GeekWire Debate: How Mitt Romney will fuel the ‘opportunity economy’

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan at a campaign event in Florida

America is at a crossroads.  We can continue to support a president who embraces a government-driven, economic redistribution strategy.  Or, we can make a change to a citizen-driven, economic opportunity strategy.  History shows that an opportunity economy with an appropriate safety net is better for Americans.  And, Mitt Romney is the right leader with the right policies to reignite economic growth and strengthen our country.

In government, people, priorities and policies all impact results.

While President Obama faced tough challenges as a new president, his priorities and policies failed to meet even his own goals and produced the worst economic recovery since World War II.  In 2009, President Obama and his team defined economic success as cutting the annual budget deficit to below $230 billion, bringing unemployment below six percent and significantly increasing average household incomes.  But, the results are four straight $1 trillion plus deficits, unemployment over 8 percent for over 3 ½ years (the longest stretch on record) and average household incomes declining over $4,000 the past four years.

What caused such failed results?

Opposing Viewpoint by Ed Lazowska: Why Barack Obama should get your vote for president

 

Obama’s first major priority was a $787 billion “fiscal stimulus” program that was predicted to help lower unemployment below 5.6 percent by 2012.  The money was spent, deficits ballooned and unemployment remains above 8 percent.  Obama followed-up by prioritizing a nationalized health care entitlement program, Obamacare, insisting it was not a tax and would reduce health care costs.  This year the Supreme Court confirmed that Obamacare creates new taxes and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office updated their estimates to over $1 trillion of increased federal deficits caused by Obamacare.

Then, the President created the Simpson-Bowles Commission on Fiscal Responsibility that produced thoughtful, bi-partisan ideas on a balanced budget.  But, President Obama ignored the commission’s ideas and continues to run and propose $1 trillion plus deficits.

President Obama said in 2009 that if he did not turn around the economy in three years his Presidency would be a “one-term proposition.”  His policies and his leadership have produced a dismal 6.7 percent GDP growth the past 3 years compared to Reagan’s 18.5 percent in the first three years of the Reagan recovery (and an average 15.2 percent GDP growth for the first three years of all post World War II recoveries).

If Obama faced such a tough hand, you would have thought that his post recession recovery would be among the very best.  But, as the Wall Street Journal recently put it, “every President who has inherited a recession in modern times has done better.”  So, President Obama, who got to push his policies through a Democratic controlled Congress and then fell well short of his own goals, makes the case himself for why he should not be re-elected.

Mitt Romney is a proven leader who understands how the economy works and has been successful in the private, non-profit and public sector.  He helped build and turned around several companies, he saved and made profitable the Salt Lake City Olympics and he improved government policies and results as Governor of Massachusetts.  His core philosophy is to create an equal opportunity economy where investors, entrepreneurs and job seekers pursue their dreams and deliver economic growth from the ground up.  He anticipates that his policies will produce 12 million new jobs in America over the next four years.

Specifically, Mitt would flatten tax rates for individuals and businesses by reducing the top tax rate for both to 25 percent and closing loopholes so that the changes are initially revenue neutral.  He would embrace much of the Simpson-Bowles’ proposals as part of a major deficit reduction effort.  He will continue to tell Americans the truth about our broken entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare and propose entitlement reforms that preserve these legacy programs for current beneficiaries while fixing them for the long-term.  And, he would return most health care innovation and control back to the states while improving select elements nationally.

I could discuss other Romney policy proposals and priorities about education, sequenced immigration reform, affordable energy and streamlined regulation at length.  And, on foreign policy we are once again seeing the risks and problems associated with the strategy of “leading from behind” that is prominent in the Obama administration.  The key point though is that Romney has succeeded at every major leadership challenge he has faced and Obama has failed at his first one – being President.

Over the past eighteen months, I had several opportunities to meet with Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their campaign’s leadership.  The Romney-Ryan team is genuinely concerned for America’s future and for improving opportunities for every American to earn success and happiness in life.

Mitt Romney and Matt McIlwain

I facilitated innovation roundtables for Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Lanhee Chen (campaign policy director) with technology industry leaders.  The Romney team’s understanding of the national issues and mastery at speaking to policy solutions were extremely compelling.  For many innovation economy leaders, who often came from modest beginnings to build successful companies, the Romney-Ryan strategy and economic policies strongly resonate.

