has demonstrated he will say anything and advocate any position to get himself elected. His positions on countless issues, from Afghanistan policy to tax reform to the auto bailout to abortion, have wavered. His constant flip-flops make it difficult to discern his true beliefs on the most important issues he would face if he were elected. And the willingness he showed to pander to the most extreme factions of his party during the Republican primary does not give us confidence that he would stand up to them as president.

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