The election of the president of the United States influences every government on Earth, and this year we face a choice between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Anecdotally, I have heard students around the University refer to this election as a choice between the “lesser of two evils” and some have called the entire political process flawed.
This could not be farther from the truth.
The difference-making issue in 2012 must be trust. Obama has been steadfast and clear about his objectives and attempts to achieve them. The president passed sweeping health care reform; every president since Theodore Roosevelt tried, Obama succeeded. The president saved the economy with the Recovery Act and cut middle-class taxes 18 times, repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and came forward in support of gay marriage, ended the Iraq War, is winding down the War in Afghanistan and gave the order to kill Osama bin Laden. He saved $62 billion on student loans and gave $36 billion of that to the Pell Grant program, which gave more young adults the opportunity to go to college.
This president has done what he said he would do to the best of his ability, and he will do that again over the next four years.
Romney, however, does not have the same level of trust. Since mid-2011, Romney has not been a compromising Massachusetts moderate. He has been “severely conservative,” rejecting his own stances on topics ranging from health care, to women’s rights, government regulation, the environment, gay rights and a plethora of others.
On health care, Romney has a radical plan to un-reform the entire system. While being “very proud” of his record on the Massachusetts health reforms, he intends to gut Medicaid, fundamentally dismantle the Medicare guarantee and repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would cost the government billions of dollars and increase health care costs, especially for seniors and women. Romney fought for cheaper coverage that insured more people when he was governor of the Bay State. As a candidate, he says he will do the opposite.
A handy Politifact article from Oct. 19 outlines Romney’s varied positions on the issues of abortion and contraception. Romney has had numerous positions: pro-life, pro-choice, and a middle ground – something impossible until the 2012 Republican campaigns.
In the 1994 Senate race against Sen. Ted Kennedy, Romney stated, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.” He reiterated this in his 2002 run for governor of Massachusetts, saying, “I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.”
However, during both presidential runs, Romney flip-flopped. Romney has repeatedly affirmed that he will cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood – including for breast cancer screenings. He replied “Absolutely” to his support of a constitutional amendment defining the beginning of life as conception. He opposes requiring contraceptive coverage in health plans.
In June 2011, Romney stated, “I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, and life of the mother.”
However, he flip-flopped again on Oct. 9, saying, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that… would become part of my agenda.”
A couple of days later he had to flip-flop yet again reporting, “I’ve said time and again that I’m a pro-life candidate and I’ll be a pro-life president.”
On gay rights in 1994, Romney was going to have “more effective leadership than [his] opponent,” Kennedy. By 2006, his spokesman Eric Ferhnstrom said Romney is “a champion of traditional marriage” that “fought the efforts of activist judges who seek to redefine marriage.” That is just another flip-flop.
On the environment, Romney was a strong supporter of green energy initiatives; he instituted the $15 million Green Energy Fund, and, in 2003, said, “[renewable energy] can become a major economic springboard for the commonwealth by focusing on job creation.”
Romney said he would “take a weed whacker” to federal regulation by rolling back six EPA pollution and public health rules, approving the Keystone XL pipeline and rewriting the new fuel efficiency standards. This is in addition to his virulent rhetoric on green energy and support of Big Oil.
In a June 2011 debate, moderator John King asked Romney if the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – tasked with disaster relief around the nation – should be closed to leave these tasks to the state governments.
Romney responded, “Absolutely, every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction … if you can send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”
We must look at Romney’s statements with the context of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the East Coast, killed at least 35 people and caused power outages to over 5 million people this week. Under Romney’s plan, there would be no federal coordinator – or money – to fix America after this disaster. States would have to do it on their own, but Romney does not even want that; he stated that he wants “the private sector” making a profit on disaster relief.
He continued, “We cannot afford to do those things… it is simply immoral… to rack up larger and larger debts.”
It is immoral to leave those in need out in the dark, and, for all of Romney’s rhetoric, that is exactly what his policies would do. Children and the elderly that use Medicaid for early childhood health and nursing home care would lose over $1 trillion, far more than Romney’s complaint about Obama saving Medicare by cutting waste and fraud.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, future retirees will see Medicare costs go up by more than $100,000 under Romney’s plan to privatize Medicare with a voucher/premium support system. Students would see loan costs go up when Romney re-privatizes the student loan system. And no one facing the trials of Hurricane Sandy would have FEMA in place to help with recovery and returning power.
Romney cannot be trusted. His campaigns for office sit on an “Etch-A-Sketch”-style of rewriting history. President Obama has said what he means and done what he has told us he would. Romney flip-flops on nearly every issue.
If you want a president you can trust, vote for Obama on Nov. 6.
Zac Bears is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]