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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.

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