The Short Pro-Growth Defense of Capitalism Romney Did Not Deliver in the Debate

The Short Pro-Growth Defense of Capitalism Romney Did Not Deliver in the Debate
October 18, 2012

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

During Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney interjected at the end of an exchange with President Obama that “government doesn’t create jobs.” He said it, I think, at least twice. Liberals on Twitter made fun of it, but Romney was right. It was one of many good moments for him that venue — but the format, and certainly the moderator, did not allow for follow-up.

If he had the time, Romney should have really hammered home the point that government (at best) is only a minor impediment to economic growth. Mostly, it’s an enormous hinderance. Obama’s idea that his picking of winners and losers (but mostly losers) is the engine of economic growth and widely shared prosperity is bunk — which America has had the misfortune to experience over the last four years. That difference in economic philosophy is key to this election — and any chance we have to get out of the Obama malaise.

 The easiest job in the world is the Monday Morning Quarterback … but Romney should have laid out, specifically, what the Obama administration actively does to suppress job growth. For starters: Punitive corporate tax rates, an out-of-control and arbitrary regulatory state, and (of course) Obamacare’s still uncertain tax and regulatory burden.

My dream rewind moment in the debate, out of Romney’s mouth — and it could have been uttered in a tidy two minutes at several points in the debate:

President Obama is blissfully ignorant of the effect he’s policies have on economic growth in this country, because he has never worked in the private sector where entrepreneurs have their dreams and their financial futures on the line every  single day.

This president has stated his frustration that businesses won’t invest their capital to get the economy moving again, oblivious to the economic uncertainty his policies have caused. But business owners are acting sensibly by not risking the future of their livelihoods on a mere promise by this president that their success won’t be punished by higher taxes and more regulations. They’ve paid attention for the last four years, and know that the opposite is true.

Obama, in his core, thinks government is an unappreciated silent partner that has built those businesses, so government has claim to run them. But the truth is that government, under Obama, usurps an unearned share. Those entrepreneurs, and all of their employees, gave at the office. And they gave plenty — more than Obama’s pessimistic, anti-capitalism, zero-sum mindset can hope to comprehend.

As president, I will do all I can to establish an environment of economic certainty that encourages the risking of capital and the investment of intellectual ingenuity. Entrepreneurs and those who work with them to achieve their dreams will know that I will remove barriers that stand in the way of the path to success. I will lower tax rates — at the corporate and personal levels — to encourage more investment in human capital. In short, I will reward success, not punish it. That’s a formula generations have called fostering the American Dream, and it’s worked every time it’s tried.

Would have been nice to hear Tuesday night. Alas, who doesn’t want a chance to re-speak what they have spoken, especially in a debate of that importance. I believe Romney — the fixer, the man who has advanced the capitalist dreams of many — believes what I wrote above. It would be good to hear it. And it would be better for all Americans if that vision was implemented by the president who is elected on November 6.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)