- - Friday, September 21, 2012

Virginia, like the rest of the United States, has felt the impact of the Great Recession that swept the country almost four years ago. The Commonwealth has not been immune to job losses, rising prices at the pump, higher health care premiums or falling incomes.

Earlier this month, we got yet more confirmation that our nation’s economic recovery has stalled. Nationally, more than 350,000 people left the work force in August, and our economy didn’t even create enough jobs to keep pace with population growth.

So, as we look to the November elections we must question whether we are really better off today than we were four years ago.

Although Virginia has fared better than most other states with respect to jobless rates, there is a storm cloud hanging overhead. President Obama’s defense cuts, which will cripple our fighting forces, weaken national security and threaten more than 200,000 Virginia jobs.

On Mr. Obama’s watch, 100,000 troops have already been forced out of service overall, and 100,000 more could be forced out if the president doesn’t stop these pending defense cuts. Even Mr. Obama’s own Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has called these impending reductions “devastating” to our national security.

Worse still, according to a new book by veteran journalist Bob Woodward we now know that this is all part of a giant political game the president is playing.

Following Mr. Obama’s failure to get a budget passed last summer, he signed a law that would implement draconian cuts starting on January 3, 2013 — a process known as “sequestration.” Mr. Woodward’s extensive interviews with Beltway insiders, congressional leaders and White House officials revealed that the idea for these deep cuts came from within the Obama White House and were designed to force Republicans to support a deal to raise taxes. When congressional Democrats urged Mr. Obama to take action to avoid the worst of the defense spending cuts, he chided them to focus instead on his re-election.

The fact that Mr. Obama is playing politics with our troops is bad enough, but the fundamental lack of leadership this displays only further underscores the failures of his first term in the White House. Not only has the economy not experienced the recovery he promised, in many ways, he’s made things worse for Americans across the country.

Every Virginia family that loses its livelihood because of Mr. Obama’s gamesmanship will stop spending money on anything but bare necessities. Car dealerships, grocery stores, restaurants, mortgage processors, real estate agents — the list of those whose businesses will either shrink or dry up entirely could be extensive. The effects would ripple across our economy, which has already been suffering under Mr. Obama.

Besides defense cuts, Mr. Obama has waged a war on coal, gas and oil, crushing energy and manufacturing jobs. Energy prices are on the rise, hurting middle-class families and small-business owners alike. Meanwhile, manufacturing was one of the areas on the decline last month, with our economy shedding 15,000 jobs in this critical sector of our economy.

This is a far cry from the hope and change voters were promised in 2008, and it’s most certainly not what they want from their president in the coming four years.

In campaigning for re-election Mr. Obama has asked voters for patience, and he reminds us how much worse things could have been. His acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention included the same empty rhetoric and promises we’ve heard for the last four years. But what it didn’t mention was how his policies — whether it was his failed big-government stimulus plan or Obamacare — have hurt our economy and failed to deliver the jobs he promised.

A second Obama term would only yield four more years of the same misguided policies. Voters want a better future for our families and communities. And, to borrow the president’s own words, what he’s delivered is simply “not good enough.”

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is a Virginia Republican and Virginia State Chairman of Romney for President.