Opinion: President stronger on energy, economy and national defense
By Mark Udall
Colorado voters face a real choice this November. President Barack Obama and his opponent, Gov. Mitt Romney, provide Coloradans with very different approaches to governing and dealing with the long-term issues that the middle class cares most about. I am supporting President Barack Obama because he better represents the values and priorities of Coloradans, is committed to balanced and comprehensive deficit reduction, and is better prepared to further a smart, but tough, national security strategy.
I had the pleasure of talking to thousands of Coloradans from across the state in August. What they told me is that they expect elected officials to be leaders first and politicians second.
Colorado, a “purple” state, may be divided by party labels, but we are united in our common-sense approach to governing. This means casting aside divisive talking points and bumper-sticker slogans for policies that help hard-working Coloradans and small businesses thrive.
One area where Gov. Romney stands in direct opposition to Coloradans is the wind Production Tax Credit, which helps boost domestically produced energy and good-paying Colorado jobs. He would do away with the wind Production Tax Credit in order to pay for additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And the budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan, his running mate, would do just that, while still not balancing the federal budget.
This frankly makes no sense. The wind Production Tax Credit supports thousands of jobs in Colorado and across our nation. Republicans, Democrats and independents in Colorado know that we must have an all-of-the-above energy strategy for the future, not ideologically driven policies that rely on failed ideas of the past. Giving up leadership on our energy future not only will cost us long-term energy security, but also will effectively outsource jobs from places like Pueblo and Brighton to China.
A second area where President Obama effectively leads us in a direction Coloradans and middle-class Americans support is on the federal budget. Americans are hungry for Washington to pursue a “grand bargain” to reduce the budget deficit. During last year’s fiscal crisis, the president proposed asking everyone to put some skin in the game to reduce the deficit: less government spending, strengthened entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, and tax reform that asks millionaires to at least pay the same tax rates as their secretaries.
Just last month, I led a bipartisan letter signed by the majority of Colorado’s congressional delegation wherein we called for “a bipartisan congressional agreement on a balanced deficit-reduction plan.” The president’s approach – balancing spending cuts with new revenues – achieves that goal.
In contrast, as we reduce spending and reform entitlements, Gov. Romney rejects any proposal that asks millionaires and billionaires to also contribute their fair share. Similarly, Congressman Ryan rejected the balanced, bipartisan Simpson-Bowles debt-reduction plan. Caving to right-wing ideology and Grover Norquist’s tax pledge is not leadership or common-sense governance.
Finally, in a complex and dangerous world, President Obama continues to focus on concrete initiatives that have improved our national security. He brought the Iraq War to an end, is withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, has severely weakened al Qaida, and ordered the operation that eliminated Osama bin Laden.
Meanwhile, Gov. Romney failed to make any mention of national security, our troops in harm’s way, or his foreign policy vision when accepting his party’s nomination to be America’s commander in chief. Since then, Gov. Romney has politicized the tragic murder of American diplomats in Libya and irresponsibly provoked talk of war with Iran.
President Obama’s steady hand demonstrates vision and resolve, especially important qualities in an ever-changing world. He has continued the fight against our enemies while building global alliances and partnerships to confront shared challenges. As a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees, I know firsthand that our national security depends on responsible leadership and not empty talking points or shoot-from-the hip responses.
Despite these clear choices in the presidential race, Gov. Romney still asserts that we are not better off than we were four years ago. He seems to have forgotten that we were losing 750,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office. While we all wish job creation was happening more quickly, since 2008 we have had 30 straight months of job growth, which is a major turnaround where many Americans are now getting jobs instead of pink slips. Gov. Romney must hope that Americans don’t remember the past. We tried Gov. Romney’s policy prescriptions during the George W. Bush years – and they did not work.
As Colorado hosts the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 at the University of Denver, I encourage everyone to distinguish complaints from solutions, ideological rigidity from common sense, and to decide for themselves who the better presidential choice is.
These past four years have been some of the most challenging ever confronted by our great nation. No leader during hard times would have a perfect track record. But Coloradans now face a stark choice. And on the issues that matter most, I am confident this purple state — and its Democrats, Republicans and independents — will support President Obama’s forward-looking vision for our country.
Udall is the senior U.S. senator for the state of Colorado.