Romney's Reagan moment

One of the key moments in Tuesday’s presidential debate came when Mitt Romney reminded America what a real recovery looks like:

This is a president who has not been able to do what he said he’d do. He said that he’d cut in half the deficit. He hasn’t done that either. In fact, he doubled it. He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year. And if ObamaCare is passed, or implemented – it’s already been passed – if it’s implemented fully, it’ll be another $2,500 on top.

The middle class is getting crushed under the policies of a president who has not understood what it takes to get the economy working again. He keeps saying, “Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.” That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country. The unemployment, the number of people who are still looking for work, is still 23 million Americans.  There are more people in poverty, one out of six people in poverty.

How about food stamps? When he took office, 32 million people were on food stamps. Today, 47 million people are on food stamps. How about the growth of the economy? It’s growing more slowly this year than last year, and more slowly last year than the year before.

The president wants to do well. I understand. But the policies he’s put in place from Obamacare to Dodd-Frank to his tax policies to his regulatory policies, these policies combined have not let this economy take off and grow like it could have.

You might say, “Well, you got an example of one that worked better?” Yeah, in the Reagan recession where unemployment hit 10.8 percent, between that period – the end of that recession and the equivalent of time to today, Ronald Reagan’s recovery created twice as many jobs as this president’s recovery. Five million jobs doesn’t even keep up with our population growth. And the only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.

The president has tried, but his policies haven’t worked. He’s great as a speaker and describing his plans and his vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record  to look at. And that record shows he just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need. Median income is down $4,300 a family and 23 million Americans out of work. That’s what this election is about. It’s about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future and assure our kids the kind of hope and optimism they deserve.

(Emphases mine; transcript courtesy of CNN.)  Here Romney zeroes in on the core dynamic of this election.  As he would put it during another part of the debate: “We don’t have to live like this.”  Obama’s New Normal is not the best America can do, and we’re not all that far from an era when a far better President helped us to do much better.  Describing any aspect of the Obama era as a “recovery” is debatable.  Recoveries are characterized by the kind of growth we haven’t been seeing, and Romney made a strong case that Obama’s policies are to blame.

In another response, Romney staked out his policy differences from George Bush.  Combined with the invocation of Reagan, he charted a course that everyone except Obama’s bitter dead-enders can agree leads to a good destination for America.  Another four years of Obama is more likely to lead us into another recession than a stronger recovery.  In truth, the course to recession has already been set, and if we’re to have any chance of avoiding it, we need a Reaganite hand on the wheel.