Can Romney convince Wisconsin?
Mitt Romney was anxious to come to Wisconsin last Monday, particularly after Gov. Scott Walker’s victory earlier in the month in the recall election.
Although the presumptive Republican nominee said that President Obama had put the state in the his own column, Romney told an enthusiastic crowd of more than 500 supporters inside Monterey Mills that the recall election showed Wisconsin was now in play.
The majority of Wisconsin voters let it be known they approved of Walker. That’s in large part because challenger Tom Barrett couldn’t convince enough voters that his approach was better.
Despite the Republican victory in the recall, Romney’s campaign may have some of those same hurdles to overcome. Namely, voters know what they have with Obama, and Romney brings a certain degree of uncertainty.
Everyone agrees that the U.S economy remains lackluster.
But even if Obama’s results have not been what people had hoped for, that doesn’t mean Romney’s would be better. The economy wasn’t exactly humming along nicely 3 1/2 years ago.
More than anything, Romney has to convince voters that he can bring job growth roaring back.
With the departure of the GM Assembly plant, Janesville made a symbolic backdrop to highlight the nation’s nagging unemployment under Obama.
But it’s also no secret that at the time the industry was teetering on collapse, Romney argued for a free-market approach with the risk that by now we’d all be buying Japanese cars.
If fixing the economy was as simple as pushing a button, someone would have done it by now, Romney said. Instead, it’s a complex problem that requires a wide-ranging approach.
Here’s how Romney said he’d get jobs to rebound: First, he’d pursue domestic energy production. He said America could be the No. 1 energy producer in the world, and that American industry needs American energy.
Second, he said he’d do something that would give businesses in the United States a big dose of certainty. He’d repeal Obamacare.
And finally, he’d tackle the U.S. debt. “I’m going to finally get America on track to have a balanced budget,” he said.
The problem that Romney faces -- the same problem that Barrett faced -- is that politicians running against incumbents tend to be vague on the specifics, and there’s no way to measure ahead of time if those methods would work.
For example, Romney supports the budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and authored by Rep. Paul Ryan.
Ryan’s budget does reduce the deficit to 1.25 percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2023 (down from 8.7 percent last year), according to the Congressional Budget Office, but it does not balance the budget for at least 23 years.
And although Romney says job creators are hesitant to expand because of economic uncertainty, when you talk to business owners, what they want most are customers with money to spend.
That idea is nothing new, particularly in Janesville with its rich history in the auto industry.
A significant cog in Henry Ford’s business plan was to pay his workers enough so that they could afford his modestly priced cars.
But for years now, wages have remained flat, if you’re lucky enough to be working at all.
The Federal Reserve, in a report released two weeks ago, said the average family’s net worth has dropped 40 percent since 2007, the beginning of the Great Recession.
That’s a lot of fuel missing from the economic engine.
As Romney said, the problems facing our country are complex. There’s no magic button. A good solution often comes with troublesome, unintended consequences.
There’s also a fundamental difference in approach between what government should do, or can do. That debate has been raging since the birth of our nation.
Politically, Romney is wise to focus on job creation. But job creation is only a part of the puzzle.
If he can articulate a scenario that can put people back to work and support incomes that can drive the economy, he can run a strong campaign.
If not, voters just may decide to go with what they’ve got.
For photos of Romney's visit, see HERE.