Monday, October 29, 2012

Keep President Obama in the White House

President Barack Obama entered the Oval Office under dire conditions - a hemorrhaging economy and a dispirited GOP intent on limiting him to one term, at any cost.

Despite those odds, he has kept his cool and his head.

His policies helped the middle class and kept a deep recession from becoming worse. He repaired America's reputation in the world. And he got important legislation passed.

For that, the nation is better - not fully healed, but pushing forward. He has earned another four years.

Among his top accomplishments, Obama:

-Ended the war in Iraq.

-Is on track to responsibly bring troops home from the war in Afghanistan, following the killing of America's top enemy, Osama bin Laden.

-Pushed through tax cuts for the middle class.

-Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to better protect women from discrimination.

-Ended "don't ask, don't tell," allowing gays and lesbians to serve without prejudice in the military.

-Created the Consumer Financial Protection bureau, which has successfully led to new safeguards.

-Sparked efforts to improve education and expand and lighten the cost of student college loans.

-Boosted the fuel economy standards for cars.

-Signed the Affordable Care Act, his signature achievement so far that will give Americans access to insurance, regardless of pre-existing conditions and without limits.

No question, Obama has underperformed in some ways, too.

He needs to pick up the pace of wooing more lawmakers personally to build consensus and get more legislation passed. His good ideas to put Americans to work on improving infrastructure, education and alternative energy need more votes. He'll need to shift his campaign crowd skills to one-on-one arm twisting with the next Congress.

So why not recommend Republican candidate Mitt Romney?

We have no clue which Romney he would become as a president.

Would the nation get the Massachusetts, pro-health-care-for-all, rather moderate model?

Or the hard-right, tea party panderer of the primaries, who sought dubious immigration policy advice from Kansas' Kris Kobach, an alienator of national proportions?

Or the new, improved, peace-loving final debate version?

A strong executive who can buy and sell companies and is used to getting his way is not the same as a visionary leader who can pull people together.

Romney's comment in a private donor setting - belittling the 47 percent who don't pay income taxes as freeloaders - is damning and hard-to-shake evidence that he may not really care so much about many Americans of lesser portfolios.

And it's immensely troubling that Romney's tax plans don't add up. His wish to lower all tax rates, without specifying how he'd counter the revenue loss with elimination of deductions and loopholes, is not acceptable. Will home mortgage and charitable deductions get the boot? Or will he eventually try to sell his fluctuating "cap" on the total dollar amount of deductions, which in some iterations wouldn't make a dent in the debt?

As a successful businessman, it's hard to imagine Romney accepting his own nebulous presentations if someone else were pitching them to him as a financier. So why should Americans buy vague promises?

Romney's abortion ideas and general views on women (no comment on pay equity) are troubling. There is a real risk his Supreme Court appointments would be anti-abortion, and women's private health decisions could be dangerously restricted.

His one major foreign policy trip this year included an insult to the Brits over their handling of the Olympics and then cozying up with a major donor in Israel, skipping the Palestinian-Israeli border dispute areas.

In too many ways, Romney resembles a slick salesman, willing to fudge and say anything to close the deal.

It's no deal for us.

We look ahead to four more years of Obama's reasoned, compassionate and forward-looking ideas on good jobs, fair taxes and better education to meet the global competition.

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