Americans cannot afford four more years of a well-intentioned but unsuccessful leader. Obama is a gifted speaker and campaigner, but America needs a gifted leader and executive.

All Americans deserve opportunities to learn, innovate and succeed in life.  Americans deserve the economic prosperity and resources that provide an opportunity economy for everyone and a strong safety net for those in need.  And, Americans deserve far better than broken promises and the worst economic recovery in modern times.

The American people and our great country, founded on the principles of freedom and opportunity, need and deserve Mitt Romney as our next President!

Matt McIlwain is managing director at Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle venture capital firm. He’s also the co-chair of the Washington state finance committee for Mitt Romney.

Editor’s Note: With the first 2012 U.S. Presidential Debate taking place tonight, GeekWire asked two veterans of the Seattle tech community, on different sides of the political spectrum, to weigh in with a debate of their own about the candidates. Making the case for Barack Obama is Ed Lazowska, a longtime University of Washington computer science professor, and making the case for Mitt Romney is Madrona Venture Group’s Matt McIlwain.

  • Disappointed

    Oh, come on… did I really come to GeekWire today to read biased political message from a VC. Disappointing.

    • Zachary Cohn

      There is also an article supporting Obama. It’s not “bias” if they publish both sides..

      • guest

        Actually it’s just two biased articles then.

  • aaronbrethorst

    “[Romney] saved and made profitable the Salt Lake City Olympics”

    I bet the hundreds of millions of dollars that the 2002 Olympics received from the federal government didn’t hurt either. http://www.factcheck.org/2012/02/slaloming-through-olympic-facts/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Rosner/100000205164315 Bruce Rosner

    This arguments would be more persuasive if were made by someone who actually created a business (Jobs?, Zuckerberg?, Gates?) instead of a financial hack.

  • Adam

    Out of scope for this website.

    • Zac Cohn

      Is it? No matter how the presidential election turns out, it will impact a lot of things. Including new policies. Which will impact entrepreneurs and the tech sector. Which makes it fit here.

      • guest

        Most GW articles at least make a pretense of being objective and presenting both sides of the argument. This one doesn’t. it’s just an ad for Romney.
        Oh, and I say that as someone who would have preferred him to win. But he’s going down.

        • johnhcook

          Did you not see the opposing view we published simultaneously from Ed Lazowska, supporting Obama?
          Links are posted in this article.

          John Cook
          Co-founder, GeekWire
          206-913-7926
          John@GeekWire.com

          • guest

            No. But not sure how running two competing ads, versus one objective article, addresses my point.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ryanlburt Ryan Burt

            So you don’t want Geekwire to run editorial pieces?

    • Paul_Owen

      Agreed. R. versus D. is like Coke versus Pepsi. Troll bait that accomplishes nothing. How about an article on the rumored $1 billion+ MSFT will spend on Win8, WP8 and Surface launches this month. How is it even possible?
      http://www.technewsworld.com/story/76058.html

      • johnhcook

        Thanks for the idea. We think having a diversity of stories on a range of topics provides an interesting mix.

        As you know, we cover Microsoft nearly every day here at GeekWire. Thanks again for the link. We certainly will be covering the launches of these critical products, for Microsoft (and already have been)

  • Just the facts, please.

    This is WEAK, Geekwire. And Mr. McIlwain’s political hackery is a poor reflection on both himself and his firm.

    • Pnin

      Indeed a very week argument, but it reflects the general Republican stance: don’t ask the math to work, just trust Mitt’s managerial skills.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=94500172 Kyle Kesterson

      Unsurprising that people get up in arms when a hard stance is taken, whether it be this article, or the article for Obama. I applaud GW for allowing its members, who make up the GW community, to have a voice and connect with others that read and participate. Everyone bitching about the simple fact of something with a view being posted should stop being so safe and mediocre.

      Drama around real and relevant issues creates readership and participation. At least you have a chance to participate with something thoughtful.

      • johnhcook

        We think it is healthy to have a debate around political issues, especially in this critical election year.

        I’d also add that we published two viewpoints today, an opinion piece above which offered a viewpoint from Matt McIlwain, who supports Mitt Romney, and a second piece from UW computer science professor, Ed Lazowska, a supporter of Barack Obama. (Lazowska’s piece is linked above).

        Not sure how it is “weak” on our part to share opinions from both sides of the aisle. Isn’t that actually fair and balanced?

