President Obama has said many times that this election represents a choice between two very different visions for America. Do we want to go back to the same policies that got us in so much trouble in the first place or do we want a fresh start for America, a new vision leading to a bright future for our nation? The President is absolutely correct. This election promises to be the most consequential in modern times. How you assess this choice, however, will be very different depending on whose candidate's vision you share.
When President Obama refers to the "policies that got us into this mess in the first place," that is code for "the policies in effect during George W. Bush's time in office." To be sure, President Bush was no model conservative on matters fiscal. During his presidency, the deficit increased by almost $5 trillion. Our dependency on foreign debt skyrocketed. America's financial sector, in league with government policymakers, engaged in reckless gambling with the housing market. These actions certainly didn't put America in a desirable position.
President Obama promised to turn things around. He said that our debt and deficit were "unpatriotic." Yet four years later, we've added another $5 trillion to our deficit and our national debt now exceeds 100% of GDP. The unemployment rate is stalled and some economists are predicting a double dip recession. Dependency on government is growing and confidence in America is shrinking. The President who sailed to victory in 2008 on the wings of hope and change has piloted America to the brink of a precipitous fiscal cliff, and aside from "asking people at the top to pay a little more" one is left to wonder what his plan is to pull us back from the edge. Some people see all this and say the President simply needs more time to right the ship. Others see his actions as antithetical to recovery and are ready for a new president and a new path. Which vision do you see?