Americans have a clear choice between two presidential candidates with starkly different ideas for spurring the economy, providing for the health of our people, defending our interests abroad, educating our children and protecting our environment. We believe that President Barack Obama’s progress on these issues merits him a second term in the White House.
Four years ago on this page, we endorsed Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona over Obama. We wrote that we were impressed with Obama, but McCain would “bring the Iraq war to a successful conclusion, work to end American dependence on foreign oil, reduce America's output of climate-changing gases and begin the rebuilding of our economy.”
The Democratic president has done all those things and more. He is calm under pressure and courageous in standing up for the rights of all Americans, including the poor, veterans, the elderly, women, gays and immigrants. In contrast, we’ve sometimes found it hard in the last few weeks to tell just what Obama’s challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, really stands for.
Obama is not always as gregarious as many Americans might like him to be, but he is committed to his country and candid with it — to the point of releasing far more of his tax returns than Romney. While Obama commits the occasional gaffe, we can’t imagine him ever dismissing 47 percent of his fellow Americans — as Romney did, and later apologized for doing.
After weeks of challenges, Romney’s campaign was on an upswing last week after a decisive victory in the first debate. But Obama has had a generally strong four years. He and Vice President Joe Biden form a seasoned, consistent ticket, one much more promising and reliable than that of Romney and his running mate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Under Obama’s policies, including the successful bailout of General Motors, the country averted what could have been a far worse economic disaster, maybe even a depression. The economy is slowly recovering — the national unemployment rate has finally fallen below 8 percent — and the president’s policies of continued government investment in infrastructure and education offer the best hope that the recovery will accelerate. Obama promises to cut spending and raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but keep taxes where they are for the vast majority.
Romney’s policies — warmed-over trickle-down economics — will make matters worse. We say that with a caveat, however, because Romney’s plans are ever-changing and it is hard to know just where his policies would end and those of the much more conservative Ryan would begin.
On national security, Obama has gotten American combat troops out of Iraq while winding down the American presence in Afghanistan. He has used American military might to fight international terrorism to a degree that no one anticipated in 2008. He showed strong leadership in ordering the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Obama foreign policy — as seen in Libya — requires our allies to handle a great share of our common defense burden, especially when the interests at stake are dearer to those allies.
We like the president’s stand on Iran, slowly but steadily undermining the Iranian economy rather than launching a premature military strike and setting off another Middle East war.
In contrast, Romney and his supporters have rattled the saber at Iran. Despite Romney’s efforts in the last few days to tone it down as he tacks to the middle, his foreign policy seems to come straight from George W. Bush. Some of Romney’s foreign-policy advisers are the former Bush neo-conservatives who got us into the unnecessary Iraq war.
We like Obama’s health-care plan, finding it far better than that offered by Romney, even if it is largely based on Romney’s own Massachusetts program. We see no sign that Romney, should he succeed in repealing “Obamacare,” would succeed in balancing the many competing health-care interests that Obama worked into a compromise.
We fear that Romney would turn Medicare into a voucher program that would not match the full cost of private insurance for the seniors. His hybrid plan would drive the sickest Americans into a government plan and let the insurance companies cherry-pick the healthiest clients.
On education, Romney, just as Republican leaders here, seems to believe that if we continue to cut public education, we will somehow educate our young well enough.
And on the environment, we’re concerned that Romney would gut protections Obama has restored.
Obama has a keen vision that he has worked hard to achieve, against considerable obstacles and often courageously. But the goal is in sight: An America respected worldwide as much for its prosperity as its defense of liberty and justice.
The Journal editorial board endorses Barack Obama for president.