Tampa Bay Times: Obama has earned second term

Although economy recovery since 2008  has been far worse than could have been imagined,  says the Tampa Bay Times
“…conditions would be far worse without the president’s steady leadership. This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past. Without hesitation, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama for re-election as president. ”

The editorial reviews President Obama’s record and the positive developments of the past four years in the economy, jobs, housing, health care and foreign policy. Regarding economic factors, the Tampa Bay Times notes that:

…there have been 31 straight months of job growth, and more than 5 million private sector jobs have been created. The unemployment rate is down to 7.8 percent — not great, but the same as when Obama took office. The stock market has come back, new housing starts are the highest in four years and housing prices in Tampa Bay and other areas are rising.

Commenting on the economic stimulus package, which Romney and his political allies opposed and called a failure, the Tampa Bay Times reminds us that:

It preserved or created up to 3 million jobs, and it invested in smart projects such as expanding U.S. 19 in Pinellas County and connecting the Port of Tampa with Interstate 4 in Hillsborough County. The auto company bailout, which Romney opposed, preserved jobs and rejuvenated the industry. The Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which Romney would repeal, protect consumers and force banks to act more responsibly. Undoing those reforms would be a mistake and invite the abuses that contributed to the economic crisis.

The editorial praises President Obama’s Affordable Care Act,  noting that a national plan for universal health care has been a goal of presidents for decades:

The Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature legislative achievement, offers sweeping health care reform that presidents from both political parties unsuccessfully pursued for decades. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will get health coverage. Millions of young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance policies, and insurers no longer can refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, insurers also will have to accept adults with pre-existing conditions, and most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. This is a historic step toward universal health care and a fairer sharing of costs, and it should be improved upon rather than repealed as Romney promises.

On foreign policy, President Obama has been steady, level-headed and courageous, says the editorial, which contrasts the President’s sure-footed approach with the saber-rattling stances taken by Mitt Romney.

Romney suggests Obama has been too timid on foreign policy, but it took courage to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Republican’s saber-rattling about the violence in Syria and Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon is particularly concerning. This nation has neither the resources nor the appetite for another discretionary military adventure. Obama’s mix of diplomacy, coalition-building and tough economic sanctions remains the smarter approach.

The differences on social issues between President Obama and Romney are stark, says the editorial. In contrast to Romney’s immigration policy emphasizing “self-deportation,” President Obama “took the  initiative to let young undocumented immigrants of promise stay in this country legally if they are in school, high school graduates or serve in the military…Any hope for broad immigration reform to keep and attract the best and the brightest regardless of their birthplace lies with the incumbent Democrat.

President Obama’s support for expanded civil rights is a point in his favor, too, says the Tampa Bay Times. President Obama rescinded the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and expressed support for same-sex marriage.

And on women’s issues, President Obama is the clear leader:

Obama has a particularly strong record on issues important to women, from equal pay to access to health care to education. In stark contrast to Romney, the president steadfastly supports abortion rights. The next president could appoint perhaps two Supreme Court justices, and those appointments could determine whether a woman’s right to control her own body is overturned. Romney, who supported abortion rights as Massachusetts governor and now opposes them with limited exceptions, cannot be trusted to stand up to social conservatives who view overturning Roe vs. Wade as a litmus test for prospective justices.

On the critical issue of Medicare, The Tampa Bay times is highly critical of Mitt Romney’s plan to turn the program into a costly and damaging voucher plan. President Obama, who is committed to shoring up Medicare–and who has already taken steps to extend its life and save on costs without cutting benefits to seniors–is on the better track.

Romney’s mathematically implausible tax plan comes under fire, too.

He rejects raising even $1 of new revenue for every $10 in spending cuts, and he promises to cut taxes by $5 trillion but won’t say which loopholes or tax breaks he would end to cover the cost. Meanwhile, he wants to reduce the federal deficit while increasing spending on defense beyond what even the Pentagon requests — even though the United States spends nearly as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. This fanciful math could only add up to deep cuts in spending on education and other domestic programs — and tax increases on the middle class.

Bottom line:

Obama has capably steered the nation through an incredibly difficult period at home and abroad, often with little help from Congress. The next four years will not be easy for whoever occupies the Oval Office, but Obama has been tested by harsh circumstance and proven himself worthy of a second term.

For president of the United States, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama.