- The Washington Times - Monday, November 5, 2012

After all the speeches, debates, ads, rallies, fundraisers, town halls and polls, the American people finally have the chance to pull the lever for the man they think can best restore prosperity. President Obama and Mitt Romney have distinctly different plans for economic growth. Only one of these has a chance of actually working.

The Republican presidential contender has adopted an optimistic aura in the waning days of the campaign. “I know how to change the nation, how to get it back on course, how to create jobs, how to get a balanced budget, how to get rising take-home pay,” Mr. Romney told supporters in Lynchburg, Va., on Monday. “If you believe we can do better, and if you believe America should be on a better course, if you’re tired of being tired, then I ask you to vote for change.”

Mr. Romney is hitting home with his five-point economic plan to put the country on the path to a balanced budget within 10 years, starting with immediately cutting government by 5 percent. Federal spending as a share of gross domestic product would be reduced from historically high levels of 24 percent to the pre-crisis level of 20 percent by 2016.

Mr. Obama has no real plan to balance the budget. He instead has left the country with four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits. On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama claims to have cut a trillion dollars in spending, but he’s using Washington math, which counts reductions in projected spending increases as “savings.” The reality is that outlays have gone up every year and will continue to do so if the president wins a second term.

On the other hand, if Mr. Romney wins, he’d push tax reform that eliminates loopholes and exemptions in the tax code in return for an across-the-board, 20 percent reduction in all marginal rates. Capital gains and dividend tax rates would stay at current levels, but the corporate rate — the highest in the developed world at more than 35 percent — would be brought down to a competitive 25 percent.

Tax reform for Mr. Obama means raising taxes on small businesses that profit more than $200,000 a year. This president even would veto any legislation that prevents “taxmaggedon” on Jan. 1 that doesn’t fit into his class-warfare strategy. That means investment taxes will skyrocket and our economic engine will continue to sputter. Mr. Obama may claim support for lowering corporate taxes to 28 percent, but he never has raised a finger to enact this bipartisan idea.

Medicare is the most pressing problem in Washington. Mr. Romney recognizes the program is on an unsustainable path, so he would lower costs gradually with means testing, slowly increasing the eligibility age and giving seniors the option to choose private insurance companies. None of these changes would affect anyone older than 55. Not only does Mr. Obama lack an alternative, he stole $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

America can’t afford another four years of putting off the inevitable. Voters need to look to the future — and the well-being of future generations — when making their choice for president.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.