The 2012 elections present Americans, and millennials, with a clear choice on the future of our country. Do we believe in a government-supported economy, like those of Sweden and France? Or do we believe in minimal government intervention and a balanced budget as the way forward?
Mitt Romney has made it clear where his focus will lie once in office: the economy. Here are the four reasons why millennials should go against expectations and vote for Mitt Romney – not Barack Obama – in this election.
1) Because you want to have the opportunity to get a good job.
Data via St. Louis Fed (Red Line is President Obama's Inauguration)
Since Obama took office in 2008, every single indicator of financial health has gotten worse for millennials. Yes, Obama arrived at the precipice of an unprecedented economic collapse. But what has he done to help millennials get more jobs?
Americans aged 20 to 24 are suffering under Obama’s watch. Unemployment in this demographic has remained above 13% (currently at 13.7%) for the vast majority of Obama’s presidency. We are in the most prolonged period of high youth unemployment since the government began collecting this statistic in 1948. Unemployment for 20-24 year olds has only dipped below 13% once (May 2012) during Obama’s entire term.
Today, only 51% of college graduates since 2006 are employed full-time.
Obama vs. Romney presents millennials with a choice. Obama believes that the government should play a central role in business, and will lead the recovery. In everything from labor unions, to health care, retirement plans, and environmental regulations, Obama supports an active role for government in shaping the decisions businesses make. Romney holds a very different view. He believes businesses succeed when government stays out of the way.
By electing Romney, we have a chance to put a business leader in the Oval Office who will relentlessly focus on improving our economy and lowering unemployment. Romney has made himself very clear – the economy is his number one focus. He’s not a champion of social issues (conservative or liberal) or foreign policy. Romney’s all about doing whatever it takes to get businesses moving again. And millennials can only improve their economic lot when businesses begin thriving again.
* Romney’s tax policies are not millennial friendly. If we expect to close our current deficit, we will need to raise taxes on those who make over $250,000. A small tax raise on this group today will help avoid the inevitable tax spike millennials will face to reduce our $16 trillion national debt.
* Romney still needs to clearly articulate his plan to alleviate youth unemployment.
* Wall Street will not be the engine of job growth in the U.S. Tech, health care, and the service industry will. If Romney becomes only a Wall Street champion, I won't be voting for him.
2) Because you don’t want to be paying off your parents’ debt for your whole life.
Obama has made it clear that he wholeheartedly supports a robust social security system and a strong safety net. Instead of taking a long-term approach to revamping the U.S. economy by promoting businesses that would actually hire young people, Obama has prioritized protecting government benefits: health care and social security. To pay for these benefits, Obama has only proposed raising taxes on the wealthy, which even at a 100% tax rate, will not close the projected deficit. Put simply, under the current plan, millennials will be on the giving end, but most likely never on the receiving end of these programs.
Mitt Romney is not advocating dismantling our social insurance programs. But, he does want the U.S. to take a hard look at our programs and determine how we can shrink them to control costs. Over the past 20 years, social security and Medicare spending has grown at significantly higher rates than GDP, creating an unsustainable gap that can only be solved with higher taxes or budget cuts in other areas.
Annual Change in GDP vs. Medicare Spending vs. Social Security Spending
Romney’s proposal is simple: (1) Raise the retirement age to account for seniors who are living and working later in life; (2) Means test social security to give fewer benefits to those with higher incomes.
* There is likely to be a lack of political will to enact Romney’s plans for social security or Medicare. It’s one thing to have a solution to ensure the long-term viability of these programs, but it’s quite another to get it passed through Congress. Americans — millennials included — are likely to oppose measures that delay the disbursement of benefits, or make them contingent upon means testing. George W. Bush's failed attempt at reforming social security due to popular backlash after the 2004 election is still fresh in the minds of many Republicans, who will face opposition if they try to reform America’s social safety net.
3) Because you don’t think labor unions are the future of the American middle class.
Data via UnionStats
In the past 50 years, unions in the U.S. have undergone a dramatic transformation. Dropping from over 30% of the general workforce to barely 12% today, unions have all but disappeared in the private sector. But, public sector unions have grown dramatically, now representing the majority of unionized workers in the U.S.
As a result of public-sector unions’ ability to collectively bargain with their elected officials for contracts, benefits and pension plans have skyrocketed. According to Pew, when retiree health care costs are added to pension obligations, the unfunded liabilities of the states amount to an astounding $1 trillion.
When states are forced to pay government workers generous and ever-growing pensions, that means less money for education, transportation, and infrastructure.
Obama is the unions’ guy. Unions were key to his victory over Hillary Clinton and they’ve been among his strongest supporters. He supports collective bargaining for public sector unions and hasn’t proposed any realistic solutions to ballooning state-level pension plans.
Romney understands the issue and has publicly stated that getting government finances under control will be one of his top priorities.
* Mitt Romney, like Barack Obama, did not participate in, or comment heavily on, the Scott Walker recall elections.
* Pew data released since the Wisconsin recall election shows millennials are becoming more supportive of labor unions. This trend is hard to explain, because most millennials do not expect to be taking union jobs.
4) Because you understand that a healthy economy leads to more opportunity and social justice for all, and that social issues are often used as political distractions.
Via Census data from Sep-2010.
Do you believe in marriage equality for the LGBT community? Do you believe in women’s reproductive rights? Do you believe in a fair immigration policy? So do I, and so do the majority of millennials.
Obama is exploiting these wedge issues to woo millennial voters. This is the same strategy orchestrated by Karl Rove to absorb the Christian-right voters into his Republican majority in the 2000’s.
Ultimately, reducing poverty and increasing median household income is the most effective means of achieving a more equal society. The Great Recession has caused poverty rates to skyrocket under Obama to highs not seen since the '60s, which has in turn aggravating social issues.
I believe that growing up as a Mormon gives Romney insight into what it is like to be an under-represented and persecuted minority. Although his statements during the GOP nomination battle reflect socially conservative viewpoints that are largely at odds with millennials’ values, Romney has a history of being moderate on social issues. Remember, in the GOP primary battles, Romney’s fiercest opposition came from the very socially conservative Rick Santorum.
Romney only converted to being anti-abortion in 2004, when he first contemplated his run for president. Being anti-abortion is an absolute necessity for any candidate seeking the GOP nomination. Remember, Obama did not declare support for gay marriage until this year.
* Millennials stand solidly with Obama on women’s rights and gay marriage, while Romney stands firmly against Obama. Some of Romney’s viewpoints reflect the necessary political calculus of winning the GOP vote.