Gimpelman: Obama’s economic policies lead country “forward”

In 1980, former President Ronald Reagan proposed the question to the American people, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” In November, American voters must ask themselves that same question; this election, however, should not simply be a referendum on President Barack Obama, but a choice between two very different visions for the future of this country.

In Jan. 2009, Obama took office at an economically critical time. The banks were failing, stocks were falling and jobs seemed to be disappearing. The president responded quickly and signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This legislation worked to reverse job losses, put Americans back to work and give tax cuts to 95 percent of working families. Since March 2010, the United States has seen 30 consecutive months of job growth.

Just a month later, the president announced federal assistance for General Motors and Chrysler, two of America’s biggest automakers. For two companies on the verge of bankruptcy, the need for help was greater than ever before. In exchange for help, the president got the workers and automakers to settle their differences. The industry was able to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney is running on his business record, making a claim that since he is a successful businessman, he would best know how to create jobs for America. Romney is far from being a real businessman, however. The difference between Romney and great men like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford and Walt Disney is that these men had a product: something they made besides money. The money that Romney didn’t inherit is what he made as a private equity mogul: shutting down companies, liquidating their assets and firing their American workers.

The claim that Romney makes about knowing how to create jobs is ridiculous. When Romney was the governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007, the state was ranked 47th out of 50 states in terms of job growth. In addition, Massachusetts suffered the second-largest labor force decline during his term in office. Only Louisiana, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, saw a worse decline.

Under Romney’s tax plan, it would take 125 average families with kids paying an additional $2,000 in taxes to pay for one $250,000 tax cut for someone making $3,000,000 or more a year. If that sounds unjust, that’s because it is.

Romney believes in the concept of trickle-down economics, that giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans will facilitate job growth. But if the top 1 percent already own wealth equal to 90 percent of the rest of us, why do they need more wealth before they’ll create any jobs? Obama, on the other hand, has cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans, saving the typical middle-class family $3,600 in taxes over his first term. All he asks is that millionaires pay their fair shares.

Looking forward, 2012 is slated to be one of the most important elections in our lifetime. The American people will be given a clear choice about which direction they want our great country to take. That being said, I will ask you once again: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Editor's Note: The College Republicans failed to submit an article for this week's Faceoff: Election 2012. The College Democrats' article runs uncontested.