The race to the White House is off to a fast start now that Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee. As a Kentuckian who has watched too many horse races to count, I know that consistency of performance is the most important factor in determining who will be wearing the roses at the end of the race. In the midst of an economic recovery that has no simple or easy solutions, and high stakes for the future of our Millennial Generation, we need to place our bet on President Obama to lead us through.
The result of this election will determine the direction our country will take for years to come, and as young people we will have to live with the consequences, good or bad, of the policies of the next President. I would argue that President Obama has best represented my generation’s interests on every issue since he has been in office. From making higher education more affordable to protecting the environment we live in, from championing reproductive freedom to shaping a responsible foreign policy, President Obama has proved that he is committed to protecting our future.
The economy is the issue that has been at the forefront of this election, as it should be. Many of us are wondering how we are going to pay off our student loans, find a good job, buy a house, and support children. While Mitt Romney seems to think that simply being a child of privilege and making a lot of money qualifies him to be President, it is President Obama who has proven that he can turn the economy back in the right direction. He understands that strengthening the middle class so that they can contribute to economic growth is the only way to truly rebuild an economy that was wrecked in the first place by Republican policies that favor the rich.
In the depths of the recession, the country was losing 780,000 jobs per month. Now, thanks to The Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we’ve seen 25 straight months of private-sector job growth, for a total of 4.1 million jobs over that period. The economy will continue to improve with the President’s JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, which will help young workers keep more of what they earn by extending the payroll tax cut, which will increase the paychecks of 45.5 million working Americans under the age of 30.
The American JOBS Act also makes investments to help small businesses, which the President recognizes are the real engines of job creation in America, not the richest one percent as Mitt Romney claims. It provides tax assistance for newly hired employees and cuts taxes for small businesses to help them invest, expand, and grow. The White House also has an initiative called “Startup America” that encourages innovation by expanding access to capital for entrepreneurs, many of them young people, and connecting them to mentors so they can be successful and create new jobs. While it seems that Mitt Romney’s only idea to repair the economy is to give tax cuts to the richest Americans, President Obama is thinking creatively to increase the number and scale of new high-growth firms that are creating economic growth, innovation, and quality jobs. The President celebrates and honors entrepreneurship as a core American value and source of competitive advantage, and is inspiring and empowering a diversity of communities and individuals to build great American companies.
As young people we want the economy to be improved now, but we also want investments to be made in the infrastructure and education system on which we will rely to be successful in the future. While President Obama has been focused on economic growth, he has also made sure that investments are being made in infrastructure and education through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While the majority of the act was for tax cuts for the middle class and direct relief for state governments and individuals, the remaining third of the Recovery Act financed the largest investment in roads since the creation of the Interstate Highway System, construction projects at military bases, ports, bridges, and tunnels, and upgrades to overburdened mass transit and rail systems, among numerous other projects. In his most recent state of the union address, the President said we need to “out-innovate” and “out-educate” our competitors. In addition to ensuring that American workers are the most highly-educated and best-trained in the world, his administration is creating incentives for businesses to invest in hiring and expanding, and investing in infrastructure to enhance the competitiveness of businesses and stimulate demand for domestic manufactured goods.
If all this is not consistent performance in looking out for our generation, I don’t know what is. It is even clearer that President Obama is the candidate with our best interests at heart when we compare him to his opponent. Mitt Romney thinks he can win by exploiting the fear many people have about the economy and talking abstractly about “reducing the size of government” and saying whatever his Republican base wants to hear. He casually talks about doing away with entire departments such as Housing and Urban Development, without addressing the negative effects that could have on many Americans. Romney’s main proposal is to make life easier for the richest one percent (people like himself) who he claims are the biggest job creators, when in reality it is small businesses, which the President recognizes. Finally, Mitt Romney is a proud supporter of Paul Ryan’s budget, which threatens the middle class while doing nothing to add jobs or grow our economy. It slashes investments in education, infrastructure, and basic research, all of which are key drivers of economic growth and mobility. It’s designed to benefit the top one percent at everyone else’s expense. Just cutting all spending to try to decrease the deficit but not doing enough to create jobs does not work.
I believe that President Obama is the candidate who is the best leader for our generation because his record proves it. Our reelecting him over Mitt Romney will send a message to the country and the world about our values as a generation. We embrace diversity and creativity, we value actions over mere words, and we care about helping our neighbors in need, because their need affects all of us.