Romney: 'Energy independence is key to American leadership'

Speaking at a rally in Hobbs, New Mexico on Thursday afternoon, Mitt Romney formally introduced his energy independence plan (discussed at length here) and emphasized the importance of such independence to America???s economic strength and global leadership.

In addition to implementing his energy plan, Romney urged his audience to take four other important steps: ???fixing our schools and our training programs for people that need good work; making sure that we improve trade, and make trade work for America; finally tackle our deficit and rein in excessive spending; and champion small business.???

???If you do those things, this nation???s economy is going to come roaring back,??? Romney promised, to cheers and applause from the crowd.

Romney noted that Vice President Joe Biden has lately been claiming that ???things are getting so much better for the middle class in America.???  He encouraged the Vice President to get out and meet some real middle-class people, because ???it???s not getting better for the 23 million people out of work, or who have stopped looking for work.  It???s not getting better for those people who have seen their incomes go down, and their costs go up.  It???s not getting better for people who are coming out of college, and can???t find work.???

???But what I???ve described here will make things better for the middle class of America,??? Romney asserted.  ???People all over this country will be convinced again that it???s great to be middle class in America.  Moms and dads will know their kids coming out of school are going to be able to get a good job.  This is critical for our generation, the coming generation, and for the world.???

Romney stressed that ???a strong America is essential to peace on the planet… a strong America keeps the world???s worst actors from doing the world???s worst things.???  He explained that energy security, economic strength, educational excellence, and free markets are vital, interlocking components of our global leadership.

Contrary to President Obama???s infamous ???you didn???t build that??? embrace of government power and authority, Romney said he was ???inspired by the power of individuals??? Americans who have taken the initiative to build enterprises for themselves, and improve the lives of their families.???

After describing his sister???s role in raising eight now-grown children, including a son with Down???s syndrome, Romney praised ???the impact of one person, of a strong personality, of love and affection and caring??? upon both families and business enterprises.  ???I???ve gone across the country and met entrepreneurs of all kinds, and I???m impressed by their capacity to lift others through their ideas.???

One woman had told Romney of how her unemployed husband developed an interest in upholstering, which – combined with her business acumen – led to the creation of a successful company with over forty employees.  Another businesswoman found a profitable opportunity creating furniture for hospital reading rooms, preserving a company that might otherwise have been threatened by overseas competition.

???And I met another guy who, by virtue of his insight, imagination, hard work, and smarts, was able to change the lives of a lot of other people,??? Romney related.  That would be Jim Liautaud, who graduated ???second from the bottom in his class in high school,??? took out a loan from his father to start a restaurant company, found himself unable to afford the production of anything but sandwiches??? and thirty years later, employs sixty thousand people as the president of Jimmy John???s Gourmet Sandwiches.

It???s interesting to contrast the way Romney talks about these small business people with the way Barack Obama describes them.  Romney praises their ???insight, imagination, hard work, and smarts.???  Obama never describes them as anything but ???lucky,??? and talks about how much of their cosmic lottery winnings they should return to the government, without complaint.  For example: ???If you???re lucky enough, and fortunate enough, and been blessed enough to be in the other two percent, the top two percent, you still get a tax cut for your first $250,000 in income.  All we???re saying is that after that, maybe you can do a little bit more to help pay down this deficit and invest in things like education that help our economy grow.???  (Obama speaking in Council Bluffs, Iowa last week.)

But back to Romney talking about the ???amazing??? country he wishes to lead, where ???individual initiative, individual know-how, hard work??? people pursuing their own course, their own dream??? has built America.  Freedom has built America.  When the Founders crafted our founding documents, they said our rights came from God.  They didn???t say they came from government ??? they came from God, and among them were life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  That???s what makes us the unique and exceptional nation we are.  Individuals!  Moms, dads, kids in school, entrepreneurs – even political leaders ??? who have initiative, insight, passion, who are willing to take risks and make a difference??? that???s what makes America what we are.???

But Romney thinks the incumbent President believes ???it is somehow government that makes us who we are.  That???s not the answer.  The answer for America is to rely on individuals, their dreams, and their passions.???  That???s a lot easier to do when you look across the fruited plain and see a nation of remarkable, responsible people, rather than a surly mob of dependents, sprinkled with a few lucky card sharks who tried to slip away from the table without lavishly tipping their dealers in Washington.

Update: In other Romney news today, the candidate told Fox News he would not reappoint Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve in his prospective new Administration – an idea previously suggested by Romney economic adviser Glenn Hubbard.  “I would like to select … a new person to that chairman position, someone who shared my economic views, someone that I thought was sympathetic to the needs of our nation,” said Romney.  “I want to make sure that the Federal Reserve focuses on maintaining the monetary stability that leads to a strong dollar, and confidence that America is not going to go down the road that other nations have gone down to their peril.”

Romney also said he didn’t think the second round of “quantitative easing” by Bernanke’s Fed was “terribly effective,” and doubted a third round would be helpful to the economy.  He warned of the long-term inflationary dangers from such Federal Reserve monetary stimulus plans.  A stronger dollar is among the benefits promised in Romney’s energy plan.