EDITORIAL: Obama in 2012 for the survival of the middle class

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How many times will Americans go through this?

No matter how hard we try, we cannot wish ourselves out of the economic mess we have created. After months of listening to presidential campaign hyperbole, spin and outright lies, Mitt Romney has made no credible or compelling argument to put him in the White House.

FILE – In this Oct. 3, 2012, file photo combo, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama speak during their first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Colo. In a September Pew Research Center poll 48 percent of registered voters said Obama was more “honest and truthful,” to 34 percent who felt Romney was. And a CBS News/New York Times survey earlier in September asked separately whether each candidate was honest and trustworthy: 58 percent of likely voters described Obama that way while 53 percent said that of Romney. (AP Photo/David Goldman/Eric Gay)

One thing that most Americans can agree on when it comes to presidential politics is that this White House election is about the U.S. economy, or what’s left of it.

Americans are often an impatient, short-sighted and sometimes recklessly forgetful lot. Romney’s growing popularity highlights that.

Just four years ago, this country was on the verge of economic ruin. The United States wasn’t just facing tough economic weather, we came horrifyingly close to having runs on banks, banking and monetary failure, catastrophic layoffs and a monetary tsunami that would have swept around the globe. That’s not hyperbole.

But because of a rare bipartisan moment, a lame-duck Congress, former President George W. Bush and then President Barack Obama were able to pull the country, and the very world, back from the edge of the biggest global calamity in human history.

The phrase, “too big to fail” became part of the global lexicon. It still is.

The country, fighting two consuming and wildly expensive wars in the Middle East, could have stepped back from the developing cataclysm, let massive banking concerns and other industries fail and see trillions of dollars belonging to millions of Americans evaporate. Instead, a majority in Congress and Obama spent hundreds of billions of dollars shoring up the car industry, the finance industry and others. Congress spent hundreds of billions of dollars on backing states that were on verge of failing financially. Money was doled out in huge stimulus projects to infuse cash back into the U.S. and regional American economies.

It was a giant risk that lawmakers agreed was imperative because the greater risk was the disaster assured if the government just stood back.

Now, four years later, the country is emerging with a different job base and many of the same problems. People are still scared. Consumers are still reluctant, and businesses are still struggling or dubious about finances.

Voters can’t make a good decision on the future without understanding the immediate past. That’s what’s led us to where we are today. Minimizing the recent past or rewriting it will lead to a bad decision. Voting for Romney would be a bad decision. It’s unclear just what he really wants to do if elected because many of his plans don’t reveal critical details. Those are details that will affect hundreds of millions of middle class Americans barely able to hang on financially right now.

But this much is crystal clear, the very foundation of what Romney and many Republicans are proposing is undoubtedly the exact same policy that pushed the U.S. economy to the brink of disaster four years ago. Former President Bush also believed that cutting taxes for wealthy Americans would spur job growth and ultimately create more money for the U.S. government to spend or pay off old debt.

The opposite happened. Expensive wars and declining revenue that put more cash in the hands of wealthy Americans only made for a country nearly crippled by debt and wealthy Americans becoming wealthier. The poor, and especially the middle class, suffered slowly for eight years, ending up with less money and fewer opportunities than when Clinton left office. Too much American cash now goes offshore in a global investment economy to benefit the American working class. Romney’s plan would only help feed the economies and banks from other places in the world, mostly China.

To return to a policy of “wishing” that failed policies might work better this time is a sure recipe for disaster here in Aurora, and across the country.

Four years ago, Obama riveted the nation by explaining to them that we cannot do things the same way we have for generations. A global economy fueled by rapid technological and environmental concerns was apathetic to America’s former place in the sun. If we don’t change, we will be left behind. And this is what being left behind looks like, Aurora.

Sadly, we are so impatient and so easily led astray by a media-infused world focusing on sound bites that we are unwilling to do the hard work, back the hard decisions and implement the hard changes to right our wayward nation. Following a misguided Romney vision, we hand over the reigns of the world to China, India and the European Union.

We cannot go back, Aurora. The Internet, global warming, outsourced jobs and obsolete industries have changed the world, and we must change with it.

Obama’s plan continues to call for those changes that won’t be easy, nor will they be popular for some time. But unless we make fundamental changes in the economy, health care, in research, in public education, and in civil rights, we will become powerless over the future.

We cannot pull the rug from under the middle class that has built their entire lives upon having Social Security, Medicare, affordable colleges and a reasonable expectation to make a living wage. Romney’s plan undermines just that.

Whether the issue is gay rights, the fate of millions of illegal immigrants, job creation, foreign relations, empowerment of women or how best to make it so we can all afford to get to work and back, Obama has laid out a practical, detailed and sensible route to move us into a future where we call the shots.