Thursday, July 12, 2007

Op Ed by Mitt Romney

Romney: At this historic crossroads, the right choice is crucial

It is no secret that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that it is time for our country to change our current direction and set a new course to meet a new generation of challenges that affect the future of American families, businesses, military and security. To meet these challenges, there needs to be a change in Washington.

Both political parties claim to represent change, but there are major differences. When Republicans talk of change, we talk about opportunity, freedom and the people who can make these changes. When Democrats talk of change they advocate big government, big welfare, big taxes and big brother. Time and time again, it has been proven that these big government policies do not work, and they take our nation down the wrong path.

Democrats talk about raising taxes on people. We talk about cutting spending by government. For Democrats, it is always government first, people last. In 2011, they plan a record-breaking income tax hike. When you take money out of the pockets of hard-working Americans and give it to government, you slow down the economy.

I propose a different path, one that will grow the economy and address the fiscal problem in Washington. We need to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, kill the death tax once and for all, and make interest on savings, dividends and capital gains tax-free for middle-income Americans. It's the right thing to do for our economy and it is past time to do it.

Conservatives rightly recognize that our fiscal problem is not that Washington is taxing too little, but that bureaucrats there are spending too much. Both parties share responsibility for all the earmarks, waste, duplication and failure to reform entitlements. I will also personally lead a top-to-bottom review of government programs, agencies, procurement and spending.

In addition to pledging to fight tax increases and cutting waste, I have also pledged to cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus one percent, saving $300 billion over 10 years. I will veto appropriations that exceed that cap. Strengthening the American economy starts with cutting wasteful and irresponsible spending in Washington.

Both parties also claim to focus on improving the nation's health care system. There are 45 million people who lack health insurance. The Democrats' solution is government-managed universal health care. On the other hand, conservatives believe we need to provide people with their own private, affordable and portable insurance by insisting on personal responsibility and free market principles. Once again for the Democrats, it is government first.

Beyond our domestic challenges, we face a very different world around us. Asia is emerging as a far more effective economic competitor than we have faced before. In the face of this challenge, Democrats shrink. They believe the American people cannot compete. However, in this global economy, the only choice is to compete. We must charge into the emerging Asian marketplace and invest in our people and technology. Democrats fear the strength of others. Republicans believe in the strength of Americans.

Today's new generation of challenges includes threats to our national security. Violent jihadists are determined to replace moderate Muslim governments with a caliphate or imam. They seek the collapse of our economy, government and military. Most recently they sought to maim and kill innocent civilians in London and Glasgow.

All this talk of jihadists, Salafi Muslims, and the War on Terror makes Democrats like former Sen. John Edwards uncomfortable. He says the War on Terror is only a slogan. Tell that to the people in London, Glasgow, Bali, Malaysia, Pakistan, Lebanon, Tanzania, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Israel, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. If there is a war being waged by the terrorists, there will be war waged on the terrorists and we will win.

This convergence of challenges is why I am convinced that America is at an inflection point in our history that will force us to change. That change will either make us stronger or it will make us weaker.

Conservatism, Republicanism, is a philosophy of strength. We believe in a strong military, a strong economy and strong families and values. The way forward is not to look left, but to look ahead. There is too much at stake to do otherwise.

This is the America our parents chose, and now it is time for us to choose what America will be. Republicans choose a strong America that will always be the land of the free, the home of the brave and the hope of the world.

Mitt Romney is a former governor of Massachusetts and a candidate for the Republican nomination for President.

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