America is at a critical crossroads. We have strayed from the principles and values on which our nation was founded. We also face a range of challenges that threaten our collective future, chief among these being how to grow the economy, generate jobs and put our nation’s deteriorating finances in order.
Over the past seven years I have traveled to 49 states addressing the public on our huge fiscal challenges and how to address them, including a recent 34-day, 27-state and 9,500-plus mile national fiscal responsibility bus tour. During this trip, I solicited voters’ views on ways to restore fiscal sanity.
I learned that an overwhelming majority of voters feel that putting our nation's finances in order should be a top priority for the Congress and the president. Yet very few believe that the current Washington line-up is likely to make real progress in 2013. A super-majority also support putting everything on the table to achieve a fiscal grand bargain, including a combination of spending reductions and additional tax revenue. Americans all over the country expressed disgust with hyper-partisanship, huge ideological divides and lack of progress on a range of key challenges facing our nation. An overwhelming percentage of Americans also agreed with my assessment that America’s greatest deficit is a leadership deficit.
Time and time again I have been asked, "who should I vote for?" or "who do you plan to vote for?" These questions have become more frequent and urgent with the approach of the elections.
As a political independent for the past 15 years, a former U.S. Comptroller General and a national leader on fiscal responsibility and government transformation issues, I make decisions regarding who to vote for on a case by case basis according to a set of clearly defined and consistently applied criteria that ignore party affiliation. After all, no political party has a monopoly on the best people and best ideas.
From a fiscal perspective, I am convinced that both major presidential candidates want to achieve a “grand bargain,” although they clearly differ on how to get there. Unfortunately, while I would prefer to make a decision based on a candidate’s reform plans, neither of the major presidential candidates has outlined a comprehensive and specific fiscal reform plan that meets the six reform criteria that I have advocated. This plan must be pro-growth, socially equitable, culturally acceptable, mathematically accurate, politically feasible, and have meaningful bipartisan support. Therefore, I am basing my decision on who to support as president and other federal offices on the following criteria:
- The person’s breadth and depth of experience.
- The person’s demonstrated leadership ability.
- The person’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and real transformation of government.
- The person’s commitment to working on a bipartisan basis to achieve real results.
Applying these criteria has led me to decide to vote for both Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming federal election races in my home state of Connecticut. Clearly the most important decision is my vote for president, our nation’s CEO.
Based on the above principles, I believe that Gov. Mitt Romney is the clear choice for president. He has proven leadership ability in all sectors of our economy. He has demonstrated an ability to achieve real results even with a legislative body that is controlled by the opposition party. He has stated a commitment to fiscal responsibility and true government transformation. I was personally reassured by a meeting with him covering his commitment and approach to tax, defense and several other key fiscal issues. Finally, Mr. Romney has experience in transforming and turning around entities in all three sectors of the economy.
A President Romney would have far more influence over a Republican-controlled House, which seems to be assured. President Obama had his chance to lead by advocating for the recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowles Commission. He failed to do so. It’s time to give someone else the opportunity to lead in defusing the ticking debt bomb that threatens our position in the world, national security, standard of living at home and even our domestic tranquility.
Given the current state of our country and political system, I believe that this is the most important federal election in my lifetime. I encourage all registered voters to exercise their right to vote. I also encourage people to develop their own criteria and vote for the people who they feel best meet them, irrespective of party label. The future of our families and our country just may depend on it.
David M. Walker was comptroller general from 1998-2008.