        • michael sherman

          Nice use of the “fair and balanced.”

        • Mini Eric

          Did you even read Simpson-Bowles? I did. Seriously, I did. Obviously, you didn’t or you would have known that Simpson-Bowles was completely silent on publishing opposing viewpoints.

          :) Thanks for the articles – good to gain a glimpse on local tech opinion on a milestone election

      • joewallin

        I agree with you Kyle. I love opinion. Let Hanauer answer!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.gerstle Brian Gerstle

    OK, Obama’s stimulus probably did end up most benefiting the people who actually caused the financial crisis we’re recovering from. I also don’t think Obamacare was a huge success, as it eschewed what I thought was a viable solution (a public option). However, I don’t see how Romney or Ryan’s policies offer solutions to either of these problems. Romneycare is more or less identical to Obamacare. I also think most people wouldn’t consider sending the uninsured to the ER a good idea. Further, I don’t see the point in lowering taxes on people making $250k+ and business, who already pay lower effective tax rates that median and low-income families (take Mitt Romney himself and G.E. as examples).

  • Bryan Wilson

    The counterpoint article list facts and this one is pure opinion… I’ll stick with the facts.

  • SadRedPandainSeattle

    Hey blue state, the only take away here should be “opportunity economy” and tfa is right to set that as the goal. Actual implementation methods are more like art.

  • mrmark

    Actually this is not out of scope for this website. Very relevant to it.

    Your future in business and in life will drastically change because of the outcome of this election

    You have one constant candidate who has no experience in creating anything positive, who believes that Government is the answer to everything. That private innovation is not important or needed for its people to survive. That America should apologize for its successes and excesses.

    You have another candidate who champions individual freedoms, believes people should be rewarded for their contributions and that the answers sit with the people…

    Both candidates have a track record. One has been thoroughly vetted by the news media and one has been hidden and distorted by the news media.

    Which candidate has shown by their actions (not words), would be more open to helping venture capitalists? Help get government out of the way and let small business grow and to embrace new technology??

    Which candidate would celebrate your successes and achievements verses tax them and denigrate them??

    • guest

      Yawn. Any idiot can make a one-sided strawman argument and win. What takes intelligence is conceding an opponent’s accomplishments, not just their failures, while still making your case.

  • Lan

    Matt, you make the case against Obama but don’t sell Mitt as the answer. Most people would rather have the mediocre choice they know and can relate to than take a risk on something new. And if one of the people closest to the Romney campaign (in Seattle) can’t make the case for Mitt, then he is a lost cause.

  • http://twitter.com/Vroo Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    “Specifically, Mitt would flatten tax rates for individuals and businesses by reducing the top tax rate for both to 25 percent and closing loopholes so that the changes are initially revenue neutral.”

    Why is this a good thing? If it’s revenue neutral it means that all he would be doing is moving the tax burden around. Some people pay more and some play less. So who gets the tax breaks and who gets the tax hike? Most analysts say that the rich will get tax breaks under the Romney plan. So the only logical conclusion is the non-rich will get tax hikes.

    I’m all for making the tax code less complicated. But just changing tax rates doesn’t simplify anything.

    • guest

      It says “initially” revenue neutral, which presumably means it would be accretive as GDP expands. It’s per se “good” because individuals and businesses with more after tax income tend to spend or invest it, which means more products being sold and people hired. Those currently taking advantage of the most loopholes would likely be the richest individuals and largest companies, neither of which generate the most jobs. So their loss is the overall economies gain. Plus if rates were lowered, some might be incented to repatriate funds currently being located outside the country due to lower tax rates. Lowering rates while closing loopholes is certainly a step towards a simpler and better tax code. I doubt they’re arguing it’s the entire solution.

    • Mini Eric

      Apparently, you haven’t read Simpson-Bowles, which proposes (section 2.1.1 to be precise) “Cut rates across the board, and reduce the top rate to between 23 and 29 percent.”

  • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

    Has the author actually read Simpson-Bowles? I think not. The core premise: spending cuts to revenue (tax) increases at a 3 to 1 ratio. Mitt Romney is not willing to make ANY revenue increases even at a 40-1 ratio and has said so many times. Also Simpson-Bowles proposes the taxation of Capital Gains as regular income. Bring it on. Is Romney REALLY in favor of that? No chance.

    Please, bring some facts to the debate next time.

