And Exactly What Is Your Job About, Mr. President?
At a press event while attending the NATO summit in Chicago, President Obama was asked about his campaign's negative ads about Bain Capital. Bain Capital was the financial firm that helped Mitt Romney amass his wealth, and helped him become one of those despised "millionaires and billionaires" that the President has blamed for the 2008 financial collapse (when he's not blaming Republicans in general and George W. Bush in particular).
At the end of the NATO Summit, while taking questions from reporters, President Obama talked about his attack on challenger Mitt Romney. Defending his campaign's attacks on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital, Obama said: "this is what this campaign is going to be about."
"If your main argument for how to grow the economy is 'I knew how to make a lot of money for investors' than you're missing what this job is about," the president said.
Jake Tapper of ABC News also quoted the President as saying: "When one is president, as opposed to the head of private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits, your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off and how are we're paying for their retraining.... My job is to take into account everybody not just some."
The president continued saying "[I] understand that their [Bain's] priority is to maximize profits. And that's not always going to be good for communities or businesses or workers. And the reason this is relevant to the campaign is because my opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business experience. You know, he's not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts. He's saying 'I'm a business guy. I know how to fix it.' "
Right now, the economic turmoil, not just in the United States, but all over the world, is the most pressing problem facing the government. The President is correct in saying that Governor Romney is touting his business experience as a qualification for the presidency. And the President is also correct in stating that there is more to the presidency than trying to guide the economy. Can't argue with the guy about that.
I do find it odd that no one has asked one simple question of the President, though. What exactly was the expertise that he brought to the office in January 2009? I might be foolish, but wouldn't expertise in any single area of the responsibilities of the president be better than no known expertise in any area? Or is lecturing in a post-secondary environment really a skill set that's required of the president? Is being a community organizer a readily transferable skill for the successful leadership of the free world? Is a legislative record of voting "Present" really essential in order to lead the largest economy on the planet?
I believe Gov. Romney brings his business experience to the table and the ability to evaluate costs versus benefits. Barack Obama seems able to only evaluate benefits of any policy, and then only in context of bribing voters to help him get re-elected. The costs of those policies are always solved by borrowing more or taxing more, or both.
The sad truth is that the economy of the country is no longer growing at the rate it did in the 50s, 60s and 70s. We cannot grow our way out of debt any longer, and the burden of government, in its current form, is not sustainable. Obama should be very familiar with that term, since "sustainability" is a mantra for those of his supporters in the environmental movement.
Sustainability is defined as "the ability to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds." Can anyone (with a necessary waiver for those who have forgotten to take their medications) seriously contend that spending a trillion dollars or so more than you take in is "sustainable"?
We are not in a position as a nation to continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars for things that might be "nice to have" but are not remotely in the "need to have" category.
This is the area of Mitt Romney's expertise. Given limited resources, deciding what projects will provide the best return on those resources?
When President Obama implies that equity or venture capital organizations only invest in enterprises that return dollars to their investors, he is absolutely right. But that is the mission of those organizations. He conveniently ignores the fact that financial reward is only one measure of successful investing. But investing might be looked at in another way, which, considering how many times in the average day the words "investing" or "investment" come out of the President's mouth. He often cites the need for "investment" in education as one of his priorities, so perhaps we can examine the costs and benefits of investments in education.
There are always competing demands for the finite amount of funds the nation has decided to spend on educating our children. What is the best use of those funds? In the past several decades the answer from Congress and the President has invariably been "all of them"! Raise spending, add vast number of administrators to the schools, reduce class sizes, feed the kids healthy meals, try the latest fad in education that was developed by a Ph.D. who has never taught children, and toss money - lots more money - at the problem. Wouldn't seeing our kids improve their test scores in math and science be considered a worthwhile return on investment? Most people would agree that would be a fair measure of how our investment is doing, with the proviso that the school administrators are not "cooking the books" by making the test itself easier.
How about the billions spent on Mr. Obama's "green jobs" and "green energy"? How strong is the national profit and loss statement on those investments? With the data that has been available for a number of years from the Spanish venture into that particular field, there has been sufficient evidence that the cost/benefit calculation was either politically motivated, utterly incompetent, or completely ignored. In a private capital environment, the CEO who authorized such a disastrous investment would be told by his stockholders that his services were no longer required.
That's what Gov. Romney's business background brings to the position.
In addition, with that sort of background, private sector enterprises will feel more secure in their attempts to grow their own businesses. They might not agree with all of Mitt Romney's decisions as president, but the uncertainty they deal with under an Obama administration is not generating the jobs that need to be home grown.
So, in sum, Romney will look at all the spending and all the supposed benefits of every aspect of the government, and his first inclination will be to reduce the bloat. He will provide some certainty to those in the private sector who are needed to provide jobs for the millions who are not only looking for work, but those who have given up entirely.
What has Obama given us?
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran and an independent voter. Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.