Not that I get a vote, but for the record if I was in the US, I would be voting Romney. Before I explain why, I want to touch on the record of both men.
As President Barack Obama has performed pretty much as well as I expected – he had a total of two years experience as a junior senator before he started campaigning for President. It is no surprise at all with such a lack of experience, that he has failed to meet expectations of so many of his supporters.
That lack of experience is one of the reasons I said I preferred Hillary Clinton over Obama in 2008, and I note polls show she would win easily against Romney.
Now this isn’t to say that Obama has been a bad President, more somewhat lackluster.
On foreign policy, I think Obama has been fine. He saw the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq successfully (albeit on the timetable agreed to by Bush). The surge in Afghanistan was the right strategy, and while (like Iraq) the country they will leave behind is imperfect – it will be a lot better than it was.
Obama’s intervention in Libya to protect civilians with a no fly zone, basically worked. Of course the later death of his Ambassador is a potential scandal that may claim some scalps.
And of course one has to give him credit for Osama bin Laden’s death. It was a high risk mission that could have destroyed his presidency if it ended up a shambles. He trusted his military commanders and the special forces and his confidence was rewarded.
His decision to use a drone to kill to Anwar al-Aulaqi, a US citizen in Yemen, was controversial. It is the first ever extrajudicial execution of a US citizen ordered by a President.
With domestic policy the silly don’t ask, don’t tell policy ended and the world didn’t end. But he had done almost nothing sensible on immigration reform, and the health reform was in fact little more than requiring poor people to have private health insurance. he doesn’t have a very strong domestic legacy. One many issues he has lets the polls decide for him. In 1996 he was for same-sex marriage. In 1998 he was undecided. In 2004 he was against same-sex marriage. In 2012 he was back to being for same-sex marriage.
On the economy, this is where he has failed, and in fact his policies are a danger to the US and world economy. The US deficit and debt must be reined in, and Obama’s policies of massively increasing spending are reckless. The Budget Control Act merely slows the rate of growth of debt, not reverses it. Federal spending is projected to continue to grow faster than the economy grows, and this is impossible to maintain. The US public debt grew by $1.9 trillion (think $6,300 per capita) in 2009 and $1.7 trillion in 2010.
So overall I think Obama has done pretty well on foreign policy, been average at best on domestic policy and bad on economic policy.
I thought Mitt Romney was a good Governor of Massachusetts, and he has a successful private sector career.
As Governor he passed health care legislation (not that different to Obama care), eliminated the state budget deficit and was pro-choice. Worth noting Romney got elected Governor by a 5% margin, despite every poll showing him behind the Democrat candidate.
As Governor he made many non-partisan appointments, and he also reduced the size of the state bureaucracy. He closed tax loopholes also. On the education side he funded the top 25% of high school students with tuition-free scholarships to public universities or colleges.
So I liked Governor Romney. Candidate Romney was a different case. He flip-flopped on so many issues.
He want from getting rid of ethanol subsidies, to supporting them in 2008 and then in 2012 against them. He went from supporting a cap and trade on carbon emissions to opposing them. he introduced individual health mandates, and then attacked Obama for them.
He did not support the Bush tax cuts, but now campaigns to keep them. His position on abortion has changed radically, as it has on stem cells.
For these reasons Romney was not my preferred candidate for the Republicans in 2008 or 2012. All politicians modify their positions to some degree. Obama certainly has. But Romney’s changes have been so many and dramatic you wonder what he really believes.
Obama v Romney
As I said I don’t think Obama has been a terrible President. For someone with just two years in the Senate (before near full-time campaigning) he has performed as about the level you’d expect. He’s made some good calls in quite a few areas. He’s failed to show leadership in quite a few also.
However his fiscal policy is dangerous and wrong. It is vital the US gets onto a path out of deficit. The deficit is massive. To break things down the US spends $121,000 a second. Of that $121,000 it borrows $52,000. This is so far living beyond the means, it is not funny.
Romney is a flip-flopper, and has said some silly things. but he does have a good proven record on financial management – both in government and the private sector. For that reason I would vote Romney. I seriously worry about the US economy with another four years of massive and growing deficits.
If Obama does get re-elected, his second-term performance on the economy will I believe form a large part of how history judges him.