    • Dan

      Taxes are not the same as revenues, but thanks for playing. Romney strongly favors revenue increases, via actually growing the economy instead of grinding investment to a halt via regulatory and other policy uncertainty.

      The author didn’t claim Romney supports every element of Simpson-Bowles. Obama certainly doesn’t, yet you give him a pass. It was his own commission and he did nothing with their output, not even a written proposal (before you go blaming “Republican obstruction”). I’ll add that taxing LTCG as regular income might be the dumbest single idea in Simpson-Bowles. There’s a reason the LT preference has enjoyed strong bipartisan support for years, it stimulates long-term investments.

      • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

        And you apparently did not read Simpson-Bowles either.

        • Dan

          I have, in fact, read Simpson-Bowles and nothing I wrote contradicts its contents. For others interested, click here: http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.gov/files/documents/TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.pdf

          Compare Eric’s declaration of their “core premise” to what they actually say:

          “The plan has six major components:
          1) Discretionary Spending Cuts: Enact tough discretionary spending caps to force budget discipline in Congress. Include enforcement mechanisms to give the limits real teeth. Make significant cuts in both security and non-security spending by cutting low-priority programs and streamlining government operations. Offer over $50 billion in immediate cuts to lead by example, and provide $200 billion in illustrative 2015 savings.

          2) Comprehensive Tax Reform: Sharply reduce rates, broaden the base, simplify the tax code, and reduce the deficit by reducing the many “tax expenditures”—another name for spending through the tax code. Reform corporate taxes to make America more competitive, and cap revenue to avoid excessive taxation.

          3) Health Care Cost Containment: Replace the phantom savings from scheduled Medicare reimbursement cuts that will never materialize and from a new long-term care program that is unsustainable with real, common-sense reforms to physician payments, cost-sharing, malpractice law, prescription drug costs, government-subsidized medical education, and other sources. Institute additional long-term measures to bring down spending growth.

          4) Mandatory Savings: Cut agriculture subsidies and modernize military and civil service retirement systems, while reforming student loan programs and putting the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation on a sustainable path.

          5) Social Security Reforms to Ensure Long-Term Solvency and Reduce Poverty: Ensure sustainable solvency for the next 75 years while reducing poverty among seniors. Reform Social Security for its own sake, and not for deficit reduction.

          6) Process Changes: Reform the budget process to ensure the debt remains on a stable path, spending stays under control, inflation is measured accurately, and taxpayer dollars go where they belong.”

          In Eric’s defense, the Tax Reform section does propose to raise revenue, but not via “increased taxes”. They eliminate subsidies and various other “tax expenditures”, with a goal of raising $80B in 2015 and $180B in 2020, statically computed. They also anticipate “dynamic effects of tax reform” (e.g. creating more income and therefore more revenue) but don’t quantify or “book” this. Romney’s tax reform plan aims for revenue-neutral on a static basis but counts on dynamic effects increasing revenue. The best way to raise revenue has always, always been to grow the economy.

          Finally, the proposal to tax CG as ordinary income appears only in an “illustrative plan”, prefaced by “the precise details and exact transition rules should be worked out in a variety of ways by the relevant congressional committees and the Treasury Department”. It is not a hard recommendation, and many items therein are opposed by Obama or Romney or both, so please spare us the sneering about “no chance” Romney supports a particular item.

          • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

            Thank you very much for the detailed reply. (Sorry I missed it until now.)

            And what is the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases outlined in the plan?

            How do you rationalize that with a candidate who would not accept one single penny of new tax revenue.
            I understand the broadening the base argument, but that was the argument for tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. It hasn’t actually played out that way though.

  • Nancy Mcg

    So disappointed to see this crap on a tech website… this story is so weak. Trickle down economics aka “voodoo economics” doesn’t work, it’s part of a redistribution of wealth from middle class to rich, Mitt doesn’t share his plans with us because if he actually told you he plans to take away morgage deduction, raise takex on the middle class, get rid of obama care for “high premium programs, that put consumers back in touch the reality with the cost of healthcare”. Matt McIlwain, wake up, unless you are a billionaire, the republican party doesn’t care any more about you than they do the guy that cuts Mitt’s lawn, and you have more in common with him that you ever will with Mitt or his crew of robber barrons.

