- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The race for the White House is heading into the home stretch. Most opinion polls show President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney by 4 to 7 points. If Americans really want to escape this economic malaise, giving the sitting president who contributed to it a second term would be a poor decision.

Many of Mr. Obama’s supporters like to point out that the economy was a mess before he took power. He didn’t cause the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the initial collapse or finance the war in Iraq. That’s true, but under the president’s watch, the economy has continued its downward spiral at staggering speed. The horrific Obama record speaks for itself, including high taxes, massive taxpayer-funded government bailouts, demoralizing numbers of failed businesses and lost jobs and the crippling financial tsunami known as Obamacare.

According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, monthly unemployment since December 2008 has ranged between 7.3 percent and 10 percent. (It was at 8.1 percent in August.) A strong, vibrant economy creates many new jobs — and that’s not the case here. Hence, data show Mr. Obama’s first term in office to have been one of the least successful since the end of World War II.

While many Americans hope for change this November, if the vote were held today, polls indicate Mr. Obama would probably be re-elected. In my view, this would be a huge mistake. Mr. Romney is, far and away, the best choice for an early — and long-lasting — economic recovery.

By and large, domestic and international markets historically have favored GOP presidential candidates. Most economists and financial experts recognize that, with the rare exceptions of Democratic presidents with some fiscal sensibilities (i.e., President Clinton), Republican presidents are better for business. The GOP supports lower personal and corporate taxes, less government intrusion, a strong free-market economy, more individual rights and freedoms, increased international trade, tax incentives for new domestic and foreign-owned businesses and so on.

To make a long story short, the financial markets at home and abroad tend to react in a more positive fashion with a Republican like Mr. Romney in the White House.

Hold on. Didn’t the markets go up for a spell when Mr. Obama was elected in 2008? Yes, but you have to put this event in proper context. A young, engaging black American had just become president, offering fresh new ideas in a political environment where some voters had become frustrated with the George W. Bush White House and Republicans in general. People bought into the political fairy tale and gave Mr. Obama a chance on a “wait and see” basis. They waited, didn’t like what they saw and have expressed displeasure ever since.

Some of the same people also have expressed displeasure with Mr. Romney. For example, they were displeased with the extensive delay in the release of his income tax records. When everything was released last month, their displeasure intensified because they thought he was paying less tax than someone in his income bracket should be forking out each year.

Not really. In 2011, Mr. Romney’s effective tax rate was 14.1 percent, and he paid roughly $1.94 million in taxes. A large percentage of his personal income (almost $13.97 million) comes from his retirement package with Bain Capital as well as various fees for director’s positions and speaking engagements. He didn’t report an annual salary or any other wages, and he didn’t declare many charitable deductions from organizations such as the Mormon Church.

From what I can tell, Mr. Romney’s 2011 income taxes seem kosher to me. Hence, I think this is nothing more than a game played by Democrats to attack families who work hard to achieve the American dream.

Let’s be frank: Americans pay more than enough tax each year. The key is to increase economic opportunities and decrease taxes to enable people to have more money in their pockets each fiscal year. Mr. Romney and the GOP want to lower taxes — not for personal gain, but to get the country’s economic engine roaring once more. The GOP presidential candidate is paying his fair share of taxes, and he wants to ensure that all Americans do so, too.

It would be better for the U.S. and global economies if Mr. Romney, a fiscal conservative and successful businessman, is elected president in November. However, a second term for Mr. Obama — based on his first-term economic record — would lead the U.S. to the brink of financial ruin. The choice seems pretty clear.

Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.