Ajith Vijay Kumar
The battle lines are drawn in one of the most closely fought US Presidential Elections in recent years. And, that’s surprising given the overarching mandate with which Barack “change” Obama was heralded into glory. Mitt Romney shouldn’t have had a chance but he has slowly and steadily clawed his way into the mind space of Americans.
Of the many reasons why Obama looks beatable, the most important is his rickety record on the economic front. The world’s largest economy stands battered even as more and more Americans wonder the prudence of Obamanomics, while an equal number, if not more, try to make sense of Romney’s five-point prescription.
However, everyone agrees that there is no quick-fix solution as the problems of the economy are far too grave than what is being alluded to by Obama and Romney.
While it may not be correct to term Obama’s presidency as failure, by all standards, Barack Obama has failed to live up to the expectations of the country. Maybe, it was because the hype that surrounded his becoming the first black President of America far too exceeded reality.
And, it shows in Obama’s campaign style this time around. Rather than being confident about his achievements, having steered the country during an extremely tumultuous phase, Obama is increasingly being seen as running a negative campaign.
Obama camp has reasons to be nervous.
The deficit stands at $6 trillion deficit and the unemployment is above 8% - 23 million Americans are not able to find jobs - for 44 months. A staggering 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability since he took office. The US also lost its AAA credit rating, besides slipping to number 7 in global competitiveness for business environment.
Obama says that he saved the American auto industry and saved more than 1 million jobs. The President also points out that US manufacturing has added 459,000 jobs since January 2010 and, most importantly, kick started Wall Street reform.
He also plans to bring jobs back to the US by eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas – something he could have done in the last four years.
Another key cog in his plan to revive America is ‘tax the rich’ idea. He wants to be seen to be standing by the middle class at a time it is increasingly feeling cornered and being pushed farther away from the great American dream.
Mitt Romney is delivering promise… promise of “change” from Obama’s “change”. He has whipped up a five-point plan for the same:
1. Energy independence
2. Improve education/School choice
3. Make trade work for America
4. Cut the deficit / Balance the budget
5. Champion small businesses and reduce regulations’ plan for a stronger middle class
Romney is supremely confident that his five-part proposal will turn around the economy, ensure more jobs, and fatten the take-home pay for American families.
However, there is a little problem. Is his five-point eureka concoction actionable or is it just a utopian blabber about how much better America can be if he gets to the White House and implements the readymade “well thought out solution”.
His campaign says, “Mitt Romney will rebuild the foundations of the American economy on the principles of free enterprise, hard work, and innovation. Mitt Romney`s strength derives from his solid experience in understanding economy, free enterprise and having the vision to help businesses succeed and create jobs.”
But going by his record as Governor of Massachusetts, the five-point plan and its intended outcome appear delirious if not supercilious.
Massachusetts has been a struggler among the states when it came to job creation, debt management and has seen increased tax rates and outsourcing.
The Big Picture
Obama is pleading: "After four years as President, you know me by now. You may not agree with every decision I`ve made. You may be frustrated at the pace of change. But you know what I believe.”
"You know where I stand. You know I`m willing to make tough decisions even when they`re not politically convenient. And you know that I will fight for you and your families every single day as hard as I know how," he said.
On the other hand, Romney promises: “We`re going to create 12 million new jobs in just four years, we`ll see rising take-home pay, and we`ll get America`s economy growing at 4 per cent a year, more than double this year`s rate."
The choice is tough for the average American voter. Should Obama be given a second chance on his promise to do better in the future or back Romney and his big plans that may or may not materialise?
All that Americans want is to go back to living like the way Americans do. And they are impatient…