  • Mico

    I completely agree that this is not an article, but a mere campaign message and as such is below the standards of this publication. Furthermore, I cannot understand why anyone would propose a government, or government actions that do nothing with a view for the common good. I know that we have variously been marginalized as ‘consumers’ and ‘tax payers’, but we are the citizens of this country, the driving force behind the government and we want people that want to govern, not just rule. That blarny about “citizen-driven, economic opportunity strategy” is simply an attempt of saying that the Republicans, once again, want us to believe that trickle-down economy is what this country needs. I, fro one, do not believe that US citizens are the dogs that sit under the Republican table, waiting for the crumbs of their masters.

  • http://www.artsumo.com Naysawn Naderi

    Looking at these comments, I have to wonder if there are paid commenters from the campaigns trolling blogs for posts like this.

    • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

      Have you read Simpson-Bowles? Can you refute what I said? Does it line up with this article?

      • http://www.artsumo.com Naysawn Naderi

        Hey Eric – I was referring to the anonymous comments.

        • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

          Gotcha. I agree, definitely some ripe tripe among those… ;-)

  • Liberalismisamentaldisorder

    Reading the pure hate and anger from the left makes me wonder how these individuals function on a daily basis in life.

    • Van

      There’s an intelligent, thoughtful, meaty reaction.

  • Amal Graafstra

    I would have continued to read it if the first paragraph wasn’t simply regurgitated GOP sloganing and rederick. It seems even powerful and influencial people that make a living using their noggins have a hard time thinking for themselves when it comes to politics. The counterpoint article starts off like a real person with real thoughts of their own. This feels like it came right off the GOP propaganda press.

  • Smash

    Come on Matt. This is one giant rant, with only one specific policy proposal (pass Simpson-Bowles”), which Mitt’s running mate voted against. I understand you’re a lifelong Republican and that you’re positioning yourself for a go at national office yourself, but I expected a far more intellectual and nuanced argument from a geek like us. In the end, this is nothing more than another boring political argument I could find from one of the bobbleheads on cable news. You did yourself a disservice by not taking a more thoughtful approach.

    • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

      Do you think the author has read Simpson-Bowles and understands it?

      • Smash

        Matt is an incredibly smart guy. He is also a policy nerd. Whether or not he has read it, I can’t say. Does he have the capability to comprehend its intricacies and the political skill to get it passed? Yes. I think he’d be a formidable candidate for national office (I wouldn’t vote for him as I get the gist that he’s far more of a social conservative than I have patience for). He is no Sarah Palin mouthpiece. That’s what disappoints me the most about this article. He is capable of very intellectual discourse, but he contributed a piece with no intellectual honesty. Then again, he’s tasked here with defending Romney, which I don’t envy. Romney may be the worst candidate to emerge out of a national political party since the 60s.

  • raven 49

    I had a hard time reading this until I read who Mr. McIlwain was. Considering the date on this article, one might have though he would have mentioned the clear and unequivocal disdain Mr. Romney expressed to 47% of the voting public. There was only one context in this statement. But, Mr. Romney has yet to mention what he might do to right the ship.
    Mr. Mcilwain failed to mention that this recession was worse than all other recessions since 1929. He failed to mention that the tax proposals will benefit the richest element of society and that history, which he so stridently argues, shows the trickle down effect is imaginary.
    Mr. Romney and Ryan were against the auto industry bailout – even though it worked.
    Anyway, I don’t see any need to make a comment equal in length to the sloganeering article. Mr. Romney’s clear slip in the polls is occurring because Americans are beginning to get a clearer picture of who he is, and is not.

  • Pickedandwon

    Notice liberals don’t think this has any business on Geekwire but none have commented on the liberal counter-point article Geekwire posted to say the same thing. Evidently, they only believe in free speech when it is speech they agree with. Conservatives and true independents on the other hand believe in free speech no matter what.

  • Peter H

    Geekwire: If you’re going this direction, please avoid failling into two-party trap, and give equal coverage to Gary Johnson.

  • Matt McIlwain

    Thanks to everyone for weighing in and reacting to both Ed’s and my opinion pieces. Ed is a great friend and I genuinely respect and appreciate his openness to “debating” the case for/against our two major Presidential candidates. I also appreciate John Cook inviting us to share these perspectives on Geekwire. Finally, my read on tonight’s Presidential debate was that Mitt was more effective tonight on making his case to be our next President. 33 days to go and much can happen.